Wednesday, August 4, 2010

5 Things You Didn't Know: Entourage

Since making its debut back in 2004, Entourage has offered an irresistible peek into the expansive (and expensive) world of a Hollywood superstar. Inspired by Mark Wahlberg’s life, the series follows fictional A-lister Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) as he attempts to navigate La-La Land’s treacherous terrain along with friends Eric “E” Murphy (Kevin Connolly), Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon), and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara). Vincent’s agent, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), also figures prominently within the series, and while the show may not possess the ratings of a show like The Sopranos, there’s little doubt that Entourage has gained the kind of loyal following most programs could only dream of. Yet, there are nevertheless some fun facts and quirky tidbits that even the most hardcore follower might not be aware of. Case in point: these five things you didn’t know about Entourage.

1- Jeremy Piven created “let’s hug it out, bitch”

There’s little doubt that the one thing most people automatically associate with Entourage -- more than the memorable characters, various cameo appearances and frequent instances of nudity -- is the “let’s hug it out, bitch” catchphrase, which Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold first uttered in the second episode. Writer and cocreator Doug Ellin reportedly did not include that line in the show’s script, however, and it was actually Jeremy Piven himself who improvised the line on a whim. Aware that Kevin Connolly, the actor playing Eric Murphy, doesn’t like to be touched, Piven threw the line in at the end of one particular take (says Piven: “I thought it would be very unsettling to hug him, and so it just kind of happened”).

It’s consequently impossible to downplay the impact that the line has had on the contemporary pop-culture landscape, as it’s popped up everywhere from late-night talk shows to T-shirts to internet message boards. TV Guide even ranked “let’s hug it out, bitch” at  No. 6 on its 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catchphrases list, ahead of such indelible chunks of chatter as The Price is Right’s “Come on down!” and Diff’rent Strokes’ “Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?”

2- It took Bow Wow's onscreen virginity

In addition to appearances by Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Tony Bennett and Mark Wahlberg, Entourage’s upcoming fifth season features a prominent role for the artist formerly known as Li’l Bow Wow. Bow Wow, real name Shad Moss, will star as a struggling stand-up comedian who agrees to let Kevin Connolly’s Eric Murphy manage his fledgling career -- although the media attention swirling around his newfound gig revolves solely around his steamy love scene with a porn star. The actor, best known for his work in tame family films such as 2002’s Like Mike, 2004’s Johnson Family Vacation and 2005’s Roll Bounce, is clearly looking to change the public’s perception of him, as the sequence marks Bow Wow’s very first jaunt into the risque world of onscreen sex.

"I know the girls, they're going to go crazy when they see it," the rapper-turned-actor says. "The ladies are gonna go crazy when they see Bow Wow's first sex scene.” The role hopefully marks a tentative first step towards an enduring acting career. “I wanna be the next Will Smith," Bow Wow says. “I love acting. I love my music like I said, but I feel it. After this one, probably one more [album] in me and that's eight.”

3- Mark Wahlberg wants to make an Entourage movie

Given that Mark Wahlberg’s life was the original inspiration for the creation of Entourage, it’s not surprising to note that the actor is now looking towards the big screen as the next destination for his onscreen alter ego. After being told that Grenier would happily play the role for another 10 years, Mark Wahlberg told an interviewer: “We’re hoping for maybe three [or] four more seasons, and then maybe a film or two.” Wahlberg’s most telling remark came immediately afterwards, however: “Obviously the Sex and the City success has opened up a window of opportunity there.” Following the phenomenal success of Carrie and company’s first cinematic endeavor, there’s been a rush within the industry to see which television shows would benefit from a big-screen adaptation (with such programs as The Sopranos, 24 and Friends rumored to be considering a theatrical upgrade).

Despite Mark Wahlberg’s enthusiasm, however, Jeremy Piven believes that, for the time being, Entourage should stay exactly where it is. “We’ve never discussed an Entourage movie and I think we have a few years left in us [on television],” Jeremy Piven recently told an interviewer. And while Piven hasn’t entirely ruled out the possibility (“if they’re not sick of us, maybe we’ll do a movie”), it seems likely that Entourage’s trip to the multiplex will have to wait until the show ends its small-screen run.

4- One of its writers played a criminal on Beverly Hills, 90210

Though Cliff Dorfman has certainly made a name for himself as one of Entourage’s most prolific writers (he’s penned 16 episodes either by himself or with others), it’s interesting to note he had had virtually no experience as a writer when series creator Doug Ellin hired him back in 2004. Prior to that point, Dorfman was just another struggling actor trying desperately to make ends meet by taking on bit parts on shows like Baywatch Nights and Blossom. His most well-known small-screen stint remains a four-episode run on Beverly Hills, 90210, in which he starred as a vicious thug who ambushed and raped Jennie Garth’s beloved character Kelly Taylor.

Dorfman’s gig on the series came to an abrupt end after his depraved character was shot dead by Kelly during an ill-advised second attack, yet it was Dorfman’s long-standing friendship with Ellin that eventually led to his position on Entourage’s writing staff. The two met in 1993 when Dorfman agreed to produce a short film by Ellin entitled The Pitch, which -- though unreleased to this day -- starred David Schwimmer, Jonathan Silverman and Ernie Hudson.

5- Grenier is a filmmaker who has already directed a feature

Unlike his carefree and far-from-ambitious television counterpart, Adrian Grenier has been working hard to parlay his newfound notoriety into a career that’ll last long after Entourage has left the air. In addition to his work on the big screen -- including a stint opposite Anne Hathaway in 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada -- Adrian Grenier has been building up a solid resume of directorial efforts designed to ensure that he’s not seen as just another pretty face. His debut, 2002’s Shot in the Dark, followed his efforts to get to know the biological father he had never known, with the documentary eventually premiering to positive reviews at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival (the San Francisco Chronicle called the movie “smart” and “a constant surprise”).

Buoyed by the mild success of Shot in the Dark, Adrian Grenier -- who has also helmed a 17-minute short called Euthanasia -- has recently completed filming on a new documentary revolving around the paparazzi and their increasingly volatile relationship with their famous subjects. Entitled Teenage Paparazzi, the film is reportedly due to feature appearances by such well-known figures as Alec Baldwin, Eva Longoria and Rosie O’Donnell, which, coupled with Grenier’s sure-to-be sardonic narration, should result in a cutting insider’s look at what it means to be a celebrity in the 21st century.