Friday, June 25, 2010

"Entourage" Is Loaded with Celebrity Gold

Mark Wahlberg confused Tyler Myers when he presented the National Hockey League award Wednesday for rookie of the year by announcing the winner as Tie Domi instead of the Buffalo Sabres defenseman.

It was unclear whether the envelope Wahlberg was reading had the name of the retired Toronto Maple Leafs bad boy, the actor-producer misread the envelope or it was some kind of inside baseball joke.

It wouldn’t be surprising if many hockey fans around Western New York and the nation were asking “who the heck is Mark Wahlberg?”

He’s the guy whose celebrity life is loosely the basis of “Entourage,” the popular HBO series about an actor, Vinny Chase (Adrian Grenier, upper right in photo by HBO's Claudette Barius), living the dream in Hollywood with his half-brother Drama (Kevin Dillon) and two buddies from Queens, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and his manager Eric (Kevin Connolly).

The show returns for its seventh season at 10:30 p.m. Sunday on the pay-cable channel with an amusing episode that name drops celebrities at a record level and revolves around Vinny’s quest to "man up" while shooting an action film.

Bad boy director Nick Cassavetes (upper left in photo) is in charge of Vinny’s latest movie and he wants the guy to do his own dangerous stunts.

Danger is not Vinny’s middle name and some of the dark comedy moments dealing with the past damage to actors when stunts have gone wrong makes his initial reluctance to give in perfectly understandable.

Cassavetes almost steals the episode playing a convincing macho director who knows how to appeal to an actor’s psyche. All a director or Vinny's friends have to do is name all the actors -- Robert DeNiro, Sean Penn and Tom Cruise in the just-released “Knight and Day” -- that have done their own stunts to guilt an actor into doing it.

Cassavetes also gets under the skin of super agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), who represents both the director and Vinny and now is the self-proclaimed “biggest agent in the world.”

It’s a rich Gold episode, which is always a good thing. It enables the foul-mouthed character played by Piven to steal another episode as an abusive agent who tries to balance his exhaustive political work needs with the needs of his wife.

The rest of the story lines about Vinny’s friends aren’t as involving. Turtle is again looking for love, Drama is looking for a TV acting role and Eric is looking to help out Vinny anyway he can while preparing to wed Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui). Unfortunately, there is too little of Sloan.

Next week, Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones has a cameo as Ari tries to convince him that the agent should negotiate the rights to the next NFL contact. When you’re looking to expand your audience, the name Jerry Jones doesn’t exactly spell ratings.

William Fichtner, the Cheektowaga actor, also is back as a TV producer who disappoints Drama. He gets the best inside baseball line of the half-hour, giving Drama his views on agents. “They are (expletive) deleted agents, they don’t believe in extra work,” says Fichtner’s character.

“Entourage” still works after all these years because viewers have gotten to know and love the characters, their quirks and their goals much better than Mark Wahlberg knows Tyler Myers.

Rating: 3 stars out of 4

* Mini-review of “Knight and Day”: I caught the film on opening day Wednesday with my teen-age son to escape the heat and see the movie that co-stars Cruise and Cameron Diaz. I can hardly remember anything about it two days later. It isn’t much. My son and I much preferred the action scenes in “The A-Team,” which isn’t getting as much love from critics as “Knight and Day.”

Diaz doesn’t look so hot and Cruise’s comedy routine wears thin about halfway through the movie. The best Cruise lines were given away in the previews. I only recommend the movie on a rainy or very hot day. Otherwise, wait for the video.

Rating: 2 stars

* Remember former Channel 2 consumer reporter Mike Igoe. Since he took a buyout, he’s been teaching communications course at Buffalo State College and has drawn praise from the department head.

Now he’s going to teach in China. He will spend a year as assistant professor at the United International College, where students have English as a second language. He will teach two reporting classes and one on media law.

“It was a unique opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up,” said Igoe.

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