“Entourage” breaks up after eight great years

By Tom Comi

Sometimes it’s really tough to say farewell to one of your favorite shows, and other times you come to grips with the fact that the end is near. I’m in the latter category regarding the HBO hit Entourage.

That’s not intended as a jab at the show or the actors, mind you. I’d gladly watch another five years if it ran that long, but I also appreciate what a luxury it is to last eight seasons in today’s schizophrenic TV climate. So when I tune in Sunday night (10:30pm ET) for the season premiere, it will be with gratitude and admiration for one of the finest original programs HBO has ever produced.

It seems like just yesterday when we were introduced to the four characters from Queens who made the 3,000-mile trek to Hollywood. And while Entourage revolves around the career of movie star Vincent Chase (played by Adrian Grenier), it’s the posse he keeps by his side at all times that makes it special. (The show is modeled after the real-life escapades of actor/producer Mark Wahlberg.)

Actors Kevin Dillon (Johnny Drama), Kevin Connolly (Eric) and Jerry Ferrara (Turtle) are wonderful at portraying the trio that does all it can to elevate Vince’s career while also keeping him grounded. It’s not an easy balance in a town known for crushing more dreams than it creates, but they succeed more often than not.

Interestingly, the break-out character and star of Entourage is not even a member of the aforementioned clique. Three-time Emmy winner Jeremy Piven steals every scene he’s in as ruthless, take-no-prisoners super-agent Ari Gold. There’s not a person Ari wouldn’t manipulate, strong-arm or deceive to land the best deal for his clients, and that’s what makes his relationship with Vince so volatile and worth watching.

In this new season, we’re told that Vince is out of rehab, Johnny Drama is struggling to make his new animated sitcom work with co-star Andrew Dice Clay (read our interview with the Diceman here), Turtle is looking to get into the restaurant business, and both Eric and Ari are dealing with relationship issues. There will also be the usual cameo appearances from sports and entertainment stars who practically beg to be on the show (even President Obama is a huge fan).

At the end of the day, though, Entourage is about four regular guys who grew up together in New York. Their lifestyles and bank accounts might have changed dramatically, but they still to this day share an innocence from their youth. I might have come to grips with the show going off the air, but I’d still like to meet the entire cast and — as Ari says so often — hug it out, bitch.

Photo: Credit: HBO/Claudette Barius