Will Success Spoil ‘Entourage’? Not Likely
Doug Ellin may have created a novel comedy with HBO's "Entourage," the Hollywood-centric saga of a budding film star and his core bromance relationships that even President Obama has cited as a viewing pleasure.
But when it comes to plotting story lines, "Entourage," which kicks off its sixth season Sunday (10:30 p.m. ET/PT), can be a bit of a nightmare.
"For the past five years, I've been saying once Vinny Chase (Adrian Grenier) is an A-list movie star, where am I going to go? There's no conflict in that," Ellin says. "You sweat that there's nothing left to say."
To be sure, "Entourage'''s inside-baseball look at the entertainment industry's dealmaking, back-biting and self-absorbed players has served as the show's template, with Chase's career largely plotted as a roller coaster.
"The show got more complicated and nuanced," says Ellin, who developed the show with Mark Wahlberg loosely based on the actor's experiences. "People think it's so easy to write. But it's really a challenge."
This season, the story lines run closer to their first-season roots, when opportunity routinely knocked in the form of easy money, fine women and the good life. Escapist fun during economic hard times? Clearly. Of course, nothing is as it seems.
Chase may be on top of Hollywood's insular world - his Martin Scorsese film is poised for box office and critical success - but boredom is setting in. Best friend Eric (Kevin Connolly) has a budding management career, but he's still neurotic. Johnny Chase (Kevin Dillon) has a hit series, but could still self-destruct. And gofer Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) has a starlet girlfriend but has trouble standing on his own.
Wherever Vince and crew wind up, Ellin hopes for two more seasons. With "Entourage" averaging just under 2 million viewers per episode, so does HBO.
"From Day 1, it has had a loyal following," says programming exec Michael Lombardo. "On an emotional level, it's the only show we have that speaks to a younger, aspirational viewpoint. We're constantly struck by the men who refer to it as a show that moves them. It touches something about friendship, growing up and going for the gold ring."