Monthly Archives: July 2006

HBO ENTOURAGE

entourage

 

STRANGE DAYS

From fantasy to nightmare. From top of the list to bottom of the barrel. That’s the distance that our two fellas — Vince and Eric — traveled in the space between last week’s and this week’s installments of Entourage. The mop-headed pretty boy was the star of a $100 million-plus-grossing superhero franchise; now he’s being called the Terrell Owens of Hollywood. Eric lived out a male fantasy with a stunning female duo; now he’s having to deal with the decidedly un-romantic emotional fallout.

Of course, the one who really screwed up is Vince, yet he’s cruising around in their SUV — a new addition to the fleet, I think — like he’s a teenager on a July afternoon. Not a freakin’ care in the world. Compared with Vince’s dilemma, Eric’s seems far less pressing — blonde or brunette? — yet he’s sweaty, anxious, nervous, self-doubting, and wrecked with angst. That dichotomy really highlights the chasm in Hollywood between the on-screen talent and the behind-the-scenes brains. And it’s the reason why Vince’s character keeps getting more and more annoying — though actor Adrian Grenier keeps improving — as this season goes on. Vince has his good qualities: He’s honest, relatively ethical, extremely loyal, and a solid friend. He’s also a smarmy, entitled brat with crappy judgment who coasts by on looks. If he was my client, I’d cut off his starlet supply until he went back to kiss Warner Bros.’ ass to get Aquaman 2 back.

As for Eric, as Vince says, he’s a good Catholic boy. Maybe too good. His fretting and sweating over the snuggle/cuddle/spoon incident seemed a bit overwrought, at least for any Hollywood millionaire-in-the-making who has to chose between the lithe blonde who sheds her top in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (Tori, played by Malin Akerman) or the lithe brunette whom Usher wooed in In the Mix (Sloan, played by Emmanuelle Chriqui). Man, what a tough life. Would any red-blooded male be so stressed about this? Eric’s rabbit-in-the-headlights morning-after freakout, Tori-stalking, fake illness, and then that passive-aggressive 5:20 a.m. confrontation with Tori all felt like the actions of an ineffectual wet blanket. Maybe E will get his mojo back for next week.

In terms of actual plot development this week, there wasn’t much. Ari’s suave manhandling of Terrence and the real estate scheme show that he’s still got world domination on his mind — also, we learned that raw office space is a big turn-on for Mr. Super Agent. Terrence seemed a whole lot less scary than weaselly, baby-faced agent Adam Davies, who is trying to make a career out of being a cowardly snitch. I see a simple solution to this problem: Stick the Dom-inator on him!

A few lingering questions: Will Eric’s infatuation with Tori mean the end of his relationship with Sloan? Will Ari give in to Davies’ demands? Will Vince get another role? Did Seth Green sleep with Sloan? Because he seemed a bit too familiar with her…

Michael Endelman

HBO ENTOURAGE

entourage

 

THREE’S COMPANY

Um, could someone pass a cold towel? This was a seriously pulse-quickening episode of Entourage, and I’m not just talking about the much anticipated return of Sloan (with her friend Tori). A feeling of frenzy infused the entire half hour, as the characters seemed near collapse as they negotiated both in the boardroom and in the bedroom. Eric was flustered and fidgety about his big night with Sloan and Tori; Drama freaked out about his B-list (maybe even C-list) career; and Ari’s Naomi Campbell-esque phone tossing, rage-typing fits, race-baiting of Lloyd, and obscene miming reached new apoplectic heights. Jeremy Piven latched onto his character’s jacked-up energy like a pit bull and didn’t let go for the entire episode. Go back and check out the jumpy handheld shot as Ari races throughout the agency — it’s some of the most physical, kinetic acting you’ll ever see on TV.

But enough about Ari — I know what you Neanderthals want! Sex! Eric! Sloan! And her blond friend Tori! (That’s enough exclamation abuse for now.) The episode was called ”Three’s Company,” which pretty much says what you need to know. This being an all-ages atmosphere, I’m not gonna get too specific, but let’s just say that this much sex talk (not to mention sex toys) is usually only seen on late-night HBO standbys like Real Sex. It was all crude, hilarious, and, to my ears, pretty accurate in its depiction of the boorish way that men talk about sex when they’re among friends.

But it also seemed to serve another purpose. Namely, to bring some romantic-relationship tension to this season, which has been very heavily focused on the biz side of showbiz. Entourage has been particularly remiss in developing its female characters — though we’ve seen some growth in Mrs. Ari’s role — so it was nice to have Sloan return. At first, I groaned when the threesome came up — just another typical testosterone-fueled fantasy turned into a plot point. But to the show’s credit, the threesome is being played for more than just cheap titillation. The awkward lunch during which Sloan and Eric hashed out their feelings about it was surprisingly sweet, with awkward laughs, shy, embarrassed looks, and ”I’d do it…if you were okay with it,” repeated like a mantra. The dinner for three was just the right mix of anxious and romantic, and then the post-dinner scene…I’ll just stop there. It’s clear from the morning-after shot — and the clips of next week’s show — that the emotional entanglements of this night are going to be hard for Eric to escape.

As for the boardroom side of things, it was almost as hot and steamy, at least for people like me who find reading the Hollywood Reporter and Variety to be a hot and steamy experience. The unveiling of the true nature of Warner Bros.’ Alan Gray (a last name, at last!) showed him to be an even oilier, nastier snake than I thought was possible. As a TV villain, he’s ranking up there with Montgomery Burns, Omarosa, and Twin Peaks’ Leland Palmer. Big props to Paul Ben-Victor for bringing the pain this week with that nasty, unctuous rasp of his.

I’ve been an unabashed fan of season 3, but to be honest, I was getting kind of tired of the back-and-forth about whether Vince will or won’t do Medellín or Aquaman. It felt like the writers were spinning their wheels. It all got resolved tonight, though not in the way that Vince or Ari wanted, dousing one fire but sparking another. The plotline raised new questions about Vince’s character. Specifically, is he principled or just naive? Kudos to Vince for playing hardball with Warner Bros. and squeezing out some extra millions in payback. But when Vince refused to meet Alan Gray for breakfast? That was just pure, ugly hubris. And a dumb-ass career move too. If Vince were a true professional — and a good actor — he would smile over egg-white omelets with Alan on the Warner lot and then talk smack about him from Malibu to West Hollywood.

(On a side note: For anyone who doesn’t read Variety every day, the line about Jake Gyllenhaal taking the Aquaman role away from Vince was a clever nod to a real-life bit of Hollywood scuttlebutt from a couple of years ago.)

From a big-picture perspective, I understand why the writers want to keep Vince a good guy — just a blue-collar dude from PS 154 who stays true to his friends and doesn’t go back on his word. But as Ari says, ”I’m sorry he lied to you. This is the world we live in.” In other words, ”This is Hollywood, not a high-school play, you schmuck!” If Vince doesn’t start to learn how to play politics and operate like a real Hollywood star, he’s gonna be back in Queens before the end of the season.

A few questions to ponder before next time:

Has Vince lost the Aquaman role for good?

Is Eric over Sloan and moving in on Tori?

And will Drama get the role as the ”older brother” in Ed Burns’ show

Michael Endelman

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

 

RED BUTTONS

RED BUTTONS

 

1919 – 2006

 

The flame-haired comedian and Oscar-winning actor of 1957 film "Sayonara," died on Thursday at his Los Angeles-area home at the age of 87 of vascular disease.

Buttons, who started his 60-year career as a kid singing for pennies on New York’s street corners, had been ill for some time. His family was with him when he died, publicist Warren Cowan said.

Buttons’ career spanned film, Broadway, television, comedy clubs and Las Vegas. He won a best supporting actor Oscar for his role as a U.S. soldier involved in an ill-fated interracial marriage in post-World War Two Japan in "Sayonara."

 

HBO ENTOURAGE

 

entourage

James Cameron and Paul Haggis on ‘Entourage’

Oscar winners James Cameron and Paul Haggis had definite ideas about how they wanted to play themselves on "Entourage."

In the HBO series about behind-the-scenes Hollywood, Cameron directed a fictional big-budget titled "Aquaman," starring upcoming actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier).

"Mr. Cameron didn’t want `Aquaman’ to bomb, which, fortunately, we figured out a way to make sure that didn’t happen," executive producer Doug Ellin said at the Television Critics Association’s summer meeting this week.

The crew showered Haggis, who wrote the screenplay for "Crash" and "Million Dollar Baby," with compliments.

"Paul Haggis was just great. He was open to everything, and he was very, very, very cool," Ellin said.

"Good actor as well," said Kevin Dillon, who plays Johnny Drama.

"They seemed happy to not be directing, happy acting," added Kevin Connolly, who plays Chase’s manager, Eric.

The show never addresses whether the fake "Aquaman" was a critical success, a decision Cameron also influenced.

"Two things I’ll say about it is he didn’t insist, but he asked nicely and he’s got a strong presence, so we decided to go with that," Ellin said. "I don’t think he’s made a bad movie. So we like to think this was a very good movie."

Now in its third season, the show’s success has changed the lives of its little-known cast.

"I just bought a house that I can’t afford," Connolly said. "We’re still in the early stages of it, so hopefully it continues for a few more years."

HBO ENTOURAGE

entourage

 

CRASH AND BURN

This episode was officially called ”Crash and Burn,” but I think a more fitting title would have been ”The Episode in Which Our So-Called Star Vince Finally Grows Some Stones.” Or as his beloved Pablo Escobar would say, some cojones. Following last week’s expert manipulation of now-gone Dom (knock on wood!), Vince ends this episode with a flash of malice, spite, and greed that is becoming of a mega-star in the making.

But before we get to that cliff-hanger moment, let’s muse on episode 5’s main theme: scheduling. This week felt like a primer in this unglamorous but hugely important aspect of the film business. In an awkward meeting with Warner Bros., Vince begs the studio chief, Alan, to push back Aquaman 2 for 90 days so he can go down to South America to play Escobar, the legendary drug lord, in Paul Haggis’ Medellín. But balding, scheming Alan gives Vince only 65 days, so Eric and the actor have to visit Haggis himself — in a great cameo that skewers the caustic, ballsy reputation of film directors — to try and work around the action sequel’s strict schedule. No need to get into all the back-and-forth, but by the episode’s final scene, there seems to be a workable compromise that will make everyone — Warner, Vince, Ari, and Paul Haggis — all happy.

But then, the David O. Selznick-esque Alan (played with quiet, snake-like trickiness by Paul Ben-Victor) drops the bomb. It’s all been a farce. In order to protect the studio’s ”billion-dollar franchise” and all the profits from ”Happy Meals and action figures,” Warner Bros. was never really going to let Vince do Medellín. Which leaves Vince stuck doing a B-grade sequel with a hack director — Michael Bay instead of James Cameron. It’s a supremely awkward moment, played well by Adrian Grenier, who goes from ecstatic to crestfallen within seconds.

And that’s when Vince learns to channel his inner divo, staring Alan in the face and asking for the unthinkable: $20 million for Aquaman 2. Whoo! That’s our boy.

It was a great dramatic scene for Grenier, who seems to be improving with every episode. But it left me wondering a few things: Why is Warner really being difficult? Alan says that it’s ”business, not personal.” But is it to protect Vince’s image and the superhero franchise? ”I can’t have Aquaman doing blow,” Alan says. Or is it just Hollywood backstabbing? We learn that Warner had the option on Medellín but gave it up after the studio couldn’t get the biopic under budget. Maybe Alan just can’t bear to see anyone else pull down Oscars with a project he rejected, so he’s turning the screw. Welcome to Hollywood, beeyotch!

In non-Vince news, this week finally saw the return of Saigon, as Vince helps Turtle get his rapper on the radio and pick up Ari as his rep. It’s nice to see Turtle working on a career besides professional mooch. The ever-pitiful Johnny Drama, however, seems to be getting left behind once again. It seems like ages since Drama had a role, and if he doesn’t work sometime soon, he might as well resign himself to a life of being a professional cook and errand boy.

Some things to think about for next week: Will Ari actually help Drama get some roles? Will Warner blink and let Vince do Medellín? Will Ari’s scheming keep Max Ballard away from his daughter? And will Penny Marshall quit smoking?

Michael Endelman
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

 

HBO ENTOURAGE – AQUAMAN

 

 

BOOM!!!!!!!