Entourage creator Doug Ellin went full Ari Gold on a writer who posted an essay declaring that the HBO comedy series will be re-edited to reflect modern sensibilities (à la Roald Dahl and Agatha Christie’s books).
There’s just one thing: The essay was satire, which Ellin apparently didn’t recognize.
The piece was written by Max Davison at McSweeney’s (which should have been the first clue) who pretended to be an HBO executive announcing Entourage will be the network’s first series to undergo “sensitivity readings,” noting, “[Since 2011], we have since undergone vast shifts in our views on women, race, and Ed Hardy …. We are merely removing a handful of problematic elements that were more socially acceptable back in Entourage’s time. These include sexism, homophobia, misogyny, anti-Semitism, dubious sexual politics, Asian hate, toxic masculinity, the casting couch, racial slurs, ethnic slurs, sexist jokes, abusive workplace language, mockery of sex workers, cameos by James Woods and Armie Hammer, the fact that any woman was willingly attracted to Turtle or Johnny Drama, and the way in which white men were able to get away with absolutely anything and succeed despite having no discernable skill set or work ethic … This is a well-intentioned and nuanced update, much like Steven Spielberg editing the guns out of ET.”
Specific examples of changes to the eight-season comedy series included lines like “Let’s hug it out, bitch” being ADR’d to say “I value your male friendship and recognize your vulnerability, bro.”
Fired back Ellin on Twitter on Thursday night: “You are very much a product of your time, you revisionist hack. Talentless nobodies like you speak on twitter and then your zombie friends at shitty newspapers, that nobody reads anymore reprint your trash. Tell president Obama and the nytimes how offensive we were. Those who try to rewrite history are offensive. And dangerous. And Spielberg already regrets touching ET. Anyway, fuck you. Oh we got a Peabody and a bafta too, ya loser.”
To which Davison explained: “Doug, I wrote this piece. It’s satire. It’s taking sensitivity readings to the extreme of editing shows from 15 years ago. The ET joke was quite intentional. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have Ari Gold scream obscenities at me. Now I know.”
To be fair, what makes the piece work is that it’s not hard to imagine a censorious ideologue proposing such changes, which is what makes it a clever critique of similar efforts that have generated considerable debate. Spielberg recently admitted changing E.T. was a mistake and criticized the changes in Dahl’s books: “For me, it is sacrosanct. It’s our history; it’s our cultural heritage. I do not believe in censorship in that way.”
Ellin admitted his error, with the writer-producer confessing, “I’m not a very strong reader,” and noted he “may have had an edible.”
Previously, Ellin accused HBO Max of hiding Entourage for not being woke enough. “[Entourage was] hiding in, like, architectural ‘wish-fulfillment shows’ [on HBO Max],” said Ellin in 2021 when promoting his retrospective Entourage podcast, Victory the Podcast. “Which was weird. We were nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe almost every single year, so to not put us in front and to put other shows on the ‘must-see comedy’ list, I thought, was pretty bizarre.”
Ellin has also noted that he resented how the attitude towards his show has changed in recent years. “I resent it tremendously because I don’t think Entourage was this vulgar boyfest that people like to paint it as now,” he said. “When we came out, The New York Times said we were the smartest show on television. And then, all of a sudden, this wave of righteous PC culture — and again, you’re talking to a liberal who wants equality for all and wants everybody to be kinder and gentler … Most people know [Entourage] was a very realistic portrayal of what Hollywood was like at that time and people will write about it as if something [Jeremy Piven’s bullying agent character Ari Gold] said is how I express myself.”