FISHY STORY: HBO’s Entourage, which begins a run on Citytv this fall, has become the must-see series in Hollywood these days, which is proof of the movie industry’s rapt self-absorption, if nothing else.
The show is based on executive producer Mark Wahlberg’s early days in Hollywood, when he arrived from Boston with a bunch of his buddies surfing the big runup to success. It’s looking to be an unexpected hit for HBO, who’ve started investing in the show that might see them into the uncharted waters of the post-Sopranos era.
Fans of the show — and readers of the movie trade papers — know that the big plot point in Season 2 was the battle to get Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) to take the lead role in a movie version of the Aquaman comic book, to be directed by James Cameron. HBO even went so far as to take out a two-page ad in Variety trumpeting Aquaman’s record $116,844,114 US opening weekend box office take, and a CNBC anchor later deadpanned that the opening weekend for the Pirates Of The Caribbean sequel had outperformed the fictional film. Hollywood seemed to be having a good time with its little joke.
Joke no more, apparently. According to an L.A. Times story, there’s a reality-warping movement building to actually make the Aquaman movie, starring Grenier, and hopefully under Cameron’s direction. Even better, the agent working the deal is Ari Emanuel, Wahlberg’s real-life agent, and the real-life basis for Entourage’s Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven. All of this is happening in spite of the fate of an Aquaman TV series that was cancelled before it hit the air by the new CW network, even after an expensive pilot was paid for by the WB network before it was subsumed into the CW. (A download of the pilot is doing very well on iTunes, however.)
It will probably never happen — the film would cost a fortune, and that kind of risk is looking increasingly hard to justify in an atmosphere of increasingly brutal Hollywood economics — but the attempt to make it real is both droll and delightful, especially considering that Entourage creator Doug Ellin initially cooked up the Aquaman plotline as a joke. “I picked it because it sounded like a ridiculous movie,” Ellin told the L.A. Times.
But “ridiculous” is a meaningless word in Hollywood, where intangibles like buzz can overpower common sense in business deals, and Internet jokes about a film like Snakes On A Plane can transform a minor action thriller into a major release, prompting the producers to change the title back from Pacific Air Flight 121, and pay for re-shoots so that Samuel L. Jackson could utter a line that began as a web gag: “I have had it with these motherf***ing snakes on this motherf***ing plane!”
“It was a strong initiative from the very beginning to make (Entourage) as real as possible,” Doug Ellin told the L.A. Times. “That way, people would think it’s reality.”
Don’t worry, Doug — in Hollywood, reality is whatever you pay for, nothing less.