's fifth season leaves our movie star in a pickle: his big Oscar shot, Medellin
, is a dismal failure, and Vincent (Adrian Grenier) has burrowed away to Mexico to drown his sorrows in booze and women. How does a once-promising actor get his confidence, legitimacy, and bankability back? That's the key premise this time around, and like some of its previous seasons, is always more interesting when Vince is struggling than when he's on top. Once his crew--manager Eric (Kevin Connolly), big brother Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), agent Ari (Jeremy Piven), and driver Turtle (Jerry Ferrara)--convince Vince to get back in the game, he finds many once-welcoming doors closed. He eagerly takes a meeting with Shawshank Redemption
director Frank Darabont (playing himself), only to feel insulted when he finds it's for a TV pilot. (His subsequent options? Appearing at a Sweet Sixteen party and doing a Benji movie.) Once a promising script about firefighters (called Smokejumpers
) piques Vince's interest, ensuing episodes become a complex chess game of job-hopping, backdoor-dealing, and back-scratching, which is always Entourage
's strength. As Vince watches his star fade, Grenier gets a chance to let his sunny optimism crack, even sitting in Ari's office and begging to be told he's a good actor.
The celebrity guest stars are plentiful and more integral this season. Jason Patric--playing himself--lampoons his difficult on-set reputation brilliantly as Vince's co-star in Smokejumpers. (The onetime Speed 2 star brags about being offered the lead in Aquaman 2, but turned it down: "Sequels, water: they're not for me.") Stellan Skarsgard (Good Will Hunting) plays a famous German director who clashes with Vince; Jamie-Lynn Sigler (The Sopranos) cameos as a new love interest for Turtle; Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl) reprises her Season One role as an aspiring singer, and Eric Roberts plays himself (who happens to deal 'shrooms on the side) in a wacky episode involving the guys' drug-fueled night of reflection at Joshua Tree. Even Mark Wahlberg, the show's producer and inspiration, plays himself in a golf scene with former agent Ari (priceless line: "What about when you told me you liked The Truth About Charlie?"). The only unwelcome cameo is in "Seth Green Day," in which the actor turns up for no other reason than to re-surface his war with Eric and annoy everyone to death. Extras include cast commentaries and a behind-the-scenes featurette. --Ellen A. Kim