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''Entourage,'' Testing Target Demo

By RD Heldenfels Published: August 6, 2006

I'm backed up several weeks on ''Deadwood'' so the cone of silence is in place on that one. But I have managed to keep pace with ''Entourage,'' including tonight's episode. And I'm really curious about where the show is going to wind up at the end of this season.

As you know, Vincent has been committing career maiming, if not outright suicide -- ticking off a studio boss, losing ''Aquaman,'' infuriating even more of Hollywood over how his indie film was edited. And tonight at first seemed to be a break from that spiral, with the guys going to Las Vegas. But even there, things did not go well -- Turtle having dragged Vincent into a quick-money deal that proved to have a host of image problems attached. Much more of this, and we could spend next season watching Vincent as he records appearances on the ''The Surreal Life.''

Which reminds me of one of my favorite lines ever from a press conference (one that underscores the life that could await Vincent even in his fictional universe). In January 2003, the latest cast of ''Surreal Life'' met the press in Hollywood; Gabrielle Carteris was there, and Corey Feldman, MC Hammer, Emmanuel Lewis -- everyone in the cast, it seemed, except Vince Neil. And why was he absent? Said a WB publicist: ''He's in Vegas for an important porn convention.

''You think I'm making this up,'' the publicist said. ''I'm not.''

Consider, then, the similarity in name and taste of the real and fictional Vincents.

And think of ''Rock Star: Supernova's'' Dana claiming she missed a rehearsal to go a spa. Compare Vince. Then tell me -- Supernova members' remarks notwithstanding -- who's the contemporary rocker and who's the poser.

But back to ''Entourage.'' I like that the mistakes being made feel natural and human, connected to real characters. Drama's storyline tonight with his masseur had the same thing going. While you had a sense of where it was headed, it went around a couple of unexpected curves along the way, letting the people create the story instead of going for a plot arbitrarily shoehorned into the characters.

That, and a little bit of the Hall of Fame Game, formed tonight's fresh viewing. This afternoon there had been some Indians baseball (another dispiriting loss) and bits of golf -- seeing Tiger make history. In between: a nice family dinner out and inflicting fall pilots on Target Demo. She gives thumbs up to ''30 Rock,'' ''Studio 60'' and ''Six Degrees'' -- with the biggest thumb for '"Studio 60'' -- and provisional thumbs up (contingent on additional episodes) to ''Ugly Betty'' and ''Knights of Prosperity,'' which is everything she has seen so far.

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