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'Entourage': Men at work

June 27, 2010 | 11:01 pm

The kids are on vacation, white has returned to fashion and traffic to the beach has reached its hilt. It’s officially summer, folks. And lucky for us, we’ve got a fresh batch of “Entourage” episodes straight from the cooker and ready for our viewing pleasure.

After a year filled with Byzantine plots and heavy drama, it was nice to return to a light and refreshing summer program that goes down as easy as a well-made mint julep. And the Season 7 premiere didn’t disappoint. Doug Ellin and Co. seem to be starting the series’ second to last season not with a whimper but a big blazing fireball of a bang.

So Vince has taken to doing his own stunts in the new Nick Cassavetes movie. And despite those odd-looking goggles that he sported while filming (left over from his Enzo Ferrari biopic, maybe?), it was nice to see the movie star at work and questioning his measure as an actor and as a man. As we witnessed in last year’s lackluster season, all wish fulfillment and no work makes Vince a very dull boy. I like how the writers have decided to make this season (or the start of it, anyway) revolve more around the industry itself — in my opinion, that's when the series works best.

So I quite enjoyed Vince’s willingness to take the plunge and do his own stunt — not just to prove to everyone else that he wasn't a scaredy cat, but in order for him not to feel like one himself. But then again, if a seemingly volatile director like Nick Cassavetes was breathing down my neck, telling me to strap on a pair and strong-arming me to just do it (De Niro would), I could be persuaded to drive a car off a ramp, couldn’t you? Here’s a real-life tough guy who looks as though he could cut you without a second thought. Plus, you just don't mess with a guy with neck tattoos.

On a different note, liked the assist from Dale Dye (a military advisor on “Saving Private Ryan”) as the no-nonsense stunt coordinator who warned that Vince could be smashed into smithereens with even the slightest of hesitation.

So despite E and Ari’s pleas, Vince took a page from the Will Smith-Tom Cruise handbook and did the stunt without a hitch … until the brakes failed and he crashed into the building in an explosion of flames. Both he and Cassavetes emerged from the wreckage intact, but judging by that dazed and confused look Vince walked off with, it’s hard to say how the actor is going to be changed from this near-death episode. Will he become an adrenaline junkie? Start eating glass along with his cornflakes for breakfast? Or will he retreat from the world after the post-traumatic shock kicks in?

Ari’s finding that life as the biggest agent in the world is not as plush as he had hoped. Everyone from a poor, dogless Jessica Simpson to poker-playing Ryan Reynolds to Mrs. Ari want a piece of him, but the über-agent now has his sights on something far greater than puppy love, “The Proposal 2” or parent-teacher conferences: the TV rights to broadcast the NFL.

Turtle’s rolled out his new chauffeur business with hot girls and hot wheels. Plus, it seems as though Jamie-Lynn’s a memory long gone, as Turtle’s attention has been diverted to the incompetent and whiny Alex (Dania Ramirez from “Heroes”), even though she can’t seem to show up on time or drive her way out of a parking garage. How convenient was it that she forgot her shirt and had to switch tops with her employee right then and there (must maximize viewer pleasure)? While Alex quit her job after Turtle awkwardly misread her behavior to swoop in for a kiss, one still can’t help but get the impression that these two are destined to get together somewhere down the line.

So it’s poor Drama who is the odd unemployed-man out, with just eight weeks left on his holding deal and no network willing to see him as the lead in a TV series. In an unexpected departure from his megalomania, Ari even showed some rare compassion for the guy, telling him to let his holding deal run out and letting him down with a what-can-you-do shrug. But Drama’s not content to go softly into that good night; instead he pleaded with Lloyd to rally a team to read every single agency-sent script. So glad to see William Fitchner return as Phil the producer this season; that guy’s so good at lacing everything he does with just the right amount of offbeat creepy. Plus, he said one of my favorite lines of the night about why Drama didn’t get the “Fall Guy” remake: “They want someone … prettier.”

What else? “Top Chef” standout Stefan Richter got a nice cameo, and E’s still engaged to Sloan. The wedding’s in October.

What do you think? Are you excited about how things are shaping up this season? Think E and Sloan are going to make it to the altar? Are you enjoying Vince’s jolt to the head? How great was it to see Lloyd at the big kids’ meeting? Will Drama find a leading man role, or is he going to fall like he did in “My So-Called Life”? Alex: Yay or nay? Dean Cain’s too pretty to be the Fall Guy, no? Discuss – De Niro would do it.

—Allyssa Lee


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Photo credit: Claudette Barius / HBO

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