Red Star Over China (2)

Some comments on Red Star Over China and Eva Chou’s query about the revival of interest in it:

  • Snow went to Shensi (home of Xi Zhongxun and Xi Jinping)
  • Snow was widely read in China back then (Ch. translations appeared before the US Version came out)
  • Snow also met Lu Xun
  • Snow did NOT meet “with Communist leaders including Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai in Xi’an” as this was KMT area.
  • Snow did meet General secretary Zhang Wentian and others in Bao’an.
  • The “80th anniv.” does not refer to the First army with Zhang, Zhou, Mao which arrived in ’35.


Thomas Kampen <>

Red Star Over China (1)

In a high school 語文 textbook published by 人民教育出版社, in a volume with the theme of “Selections from Biographies, Chinese and Western,” the third excerpted biography (after those of Du Fu and Lu Xun) is Mao Zedong’s by Edgar Snow. I wondered a bit when I came across that. But it seems that things don’t happen in singletons. First a textbook joins the two men, now a tv series does. We know why Snow was widely read (in English) back then. What are the reasons now (in Chinese)?

Best regards,

Eva Shan Chou <>

Red Star Over China

Source: Global Times (10/12/16)
Historical series ‘Red Star Over China’ to premiere on Hunan Satellite TV next week

The crew of Red Star Over China attend a ceremony kicking off production on January 17. Photo: IC

Historical series Red Star Over China, which follows the evolution of the Communist Party throughout the 1930s and 1940s through the eyes of US journalist Edgar Snow (1905-1972), is scheduled to debut on China’s Hunan Satellite Television next week. Continue reading

TV show spotlights middle class anxieties

Source: China Real Time, WSJ (8/25/16)
TV Show Spotlights Middle Class Anxieties in China
By Liyan Qi

Last year, more than 520,000 people left China to study abroad. A new Chinese TV show might give you some insight into why Chinese parents want to send their kids overseas. Photo: Linmon Pictures

A hit Chinese TV drama that tells the story of three families who sent their young teens to study abroad has surfaced middle-class doubts about their future in the country.

“A Love for Separation,” based on a novel by Lu Yingong, started screening last week and grabbed the public’s attention despite competing with the Olympic games for viewers. Users on the cultural website gave the show an average score of 8.2 out of 10. Continue reading

Anti-corruption drive moves into tv dramas

Source: China Film Insider (4/26/16)
China’s Anti-Corruption Drive Moves into Television Dramas
By Fergus Ryan

In the midst of a nationwide anti-corruption drive led by President Xi Jinping, China’s media regulators have lifted a long-standing ban on the production and primetime broadcast of television dramas featuring high-level corruption, clearing the way for harder-hitting content not seen since 2004.

In the Name of the People (人民的名义), a new television drama with a budget of over 120 million yuan ($18.5 million), is set to finish shooting in Nanjing in June and is expected to be broadcast the end of the year.

The 42-episode series is set to be the first major production with an anti-corruption theme since China’s media watchdog banished such programs from prime time 12 years ago. The show is expected to at least obliquely feature a top ranking government leader as a villain. Continue reading

China’s Sex and the City without the sex

Source: Sixth Tone (5/5/16)
New Drama is China’s ‘Sex and the City,’ Just Without the Sex
‘Ode to Joy,’ a new online TV show, has millions of fans, but also its fair share of critics.
By Wang Lianzhang

New Drama is China’s ‘Sex and the City,’ Just Without the Sex-000_1

Here’s something Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha could only ever have dreamed of: a daily audience of more than 500 million views.

But this is China, and “Ode to Joy,” a show being compared to “Sex and the City,” seems to have struck a chord. Ever since the first episode went online on April 18, the show has been a runaway success.

On iQIYI, just one of the five streaming websites the show is available on, the episodes had been watched more than 19 billion times as of Thursday morning. On microblogging platform Weibo, posts about the show have been read more than 30 billion times. Continue reading

Reality show singer breaks taboo

From: Judy Amory <>
Source: The Guardian (4/1/16)
Reality show singer breaks China’s Cultural Revolution taboo
Yang Le draws applause and tears as song tells of how he lost his father in Mao’s crackdown on perceived enemies, which began 50 years ago
By Tom Phillips in Beijing

Yang Le feared the show’s producers might attempt to censor the lyrics.

Yang Le feared the show’s producers might attempt to censor the lyrics. Photograph: China Dragon TV

N early half a century after his father plunged to his death from the roof of a Beijing university, Yang Le stepped out on to the stage to tell millions of Chinese television viewers how Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution had torn his family apart.

“When I was young we were a family of six … My father was handsome, mum was young and beautiful,” sang the silver-haired contestant on China Star, the country’s answer to the X-Factor. “After the Cultural Revolution only five of us were left.”

When his lament-filled, taboo-breaking performance ended, Yang bit his lower lip. Applause rippled through the theatre; the judges leapt to their feet; tears streamed down cheeks.

Continue reading

Liveblog summary of CCTV’s new year gala

Liveblog summary of CCTV’s New Year’s Gala

For list members who didn’t have the time to follow the CCTV New Year’s Gala this year, a note that Manya Koetse live-blogged the entire six hour broadcast on ‘What’s On Weibo’:

Florian Schneider

Maya Lin finding her roots

List members may be interested in watching the recent episode of PBS’s Finding Your Roots, which features Maya Lin. The episode includes a genealogy of Lin’s mother, Julia C. Lin (林明暉, nee 張明暉), who will be familiar to many MCLC list members.

While the episode mentions Maya Lin’s maternal grandfather, Dr. Foh-Sing Tsang 張福星, it doesn’t discuss him at any length. Julia several times told me that he was the personal physician to Madame Sun Yat-sen for many years.

Maya’s father (& Julia’s husband), Henry Lin, an accomplished ceramic artist, is mentioned in the show as well; among the interesting facts of his life not touched upon in the episode are that he was tutored by Shen Ts’ung-wen as a child, and his half sister was Lin Huiyin.

Discover how the ancestors of business mogul Richard Branson and architects Maya Lin and Frank Gehry took audacious risks to create opportunities, and how their luck, ingenuity and chutzpah was passed on to these three visionaries.

Nicholas A. Kaldis <>

Hate-watching the CCTV new year’s gala

Source: China Real Time, WSJ (2/2/16)
Netizens Clamor for More Monkeys, Fewer Armored Tanks in CCTV Gala
By Eva Dou

Come for the New Year’s gala, stay for the military parade. Zuma Press

Hate-watching China Central Television’s annual spring festival gala, or chunwan, is a treasured pastime for many in China, what with the corny stand-up routines, stiff hairdos and outdated music (none of which prevents it from being China’s most-watched TV program each year with around 700 million viewers).

This year there is one more thing to grouse about: the military parade.

CCTV has announced that this year’s chunwan will include a reenactment of last September’s military parade marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II.

“We have a responsibility, a duty, to recreate the spectacular event of the great Sept. 3 military parade,” an organizer of this year’s gala said, as quoted in state media. Continue reading

Discord at Voice of China

Source: China Real Time (1/29/16)
Please Don’t Stop the Music: Discord at ‘Voice of China’ over ‘Sky High’ Fees
By Lillian Lin

Actors perform during the final round of “The Voice of China” in Shanghai September 30, 2012. Reuters

The Chinese production house behind the hit TV show “The Voice of China” raised the curtain on a dramatic reality show off the screen this week by accusing its Dutch partner – world-renowned Talpa Media – of trying to extract hundreds of millions of yuan in licensing fees.

Shanghai Canxing Culture & Broadcast Co., a leading Chinese TV producer, said in a statement posted on social media that the Netherlands-based Talpa, which owns the rights to “The Voice,” had terminated contract unilaterally after demanding that the company pay a “sky-high” fee. Continue reading

Go Princess Go and other web dramas pulled

Source: China Real Time, WSJ (1/21/16)
China’s Censors Pull More Web Dramas, Including Hit Rom-Com
By Lilian Lin

A scene from the Web drama “Go Princess Go.”

The offending dramas were taken offline earlier this week by China’s Web regulators. Most of the shows had been adapted from popular Chinese novels, including some dark detective dramas.

People close to Chinese video sites (formerly known as and told China Real Time that the dramas were taken down for being too vulgar, bloody and superstitious. said in a statement on Thursday that it took down one of the dramas as requested by the “relevant department” and would resume streaming the show after “optimizing” part of its content. A spokeswoman for declined to comment.

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), China’s top media regulator, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

One of the dramas, the recent smash hit “Go Princess Go,” is about a modern Chinese man who accidentally travels back to ancient times and becomes a princess. The show, which had been viewed more than 2.4 billion times on as of last week, quickly generated buzz on social media for its outside-the-box plot and for its inclusion of some sexual scenes and language, both of which are rare in traditional Chinese television content. Continue reading

Go Princess Go an unexpected hit

Source: China Daily (1/12/16)
Low-budget bi-love show becomes an unexpected hit
By Song Jingyi (

Low-budget bi-love show becomes an unexpected hit

Two characters share a moment in this screenshot from the online TV drama Go Princess Go. [Photo/China Daily]

After “Surprise“, one of China’s low-budget online shows is about to go upscale. The one word that could be used to describe LeTV’s latest online drama, Go Princess Go, is “addictive”. Everywhere you go, you see young people watching and talking about it. In contrast to the disappointment that came after the highly-anticipated The Legend of Mi Yue, zealous Chinese drama fans have expressed their craze for this low-budget, novel-based drama.

“I haven’t read the novel, but recently I watched the drama, with the initial intention of merely to find out what is the fuss over it among Chinese netizens. It turns out to be much more enjoyable than expected because it’s just simply light-hearted and entertaining – despite all the cheap-looking props, settings and costumes. The general sentiment is that the quality of the cast and an interesting story really compensate for these shortfalls. The characters are also extremely lovable,” said a drama fan with the handle milquety on Facebook. Continue reading

TV thrillers take cue from online novels

From: Marja Kaikkonen <>
Source:  Shanghai Daily (11/7/15)
TV thrillers take cue from hit online novels
By Xu Wei


Director Zhang Kaizhou

EVER since its release on October 15, Dragon TV’s new weekly suspense drama “Love Me, If You Dare” has turned out to be the highest-rating series for the same time slot.

The drama, a co-production of Shandong Film and TV Group and SMG Pictures centers around a young crime psychologist’s efforts to solve a series of mystery cases. It is adapted from Ding Mo’s hit online novel. It is broadcast every Thursday at 10pm.

Different from previous Chinese TV dramas that followed a strict formula, the new series starring heartthrobs Huo Jianhua and Wang Kai has attracted young dedicated followers for its charming cast, love and romantic scenes. Some viewers have even compared the series to BBC’s “Sherlock.” Continue reading

Wang Changcheng with English subtitles?

For my undergraduate course on Chinese documentary film, I’m about to launch into a quick English translation of the narration of the first 90 minutes of the 1991 CCTV series “Wang Changcheng” (Regarding/looking at the Great Wall) but thought I would first ask if anyone can direct me to a DVD or online version that has English subtitles, which I’ve looked for unsuccessfully (I have the DVD of the complete series in Chinese). There is, conveniently, a 1993 book with the complete text of the Chinese narration, but if an English translation already exists, then I can save myself (or a student I employ) a little work. So, if you know of a version with English subtitles, I will be grateful if you can direct me to it. If such a version doesn’t exist, then I’ll be happy to share my (or my student’s) English translation when it’s done, if anyone has interest. You can reach me at:

Thanks, Tom Moran <>