‘Entourage’ playing tricks

Cannes breaks with tradition for TV show

After episodes filmed on Main Street in Sundance and Variety’s offices on Wilshire Boulevard, how could the fourth-season finale of “Entourage” take the show to a whole new level? Producers decided to go global and take the show to the Cannes Film Festival, where they could take advantage of stars and plenty of extras as backdrop.

It was an obvious choice for exec producer Doug Ellin.

But it wasn’t an obvious choice for Cannes. Despite numerous indies and documentaries having filmed there, the festival had never brought its ceremonies to a halt or closed off locations to the public for the sake of a film.

But then, this is “Entourage,” which is used to breaking the rules and blurring the lines between fiction and reality.

Ellin imagined the boys taking their arty movie “Medellin” to the granddaddy of film fests. Season four, which begins June 17, kicks off with the gang getting a greenlight for “Medellin” and concludes with its presence on the Riviera. However, Ellin did not reveal whether the film lands a coveted competition slot, or whether they’re just trying to sell it at the market.

But the fact that fest president Gilles Jacob greets the gang at the top of the red-carpet steps at the Palais is a clue, since usually only official entries screen at that venue.

Jacob proved vital to the entire enterprise. HBO made a sizable donation to Jacob’s Cinefondation, which brings young filmmakers into town, leading to Jacob’s granting permission to film the “Entourage” gang walking up the Palais steps, after whatever movie wound up unspooling there on May 24.

That movie, felicitously, turned out to be “Oceans Thirteen.” As is usual with Palais screenings, the red-carpet ceremonies climax with the arrival of the film’s cast. So megawatt stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon walked up the Palais steps and played along as hundreds of paparazzi snapped photos and five cameras rolled.

And then they were followed by the “Entourage” actors, who similarly dealt with the photographers and screaming crowds, including actors yelling their characters’ names — but it all had to be done in one take.

“Everyone feels like we got it,” says Ellin, who delivered the script just in time for the filmmakers to read it on the plane. “I never knew as we wrote it if we could pull it off.”

The show, which bowed on HBO in 2004, follows movie star Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his posse, with endless film biz inside jokes and situations. The show has filmed episodes at Comic-Con and Vegas, with Hollywood denizens ranging from Scarlett Johansson to James Cameron playing spoofy versions of themselves. But it’s never filmed overseas before.

Director Mark Mylod scouted the Riviera resort for Ellin two months ahead of time, giving him locations to write into the script, including the famed Carlton Hotel Terrace and several restaurants.

Ellin handed in the script 48 hours before the series’ cast and crew left for Cannes.

Exhausted after the months of filming, Ellin repaired to a beach in Cabo San Lucas and communicated with the “Entourage” team via email.

The logistics of the three-day Cannes shoot were handled by Mylod, producers Wayne Carmona and Denis Biggs, and on-location producer, Peninsula Prods.’ John Bernard (who specializes in cutting through red tape for such American shoots as the Paris sequences of “Sex and the City,” “The Sopranos” and “The Devil Wears Prada”).

The production brought a low-flying Pontoon helicopter and some high-speed power boats into Cannes, and filmed the actors strolling down the Croisette, eyeing the basking beach babes.

The third season ends June 3 and, after a two-week break, the fourth season starts June 17. The episode, which wraps the fourth season in September, still requires some shooting of interiors that will double for the inside of the Palais, since the show was not allowed to shoot inside. It hasn’t yet been decided where they will lense for those three days. “Maybe we’ll go to Italy,” jokes Ellin.

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