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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel apologizes for agent brother Ari

June 14, 2011 | 12:01 pm

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel opened the 2011 Cable Show -- the annual gathering of the heavy-hitters and rank-and-file of the cable television industry -- to Chicago by poking fun at his brother -- Hollywood super agent Ari Emanuel.

RAHM Ari Emanuel, of course, is the hard-charging and sometimes abrasive head of the William Morris Endeavor talent agency.  The character of super agent Ari Gold played by Jeremy Piven on the HBO series "Entourage"  is inspired by Ari Emanuel.

"On behalf of the entire Emanuel family, we apologize for Ari," the mayor said. "You know him as an agent, we know him as a brother. We thought that we got the worse end of the deal."

Emanuel -- former chief of staff to President Obama and former Illinois congressman -- became mayor of Chicago earlier this year.  He said that midway through the first season of "Entourage," he caught an episode and called his brother Ari the next day.

"What did you think?" Ari Emanuel apparently asked his brother.

"I like Ari Gold better than you," Rahm Emanuel said, referring to the Piven character.

Jokes were at a premium during the opening session. 

The co-chairmen of the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn.'s annual convention -- Discovery Communications Chief Executive David Zaslav and Jerry Kent, chief executive of Suddenlink Communications, put together a pictorial travelogue of the unlikely pair together visiting Chicago's landmarks. In one photo, Zaslav appeared to be reaching in Kent's back pocket to grab his wallet, a reference to cable operators' unhappiness with the escalating costs of sports and entertainment programming.

Zaslav, who earlier this year launched his company's joint venture with Oprah Winfrey, the Oprah Winfrey Network, said he has spent a lot of time in Chicago during the past three years, leading up to the launch of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

"Never heard of it," Kent mused.

Zaslav put on his best unhappy face.  Despite millions of dollars in marketing, the new channel is struggling to attract viewers.

-- Meg James

Photo: Rahm Emanuel. Credit: M. Spencer Green/Associated Press