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09.17.09

When Entourage Got Serious

The HBO show’s creator dishes on the Jeremy Piven “backlash,” and says he’s “looking forward to losing again.”

Entourage creator and head writer Doug Ellin looks back at the comedy’s Emmy-nominated, decidedly more dramatic season.

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Now in its sixth season, HBO’s Entourage maintains its perennial Emmy presence with four nominations, including one for Best Comedy. Created by Doug Ellin and based upon the experiences of his friend and fellow executive producer Mark Wahlberg, the half-hour series follows the whirlwind life of a Hollywood movie star and the band of loyal friends (and occasional sycophants) he keeps around him. Entourage’s hectic pace, glamorous location shoots, and rotation of celebrity cameos have earned it a slot in the DVRs of the stylish and savvy (including President Obama). But its essence lies in both its tongue-in-cheek depiction of the entertainment industry and the close-knit camaraderie of five guys trying to make it big.

The show is centered on the career of Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), a Queens-bred actor who climbs his way from obscurity to superstardom. His ascent is aided by his best friend and manager, Eric (Kevin Connelly); his supportive yet equally ambitious actor-brother, Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon, who is nominated this year for Best Supporting Actor); his helpful but often overlooked pal, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara); and his ruthless and relentless agent, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). The group’s connection is palpable and believable, and while each character shines in his own way, the magic truly happens when they all share the screen.

After establishing its tone of success and excess, Entourage’s fifth season, which is what was eligible for the 2009 Emmys, focused on Vince’s fall from grace following a costly box-office bomb. The film’s failure turned him into an industry pariah, and his insecurity and vulnerability trickled throughout the core members of his group of friends, all of whom had to reconcile the star’s current reality with their own career aspirations. Professional ties were severed and personal relationships were threatened as the show veered toward a more dramatic direction.

Watching Entourage is the TV equivalent of a convertible Ferrari ride down Sunset Boulevard, but it is the bond between these five tenacious and hilarious men that make us truly feel like we’re sitting in the front seat.

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Enid Portuguez is a New York City-based writer and editor. Her work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and Antenna magazine.