Farewell, ‘En­tourage’: HBO’S show­biz sit­com calls it a wrap

TV Week - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAY BOB­BIN

Say good­bye to Hol­ly­wood. Well, al­most. The whip-smart and Emmy-win­ning HBO show­biz-in­sider com­edy se­ries “En­tourage” starts its eighth and fi­nal sea­son Sun­day, July 24, while ru­mors abound about a pos­si­ble fea­ture-film spinoff a la HBO’s “Sex and the City.”

For the time be­ing, a movie fig­ures in any­way, as just-re­leased­from-re­hab ac­tor Vince Chase (Adrian Gre­nier) gets ex­cited about launch­ing an­other pro­ject that those around him aren’t quite as sold on: a drama about trapped min­ers.

His man­ager and close pal Eric (Kevin Con­nolly) now works with for­mer neme­sis Scott Lavin (Scott Caan, repris­ing the role he be­gan be­fore be­com­ing a co-star of CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0”); Turtle (Jerry Fer­rara) goes into busi­ness for him­self; and Vince’s half brother and fel­low ac­tor Drama (Kevin Dil­lon, who moves on to CBS’ “How to Be a Gen­tle­man” this fall) does ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to re­in­force Vince’s newly sober state.

And, of course, there is Ari Gold ... the fe­ro­ciously whirling dervish of a tal­ent agent played by Jeremy Piven, who has earned three Em­mys for the role. Ari’s mar­riage to the so-called Mrs. Ari (Per­rey Reeves) is on the rocks, prompt­ing him to make some moves un­ex­pected even for him — with mild com­fort from Lloyd (Rex Lee), for­merly Ari’s brow­beaten as­sis­tant but now an agent in his own right.

“There’s def­i­nitely a sad un­der­cur­rent, be­cause this is re­ally a close group,” says “En­tourage” cre­ator Doug Ellin, also an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of the show along with Mark Wahlberg. “Ev­ery­one’s a lit­tle sad, so ev­ery­one stayed a lit­tle longer. No­body was rush­ing home.”

If the sit­u­a­tions in the last “En­tourage” sea­son seem fa­mil­iar, that’s ex­actly what Ellin was aim­ing for. “I was re­ally try­ing to get back to the roots of Sea­son 1. What the show ul­ti­mately is about is re­la­tion­ships, friend­ships and fam­ily. We’re deal­ing with some deep stuff with Ari, but with the guys, we’re get­ting back to guys hang­ing out and try­ing to look out for each other.”

Piven ap­pre­ci­ates the depth of his ma­te­rial in the “En­tourage” vic­tory lap, such as Ari’s un­com­fort­able steps back into the world of dat­ing, and he’s glad for the chance to take a dif­fer­ent tack with the fre­quently short-fused char­ac­ter he has made iconic.

“This year has been like no other,” the ac­tor con­firms. “You have all the trade­marks of Ari in terms of his blus­tery and in­cred­i­bly abra­sive be­hav­ior, but now, his world is turned up­side down.”

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