Rapper Saigon misses 'Entourage' publicity train

Perhaps the line between HBO’s “Entourage” and the real world is getting a little too blurry.

On Monday, CNBC anchor Joe Kernen reported that Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel defeated “Aquaman’s” box office record with its $132 million three-day take.

The hitch, as fans of the showbiz insider show know, is that “Aquaman” doesn’t exist.

It’s the fictional movie within “Entourage” that has been a centerpiece of this season’s storyline.

Kernen, co-anchor of CNBC’s morning show “Squawk Box,” also noted that “Aquaman” had grabbed the B.O. milestone from “Spider-Man,” which set the record in May 2002.

That mock milestone, of course, comes from the “Entourage” plot, a twist that HBO accentuated with a June 19 ad in Daily Variety after “Aquaman’s” faux opening. The ad congratulated director James Cameron for the “biggest box office splash in history!” The fictional Vincent Chase starrer touted an opening of $116,844,114.

A CNBC spokesman said that Kernan is a huge fan of “Entourage” and that he was kidding. Maybe Kernen isn’t clueless; perhaps it’s another layer of HBO’s canny marketing campaign, which is bent on blurring the lines between the fiction of the show and the reality of showbiz.

In the case of rapper Saigon, however, the blurring could be ill-timed.

The artist is woven into the show as an up-and-coming rapper and thesp discovered by one of the entourage. In Sunday’s episode, a subplot had Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold pumping his fist over interest from Atlantic Records.

Saigon — the real one — already has a deal with Atlantic Records and hopes for an acting career; he’s represented by the Firm’s Jeff Rabhan.

But his debut album on Atlantic has been postponed several times from its planned 2005 release, and Rabhan said the disc could even get pushed into 2007, well after the “Entourage” subplot runs its course and its publicity boost has faded. Indeed, HBO famously avoids product placement and says there is no coordination with Atlantic.”Capitalizing on the ‘Entourage’ exposure is good, but it doesn’t supersede making a great record,” Rabhan said.

The story actually began with art imitating life. Saigon signed with Atlantic Records in 2004, more than six months before he first appeared on “Entourage.” He wound up on the show because of a connection between “Entourage” exec producer Stephen Levinson and G. Roberson, who manages Just Blaze, the Atlantic producer who signed Saigon.

Rabhan couldn’t resist a little Ari Gold-style reflection. “I’m not going to blow smoke,” he said. “We’d love to have the record now.”

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