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Is the Entourage Movie Mark Wahlberg’s Practical Joke on the World?

Soon after Arrested Development was canceled, creator Mitch Hurwitz and the cast kept the dream alive that it might someday be reborn, possibly as a movie. Jason Bateman and Co. gamely dished out hope to every journalist who cornered them at a red carpet, sharing that, somewhere, Hurwitz was working on a script. Such hope of resurrection pumped up the hopes of fans of other canceled cult shows: Deadwood, Party Down, Veronica Mars — they might all come back someday. The personnel behind them never denied this, optimistically allowing that, hey, you never know! One show that no one ever clamored to be revived, however, was Entourage. And that seemed to embolden executive producer Mark Wahlberg, creator Doug Ellin, and the cast to enact a fiendish plan: to act like the whole world was demanding the return of Vince, Johnny Drama, E, and Turtle. And they are really going all the way with this joke, as now the movie has been green-lit.

Is this really all a joke? I don't know. But what other explanation could there be? And it's a pretty funny (if expensive) gag, when you think about it: While everyone is waving to get network and movie executives' attention to bring back their favorite cult shows, Wahlberg jumps in front of them and says, "Okay, okay, we hear you, we'll bring back Entourage!" And when these people protest, yelling, "No, not you. We want Party Down!" he puts a finger on their lips to silence them and says, "Shhhh, you're talking crazy because you've been driven mad by the absence of E and the gang. I'm gonna make it all better by giving you the Entourage movie you so desire!" And as the fan weeps and screams, "No, Party Down! Party Down!" Wahlberg pretends not to hear, flashes a peace sign, and yells, "Johnny Drama forever!" As a dad, I've used this trick before. My kids say, "We want ice cream!" and I say, "What's that? You say you want more broccoli? If you say so!" and they yell, "Nooooo, ice cream, ice cream!" and I say, "Boy, you sure do like your broccoli. Enough with the yelling, I'll get some more now!" and I can drag this on forever. But I would need to actually turn my home into a broccoli restaurant to rival Wahlberg's gag.

Is there anyone out there who actually wants an Entourage movie? When the show first started out in 2004, critics (and I) liked the show. It was fascinating to watch a series that so staunchly decided that nothing would ever go wrong with its protagonists — an odd choice, as conflict is generally a widely accepted staple of fiction. And the guys were endearing goofballs for a while. But as time passed and Johnny Drama's buffoonery got old, Turtle decided to be his own man, and the show decided to try to put Vince through a dark phase that was like watching Snoopy try heroin, it all got silly. And Entourage went from being HBO's edgeless but likable staple to being its Arli$$, the network's main punch line after Real Sex ran out of people on the street willing to talk about their masturbation habits.

The only logical explanation for an Entourage movie is that Mark Wahlberg, on whose early days in Hollywood the show is based, is taunting everyone who vocally disparaged his show in its later years. (For all we know, the entire implementation of an Andrew Dice Clay arc in the final season — one in which we were supposed to believe in a world in which he and Johnny Drama were irreplaceable in an animated show about a gorilla — was a giant "fuck you.") Just listen to this quote he gave GQ in June of last year, explaining his plan: "I think a 90-minute movie of sheer craziness — the guys getting back to just being about the guys, you know? Lose the ladies. Go crazy. Give people what they want." He must have known that it would spark a collective double-take, that it would make us doubt our very sanity. Wait, does everyone want this? I thought we were all on the same page here. And somewhere, Wahlberg cackled.

Every time he or Jeremy Piven or Adrian Grenier would crow about how the script was coming along great, I assumed it was just a group joke, where they wanted to see how nuts they could make those snobby Community fans by usurping their "six seasons and a movie" mantra. But now Wahlberg has really kicked things to the next level, as Turtle might say about that tequila that I vaguely remember him getting all psyched about. It's official; Warner Bros. is going to pay to make this movie. Wahlberg has the clout to do it: He's a successful producer who as an actor has some big recent hits to his name; if an Entourage movie is his passion, and it's done for a low price (and what, Lloyd is gonna hold out for the big bucks?), then it's worth it for Warner Bros. to make it to keep him happy. But the studio has to know that there's not much demand for it, right?

Here's my prediction: Wahlberg and the gang keep on hyping it, acting like they are making the new Star Wars movie and that everyone is counting the days until it is done. And the press will cover it, albeit with quizzical looks on their faces, a kind of pleading, "If you're kidding, please tell me so I don't look dumb" panicky expression as they ask Piven how it was to get back into character as Ari. And then the movie will open, the lights will dim, and all the audience will see on the screen is the cast with their arms around each other, giving us the finger and laughing while they high-five.

Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like what an Entourage movie would actually be. Well played, Wahlberg.

Photo: HBO