Although he was born and raised around Houston, Randy Quaid isn’t often mentioned in the pantheon of beloved Texas stars. That’s no reflection on his work: Quaid long ago cemented his Texan bona fides with movies like The Last Picture Show and LBJ: The Early Years—and his cuddly comedic roles in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Kingpin, and Independence Day have immortalized him among generations weaned on basic cable. Yet Quaid doesn’t invoke the same local pride as, say, his brother Dennis, largely because he no longer feels connected to our state—or indeed, to this astral plane.
In 2015, Quaid relocated to a windswept lowland of paranoid delusion by way of Vermont, an epically implausible journey that began with Randy and his wife, Evi, fleeing multiple charges of burglary, vandalism, and harassment in Santa Barbara—as well as an alleged murderous cabal they soon dubbed the “Hollywood Star Whackers.” After seeking asylum in Marfa, then Canada, they eventually found their way to the Northeast, where Randy settled into an august career of self-produced videos in which he rails against the media and assorted liberals. But is Quaid delusional enough to run California?
This week, he suggested that he is “seriously considering” entering the race to replace California governor Gavin Newsom, who faces a recall election by the end of the year. No stranger to major issues, Quaid has centered his campaign on snuffing out the “prosecutorial corruption” he says is being perpetrated by district attorneys’ offices in cities like Santa Barbara—which, totally coincidentally, happens to be the exact same office that’s been trying to prosecute the Quaids for over a decade now. It’s a platform that’s clearly close to his heart. It is also bafflingly unsound, given that California elects all its district attorneys.
If Quaid runs, he would face a heated campaign against Caitlyn Jenner. Jenner, who’s already laid out a similar plank of not really understanding how California’s district attorneys work, can also boast the semi-endorsements of former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and even Randy Quaid himself, something that’s made her an odds-on favorite over fellow serious contenders like Los Angeles billboard icon Angelyne and adult film star Mary Carey. There’s also the fact that Jenner and others have already filed the official paperwork to run, while Quaid, as always, has mostly just tweeted about it. Still, in an age when any celebrity who’s been emboldened by our continued conflation of name recognition and public trust can be enticed into “seriously considering” a political career, perhaps the idea of Governor Randy Quaid isn’t so far-fetched. To paraphrase one of his most beloved characters, America’s sh*tter has been full for a while now. We’re all just splashing about in the runoff.
Ted Cruz Gets in Another Celebrity Twitter Feud
For example, there’s Texas senator Ted Cruz—a man who often confuses accruing camera time for accomplishment, and for whom politics is largely about chasing the zeitgeist. Cruz knows the value of brand identity, something he’s partly built on being an enemy of Hollywood elites—a group of which he thinks so little, he barely engages in Twitter feuds with them more than once or twice per month. This week it was The Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s turn, after Cruz retweeted a segment about Texas picking up two additional congressional seats with the caption, “Trevor Noah whines that people are fleeing high-tax blue states & moving in droves to low-tax states like Texas, where the jobs are. Doesn’t understand why people like freedom.”
Now, Noah might have pointed out that this is a classic straw man—that Noah’s only real “whining” in the clip was about some irresponsible New Yorkers not filling out their U.S. census questionnaires. Or that, having grown up under apartheid, Noah probably does understand why people like freedom, almost as much as a guy who once cooked bacon with an AR-15. Instead, Noah walked right through the door with a riff on Cruz’s recent trip to Cancun in the middle of February’s storm-induced power outages. The Princeton debate champ’s response—saying, “I wear your scorn with pride,” followed by “I remember when the Daily Show was funny”—didn’t land the haymaker he probably expected, though it did succeed in dragging poor Jon Stewart out of retirement, who offered the rejoinder, “Ummm…you remember last night?? Bravo.” The Daily Show gave Cruz one final kick, agreeing that he’s definitely fine with wearing other people’s scorn, so long as it suits him politically.
Elon Musk Hosting Saturday Night Live Draws Criticism From Its Cast
Elon Musk has endured his own bizarre evolution, from the visionary architect behind companies like PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX to the establishment-trolling, would-be mayor of Starbase, Texas. In the past year alone, the sort-of Austinite has made headlines for spreading COVID-19 misinformation, threatening to punish employees for unionizing, and musing aloud about the “glorious,” “amazing” experience of someday sending people to die on Mars. But is Elon Musk funny funny, or just “I scoff at the disposable chaff of humanity from atop my titanium throne” funny? We’ll all find out when Musk hosts Saturday Night Live, a seemingly confounding choice that has already attracted the exact amount of attention and negative press it was always intended to create.
Shortly after the announcement, Musk himself tweeted that he would “find out just how live Saturday Night Live really is,” followed by a devil emoji, presumably suggesting that he might ad-lib an endorsement of a meme stock and upend the global financial market during his monologue, or maybe say a naughty word. Who knows? As SNL’s Bowen Yang asked in a since-deleted Instagram post, “What the f–k does this even mean?” Other cast members have been more subtle in their Musk shade, with Aidy Bryant sharing a tweet from Bernie Sanders on the “moral obscenity” of billionaires, and actual Austinite Andrew Dismukes declaring on his own social media, “Only CEO I want to do a sketch with is Cher-E Oteri,” alongside a photo of SNL alum Cheri Oteri. Can these actors overcome their aversions long enough to put on a show, or will they all be forced to toil in Musk’s content mines a few years ahead of schedule? Find out on May 8 with musical guest Miley Cyrus.
Joe Rogan in Trouble for Anti-vaccine Comments
Musk’s fellow Austin transplant Joe Rogan has endured his own growing controversy over COVID-19 comments. While Rogan’s weed-and-swordplay buddy Musk has come around to the importance of getting the vaccine, Rogan himself remains skeptical, this week telling listeners of his enormously popular podcast that he would advise young, healthy people not to bother, all based on his expert gut feeling that COVID is “no big deal.” Because he made them to millions of people who tend to take advice from Joe Rogan, his remarks earned swift backlash from medical professionals and even the White House. Actual disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci bluntly called Rogan’s words “incorrect” in an interview with Today, noting that—besides the fact that young, healthy people do catch COVID-19, and may even make up an increasing share of hospitalizations—Rogan’s remarks really only apply “if you want to only worry about yourself and not society” (which, frankly, may as well be the Rogan show’s tagline).
The podcast’s new exclusive home, Spotify, has removed instances of coronavirus misinformation from its service in the past—and it’s even deleted more than forty episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience over their content, including some featuring conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Nevertheless, the company’s CEO Daniel Ek declined to say anything about this latest incident in an interview with Bloomberg. This same week, a Spotify rep noted in the company’s weekly earnings call that Rogan’s show has contributed greatly to attracting new users to the platform. Hey, great news for Spotify! Hopefully all of those listeners will stick around—y’know, on the planet.
Everything’s Still Coming Up for Selena Gomez
After a week so tainted by controversy and politics, we could all use the soothing, innocuous balm of regular old showbiz stuff, the kind that this column is supposed to chronicle. So as a digestif for such an acidic repast, I offer you two pieces of good news for Selena Gomez: First, her HBO Max cooking show, Selena + Chef, just got a third season set to premiere later this year. The series will find the Grand Prairie native once again trying her hand at complex dishes from out of her home kitchen with the help of famous guest chefs, all in the name of charity and the gentle good humor of watching a young, successful superstar occasionally burn something.
Elsewhere, Gomez will continue to explore her dark side, building on her upcoming Hulu murder-mystery comedy and the psychological thriller Dollhouse by taking the lead in Spiral, a film executive-produced by Gomez’s fellow multimedia mogul Drake. Deadline describes Spiral as the tale of “a former influencer whose addiction to social media is causing her body to literally fall apart.” As with Dollhouse—which would find Gomez playing a fashion model who’s left similarly physically ravaged by her compulsion to be beautiful—Spiral sounds like it will offer a social-horror spin on the exact kinds of pressures that Gomez herself has been forced to endure as a modern celebrity. No wonder she needs a nice, normal cooking show to unwind with.
This Week in Matthew McConaughey
For a second week in a row, Matthew McConaughey has thankfully eschewed all politics, instead focusing his considerable energies on something that we can all agree on: saving movie theaters. The Austin actor appears in a new public-service announcement for The Big Screen Is Back, a collective initiative of cinema owners, studio executives, and filmmakers aimed at restoring public trust in the pandemic-era safety of movie theaters, while also enticing people off the couch after a year spent wallowing in the self-serve torpor of small-screen streaming.
In the ad, which ran as part of Sunday’s Oscars pre-show, McConaughey stands outside Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse as he emphatically champions all the thousands of “unsung heroes” working in theaters, who spent much of the last year on “the longest intermission that they could have ever imagined.” It’s a spot that emphasizes the human element, introducing several Alamo employees as they wax nostalgic over their jobs, as well as the larger-than-life scale of “the movies: the way you’ve always loved them is the way to see them again”—a phrase that is delivered in classic movie-trailer-guy voiceover, as scenes from various upcoming blockbusters shimmy and explode. McConaughey is expected to be just the first of several McConaughey-level celebs to do the ads, although it’s obvious why they started with him: after so many months of hearing his voice tell us to stay home, we’ve become conditioned to wait for it to give us the all clear.
While that spot marked McConaughey’s sole appearance at the Academy Awards, he still managed to take home a prize of sorts this year. A new study of Oscar speeches has concluded, unsurprisingly, that McConaughey is the talkiest Oscar winner of all time, having managed to spit out some 547 words when he accepted Best Actor for Dallas Buyers Club back in 2014. Of course, that speech was slightly padded out, featuring at least twelve “thanks,” plus the obligatory “alright, alright, alright” and “just keep livin’”—and an even more obligatory, long-winded anecdote about how McConaughey’s hero is his own future self. Still, it’s interesting to see exactly how many words Matthew McConaughey manages to get through when nobody dares suggest he wrap it up.
Closer to home, McConaughey’s continuing series of “McConaughey Takes” vignettes returned this week after a lengthy absence for a new episode. In the clip, McConaughey offers a bit of “Acting 101” to all aspiring thespians, beginning with the call to skip memorizing your lines. Instead, McConaughey says, he will simply read and absorb the text at myriad moments along the full spectrum of McConaughey: after a good run “when my endorphins are flying”; late on a Saturday night “when I’ve got a good buzz going”; after church “when I’m feeling in a very forgiving mood”; and “when I’m mad, sad, glad, tired, happy, excited.”
This weeks-long process, McConaughey explains, allows him to come at the story from various emotions. And it helps him understand his character in a way that mere words can’t convey until he finally says them aloud, whereupon they just naturally acquire their sense of rhythm and profundity. (Note: May not apply to actors who are not Matthew McConaughey.) Anyway, it’s a welcome reminder that McConaughey still has his talents to fall back on, should the whole “saving various foundering industries, fledgling sports, and states suffering from a growing political identity crisis” not pan out.