Days before the season six finale of HBO's Entourage, the man behind the music talks soundtracking the lives of Vince, Ari, E, Drama and Turtle
VIBE: How did you become Entourage's Music Supervisor?
Scott Vener: In true Turtle fashion, one of my close friends, Doug Ellin, created the show. He invited me over to his house to watch the pilot before it was picked up by HBO to see what I thought. As we watched, he kept asking me why I wasn't laughing. I told him, "Because the music is so bad. I can't even focus on the jokes." He said, "Well if you can do better, do it." So, having never music supervised in my life, I came up with a few ideas. [I thought of] "Lucifer" by Jay-Z and "Wanna Get To Know You" by G-Unit. As each show went on, Doug would send me each episode to see what I thought of the music and I'd keep giving ideas. After the third episode, I became the Music Consultant. Eventually, everything featured in the show was coming from me. So I just took over the gig by myself. I have to give all the credit to Doug because he really encouraged me to take it seriously.
Is it a team effort?
Creatively, it's just me. Doug has really empowered me to go with my gut. I don't think I'll ever have a better situation on a TV show again.
What's your history in the TV business?
I used to be an executive at MTV in NY. Back then, MTV was one of the best places to start. I met so many smart, creative people inside that building. Outside of music, supervising TV and films, I've been lucky enough to be a part of some cool TV shows as a producer. One just aired on the Sundance Channel, Brick City, a docu-drama that followed Mayor Cory Booker, a few members of his administration, regular citizens and gang members around Newark. The creators of the show, Marc Levin and Mark Benjamin did an amazing job getting inside the city. If you liked [HBO's] The Wire—one of my favorite shows ever—you will love this.
How do you choose what song to place on what scene?
It's all trial and error. I love music but the writers love their dialogue, so I have to always remember the scene comes first.
Is there anything that you won't play?
[Laughs] That's a great question that could get me into a lot of trouble. I have about 10 friends who love music as much as I do, if not more. We all respect each other's opinions. Every time I play a song, I'm thinking to myself, "Can they cut me up for using this song?" For the most part, anything that's currently charting won't get any run. Sometimes you will hear stuff on our show that's all over the radio when the show airs but what most people don't know is we lock our music about three months in advance. I can't help it if I pick hits!
How would you describe Entourage's soundtrack?
I think we created an ideal situation for ourselves. We can almost get away with playing a song from any genre without it feeling out of place.
What's your favorite scene-to-song match that you've paired on Entourage?
You can't ask me to pick my favorite child. But I have to be the first and only person to ever license "Lil Ghetto Boy" by Dr. Dre feat. Snoop (season three, episode three).
What records have you broken before radio and the Internet have gotten them?
Kanye West's "Good Life" (season four, episode 11). We got the track early. I've known all the Roc-A-Fella guys for a long time from New York. Kanye's manager, Gee Roberson and I worked it out in advance. The timing was perfect. What a lot of people also don't realize is we put Rihanna's "Pon de Replay" on (season two, episode four) Entourage just as she was signing her deal. Ta Ta played me the song. I knew it was a smash.
What can we expect musically from the season finale this Sunday?
All I can say is one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite artists is ending the season.
You're working on HBO's new upcoming series that stars Kid Cudi, How to Make it in America. What's that going to sound like?
I'm the Music Supervisor. The show is in production already but we won't be placing any music until next week or so. I think it's too soon to tell. —Brad Wete
Entourage's season finale airs Sunday (October 4) at 10pm on HBO. Vener, a 35-year-old LA native, also works on the CW's 90210.