Asia has 'Entourage'


BANGKOK -- Until recently, fans in Asia who have wanted to follow Vinny Chase and his posse's wild, unpredictable escapades on "Entourage," or Larry David's neurotic antics on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," have had to rely on getting DVDs from overseas (or via illegal means).

But since late July, Singapore-based HBO Asia, which has 4.5 million paying subscribers in 21 countries and offers subtitles in Mandarin, Cantonese, Thai and Bahasa (Indonesia and Malaysia), has finally begun airing the first two seasons of both shows, though with some censorship. (Fans here may never know about Turtle and Drama "crossing swords").

With "Entourage," at least, the channel is making an effort to make up for lost time. It has offered an "Entourage Video Hunt," a promotion where fans upload short videos of themselves and their friends expressing "fame, celebrity lifestyle, love, friendship, career, partying" in the form of a "mockumentary, music video, skit, or reality-show spoof." There also has been an "Entourage Stud Search," seeking out Singapore's "hottest hunk" between the ages of 18 and 35, and "Entourage" parties at various bars and clubs to target the 20s night-life crowd, with HBO Asia airing some of the footage of these events.

The efforts appear to be working, as Caroline Wong, director of marketing communications for HBO Asia, says that more than a thousand promotion entries had been received over the first several weeks and that the show has "major buzzworthiness -- not quite a home run just yet, but it's looking very positive."

In Thailand, dominant cable provider United Broadcast Corp. has its own "Entourage" quiz promotion on its Web site. Viewers who correctly answer questions about the show can win a MacBook laptop or an "Entourage" gift set.

But there seemingly hasn't been the same effort to push "CYE." While on HBO Asia's site there is a link to an "Entourage" "microsite," which includes interviews with the show's cast, along with a variety of other extras, there is no microsite for "CYE." Apart from a one-sentence description offered about each episode of "CYE," there is hardly any information about the show on HBO Asia's site, and this information can only be found after entering the show's name into the site's search bar.

Jamorn Jirapaet, UBC's marketing supervisor, says that the glitz and coolness of "Entourage" is easier for his audience to appreciate than David's sardonic humor.

"('CYE') appeals to a certain group of people who understands Western humor very well," he says.

Narissa Shrestha, a 22-year-old student at Bangkok's Thammasat University, says that while she hadn't heard of "CYE," she believes "Entourage" will easily cross over among her friends.

"Girls loved 'Sex in the City' here in Thailand," she says. "But I think they might like this even better."