And more from our Liz on HBO’s sizzling hot party in New York City
“A MUCH lower unemployment rate. And lower gas prices. Those would he perfect gifts for my birthday!”
So says President Obama about becoming 50 years old and what he wants for his natal day on August 4th. He said this to AARP magazine, with a sexy Harrison Ford on the cover.
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HBO PULLED out all the stops the other evening in Manhattan, screening several episodes of the eighth and final season of “Entourage.” It happened at the exquisite Beacon Theater on Broadway and 74th Street. Once a great movie palace, the theater became a grimy shadow of itself back in the 1970’s. But in recent decades it has been transformed into a live concert spot, wonderfully restored to its original gleaming, glory.
It is rare for a film of any sort to be shown at the Beacon. And yet here we were in this space that still carries the ghosts of the Golden Age movie stars. Once upon a time, stars were beautifully spoken, wonderfully coiffed: no nudity, no reality. So it was fascinatingly odd, watching scenes from a TV series that is the epitome of Hollywood today, with its coarse wheeling and dealing, cursing, and ordinary looking stars. (Not that all sorts of coarse carrying on didn’t happen back in the day, but … somehow it played better.)
The theater was packed. Half the men in the place were dressed (despite the oppressive heat) like Jeremy Piven’s character, the agent Ari Gold, in suits and ties. The other half looked like the four other “Entourage” guys usually do — sloppy but trendy. Most of the women dressed for the heat, wearing as little as the law allows. The entire cast —Piven, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara and Perrey Reeves (Mrs. Ari Gold) took the stage before the screening, along with various others. (Piven, true to his egocentric character, was onstage bowing and waving before his name was even called.)
But the man of the night was co-creator (with Doug Ellin) and executive producer Mark Wahlberg. “Entourage” was his baby, and loosely based on his own early days in Hollywood, when he was a restless young man, prowling L.A. with his posse. Now he is a highly respected movie star and producer — and a damn fine actor. His ovation was tremendous and affectionate.
And Mark was the big man at the super after-party, which happened at the Museum of Natural History. Despite the presence of Ben Kingsley … Johnny Galecki … Arianna Huffington … Lance Bass…David Schwimmer … Rob Morrow … vixenish AP reporter/TV broadcaster Alicia Quarles and her beautiful hubby, Michael Ross… Linda Yellen … Pharrell Williams … Chris Bauer … Paul Haggis … Brian Williams … Andrew Dice Clay and the U.S. Women’s Soccer players Hope Solo and Alex Morgan. But it was Mark’s table that drew every camera flash; the whole room seemed to converge on him. He was sweetly accessible, posing, hugging, hand-shaking and full of high spirits. He wore a beautiful gray suit that was designed to suggest perhaps it couldn’t quite contain his rippling physique. (Mark might be a serious player now, but he’s still hot.) And, but of course, Roger Friedman, the best entertainment reporter in the biz was there too. But he was less high on “Entourage” than what he had attended instead of the screening — a recording session with Aretha Franklin and Tony Bennett. Roger says Aretha sounds fantastic, better than in years!
The party was held in a huge room — The Milstein Hall of Ocean Life — dominated by a giant blue whale suspended above the throng. Impressive! There were dramatic staircases that afforded the glam types the opportunity to pose and strut with élan. And if you didn’t want to get into the crush on the main floor, the second tier was less mobbed; one could observe the mortals mingling — on high, like Zeus. Delectable food was scarfed up and potent drinks flowed. The massive white and black chocolate dessert tray, which spelled out “Entourage,” was especially tempting. (Although it was only for “display,” despite constant efforts to maul it. Later in the night, I think they gave in and allowed it to be ravaged.)
All the HBO-ers were in fine, friendly fettle. Why not? Once again, the network garnered the lions’ share of the recent Emmy nominations.
Oh, a suggestion. I don’t know if it has ever happened, but Milstein Hall would be a super spot for an Oscar party.
After all, movies are part of natural history, too.