'Entourage' Creator/Producer Doug Ellin Gives The New Definition Of Success
The American Dream -- we all heard the term bandied about during the days of middle and high school; it's something we thought was just an outlandish, abstract goal sold to people trying to make it in this harsh world.
However, as “Entourage” creator and writer Doug Ellin shows us, the American Dream is alive and well.
I was lucky enough to secure an interview with the man, the myth and the legend himself, and let me tell you -- he's everything you'd think he would be.
What I thought would be a quick chat turned into a 25-minute, free-flowing conversation while he picked up his dog from the boarder -- yes, Mr. Ellin does his own errands, something I commented on as well.
"Entourage" first aired in 2004, and it went on for an enthralling eight seasons.
Millennials grew up alongside the program, watching as our own personal Vinnys, Turtles, Dramas and Es flourished right alongside us.
This is exactly why this age demographic has developed such a close connection with the series -- because it mimics the characteristics present in every friend group.
According to Ellin, "There's always the group made up of the really good-looking guy, the ugly guy, the good-looking girl, the schlub -- that's most friendships. Everyone can relate."
You may think that with the success of HBO's “Entourage,” the producer would be celebrating in true Vinny Chase style, but when it comes to Doug Ellin, that is far from the case.
Instead, Ellin believes the way the show and film brought together his family and friends is the biggest celebration of all.
For those of you who didn't know, Ellin's son, Lucas, has a pretty substantial role in both the show and movie, as he plays Ari Gold's son Jonah.
We never see Ari get quite as emotional as he does when he's talking with his one and only son.
I think I can safely say all of our hearts broke during season four, when little Jonah asked his father if he would be attending school with Daren Hornig the following year. Ari broke down in tears as he regretfully told his son "no."
But what makes the name “Daren Hornig” significant is the most fascinating part of it all -- it wasn't a name pulled out of thin air; it's the name of Ellin's Long Island childhood friend.
You might think the show and movie paint an unrealistic picture of Hollywood, but when I asked Ellin about this, he said the loyalty and lifestyle he has experienced is what makes it so realistic.
He explained, "I grew up in a working class town, and 150 of 'my' people will be at the NY screening, and 20 of those people’s names have been used in the show in one aspect or another."
Many people believe “Entourage” tells the tale of a young Mark Wahlberg and his crew as they acquired immeasurable success out in Hollywood, but the truth is, that's not the entire story.
In fact, the other half of the story comes straight from Doug Ellin's life, his journey, his relationships, his friends and his family.
So how did it all begin?
“It started with Mark. He brought it to me. I had to figure out my own way in, where I took stories from his life and characteristics from my friends, as well as his friends,” Ellin explains. “Most stories are me and my friends with the glamor of Mark. The inspiration came from Mark, and it combined elements of things from him and his friends with a mix and match with me and my friends.”
In fact, Ellin relates the most to the character of Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven, because he gets to say the things he's always wanted to say and even claimed it's "easier" to develop him as opposed to other characters like Drama.
The character of Mrs. Ari (whose full name is Melissa Gold, as we find out toward the end of the series) was actually inspired by Ellin's ex-wife Melissa Dana Hecht.
What's even more realistic is that the couple therapy sessions between Mr. and Mrs. Ari were transcribed from sessions Ellin had with his ex.
When it comes to the crazy success the actors achieved, it didn't come without its ups and downs.
Vinny's struggle is seen throughout the show, and Ellin firmly believes Los Angeles "is the greatest town to be unsuccessful in; there’s always good looking people around, always places to play ball in the middle of the day."
But at the end of the day, Ellin firmly explained the show is about family, and that's why he loves what he does.
The entire cast and crew created a family dynamic for him and, more importantly, his son.
When I asked if his son had to audition, he laughed and told me Lucas just hung around the set all the time. "Jeremy said he should play his son in the show, so we put him on camera, and it just worked," said Ellin.
He loves that Lucas can see what he does without being negatively affected by the attention surrounding the show and movie.
As you can probably guess if you've seen the show, the film is rated R, so Lucas is definitely not allowed to watch the film.
Ellin's favorite “Entourage” moment in particular was shooting live at Yankee Stadium, where his son "had the run of the place." His anecdotes really portrayed just how important family is to him, "I grew up loving the Yankees. There I was, with my kid and my dad at Yankee Stadium."
So if you don't think you can achieve your dreams, just think of Doug Ellin, a stand-up comedian from Merrick, Long Island who just produced the most highly anticipated movie of the entire summer.
The boys are definitely back in town, and we can't wait to see what they have in store for us.