CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- While the broadcast networks will be pushing reality programming during the summer months, cable channels USA and HBO are set to launch two new scripted programs during the period.
HBO confirmed this week that production is underway on "The Entourage," a new comedy series set to bow in July:
PRODUCTION BEGINS ON NEW HBO COMEDY SERIES ENTOURAGE, A LOOK INSIDE HOLLYWOOD�S CELEBRITY SCENE, WITH DEBUT SET FOR JULY
Production has begun on the new HBO comedy series ENTOURAGE, from executive producer Mark Wahlberg, it was announced today by Carolyn Strauss, president, HBO Entertainment. A look at the life of a young star and his buddies in Hollywood, the eight episodes of the series will debut on the network beginning this July. Wahlberg also makes a cameo appearance in the first episode.
"ENTOURAGE is a hilarious romp through the absurdities of modern-day Hollywood, drawing on the experiences of industry insiders," said Strauss. "This show will make perfect summertime viewing." Filming at Hollywood locations, ENTOURAGE tells the story of four longtime buddies from Queens who share the highs and lows of life in the fast lane of Hollywood, where the stakes are higher, and the money and temptations greater than ever before.
Adrian Grenier ("The Adventures of Sebastian Cole") stars as Vince, a sexy young movie star whose career is just taking off. Slipping easily into stardom, Vince looks to his friends from the neighborhood to share the fun of the ride and keep him grounded. Kevin Connolly ("Antwone Fisher") plays Eric, who�s learning the rules of Hollywood as he tries to help Vince make the right choices. Kevin Dillon ("The Doors") plays Vince�s half-brother Drama, whose own acting aspirations have been eclipsed by his success. Jerry Ferrara ("Grounded for Life") plays Turtle, the least experienced of the group, who�s always up for a good time. Jeremy Piven ("Old School") plays Ari, Vince�s aggressive, high-powered agent, who clashes with Eric over his client�s decisions.
Guest starring in ENTOURAGE will be Debi Mazar ("The Tuxedo") as Vince�s publicist Shauna, Samaire Armstrong ("The O.C.") as Ari�s assistant Emily, and Monica Keena ("Undeclared") as Vince�s ex-girlfriend Kristen. In addition to Mark Wahlberg, cameo appearances in ENTOURAGE include Jessica Alba, Luke Wilson, Jimmy Kimmel and Sarah Silverman.
The pilot episode of ENTOURAGE is directed by David Frankel (HBO�s "Band of Brothers" and "Sex and the City") from a script by Doug Ellin ("Kissing a Fool") and Steve Tompkins ("The Simpsons"). ENTOURAGE is created by Doug Ellin; executive produced by Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, Doug Ellin and Larry Charles (HBO�s "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Seinfeld").
Meanwhile, USA is moving forward with "The 4,400," a new sci-fi drama:
4,400 centers on the return of 4,400 people who, previously presumed dead or reported missing, reappear on Earth. Though they have not aged physically, some of them seem to have deeper alterations ranging from superhuman strength to an unexplained healing touch. A government agency is formed to track the 4,400 people after one of them commits a murder. 4,400 is created by Scott Peters ("The Outer Limits"), written by Peters and Rene Echevarria ("Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," "Dark Angel") and executive produced by Francis Ford Coppola and American Zoetrope, and Ira Behr. The science fiction drama will be produced by Viacom Prods. and Renegade 83 with Viacom producing the limited series.
Peter Coyote ("A Walk to Remember"), Joel Gretsch ("Taken"), Jacqueline McKenzie ("Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood"), Michael Moriarty ("Law & Order"), Mahershalalhashbaz Ali ("Threat Matrix"), Laura Allen ("All My Children"), Kaj-Erik Eriksen ("Boston Public") and Chad Faust ("Smallville") all star in the project, which is scheduled to launch this summer along with the third season of fellow USA series "The Dead Zone."