”Entourage”: Budget cuts
Welcome back, Entouragers! After a break for the Memorial Day weekend, a quick refresher might be needed. Here ya go: Vinnie wants to make Medellín, and he needs money. There, you’re all caught up.
Actually, the opening moments of ”Adios Amigos” concluded what amounts to a cliff-hanger on Entourage. Vinnie did not, in fact, trade sex for money! Last episode our favorite man ho was confronted with an indecent proposal: $60 million in funding for his dream project if he would sleep with the wife of a deep-pocketed moneyman. Now we know he declined the night of carnal pleasure, even though, as a dismayed Turtle pointed out, ”You’ve done worse.”
So tonight kicked off the search for mo’ money. To the rescue came our favorite neurotic, Yom Kippur-ignoring producer: Nicky Rubenstein. At the ripe age of 35, Nicky finally has access to his trust fund, making him his own man — if being his own man means playing with money someone else made. Judging by Nicky’s relaxed attitude, that inheritance must have been a dump-truck load, since the $25 million he offered E and Vince to make Medellín is apparently chump change to him. (In Hollywood, $25 million is considered low budget. Ain’t the math out there scary?)
E pointed out the big problem: The studio set the budget at $60 million, so how can they make an epic for so much less? The answer: find a director with vision and who can stretch a dollar. At last the story arc of the season makes sense. The show creators did have a master plan. Who knew? While it’s taken some time, wasn’t it worth the wait for the return of the mad genius Billy Walsh? Yes, the Queens Boulevard director is back. And still all about his art — even if that art is porn. Vince and E found Billy (working under the name Wally Balls, natch) directing adult films and apparently happy as a clam. Which made me wonder: Is a 25-picture deal good for adult films? Don’t they only last like seven minutes each? Best moment in the reunion was the near throwdown between E, a.k.a. the Suit, and Billy. ”I’ve knocked out taller guys than you” was E’s classic line. It’s easy to forget that the boys are from the rough part of Queens, and I’d like to see more of E as a tough guy than just as a fish out of water. Side note: What is it with Ari’s constant harping on E’s height, like calling him ”a mini-producer”? It’s not like Jeremy Piven is going to be starting as a center for the Lakers anytime soon. Height-challenged men should stick together!
As with any Hollywood project, getting a yes is easy. Keeping everyone from killing each other is hard. E started to earn his producer’s stripes immediately, as Billy wanted $5 million more to make Medellín — and kept calling Nicky ”Trust-Fund Baby.” Most deals in L.A. are completed over golf or sushi, and Billy doesn’t look like the country-club type. So the powers behind Medillín converged for a pow-wow over California rolls and sake bombs. And the meeting caused me to actually say, ”Wow!” out loud. Outlandish characters usually become tiresome, quickly, but as Piven has proved, over-the-top can work. Watching Rhys Coiro and Adam Goldberg verbally spar was tonight’s highlight; both actors deftly walked the tightrope between scene stealing and scenery chewing. In the end, Billy’s demand for more money (”Making a movie is like going to war, and as we’ve all learned, you don’t go to war underprepared and underfinanced”) was approved, and at long last it seemed Medellín was on its way. That is, until the episode’s last moment. Did anyone think it would be long before Billy’s request for final cut became a problem? Nope. His vision to film the entire movie in Spanish sounds a bit Apocalypto to me.
The other side plots tonight were notable only for the return of Entourage‘s best ladies, Shauna and Sloane.
Drama sought a bargain for his housing needs, saying, ”I’m not getting sucked into the trappings of celebrity life again.” But after a few dingy studio apartments and a phone call from Shauna, the publicist with the vocabulary of a Teamster, Drama remembered that image is everything in show business. Motherhood hasn’t mellowed Shauna, and for that we should all be grateful. (How is it possible that Debi Mazar was on the screen for less than one minute and yet managed to exude more personality than Turtle and Drama combined?) So in typical Drama fashion, he went from one extreme to the other. The end result: buying — and overpaying for — a swank condo in the 90210 zip code that was way over his budget. Compared with the excitement of Medallín, this story line was a snoozer.
Meanwhile, E confronted a big relationship question: to stay with Sloane while Medallín shoots or head to Colombia? Now, my girlfriend is hip and cool and understanding, but there is a difference between understanding and indifferent. Didn’t Sloane take on the qualities of a Stepford wife tonight? Was she sedated? When she talks about the future of their relationship, it might be nice to see a touch of passion. Sloane looked like she couldn’t decide whether to order the chicken or the fish while flying economy. (FYI: Always the chicken — didn’t you see Airplane?) Although E didn’t have ”the talk” with Sloane, he made it clear to Vinnie that his priorities lay in Colombia.
So, what do you think? Will Medellín be a Spanish-language film? Ari wasn’t in the episode very much — did anyone miss him, or is he better in small doses? And do we care about the love subplots (E, Turtle), or should Entourage just focus on Medellín all the time?