Thursday, September 4, 2008

Entourage Returns

This coming Sunday, September 7, Lloyd, everyone's favorite beleagured assistant, is back. And of course, so are Ari Gold, his abusive agent boss, and star client Vincent Chase and the rest of his Entourage.

Frank and I were lucky enough to attend the show's Season 5 Premiere here in New York last night, witnessing the flash bulbs of the red carpet outside midtown's Ziegfeld theater and the screams of fans behind barricades calling out for series star Adrian Grenier as he stepped out of his limo.

Inside, the list of stars included not just Entourage's now-famous cast and always famous crew -- the show was inspired, and is partly produced, after all, by Mark Wahlberg -- but also some of our fave actors from other HBO hits. From Oz, there was Chuck Zito and Lee Tergesen, who also just finished a run on the network's Generation Kill. From The Sopranos, there were Aida Turturro -- looking fresh and tan from a summer spent out in Montauk, she told us -- an all-grown-up Robert Iler, and Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who we know will appear as herself on Entourage this season.

And if the first two episodes are any indication, what a season it will be. The premiere installment smartly starts out with a recap of last season, courtesy of film critic Richard Roeper savaging Vincent Chase's flop film Medellin; after all, that film-within-a-show's disastrous debut was -- can you believe it -- just over a year ago! Now, Vince and Turtle are holed up in a secluded spot in Mexico -- of course, with beautiful girls -- hiding from the world and its critics. Eric has founded The Murphy Group, and has even picked up a couple of other clients. And Johnny Drama is still with Jacqueline, his conquest from Cannes; but tout non va bien.

Like with the Roeper cameo, Entourage seems to have included even more real-world elements this season. (We've already read about NBC President Ben Silverman filming an appearance, and look in episode 1 for real-life Endeavor agent Richard Weitz as one of Ari's minions.) Later, at HBO's after-party at the Chelsea nightclub Mansion, Frank and I talked with Carla Gugino, who looked gorgeous in a jewel-toned green dress and who is back as agent Amanda, and Constance Zimmer, who revealed that her character, studio executive Dana Gordon, will be back "with a bang" in episode 7. "It's so hard to wait that long!" Constance told me. "I beg [showrunner] Doug [Ellin] to put me in earlier. Of course, that's a nice problem to have!"

Constance also said that she and Carla had just been talking about how they, in their 30s, seem to represent "the mature woman" on a show like Entourage. That's because, of course, all the young female conquests the show is famous for are back -- like Gossip Girl's red-hot Leighton Meester, who was also there last night, as Vince's new gal, pop star Justine Chapin.

As we downed mini-burgers and really good margaritas, we bumped into some other celebs who were apparently there to worship as fans: David Feige, the inspiration for and co-writer of TNT's new hit Raising The Bar; Julie Rottenberg, a writer from Sex and the City; and Xanadu's Broadway stars Cheyenne Jackson, Kerry Butler, Annie Golden and Whoopi Goldberg.

But my favorite encounter last night was with Lloyd himself, aka Rex Lee. I first met Rex a few years ago, and he contributed to my book, The Q Guide to The Golden Girls. I was happy to see in last night's episodes that not only has Rex's name been added to Entourage's opening credits, but it is in place of the word "Roxy" on that Sunset Strip nightclub's iconic marquee. How does that feel?, I asked him as I squeezed in for a hug and the above picture. "It feels great," Rex was able to say -- before being pressed into more photos with partiers, all of them wanting their own little piece of Lloyd.

Season 5 Premiere
Sunday, September 7
10 PM Eastern

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