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I [HEART]...the HELL?
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Heading in, I cross my fingers and pray this isn't The Casino all over again. This is only because I haven't watched Six Feet Under yet, or I would have been praying it wasn't that all over again, instead. Yikes. So okay, credits up first, because this how we do it on HBO. They -- meaning the credits -- would like to be very exciting. I -- meaning me -- am suspending judgment on this. All the stars' names are Photoshopped onto signs for various establishments (see, their names are in lights, see?) that we see on some very probably famous Los Angeles street, which the cast is driving down in some very probably famous kind of convertible. A not very good song plays. Someone wants to be my superhero. Whatever. The voice is very nasal, very matchbox twenty, and my superhero speaks with a Connecticut accent.

So you know that game you play with credits where you pretend they're meaningful even though they're created by a severely different department on the other side of the country from the writers? Like on Saved By the Bell, how Tiffany-Amber Thiessen's name came up in a big bold early-nineties Dep gel construction-paper cutout shape that suggested to my friend Christine a teardrop (Tiff plays a crybaby) but to me suggested a big fake silicon breast (Tiff plays jail bait). Or Mr. Belding's graphic, the obvious bald head. Try it, it's fun. Anyway, in deference to this old-school pursuit, I'll tell you where everybody's name is. Also because there are no shots of the actual lineup until the end, when you see them for all of five seconds. So this part's boring.

First up is Kevin Connolly, who's kind of the moral center of our story as Eric, the unofficial manager-slash-buddy. His name is found on a billboard. Connolly used to be on some sitcom, before, but I can't remember which one. Either the one with Donal Logue, or the one with Nikki Cox, or the one with Bobcat Goldthwait where the Muppet lived in their couch and he would have heart-to-heart conversations with it. Or maybe those are all the same show. I'm not sure. Connolly has grown into a nice-looking young man. Next is Adrian Grenier, who didn't have to grow into anything, because he didn't grow up on camera, he just started out hot and got hotter and hotter. Grenier plays Vince Chase, the technical center of our story. The reference point around which our titular entourage circles. Also known as the ATM. Maybe that's why his name appears over an all-night convenience store. Above a strip club we find Kevin Dillon's name, which is fine, even though he's not the dirtiest of this crew. He plays Vince's half-brother "Johnny Drama" Chase. About which name do not even get me started; in fact, that's the last time you'll see it here as a proper name -- I'm going to call him Kevin Dillon, because that's who he's playing. Himself. Somebody's brother. The fact that he took this role is prima facie evidence that he won't mind me calling him on it. Jerry Ferrara, who plays "Turtle," is up next, over either a closed-down A/X place or one of those tanning-and-lingerie-modeling places, or "massage" parlors, with the blacked-out windows. I'm guessing one of the latter. Turtle is, um, horny. So horny that it preempts his ability for thought, self-critique, or providing interest as a television character. As we shall see. That's all there is to Turtle, I think. Well, he's kind of mean, too.

Jeremy Piven's name, to loud squeals and applause, appears over a tattoo parlor with zebra stripes painted on. He plays Vince's sneaky-snaky, rage-addicted, almost Shakespearean, almost insulting manager/agent named Ari Jacobs. "Ari," I happen to know, means "lion" in Hebrew. "Jacobs," I also happen to know, means "Sleazy McJew, but that's okay because there are tons of Jewish managers in Hollywood, and most of them are assholes, so the Venn diagram our lawyer drew us says we can call him Sleazy McJew because it does not mean that since some birds are irrefutably black then all blackbirds are Jewish, or whatever. Our lawyer is also Jewish, so it's fucking fine." In this context, anyway, that's what it means. Crazy language, Hebrew. But I'm not complaining, because this is Piven we're talking about. And how does he do? He is awesome. He brings the Full Piven and he brings the drama and the anger and it is good. But I don't know what that has to do with tattoos, so I'm calling this round of "Explain the Credits" a bust. (Screech is represented by a diamond shape because he's played by Dustin Diamond, okay?)

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