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 — Keanu, please keep going
Keanu Reeves is out doing press for the upcoming fourth Matrix movie, Matrix: Resurrections. This is good news. It’s good news because Keanu is a sweet man and a mystery and one of our last true “action stars,” in the sense that he’s the face of two massive franchises that were not based on pre-existing intellectual property (John Wick, The Matrix), and also in the sense that he starred in Speed, which rules, and was smart enough to pass on Speed 2: Cruise Control, which… did not rule.
He is everywhere, too. The last week or so has just been one beautiful little Keanu moment after another. It’s been lovely. We’ve seen and heard so many stories over the years about him being a righteous dude, but it’s been a while since we got that righteousness straight from the horse’s mouth. And I’ve been vacuuming all of it up. Every bit. I will click on anything. If it has the word “Keanu” in the headline, I will absolutely click on it. Please do not hack me.
Let’s start here at home. Our Mike Ryan spoke to Keanu this week, and while my initial reaction was to be too jealous to process any of it, I broke down and dove in. And I’m glad I did, because that’s where I saw this interaction about his character in The Matrix.
He is, but it’s a different kind of confusion. Because he sort of remembers what happened before, but now it’s like everything’s different again. And he doesn’t seem as confident at times, especially in the first half.
No, absolutely. I mean, I would pitch that Resurrections is a kind of dynamic inverse of the trilogy.
What do you mean by that?
[Laughs] Just that.
Perfect. Beautiful. Like Mike, I do not know exactly what he means by that, but I’m sure it makes sense to people who are much more connected to the universe than I am. And I’m definitely going to start replying to “What do you mean by that?” with “Just that.” So that’s a new trick in my bag.
Moving on. You probably saw this clip floating around this week, but either way, please treat yourself to Keanu Reeves giggling with dismissive laughter at the entire concept of NFTs, which is somehow a more accurate description of them than I’ve heard anywhere else, from anyone.
— David Zhou (@dz) December 10, 2021
And here he is on Colbert discussing the iconic Sad Keanu meme, where he was photographed on a bench eating a sandwich and the entire internet turned it into an avatar for being bummed out about anything.
On Monday’s episode of The Late Show, host Stephen Colbert brought out the photo, to which The Matrix Resurrections star replied, “I’m just eating a sandwich, man. I was thinking. I had some stuff going on. I was hungry.”
“I’m just eating a sandwich, man.”
I mean… he has a point.
Who among us, you know?
Or how about this, which is not technically Keanu himself but is a delightful story his John Wick co-star Lance Reddick told about him in an interview with Vulture this week, so let’s just go ahead and count it anyway.
How has your friendship changed after four movies?
We’ve gotten to know each other a little better. I hope I don’t get in trouble for telling this story: During John Wick: Chapter Four, my first day of filming happened to be Keanu’s birthday. But he wasn’t in the scene. He came to the set anyway at nine o’clock at night with his girlfriend who I had never met. And she is … can I say a bad word?
Go for it.
His girlfriend is cool as fuck. And she told me that she asked Keanu what he wanted to do for his birthday and he said, “I want to go see Lance.” He’d never done this before but he wrote me a note thanking me for what I brought to the character in these movies. And he wanted to give the note to me. I’ll never forget it. I’m going to cry now.
Well, great. I might cry now, too. The man showed up on his own birthday with a note for one of his co-stars. Imagine having one person in your life like this. Imagine if that one person was Keanu Reeves. Imagine if Keanu Reeves showed up at your job on his birthday and handed you a note he wrote to you personally about how cool you are. I don’t think I’d ever get over it.
This is too much emotion. Things have gone and gotten too sincere. I’m getting uncomfortable. Let’s pivot back to a silly story about a silly name, one he told on GMA and was transcribed by The AV Club.
“So, I’m 20 years old, I’m in my first car, I wanted to be in movies, I went to Hollywood,” Reeves says. “And I get there and they’re like, ‘we wanna change your name.’”
He remembers asking why, being told that maybe Keanu is “a little too exotic,” and then, after a sharp exhale, says “I did.” Strahan asks what kind of stage names he considered and Reeves immediately responds with, “Chuck Spadina. I just came up with ridiculous names.”
Good lord, I love it so much. And him. It’s so cool that one of our biggest movie stars for going on 30 years now is just some cool dude who likes stuff and people. More people should try to be like Keanu Reeves. You, me, everyone. We should strive for it. Individually, yes, but also as a society.
Let’s close with my favorite Keanu story ever. It’s a few years old now, but who cares. It’s so good. It’s laid out in a Twitter thread that starts here…
In honor of John Wick 3 I have a Keanu Reeves story.
— James Dator (@James_Dator) May 17, 2019
… and takes us to a movie theater in Australia where a young man schemes to get Keanu’s autograph by having him sign a logbook, only to be rebuffed.
A knock on the door of the theater office.
“I realized you probably wanted my autograph,” he says. “So I signed this.” He hands me a receipt from the concessions stand that he signed on the back. He then casually throws an ice cream cone in the trash can and sees his movie
— James Dator (@James_Dator) May 17, 2019
I realize later that he bought an ice cream cone he didn’t want, just to get receipt paper so he could scribble his autograph for a 16-year-old idiot.
— James Dator (@James_Dator) May 17, 2019
The best. Just the best. Part of me hopes this press tour never ends. Part of me hopes we get a Bourdain-style travel show starring Keanu, just him bouncing around the world meeting people and being awesome. But most of me just loves that he’s out there doing all this, just to be cool and fun, not for cameras or clout.
Keanu Reeves, man.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Oh look, shows for Brian
This is the trailer for the second season of The Righteous Gemstones. I am posting it here for three main reasons:
- The first season whooped so much ass
- This means we are close to the show finally coming back
- Look at Walton Goggins
Actually, let’s expand on that third point with this GIF I just made, one I strongly suggest you click on at once and save somewhere you will not lose it. I mean…
It’s so good. I am thrilled it is coming back. It would honestly not be the worst idea to dive into a rewatch of season one over the holidays, in part because it’s been a while and in part because, like, the first episode opens with a mass baptism in a wave pool that goes wrong in exactly the way “a mass baptism in a wave pool” should go wrong. Eric Andre joins the show in season two, which is… perfect. The chaotic energy between him and Danny McBride is off the charts. My meters are all flashing and honking over here. Needles are way over into the red section marked “DANGER” and wobbling like they’re afraid. I’ve never been happier.
Speaking of Extremely Brian Shit…
This is the trailer for the upcoming television series The Afterparty. I am posting it here for three main reasons:
- It looks cool as hell
- It’s got a fun little gimmick, where a murder is investigated with each episode focusing on a different suspect
- The cast is littered with your favorite comedic actors — Ben Schwartz, Sam Richardson, who should be a much bigger star by now and, yes, I’m a little upset about it — like Lord and Miller (who produced the show, which is another plus) just woke up and said “Let’s do Knives Out but with Tiffany Haddish as Daniel Craig and all the people you love from your favorite show”
I support this. I also support, well, this, from Entertainment Weekly…
That seems like plenty to sustain eight episodes of television, but The Afterparty adds one extra twist: Each character’s account of the night is told through a different genre — an action movie, a musical, even animation — reflecting their different personalities and views of themselves.
“[Each episode] brings a new filmmaking style into it, and hopefully that helps you understand how everyone sees themselves, and not just what they think their story is, but how they tell it,” explains Miller’s creative partner Phil Lord, who’s an executive producer on the series.
This is good. I love cool and ambitious stuff. I love everyone involved in this project. Let’s all agree to watch it to encourage other people to make more cool and ambitious stuff. We are basically doing a public service here. Kind of.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — A Christmas tradition
Just two quick items of housecleaning here. There will be no Rundown next week on Christmas Eve, so this is my last opportunity to post the two Christmas-related things I post every year. So… here we are.
Up there, please find Steve Martin’s Christmas Wish monologue from SNL, which is funny every time you watch it and will be funny every time you watch it for the rest of your life. His delivery as he starts getting more and more passionate is comedic brilliance, objectively. This sucker is 35 years old, too. It aired in 1986. And he’s still out there killing it with fun/new projects like Only Murders in the Building. I guess what I’m saying here is that Steve Martin is good. Breaking news.
Here’s the second thing. It’s the song “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee. Please listen to it. It’s good.
Okay, now listen to it again, and when you get to the part of these lyrics where she says “pumpkin pie”…
Rockin’ around the Christmas tree
At the Christmas party hop
Mistletoe hung where you can see
Every couple tries to stop
Rockin’ around the Christmas tree
Let the Christmas spirit ring
Later we’ll have some pumpkin pie
And we’ll do some caroling
… tell me it doesn’t sound like she says “fuckin’ pie.” I heard it this way maybe 10-15 years ago and I’ve never heard it any other way since. I talk about it every year. I’ve ruined the song for so many people. I feel great about it.
Later we’ll have some fuckin’ pie. I mean, the vibes here are not entirely inaccurate.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — GIVE ME THE CAKE, TOM
Two things are important to know before we get into this, so let’s go back to the bullet points, for efficiency:
- Every year, Tom Cruise sends out dozens of these decadent chocolate coconut cake things to friends and acquaintances
- I want this cake
I want it so bad. I don’t want to buy it. I don’t even want to eat it that much because I’m not a huge coconut fan. I just want Tom Cruise to send me one of these cakes. I wrote about it in 2020, in a Christmas-themed Rundown that opened with a thing about how The Nice Guys is a Christmas movie. I did not get the cake. Which, like, fine. I get it. Tom Cruise is a busy man. I can deal.
Or rather, I could deal, until I saw this article in The Guardian by a man named Stuart Heritage who also wrote about wanting the cake.
Reader, I am here to inform you that dreams do come true. You really can have anything your heart desires, with the proviso that you’re prepared to aggressively and repeatedly abuse your position in order to get it. What I’m trying to say is this: my year-long campaign to get Tom Cruise to send me a cake has ended in success.
TELL ME MORE
BUT I AM MAD
BUT TELL ME
Then, in April, Cruise went on record to announce that, as a young actor, he once spent three days eating so much chocolate cake that he threw up. Naturally, I responded by stating in print that I deserved a cake from Cruise, and that I was better at eating cake than he was – something I would prove by eating his cake on the toilet in one go.
THIS IS A TRAVESTY
Anyway, Cruise sent me a cake this week.
SEND ME THE CAKE, TOM.
The story goes that Cruise first encountered the cake when Diane Keaton and Katie Holmes had a competition to find the best cake. Cruise tried Keaton’s offering and was immediately transformed. “This miraculous cake must be shared,” he thought, and spent several years shipping hundreds of them to famous people all around the world. It’s true that his marriage to Holmes sadly ended in divorce. But, look, the main thing is that I got some cake out of it.
I’m so mad I could spit on the floor. Christmas is ruined.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Here’s a thing that made me laugh a lot…
I know I just wrote about Joe Pera Talks With You. I promise I’ll stop soon, mostly because the season finale aired this Sunday night and there won’t be new episodes to yell at you about. But it’s good. The finale was about him building a chair but also about, like, so much more. It’s so good. And it opened with this joke in the first few minutes. I shout-laughed a little.
I don’t know if you will like this show. Not for sure, at least. But if you’ve read this far into this post and are having a decent time, I like to think you will. This is the hardest sell I know how to make.
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.
I’m hoping you’ll use your considerable Hollywood clout to get my idea for a movie greenlit. It’s called Zoo: Face-Off (alternate title: Face-Off: Zoo). It seems the animals are still trying to take over the world (or whatever it was they were trying to do) and the only way to stop them is to use the Face-Off technology. Imagine Nicolas Cage’s head on a horse’s body. Put a snake’s head on James Wolk. Questions: what animal should we put John Travolta’s head on and what other animal/actor’s face combinations would you like to see? (Note: Kathryn Hahn should be in this movie). You can promise Hollywood that they would sell at least 200 tickets because I would pay to see this at least 100 times and I know you would too—after all, you and I—we’re not that different.
What I like about Mark’s email is that it is kind of like a Mad Libs of Things Brian Likes. I’m not being sarcastic here. It’s cool that all the dumb things I’ve typed into these boxes all these years are sticking with some people like this. It’s wild. The internet is weird and bad in many ways but sometimes, man, it’s pretty cool.
Anyway, to answer the question: John Travolta’s head should go on a panda. I say this because I want to see it, of course, but also because I have not been able to get this next thing out of my head since I saw it…
AND NOW, THE NEWS
A giant panda escaped from its enclosure at the Beijing Zoo…
PANDA ON THE RUN
… but was lured back to a secure area without coming into contact with the public, officials said.
The zoo said in a post on Chinese microblogging site Weibo that a “naughty” male panda named Menglan climbed over a more than 6-foot-tall fence surrounding a panda breeding enclosure at the facility Wednesday.
Hmm. Three things jump out here, and we’ll go back to the bullet points to discuss them:
- I love him
- There is a big debate to be had somewhere about whether these animals should be in zoos or out in the wild in their natural habitat, but this column is so extremely not the place for that for so many reasons that we should just move on and leave it to people smarter than me
- I wish there was a video of my sweet prince scaling that fence
Wait a second…
There IS a video???!!!
SHOW ME THE VIDEO
LOOK AT THIS GUY
LOOK AT HIM
Menglan was lured back into the breeding enclosure by a zookeeper bearing food. The panda was not injured, and was observed “happily playing” after being returned to the enclosure.
The zoo said the enclosure’s security will be increased following the panda’s attempted escape.
Somewhere in this panda enclosure, two or more pandas are unrolling blueprints and holding small flashlights in their mouths and getting matching black turtlenecks and plotting their next escape. Maybe they’ve recruited a giraffe to be the lookout. The rhinos can clear a path.
I believe in them.