Nick Offerman almost competed on Survivor — and remains open to possibility in the future 

One of the (many) great things about Nick Offerman’s character Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec was that so much of it was true-to-life for the actor. Offerman really is an outdoorsy, wood-crafting, whiskey lover. Sure, he was playing a part, but the skills required to convincingly portray the character were real. Some might say that such prowess would make Swanson an excellent Survivor contestant — and Offerman would agree.

It turns out the actor once came very close to participating in CBS’ reality competition, as he and his wife, Megan Mullally, revealed on Conan O’Brien’s new podcast, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. During the latest episode, O’Brien recalled a time when he watched Offerman mend his exploded bike chain with nothing but a flat rock, and Mullally noted his survival skills go beyond simple vehicular repair.

“We have always said that we thought that Nick would kill on Survivor,” she said. “Not even Celebrity [Survivor]; regular Survivor.

“It’s been discussed,” added Offerman. “We’ve sincerely looked at it in reality.” They considered it so closely, in fact, that he apparently almost appeared on the show, but had to back out when he got an acting job.

“I would love to. I think it would be really fun,” Offerman said of the possibility of appearing on the show in the future. “I think I’d be good at some things, but I’m not certain that… I’m not sure how well I’d fair at the social aspect of the game.” Mullally pointed out that everyone loves him, but O’Brien noted that he has “no guile” and wouldn’t fair well at the mind games.

“His brain, he’s not effed up enough to think of how to screw everybody over,” said Mullally.

Whether or not Offerman ever ends up competing on Survivor remains to be seen. In the meantime, he’s currently hosting his own reality series, Making It, with former Parks and Rec co-star Amy Poehler. Recently, the show was picked up for a second season.

Listen to the Offerman and Mullally’s appearance on Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend:

Paul McCartney recruits Emma Stone for musical short film “Who Cares”: Watch 

Paul McCartney will not slow down. Not only did he just release a 50th anniversary edition of The White Album in addition to the lovely Egypt Station, but the one-time Beatle has also announced a 2019 world tour and a children’s book. Now, he’s capping off 2018 with “a musical short film” starring himself and Oscar-winning actress Emma Stone.

The film, which finds Stone visiting a “Behavioral Hypnotist Meteorologist” played by McCartney, serves as a vessel for Egypt Station single “Who Cares”. It was shot on 65mm Kodak film with Panavision cameras, which gorgeously capture the pair’s dive into miming and prop comedy.

In a press release, McCartney reveals that the clip, which was directed by Brantley Gutierrez and Ryan Heffington, was created with nonprofit Creative VisionsArtemis Rising Foundation, and the Blue Chip Foundation, among others, as part of the anti-bullying campaign #WhoCaresIDo.

“My hope is that if there are kids being bullied — and there are,” McCartney says in a statement. “Maybe by listening to this song and watching this video, they might just think it’s not as bad…that it’s the kind of thing you can just stand up to and laugh off and get through.”

Stone, meanwhile, just gave one of the year’s best performances in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite. She’s currently poised to star as a young Cruella de Vil in 100 Dalmatians prequel Cruella.

Producer of the Year: Mike Dean Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop Shaping Hip-Hop 

All the media in this article are songs Dean contributed to in 2018, a small sampling of the writer and producer’s eclectic and game-changing work behind the scenes.

Mike Dean might just outlast all of us. The veteran producer has survived countless trends and changes in taste. In fact, he’s been one of the innovators of those movements. A native of Houston, Dean got his start as a young man playing keyboards for Selena, one of the most influential Mexican-American music artists of all time. Soon he moved into hip-hop, producing for Scarface, UGK, and many more. Dean’s beats helped define the Dirty South sound of the early ‘90s. Since then, he’s worked with Kanye West many times, first as a mixer on College Dropout and Late Registration, then as a producer or co-executive producer on everything that followed. He’s said that he and West are “like a band.”

Dean has been a hidden hand behind some of the most vibrant musical movements of the last two decades, and 2018 was one of his most accomplished years yet. Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD achieved widespread acclaim for the ambition and originality of its beats. Dean was a big part of that success, producing three tracks and co-producing many more. Perhaps even more impressive was his work on the Jackson Hole series: five albums released in five weeks, linked by their short length but musically distinct, all co-executive produced with Kanye West. Pusha T’s Daytona was one of the best hip-hop albums of the year, and all of ye, Kids See Ghosts, NASIR, and K.T.S.E. were interesting and worthy of critical discussion.

In conversation, Dean has a voice like crushed gravel. He talks about his musical family. “My mom and dad had old records I used to go through, old jazz records,” he says. “My brother and sister both played. My sister played piano, my brother played saxophone. It made me want to do it.”

But when he was starting out, he was aiming for a slightly different career. “I always wanted to be a musician. I was a keyboard player, multi-instrumental musician. I always wanted to be an artist, a keyboard artist. I was in a band before that. I was in rock bands and shit.”

Becoming a producer, he says, happened in a “less planned way. You know we recorded with Selena. I started learning what producing was. At some point, I quit the rest of the bands and just started playing piano bars and making beats,” he recalls. “That was when I started getting into hip-hop, all that shit.”

The way he makes music is similarly unplanned. “I just start playing things and shit happens,” he explains. “I don’t really hear it in my head or anything. I might have half an idea of what it might become. I don’t hear it until it comes out of my goddamn fingers, you know?”

His workdays are unstructured. “My routine is pretty laid-back. If I’m on a deadline, it’s like, work the whole time you’re awake. And if I’m not, it’s pretty laid-back. I’ll wake up, hang out for hours, smoke weed, build up to working.” That all changes if he’s on a deadline. Then it’s “16, 18 hours a day. But it’s not all solid work, you know? It’s smoking weed, listening to music. Smoking weed is half the day, probably.”

Dean is a master of the little details of a song: the mix, the balance, the subtle shading that makes music pop. He’s a producer in the classical sense, even as the term “producer” comes to mean more and less than it used to.

“The producer used to be the person that put together the music before computers, put together the musicians, figured out who’s going to play what, did arrangements, all that: Execute the whole record,” he explains. “Now, a producer can be a loose term. Is it somebody that makes the beat and hands it off and never hears the song until it’s on iTunes? They call that a producer, but it’s not really a producer; that’s making a beat. That’s not producing the whole album.”

Dean doesn’t just work with his own beats. He’s good with other people’s beats, too. “I’m the one that’s usually taking people’s stuff that’s half done and working on it. I’m kind of the finisher. I get a lot of people that are upset because I changed something of theirs. But it’s a collaborative thing, and it’s up to the artists how it comes out.”

During our conversation, “collaboration” was one of his most-used words. That’s how he talks about Travis Scott and Kanye West, calling them “the kings of collaboration” and singling out Kanye as someone who “works out how to work with people.” It’s clear how important collaboration is to Dean. “Everybody’s not going to like your ideas. Can you accept that and move on and keep working with them? Some producers will make a part and fall in love with it. If you change it, they get their feelings hurt. You can’t be like that. You can’t be in your feelings and be a collaborative producer.”

For the people who work with Kanye West, being a good collaborator means checking Twitter. That was the case with the Jackson Hole series of albums. Dean had been working with Kanye “doing all these albums for different artists” but without a clear timeline or end date. “One day, I woke up, I checked my Twitter, and I saw we were doing five albums in five weeks.” remembers Dean. “We just had to go in and work our asses off, doing 20-hour days.”

Dean’s got a big personality. When I ask him how he got through 20-hour days, he says, “Smoke a lot of weed,” and when I ask him if he had any goals for the project, he shouted, “History!” and laughed.

We ended our conversation with the adjustments he has made throughout his long career. He thought it was most pronounced in the mixing. Today, songs are “a lot more musical, a lot more bright. I was talking about this the other day, talking about the older producers from the ’90s and how they complain about how the new stuff sounds. You know, I could still make beats like I did in the ’90s,” he explains. “I don’t believe in sticking to your own era. You should always progress with the times. I could make beats like I did for the old records, but it would sound funny now, sound really dull and really muddy. You got to keep up with the times, the devices that are coming out. You got to mix for iPhones, iPads, laptop speakers.”

The key to making it work, he says, is starting with a live instrument. “It makes it more authentic than something made completely on a computer. There’s nothing like a real piano. No fake piano will sound like a real piano. It has an emotion to it when you play it. It vibrates, it makes you feel things, as opposed to a keyboard that plugs into a computer. Same thing with old analog synths,” he continues. “Find something that’s really vibrating as opposed to coming from speakers on a computer.”

It takes a great deal of skill to make a laptop speaker sound like a vibrating piano string, but certainly that’s not the only reason Dean has managed to stay relevant across so many musical paradigms. Before he went, I asked him again how he manages to keep things sounding fresh. He thinks it might have something to do with his unstructured work day and the importance he places on spontaneity.

“I try to do shit differently all the time,” he says. “I start from scratch every time.”

Black Thought and Salaam Remi perform “Conception” on Fallon: Watch 

The Roots co-founder Black Thought dropped two collaborative EPs in 2018: Streams of Thought, Vol. 1  featuring 9th Wonder and Streams of Thoughts Vol. 2 – Black Thought x Salaam Remi Presents TraxploitationIn support of the latter release, Black Thought and Salaam Remi performed their song “Conception” on Monday’s episode of The Tonight Show.

Black Thought also received support from Questlove and the rest of The Roots Crew. The captivating performance was also further enriched by a small string section. Catch the replay below.

The Runaways’ Jackie Fuchs is killing it on Jeopardy! 

Jackie Fuchs was once known as The RunawaysJackie Fox, but her new title is Jeopardy! champion. The former bassist first appeared on the trivia show this past Friday and became its new champion by winning $14,200. She returned on Monday night to defend her crown with another victory to add $19,889 to her pot.

Jeopardy! fan site J! Archive notes that Friday’s program saw Fuchs faced with several music-related questions on her way to her first win. One of them — “In this song by the B-52’s, ‘we were at the beach, everybody had matching towels’” (“What is ‘Rock Lobster?’”) — she answered correctly. The other — “Solana Imani Rowe performs under this 3-letter name, as on ‘All the Stars’ with Kendrick Lamar” (“Who is SZA?”) — she did not. Fuchs, it seems, has yet to spin K-Dot’s Black Panther soundtrack.

(Read: Joan Jett on Fronting Nirvana and Covering The Replacements)

Fuchs also nailed Monday’s Final Jeopardy! question, expressing confidence in her knowledge of Norse Mythology by wagering $9,889 of her $10,000 winnings. She knew it was Loki who turned himself into a mare and birthed an eight-legged horse (yo, Marvel, where’s that scene in Ragnarok?), bringing her two-day total to $34,089.

As Pitchfork notes, Fuchs, who currently writes and practices law in Los Angeles, is a game show regular, having appeared on competitions like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and The Chase. She’ll be back for a third Jeopardy! match tonight, so stay tuned.

See a video of her Friday win below.

Miley Cyrus covers Ariana Grande’s “No Tears Left to Cry”: Watch 

On the heels of their appearance on Saturday Night Live this past weekend, Miley Cyrus and Mark Ronson visited BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge on Tuesday. Continuing a recent trend of artists covering songs from Ariana Grande’s catalog (see: Mumford & Sons, The 1975, and Alessia Cara), Cyrus and Ronson offered their take on “No Tears Left to Cry”, one of the many standout tracks from Grande’s latest album, Sweetener.

The duo also showcased their own new single, “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart”. For both performances, which you can replay below, Cyrus and Ronson were were accompanied by a string section.

“Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” serves as the first single off Ronson’s new album, which is set to arrive in 2019.

Cardi B meets her future soulmate on Carpool Karaoke: Watch 

Roughly a month after Cardi B’s ex, Offset, spit bars on James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke, the Invasion of Privacy rapper hopped in the passenger’s seat for her own appearance.

Cardi performed her new single, “Money”, along with Invasion of Privacy tracks “Bodak Yellow”, “Drip”, and “Bartier Cardi”. It wasn’t all fun and games, however. Cardi, who owns several luxury cars despite not knowing how to drive, also got behind the wheel for a driving lesson.

Eventually, Corden reclaimed the wheel and drove Cardi to her final destination — a senior citizen center. There, she soundtracked a dance lesson and possibly met her future soulmate.

Replay the full segment below.

Cardi’s had a tumultuous year, what with her split from Offset and that highly-publicized feud with Nicki Minaj, but her debut album was undoubtedly a delight, scoring a slew of Grammy nominations and landing on both our best albums and best songs of the year lists. She’s also become a sought-after guest, having appeared on Meek Mill’s Championships and City Girls’ Girl Code. Next year, she’ll serve as a judge on Netflix’s Rhythm & Flow and headline Primavera Sound and the Atlanta’s Bud Light Music Festival.

The Raconteurs to release two new songs on Wednesday 

It was back in October when Third Man Records announced that Jack White’s The Raconteurs would release a new album in 2019, their first full-length in more than a decade. The reveal was accompanied by the announcement of a 10th anniversary reissue of 2008’s Consolers of the Lonely, which was said to contain two brand new songs from the forthcoming record. Now, it appears the band is poised to make two new songs available online.

(Read: What is Jack White’s Best Project?)

As was revealed in a tweet from Third Man, the songs are called “Sunday Driver” and “Now That You’re Gone”. They’ll premiere digitally on Wednesday, December 19th. Below, you check out the video, which contains snippets of both songs.

White recently wrapped an expansive world tour supporting his latest solo album, Boarding House Reach.

Judge forces sicko poacher to watch Bambi once a month for an entire year in jail 

One of the best scenes in The Shawshank Redemption is when Andy Dufresne and his jail pals get to go watch a movie one evening. It’s a priviledge for them, a moment where the prisoners feel alive — like human beings again. Needless to say, that won’t be the feeling for poacher-turned-prisoner David Berry Jr.

A Missouri judge has sentenced the former hunter to an entire year in jail, where he’ll be forced every month to watch Walt Disney’s 1942 animated stroll through Bummerville, Bambi. You know, the depressing AF movie where the baby deer loses its mother to a sicko like Berry Jr. and has to then wander around the forest as a lonely orphan?

As CNN reports, Berry Jr. was arrested, along with two members of his family, on August 31, 2016 for illegally killing a deer, taking only their heads and leaving their bodies to rot.

“Berry Jr.’s convictions are the tip of a long list of illegal fish and game activity by him and other members of his family,” Lawrence County Conservation Agent Andy Barnes says of the nearly nine-month long investigation that now ties 14 Missouri residents to more than 230 charges across 11 counties.

Whether all of these hunters will be required to watch Bambi remains to be seen, but as this writer can attest, that movie’s no walk in the woods. Seeing the re-release of that flick proved to be a very dark afternoon in 1988 for my parents, who were forced to deal with a screaming child that had no idea that Disney would ever make that left turn.

Yes, Bambi is a dangerous thing my friend, it can kill a man…

Lorne Michaels pulled Pete Davidson’s sketches from SNL Christmas episode 

Over concern for his well-being, Pete Davidson was intentionally omitted from last weekend’s Saturday Night Live Christmas episode, according to Page Six.

In the hours leading up the episode’s airing, the 25-year-old comedian posted a series of worrisome messages to Instagram.

Responding to Kanye West’s own social media comments about mental health, Davidson wrote, “Bravo Kanye West for standing up for yourself and speaking out against mental health. I can’t explain to you enough how difficult and scary it is to be honest about stuff like this. We need people like Kanye. No one should ever point fingers at you for your bravery in speaking about mental health. I’m seriously disgusted.”

“I’m doing my best to stay here for you but I actually don’t know how much longer I can last,” Davidson added. “All I’ve ever tried to do was help people. Just remember I told you so.”

He then wrote, “I really don’t want to be on this earth anymore,” before deleting his Instagram account.

The posts prompted the NYPD to perform a welfare check on Davidson. Several other celebrities — including Davidson’s ex-fiancée, Ariana Grande — also offered their support on social media.

Davidson was largely absent from the evening’s episode of SNL. He made only one live appearance to introduce Miley Cyrus and Mark Ronson’s performance of “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” (He also appeared in a pre-taped sketch in which he impersonated Bohemian Rhapsody star Rami Malek auditioning to be next year’s Oscars host.)

The decision to keep Davidson off of the episode was intentional, according to Page Six, which reports that SNL head Lorne Michaels dropped Davidson’s sketches before the early evening rehearsals.

“Lorne has pledged to help all he can, including sending Pete to get help,” a source told Page Six. “Everyone on the cast is hugely protective of him and were obviously upset — particularly Colin Jost and Michael Che on ‘Weekend Update.’”

Davidson is expected to return to SNL when the show returns from its holiday break early next year.