NOT LONG after film producer Bo Zenga and entertainment reporter Zorianna Kit moved into their 6,000-square-foot Cape Cod-in-Hollywood, the production team for the HBO comedy series "Entourage" came calling.
"They said, 'You're moving into Ari Gold's house, and we'd like it to keep it that way,' " Zenga says, relaxing in his screening room, a manly, woodpaneled space known to "Entourage" fans as Ari's study. At that point in 2005, Zenga had never seen the show, nor was he familiar with Ari Gold, the poison-mouthed, power-hungry super-agent played by Jeremy Piven. But Zenga certainly wasn't going to let an army of strangers invade his turf -- until he heard how much HBO was willing to pay.
"It's tough to say no to Ari Gold," he says, declining to disclose the exact amount that HBO offered.
So his comfy furniture, including a favorite brown sectional and a trusty pair of leather recliners, were hauled out to make way for the fictional Gold family's precious belongings: dupioni silk-upholstered couches, Federal-style mahogany tables and antiques that seem more at home in Nantucket than Hollywood.
"The idea is that this is the wife's house," says "Entourage" set decorator Jill Sprayregen Henkel. "She's from old money, and she's the one who gets to decorate. At home, she gets the control. We wanted it to feel like it was her domain."
With truckloads of furniture and props, the crew turned the Zenga and Kit home into the prim and proper set where Ari hatches deals in the living room and Mrs. Ari (Perrey Reeves' character doesn't get a first name) hosts Yom Kippur break-the-fasts in the dining room.
"They've shot all over the house," says Zenga. "Except for the master bedroom. The thought of Ari Gold having sex in our bedroom is just too weird."
Last season, rather than having the crew prep, paint and refurnish each time they wanted to use the place, Zenga and Kit agreed to live in the house as it had been decorated for a 20-episode run -- nine months of sporadic shooting for the show's third year. It wasn't easy, says Zenga, who describes the Gold home as a little "too stodgy" for his taste. "Let's just say we were happy to have our own furniture back."
As parents of a toddler and a 4-month-old, Zenga and Kit prefer to keep their space relaxed and livable. Unlike Ari's antique-filled, Aubusson-floored domain, the couple maintains a family-friendly zone filled with nursery school art, easy-to-wipe leather furniture and a portable crib in the living room. There are no rugs, because Zenga says he spent too much money refinishing the hardwood floors. The couple has yet to hang any family pictures in the foyer, an old-fashioned entry hall with black-and-white checkered marble floors.
"It just gets too complicated," Zenga says, "always taking them down and putting them back up, filling in holes and repainting."
Change is constant on "Entourage," which chronicles the antics of young actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) as he swims the shark tank of Hollywood with his brother and two childhood friends in tow. The boys are always on the move, hitting as many as 20 locations -- Rodeo Drive, the Ivy, Dennis Hopper's beach house -- in one half-hour episode. Soon they will be zipping to new digs too.
"The moves are part logistics, part story line," says Chase Harlan, the show's production designer. "Sometimes we wear out our welcome in a particular neighborhood, sometimes it's financial and sometimes, story-wise, the moves mirror the roller coaster of making it in Hollywood."
After selling a Spanish-style mansion with terraced gardens and two pools, all to help finance a dream movie project, Chase and his posse have crowded into a twobedroom condo in Franklin Towers in Hollywood. By season's end (spoiler alert), the boys will relocate again, this time to a modern mansion nestled in the "bird streets" above Sunset Boulevard. Gold will move too, to a sprawling French Revival-style mansion in Brentwood.
For Zenga and Kit, the "Entourage" experience is just the latest chapter for a home that came with its own back story: Ozzie and Harriet Nelson lived in the white-shingled residence for nearly 30 years. ABC even built a replica of the exterior in the 1950s to film "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet." That history played a role in its selection as Ari's house, production designer Harlan says.
"We loved the history and charm, but it was also a proximity issue," he says. Vincent Chase's first mansion was just three doors down, in the former home of 1920s real estate magnate Charles Toberman.
Turns out the dead-end drive just south of Runyon Canyon has long been a power street. Residents have included Samuel Goldwyn, Orson Welles and Beck. Zenga, whose credits include "Scary Movie," says Ozzie's spirit still lurks around his house, flipping on light switches. The radio in his daughter's room inexplicably blares big band music from time to time.
Though they share a home and a show-biz background, Zenga and Kit insist they aren't much like Ari and Mrs. Ari.
"I'm definitely not Mrs. Bo," Kit says with a laugh, adding that she sometimes feels as if she's living with the ghost of Ari too. Weeks after the crew left, she found little reminders of their fictional roommate.
"I was looking in the bookshelf one day, and I was like, 'There's a picture of my husband, there's a picture of my baby and there's a picture of Jeremy Piven golfing?' "
But Zenga and Kit are happy to hang on to a few remnants of life with Ari. They've kept the swing set that the crew installed in the backyard (for Ari's son, Jonah), and they love the yellow paint that the set decorator chose for the living room. The peach paint in the foyer, however, had to go.
"I liked it, but my wife didn't, so as you can see," Zenga says, gesturing to the now-white walls, "it's no longer peach."
"Maybe I am like Ari after all."