Based on the network's marketing
, this is one that I was prepared to avoid like the plaque
they give you for over fifty years in harness to The Man. I’d’ve thought you’d have to give me a gold watch every Sunday night of Entourage
’s entire HBO
run. The very idea
of watching a bunch of 20-something Hollywood-types bitch and moan about their inconsequential privileged lives was enough to set my teats on swage
(to force into shape with tongs and a hammer, to torture a metaphor). My collision-avoidance radar was blowing code red in the key of crapola major.
And then of course I watched the show. Happened upon the first half-hour episode one night after Six Feet Under, just like they wanted me to. What an unalloyed delight. Thank God I’m too old to make snap decisions anymore.
Entourage is yet again proof that the programming folks at Home Box Office know their business.
They’ve enlisted creator Doug Ellin ("Kissing a Fool," "Life with Bonnie") and Executive Producer Mark Wahlberg (yeah, him, the guy in the underwear) in the kind of job where you clock-in early just to get your giggle-fits. The writers include Larry Charles, from Curb Your Enthusiam and Seinfeld, Stephen Levinson, who must be about 12 since this is his first credit ever, and Rob Weiss, an internet gambling-site entrepreneur who’s married to Hollywood Bad Girl Shannon Doherty and must come upon his Tinseltown savvy first-hand.
Everything about this hilarious show screams out to me Yes! Yes! That’s really the way it is! And for the civilians in front of the tube on Sunday night, well, I’d imagine you probably figure that’s the way it really is too. It plays with all of our expectations and preconceptions and
It. Is. Too funny for words.
Call it a buddy-buddy-buddy-buddy-buddy picture. Vince Chase is a young heart-throb actor with his career shifting into high gear. Vince, his half-brother Johnny Drama, whose own acting career has fallen off considerably since the heady days of Pacific Blue, and Eric and Turtle, their childhood friends from Queens, are ensconced in one of those hillside palaces right above the Sunset Strip where, on a clear night, they can watch Vince’s star rise above the parking lot. The fifth wheel is Ari, Vince’s shark of an agent, whose backstage maneuvering basically sets the plot in motion.
We find them living the sort of life you only see on the silver screen while they wait for Vince’s first feature, Head On to hit the front page of Variety. The boys from Queens all work for Vince now; professional friends, gofers, and, in Eric’s case, savvy arbiters of good career moves. Eric gives the high concept action picture Matterhorn (“Die Hard at Disneyland”) an immediate thumbs down, which sends Ari the agent ballistic. Ari’s the real deal— a savvy no-bullshit-unless-it’s –for-the-good-of –his-client, take no prisoners, agent who knows how important it is for an actor to have a second project underway in case the first one tanks. Ari gives Eric a searing piece of his mind at a $300 sushi power dinner, and Colin Farrell ends up taking the part. Thus are the battle lines drawn for a show that, ultimately, depends for its conflicts more on carefully-observed human nature than it does an endless parade of great bodies, booze, drugs, music, and cars and more great bodies. Though all of those things are present, in spades.
The cast is pitch-perfect. Adrian Grenier plays Vince as the sort of doe-eyed pretty boy who, just when you think he’s got nothing on the ball but his looks and his luck, fools you, fools you every time. Kevin Dillon, from Platoon and The Doors plays Vince’s brother, Drama. He’s pathetic and hilarious, threatening always to drown in the wake of the three friends’ careening (and quite a bit younger and more energetic) lifestyles. Jerry Ferrara is Turtle, the nebbish with a heart of gold, who knows full-well that his friendship with Vince can score him broads. And brew. And Boo. And whatever else there may be to life. But he’d love him just the same if they were still back on the block on Queens Boulevard, which just happens to be the name of the "independent" (read no money) script that Vince is dying to do next.
I may have a favorite character in Eric, Vince’s closest friend, played by Kevin Connolly, whose task it is to keep Vince’s head on straight in the face of some pretty tempting alternative lifestyles. He’s a smart kid with the purest of motives, and it’s a pleasure to watch him square off against Ari and the thousand other natural and unnatural shocks that young Hollywood flesh is heir to. Connolly’s got one of those young open faces, like Sean Astin’s in The Lord of the Rings, that just glows with the pleasures and pressures of friendship, two girlfriends (one going, one coming), and ALWAYS the high voltage insanity of Hollywood. The new girlfriend, Emily, played by Samaire Armstrong, just happens to be Ari’s beautiful young assistant. Can anyone say “conflict of interests” here?
The whole magilla is helmed by some of the savviest directors working in Hollywood today, and I have no idea what Variety and The Hollywood Reporter have to say about this clever show, but I’ll tell you one thing:
They got me. They got me good.
Entourage, HBO, Sunday nights at ten, right after the still-potent Six Feet Under.
On Hollywood and filmmaking:
Below the Line
sex drugs and divorce
a little life, interrupted
- Hecho en Mejico
- Sam's Song
- Hemingway and Fortuna
- Hummingbird on the Left
- The Long and Drunken Afternoon
- Safe in the Lap of the Gods
- Quetzal Birds in Love
- Angela in Paradise
- And the machine ran backwards
a secondhand coffin
how to act
Right. Me and Herman Melville
Scylla and Charybdis Approximately
snowflakes and nylon
I could've kissed Orson Welles
the broken dreams of Orson Welles
the last time I saw Orson Welles
The Other Side of the Wind
Below the Line
Final Cut Pro
king of the queens
Kubrick polishes a turd
movies from space
Persistence of Vision
Apocalypse Now Redux
The Jazz Singer
Six Feet Under
We Were Soldiers