Olympics rings in helmers

Zhang puts on Games face

BEIJING — Director Zhang Yimou will design the high-profile opening and closing ceremonies for the 2008 Summer Olympics — with a helping hand from Steven Spielberg.

Spielberg will serve as an artistic consultant along with Australian Ric Birch, who directed the Sydney Games’ ceremonies in 2000. They were introduced Sunday at a news conference at the HQ of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympics.

“I am very honored to be named the chief director of the ceremonies. It is a huge task … but I promise that I will fulfill the task successfully,” said Zhang, helmer of B.O. smashes such as “Hero” and “House of Flying Daggers.”

Spielberg is on a two-day visit to the Chinese capital and said he was honored to be asked to help out.

“Through the visual arts, the performing arts, the art of music, the art of dance, the art of celebration of life, all of us are dedicated to making this Olympic opening and closing ceremonies the most emotional anyone has ever seen,” the helmer said.

The organizing committee received 409 proposals for the ceremonies, subsequently short-listed to five. The opening ceremony of the Beijing Games will take place Aug. 8, 2008.

Organizing committee president Liu Qi said the opening ceremony was central to the success of the Games.

“The success of a high-level Olympics with distinguishing features depends much on the quality of the opening ceremony. The 1.3 billion Chinese people are full of aspirations for the Olympic Games,” he said.

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