Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

THE ROMANCE OF COMMERCE ; Drama Documents the Founding of Selfridges Entourage Star Swaps Hollywood for London

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

THE ROMANCE OF COMMERCE ; Drama Documents the Founding of Selfridges Entourage Star Swaps Hollywood for London

Article excerpt

INSIDE a colossal and cold warehouse in north London, Jeremy Piven's striding through the doors of the beautifully replicated ground-floor of Selfridges department store as it would have looked at its opening in 1909.

Wearing the suit and tales of an Edwardian gentleman, he's unrecognisable as the man who came to prominence playing neurotic movie agent Ari Gold in glossy Hollywood drama Entourage.

"Someone asked what I was doing here in London and I told I'm an actor and working on a TV show," recalls Piven them I'm an actor and working on a TV show," recalls Piven during a break in filming. "The woman went, 'That must be tough because you look so much like that guy Jeremy Piven. Is that weird for you?' It was like an out-of- body experience," says the the 47-year-old actor, laughing.

He blames the confusion on the beard he's grown to play Harry Selfridge, the flamboyant visionary who founded London's famous department store and who's the focus of a glossy production called Mr Selfridge (ITV1, tomorrow, 9pm).

A true showman, Selfridge garnered publicity for his store through bold and audacious PR stunts and with an almost manic energy, created a theatre of retail that revolutionised the way we shop.

"We're shooting an episode right now where he embraces the beauty products and basically cally decides to put them at the front of his store when no-one was doing that over here," explains Jeremy.

"He even decided to take a chance with make-up when no one was doing it. At the time, people thought it was only for those on the stage or prostitutes."

In another storyline, Harry persuades a sceptical Louis Bleriot to display his plane inside the store after the French aviator had become world famous by making the first flight across the English Channel.

"It wasn't easy for Selfridge and I'm sure people looked at him like he was crazy," says Jeremy.

"But he put a lot of time, money and effort into publicising his store like you would a play."

Selfridge had already transformed Chicago's Marshall Field's into a modern department store when he moved to London. And Jeremy, who was born in New York but brought up in the Windy City, can recall visiting the iconic shop. …

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