TWSS: Let's hug it out this week
I was just a couple of years out of college when "Entourage" premiered on HBO. I had been living in Los Angeles for about a year and a half, going on auditions, working as a hostess at a restaurant and doing odd jobs, like elegantly gesturing toward Escalades at Orange County golf tournaments, holding up round numbers in a boxing ring and dressing up in an "Iron Chef" coat and flipping rubber eggs on Hollywood Boulevard.
I had no money and no real acting gigs on my résumé, and angry Beverly Hills snobs would risk ripping open their facelift stitches to yell at me about the wait for their table. One guy even threw a chair.
I was no Vincent Chase, but I felt like I could be one day.
Even though "Entourage" was considered the ultimate "bro show," plenty of lady-bros like myself also had dreams of running around Hollywood with a pack of friends. Back then, watching the show's characters go to the same bars and restaurants I was going to made this Midwestern girl feel like I was livin' the dream, despite my zero balance and zero status.
By the time the show's final season aired in 2011, I had moved back to Chicago and started working for ESPN. I had money, a résumé with real jobs on it, and I actually was livin' the dream (albeit 2,000 miles from Geisha House and Forty Deuce).
Back in the Midwest, watching "Entourage" always felt like a half-hour visit back to La La Land, where the sun was always shining, everyone was good-looking and there was always a celebrity just around the corner. But over the course of the final eight episodes, the writers tried to inject meaning into a show that had always thrived on its utter vacuity. Any sort of forced emotional evolution and maturation was unnecessary, as "Entourage" was, at its core, just a silly show about a group of friends living the good life.
It was an awful final season and a truly awful final episode. (Capped by Vince's awful final line: "You ain't seen nothing yet.") And yet, even as the proverbial shark was being jumped, talk was already swirling about a feature-film spinoff.
More than two years later, production on the "Entourage" movie is finally under way. After being subjected to the show's last season, many may be hesitant to go back for more, but I'm excited for a second chance to say goodbye to Vinny and the Boys.
Show creator Doug Ellin can rewrite the wrongs of that eighth season. He can get the gang back together one last time and give us what we wanted all along: sex, fame, money and plenty of Ari Gold rants.
You can do that in a film -- save the memory of a show by rewriting its ending. When it comes to sports, we don't get that kind of re-do. The heart of the order might get only a few seasons together before the ballclub gets blown up, and a starting five that almost won it all rarely stays intact.
If only you could do a feature-film follow-up to the TV version of your favorite teams … one last chance to get it right -- or, in some cases, to just enjoy the greatness a little longer. Here are a few "films" I'd like to produce, and you can leave your fantasy "rewrites" in the comments section.
2006-07 Golden State Warriors
Like Turtle, who was fat and broke when we met him and trim and loaded when we left him, the 2006-07 "We Believe" Warriors were late bloomers. After a slow start, they finished the regular season on a 16-5 run to earn their first playoff berth in 13 seasons.
Back in 2007, when I was working as a game logger at Fox, I would request Warriors games so I could see Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Kelenna Azubuike and the rest of the fast-passing, long-shooting, hard-driving little guys buzz up and down the court. Their run-and-gun style made them insanely fun to watch, especially when they dumped the top-seeded Mavericks in the opening round of the playoffs.
Unfortunately, the magic didn't last long. The following season, the sharp-shooting Jason Richardson was traded, the gun-shooting Stephen Jackson got suspended and Golden State was out of the playoffs, once again stuck on the outside looking in. Warriors fans deserved better than just one season of "We Believe" and hoops fans everywhere deserve another year of watching that team.
2008 Chicago Cubs
Just five years ago, the Chicago Cubs were a 97-win team. But like Johnny Drama still trying to live off his "Viking Quest" days, Northsiders haven't seen their team book a good gig since.
The 2008 Lou Piniella-led squad sent eight players to the All-Star Game and won its second-straight NL Central crown to reach the postseason in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1908. Unfortunately for long-suffering Cubs fans, 2008 didn't end like 1908. The season that marked the 100th anniversary of the Cubs' last World Series win ended unceremoniously at the hands of the Dodgers, who swept the Cubs in the division series.
While the 2003 team receives a lot of publicity for being just five outs away from the World Series, it's the 2008 team that seemed truly primed for a championship run. Pitching was on point: Carlos Zambrano was at his best, throwing a no-hitter in September; Ryan Dempster won 17 games to make a run at the Cy Young, and Kerry "Kid K" Wood had newfound success in the closer role. And offense was no problem; the team led the NL in runs scored behind longball-loving vets Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez and hot-hitting rookie of the year Geovany Soto.
I had moved back to Chicago three days before the NLDS began, truly believing I had arrived just in time to be a part of the biggest party of the century. Instead, I was there to witness firsthand the truly terrible heartbreak felt by generations of Cubs fans. There are plenty of Cubs teams that will always be remembered for what could have been -- this is my No. 1.
The Fab Five
The early-1990s University of Michigan squad is remembered not just as a basketball team, but as a cultural phenomenon. The five starters had a swag the college game hadn't seen before. Baggy shorts, shaved heads, black socks and sneakers … it was the look for Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard and Ray Jackson.
All top-100 prospects out of high school, the cocky bunch led the Wolverines to the 1992 NCAA championship game as freshmen, losing to Duke. The following year, they reached the title game again, this time determined to come out with a win. Trailing North Carolina 73-71 with time running down, Webber made one of the all-time boneheaded plays in sports, calling a timeout the Wolverines didn't have. You know the rest.
It's hard to feel sorry for a quintet that was so beloved and admired, especially since they have since had all their wins vacated due to NCAA violations and four went on to play pro ball. But this rewrite isn't about morality, it's about wanting to see that swagger pay off in the form of a title.
If a truly terrible actor like Adrian Grenier somehow had enough swag to get a gig playing a movie star on TV and actually became a real movie star ... well, then the Fab Five had enough swag to get a ring in my rewrite.
2012-13 Atlanta Falcons
Last season's Falcons finished the regular season 13-3, clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and sending the hopes of Atlanta fans soaring. Quarterback Matt Ryan had one of his best statistical seasons and finally earned a playoff win, leading his team past the Seahawks in the divisional round.
Julio Jones and Roddy White teamed up to become the first 1,000-yard receiving tandem for the Falcons since 1998 and Tony Gonzalez looked like he had a chance to end his Hall of Fame career a la Jerome Bettis, with a Super Bowl ring. Alas, like Turtle in nearly every episode of "Entourage," Gonzalez didn't get the happy ending he hoped for. The Falcons lost to the 49ers 28-24 in the NFC championship game, giving up 14 unanswered points in the second half.
Gonzalez decided to come back this year for one more season and a chance at that elusive title. Not gonna happen. The Falcons are 2-6 heading into this weekend and decimated by injuries. The magic of last season's "Rise Up" run is nowhere to be found. It looks like this show, at least with the current cast, is over.
I'm no Falcons fan, but as a Bears fan who just watched future Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher retire without any hardware, the Gonzalez story pulls at my heartstrings. In my movie, Gonzalez gets that ring, and is named Super Bowl MVP.