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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a no-holds-barred look at showbiz life (read: sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll -- or, rather, early calls at the set). Part drama, part comedy, the show doesn't pull any punches. It gleefully dissects the underbelly of fame and fortune, not to mention the pursuit of all that jazz.
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What's the story?
Take Ocean's Eleven, move it from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, and infuse it with a dose of East Coast grit and chutzpah and what you have is ENTOURAGE, HBO's fascinating series about four childhood friends touched by fame in glitzy Los Angeles. Vince (Adrian Grenier) is a former New Yorker who makes it big in the movies, or is on the cusp of doing so. When the cameras aren't rolling, he shares the spotlight with his friends from back home: his best friend/manager, Eric (Kevin Connolly); his always-striving sidekick, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara); and his still-hopeful, has-been-actor brother, Drama (Kevin Dillon). Together, the foursome manages to stick together and stay loyal in a town filled with sycophants and ambitious wannabes, aided in part by Vince's protective agent, the trash-talking, super-intense Ari (Jeremy Piven). Though they loathe Ari, they can't help but love him, too, not because he's one of them, but because he's one of the few people they can count on to be nothing but himself. What they see is what they get, for better or worse.
Is it any good?
Not since Sex and the City has an ensemble friendship been dissected with such brutal honesty. In fact, much like that other landmark HBO show -- though the background here is the high-octane world of Hollywood rather than the skyscrapers of Manhattan -- what drives the storylines are the relationships among the show's lead characters, which deepen with every episode. When Eric decides to stop being Vince's lackey and jostles for a permanent role as his manager, for example, power dynamics shift. When Drama tries to get a job on his brother's projects, family roles switch. And when the leech-like Turtle decides to get responsible, all hell breaks loose.
Though the language is crass, the "hipster factor" over-emphasized (cue the alterna-soundtrack), and the ripped-from-the-tabloids scenarios sometimes a little over the top (for example, Vince hops from one girlfriend's bed to another without even showering), Entourage is pure viewing pleasure, made even more so by the easy rapport among the actors. Just remember to keep the kids away.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about their perceptions of what Hollywood is all about and whether they think they're accurate. Is life under the klieg lights as glamorous as it may seem? Or is it just smoke and mirrors and special effects? In many ways, is it just like any other workplace? And how does a superstar "keep it real" in a place built on fakery? Is it possible to stay grounded? How?