ITEM NUMBER ONE — Come on
There was some exciting news floating around this week. More of a rumor than news, I suppose. Rumblings in the Hollywood trades indicated three interesting developments: One, theres a Mad Max prequel idea in the air that is becoming more real with every day; two, the prequel would focus on Furiosa, the character made famous in Fury Road by Charlize Theron; and three, Jodie Comer is apparently in the running for the role. This last part is very important. It is time for us all of us to make Jodie Comer a huge freaking star.
Theres an argument to be made that Jodie Comer is already kind of a star. Shes won multiple prestigious awards, including an Emmy, for the role of Villanelle in Killing Eve, all of them deserved. She is so good as that character, in a way that makes it look much easier than it is. Villanelle is a sociopath and a killer who flips back and forth between dead-eyed menace and childlike glee. She struts around in designer clothes like a composed adult and flops on couches like an overwhelmed teen. There is range on display every episode, and thats before you get to the accents. Shes an English actress who plays a Russian assassin who must occasionally pretend to be a person from somewhere else. She spent multiple episodes of the second season as a bratty American heiress. Its almost like the show is just challenging her for fun. I fully expect her to do a deep Swedish accent before the season three finale.
But Im not talking about breakout performer in a buzzy cable drama star here. Thats a launching point, not a destination. Im talking about appearing in major movie franchises. Im talking about toplining a big-budget movie. Im talking about doing a comedy at some point and some people being all But why is she doing a comedy? and then nailing the role in a scene-stealing display of hidden talent, kind of like when Jason Statham was in Spy. The kind of star your parents know by name. The kind of star where people say You wanna check out that new Jodie Comer movie? instead of saying the movies actual title. That kind of star.
You know who else is on this trajectory, admittedly a step or two ahead of Comer? Another British actress: Vanessa Kirby, who made a huge splash as wild child Princess Margaret on The Crown and spun that into substantial roles in both Mission: Impossible Fallout and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. There is a truly staggering array of punctuation in these titles, but thats because theyre two of the worlds longest-running and most successful franchises. Shes in both of them now, in potentially important ways. The next step from here is a starring role in her own project. Thats the path Im talking about.
In fact, maybe we handle this all at once. Maybe we cast both Comer and Kirby in a fun action-y movie together. Maybe theyre both cops. Maybe theyre both crooks. Maybe one of them is a notorious international jewel thief and the other is the Interpol agent tasked with tracking her down, sort of like Heat but with two very talented British actresses instead of two iconic Italian-American actors. I would watch that movie. I would watch that movie today, right now. I would be late filing this column, but it would be worth it.
Unless I dont actually know if Jodie Comer wants to star in big fun action movies. Maybe Im projecting here. Im known to do that. Maybe she wants to take challenging roles in awards-y dramas. Maybe she has her sights set on an Oscar. I would argue theres both room and time for both things, and I would also argue that starring in a prequel as a character made famous by Charlize Theron an actress who has done Oscar movies and also kickass action movies like Atomic Blonde would be a pretty decent start.
Let’s get to work on this. Again, all of us. I just did my part. Now it’s your turn.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Fred Willard was the greatest
Fred Willard passed away earlier this week, which stinks. Fred Willard was the best. He was one of those actors who never headlined a project but still made every project he appeared in a little bit better. Sometimes a lot better. Most of the characters he played appeared at first to be these square or aggressively normal guys who then revealed themselves to be complete maniacs. A substantial number of them should have been in prison. He was an assassin, a wild card who looked like a straight man, a guy you knew even if you didnt know his name, one of those actors who, as soon as you saw their face pop up on the screen, made you lean forward a little bit and say Oooo, I bet this part is gonna be good. I dont think I ever saw him miss.
You could pick any of a zillion examples to back up these assertions: his long history with the Guest-Levy mockumentaries, his dozens of nutty appearances on Kimmel, the list goes on. Ill always remember his appearance on Review, the Comedy Central series that starred Andy Daly, himself another wolf in sheeps clothing, comedically. I wont try to explain the whole thing. You can and should watch it on Comedy Centrals website. The short version is something like this: Andy Dalys character has a television show where he reviews life experiences submitted by viewers. In this one, he is tasked with reviewing space, and decides to bring his sweet 75-year-old ex-father-in-law to Space Camp for the thrill of a lifetime. Everything goes pretty well. Until well, watch that clip.
It is so dark and so outrageously funny. The shock of it startled me into what I can only describe as a violent outburst of laughter the first time I saw it. It wasnt even a laugh, I think, at least not in the way Webster would define it. It was more of a staccato series of mini-shouts. And it only worked because Willard played it so nice and sweet for every moment up until it happened. The man was a genius. The world is a little less funny without him in it, which is a bummer of intergalactic proportions. Add to that the fact that coworkers came out of the woodwork to say how nice and genuine he was and, man, yeah, just a bummer.
That said, if youre looking for a legacy, you could do a lot worse than somebody who was nice to people and beloved by huge groups of people and made friends and total strangers laugh for over 50 years, so maybe its not as big a bummer as it appears on its face. Thats a good life. We would all do pretty well to shoot for that ourselves. Rest in peace, you wonderful goofball.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Let’s check in with quarantined celebr-…
aaaaaaand David Lynch is doing the weather. From a bunker. Every day. The Twin Peaks creator and delightful weirdo is posting very straightforward weather reports on his YouTube channel every morning. Im not kidding when I say they are very straightforward. Each video is under one minute in length and features Lynch reciting the date, temperature in both Fahrenheit and Celcius, and your basic cloud/precipitation situation as he observes it by looking out his window in that moment. Hes been doing it since the 11th of this month. Its oddly mesmerizing. Some of them are tinted blue for unexplained reasons. Maybe he just watched Ozark and wanted to try it. No one knows. Im not going to question David Lynch.
Here are a bunch more. Theyre soothing, in a way. I do not live in Los Angeles and therefore care very little about the weather there and Im still watching them every day. Its the most useless thing possible in an age when I can find out the weather in two clicks on a smartphone or one command shouted in the general direction of my Alexa. I hope he does them forever.
As The Verge notes, this is not Lynchs first run as an amateur meteorologist. He did this before, decades ago, and is picking it back up again. A big part of me hopes hes playing a long game here, like after 40-50 normal weather reports he pops up on screen and starts pretending like a volcano erupted and then does the rest of them as a basement-dwelling survivor of a massive natural disaster. Or maybe the long game is to play it straight forever while rubes like me look on waiting for the break.
Either way, useful service.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — This is Squiggle erasure
Good news and bad news.
Good news first. The cringe-y, terrible, borderline-perfect song L to the OG, from Succession, is now available on Spotify. You know the song. The rap that hopeless failson Kendall Roy performed at the fancy celebration to honor his father, miserable old lion Logan Roy. Its not the most important musical moment to come from the show or anything (that is and always will be the theme song and its cascading tinkly pianos), but it is very notable for being a moment of television so awkward that I simultaneously could not stop watching and wanted to escape by burying myself under the floor of my living room. The chorus, the baseball jersey, the salute. My heavens, the salute.
It became apparent when people were dressed for this thing as Halloween and I did get a text from Frank Ocean that said, L to the OG with a crying face emoji. I took it as the highest possible compliment because hes one of my heroes. It was small props but it meant the world.
So theres that. But theres also this, the bad news: The official recording, while still containing a spoken intro, cut probably my favorite part of the whole performance. There is no mention of DJ Squiggle.
This is very upsetting. And disrespectful to DJ Squiggle. The man cooked up the beat for you, Kendall. He flew to Scotland to help you perform it. And now you just cut him out of the official recording? This is why no one likes you. Well, this and a few other things. You did kind of kill a guy. But I would argue that both of these offenses are the fruit of the same poisonous tree. Its not how a true Techno Gatsby behaves, Ill tell you that. Or maybe it is. I’m still a little unclear on what exactly a Techno Gatsby is and/or does.
I miss Succession.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Help
I watched Burn After Reading recently. It was a good decision because Burn After Reading is a great movie. Its so powerfully stupid and yet kind of smart and the performances are all so great. Clooney, McDormand, Malkovich, all of them. But especially Brad Pitt. Especially Brad Pitt. His performance as a trainer and world-class doofus is something to behold. Every second hes on-screen is a treat. Its a masterclass in physical comedy, which is actually a little upsetting because no one that good looking should be that funny. It’s like how I get upset when I find out a famous person is also great at an impossible hobby, like golf. You don’t need that, too. It’s not fair.
I bring this up now for one simple reason: since I watched this movie, I have been unable to stop replying to things with the exact delivery of Awwwhhhh, thats cooool that he does in the above clip. Not even out loud. Just in my head. Ill see a headline and do it. Someone will let me pull out in traffic ahead of them and Ill do it. Its been almost a week and its showing no sign of slowing down. This will not do. Please, send help.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at [email protected] (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.
Brian, please tell me youve seen the news about the upcoming movie Moonfall. I assume you have seen it but I dont want to take the chance that you missed it. It is a Roland Emmerich movie about the moon crashing into earth. The movie about the moon falling into the earth is called Moonfall. It stars Halle Berry as an astronaut and Josh Gad as a scientific genius. I just about shouted when I saw the news. It looks so strange and so, so bad. Im so happy for you.
Lisa, I am very aware of this and very excited about it for all the reasons you laid out. Im getting very strong Geostorm vibes from this, which is a compliment I dont throw around willy nilly. I love how literal the title is. I hope the character names are just as literal. I hope Halles astronaut character is named Veronica Cosmos. I hope Josh Gads scientific genius is named Ned Proctrator. I hope they blow up the moon with a big laser. I dont ask for much.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
Residents of a Florida neighborhood are complaining about a loud and messy flock of peacocks that has taken up residence in the area.
I imagine you think you grasp how many peacocks were talking about here. How bad can it be? youre probably saying. Six or seven beautiful peacocks strutting around your neighborhood. It sounds lovely to me.
Well, a couple of things. First of all, its not six or seven peacocks. It is fifty. Fifty peacocks. That is, in my opinion, too many peacocks. And it leads us to the second thing…
The peacocks are currently in their mating season, which residents said involves noise keeping them up all night and increased messes outside their homes.
Fifty horny peacocks screeching and pooping all night long. Technicolor feathers everywhere. This sounds like hell. It sounds like actual hell. And it gets worse, because…
Hillsborough County officials said the peacocks aren’t regulated as pets because no one has claimed ownership of them, but the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the birds also aren’t considered wildlife, so the agency doesn’t have jurisdiction over them.
It probably says a lot about me that the instant I read that paragraph, literally as soon as I reached the final period at the end, I muttered diplomatic immunity in a terrible South African accent like the bad guy from Lethal Weapon 2. I dont know. I feel okay about it. Better than I would if I had 50 lawless peacocks engaging in nightly midnight orgies in my backyard, at least.
Admittedly a low hurdle to clear, but still.