The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.
ITEM NUMBER ONE — Listen to me
Succession is busy casting season three. This is great news, in part because it means the third season is a real thing that is happening and coming to our screens at some point in the near future, and in part because the casting decisions they are making are wondrous. Earlier this week they announced that Alexander Skarsgard will appear as “a confrontational CEO and tech founder.” Then, a few days later, they announced that Adrien Brody will appear as “a billionaire activist investor.” You know a casting decision is good when something like “Adrien Brody as a prickly billionaire who is yelling at Kendall Roy” goes from something you never think about to something that lives in a cabana in your brain. The people who make Succession are good at their jobs.
But if we are doing some casting, if we’re pulling in notable names who have appeared in notable television shows before, if we are apparently going about the business of making Brian deeply happy with all of it, then let’s also please consider this: Put Lance Reddick in Succession.
Lance Reddick would be perfect on Succession. Succession is all about swaggering authority figures shouting at sniveling weasels and no actor alive does that as well as Lance Reddick. Between his booming voice and the posture that makes it look like he has a flagpole for a spine, Lance Reddick is a perfect on-screen authority figure. He did it on The Wire for a while. He’s done it in a bunch of movies including, briefly, Godzilla vs. Kong. And he’s done it for the entire run of Bosch in such a powerful way that he does not even need to speak to get this across. He gave an adversary this look during an episode early-ish in the show’s run and it made me want to apologize to him even though I was sitting in my living room and he was playing a fictional character who was not, as far as I know, upset with me for any particular reason.
This is exactly the energy a Succession character should have. At all times, too. And that’s before we even get to the things where he wears a suit better than any human alive and has an exquisite voice for dismissive and/or disgusted grumbling. This is where I mention Bosch again. Specifically, it’s where I mention him grumbling Bosch’s name whenever Bosch is up to his loose-cannon shenanigans. This happens so much, often with an “effing” tossed in front of it, which, as we know, is an important skill for any Succession character. One time it happened while he was sitting at a piano and drinking a large glass of red wine, which might honestly have been the single most Succession thing that has ever happened on a show that is not Succession.
There are so many options here, too. He can play so many characters that would fit on the show. Need a no-nonsense rival CEO who values order and rigorous attention to detail and is therefore constantly annoyed by the chaotic nature of the Roy family and the constant goings-on at Waystar Royco? Lance Reddick can do that. In the market for a steely senator whose heart is in the right place and has the company in his crosshairs with intentions on breaking it up for legitimate reasons and to play to his base in the lead-up to a potential presidential run led by a sleazy and ambitious campaign advisor? That is some extremely Lance Reddick stuff right there. Looking for a strong figure to run a growing national rehab program that Cousin Greg convinces the family to invest in after he goes there to kick the nasty cocaine habit he appeared to be developing as season two progressed? Buddy, take one single second right now to imagine a scene where Lance Reddick yells at Cousin Greg and tell me I’m wrong even a little. That could be an entire spinoff. I would watch and recap every episode.
It gets better, too, because Lance Reddick already has experience playing a cutthroat business titan on a midnight-black comedy, as you would know if you watched Corporate on Comedy Central. He played that so evil and so straight and it was amazing, just taking decades of well-earned gravitas and deploying it like a freaking comedy laser at each scene. It was kind of like how the movie Spy unleashed comedy Statham by taking decades of serious action roles and turning the knob about 30 degrees toward goofs. Succession is not as overtly funny as Corporate was, but the point stands. Lance Reddick can get you a laugh without begging for it.
The only problem with this suggestion is that now I’m getting kind of angry it hasn’t happened already. I’ve talked myself too far into it. It’s not a healthy way to do things, this whole “dreamcast yourself into a blind rage” business, but here we are. Here I am, at least. It’s a good idea. I need it. Will I settle for, say, Danny DeVito as a legendary blowhard pundit on the Roy’s news network who is being pushed out in favor of a younger blowhard pundit played by Zac Efron, or Joe Pesci as a U.S. Attorney who starts poking around Logan’s affair, or Regina King as the damn President? I mean, yeah, sure, absolutely. But I’ll still be thinking about this one. A lot. And hopefully, they will, too.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — PERD
Two things are true here, and both are important to the following discussion, so let’s knock them out right away via bullet point:
- Perd Hapley, the fictional news anchor from Parks and Recreation, is one of the best minor comedic characters of the last 10-15 years
- Without Remorse is not a very good movie but I watched it anyway
With me so far? Great. So I’m watching Without Remorse, half paying attention as the plot has lulled me into a kind of daze, when suddenly I glance at the side of the screen as Guy Pearce is explaining how Things Are More Complicated Than They Seem or whatever, and there, clear as day, is Perd Hapley himself, Jay Jackson, as a talking head on the fake news show airing in the background. Here, look.
I shouted. I know people on the internet always say “I shouted” when they didn’t actually shout, like how you’ll toss off a polite “lol” in response to a text that did not make you actually L let alone OL. But this one was legit. I shouted “PERD HAPLEY” at my television loud enough that there’s a non-zero chance my neighbors heard me through the wall. I’m fine with it. It’ll probably happen again the next time he pops up in a television show or movie I’m watching. They’ll get used to it.
And it could be happening soon. He pops up in so many things, always as a reporter or news anchor. There’s a good reason for that: he is a real former news reporter and those are basically the only roles he takes. There was a fascinating interview with him a few years ago, mid-Parks fame, where he explained all the how’s and why’s of this, the path one takes from “quitting your job as an on-air reporter to become a professional jazz singer and somehow stumbling into the role of go-to fictional newsman for dozens of movies and shows,” which was all incredible. Read the whole thing when you have some time, but please, start here.
Well, Perd Hapley, turned into a little bit of a cult figure. You know, I’ll tool around online, and I’ll Google “Perd Hapley” like any other actor would. It’s so funny — the people who follow Perd and quote all the lines, and Tumblr pages, and people around the world who make these paintings and artworks of Perd. I was a little surprised when Scandal picked me up, because I auditioned for Scandal just like any other role. Maybe they just didn’t know who Perd Hapley was. So I was doing all these Scandal reports, and then all these tweets started coming: “Why is Perd Hapley on Scandal?” And all of a sudden, I stopped getting those calls from Scandal. I think they figured out that [when] you’ve got this guy who’s known as this quirky idiot on one show, you can’t have him on this serious drama. It was really a surprise that Revenge called, because I knew they know who Perd Hapley was. But maybe it’s part of the trick, I don’t know.
It’s perfect. It’s one of those things that means very little to you until you know what’s going on and then suddenly becomes the only thing you can see. Sometimes I’ll forget he’s in something and shout all over again when he pops up on-screen with a microphone in his hand. The best example of this will always be in the opening of Fast Five, right after Dominic Toretto has escaped from the prison transport bus with the help of his crew. Because that is the type of thing the news would cover. And so…
A legend. An icon. Put him in every major movie franchise. Let him report on stuff the Avengers do. Let him play a talking head who has opinions about the rise in assassin on assassin violence in John Wick. Let him interview Paddington. I am not joking about any of this.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — In any reasonable world, this is all we would be talking about this week
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) May 4, 2021
Did you know that Stephen A. Smith, the loud sports commentator who posted one of the five greatest tweets in history, has had a recurring role on General Hospital for the last half-decade? I hope you did know that. It’s okay if you didn’t, though, because that means I got to break this news to you, and it is a really fun piece of information to share with people who don’t know it yet. It makes me so happy. He plays a character named Brick who is a surveillance expert for a mob boss named Sonny, which is an objectively hilarious thing to type about a show that is, if the title is to be believed, about a hospital.
Anyway, he posted the above clip earlier this week and, if you are just learning this part too, it brings me great pleasure to report to you that probably the most famous sports-opinion-haver in the world was engaged in a slow-motion shootout on a long-running daytime soap opera. It also allows me to post this paragraph from a New Yorker profile of Smith from a few years ago, which is good because I need everyone in the world to read it at some point in their lives and this is more efficient than me going up to people one at a time.
Another television favorite of Smith’s since childhood is the long-running soap opera “General Hospital.” Since 2016, he has had a recurring role on the show: Brick, a surveillance expert who works for the show’s leading man, Sonny Corinthos. (He had a cameo on the show, in 2007, as a TV reporter, which lasted, he said, “ten seconds.”) The gig is an exercise in pure wish fulfillment—when Smith talks about it, he almost giggles. The ever-churning arcs of soap operas also provide Smith yet another analogy for his job. Once, he told me, Shaquille O’Neal confronted him about a particularly tough bit of criticism. “I saw that shit you wrote,” the big man said. “But damn, here I am about to win a championship.” Smith’s rejoinder was simple. “Shaq, I’m a ‘General Hospital’ fan,” he said. “Did you know that? And guess what—Sonny Corinthos is gonna live. Did you know that? Victor Newman”—a character from “The Young and the Restless”—“just fell down a flight of stairs and he’s in a coma. Did you know he’s gonna live? Did you know that? The point is: the story still has to be told.”
What I need you to do here is picture Shaquille O’Neal, all 7’1 and 350 pounds of him, confronting a prominent hater in a moment of triumph, and getting this collection of words in response. Picture his face. It is maybe the funniest mental image you will ever conjure up.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — This week in cinema
This is the trailer for Ape vs. Monster. It is another mockbuster from the maniacs at The Asylum, the studio that famously brought us a gaggle of Sharknados. I adore it. I adore everything about it, too: the speed with which it came out, the perfectly on-the-nose title, the fact that it feels very much like a movie that would feature Eric Roberts in the moments of the trailer right before Eric Roberts actually pops up in profile. Just lovely in every way. I doubt I will ever watch it and I might not even think about it again but it is comforting to me in a deep and personal way that it exists. It is as clear a sign as we’ve seen to-date that things are returning to normal.
And it wasn’t even the only near-perfect low-budget trailer to drop this week. Allow me to present the film Rogue Hostage, starring Tyrese and, for some reason, John Malkovich.
Rogue Hostage might be the best movie title I’ve ever seen. If it’s not, it’s certainly close. Say it in your best movie voice right now. Out loud. Do it. Drop an octave and throw some gravel on it. Rogue Hostage. I’ve been doing it for over 24 hours and I can’t stop. Look at the summary, too.
Single father and former Marine Kyle Snowden (Tyrese Gibson) must save his daughter and other hostages from a dangerous criminal who has trapped them inside a neighborhood store owned by Kyle’s polarizing stepfather, Congressman Sam Nelson (John Malkovich).
I was getting strong Money Plane vibes from this, between the title and the thing where a famous and celebrated aging actor appears in it out of nowhere, so I was pleased and not entirely surprised to learn it comes from the same producers. Everyone is doing so well right now. I am proud of all of us.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — This is one of those situations where I want to know both everything about it and not a single thing more
last night @ the Cabo Wabo I had the pleasure of closing down w/ the one & only John Travolta. not only was it a pleasure being on stage again with the new house band Julieta, but one of your favorite actors being more than you even imagined! tequila & stories were flowing pic.twitter.com/OfDAFiQtV4
— Sammy Hagar (@sammyhagar) May 2, 2021
One of the things I like about social media is that you can just be sitting around doing nothing, scrolling mindlessly through your feed, and boom, suddenly Sammy Hagar and John Travolta are doing tequila shots with a WCW title belt in the background and it derails your whole evening. Mine, anyway. Look at it. Really, really look at it. It’s basically art.
I was not joking in the title of this section, either. I either must know every single thing about this or nothing at all, and I can’t decide which. I’m leaning toward the latter, though. I feel like context would ruin it. Yeah, let’s go with that. No one tell me anything about this. Let me have this one pure thing to savor. The only exception I am willing to make is if one of you can explain to me how Guy Fieri is not in this picture, too. This picture screams “and also Guy Fieri.” The best answer I’ve come up with so far is that he was the one holding the camera.
In fact… you know what? Just let me have that one, too.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.
What longrunning television series would be most improved by the addition of a wisecracking dog that speaks into the camera to comment on the events of the show? I think it’s probably The Sopranos just for the comedy of it, but you’re the expert here. I’ll defer to you.
Well, this is a wonderful question. I suppose the issue here is what you mean by “improve.” Because if you mean “make better in quality and artistic expression,” then our options are pretty limited. But if you mean “make funnier and more chaotic,” then yes, The Sopranos is a great selection. I have this image in my head right now of a dog looking dead into the camera and saying, “Oh, Madonn’! Christopher is at it again!” and I am giggling a lot. Do not say any of this to one of those obsessive and dour Sopranos fans. They get so mad. Or maybe do say it to them. Get them all worked up. Have some fun.
The only other option I have that might top The Sopranos is something like Dexter where the show started going off the rails toward the end, just to see the dog comment on all the various ways things are going sideways. Yes, this is where we post the treadmill scene. Again.
Beautiful question, Greg. I will be thinking about this for days.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
A bottle of French wine that orbited the Earth for more than a year has been put up for sale.
The bottle of Pétrus 2000 – made from merlot grapes in the Bordeaux region – spent 14 months in orbit as part of a privately funded research study on food and agriculture.
This is maybe the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. They just launched some wine into space to see how space affects wine. There are thousands of better things we could be doing with our valuable space exploration resources. And yet.
I must try the space wine.
The auction house estimates a sale price of $1m (£720,000; €830,000).
I retract my previous statement. I do not want to taste the space wine that much. Unless… unless we steal the space wine. Someone get Pierce Brosnan on the phone at once. Let’s steal the space wine and then sip it together at sunset in an Italian villa overlooking Lake Como.
But I think my favorite part of all this is the quote the got from the wine expert who tasted the space wine.
“It’s hard for me to say if it was better or worse. But it was definitely different,” she told the BBC.
If I know anything about space exploration based entirely on space movies I’ve seen where alien life forms make their way to Earth via unintended consequences of seemingly harmless cosmos-related decisions, ominous string music starting playing when this lady said “it was definitely different.” In fact… yes, I also now retract my statement about calling Pierce Brosnan. We should call, like, Will Smith. We’re about to have some aliens to kill. And they’re going to be drunk on space wine.