Q&A with Entourage writer/producer Rob Weiss

By Mark La Monica

He gave us Turtle Bunny.

He gave us Dom.

He gave us many of the Best Printable Lines we champion each week here (and quite a few of the best quotes that we can't reprint here.)

He's Rob Weiss, an executive producer and writer on "Entourage."

Weiss, who grew up on Long Island before moving out to Los Angeles, dialed into our "Entourage, the blog" offices this week for an interview. I asked him a bunch of questions. Some of those questions were mine, some were the ones you emailed me. He answered them all.

ML: OK, first off, I gotta know more about Turtle Bunny.
RW: From my recollection, I had seen a news story years ago on furries and it kind of freaked me out. I'm not a squeamish guy, but I remember looking at that going, “Wow, that's weird.” And then we did a Comic-Con episode. The guys are heading down the hall and this giant mouse comes walking by. I was looking at it and was like, “That's a plushie, that's like a furry.” I didn't really understand it. Then Doug [Ellin] did a big interview with Fade In Magazine or something and a photo shoot. In the photo shoot, it's him sitting on a bed with his laptop and standing next to him is the giant mouse. I'm like, “Buddy, it looks like a furry.” He's like, “What the hell is a furry?”

"We kicked around in the room a few fetishes you can use. You know you’re going to get a hot girl. We had Shanna Moakler. She's pretty hot. You have to really attach something to her that Turtle couldn’t deal with because there's not a lot of reasons that Turtle wouldn’t want to [sleep with] Shanna Moakler.”

ML: How did you keep your composure long enough to write that scene?
RW: It doesn’t really come to life until the end, and you never know how the actors are going to play it. That very moment at the end where Drama's with the girl, that look on Turtle's face, I think might be one of the funniest expressions out of Turtle in four seasons. He's so nauseated by it, I love that. I couldn’t have written it so clearly as he portrayed it.

ML: What exactly is the writing process for the show?
RW: We'll look at the season as a whole and try to figure out what we think is a cool arc. Then we start looking at the ups and downs at the end of each episode and where we'd like to work to in that arc within the episode. Certain episodes end on a real high, certain episodes end on a problem or a low. We look at those peaks and valleys and kind of use them to chart our course a little bit. And then we'll come up with funny stories.

ML: What’s been your favorite episode?
RW: One of my favorite episodes was when the guys went on a plane to Cabo What I did like about the whole episode was the three guys going to Cabo at the end and Eric in the Aston Martin going up the coast with his girl. She's not going to talk to him and then she kind of breaks the fourth wall, at least to herself, at the end and smiles. You got the Rolling Stones, which compliments any scene. I love the whole tone and essence of that scene.”

ML: Drama seems like he’s the easiest character to write for on the show. Is that true?
RW: The thing is Johnny Drama can be on any side of an argument. When I'm writing Drama, in a lot of ways, he reminds me of a member of my family because in my family, you will do anything to be in the argument. You will even start arguing for things you don’t believe in. And that's the way Drama does it. He can be on any side and you believe him. No matter what side he's on, it's interesting.

ML: Talk about Ari Gold’s character evolution.
RW: Ari's circumstances permit him to have opportunities to have immediate and greater growth than the other characters. When you look at Ari, you can really make a distinction of just Ari vs. the group. There's Ari with Lloyd in the office and Barbara and the cast of Miller Gold. Then there's Ari's home life, and then Ari with the guys. So, Ari really has these three worlds that he gets to grow in. Mostly, our guys are just with each other. I think it's a little bit easier to evolve him character-wise. Our guys will and have been evolving and they'll continue to as the show goes on. You dont want to hit people with too much too fast.

ML: You’re 50 episodes in so far, with a few more left this season. Did you ever think it would make it this far?
RW: I didn’t know if I’d get this far but I’m glad I did. The show, you know, I think we kinda did. I followed Doug’s lead on that. And Doug was very clear-minded about the show that we were doing and the way he saw the show and the potential of the show.

ML: How did you get hooked up with the show?
RW: Doug and I went to Woodmere Academy together in Long Island. Doug and I have always been friends since high school . . . We were in our 20s, guys trying to do it out here. Our courses just crossed at the right time again. He wrote the pilot, they made the pilot, they picked it up for 8 and he invited me on.

ML: When is “Entourage” going to come home to New York for an episode?
RW: We’re talking about trying to do that at some point in the near future. There are very few places we’d rather go right now than New York, if any. Considering that the guys always go somewhere during the season, I definitely think there’s a very good possibility.

ML: It’s screaming for the homecoming episode.
RW: It would be great. I think it would be awesome to shoot in New York with that energy and those guys.

ML: Have you ever considered taking the show to an hour, maybe for a season finale or a special episode?
RW: No. That’s probably one of the most common comments from people, that the show is too short. The pace that we like to tell the stories, it might be difficult to sustain for an hour. I don’t think people would love the show at an hour. I think it’s one of those things you want until you get it. It would feel like a much different show to me . . .We talked about making certain episodes two-parters, but we never talked about extending it.

ML: How much of a challenge is it to keep the show fresh while staying true to the core elements that have made the show so successful?
RW: That question I’ll have a clearer answer to when we’re not fresh anymore.

ML: Is there a favorite line or scene from an old episode that still makes you laugh?
RW: It’s Johnny Drama, man. Kevin Dillon, to me, there are just moments if I catch a show late night on HBO, him just calling him someone “d-----bag” cracks me up. It’s just the way the guy delivers.

ML: Where do you draw from when writing scenes and storylines? Is it all based on your experiences?
RW: I’ll give you two examples. There’s a thing coming up Sunday that’s based on an experience from Doug. I don’t want to tip what it is, but Turtle kind of goes through this thing that is something that kind of happened to Doug when he was in college. And the weed story when Drama goes to get the hat, I had a similar thing like that. I don’t even smoke pot. I just wanted the stupid hat. We can take little things that happened in our lives and we can turn them into the “Entourage” stories. That, and we have lived these lives to a degree and for pretty much all the guys.

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