Jeremy Piven Pay at Center of 'Entourage' Movie Spat
A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
The Entourage cast and producers can't seem to hug it out over who's being paid what for the planned movie. And sources say Jeremy Piven's backend compensation has some castmembers throwing an Ari Gold-style tantrum.
Piven, who won three straight Emmys playing the agent based on WME's Ari Emanuel on the HBO comedy, closed his deal for the Warner Bros. movie in early October. But negotiations with co-stars Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara and Kevin Dillon have become heated in part because they want pay more comparable with Piven's.
But insiders point out that Piven's Entourage deals have been more lucrative than his co-stars' since the show debuted in 2004. Although his character was not intended to dominate the show as it did, Piven was the only "name" attached to the project when it was created. (A source says he initially had a two-year deal that paid him nearly $100,000 an episode, while the others members of Vinnie Chase's crew had five-year deals for far less per episode. Several renegotiations took place during the show's eight-season run.)
Warners is adamant about keeping the Entourage movie budget below $30 million, prompting producers Stephen Levinson and Mark Wahlberg to hold the line (though Levinson's Leverage management company reps Grenier and Ferrara). Asked by TMZ on Oct. 15 when the movie would start shooting, Wahlberg said, "As soon as them guys stop being so greedy." Grenier responded via Instagram on Oct. 18, writing, "I will sign any deal that gives ALL the boys an opportunity to share in the upside of success EQUALLY."
Warners now finds itself in a familiar situation: In 2007, Sex and the City co-star Kim Cattrall successfully held out for more pay for the film version of her hit HBO series. That movie went on to gross $415 million worldwide and spawn a sequel. The Entourage castmembers no doubt look to the Sex and the City movies as the best-case scenario and want to set themselves up to receive a piece of any box-office windfall should the movie become a mega-hit.
First, the film needs to get made, and for that to happen, a resolution to the standoff needs to happen. The Entourage movie has qualified for a California tax credit, but in order to take advantage of it -- something Warners has deemed a condition of the film being made -- production needs to begin soon. One insider says the latest the movie can begin shooting is January 2014 and still hope to receive the tax credit.
On Oct. 21, series creator Doug Ellin, who also is the film's writer-director, seemed optimistic toward reaching an agreement, tweeting: "The real Ari just told me entourage movie is happening. He actually was the one who pushed me to write script so maybe it is. We shall see."