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After fifteen decreasingly entertaining seasons of Entourage, there is hardly a premium cable subscriber in America unaware that the character of Ari Gold, memorably portrayed by Emmy-winning Matsuhisa pariah Jeremy Piven, was inspired by Endeavor superagent Ari Emanuel. (Fun fact: Gold's "Hug it out, bitch" catchphrase was adapted from Emanuel's far less succinct, "I will fuck your skull until your head explodes, toss your body in a dumpster behind the CPK, then maybe send a nice muffin basket to your widow to show there's no hard feelings.") In today's Gatecrasher column, the NY Daily News' Ben Widdicombe induces an anonymous former Endeavor employee to explain how watching his fictional doppleganger's amusing antics has affected the behavior of the genuine Ari article:

Before the show, says the snitch, it was understood among junior staffers at the agency that making eye contact or even sharing an elevator with the great man was to be avoided.

But Emanuel was thrilled with being a character on the show and behaved accordingly. "Every time he was on the phone with ['Entourage' executive producer] Doug Ellin, he did something outrageous to make it into a future script - throwing things, screaming at anyone nearby and generally throwing a tantrum," says the snitch.

The ex-Endeavorite admits to being "terrified of the man" and his influence in the industry. Emanuel's very public push to blackball Mel Gibson after his anti-Semitic tirade included a call to the top of HBO, which agreed to put him on a blacklist, alleges the source. (HBO did not comment.)

But the story has a happy ending. The former colleague says Piven's relentless portrayal of the character has actually made Emanuel a nicer guy.

"He's mellowed since America found out he's a douche.

While we love nothing better than a happy ending, a more likely explanation for any attitudinal change was the diminishing effectiveness of a Blackberry hurled at an incompetent staffer's head; after watching countless phones crash harmlessly off Gold's trusty Gaysian assistant Lloyd following abusive tirades, Emanuel's underlings began to see the projectiles for what they actually were: misdirected expressions of love, not malicious attempts to maim.