Sunday, October 07, 2007

TV REVIEW: "Entourage" (Plus, an addendum for actors)

I saw HBO's "Entourage" again the other night; in fact 3 episodes (Emmy Award Academy submission-DVD) in one sitting, and I continued to love it. Wonderful. Funny, sexy, fast, extremely well conceived, structured and written...and the acting ...especially the acting, is marvelous. Adrian Grenier (the Star), Jeremy Piven (the Agent), Kenin Connolly (the Manager), Kevin Dillon (the Houseboy and Cook ...and wannabe/almost-is actor), and Jerry Ferrara (the Driver), and Debi Mazar Connolly's girl friend) are all outstanding. The show is a spoof of the Hollywood 'star' system'; yet like all fine spoofs, incisively true.

The addendum for actors: The other day I asked the actor who came in to work with me on his upcoming specific comedy audition for a series: "Are you trying out for the role of 'the axle' or 'the spokes'?" Off his questioning stare, I explained. Are you auditioning for the character through which the audience views the show--the axle--the central 'relatively stable' character--who holds all the pieces of the wheel together, or are you auditioning for one of 'the spokes': the other comedic supportive roles who surround the axle, the inevitable outrageous extreme characters-moving-in-and-around the lead character?

The actor said he was auditioning for the central character. Okay, I said, you are auditioning for the Mary Tyler Moore character on "The Lou Grant Show", the Raymond character on "Everybody Loves Raymond, or further back, Desi Arnaz on "I Love Lucy" or Judd Hirsch in "Taxi".

We prepared accordingly, and I added: Y"ou will have a more difficult (and generally less appreciated, less award winning) task: You must be incredibly real, convincing, and plot-driving character...while you must also be also be funny.

"You will be the eyes and ears of the story, the tether-character which connects the wildly-comedic actors (the hot-air balloons of individual sparkling comedic performances) to the story's credibility and reality, without which these extravagantly funny characters would inevitably spin off into space, unfunny and eventually unwatchable.

I advised him to watch "Entourage'; especially Adrian Grenier, who performs this stabilizing 'axle' acting task in "Entourage" admirably, admirably well. He is the glue which connects the cast, the cement turning their supporting comedic turns and bricks into a solid series.

I added an important truth to consider: the 'axle' acting talent will probably be under appreciated. The ease with which Grenier performs his 'axle-to-the-wheel' task in "Entourage" reminds me of Cary Grant--another exquisitely handsome man--who never got an Academy Award. Why? Actors like Grant and Granier so busy keeping the wheel together--and with such seeming ease--that they do not draw attention to themselves...and are often under appreciated by everyday fans and critics. They are 'actor's actors' in the best sense. There is some justice in life however. They do get the big, big money...if not the Awards.


Blogger David said...

I'm glad you like Entourage. It does for me what LA Law did in a previous life.

But I'm writing with a question. From a story about Joaquin Phoenix:
When [the interviewer] asked by phone how he prepared for his role as a drug-addled nightclub manager in "We Own the Night," Phoenix responded, "I never prepare. I think that's completely overrated. It's a very simple job. All you have to do is . . . stand in the right spot and say the line. So I don't really believe in preparation."

Is this bravado or what?

9:14 AM  
Blogger Cliff Osmond said...

It could be that he needs no preparation to play a 'drug-addled' character; or any other, for that matter: perhaps Joaquin Phoenix is already sufficiently emotional "unbalanced" from living life (SEE my October 9th blog, on "'Unbalanced' Actors") that his lifetime acting 'preparation' work has already been accomlished. In that case, all he has to do is "say the lines" in any scene.

3:23 PM  

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