Sunday, June 25, 2006

Does anyone outside of LA enjoy the TV series Entourage? How 'bout outside of LA or NY? Do people cut to Vinnie Chase? Does John Q. Public like E.? In middle America, is Turtle fertile?

My cousin and her husband from back East love that show (they enjoy everything on HBO -- Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm I understand, Big Love and Six Feet Under, not so much). They're in town today, so amidst a busy day planned, my sister wants to take them on an Entourage tour, showing them all the sights on Sunset and Melrose that the guys drive past in the opening credits. Maybe when I go back East my family can take me to New Jersey for a Sopranos tour of Satriale's Pork Store and the Bada Bing! I'm just glad they don't want to try to get into those fancy over-priced places in Hollywood. 'Cause none of us is a pretty-boy celebrity who gets the royal treatment for all his buddies. Which makes me wonder why I like the show.

I don’t have much in common with any those characters. That is, aside from being a New Yorker transplanted to Tinseltown, who’s almost forgotten what makes for a good bagel or Chinese food.

But sometimes Johnny Drama -- Kevin Dillon's role -- reminds me of myself. Not that I’m living in my relative's shadow -- I couldn’t stand to be anyone’s shadow, which is why I can’t relate to those friends-slash-hanger-ons (and I’m certainly not Johnny’s famous movie star brother). But Drama freely expresses all the frustrations about Los Angeles – the long drive from the west side to Hollywood feels like a friggin’ all-day road trip. And venturing to the Valley should be avoided when the temperatures hit triple digits; in other words, stay away between May and October. (I'd put a permanent ban on the 818 if I could -- don't get my started on my lazy friends living in Burbank and Studio City.)

Lately I really relate to him, as I’m embarking on another job search. Our TV season is winding down -- just finished my last set of voice-overs, though I’ll be working there another few weeks. Now I have to start lining up my next gig. Like Johnny Drama looking for an acting job, I gotta schmooze, network… everything short of groveling.

I say that ‘cause I simply can’t take shit from anyone. I tells ya, I love entertainment, just not a lot of the jerkoffs in this field.

Many yrs ago, desperate for $, I interviewed for the lowest-level position, a job that makes septic tank ditch-digging look dignified: a talent agent's assistant. The slick schmo in a suit asked me what I wanted to get out of this job. I said that being his slave would be the end-all be-all of my existence, that long tedious hours doing his trivial biddings for a mere tuppence-a-day would be the greatest employment opportunity of my life, etc. My tongue was bleeding as I kept from saying: Just get me a steady paycheck while I look for something better, fuckface.

I guess my verbal response wasn’t good enough, ‘cause he sneered and said, "I don’t know. I’m looking for someone to be a shadow of myself."

You want a shadow of yourself? Step in front of a speeding truck with its high-beams on, you arrogant prick.

Like I said, I didn't want to be in anyone's shadow, and I wasn't gonna start with that guy. The loud obnoxious agent character on Entourage, Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven -- trust me, that's not much of an exaggeration.

So maybe I was and will always be Johnny Drama, scrambling for work in this town. But at least I'm not gonna be Lloyd, Ari's poor abused assistant. I hope in tonight's episode he gives Ari a good bitch-slapping. That'd get the rest of the country to tune in.


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