BY JERRY FERRARA
The date is July 18, 2004. I was in my crappy North Hollywood apartment on the phone with my brother. He was getting ready to watch the East Coast feed of the Entourage pilot. He could tell I was nervous telling me over and over “I saw it at the premiere Jer, its good.” I just kept saying, “Yeah, but its on T.V. now bro, whole different thing.” This is the usual back and forth I have with him. I’m nervous about something, he spends thirty minutes calming me down. He realized it was a battle he couldn’t win and said as he hung up “good luck”.
So now it’s just me all alone. Having recently upgrading my DirecTV account so I had HBO, I switched it on and sat there on my old ass couch. I remember laughing to myself cause I couldn’t afford HBO till I got on HBO. Oh shit… the show started. Here we go. As the opening title music played my mind started to go faster than the Lincoln was driving. Here were my first thoughts…
What’s the worst that happens here Ferrara? No one watches? Well, that happens with pilots all the time to hundreds of actors. You’re getting good with rejection at this point so don’t worry. You can get another job at the restaurant of the month (Again). You have become quite the waiter hardly ever dropping stuff anymore. What’s the best thing that happens? People freak out!? They love the show and HBO calls all of us first thing tomorrow morning and says, “Entourage is picked up for Season Two and you all get a raise!” That’s so much more fun to think about.
The show starts and I am the first character you ever see in Entourage (as fate would have it I am also the last face you see in the finale). The first scene is Turtle rolling up (not joints) Vincent Chase posters to be signed. Making his way through the Fred Segal parking lot dodging girls like traffic. The original opening was in a small bar called Tom Bergin’s. If I recall the original scene was intended to be a mislead of the lifestyle the guys live. You see them in a small dive bar then open up later to reveal it’s a movie star and his boys just pre-gaming before a big premiere. Nice switch up HBO and great execution Doug Ellin. Why mislead? Let’s get to the point.
The show is moving like a blur to me now. Every scene I’m in I cringe a bit thinking of all the things I could have done differently. I calm these feelings down by saying, “We were all first timers here.” Now obviously this isn’t true and not cause of my two episode arc on King of Queens (Hail Johnny Drama). Kevin Connolly has been doing this for around 25 years as he just gave us his background on my podcast. Kevin Dillon has been in films since forever. One of which is a best picture nominee Platoon. Jeremy Piven has literally been in five hundred movies. Doug Ellin our fearless leader was no stranger to being on a set as well. What I meant by that was this is all our first time playing these guys. Doug’s first time hearing his words acted out. Don’t be so negative bro.
All this being said there are still to this day scenes of mine in the pilot I just can’t watch. Not only can I not watch, I can’t even hear it. One example is a cool scene which would become a familiar theme of the show. The guys are driving in the yellow Hummer across the Warner Brothers lot. Turtle is all excited cause he has a hot lead on getting a guard dog. He hangs up the phone and starts barking. Let’s go back in time to that set. This is sort of how the conversation went (none of this is on a direct quote of the conversation)…
JERRY: Doug can I talk to you?
DOUG: What’s up?
JERRY: You really want me to bark like this man?
DOUG: What do you mean? It’s hilarious.
JERRY: Well none of the other guys are laughing and I kinda feel stupid.
DOUG: I would never let you look stupid. Don’t be an insecure actor. Your character is living the life. You can’t be over the top. His whole life is over the top. If it’s stupid and doesn’t work I’ll cut it. Remember he has wanted this dog for a while.
JERRY: You promise if you don’t like it you will cut it?
DOUG: Of course.
Of course Turtle barking like a dog stayed in the pilot. I still hate that scene more than any other in the show’s history. But to Doug’s credit he still stands by it. I’ve said 100 times to him “I hate that you made me bark in the pilot.” And he always responds the same way, “I love it!” Always have and always will.” He has been very consistent and I guess if you now look at the show ten years later he is right. Arnold (AHNOLD) the dog became a character and loyal sidekick for the duration of the run. Doug I will finally admit it to you now on the tenth anniversary… YOU WERE RIGHT! Still won’t watch that scene though. Matter of fact I’ll always hate watching myself.
Back to the night of the 18th. Still sitting on the couch stress eating old pizza. The show is almost done. It’s up to the part where Kevin Connolly and Jeremy Piven battle over what is best for Vince. This scene is tremendous and sets up a theme that will live on forever in Entourageland. As well as another one where the four guys are on the steps of their rented mansion getting ready to fly home for a reunion. They get the news “Colin Farrell is doing Matterhorn” and they sit stunned in silence. Johnny Drama breaks the silence “He’s good.” Vince ends the show by saying, “Hope you know what you’re doing pizza boy.” The song Lucifer by Jay-Z kicks up and takes us out. So many things were established in the last 8 minutes of that pilot.
I sweated out each and every year waiting to hear if the show got picked up. Never fully feeling comfortable that people were watching and liking. Lots of award nominations and recognition for the show still never relaxed me about having job security. It always seemed up in the air to me early on. Maybe that’s how you’re supposed to feel. I wasn’t really worried about going back to struggling. It was never about that. It was just how much I loved working on the show. How much those guys are my family. Having mostly the same crew over the whole run. I always say this whenever I can cause it’s true. Almost every cast will say how much they love the people they work with and how they are a family. Don’t think many of them mean it. It’s like an athlete saying they have to work hard in the offseason. Duh! In our case I can genuinely say there is family love all over the place. I think that’s what made us being best friends on the show so easily legit.
Now I can look back on all of this ten years to the day later and I have much to say to 24-year-old Jerry. It goes like this…
OLD JERRY: Stop worrying so much kid!
YOUNG JERRY: I’m not, fuck off.
OLD JERRY: See you’re defensive. Just calm down.
YOUNG JERRY: I am calm!
OLD JERRY: Really listen to me right now. Enjoy all of this kid. Each and every second. This will probably be the best job you ever have and ten years will go by before you know it. All the worrying and all the over analyzing is useless. People are either gonna love it or hate it. If a lot of people love it, be sure as shit there will still be people who hate it. You will never in your career have everyone love you or your work. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it will always be. The sooner you surrender to that, you will find it all to be more enjoyable. You won’t hang on so tight. Don’t waste another second wondering! Now get up off the couch and go have a drink. You’re on T.V…. I’m sorry it’s not T.V…. it’s HBO for crying out loud. Go enjoy the moment and see where you end.
YOUNG JERRY: Can I smoke first?
OLD JERRY: (shaking his head) Yeah sure, whatever. (under his breath) Stoner.
That’s how that conversation would go. Lucky for me Old Jerry found a time machine around season five. Like Biff in the Back to the Future, I was able to have this talk with myself. Enjoying all the moments of Entourage was always in the cards. It brought so much to my life and my family. It was really about maturity for me and I found it around season five. So thanks anyway Biff.
I’ll sum it up by saying I never in my wildest dreams thought Entourage would do 96 episodes. I’ve since gone on to do some other cool projects but the fact that we got to shoot the Entourage Movie still boggles my mind. Now that OLD JERRY is who I am, I enjoyed each and every moment of shooting the movie with my friends. Now that binge watching has become normal, I love when an 18-year-old dude tells me he watched all eight seasons in a week and asks when is the movie coming out. Like the pilot there is no way to tell if people will like or dislike the movie. I will not be on the couch alone and eating old pizza waiting to find out. I’ll probably be sleeping cause I’m an old ass man now. The purpose of this post was to thank the fans who have watched, whenever and however they watched. And our crew over the years who gave us all so much and always said it was the coolest job.
Things always had a way of working out for the guys in Entourageland. Hopefully we have one more trick left in the bag. If we don’t “We can always move back to Queens” – VINCENT CHASE
HAPPY 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY.
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