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Clever ‘Cleaver’ rides ‘Sopranos’

HBO promotes movie-within-the-show

First, it was “Entourage’s” mythical “Aquaman,” which broke “Spider-Man’s” box office record before the “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel came along and did it in real life. Now it’s “Cleaver,” the mob-inspired slasher movie, receiving the full-page ad and mock doc treatment.

HBO has again playfully tweaked the movie establishment by running a Daily Variety ad for “Cleaver” — the movie-within-the-show produced by Tony Soprano subordinate Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) — as well as a bogus “HBO First Look” about the making of the fictitious movie.

The ad offered “Cleaver” (with the catchphrase “He Wants a Piece of You”) for distribution at MIP, while in the mock doc, Imperioli and others are interviewed in character discussing their inspiration for the film, whose “cast” includes Daniel Baldwin (after Ben Kingsley, in a “Sopranos” cameo, famously passed) and Jonathan LaPaglia.

HBO wouldn’t divulge whether there’ll be additional tie-ins, but as a sign of the security surrounding the show’s June 10 sendoff, the pay net — which sent out the first two episodes when the series returned this spring — isn’t expected to make any of the remaining hours available in advance.

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