Hollywood is very much on the minds of cable executives meeting in Chicago this week at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s annual trade show. Introducing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his welcoming remarks, Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav said that “in our industry he’s known as Ari’s brother” — referring to WME co-CEO Ari Emanuel. The mayor picked up the theme by offering a mock apology on behalf of his family. “You know him as an agent,” he said. “We know him as a brother. We thought we got the worse end of the deal.” He said that when HBO introduced its series Entourage, Ari wanted to know what Rahm thought of the Ari Gold character who’s based on the super agent. “I like Ari Gold more than I like you,” Rahm says he replied.
Zaslav and Suddenlink Communications CEO Jerry Kent, the convention co-chairs, tried to keep things light after Emanuel left. Zaslav said that he knows Chicago well after all the time he spent over the last few years working with Oprah Winfrey to develop their OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network joint venture. “Never heard of it,” Kent said. That generated a bigger laugh than the Emanuel jokes did: All eyes in cable are on Zaslav and Winfrey’s effort to refocus OWN after its stumbling start in January. She’ll speak to the convention Thursday morning.