Facing questions about the show's upcoming 20-episode third season, "Entourage" creator Doug Ellin repeatedly told the crowd at the Museum of Television and Radio's annual Paley Festival that he's usually too busy trying to get each individual episode right to know where the series is going long-term. Even when the crowd at the Wednesday (March 1) event tried to compliment Ellin on the show's richer second season, he would barely take credit.
"There was definitely no design to make it more full in the second season, but the first season I had really no idea what I was doing," Ellin says.
Among the things that Ellin admitted happened by chance include last season's extended "Aquaman" arc, in which rising star Vinnie Chase (Adrian Grenier) scored the lead in James Cameron's film version of the comic franchise. What could have been a toss-off joke, took up a season's worth of negotiations, training and screen tests, a plausible production instead of a joke.
"When you think of the movie 'Aquaman,' it sounds kind of bad," Ellin notes, "But when you go 'James Cameron's Aquaman' ..."
While the show concentrates mostly on wheeling and dealing, on the perks and pains of success, the show's team swears that's not really what it's about.
"I think it's about friendship and loyalty," insists director/producer Julian Farino.
Ellin adds, "The show from the get-go was really supposed to be closer to 'Diner' or 'Swingers' than 'The Player.'"
That hasn't stopped the show from accumulating industry support. Ellin can't say much about what's coming up in Season Three, but he mentions cameos from Martin Landau and James Woods (as himself). And, through the Jeremy Piven's Ari Gold character, "Entourage" will continue to pay the strangest sort of homage to one of its biggest fans, power agent Ari Emanuel.
"Shockingly, I think he's flattered. He loves it," says 2005 Emmy nominee Piven. "Apparently he's using our quotes in his daily life, which is frightening."
Piven, veteran of a number of television shows on both networks and cable, is just very grateful for the patience and enthusiasm that HBO has shown for "Entourage," which is able to draw huge crowds in Tinseltown, but may be slower to find an audience away from the entertainment hubs.
"The networks don't do that," Piven says. "They all operating from fear that people will lose their jobs if they don't get certain ratings."
The show's extra irony (or coincidence) is that when "Entourage" premiered, most of the actors were relative unknowns playing breaking stars and that their own lives have started to catch up.
"It's almost like I've relived Season One," says Grenier, who had initial reservations about coming on as Vinnie, only a minor character in the early drafts of the pilot. "Reality informs our everyday work and later on, visa versa."