Monthly Archives: August 2006
Vegas Baby, Vegas
This is what you would call a romp. A classic Vegas-themed episode, show No. 9 was filled with all the necessary elements of a Sin City sidetrack: blackjack, strippers, big losses, big wins, a celebrity cameo (Seth Green in a commendable appearance as a smarmy, annoying weasel), a fistfight, and… plenty of homoerotic tension!?!? Okay, maybe it wasn’t your typical sitcom scenario, but it was a great episode of guy-centric frivolity that didn’t try to advance the narrative, a welcome change of pace after the overcooked frenzy of last week’s show.
In their typically fearless way, Entourage used the featherweight subject matter to expose yet another unseemly and greedy celebrity tradition: the appearance fee. That was the whole reason for the Nevada trip: an easy payday. Turtle arranged for Vince to receive a generous $100,000 fee for merely showing up at the opening of a club called Body English. (Doesn’t that sound like a name for one of those new supposedly chick-attracting deodorant sprays?) This is no HBO-created fiction: Paris Hilton reportedly gets three times as much for showing up at discotheques throughout the Continent. Unsurprisingly, the club was actually a strip club, and Vince had (without his knowledge) committed to judging a ”Queen of the Strip” contest. Being the mensch that he is, Vince let his best lech, um, friend Turtle be his ”eyes, ears, and mouth” for that operation.
As Ari pointed out numerous times — when he wasn’t having a conniption over his blackjack losses — maybe Vince shouldn’t be carousing with girls named Crystal and Tiffani when his career seems to be in freefall. Vince waved it off while puffing a joint in his Escalade, as if he were a college frosh without a care in the world. It’s totally irresponsible, but kind of awesome, too. Maybe Vince’s juvenile nonchalance about his own career is Entourage’s own small way of rebelling against the aggravating proliferation of media-trained, stage-managed, vacuous robo-thespians. As long as Vinnie boy doesn’t go all Mel Gibson on us, a little bit of unbridled ”realness” is fine with me.
Speaking of exposing yourself, things got a little uncomfortable for Drama, when his man-masseur Ken mistook Drama’s over-the-top affection for a come-on. Drama’s id freaked out, flooded testosterone into his system, and then he unleashed some old fashioned whoop-ass on Seth Green and his gang of Jäger-swilling losers. Now, what are we supposed to assume from this? I don’t think Drama is gay, despite his weird Ken worship. He’s obviously a bit of a homophobe — overcompensating much, Johnny? — but mostly I think he’s just an oblivious, narcissistic metrosexual who loves to pamper himself with maroon silk robes and hour upon hour of massage. As a man who has experienced a transcendent hour or two of deep-tissue massage in his life, I can appreciate Drama’s position: He just loves a good rubdown. Wait, does that sound dirty?
Questions for next week: Will we see the return of the shady Hollywood Foreign Press Association? Is Babs going to tear Ari a new one? Will Vince take another role soon? Will Seth Green press charges?
The Fall of Saigon
I had a feeling that Turtle was gonna get screwed. And honestly, it’s a good thing that he did. If Turtle actually landed Saigon a major label deal, it would definitely upset the fragile emotional balance within the Entourage crew. Turtle is a natural mooch, excellent driver, and convincing second banana. But as a money-making manager? Nahhh. And thanks to Saigon’s unexpected defection, Turtle will have to get back on the Vincent Chase gravy train.
When our freshly dipped Turtle stepped into the office of record exec Sammy Kane — nebbishy character actor David Paymer doing his best Jerry Heller — he was expecting the best day of his life. After Saigon didn’t show, it took some Columbo-style sleuthing by Johnny Drama to flush him out. The ensuing confrontation at the Hollywood Standard — one of two prominent hotel cameos this week — was a typically Entourage-ian nudge-nudge inside joke. Just replace Saigon’s ”old” manager Bunky (Hassan Johnson, in the second appearance by a cast member of The Wire this season) with the famous barrel-size music-biz intimidator Suge Knight. Then replace Johnny Drama with Vanilla Ice, and you’ve got a knowing re-creation of an alleged (then recanted) 1990 incident in which a certain intimidating executive dangled a particular white rapper over a hotel balcony while demanding that the rapper hand over half the publishing for his biggest hit. In the end, Turtle capitulated, but he still got $40,000, which should keep him stocked in New Era caps and fresh-out-of-the-box Nikes for a few months.
Movie buffs who missed the Suge Knight-Vanilla Ice reference could spend the episode enjoying the welcome appearance of Martin Landau as Bob Ryan, a distinguished if dejected old-school Hollywood producer who shows up at the blindingly white, hyper-modern Miller-Gold agency begging for a meeting. I’m no Peter Bart, but even I could tell that Landau’s washed-up, name-dropping, past-his-prime producer with a Versailles-style estate in the hills was a riff on Robert ”The Kid Stays in the Picture” Evans. After being tricked into an endless lunch with the reminiscing, fading player at his mansion, filled with Roman Polanski’s Picasso and naughty home movies of Candy Bergen, Eric actually finds a good idea. That would be a Ramones biopic called I Wanna Be Sedated, which, come to think of it, actually is a good idea. First Aquaman, now this? In the real world, the flick would be Oscar bait. Maybe Doug Ellin should quit Entourage and start pitching movies full-time.
On the other hand, after Queens Boulevard, should Vince really be signing on for another outer-borough-themed movie? If this trend continues, soon enough Vinnie Chase will be playing that other Queens icon, Mr. Met.
Some questions for next time: Is Vince really falling for his Book Soup pickup Nicole? I have a bad feeling that she’s gonna pull a runaway bride and become his first celebrity stalker. Will the Ramones movie actually get made? And is Ari more interested in decorating than being an agent?
TV SQUAD NEWS
Full scene from Entourage’s Queens Boulevard
Cool link here.
It sends you to the homepage for a company called Legend Films.
Their specialty? Colorizing old black and white movies so that classic cinema is more appealing to the current crop of film-goers. Anywho, they were tasked with colorizing that one scene from Entourage’s "Queens Boulevard." It played a big role in this episode. Vince and Walsh (the director) refused to sanction the release of the film unless it was put out in it’s original black and white format. No word yet on whether or not the film will actually be released in the world of Entourage.
But if you’d like to see the whole scene in color (past episodes have only given us Vince’s "I am Queens Boulevard" line), now you can. It’s a little cheesy, but definitely worth seeing if you’re a fan of the show. Now all we need is that scene from Aquaman with Vince running down the pier?
With all of the zigzagging feints, ping-ponging emotions, and corkscrewing narrative twists, tonight’s episode of Entourage left me reaching for the Dramamine. I’ve been an unabashed fan of season 3 from the start here on TV Watch, but sorry, web readers, this was probably my least favorite episode of the season. In the goal of pushing the story forward, this week’s installment (called ”The Release”) was crammed tighter than Joss Whedon’s lunch schedule during Comic-Con. I’m not even going to attempt to list all the various threads and overlapping story lines in the 25-or-so-minute episode, because it would take up all of my allotted word count (and put all of you to sleep). But about halfway through, just keeping track of all of the characters’ whereabouts had me feeling like an air-traffic controller.
And that’s not it. I’m just not buying this massive 180-degree change in Vince’s whole attitude and ethos. That he’s too ”principled” to have breakfast with Warner Bros. honcho Alan Gray was a stretch but somewhat believable. That he would follow up the Aquaman 2 debacle by embarrassing a second studio at a press conference was beyond ludicrous. Now we’re supposed to buy that Vince is some kind of activist-actor to whom money means nothing? Last time I checked, Vince lived in a mansion, rolled around in an Escalade, and bought all of his homies Ducati racing bikes.
By the way, the Willy Wonka-style colorization of Queens Boulevard was a goofy, funny way to villainize yet another studio, but I think the whole colorization debate died down about 20 years ago, didn’t it?
Enough griping for now. There actually were some fun things about this episode. The return of Barbara ”Babs” Miller, the ultra-bitchy superagent who might be the only woman — besides Mrs. Ari — who can emasculate Ari Gold with a single stare, brought the level of subterfuge to an all-time high. Beverly D’Angelo plays the two-timing Babs with a bawdy, sourpuss sulk; she looks like she’s just taken a bite out of a raw lemon. Plus, in a surprise return engagement, Rhys Coiro appeared as indier-than-thou auteur Billy Walsh, whose foulmouthed and aggressively anti-studio, anti-agent, anti-Hollywood, and anti-pretty-much-everything demeanor always reminds me of writer-actor-director Vincent Gallo: Any other ideas of whom he might be modeled on?
Lastly, our poor shlub Johnny Drama finally caught a stroke of luck this week, and just in time. I really thought the guy was gonna pack up and move back to Queens after Turtle’s hip-hop impresario career picked up. In an ironic twist, Drama’s long history of bad career choices has finally paid off for him. Instead of starring in The Brothers McMullen, he chose a three-episode arc on 90210 sexually harassing Tori Spelling, and now Ed Burns is returning the favor, in a kind of skewed reverse karma.
In my TV Watch for episode 2, I mentioned that Drama was becoming a kind of meathead Larry David. His Costanza/David-esque qualities were in full bloom this week, with his argument with the traffic cop, his shouting at the taxi driver, and his rageaholic meltdown in the coffee shop. Though I have to admit I feel Drama’s pain on the coffee issue. When the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf discontinued its frequent-buyer punch cards — because of counterfeiting, reportedly — I almost gave up caffeine in protest.
Questions to think about: Is Vince ruining his career?
Will Queens Boulevard ever get released?
Will the Miller-Gold Agency get off the ground?
And will Ari get any of his money from Terrance?