Adrian Grenier……….Vincent ‘Vince’ Chase
Kevin Dillon……….Johnny ‘Drama’ Chase
Jeremy Piven……….Ari Gold
Rex Lee .Lloyd
Studio: HBO Home Video
Release Date: April 3, 2007
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 12
Running Time: 360 Minutes
It’s all about Jeremy Piven, or at least it was; actually, it may still be. As the workaholic, profanity-spewing Hollywood super agent Ari Gold, Piven is golden. His charisma cannot be denied. His sarcastic take on the luminaries and the dog-and-pony show that is Hollywood is chock full of memorable one-liners. Probably the tamest of the bunch, though, is “let’s hug it out, bitch.”
For two seasons Piven was a good enough reason to want to watch Entourage, a comedy that is a great lampoon of something millions wish for but only a few actually achieve: celebritydom. But with celebrity comes notoriety. Now entering the last half of the third season, the first part of the season comes to DVD, much to the delight of those who can’t get enough of Ari, never mind the focus of the show: the entourage.
The entourage is a four-man ensemble, four friends from Queens, NY, who each have defined roles. The crown jewel of the foursome is Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier). Chase is skating at the cusp of superstardom. A small commodity, his stock takes a huge jump when he signs on to headline Aquaman. The pre-production of the action opus is the primary story line for the second season and includes the story arc of Chase dealing with an on-set love renewed, and then there’s his friends trying to find their own success in the City of Angels.
Eric (Kevin Connolly) is the lowest keyed guy in the group despite being Vince’s business manager and best friend. A former manager at an Sbarro’s fast-food joint in New York, he is a quick study when it comes to negotiations; his opinions on what projects Vince should do and what scripts to read make him a vital asset. Plus, he is quite limber as his backbone can sustain Ari’s disparaging remarks, vulgarities where sex and religion and four-letter words are the crux of the punch lines.
Vince’s older brother Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon) is an out-of-work actor who’s biggest claim to fame was a starring role on the TV show Viking Quest. Now he looks after his younger, wealthier bro, while acting as the resident cook. Then there’s Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), the unofficial chauffer. He’s the lapdog of the entourage; the ne’er-do-well who performs all menial tasks when asked.
When the second season came to a close, Vince’s agent Ari had a moment of clarity; he was entering his Jerry Maguire phase. And like Jerry, Ari lost his place in the talent agency he beefed up with oversized egos (actors), egos that paled in comparison to his own. After a planned coup d’Ã©tat on the agency is exposed, Ari is left with nothing but a few clients, his cell phone, and his gay assistant Lloyd (Rex Lee). But he still had his meal ticket: Vincent Chase – an actor he discovered of all places in a Mentos commercial.
The Aquaman premiere is near as the third season opens. Ari and Lloyd have relocated to a tenement with no working elevator and a hefty amount of stairs. Such an inconvenience to new clientele, the stairs should make Drama happy since he once considered calf implants. He even went as far as to ask several Lakers how they get them so firm. Only in Hollywood.
From popping “Freshmakers” to making-out with Mandy Moore, Chase is living it up in his palatial estate, upholstered with rugs, fanciful couches and movie posters; it is a mansion full of HDTV’s, junk food and video games. For us to believe that Vince and Co. could live in such a place, and afford Hummers and other high-priced autos, we have to buy Vince as an actor. But his talent level is hard to determine, as his time in front of a movie camera is minimal. We take it on faith that Vince is comparable to the likes of Tobey Maguire or Leonardo DiCaprio. The type of guy who can star in a summer blockbuster to line his pockets, but also enjoys working on low-budget productions for the experience of it all.
Most of this season is devoted to the fallout after Aquaman‘s success. I hesitate to wonder if this plot thread was in part inspired by the decisions facing Maguire after Spider-Man blew up to epic proportions. I wouldn’t put it past creator Doug Ellin and the writers, as the stories seem to have more truth than fiction. Perhaps that is why Mark Wahlberg is credited with getting this project off the ground; his experiences navigating the insipidness of the entertainment industry is the show’s template. Just like there is a real Kramer, there really is an Ari Gold. (Ari’s character is based on Hollywood super agent Ari Emanuel, an agent who reps Vin Diesel and Larry David, and at one time Jeremy Piven.)
Like a marriage the relationship between a movie star and his agent is give-and-take. “Help me, help you,” and all that jazz. Vince and Ari’s relationship changes dramatically with each succeeding episode. They speak but Vince’s firmness on wanting to do more arthouse projects does not sit well for a man whose livelihood depends on getting a percentage each time his client gets a gig. And without the umbrella of working for a mega-agency, you can see why Ari would want Vince to do Aquaman 2 rather than his client’s preferred follow-up, Medellin, a film about Pablo Escobar.
Aside from the main plot, which asks, “Will Vince stay with Ari, or will he seek other representation?” the subplots vary in degree. Kevin Dillon gets more screen time as Drama in situations ranging from being a sweathog during a sweltering heat wave in The Valley to getting a second chance at fame, starring in a TV Pilot created by Ed Burns. Of course, screw-ups ensue. It goes without saying Dillon is the comedic genius of the show.
In addition to Drama’s adventures, Turtle tries to make waves in the music industry with his star find – rapper Saigon; and then there’s Eric, a man stuck between two women: his girlfriend (Emmanuelle Chrigui) and her friend (Malin Akerman).
Such situations are okay, but lack the movie insider feel. Thankfully, we get situations involving Ari and his former (Malcolm McDowell) and the executives at Warners (Paul Ben-Victor). Then there’s the name-dropping of certain celebs and guest appearances. Over the course of a few short seasons, Entourage has been lucky to attract people like James Cameron, Luke Wilson, Jimmy Kimmel, and Hugh Hefner. Most of the time they are playing themselves, but then you’ll get someone like Mercedes Ruehl who plays Vince and Johnny’s mom, or Beverly D’Angelo as Ari’s new business partner Barbara Gold. Legendary producer Robert Evans (The Kid Stays in the Picture) is even parodied in the form of has-been producer Bob Ryan (played by Martin Landau).
This kind of faux reality is what makes Entourage so pleasing to watch. It is well-written, and the ensemble is cast to perfection. Certain episodes may sag, but the first half of season three is worth devouring on DVD, as it has quintessential entourage experience with episode 9, “Vegas Baby, Vegas!” Outlandish and ingenious.
(Presented in a 16:9 aspect ratio)
For its first season, Entourage was a full-screen affair. Thank goodness they changed gears in between seasons and started shooting in widescreen. The picture is free of any problems and is pleasing to the eye. No complaints with stuttering or stopping, and no sudden chapter jumps.
(English â€” Dolby Digital 5.1; French and Spanish â€” 2.0)
With three audio options you can’t go wrong, especially since the audio has been upgraded from the 2.0 audio as heard during the first season DVD release. The 5.1 is great at handling the different musical cues and not intruding upon the voices of the actors. Besides, you can’t go wrong with tunes from the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Elton John, Saigon (of course), The Eagles, and The Ramones.
There’s not a lot in the way of extras in this DVD set, but to those who are unfamiliar with the show you can play catch-up with individual spots for season 1 and 2. That way you can ease into season three without feeling out of place.
Also included are three audio commentaries with series creator Doug Ellin and two of the entourage, actors Dillon and Ferrara. The first is for episode 2, “One Day in the Valley,” the rest can be found on the third disc with episodes “Vegas Baby, Vegas!” and “Sorry, Ari”. Like the show, these comments are fun and lively. Anecdotes, technical wizardry, and all sorts of tangents – some pertain to the series, most do not. If you were ever curious as how they “block” certain scenes (like the kitchen, for instance), you’ll be a quick learner after listening to the commentary for episode 2.
The last supplement can be found on the third disc and it is a quick, 11-or-so minutes, look at the Vegas episode. This behind-the-scenes feature is of the puff piece variety, where we get to see the casting of the strippers (boy, I bet that was a “hard” job). Interesting to note is that Wahlberg flew the cast out to Vegas prior to the cameras started rolling on season one.
THE INSIDE PULSE
Entourage is a pricey endeavor, both in its creation and its home release. Still, it is money well spent. The show expertly walks that fine line of satire and reality. It is a mockumentary in weekly installments, a show that is energetic and full of sugary ecstasy. With numerous cameos, a novel idea that is not gimmickry in any way, there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had. Piven’s Ari Gold gets some strong competition from Dillon’s Drama when it comes to stealing scenes. The only drawback is HBO’s decision to split up the release of season three a la Sex and the City. Nevertheless, if you are fans of the show, you must pick this up!