Monthly Archives: June 2006
After two weeks of slight nail biting over Aquaman’s opening weekend, real tension arrived on Entourage this week in the form of Dom, a lumpy buddy from the old neighborhood who arrives in Los Angeles, breaks into the mansion, and then demands his slice of Vince’s movie-star pie. Also worth noting: He’s a manipulative, crass, misogynist thug, with a penchant for shoplifting candy, walking around in the nude, having loud sex at dawn, and swigging straight from the OJ bottle (not such a crime, but real unsanitary, dude). One more detail: He’s an ex-con.
In real life, Dom is actor Domenick Lombardozzi (showing Entourage’s typical blunt approach to naming characters), who plays the similarly crass Detective Thomas ”Herc” Hauk on HBO’s cop drama The Wire. I’m all for HBO doing a bit of intra-network cross-promotion, but it’s clear from the first few minutes of Dom’s arrival on the West Coast that he doesn’t fit in among the starlets, power lunches, and publicity junkets of Entourage.
Eric, or ”E-bola,” as Dom calls him, realizes this within seconds. Soon enough, after Dom begins to muscle in on their territory, so do Turtle and Drama. So why does Vince put up with him? It’s a law of physics: leverage. We learn that Vince feels guilty about a minor drug bust from a few years before when Dom took the fall for him. (Though if Dom hadn’t punched the cop, he wouldn’t have gone to jail.) ”I owe him, I owe him,” Vince says to Eric in the episode’s final moments, just after he informs Eric that Dom will be his new head of security. Vinnie, what are you thinking?
After last weeks’ sugary, cartoonish escapades, this episode was a contemplative palate cleanser. Because beyond all the humor and breeziness, it became clear that Vince is a pushover, with worse judgment than Tara Reid. The final scene on the new Aquaman ride at Six Flags was masterful. The regular characters are scared to death of what lies beyond the first hill. Ari fears for his life. Eric, Drama, and Turtle are worried that their gravy train might be derailing. At the top of the initial climb, the camera homes in on Eric’s face, just as the cars pause before the stomach-turning descent. You can see it in Eric’s eyes; he’s finally realizing the severity of the situation: There are eight people — Eric, Drama, Turtle, Ari, Mrs. Ari, their daughter, and two publicists — who depend on this flaky, unreliable guy with the million-dollar looks for their livelihoods. And by siding with this goon from Queens, Vince is jeopardizing all of it. That’s scary.
But that’s Hollywood. It’s a place where the folks with the most money and the most power aren’t necessarily the smartest or the savviest. And with loose-cannon Dom around, the Entourage fellas’ Hollywood dreams could tumble faster than M:I-3’s second-week gross.
On a more technical note: I’ve noticed a lot of posters complaining about Entourage’s length. Until now, the brevity of season 3’s shows hasn’t bothered me. But the ”Dominated” episode clocked in at just over 24 minutes, way too short for a supposed half-hour series. At this length, it’s only a bit longer than a typical big network sitcom (roughly 22 minutes). And if we wanted a typical sitcom, we wouldn’t be watching HBO.
A few things to ponder before next week: How long will Dom actually stick around? How long until Dom actually hurts someone? Will Ari be able to protect his daughter from the smarmy teen star Max Ballard of Young 21 Jump Street? And what happened to Eric’s girlfriend Sloan?
Showtime Stops ‘Huff"
Series won two Emmys for Showtime
Despite its standing as Showtime’s most decorated series, "Huff" has reportedly been snuffed.
According to Variety, the plug has been pulled on the Emmy-winning second year series, just as it’s approaching is second season finale on Sunday (June 25).
Because Showtime prefers not to release ratings or viewership information — something about how audience size is less important to the premium cable network than having buzzworthy shows that build the subscription base — it’s difficult to know how numbers for the second "Huff" season compared to the first. Showtime didn’t even need ratings, though, to pick up the second season of "Huff," announcing the show’s renewal before it premiered.
Thanks to an aggressive screener push, "Huff" earned seven Emmy nominations in 2005, including nods for Hank Azaria as best actor in a drama series and Oliver Platt as best supporting actor, while Blythe Danner won for best supporting actress. Platt also picked up a Golden Globe nomination for his work, while Azaria was a Screen Actors Guild nominee.
Despite all that acclaim, reports indicate that the show never got the anticipated ratings bump.
MY TWO CENTS
Whenever people talk about the great shows pay cable has to offer, they always talk about HBO. Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Sex and the City, Deadwood…
Showtime never gets a mention, despite such a great and innovative program such as Huff.
With Huff, like all their shows, Showtime manages to make a show with conflicted, real characters without resorting to graphic sex or violence. The language is still as harsh as ever, but it’s nothing you probably wouldn’t hear in the course of a day if you were in these situations.
Even if HBO gets all the press for their sex and violence, Showtime had another winner with Huff.
Great stories, wonderfully written characters. Hank Azaria and Oliver Platt are brilliant and Paget Brewster is completely believable as the housewife and who would have thought Blythe Danner could be unlikeable.
Well at least I have entourage, 24, and reruns of West Wing on Bravo.
Huff…another great show is gone
Aaron Spelling, a onetime movie bit player who created a massive number of hit series, from the vintage "Charlie’s Angels" and "Dynasty" to "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Melrose Place," died Friday, his publicist said. He was 83.
Spelling died at his mansion in Los Angeles after suffering a stroke on June 18, according to publicist Kevin Sasaki.
Spelling’s other hit series included "Love Boat," "Fantasy Island," "Burke’s Law," "The Mod Squad," "Starsky and Hutch," "T.J. Hooker," "Matt Houston," "Hart to Hart" and "Hotel." He kept his hand in 21st-century TV with series including "7th Heaven" and "Summerland."
He also produced more than 140 television movies. Among the most notable: "Death Sentence" (1974), Nick Nolte’s first starring role; "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble" (1976), John Travolta’s first dramatic role; and "The Best Little Girl in the World" (1981), which starred Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Spelling set a record of producing more than 3,000 TV episodes. Besides the TV movies, he produced 10 theatrical films including "California Split," "Mr. Mom." "’night, Mother," "Loose Cannons" and "Soapdish."
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Click on the pic to go to the NBC FIRST LOOK STUDIO 60 PAGE.
STUDIO 60 NEWS:
In the big shift, NBC removed "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" with Matthew Perry, from the highly competitive 9 p.m. slot where CBS’ "CSI" and ABC’s "Grey’s Anatomy" will compete.
NBC has decided to shift hot game show "Deal or No Deal" to that slot.
Here’s the new lineup for Monday night
Monday: "Deal or No Deal" at 8; "Heroes," a new drama, at 9; "Studio 60" at 10.
ONE DAY IN THE VALLEY
I can think of two people who will be supremely annoyed by this week’s episode of Entourage: big-screen webslinger Tobey Maguire and anyone who lives in the San Fernando Valley. The vendetta doesn’t seem personal, but in their quest to have Aquaman beat the all-time-record of Spider-Man’s opening weekend — $114 million — Vince and the bros let a few choice expletives fly toward Mr. Maguire. (None will be repeated here in this family-friendly entry.)
The other butt of jabs and pokes is Los Angeles’ much-teased northern neighbor, the San Fernando Valley, home to strip malls, ”uptalk,” and suburban ranch homes. Titled ”One Day in the Valley” — a nice allusion to the 1996 B-noir Two Days in the Valley, which is best known as Charlize Theron’s racy U.S. debut — the season’s second episode trails the Entourage fellas on the opening weekend of Aquaman. Following Vince’s directives to find an out-of-the-way theater, Turtle picks out a 2:30 p.m. screening in Northridge, which sends Johnny Drama reeling. ”You know my policy, Vince,” he says. ”Except for work, I only go to the Valley November through March, and then only for Sushi Row!” Since I don’t want this TV Watch to become a mere transcript of Johnny Drama’s one-liners, I’ll stop quoting him here.
Drama’s sudden haterade for the Valley is a perfect example of SoCal’s geographic snobbery and also exactly what I love about the lunkhead. Despite the fact that he’s a washed-up actor, Drama lives his life as if he were a box-office-topping divo: There’s no guessing what sort of arcane rules and regulations — remember last week’s ”top tall” rant? — he’ll get all pissed about. In that sense, he’s a lot like fellow HBO regular Larry David, but without the Jewish angst or the giant bank account.
All that said, Drama’s anti-Valley campaign bordered on self-parody this week. The hydrating, the towel around his head, the cooler full of bottled water, in the end, it was a bit too much. Entourage usually walks the fine line between vérité and satire with grace, but this was kinda clumsy. And since no one else will, I’ll stand up for the Valley for a second, gosh darn it! The Valley is home to what might be America’s finest sushi spot (Sushi Nozawa), a few great malls (Sherman Oaks Galleria, in the house!), a flashy bowling alley (Pinz), and, um, strip malls farther than the eye can see. Okay, maybe Drama was right. North of Ventura Boulevard is ”Hell’s waiting room.”
Once again, this week, Entourage treated fans to some excellent inside-baseball showbiz wonkery. This week’s first lesson: Manage your client’s expectations. Until Turtle brought up Spider-Man’s figures, Vince would’ve been happy if Aquaman had hit $50 million. Now our floppy-haired lothario is getting a bit greedy, with his eyes set on besting Spidey’s super take. It was good to finally see Vince acting a bit like a real movie star with a stadium-size ego, even if having to express some emotions besides his typical nonchalance tested the limits of Adrian Grenier’s acting abilities. On the plus side, Grenier clearly has experience with beer funnels, so let’s call it even.
The incomplete scene we see of Aquaman is a hilariously awful but perfect parody of a Michael Bay-style disaster flick — my favorite line is when the little girl drops her stuffed animal and screams, ”I dropped my monkey!” I’m dying to see more, but of course, the power cuts off right at the moment before Vince dives into the giant wave. Which leads us to Showbiz Lesson No. 2: You can’t predict a natural disaster. Though it all turns out all right in the end, the heat wave plays havoc with Vince’s expectations, Turtle’s lust for expensive toys, and, best of all, Ari’s heart. As we know, this equation is a proven law of comedy mathematics: Ari + aggravation = funny.
As the premiere episode hinted, we get to see some more of the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Ari. In a serious case of TMI, we learn that the pair hasn’t had sex in three weeks and that Ari refuses to give it up on ”game day” (i.e., opening day of a client’s movie). Which got me thinking, what other ”game day” rituals does Ari have? Does he always eat chicken like Wade Boggs? Does he not change his underwear? Does he wear the same tie all weekend? Just curious, that’s all.
Two other moments worth noting: A wonderfully geeky cameo by Samm Levine (best known as Neal Schweiber from Freaks & Geeks) as an Aquaman-obsessed fanboy was a nice callback to last season’s ComiCon episode. While most stars would ignore the nerds, Vince proves he’s a mensch, helping them pick up girls and lending them his Maserati. Um, yeah, right. In return, the Vespa-riding fanboys plant the Almost Famous idea in Vince’s head. So when Vince mounts the roof at the high school pool party, we’re treated to a wonderfully meta art-imitating-art-imitating-life moment. For one day in the Valley, Vince is definitely a golden god.
Some questions for next time: Will Mrs. Ari coax Ari back into the bedroom? Will Aquaman’s $116 million gross numbers hold through the weekend? Will our fanboys get the girls? And will the too-short episodes get any longer?
Today I found a brand new website that features Entourage.
Check it out, it has pictures, news, rss feeds and more.
Entourage’ Breaks From HBO Pack
After two seasons of critical praise and a growing cult following, HBO’s "Entourage" finally broke from the ratings muck with a premiere that was 40 percent higher than last season’s average. Sunday’s premiere was seen by 2.7 million viewers, compared with its second-season premiere of 1.6 million and second-season average of 1.9 million, according to Nielsen Media Research.
The Sunday premieres of HBO’s new shows did not fare so well. The critically trashed sitcom "Lucky Louie" was seen by 1.5 million viewers, and "Dane Cook’s Tourgasm," the reality show that goes behind the scenes of the comedian’s comedy show, attracted 1.1 million viewers.
Despite considerable press about the fate of "Deadwood," the premiere of HBO’s last full season of the Western was down from last season’s premiere, garnering 2.4 million viewers compared with 2.8 million in 2005.
Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman
Tonight at 8PM.
Here’s the story behind the phenomenon of Superman, the most merchandised and imitated superhero of them all. Through interviews with the key creative talents responsible for seven decades of thrilling Superman adventures, we’ll follow the Man of Steel’s path from Depression-era comic book hero to George Reeves’s TV portrayal in the 50s, Christopher Reeve’s movies in the 70s and 80s, and the TV shows Lois and Clark and Smallville. There’ll even be a sneak preview of the new film, Superman Returns, to be released this summer.