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Entourage creator and car enthusiast Doug Ellin was visiting Cadillac’s North Hollywood design center four years ago — “drooling, like he always does,” says Melody Lee, Cadillac’s brand director — when he was shown the automaker’s Ciel concept car, a rakish convertible then making the rounds at auto shows to a rapturous reception. Ellin was no exception.
The Ciel reminded Ellin of the 1965 Lincoln Continental convertible featured prominently in the HBO series’s opening credits. “It was a modern version of it — I love the suicide doors,” Ellin tells The Hollywood Reporter in an exclusive interview. “It’s a very cool car.”
So cool, in fact, that Ellin says the Ciel “gave me the impetus to write the script” for the Entourage movie, which opens June 3.
“The car has a big plot point,” Ellin says. In the movie’s backstory, volcanic agent Ari Gold — played, as in the series, by Jeremy PIven — returns to Hollywood after an unhappy retirement in Italy, bringing with him the Ciel, which he purchases as bait to lure his former meal ticket Vinnie Chase (Adrian Grenier) back into his orbit.
“He’s in what seems to be the most romantic place on earth with his wife but clearly communicates it’s not where he’s supposed to be or wants to be,” Ellin says, adding that while the director wasn’t able to find a spot in the movie for the scene, “I thought people would want to know what Ari has been doing since the show ended, so it was a perfect opportunity to do that and make a separate short film.”
With Malibu substituting for Italy, Ellin’s short, Ari Gold Is Back, sponsored by Cadillac, premieres tonight at a private event at Spago Beverly Hills.
The short marks the increasing marketing codependency between filmmakers and automakers. CAA -— which represents Cadillac parent company General Motors as well as Ellin and Piven — saw a partnership opportunity and, with Ellin, developed the short film.
Lee says that Cadillac worked closely with Ellin throughout the filming of the Entourage movie as well — in addition to the Ciel, Cadillac’s Escalade SUV and ELR plug-in hybrid are featured. “We really like that the brand is the enabling mechanism to bring Vinnie back to on the scene,” Lee says. Ellin says that in Hollywood “cars are a real extension of your character and say a lot about you. There were cars I used on the show that were specifically chosen to be for the kind of jerk-off [character], let’s say. All the cars I put on the show, I did try to mirror them with the characters.”
Cadillac’s partnership notwithstanding, Ellin was wary of tarnishing Entourage‘s reputation for deadly accurate Hollywood verisimilitude. And so the movie includes appearances by Industry-approved iron like Ferarris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis and Range Rovers. “We wanted to keep the world real to what it is,” Ellin says, “so it is very true to what Hollywood is.”
The irony is that the Ciel used in the movie is, in fact, the same prototype that inspired Ellin five years ago and remains the only Ciel in existence. Meant only to be driven on and off display ramps at auto shows, it has only a rudimentary drive train.
“It doesn’t drive past 30 miles an hour, so we had challenges to make it look real,” Ellin says. Nevertheless, he adds, “Everyone who’s seen the movie so far is like, ‘what is that car? I gotta have that car!’ So I’m still hoping [Cadillac] will make it.”
Cadillac’s Lee will only say that while “there are no plans to bring that exact vehicle to production, we do have in the works a convertible inspired heavily by the Ciel.”
As Ellin posted on Twitter during the movie’s production, “I want this car so bad.”
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