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In 2004, when Entourage began, its creators made up fictional movie stars and fictional blockbusters in which they could star. Now Entourage is a who’s who of real life Hollywood cameos. Now in its final season, the show has just completed filming, and the cast reunited one last time for a final presentation at the Television Critics Association in Los Angeles in July.

Entourage

 

Adrian Grenier plays Vincent Chase, the movie star who lets his old neighborhood friends along for his Hollywood ride. “We’re all choked up," Grenier said. “Truthfully, we’ve been together for eight years. We’ve spent countless hours, weeks, creating something we’re all very proud of. It’s not only sad to say goodbye to each other, but also what we’ve created. We know we’re going to have a lasting impact and will always be connected to everyone on some level.”

 

Jerry Ferrara plays Turtle, who began as the ultimate slacker and stoner of the group. Over the years Turtle tried his own business endeavors, but by now groups of friends refer to their most pathetic hanger-on as Turtle. 

 

“Very bittersweet for me,” Ferrara said. “It changes daily. Sometimes it’s excitement of starting new things, going a different direction. The next day I’ll reflect back and wow, it’s such a unique eight year run. You wonder if it’s ever going to be like that again. We’ve all made some lifelong friendships which are probably what we’re going to take away.”

 

Doug Ellin created Entourage, but the show first made waves as Mark Wahlberg’s autobiographical pet project. It was based on the gang he hung out with, but no, his brother Donnie was not Drama. Drama is based on a different acting friend of his. 

 

“Once we came up with the initial idea, I was looking forward to stepping away and seeing where Doug would take it,” Wahlberg reflected. “A part of me always felt like this thing would be a slam dunk home run but that was the foolish part of me. The realistc part of me thought maybe we’ll never even get the pilot made. Fortunately we were with HBO. They’re the reason the show lasted as long as it did. Once we got it off the ground and the cast was set, it was a matter of tuning in and watching what Doug was coming up with every week, like everyone else.”


Entourage

It seems like the possibilities could be endless for a group of young actors and Hollywood players. Even Ellin could think of more stories, but he chose a place to wrap up the show.

 

“Yeah, I feel like there was probably more to tell but it’s been a really great run,” Ellin said. “There’s always stuff you go, ‘Oh, it would’ve been nice to get that or this in,’ but we accomplished what we set out to do. It went much longer than anyone of us anticipated.”

 

There is still a lot more story to see in the remaining episodes of the show’s eighth and final season. Jeremy Piven, who plays the wisecracking, fast-talking agent Ari Gold, may have the strongest development before the end.

 

“This season feels like our best,” Piven said. “It’s so gratifying to finish this way. This character I’ve been playing for eight years has been such a reactive character and takes out the oxygen in the room. To humanize him like he’s going to be shown this season is just a gift Doug gave me. It’s been an amazing ride. This character makes this emotional transformation and it’s incredible to finish like this. I think it’ll be gratifying for people to see it, yet we’ve left ourselves in a position where organically I feel we could transition into a movie or not.”

 

Etourage

The series finale is not meant to be a shocker that will rattle longtime viewers. Entourage plans to bow out gracefully. “Ever since the beginning, the movie Diner was a big influence on me,” Ellin said. “The end of the movie Diner left me with I felt I could see these guys in ten more movies because I love being with them. There’s no major deaths. It’s really hopefully just a vibe, where we were the first season, these are my boys, I have a friend like E or Turtle or Drama. We just want a vibe. It wasn’t a major plot thing.”

 

Hearing about the love that everyone who was involved with Entourage felt, it’s amazing they even got the final shots in the can and ready for air. “The last day was like the last day of high school,” Grenier said. “We all had senioritis. It was hard to get anybody to focus. Everyone was exchanging numbers, signing yearbooks. [Director] David Nutter was having a hard time getting everybody to realize we still had a scene to do. There were probably about 1000 set visits too. Everybody and their mother were coming by to say goodbye.”

 

Emotion compounded on emotion as the crew members prolonged the final moments and the actors tried to perform. “That last day was like trying to act in the middle of a riot,” Piven said. “We were like a ride at Universal. It was very sweet, they wanted to come and take pictures and we had to finish the last scene of eight years.”

 

Entourage has reflected Hollywood in the last decade. As comic book movies proliferated, Vincent Chase starred in Aquaman. As blogs and social media rose, Ari Gold faced gossip scandals. Viewers feel they know the movie business through Entourage, but Hollywood itself embraces it.

 

Kevin Dillon plays Johnny “Drama” Chase, the older brother whose career never took off like Vince’s. Vince always gives him a cameo in his movies though, and Drama’s had some success on television.

 

Entourage

“If anyone should know the difference between the lines, it’s people in the business,” Dillon said. “A lot of people in the street think I’m Johnny Drama, I live with Vince and I cook for Vince. I guess [the business] treats us a little different. The show’s given us success. People in the business love it because it shows the business. Everything that happens on the show happens in real life. I know people at ICM who can’t wait to watch the next episode.”

 

As Gold, Piven has found some of his colleagues take the show a little too seriously. “I have had actors that have told me they fired their agent because they didn’t think they were enough like Ari,” Piven said. “I had to tell them this is a fictional character. There’s been a few awkward moments. It has had somewhat of an impact.”

 

A lot of Entourage’s example has been positive though. Vince, and his manager Eric (Kevin Connelly), try to make smart career decisions. Vince even turned down Aquaman 2.

 

“I’ve always found a lot of wisdom through the show, particularly through my character who’s been the guiding force for the guys,” Grenier said. “I look up to him and I take a lot of cues from him when he says stuff like, ‘Good or bad, you can’t listen to what these people [reporters] say.’ I say that with all kindness, you guys say nice things. The idea is what’s important is not the fame, the money, the glitz, the glamour, the girls. What’s important is right here with the guys. I’ve tried to live with that in mind.”

 

The supporting cast list for Entourage is bigger than any Hollywood blockbuster. Over the years, the world’s biggest stars have volunteered for cameos on the show.

 

“The cameos were incredible,” Wahlberg marveled. “The first episode, I was the only one who was going to do it. Usually a show takes a couple years before people trust it and feel confident portraying themselves. It was overnight, you couldn’t go anywhere without someone saying, ‘Put me on Entourage.’ Everywhere you went, someone wanted to play themselves on the show.”

 

Some actors played fictional characters on the show, like Martin Landau as screenwriter Bob Ryan. “Martin Landau was incredible,” Connelly said. “I was watching Cleopatra the other day and there is Martin Landau. I was just thinking it’s amazing. What a lucky, great experience for all of us to get to work with an actor of that caliber and what he’s accomplished.”

 

Other actors spoofed themselves. “Even looking at the Bob Saget character, he’s written in as our neighbor,” Ferrara said. “You can write him in and next thing you know we’re living next door to Bob Saget. One day we did a scene with Sydney Pollack, he wrapped, then we had Kanye West in the afternoon. I don’t know if there’s ever a situation where you can say you’ve worked with those guys in the same day.”

 

Sometimes a location was the cameo. Entourage shot one season finale at the Cannes Film Festival. “One that jumps out at me is the Cannes episode we did,” Connelly said. “What these guys were able to pull off from a production standpoint, how they even got us there, on this carpet and we were able to pull the scene off was a job well done by producers. It was a special feeling when we had that scene in the can and watched that episode and saw the size and scope of it.”

 

Entourage

Entourage is a show about the boys, and it was the boys featured in the final publicity tour of the show, but they are sure to give credit to the ladies who’ve joined them along the way. Emmanuelle Chriqui, who plays E’s on again/off again girlfriend Sloan, Debi Mazar and Vince’s publicist and many more.

 

“Carla [Cugino] really went toe to toe with Ari in the scene that Kevin directed last year and she really brought him to his knees,” Piven said. “The reaction from people was it was uncomfortable to watch that. That’s what we were looking for. Perrey Reeves is an actress who started with one line and demanded to be called only Mrs. Ari. She was revealed to have a name and Perrey did such a stunning job this year, she’ll make you fall in love with her all over again.”

 

For most of the series, Ari’s wife has been hassling him to spend more time with her and the kids, often as a joke about how wrapped up in Vince’s career he is. Now it’s gotten serious and the Golds have separated.

 

“She’s based on my wife,” Ellin said. “She’s got all the money. She gave Ari all the money for his business. Hopefully by the end of this season we’ll see, as a 43-year-old who’s been married for fourteen years, I see this in most of my friends’ lives, they want to have a compatibility with their husbands more than they want the tours. She wants someone to come home to talk to, not a blackberry to sit in her face. Now Jeremy’s had some brilliantly acted speeches, ‘You want the house and this,’ but she could have that without him. Hopefully people will see that, which are the details of the show. She has a very simple request, your focus and attention when you’re around me.”

 

The cast of Entourage will be seen again. Piven plays several roles in this summer’s Spy Kids: All the Time In The World. Dillon has a new series on CBS and everyone has movie offers. Ellin and Wahlberg still promise an Entourage movie after the show is done.

 

“I said if I had to finance it myself I’d do it,” Wahlberg said. “I certainly hope this has a chance to become a feature film. People have always complained that the episodes are too short. They want to go on a journey with these guys. The Hangover to me is very much like Entourage. You look at the success of rated R comedies this year.”

 

Ellin is confident. “We’re going to do a movie. We’re going to do it. It’s a question of when, how quick. Hopefully we’ll sit down and come up with an idea and make it happen.”

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 125 - September 2338
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