On this day in 2004, the first season finale of the television comedy series Entourage, about a hot young actor in Hollywood and the posse of people surrounding him, premieres on HBO. Entourage, which debuted on July 18, 2004, stars Adrian Grenier as the up-and-coming movie heartthrob Vincent Chase, who is navigating his way through the pitfalls and excesses of Hollywood. Vince’s entourage includes Eric “E” Murphy (Kevin Connolly), his manager and childhood friend from Queens, New York; his half-brother, the C-list actor Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon, the real-life brother of the actor Matt Dillon); Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), another childhood friend from Queens who is content to ride Vince’s coattails; and Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), Vince’s aggressive, high-strung agent. Other recurring characters on the show include Vince’s sharp-tongued publicist Shauna (played by Debi Mazar) and Ari’s long-suffering gay assistant Lloyd (Rex Lee). The actor Mark Wahlberg (Boogie Nights, Three Kings, The Departed) serves as one of the executive producers of Entourage and the idea for the show was reportedly based on some of his experiences as a rising star in Hollywood.
Prior to Entourage, Adrian Grenier, who was born on July 10, 1976, appeared in such movies as The Adventures of Sebastian Cole (1998), Woody Allen’s Celebrity (1998), Drive Me Crazy (1999) and Harvard Man (2001). In 2006, he was featured in the box-office hit The Devil Wears Prada, starring Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep. Grenier is also the director and producer of Shot in the Dark, a documentary about his search for his biological father that aired on HBO in 2007.
The most seasoned main cast member of Entourage is Jeremy Piven, who was born on July 26, 1965, to parents who founded Chicago’s Piven Theater Workshop in the 1970s. Piven began his professional acting career in the late 1980s and has appeared in a long list of TV shows and movies, including several (Say Anything, Grosse Pointe Blank, Serendipity) with his childhood friend John Cusack. As of 2008, Piven has earned three Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his performance as the volatile Ari Gold.
Since its debut, Entourage has featured numerous cameo appearances from celebrities, including Titanic director James Cameron, Seth Green, Mandy Moore, Brooke Shields (whose husband Chris Henchy has written for Entourage) and the actor-director Edward Burns (whose brother Brian is a writer and producer for the show). HBO, which launched in 1972, has broadcast a number of acclaimed series in addition to Entourage, including Sex and the City (1998 to 2004), The Sopranos (1999 to 2007),Six Feet Under (2001 to 2005),The Larry Sanders Show (1992 to 1998) and The Wire (2002 to 2008).