‘House’ to end after 8 years

'House' to end after 8 years

British actor Hugh Laurie accepts the award for Favorite TV Drama Actor for his role on “House” and also the award for Favorite TV Drama, with members of the cast, at the 2010 People’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles January 6, 2010.[Photo/Agencies]

Hospital drama “House” will end in April after eight seasons, producers said on Wednesday, bringing to a close one of the most popular shows on TV.

“House”, starring British actor Hugh Laurie as the cantankerous but brilliant doctor Gregory House, started in 2004 and will have been on air on Fox in the United States for 175 episodes when it comes to an end in April.

“After much deliberation, the producers of ‘House M.D.’ have decided that this season of the show, the 8th, should be the last,” executive producers David Shore, Katie Jacobs and Laurie said in a statement.

They said the decision to end the show was painful but added they “have always imagined House as an enigmatic creature; he should never be the last one to leave the party. How much better to disappear before the music stops, while there is still some promise and mystique in the air.”

“House” was among the 10 top-rated TV shows in the United States from 2005-2008 and was seen in some 66 other countries. But U.S. ratings have slipped in the past two years to about half the 20 million viewers who once enjoyed the show.

The program was Emmy-nominated for best drama four times but never won, although Laurie won two Golden Globes and two Screen Actors Guild awards for his role.

Bikini-clad bodyguards are pretty tough stuff

While photos of scantily clad women are far from rare on the Internet, one series of 17 swimsuit clad seductresses on the tropical beaches of Sanya, Hainan province, has been making the rounds - and not merely as eye-candy.

It’s because audiences have loved watching these beauties - who hail from career backgrounds ranging from university student to professional acrobat - being punched, kicked and nearly drowned at a boot camp for professional body guards.

The show is the latest segment of Jiаngsu Satellite TV’s program Stand Out, a reality TV show that focuses on various sectors’ recruitment.

“There is a surge in demand for women bodyguards in China,” producer Tang Jia says.

“They’re sought by entrepreneurs and celebrities - especially females. They’re less conspicuous than men and can do other jobs, too, such as secretarial work. That’s why we focus on this sector and document the process of becoming Charlie’s Angels.”

The 17 contestants will undergo more than two months of boot camp and trainings to sharpen their reconnaissance and anti-terrorism capabilities.

The last woman standing will continue her training at the International Security Academy in Israel and could win a bodyguard gig with a yearly salary of 300,000 yuan ($47,670).

“We chose Sanya as our training base because the varied topography creates challenges,” says Chen Yongqing, founder and chairman of the Beijing-based bodyguard agency Tianjiao Special Guard/Security Consultant Co Ltd, which hosts the contestants’ training.

Chen says the grueling physical training activities, such as carrying heavy logs and doing sit-ups and push-ups in ocean waves, are the basic procedures used to train competent female bodyguards.

“Bodyguards are responsible for their clients’ safety and will face many dangerous moments,” Chen explains.

“Being terrible to them now is good for their careers later.”

Chen insists the requirement that women wear bikinis is not a publicity stunt but rather is meant to strengthen their wills.

“If they can stand physical tests and being yelled at while wearing a swimsuit, they are mentally strong enough and can better protect their clients,” Chen says.

The show airs on Jiаngsu Satellite TV every Tuesday at 10 pm. The women bodyguards segment will end on Feb 21.

Going beyond borders

Going beyond borders

Hosts and contestants on Zhejiang Satellite TV’s new reality show Heartbeat Argentina, which was produced in Argentina. Photos Provided to China Daily

Going beyond borders

Contestant Liu Wei, recruited in England, and host Meng Fei, on the set of If You Are the One.

Going beyond borders

A growing number of Chinese TV shows are being filmed overseas. Sun Li reports in Beijing.

Foreign countries increasingly offer Chinese TV producers not only program innovations but also locations for filming. More mainland TV crews are heading abroad, and recent episodes of Jiangsu Satellite TV’s hugely popular dating show If You Are the One made headlines because the contestants are Chinese-British and Chinese expatriates recruited in Britain.

The show sent a production team to England to recruit bachelors and single women.

But it’s not the first time the show has been filmed overseas. It started with a shoot in Australia in May 2011, followed by talent scouting in the United States in July.

“Many foreigners have appeared on the stage of our program,” producer Wang Gang says.

“We’ve seen a young American get a crush on a Chinese woman and a Korean woman fall for a Chinese suitor. It reminds me that nationality and distance can’t defeat love, which inspired me to create an overseas segment. The possibility of helping foreigners and Chinese living in other countries find love and revealing what they think about marriage compelled me to do an overseas segment,” he continues.

Wang says singles were encouraged to apply for all three overseas recruitments.

“But due to language concerns, we preferred applicants who spoke good Chinese, so most contestants were overseas Chinese.”

Wang says his team’s work in foreign countries largely lies in recruitment and shooting introductory footage for bachelors.

When that was done, the contestants were brought to the studio in Jiangsu’s provincial capital Nanjing, where the work was the same as for domestic segments.

These feature about 20 women contestants standing behind brightly lit podiums who pepper potential suitors with questions. If a guy’s answers turn her off, she turns the light off, and he’s out of the running.

“We prepared a lot and haven’t experienced major obstacles recruiting abroad,” Wang says.

“Our successful experiences in Australia and US paved a path for our team in England.”

The TV station cooperated with Sina Weibo – China’s answer to Twitter – and the London-based Chinese Weekly to publicize and organize recruitment.

Yang Fang, a Chinese student who has been studying opera in England for four years, says she learned about the recruitment from Chinese Weekly.

“My connections and resources in England are very limited, and I didn’t have many chances to meet guys,” Yang says, adding her foreign friends don’t play matchmaker like Chinese friends would.

“That’s the major reason I’m still single, and that’s why I applied for the program,” Yang says. “There are lots of people outside China who need to find love. I saw many people register to be a contestant. The show’s overseas segment came at just the right time.”

The flood of applicants came from various occupational backgrounds, including IT engineers, university students and musicians.

Singapore will be the show’s next overseas stop.

Another show that’s creating a buzz with its overseas segments is Zhejiang Satellite TV’s quiz show Heartbeat Argentina.

It’s the first show for which an entire mainland crew has gone to a foreign country.

Winners get free round-trip tickets to London during this year’s Olympics. Losers are ejected from the stage in such wild ways as being blasted out of a cannon, shoved off the top of a moving semi-truck and dragged underwater by a massive anchor.

“The original idea was to make a trailblazing program,” producer Tao Yan says. “The idea for a foreign quiz show came from television and digital production company, Endemol.”

Shooting took place in a studio that could move up and down in the tower that contained it. Various devices used to punish the contestants were also on-set.

“We don’t have such a venue or devices in China, so we had to take the show to Argentina,” Tao says.

“And because there’s nothing like it in China, using such facilities makes us truly groundbreaking.”

It took two months to complete the 12-episode segment. The success came with many challenges, Tao says.

“There wasn’t much time left to shoot after we pitched the idea, signed the contract with Endemol, prepared the questions and recruited contestants last November,” Tao recalls.

“And 10 contestants’ visas weren’t granted. So we started a frantic search for contestants the moment we stepped off the plane.

“Our two women directors rushed up to every Asian they saw. After verifying they were Chinese, they tried to recruit them. They both said they wished they had worn sexier dresses that day.”

Capricious weather made filming in the 30-meter-high tower a trial.

“We were sometimes scorched by the sun and deafened by thunder other times,” Tao says. “We had to stop during the rain and had to stay up late for many days to make up for the lost time. But we managed to present an exciting program on time. So the trouble was worth it.”

And, Tao says, the team learned many techniques and got new ideas from Argentineans.

China Radio and Television Association critic Wu Jiakui points out the Jiangsu and Zhejiang stations’ approach to filming overseas are different.

He says that since If You Are the One recruited overseas Chinese, it brought novelty to domestic audiences and publicized the show in the countries in which it was filmed.

Because Heartbeat Argentina was completely shot in Argentina, Chinese TV producers enjoyed opportunities to learn from foreign counterparts, he says.

“But both shows still lack originality and are borrowed from foreign programs,” Wu says.

“It might be necessary to go abroad to add appeal to the shows, but it’s important to be creative. We should watch and learn when overseas but also develop our own ideas.”

He’s making and breaking the newsCelebrities

He's making and breaking the news

Rui Chenggang is often in the limelight as a star anchor and journalist at China Central Television. Chen Chao / China Daily

TV anchor Rui Chenggang is a well-respected journalist who just happens to cause as much controversy as he covers. Sun Li reports in Beijing.

A director and anchor with China Central Television (CCTV), the nation’s biggest State-run network, Rui Chenggang is always in the limelight as he conducts interviews with international bigwigs on his weekly show, Leaders. But more often, Rui draws attention for his oft-quoted remarks at news events and his comments on social and cultural issues, which frequently arouse fierce debates.

Even so, he does not believe the public really understands the story behind every headline about him.

Rui recently became one of the 10 most searched names on Baidu for comparing the annual salary of former NBA star Yao Ming with that of Xie Zhengyi, Party secretary of Yangzhou city, Jiangsu province, when he hosted the Youth Leadership Roundtable at the Boao Forum for Asia.

“Yao earns tens of millions yuan a year, Xie, hundreds of thousands of yuan. Both work hard, but the gap is so astonishing,” Rui was quoted as saying.

Many people lashed out at Rui for talking nonsense, but he says the quote was “taken out of context by irresponsible journalists who tried to catch eyeballs”.

Rui responded by repeating a comment from someone with the Internet handle of Wangqin Linyu, who said the comparison was interesting as the topic of discussion that day was narrowing the wealth gap between rich and poor.

“We are in a pan-journalism era. People’s lives are largely connected to micro blogs and the instant messaging service QQ, and as a result everybody is a social media guy and news spreads very fast,” Rui says.

“Under these circumstances, where speed matters, people cannot wait to react to and report the news, and misinterpretation becomes inevitable,” he says.

The media celebrity who speaks fluent English comments on two videos centering on his interactions with US President Barack Obama, which caused a sensation.

The first video was filmed in London, 2009, when Obama attended his first G20 summit.

The video shows Rui constantly raising his hand at the news conference and demanding to ask two questions (it’s usually one) on the grounds that world leaders were then talking about giving developing countries more voice.

“The reality was that at that time, there were a lot of Q and As (question-and-answer sessions) about China, but what bothered me was, it was a whole bunch of American and European journalists asking questions related to China,” Rui recalls.

He adds that if China is the topic, Chinese opinions have to be part of the conversation. Having no China voice is not appropriate, he says.

“My motivation at that time was to make a presence and grab the opportunity to let foreign attendees hear something from China when they were talking about our country.”

In the second video, at the G20 meetings in Seoul, 2010, Rui stood up after no reporters from the Republic of Korea (ROK) responded to Obama’s offer that the host country should ask a question. Rui then claimed to represent the whole of Asia.

“Again, not many people knew what the reality was at that time,” Rui says, adding there were two reasons that caused ROK journalists not to raise their hands and ask questions.

“Obama didn’t announce there would be a Q and A section. It was improvised. So my ROK peers weren’t prepared.”

“The other thing is Obama spoke for some 20 minutes first. To shoot a question, one needs to fully understand the president’s speech. Missing a part leads to stage fright. “

A veteran journalist, Rui says he always does his homework and arrives at every news conference with questions, adding he grasped the essence of Obama’s speech.

Even so, he says his motivation at the time was not to make China’s voice heard, but rather to make good an awkward moment.

“As no one raised their hands to ask a question, Obama was in an embarrassing situation, and every second felt long,” Rui says.

“Saying ‘I get to represent all of Asia’ was following Obama’s logic of letting ROK reporters ask a question. Personally, I think I did the president a favor.”

Rui claims that though this is a media age, most people lack critical thinking skills and few among those who commented on the videos were at the scene.

“When a piece of news comes, the first thing people should be asking is why someone says something, what is the motivation and is the proof solid.”

“To people who thought I was aggressive, did they know the background? Have they watched my other programs,” Rui asks.

“At that time, it was not about being aggressive. It was about whether it was the right thing to do.”

Rui adds asking aggressive questions is a rookie’s way of dealing with the situation.

“The audience may think you really have the guts to challenge big names. But you will embarrass your interviewees, which is a cheap shot.”

“When you become verbally aggressive, a fence will be built between you and your interviewees, and you’ll never read their hearts.” Although Rui mentions the late NBC newsman Tim Russert and CNN host Fareed Zakaria as journalists he can learn from, he insists he is not influenced by them.

“I don’t affect a certain style when working, I’m, just the real me, myself. I prefer gradually opening up the discussion with disarming panache. I’m a mild person.”

As to comments on his blog and micro blog that often create news, Rui says every statement is evaluated and reflects the consistency of his critical thinking.

His latest comment to hit the headlines was his attack on Herms handbags, noting that many women buy the brand but do not seem to care whether the bags are genuine or not.

Rui says he considers the controversy his comments might trigger, but believes having different opinions is a good thing.

“My observations and arguments may not be completely correct, and I welcome debate, through which an issue could become clearer,” Rui says.

“But I did seriously think of the issue first and my comments are not reckless,” he says.

.

TV services reach China’s remote rural regions

LANZHOU — Television is as indispensable as oxygen for Li Fuqiang, a 49-year-old herdsman in Gansu, an underdeveloped province in northwest China.

“Watching TV is the best way for me and my wife to kill the free time we have after grazing and get to know what happens elsewhere,” said Li, whose family prefers news and legal channels as well as the station broadcast from Hunan Province, where their son attends college.

“In days without a satellite TV receiver, drinking and sleeping were all we had to do with our spare time,” Li recalled of his humdrum life seven years ago. “No entertainment, and people felt bored and lonely.”

Li’s home village Songmutan is located in a remote part of Sunan county, which is mostly inhabited by China’s Yugur minority and has a population of about 12,000. A bumpy 35-kilometer packway connects his village with a town in Sunan county, which is 600 km away from the provincial capital of Lanzhou and 1,800 km from the nation’s heart of Beijing.

The distance and steep, rugged mountains prevented television signals from wireless transmission towers from reaching the village for years.

But things began to change for Li and most other villagers living in China’s vast remote rural areas in the 1990s, when a project was initiated by the central government to help all farmers and herdsmen get access to TV and broadcast programs.

From 2006 to 2010, 4,534 DBS (direct broadcast satellite) receivers were installed in 4,534 households in 76 villages of Sunan county with an investment of 1.63 million yuan (259,000 U.S. dollars), said Yan Wenchang, director of the local administration of radio, film and television.

Li’s DBS receiver, which the herdsman have dubbed the “pot” due to its shape, sits in the corner of the yard. Inside his room, the TV plays with high-definition picture quality.

All the villagers bought the receivers with an STB (set top box) for just 100 yuan, allowing them to receive 44 satellite TV channels, said An Yujun, secretary of the Songmutan village branch of the Communist Party of China.

With a diameter of 40 centimeters, the delicate “pots” are convenient for the herdsman to take with them when they are grazing. Whether at home or on the pasture, they can stay informed about goings-on at home and abroad as well as learn some things about grassland farming, said An.

Apart from Gansu, local governments across the country are aiming to “enable every rural family to have access to TV programs.” Since last September, more than 2,730 solar-powered TV sets have been sent to herdsmen in Hotan prefecture in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Yan Wenchang said the government is exploring more routes for expanding broadcasting and satellite TV coverage in rural areas and enhancing the cultural product services available to rural residents.

“The project is moving on. By 2015, all herdsmen in Sunan will be able to watch TV programs via DBS receivers,” he said.

Center protects film, TVMovies

Capital Film and Television Legal Center, a non profit legal agency aimed at protecting the rights of film and TV industry players, was recently established in Beijing.

Established by the Beijing Television Artists Association and Beijing Lawyers Association, the agency offers legal advocacy and assistance for artists as well as TV and film companies on such matters as copyright infringement and breach of contract.

Legal scholars and veteran attorneys attached to the center offer services such as case study, seminars and phone consultations.

Director and screenwriter Zheng Xiaolong says the center could help prevent plagiarism and encourage artistic originality.

Youku contest attracts millions

I am Legend, a weekly contest hosted by video-sharing website Youku.com, has attracted 10 million clicks in three days since its May 26 premiere.

Youku, which cooperated with 10 television networks and 10 music companies, initiated the show to find grassroots heroes among tens of thousands of applicants in seven cities.

Some of the most popular contestants include Liu Meilin, a college student who sings songs by diva Faye Wong, and Mujiangzi, a chorus of five boys from different ethnic groups in Yunnan province.

The contestants stand to win a contract with the television networks and music companies, and become real stars.

‘Dexter’ on Showtime

'Dexter' on Showtime

Cast member Michael C. Hall speaks at a panel for “Dexter” during the Showtime television portion of the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 30, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

'Dexter' on Showtime

Cast member Jennifer Carpenter speaks at a panel for “Dexter” during the Showtime television portion of the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 30, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

'Dexter' on Showtime

Cast members Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter attend a panel for “Dexter” during the Showtime television portion of the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 30, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

'Dexter' on Showtime

Cast member Jennifer Carpenter smiles at a panel for “Dexter” during the Showtime television portion of the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 30, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

'Dexter' on Showtime

Cast member Jennifer Carpenter smiles at a panel for “Dexter” during the Showtime television portion of the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 30, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

'Dexter' on Showtime

Cast member Michael C. Hall attends a panel for “Dexter” during the Showtime television portion of the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 30, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

'Dexter' on Showtime

Cast member Jennifer Carpenter speaks, as co-star Michael C. Hall watches, at a panel for “Dexter” during the Showtime television portion of the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 30, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

'Dexter' on Showtime

Cast member Michael C. Hall smiles at a panel for “Dexter” during the Showtime television portion of the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 30, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

'Dexter' on Showtime

Cast member Michael C. Hall smiles at a panel for “Dexter” during the Showtime television portion of the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 30, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

‘How I Met Your Mother’ to end run, mystery

'How I Met Your Mother' to end run, mystery

Bryan Cranston (L) accepts the award for outstanding male actor in a drama series for “Breaking Bad” from presenters Neil Patrick Harris and Amy Poehler at the 19th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, California January 27, 2013.

CBS says the big reveal is coming for “How I Met Your Mother”.

Related: ‘Girls’ renewed for third season

The network said Wednesday the sitcom will air its ninth and final season next fall.

And CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler promised that TV’s “most mysterious mother” will be unveiled as the show wraps up.

That would be the mystery woman with whom Ted, played by Josh Radnor, ultimately has a family.

The sitcom’s cast also includes Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders, Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan.

20th Century Fox Television says all the actors will return for the 2013-14 season.

'How I Met Your Mother' to end run, mystery

'How I Met Your Mother' to end run, mystery

'How I Met Your Mother' to end run, mystery

 ’Downton Abbey’ sets PBS record with 7.9 million viewersObama to screen TV comedy ’1600 Penn’ at White House  Jessica Simpson to star in TV comedy

Talent show will reveal the next big film star

Chongqing Satellite TV will soon add to China’s long list of authorized reproductions of foreign programs with a new talent show aimed at finding future film stars.

Based on the hard-hitting acting talent show Miracle Audition, on South Korean TV channel SBS, the Zhongguo Menggongchang (China Dreamworks) will visit South Korea and the US to give young Chinese hopefuls a chance to make their acting dreams come true.

The 17-episode show will go through four different phases: open audition, grand elimination, dream college and the final contest.

An all-star team of judges will include Hong Kong singer and actress Karen Mok, actress Tang Wei and Hong Kong film director Peter Chan.

Top contestants will have a chance to act in a modern-setting TV drama that’s specifically written for them.

Related:

Talent show will reveal the next big film star

Talent show will reveal the next big film star

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CCTV buys 65 hours of nature television

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