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HBO Bids Adieu to “Entourage” After Eight Seasons

To be completely honest, “Entourage” probably should have called it quits a few seasons ago after Vincent Chase reemerged from the failure of “Medellin” to reclaim his spot among the Hollywood elite. But now that the final season is just around the corner, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t excited to see how it all ends. Even with the chance of a potential big screen adventure, it’s hard to imagine that creator Doug Ellin won’t want to provide at least some kind of bookend to the series – particularly one that’s a little happier than the way he left off things last season.

With perhaps the exception of Eric, whose rekindled relationship with Sloan led to the pair getting engaged, the rest of the guys ended Season Seven on a low. After bringing in Mark Cuban as a potential business partner for Avion tequila, Turtle was seemingly pushed out of the deal with nothing to show for it; Drama gave up a plum job on network TV only to wind up settling for a new animated show conceived by Billy Walsh; Ari managed to save his career but not his wife after she walked away from their marriage; and Vince was thrown into cocaine rehabilitation following his arrest for possession of cocaine.

Fortunately, the only place to go from there is up, which means that even if Season Eight doesn’t cap off the series with a completely happy ending, it’ll at least have a much brighter outlook than the previous season. Though everyone involved is holding their cards pretty close to their chests in regards to what we can expect to see, HBO has released a few promos and snippets of information that tell us a few things. For starters, the season will begin with Vince being released from a 90-day stint in rehab and eager to get back to work. But when he finds it difficult to land an acting job due to his recent tabloid-worthy exploits, he decides to write a starring vehicle for himself.

The rest of the guys will also continue to try and forge their own careers now that they’ve severed their dependency to Vince, with Turtle launching a new business venture to open a Hollywood location of the New York-based Italian restaurant, Don Peppe; Drama beginning production on “Johnny’s Bananas” alongside Andrew Dice Clay (presumably as one of the other voices); and Eric opening a new management company with Scotty Lavin. Interestingly enough, it also looks like his engagement to Sloan has hit a snag, while Ari will dedicate his time solely to winning back Mrs. Ari following their separation.

It all sounds promising enough, as long as things don’t get too serious. That was one of the main problems with last season, which often forgot it was a comedy at times by focusing all of its energy on the darker and more dramatic moments. And with only eight episodes for its grand finale, Ellin and Co. will have to be especially mindful of staying true to the story they want to tell while still delivering the show that fans know and love.

The eighth and final season premieres July 24th at 10:30 pm EST on HBO.

NOTE: Starting this season, my “Entourage” blog will be moving from Premium Hollywood to the Bullz-Eye Blog, so be sure to go there on Sunday night or Monday morning for all the latest episode recaps. You can also follow along on BE’s “Entourage” fan hub where the latest entry will always be posted.

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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Entourage 7.10 – Lose Yourself

There’s been a lot of talk recently about how much darker this season of “Entourage” has been, and while I’m not against the show flexing its dramatic muscle or exploring heavier material, tonight’s episode felt a little too serious, with almost no comedic moments to balance any of it out. That was clearly the point, however, as the season finale was a wrecking ball of destruction that tore through many of the characters’ like paper-mâché.

We’ve seen Vincent Chase down and out before following the aftermath of “Medellin,” but it was never quite as bad as this. The guy has been acting like a first-class jerk for weeks, and after making a scene at Sasha’s photo shoot that ends in him getting the boot, he comes home to discover that the guys have staged an intervention. Vince continues to deny that he even has a drug problem, but despite dumping that entire quart-sized bag of coke that Lloyd found down the sink as proof, his body language isn’t very convincing. The fact that he even had the nerve to then try and flip it on his friends was downright shameful, adding as he stormed out of the house, “I know you all need me, but I’ll call you if I need any of you.”

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Why anyone continues to be his friend is beyond me, but he finally gets a taste of his own medicine when Eminem kicks the shit out of him after he insults the rapper at his own party. Granted, his bodyguards did most of the work, but ‘ol Marshall Mathers did get the first punch in, and it was a doozy of a right hook. And when the guys rush to the hospital to see how he’s doing, instead of being thankful that his friends haven’t abandoned him yet, he blames his behavior on them. Like I said, what a prick, and I’m glad the police officer found that cocaine he was carrying. Now he can go spend some time in federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison and think about how he managed to fuck up a good thing – and all because of a porn star.

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Entourage 7.9 – Porn Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

I’ve been focusing so much on Vince’s downfall this season that I’ve pretty much ignored the possibility that Ari’s career might be in trouble as well. I figured he just dodged a bullet after Deadline Hollywood ran a story about his not-so-kind treatment of his employees, but Ari might have opened his big mouth for the last time. After making a scene in front of his embarrassed wife, Amanda Daniels, and some of the NFL board members (a classic Ari Gold rant that included plenty of insults and even a few borderline violent threats) Ari discovers that it wasn’t Amanda who leaked the tapes, but rather her assistant – a former employee with a grudge.

Apparently, Amanda was just interested in teaming up with Ari to bring an NFL team to Los Angeles, but now that opportunity is gone for good. It definitely wasn’t Ari’s proudest moment, but I’m sure he’ll survive. Of course, the suggestion that Amanda would suddenly be willing to work with Ari after threatening to ruin him only a few episodes ago seems ludicrous in and of itself. I mean, why the sudden change of heart? It’s not like they were ever friends, and Amanda clearly still isn’t over Ari’s sabotage of the Warner Brothers gig that ultimately went to Dana Gordon.

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Simply put, it would never happen, though I am warming up to the idea of Drama doing “Johnny’s Bananas.” I still feel like Drama takes the craft of acting a little too seriously to consider voicing a character on an animated show, but after a series of conversations with Eric’s secretary, Jenny – where we not only learned that the job would only take an hour or two a week to record, but that his condo has been foreclosed – it makes sense that Drama would finally decide to do the show, even if he is selling out as a result. It’s just a shame he didn’t come to that conclusion a little earlier, because it looks like Phil put a lot of effort in creating that presentation.

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Entourage 7.8 – Sniff Sniff Gang Bang

As has been the case with most of this season, tonight’s episode revolved around Vince’s downward spiral – not just professionally, but personally as well – as his relationship with Sasha continues to affect his life. Although the guys don’t think Vince could ever be serious with anyone, they clearly don’t know the new Vince as well as they think, because he’s falling for Sasha… hard. So when she tells him about an offer to shoot a new adult film, Vince gets a little overprotective, offering her the $200,000 she would have been paid for the gig not to do it. Of course, not only does Sasha plan to the movie (maybe a little bit out of spite, but mostly because she’s a freaking porn star), but she also informs him that it’s actually a five-guy gangbang. Ouch, for both involved.

And while Vince is busy trying to persuade Sasha not to do the porno by getting her a part in his new movie, Eric is desperately trying to keep Vince attached to said movie. That’s because the studio wants Vince to take a drug test, and he flat out refuses, claiming that he’s never been in any kind of trouble that would suggest he should need to be tested. Thankfully, Billy finally confesses to Eric that he did witness Vince doing some coke with Scotty Lavin at that party, and after ripping Scotty a new one right in front of a prospective client, he then confronts Vince about his drug use. But instead of apologizing to Eric for lying, Vince just acts like a giant prick, warning Eric to stay out of his personal business and practically demanding that he find Sasha a part in “Airwalker” or else.

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Personally, this behavior still seems a bit out of character for Vince (especially after everything he’s already gone through following the “Medellin” debacle), but he’s still attached to the movie when it’s all said and done. Unfortunately, Randall Wallace is not, who chose to walk away from the project after the studio bent to Vince’s will. The real question isn’t whether they’ll be able to find a new director, though, but just how in the world Vince is going to bounce back a second time when Hollywood becomes privy to this scandalous behavior.

It certainly can’t end well for him, but at least Ari is trying to mend his broken relationships as he experiences trouble on both home fronts. Not only has Ari promised a “kinder, gentler” workplace to his current staff just as old employees begin to come out of the woodwork to sue him, but Mrs. Ari feels embarrassed by the entire situation, going so far as to call an emergency therapy session to try and work out their marital problems one last time. Ari would probably tell you that there’s nothing wrong with his marriage, but Mrs. Ari wants some changes (including a no-Blackberrys-in-the-house rule and no more broken promises) lest she have to reevaluate their relationship. Though Ari seems a little hurt by the ultimatum, he eventually agrees, if only because he’s already late for an important meeting with Mark Cuban.

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Entourage 7.7 – Tequila and Coke

Anyone who thought that Vince’s thrill-seeking would eventually catch up to him was right, although not in the way most people probably expected. It seems that the back injury he sustained on the Nick Cassavetes movie has resulted in a pretty serious addiction to Vicodin, which has in turn resulted in Vince doing cocaine at one of his infamous look-at-all-the-naked-women parties. Of course, when Vince gets up for his meeting with Randall Wallace the next morning, he’s a complete wreck, and whether it’s from the coke the night before, the coffee he chugged before he left, or just plain nerves, he’s jittery all throughout the meeting. That sets off warning bells in Wallace’s head, and now the studio isn’t sure if they want to work with him on the upcoming “Airwalker” movie. Vince tells Eric that he didn’t do any coke, but of course he’s lying, and Billy Walsh knows it.

I’m not sure how long Billy is going to wait to speak up, but if he truly is Vince’s friend, he would have said something by now. Maybe he was scared because Scotty Lavin (who also partook in the snorting festivities) was in the same room, but that’s no reason to wuss out like that. Still, just like last week’s subplot involving Turtle and Alex’s shaved bush, I simply don’t buy Vincent Chase as a cokehead. Maybe the writers think they need to drag his character through a drug addiction (and eventual drug rehab program) before he can finally win an Oscar in the much rumored “Entourage” movie (honestly, where else can it go?), but despite Vince’s shortcomings as a responsible adult, he just never struck me as the kind of guy who would experiment with drugs. Blame the porn star girlfriend or just lazy writing.

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Speaking of Billy, it looks like he’s going to be hanging around for these last few episodes, and for once, I don’t mind. Though he was obviously more entertaining as a self-destructive prima donna, it’s nice to see him acting like a regular dude for once. Unfortunately, that also means that we have to endure this stupid storyline about him creating an animated series for Drama. Now, I’m no Hollywood agent, but how in the world could anyone think that “Johnny’s Bananas” – a cartoon about a “high-strung simian trying to make it in the human world” – is a good premise for a TV show? I always thought Eric had good taste, but if he’s truly intrigued by the idea of Drama voicing a cartoon gorilla, then well, I clearly didn’t know him as well as I thought. Then again, this was the second time in the same episode where one of the leads did something completely out of character, so maybe it can just be chalked up to lazy writing.

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Entourage 7.6 – Hair

There are a lot of good things you could say about tonight’s episode, but one thing it was not was entertaining. Although there were a few laughs to be had at Drama and Turtle’s expense (the former has drunken himself into a stupor and sarcastically claims that Dos Equis has hired him for a new campaign as the Least Interesting Man), the rest of the episode leaned very heavily on Ari and Vince’s ongoing storylines. Granted, that’s pretty much been the theme of this season, but with only four more episodes to go, I was really hoping we’d see Drama finally get a job – and no, not as the voice of a cartoon character.

Unfortunately, it looks like that’s where the writers may be going after Billy Walsh suggests that Drama isn’t attractive enough to star in his own show, but has the kind of voice that could headline an animated series. It’s all part of his plan to reignite his own career with the help of Eric, who he believes can get him back into the business the same way he did with Vince. But while he may have gone straight since the “Medellin” debacle (to the point that he’s completely sober, doesn’t swear, and is now an ordained minister), this might just be his craziest idea yet. Drama may be desperate, but why in the world would he want to settle for a cartoon after spending the better part of his adult life trying to make it in Hollywood? He’d be much better off just acting on stage, and would probably make more money doing it. Voice acting can certainly be a lucrative career for some, but Drama believes too much in the craft of acting, and it would be a major disservice to his character to suddenly abandon that philosophy.

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At least Turtle’s love life is on an upswing of sorts after he finally scores with Alex, although it didn’t exactly start out great. In fact, Turtle tells the other guys that their first night together was a complete disaster after he got so freaked out from seeing Alex’s bald nether regions that he didn’t perform to his best. Alex thinks that it was Turtle’s first time (though he quickly assures her it was not) and decides to give him a second chance, which goes much better than the first. Of course, as Vince’s friend, it’s hard to imagine that Turtle has never seen (or been with) a girl who was completely shaved, so I didn’t really buy the storyline at all. Then again, it’s also hard to believe that Turtle would be so stupid to think it would be a good idea to post videos to Vince’s Twitter account of him and Sasha Grey positively smashed on his tequila.

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Entourage 7.5 – Bottoms Up

Take a look at the title of tonight’s episode and then think about it for a few seconds. Get that little giggle out of your system? Great, let’s move on. Of course, that might be hard to do considering both references in the title – namely, anal sex and tequila shots – played a big part in several of the storylines this week. The most entertaining one involved Vince hooking up with porn star (and supposed anal specialist) Sasha Grey at a club, only to surprise the guys with her smarts, sophistication and sense of humor.

Sasha may be classier than she looks, but Drama and Scotty Lavin most certainly are not, launching into a discussion about anal sex that results in Eric confessing he’s never tried it. Scotty claims that Eric needs to do it at least once before he gets married, and Drama agrees (“You kidding? Vagina’s my third favorite hole.”), but when Eric mentions the idea to Sloan, she reminds him that they did try it once… unsuccessfully. That didn’t stop them from trying again, however, but just as Eric suspected, he likes her vagina. It was a rare comedic twist in the relationship that was sorely needed, because up until now, the writers have made Eric’s decision to marry Sloan seem like a bad thing. And if you’ve seen her recently (or heard the actress that plays her talk about all of her awesome qualities in that promo HBO has been airing recently), then you know that it’s not.

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Getting back to Vince, while it may have seemed a bit unprofessional to bring Sasha with him to his meeting with Stan Lee and Randall Wallace, I don’t think it should have had anything to do with the fact that she was a porn star. Granted, I can understand their caution about working with young actors who turn out to be the latest fuck-up of the month, but if they hadn’t been so prudish about Sasha’s career, then Vince probably wouldn’t have acted like a giggly little child. The fact that he mixed some of Turtle’s tequila with a Vicodin certainly didn’t help, but I’d be more concerned about him getting addicted to pain meds (or looking like an ass as the face of some tequila) than losing out on a job because he’s dating a porn star. And from the looks of things, Vince is about to go 2-for-2 in that area.

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Entourage 7.4 – Tequila Sunrise

It was bad enough with one “Full House” cast member dropping by every season, but now we’ve got to deal with John Stamos too? What’s next, Eric revives Dave Coulier’s voice acting career? All kidding aside, The Stamos positively stole the show on tonight’s episode as a vainglorious parody of himself when he came to visit Drama regarding his sitcom. Stamos absolutely nailed the part – from referring to Drama as Jimmy, to almost completely ignoring him in favor of talking to Vince – but it was nice to see Drama get a few jabs in as well. I nearly fell off my couch from laughing when, after winning the serve at the beginning of their first ping pong match, he declared, “It’s going to be a long day for Uncle Jesse.”

The fun didn’t stop there, either, as Drama was challenged to a second match later in the episode at the ping pong club where Stamos trains three times a week. Stamos even promises Drama that he’ll do the show if he can beat him, but it didn’t matter, because even though Stamos won, he still agreed to read the script. Of course, Drama claims that he threw the match on purpose, but does anyone really buy that? I know Phil told him that he needed to stroke Stamos’ ego by letting him win, but with such big stakes on the line, it seems like too big of a gamble for Drama to take. Plus, he’s just as arrogant as Stamos, so I guess we’ll never know.

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At least we have one less rivalry to keep track of now that Eric and Scotty Lavin have made amends. Though it certainly took them long enough to man up and apologize to one another for being dicks, Eric had no choice after he discovered that the “Airwalker” script that Scotty was pushing him to read was actually pretty good. Even Vince likes it, describing it as a darker version of “Aquaman,” so it looks like that’s going to be his next project. And perhaps with no copyrights to worry about, we’ll actually see him in costume this time around. While that should make for an interesting subplot for next season’s premiere, the story I’m more curious about how Eric and Scotty’s new partnership develops. We haven’t seen Murray at all this season, so it’ll be interesting to see what he thinks of their plans for the future, or better yet, if Scotty is just playing Eric for his own benefit.

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Entourage 7.3 – Dramedy

When Scott Caan’s douchebag talent manager was introduced at the tail end of last season, I assumed he would serve as a fun little nemesis for Eric as he tried to rise through the ranks at the new company. I didn’t imagine that he would have any chance of stealing Vince away from Eric as a client, however, and yet that’s exactly what appears to be happening. Granted, Vince shouldn’t feel compelled into keeping Eric as his manager just because they’re friends, but to get rid of him just because he doesn’t want to jump out of airplanes and party with a houseful of half-naked chicks is a bit juvenile. Then again, no one ever accused Vince of being mature, and his most recent behavior is proof of that.

The more time he spends with Scotty Lavin, the douchier he becomes – from impulse buying a Harley-Davidson, to bidding on (and winning) a dinosaur skull at auction for hundreds of thousands of dollars just so the female curator will sleep with him. I mean, is that really necessary anymore? I thought he was a big star. Whatever the excuse, Vince clearly doesn’t feel like he’s being treated like he should, and you could just tell that he was a little annoyed when he learned that his chance to work with producer Randall Wallace on an upcoming project may have been squandered because Ari wouldn’t return his calls. It couldn’t possibly be because a movie based on a fictional Stan Lee superhero called Airwalker sounds downright terrible. Oh wait, never mind, that’s exactly why. Fortunately, Eric finally decided that enough was enough and went over to Vince’s house to confront Scotty. Their little pushing contest probably didn’t help his cause, but at least he managed to (accidentally) destroy that stupid dinosaur skull in the process. What a fucking waste of money.

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Meanwhile, Ari is still trying to make amends with his wife after she discovered him dancing around his office with Lizzie, and he’s not exactly making any headway. Ari definitely has a bit of dilemma when it comes to the sexy up-and-comer, because while he would love to make his wife happy by firing Lizzie, he knows that she’s too important to let go. So when Lizzie comes to Ari demanding that she be put in charge of the TV department while Andrew’s in rehab, he takes the neutral route by telling her that she’s not ready, hoping she’ll stick around and fight for the position instead of acting like a selfish brat. Instead, Lizzie quits, and Babs is pissed, fearing that they’ve made a huge mistake. And from the look on his face upon hearing the news, Ari doesn’t seem too pleased either – probably because Lizzie has the potential to steal several big clients from the agency if she walks.

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Entourage 7.2 – Buzzed

Many people have been clamoring for “Entourage” to switch to an hour-long format for quite some time now, but with how thinly plotted each season tends to be, I’m glad that the only thing HBO has changed is reducing this season’s order from 12 to ten episodes. And it appears to be already working, as tonight was jam-packed with so much story that the chance of those pesky filler episodes popping up this season is unlikely.

Vince was also at the forefront yet again, as his newfound addiction to thrill-seeking continues to get him into trouble. I don’t think cutting his hair was a really big problem (if Cassavetes wants to do reshoots, he can always use a wig), but Vince certainly isn’t doing himself or his career any favors by acting out like that. It’s good to see him finally having some fun, even if it’s posing for pictures while leaving a strip joint or skydiving with a bottom feeding agent like Scotty Lavin, but that doesn’t mean he can act like an asshole either. While doing an interview for Access Hollywood, Vince says that his new film with Cassavetes would “probably end up sucking,” and while he may get a thrill out of making a joke like that, it’s also pretty damn rude and unprofessional. And if he was trying to be funny, then he should have at least told Maria Menounos that he was just joking around, because now Shauna, Ari and Eric are forced to run around town trying to fan the flames while Vince leaves a path of destruction behind him.

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And it’s not as if Ari has the time to deal with such childish behavior. After all, he’s finally done the impossible: get a meeting with the NFL. Granted, it’s only Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and a handful of others that take the meeting, but he definitely left a lasting impression, thanks in part to Lizzie, who helped break the ice after begging Ari to sit in. Nevertheless, Jones informs Ari that they won’t be needing his services to negotiate the TV rights, but does invite him to the upcoming owner’s meeting with an eye to bring an NFL team to Los Angeles. Ari loves the idea (although the L.A. Gold sounds more like a WNBA team), and expresses his excitement by dancing with Lizzie around his office… just as Mrs. Ari walks in.

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