Hol­ly­wood high life is bet­ter with friends

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

THIS is the best show on tele­vi­sion at the mo­ment ( not count­ing re­peats of The So­pra­nos or The Wire on W). I’ve al­ways liked this HBO dra­ma­com­edy about an emerg­ing A-list ac­tor and his hang­ers-on and the first two episodes of sea­son five sug­gest it has clicked up a gear. It’s a seam­less 30 min­utes of en­ter­tain­ment, en­gross­ing and ex­tremely funny.

For any­one com­ing in late, En­tourage is loosely based on Mark Wahlberg’s ex­pe­ri­ences as a young ac­tor. Wahlberg is an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer on the se­ries and pops up in cameo roles. Like Wahlberg, Vin­cent Chase ( Adrian Gre­nier) is a pretty boy with real tal­ent. He grew up in Queens, New York, and the en­tourage of the ti­tle is made up of the child­hood friends who have ac­com­pa­nied him to Hol­ly­wood.

There’s his best friend cum man­ager Eric Mur­phy ( Kevin Con­nolly), known as E; his older brother Johnny ‘‘ Drama’’ Chase ( Kevin Dil­lon), also an ac­tor; and his dope sup­plier, driver and gen­eral dogs­body Tur­tle ( Jerry Fer­rara). And then there’s his bigshot agent Ari Gold ( Jeremy Piven). They’re all great fun but for me the stand­outs are Johnny Drama, mad and long over­shad­owed by his lit­tle brother, and Ari, who’s just mad.

Here’s Ari urg­ing E to con­vince Vin­cent to do a par­tic­u­lar film: ‘‘ If he passes on this thing now he may as well be Cat Stevens do­ing but­ter­fly stroke in the Caspian Sea search­ing for Mo­hammed be­cause that’s how he’s go­ing to be viewed in this town.’’ And here’s Johnny Drama re­call­ing one of his finer mo­ments: ‘‘ I re­mem­ber cry­ing my­self to sleep when Roger Ebert sin­gled out my per­for­mance in Li­cence to Drive as the

Chas­ing fame and for­tune: The cast of end of the golden age of cin­ema.’’

Sea­son five opens tonight with Vince in Mex­ico, seek­ing so­lace in cerveza and senori­tas fol­low­ing the flop of his most re­cent film, Medellin, a per­sonal project based on the life of Pablo Es­co­bar. Back in Tin­sel Town, E and Ari are try­ing to re­sus­ci­tate his ca­reer, which peaked in sea­son three when he played Aqua­man on the big screen.

It looks as if Vince will have to start again, read any script that comes his way and con­sider non-lead roles. Johnny Drama, mean­while, is in a suc­cess­ful TV se­ries. He con­soles his sib­ling: ‘‘ Don’t take it per­son­ally, bro, the whole coun­try’s on meth.’’

One of the great plea­sures of this se­ries is that most episodes fea­ture real A-lis­ters play­ing them­selves, from Den­nis Hop­per to Scar­lett Jo­hans­son. James Cameron di­rected Aqua­man and Gary Busey stole the show a few sea­sons back play­ing ‘‘ my crazy self’’.

This sea­son will fea­ture Gus Van Sant and Martin Scors­ese, among oth­ers. Don’t miss it.

Stephen Romei


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