Yu Zheng’s variety show Real Actor is all about improvisation

Screenwriter / Director Yu Zheng and mentors Zhang Jingchu, Francis Ng, Zhang Songwen

The first episode of Real Actor 演技派 is all about the fundamentals of acting, and runs through the auditions and evaluations of 30 up-and-coming actors in just over 2 hours. The scenarios Zhang Songwen gives the actors does a great job of revealing their strengths and weaknesses as they are forced to perform on the spot.

Francis Ng doesn’t mince his words but his honest opinions are definitely a breath of fresh air. Yu Zheng will probably have more to do in future episodes, as the final twelve actors will be competing for roles in his variety show-drama Royal Kitchen in the Qing Dynasty 紫禁城里的小食光.

Actors I’m looking forward to seeing more of include Wu Jiayi, Lamu Yangzi, Wang Yuwen and Fan Jinwei (their skit at 1:22:51 is adorable) and Zhang Lula.

How Chinese TV is making its way to Sub-Saharan Africa

Liu Tao and Qiao Xin at an audience meeting of Ode to Joy in Tanzania

As Tencent is making its way to Thailand and iQiyi partners with Malaysia, another group of Chinese media firms have already settled in Africa. Since 2007, Beijing-based media company Star Times  has established itself in over 30 African countries with 26 million users. The company is also working with Chinese and African governments to provide tv access to underserved rural communities in twenty-five African countries.   The company offers two channels featuring Chinese dramas – SinoDrama and Star Times Kung Fu.  Star Times have has also held competitions to bring African acting talents to its Beijing Campus to translate and dub everything from Latin American telenovelas to Thai dramas into English, French, Portuguese, Swahili, Hausa, Zulu, Yoruba and Luganda.

Over the past month, the heads of Daylight Entertainment (Nirvana in Fire, Ode to Joy) and Linmon Entertainment (A Little Separation, Hunting) and the cast of Ode to Joy attended events in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania as a part of the Chinese-African audio-video exchange to discuss further collaboration between Chinese and African media companies.

Their visit follows the filming of the first Chinese drama made in collaboration with the Kenyan government last month, Wang Kai and Wang Ou’s upcoming crime thriller Hunting.

Hunting ‘s Kenyan special. The series is the first drama collaboration with the Kenyan government.
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Attention Actors posters and stills round-up

Peng Xiaoran and Huang Junjie reenacts The Legend of Demon Cat

From classics like Daming Palace/Palace of Desire and Chinese Paladin to recent films like The Legend of Demon Cat and Cry Me a Sad River, Tencent’s new acting competition Attention, Actors 演员倾就位 combines the best of I am an actor and Phantastic by capturing the actors for a TV performance rather than on stage while still maintaining an one-take rule. Featuring directors Chen Kaige, Li Shaohong, Vicki Zhao Wei, and Guo Jingming, the resulting segments are on average far more watchable than the other two.

Plus, they have some great stills and posters that are better than many dramas and film posters that are wallpaper-worthy. You can watch episode two English subbed here. Zhang Yunlong and Chen Xiaoyun act out Romance in the Rain:

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Tencent’s new acting variety show releases stills of contestants

Peng Xiaoran (Goodbye My Princess) reenacting Chen Kaige’s Legend of the Demon Cat

Tencent’s upcoming big-budget acting variety show Attention, Actors 演员请就位 (lit.) has hired directors Li Shaohong (Palace of Desires, Dream of Red Mansions 2010), Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine, Legend of the Demon Cat), Guo Jingming (Tiny Times, L.O.R.D) and Zhao Wei (So Young) as judges who will assemble their own team from a group of 58 actors.

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Best of National Treasure Performances

This Tang dynasty relief come to life under Song Jia and co. as they sing of a better life.

Using star power, original songs, and innovative stage performances, variety show National Treasure 国家宝藏 has made artifacts and museums come to life to the audience. A round-up of the best song and dance numbers, with performances from Chen Xiao, Song Jia, Purba Rgyal,   Zhai Tianlin, and Wu Tong.  Embedded videos are set to where the performance starts.

Students from the Beijing Dance Academy perform a dance that perfectly encapsulates the youthful playfulness and grace of young scholars.  Watch the viral practice room version here. If you like this style, I also recommend Zhao Lei, Yan Xujia, and Guo Zifan’s performance of  West Chamber here. I want a boyband with this style of performances.

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Wan Qian, Liu Mintao, Qin Hailu, Li Qin appear as guests on The Sound Season 2

A round of applause for The Sound Season 2, guys. The variety show has invited four of my favourite actresses – Wan Qian (Tribes and Empires, Lost in 1949), Liu Mintao (The Disguiser, upcoming The Love of Hypnosis), Qin Hailu (Red Sorghum, White Deer Plain) and Li Qin (White Deer Plain, Princess Agents)– to participate in the fourth episode, which airs on the 15th.

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Zhang Ziyi, Wu Xiubo, Xu Zheng sign on as judges for season two of acting variety show

The controversial acting variety show I Am An Actor 我就是演员 (previously Birth of a Performer) is back for a second season. Zhang Ziyi is the only remaining judge from the first season, and is joined by dependable uncle actors Wu Xiubo (The Advisors Alliance) and Xu Zheng (Dying to Survive). The variety show airs every Saturday night on Zhejiang TV beginning tomorrow.

This gorgeous promo features Zhang Ziyi looking back on her characters (Wu Xiubo, Xu Zheng):

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Ren Suxi’s live mini- musical is Phantastic

Ren Suxi’s live performance in Hunan TV’s new live musical show, Phantacity 幻乐之城,is full of childhood wonder but also made me cry like an idiot at the airport.

The series features Faye Wong as she overlooks the production of four 10-minute mini-live musicals per episode. Episode one featured Yi Yangqianxi and Hu Xianxu, Huang Xiaoming, Ren Suxi, and Lei Jia. Yi Yangqianxi and Hu Xianxu’s work with Peng Youlun was visually stunning and a decent watch, but the breakout performance was definitely director Xin Shuang and actor Ren Suxi’s “Time Machine.”