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HBO's Boys of Summer

The hit show "Entourage" enters its sixth season in 2009 with more stories of male bonding and outrageous fun.
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
Entourage, July/August 2009

After five seasons, HBO's "Entourage" already had a high cool factor—but an endorsement from President Barack Obama?

Now that's serious.

Here's the most popular president in recent memory—and he's given his seal of approval to a sometimes-edgy, inside-Hollywood comedy series about a rising movie star and the childhood friends who keep him grounded.

According to an April article on the Web site, Obama regularly rearranged his campaign schedule in 2008 to make sure he didn't miss any episodes. As White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told Politico, "We would talk about 'Entourage' all the time."

Adrian Grenier, who plays actor Vincent Chase, the central character in "Entourage," says, "When Obama said he enjoys the show, I thought that's absolutely perfect—because he embodies the spirit the show represents. A lot of people dismissed it as a show about the superficial nature of a movie star's life. But it's a show about how to navigate in that superficial world, how to be loyal and true to your friends."

Kevin Connolly, who plays Eric Murphy, Vince's best friend and manager, says, "I thought, 'Holy shit'—the Obama thing is huge. I mean, we still wait to see if the show will get picked up each season—and here's the president, giving us a shout-out."

Not bad for a show that many observers initially considered too esoteric to have a future. When "Entourage" went on the air in 2004, even its network wasn't sure audiences were interested in the behind-the-scenes story of Vincent Chase, a young actor from Queens, New York, and his lifelong friends (including a half-brother), who comes along for the ride when Vince's career takes off in Hollywood.

"When we looked at it, we wondered whether it was too inside," says Michael Lombardo, president of HBO's programming group. "But that was part of the fun. Over the past six years, things like box-office grosses and ratings have become the fodder of popular culture. Everybody touches show business in some way—even if only as a consumer, a user, a fan. So pulling the curtain back on that has become of interest to a wide spectrum of people."

Actor Jerry Ferrara, who plays Turtle, Vince's driver, gofer and all-around fixer, says, "One thing that did surprise me was that the interest in the inside-showbiz stuff was so universal. People in Middle America love to hear inside jokes about people like (filmmakers) Kevin Smith and James Cameron." Says Jeremy Piven, who plays Ari Gold, Vince's turbocharged agent, "This is a celebrity-driven culture. The writers work as hard as they can to make it as real as possible."

Lombardo concludes, "It's evolved into one of the signature programs in terms of defining HBO. It's continued to grow and develop. This season, we'll explore them going from their 20s to their 30s and the challenge of remaining friends as men."

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