'Dream' producers announce winners of casting contest

BEIJING — China’s love affair with period soaps continues unabated, only these days it is mixed with modern marketing.

Producers of a remake of the classic 1987 TV skein “A Dream of Red Mansions” held a gala launch at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People this week to unveil a TV contest to choose the thesps.

The 50-episode remake is being helmed by producer Hu Mei, who specializes in costumers.

He is looking for twenty-something thesps and promises that newbies will be trained in literature and the arts.

They’ll need it.

“A Dream of Red Mansions,” often translated as “Dream of the Red Chamber” or “The Story of the Stone,” is a classical text written by Cao Xueqin in the middle of the Qing Dynasty (1644 — 1911) and is often described as one of the four key texts in Chinese.

It tells of a wealthy but ailing family, which symbolizes the decline of feudal society.

A 1987 skein adapted from the first 80 chapters of the book was an enormous success in China.

Deng Jie, the lead actress in the 1980s version, showed up at the Great Hall and rockers Zero and veteran singer Li Lingyu performed the theme song “Sister Lin Falling From Heaven” from the original.

Beijing Hualu Baina TV Company will produce with China TV Artists Assn. and China Film Group co-producing.

According to reports, the plan is to invest $7.5 million in the skein and a further $5 million for ten digital pics, with scenarios adapted from the novel.

Meanwhile, helmer Zhang Jizhong has been lined up to make another major Chinese TV skein, “The Three Kingdoms,” a 60-episode project that will have $12.5 million of funding from Beijing Media Cathay and H. Brothers. Zhang made “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms” in the 1990s.

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