HBO's Boys of Summer
The hit show "Entourage" enters its sixth season in 2009 with more stories of male bonding and outrageous fun.
From the Print Edition:
Entourage, July/August 2009
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The show has never been a ratings bonanza—nowhere near the tens of millions of viewers "The Sopranos" drew—but its audience has grown steadily, particularly in a demographic HBO is eager to reach: young men. It's averaged about six million viewers a show since Season 3a (which ran in 2006), hitting a high of about 7.4 million during Season 3b (which had the final season of "The Sopranos" as its lead-in).
Anecdotal evidence suggests that ratings don't reflect audience size, since groups of men—whether frat brothers or stockbrokers—gather to watch Vince Chase and his boys navigate the showbiz sharks and aren't counted individually. "It speaks to an audience—young males—that some of our other shows don't," Lombardo says. "And yet it is quintessentially HBO."
HBO doesn't release figures for the sales from DVDs of their series. But the Season 5 DVD, which wasn't released until the end of June, was No. 7 on the comedy TV show best-seller list (based on preorders) at Amazon.com in mid-May and No. 162 among all movies and TV shows.
About to launch its sixth season on July 12, "Entourage" has become a benchmark in another way: a place where movie stars and other celebrities pop up in cameo roles playing themselves—often as part of a joke at their own expense. Everyone from golfer Phil Mickelson to rapper Snoop Dogg, from actor Gary Busey to director Martin Scorsese, have made appearances. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and "West Wing" writer-producer Aaron Sorkin have scenes in the can for the coming season.
"Season 1, we couldn't find anyone willing to be on," says Kevin Dillon, who plays Johnny "Drama" Chase, Vincent's half-brother, an actor who struggles in the shadow of his younger sibling's success. "Now, every year when we go to the Golden Globes or the Screen Actors Guild awards, all these other actors seem to be into it—they're all offering to do the show."
But the show's success and popularity come from something deeper than the Hollywood plots and movie-star walk-ons. Says Doug Ellin, the show's creator and executive producer, "At the end of the day, it's a show that's about friendship more than Hollywood."
It's a bright morning in City of Industry, east of Los Angeles, but the tee box of the driving range at Pacific Palms resort is still being lavishly lit for a TV shoot.
As the crew arranges lights around one specific tee, Jerry Ferrara practices with his driver a few stalls away, taking the opportunity to sharpen his swing. "I didn't play golf before this show," says Ferrara, 29. In Season 4, the Vincent Chase crew is riding high, living in a mansion outfitted with a golf simulator. Dillon, a long-time golfer with a 7 handicap, taught Ferrara to play, first on the simulator, then on the golf course. "He's, like, my coach," Ferrara says.
"Your caddy," Connolly jokes.
"Never my caddy," Ferrara says solemnly.
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