Lucas at Large: 'Entourage' role adds actor to Alvarez's resumé

Entourage_Cast.jpgMany things separate Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez from other athletic directors.

Like the national championship that he won as a defensive coordinator at Notre Dame.

Like the three Rose Bowls that he won as the head coach of the Badgers.

Like his Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card and "Entourage.''

OK, so maybe he doesn't have an entourage, a retinue, per se; though he could make a case for one since he has been inducted into so many halls of fame, including the College Football Hall of Fame.

What he does have is a cameo appearance on the HBO series "Entourage.''

How many other ADs can say they were in a scene with Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven)?

"I've done some cool things in my day,'' Alvarez said. "But this was a great experience.''

He owes it all to a UW alum, Marquis Jet CEO/founder Kenny Dichter, whose entrepreneurial skills and business savvy can be traced back to his undergrad days on campus.

Dichter was the driving force behind "Late Night with the Badgers" and "Bleacher Creatures'' at the Field House. He has framed his success with passion, resiliency and match-making know-how.

Marquis Jet, as such, is affiliated with NetJets (read: Warren Buffett, who's expected to be in Madison for the Nebraska-Wisconsin football game in October).

To this end, Dichter has many friends in high places, including a fellow New Yorker by the name of Doug Ellin, the creator and executive producer of "Entourage.''

"Doug has come to a lot of our games with Kenny,'' Alvarez said. "So that's how I got to know Doug. Over the years, I've met some of the cast members of the show.''

Alvarez recently attended a NetJets/Marquis Jet function with Dichter and Ellin. One thing led to another and Ellin wound up inviting Alvarez to take part in an episode of "Entourage.''

The taping took place Tuesday in Hollywood.

Joining Alvarez on the set was "Da" Coach, Mike Ditka. Both attended high school in western Pennyslvania; Alvarez in Burgettstown, Ditka in Aliquippa. Both talk the same language.

Alvarez and Ditka were in a scene together with Jeremy Piven, the aforementioned Ari Gold; and Beverly D'Angelo (i.e. Ellen Griswold), whose "Entourage'' character is Babs Miller.

Both were raised on Big Ten turf.  Piven is from Evanston, Ill., while D'Angelo is from Columbus, Ohio. D'Angelo's grandfather, Howard Dwight Smith, was the architect of Ohio Stadium (the Horseshoe).

Alvarez was impressed with the professionalism of Piven and D'Angelo.

"They were so easy to work with,'' he said. "We had a lot of fun.''

So how many lines did Alvarez actually have?

"I greet Ari and I respond to something that Ditka says,'' Alvarez said. "You don't know how much is going to be used. It took us about three and half hours to tape less than a minute."

Was he star-struck?

"No, I felt very comfortable,'' he said. "They filmed our scene in an all-glass conference room, and you can't believe the amount of activity and the number of people that are involved in the taping.''

Alvarez had his very own dressing trailer.

And now he has his very own SAG card.

Sounded like a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Or was it just once?

With a twinkle in his eye, Alvarez declined to comment.
ON WISCONSIN