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



Posted on July 15, 2006, in Entourage and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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