How an ‘Entourage’ poster became an obsession of Boston.com and then vanished without anyone noticing that a former ‘Jeopardy’ contestant took it home
Visual metaphors are helpful. In a complicated world that’s often confusing, a powerful image that represents the story behind that image can be invaluable. That’s why it’s so perfect that Boston.com latched so thoroughly onto a saga that neatly described how we all felt about the long-running HBO series “Entourage”—a lingering low-grade menace that won’t seem to go away.
Premiering in 2004, “Entourage” wove a tale semi-based on executive producer Mark Wahlberg’s rise to movie star fame and the sweet bros who stood by his side through it all. In the early days of the program, it was a minor critical rave, with even the New York Times declaring, “Nothing on network television is as smart, original and amusing.” But as the show continued its exploration of the Hollywood-obsessed lives of its cast, the boys-will-be-boys-mentality landed on a collision course with a widespread cultural rejection of bro culture. By June 2015, as the characters returned to the big screen for the first time since the TV show ended in 2011, many moviegoers were quick to mention they were only buying a ticket in order to hate-watch it.
It was around this time that Boston.com ran its first article about a Cambridge restaurant called India Castle that couldn’t seem to get rid of a framed, mounted poster for the television show “Entourage.” As reported in a story titled, “Indian restaurant trapped with ‘Entourage’ poster for 5 years,” “[Restaurant owner Rabhbir] Singh said the poster has been locked in the frame, which is bolted to the wall, for years. He said a representative from a local TV station made him a deal—let us come change the poster in the box every two weeks, and we’ll pay you. Singh said he can’t remember how much he was supposed to be paid because the representative put the “Entourage” poster in and never came back.” There it was. The perfect visual metaphor for the show everyone loves to hate.
Building on the popular response of the article (Vox, Entertainment Weekly, and Mashable all picked up on it), Boston.com followed up on the piece a few days later speculating on what would be involved, and how much money it would require, to remove the poster, which was now being described as a “curse.” It was estimated it might cost up to $2,500 to properly remove the bolted frame as it also involved electrical elements; the poster once lit up via an internal lighting system, though those lights had stopping working years ago, Singh explained. (Boston.com’s predilection for bizarrely specific and underwhelming stories related to all things Mark Wahlberg has been noted and documented in an ongoing thread on Reddit.)
The “cursed poster” story faded, a year passed, and the “Entourage” homage remained firmly bolted on the wall of the India Castle. But last week, when the restaurant announced it was closing, the story roared back to life on Boston.com. “Indian restaurant cursed with ‘Entourage’ poster closes, but poster will live on,” the story explained, wherein the new owners’ lawyer told a reporter, “They certainly want to keep it. It’s an interesting piece of history at the location.” The article once again referenced the possible costly nature of removing the framed visage of Vince Chase and his free-loading buddies gathered around a table presumably enjoying each other’s company.
This would all be fine, if not for the fact that the poster is actually no longer on the wall of 928 Mass Ave. In reality, former “Jeopardy” contestant Tom Ricketts took it home on June 12, a full four days before Boston.com published the article. “I can’t believe everything I read on the internet,” Ricketts, 35, wrote on his Facebook wall in response to the Boston.com article that claimed the poster was still on the wall of the restaurant. “This poster is now in my living room.”
When I reached out to Ricketts to inquire how this came to be, everything he told me was in opposition to the facts as reported by Boston.com.
“Surely it must have been difficult to remove?” I asked. “The whole premise of this poster is that it’s unmovable, and even a bit of a curse?”
“That was the bizarre part. I had it removed in about five minutes, and I’m no mechanical whiz,” Ricketts explained. “It was attached to the wall with six simple Phillips screws.”
I re-explained the original fascination Boston.com had with the poster to Mr. Ricketts, who was a one-time contestant on “Jeopardy” in 2006 and currently lives in West Roxbury, and none of the claims of the multiple articles ring true to him. Boston.com originally reported in 2015, “It’s been locked in the frame ever since. Singh doesn’t have the key.” Ricketts disagrees, “The case itself wasn’t even locked! Just closed with a hand-tightened screw!”
The whole scene went down on the closing night of India Castle. A frequent customer of the restaurant’s Sunday buffets, Ricketts had previously asked Singh if he would mind if he took the poster home on the closing night of the restaurant. “Sure,” said Singh. On June 12, after the last few customers exited, Ricketts and a friend went to work.
“It’s amazing what you can get just by asking and investing minimal effort,” Ricketts remarked.
But what about the electrical issues Boston.com conjectured might lead to costly electrician fees? “When we cut the electrical wire, we didn’t bother to cut the power, so we caused a bit of a spark and blew out a few of the lights,” Ricketts told me blaming his slight blunder on the gin and tonic he had consumed at the restaurant earlier that night. “But we didn’t even scratch the wall itself and a cook came out and flipped the circuit so the lights came back on. No harm, no foul.”
Ricketts first encountered the HBO series around 2005 when he was living with four male roommates in Braintree. “The show always seemed to be on,” Ricketts explained, “and so eventually I kind of got into it. I think it jumped the shark in season four though.” Ricketts is planning on installing the “cursed” poster on the wall of his finished basement, overlooking his regulation size billiards table. That is, of course, unless the new owners of the restaurant truly are hell-bent on keeping the press-magnet collectible.
“I’d sell it to the new owners for … Oh I don’t know … $500 or some other reasonable offer? Otherwise, I’m glad to have such an interesting conversation piece in my house.”
“What was more difficult, being a “Jeopardy” contestant or removing this ‘Entourage’ poster?” I asked.
“Jeopardy for sure. It’s easy to play at home. But when Alex Trebek is a few feet away from you it’s a whole different ball game.”