Jeremy Piven


Brooklyn’s own, Andrew Dice Clay (above), in his dilapidated Entourage living room.

So Dice was on line at the bank, and some jerkoff tapped him on the shoulder and said, ‘Excuse me.  Is this the back of the line?’  And so Dice says, ‘No, it’s the front of the line and we’re all standing backwards.  Oooe!’  It’s been a long road for Dice, and no one was more thrilled than us to see the Diceman reconcile with Howard Stern and start getting high profile gigs again a few years ago.  For Dice is our own.  We have been to the club on Emmons Ave. where it all began for Dice in Brooklyn, we’ve seen him perform and bought his records, even fell in love with the oft panned The Day the Laughter Died, and were happy to call Dice a neighbor for a short while in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn. 

So we didn’t like the first Entourage of the season, and we were right not to.  Lazy storylines about love life bullshit and powder puff rehab nonsense with Vince?  If that’s the final year of Entourage, then we walk away very unhappy.  But as we watched last week, somewhere around minute ten, the show came to life like a Volcano, at once giving resonance to Turtle and righting what had been a wayward plotline, resurrecting a jewel in putting Ari back with Dana, and showing us a more reality based side of rehab, with Kim Coates in his reprised role as scumbag producer Carl Ertz, spiraling out of control on a coke binge and in the end blowing his brains out.

We have long admired Koates and more recently, as a hard partying biker tough guy, perhaps the show’s best, on Sons of Anarchy.  It’s a guilty pleasure show for us, and not one that has distinguished itself well enough for the good or the bad for us to write about it.  Still, it’s a decent enough guys’ guy show if one can lose all connections to plausibility.  But Entourage is the guys’ guy show, and having ridden out or reversed its early season weaknesses, we were left on the edge of our seats last week, having done a 180 on the shows prospects, as we at once lamented and savored the fact that the show has 5 episodes left.

The Mrs. Gold/Bobby Flay storyline has given way to Ari’s return to the dating scene, with his initial foray on a dinner date with a pretty, easy young thing who states openly early on that she’s there “to have a good time” and that they will.  Ari, starts out of sorts and somewhat depressed before admitting that he probably will get divorced.  The young girl tells him he will get his groove back, to which Ari replies “Yeah, well Stella did.”

The actress, played by Breanne Racano (hottie), pricelessly then says, “Who?”

Entourage is and has always done a lot to illustrate the generation gap between old school and new breed, usually with mainstay Johnny Drama’s character, but now, doing so with Ari on such a real level is quite well done.  And now, to rekindle Ari’s and Dana’s (Constance Zimmer) flame, who have always had a chemistry that has frankly trumped the chemistry between Mr. and Mrs. Gold is an excellent turn for the show to take. 

Taking Turtle out of that pussy whipped nonsense around Alex, and consequently out of Avion Tequila, gives Turtle substance and also, might just have laid the groundwork for an ocean of regret, since obviously, Avion Tequila is gonna be huge.  Did anyone not wince when Mark Cuban offered Turtle financing for Don Pepe’s, that Turtle refused?  Hopefully, the lad will have a change of heart, but if not, mistakes are part of life, and the show has always been more dynamic when the characters are struggling, rather than living out every poossible perfect fantasy under the sun out in pastry land. 

Perhaps the show’s most dynamic moments were the failed Medellin project and the damage it did to Vince’s bank account and public standing, and the unforgettable conversation he had with Ari when he asked him if Ari thought he was a good actor.  Ari replied that he didn’t sign him because he was a good actor, he signed him because he was a movie star.  It’s that type of hard moment that elevated Entourage from a labored comedy with gratuitous ass thrown in for the sake of the male audience it wanted, to a show that’s really about something, and one that doesn’t always end up wrapped in a perfect bow.

We felt the same way last year with all the turbulence around Vince’s pornstar girlfriend, Ari’s marriage, and E’s new job, and the suggestion that he didn’t have what it took to do it well.  Now the show is firing on all cylinders, so soon after we were so disappointed in it.  And they’ve thrown their old school male audience a bone, giving us back the Diceman, a legend to so many of us while growing up.  Have you noticed that Dice is more perverse than ever, if not sexually, but moreso in terms of his logic, that of a borderline has been egomaniac male diva?

How about devising a way to have unearthed another favorite, Jamie Kennedy, who gets to pay homage to Dice by impersonating him in the context of the Johnny Bananas storyline?  Sticking with Entourage is paying huge dividends.  We’ve told you when it was subpar.  So listen when we tell you that you’d be crazy to miss out on one second of what little remains.

And Entourage does deserve to cash in with a major motion picture.  Who better? 

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Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

While we were glad to see a sorely missed Entourage return to the Sunday night HBO airwaves and re-enter the fray of stiff programming competition that always seems to make Sunday nights so strong, we’ve been vastly underwhelmed with the storylines so far, and the curious jumping in point for this season–Vince’s return from rehab.  In fact, all of the characters except Drama (Kevin Dillon) and Ari (Jeremy Piven) have come in at weird places when considering what could have been. 

We are very displeased at how Doug Elin and company have glommed over Vince’s (Adrian Grenier) arrest, Eric’s (Kevin Connolly) breakup with Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara…Brooklyn holler!) and his adventures in his new Tequila venture.  As far as Turtle goes, in the past two seasons he was finally given more to work with than his loyal but stagnant pot smoking lackey, and in an end eerily familiar to season six’s, the writers have chosen to make him all about some annoying Mexican chick who won’t call him back.  So far.  But we think, with Mark Cuban and his business manager, played by one of our favorites, Bob Odenkirk, getting involved as investors in Avion that Turtle could be doing much more right now than waiting by the phone for Alex to call. 

As far as E goes, he had come to a very compelling time in his relationship with the ultra hot Sloan, refusing to sign a pre-nup as we knew the stubborn E would.  But for the show to just pick up 3 months later with him and Sloane separated and little to no information given aside from the unsigned pre-nup that we know about it, strikes us as lazy writing.  Are they attempting to tell us their story with some out of sequence method?  If so, we would think that to be untrue to Entourage’s established style of story telling which has evolved in the last four seasons to make it one of the premiere shows on television.

The show, in our minds, had gotten out of the box originally as a sluggish male themed rip of Sex and the City, with a Hollywood, celebrity cameo laiden twist.  And then, when Vince began to go through some of the downs of the Hollywood movie star life, and the lives of Drama, E, and Ari were featured more prominently, the show became a much more interesting, layered, and gritty product.  In truth, we had totally given up on Entourage but felt we had to give it another shot because of the dearth of quality television in general and on HBO in specific at that time.  We were glad that we did give it another shot because Entourage had found a nice rhythm which it carried on, especially in depicting the rockier moments in Vincent Chase’s life.  Until now. 

To go from depicting Ari’s marital catastrophes to the hollow Mrs. Ari/Bobby Flay nonsense, to skip out on Vince’s troubles with the law and make his rehab seem like a vacation, and to gloss over formative moments for Turtle and E for what feels like the same old Sloan and Meadow Soprano nonsense are all bad shortcuts.  Do they feel that because they have shown enough of Ari’s agency in its various stages of growth and development, that they were doing us a favor by not showing how Scott Lavin (Scott Caan) can walk up to E and tell him that he was taking down Murray, their boss and Sloan’s god father, and E telling Scott he was in, to 3 months later and the takeover mysteriously completed without nary a word as to how?

And we love Scott Caan on Entourage and feel that the takeover could have been well interwined with Eric’s personal life, where they have also left us in the dark.  Back to Vince’s rehab for a second.  Would it be wrong for us to assume Vince will slip up and relapse like just about every other person who has ever been to rehab?  Because if that’s the case, then doing more than showing Vince giving his goodbye to crackheads speech would have been appropriate, and if it’s not the case, then showing some of the travails his brush with the law and addiction had taught him would go far in making a permanently clean Vince more believable.

It’s always hard to see a favorite show come up short.  We were extremely disappointed to learn that Entourage was not returning on the same night as Curb Your Enthusiasm, and even more upset to learn that Entourage was only back for a slate of eight episodes in its final HBO season.  But then, with the news that Scott Caan and Rhys Coiro (Billy Walsh) would be regulars and that another of our favorites, Andrew Dice Clay, had joined the cast as himself, we pencilled Entourage in to go out with a bang.

But the fact is, Sunday night, led by Breaking Bad, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Celebrity Rehab, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, are all already pencilled in as better shows right now.  Entourage’s lack of oomph has dulled our limited faith in humanity, making us think that the big screen version, already being touted by Elin will be nothing but a stale money grab which won’t even measure up to Sex and the City 2

Our criticism of Entourage can be extended out to HBO’s original programming in general.  Their 2 best newer comedies which were ready for both of the last 2 summers, Hung and Bored to Death are not ready for action.  True Blood is awful and has been for 2 years.  No word on season 3 of The Life and Times of Tim, or season 4 of In Treatment.  If not for Curb, which took its sweet time coming back, Treme, Boardwalk Empire, and Game of Thrones, we’d have nothing good to say about HBO compared to its glory days, which now see well removed.  And the latter three dramas, while all good, are nowhere near the level of The Sopranos, The Wire, and Deadwood.

And to pass on Mad Men and Breaking Bad?  With decisions like that, and weak reprisals like the current season of Entourage, people might soon be passing on HBO.  I mean, we can only stare at Islanders t-shirts and screen savers as long as the show is good.

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Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

Evan Almighty.  Date Night.  Dinner for Schmucks.  We’ve got no problem saying this: The Office, a superior outift with exceptional writers made Michael Scott, not the reverse.  The tired Seth Rogan/Paul Rudd movie factory may have given us 1 good Carrell film–The 40 Year Old Virgin–but little to nothing else with Carrell worth watching.  Most of the reaction we’ve heard with regard to Carrell leaving The Office has been pessimistic pertaining to the future of the show.  We, on the other hand, have no doubts that The Office can function without Michael Scott.

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We think Steve Carrell is crazy to leave The Office, which will undoubtedly be the absolute best product he has ever worked on.  We think it’s a poor decision to abandon his $300,000 per episode salary.  And we are extremely confident that the show, which has perhaps needed a shot of enthusiasm for a few seasons (not for lack of trying with the guest addition of Timothy Olyphant and Amy Ryan’s role reprisal of Holly Flax), can be an excellent and dynamic program and can return to the top of network sitcom television.  The Office can even reach new heights if they follow through on their plans to replace Michael Scott’s character with someone from outside the show.  While we love Jim, Dwight, and Andy, none do anything for us in the lead role.

The late summer talk about The Office producers contacting Flight of the Conchords alum Rhys Darby (top) and Eastbound and Down star Danny McBride (bottom), and to a lesser extent, recent rumors about Arrested Development star Will Arnett (middle) have our full attention.  McBride has seemed to generate the most excitement and buzz so far.  Frankly, he is absolutely hilarious as crass, washed up pitcher Kenny Powers, and has one of the funniest hairstyles of all time.  From what we’re reading though, at least out of HBO, is that McBride is unlikely to get the gig.  Producer Paul Lieberstein (Toby) recently denied that McBride was in the running, but it was confirmed that McBride would be doing a guest spot this season.  HBO has been less coy than Lieberstein, saying that McBride is signed up long term to do Kenny Powers, is paid very well, and went so far as to suggest that McBride would have no interest in joining the cast of The Office.

The cable network issued no similar statements with regard to Darby, leading us to believe that something is cooking.  We would emphatically endorse the hire.  Darby, as Brett and Jemaine’s band mannager on Flight of the Conchords was exponentially quirky in a way very reminiscent to the Michael Scott character, only with a New Zealand accent and the added awkwardness of a tourist with less than zero street smarts.  Darby, like Carrell, has even demonstrated his proficiency with the occasional musical number.  Darby’s low profile in America and immense respect in comedic circles would be a win win for a program in need of new talent and a network looking to make a reasonable deal with an actor.

The wildly popular and recognizable McBride would not come cheaply and without obstacles, or at least, that’s what HBO wants us to think.  And we have questions about how well McBride will do without the luxury of of his hysterical foul mouth rants and drug humor, which is not about to play on NBC.  He’d be unwise to leave the role of a lifetime on Eastbound and Down for the huge pressure associated with filling Michael Scott’s shoes.

Recently several Arrested Development actors have been mentioned for the job, including the legendary Jeffrey Tambor, Tony Hale, and most notably, Will Arnett, who Ricky Gervais has been publicly pining for.  We love Tambor.  “Hey Now” Hank Kingsley?  Classic.  George Bluth Sr?  JT played that role to a tee.  And we look forward to his frequent cameos as himself on Entourage, the long term client of Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven, another Larry Sanders Show alum).  Tambor isn’t really new blood to us though.  Hale is not a heavy enough hitter, and Arnett, though we love him across the board and loved his GOB character to death, we have way more enthusiasm for Rhys Darby, who we feel is the perfect fit.

Though we will not be surprised if Arnett gets the nod, having done a guest shot on his wife Amy Poehler’s very funny NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, and having played a corporate foil to Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy for 3 years on NBC’s 30 Rock.  Can Arnett jump to a 3rd Thursday night NBC sitcom?  No doubt he could.  But how about Ricky Gervais shuts the fuck up so that BJ Novak (Ryan), Lieberstein, and Mindy Kaling (Kelly), all Office producers, can go with their gut and bring in Darby?

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Can you tell that we are really hoping for an Office dick meeting?  Wait…that sounds bad.  Just a Murray Hewitt/Flight of the Conchords reference!

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Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)