Guan Xiaotong, Dylan Sprouse Star in Turandot

I feel like I watched both of them grow up.

Guan Xiaotong and Dylan Sprouse (the non-Riverdale brother from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody) have begun filming the Zheng Xiaolong (Empresses in the Palace) film adaptation of opera Turandot.

Deadline has the synopsis translated, and it seems like the major change is the princess’s cruelty got blamed on a magical curse. Co-productions tend to be huge messes so I’m not having high hopes.

Described as a fantasy romance, the plot follows Princess Turandot (Xiaotong), who is cursed by a mysterious power emanating from three Mazovian bracelets that were given to her as birthday gifts. These bracelets’ life-draining effects cause the princess to becomes cruel, and gradually she loses her humanity.

Foreign princes who come to court her must solve three riddles — one for each bracelet — and only then will she be freed from the power of the bracelets. In the event any of the questions is answered incorrectly, the attempted solver would be put to death. One day, Calaf (Sprouse), an ordinary citizen, risks his life to answer the riddles to save her and inadvertently uncovers his own extraordinary past.

22nd Magnolia Awards

Congratulations to the big winners of the night!

The Magnolia Awards is held in conjunction with the Shanghai Television Festival, home to one of East Asia’s biggest television markets. Magnolia Awards is recognised as one of the most prestigious television awards alongside the Golden Eagle and Flying Apsaras, though it cannot seem to make up its mind on the number of categories (the current format began last year).

Full list of nominees, winners and red carpet pictures are below the cut.

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“Legend of Zhen Huan” Lands on Netflix

Empresses in the Palace on Netflix

Netizens react to the series’s short running time: “Get rid of Consort Hua Fei in two episodes, get rid of the empress in two episodes, and then get rid of the emperor in two episodes.”

Despite previous reports that Legend of Zhen Huan (后宫·甄嬛传) would air on HBO for its American release, the series has actually been picked up by the on-demand media provider Netflix. It recently became available for streaming on Netflix’s website under the name Empresses in the Palace.

Originally 76 episodes long, Empresses has been shortened to six episodes, each with a running time of 90 minutes. Because the American release is so much shorter, some of the cast has seen their screen time all but disappear. The biggest victim is Chen Jianbin‘s Emperor Yongzheng, many of whose scenes were cut to make room for the doomed romance between Zhen Huan (Sun Li) and Prince Guo Jun (Li Dongxue).

The American release of Empresses has been in production for two years, with most of that time spent on the new soundtrack and on the English subtitles. On a random note of interest, Sun Li’s staff protested when Netflix originally posted the actress’s name as “Betty Sun,” saying that she has never used the English name “Betty” and that the website should have used “Li Sun” or “Susan Sun.” (Whoops, guess Wikipedia needs to be edited!)

As of publication, Empresses has a 3.6-star rating (out of 5) on Netflix, but director Zheng Xiaolong says he is not overly concerned with how the series fares in the United States. “The most important thing is that Americans have the opportunity to watch the series and at least have some understanding toward Chinese history and culture,” he stated.

Netflix is currently available in around 50 countries, not including mainland China. However, the company has expressed interest in expanding its market to China, which may be why it purchased the rights to Empresses.

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