When big stars in China eye the small screen

By Raymond Zhou ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-12-10 08:14:46

When big stars in China eye the small screen

A poster of Big Brother. Chinese small screens are now crowded with reality shows, mostly with starry lineup. [Photo provided to China Daily]

After a string of hits that garnered a total of 5 billion yuan ($781 million) at the box office, Huang Bo decided to take a year off. For a break, he took on a reality show that required only one day of work per week.

For that, he was paid 48 million yuan.

Go Fighting! aired its 12 episodes on Shanghai's Oriental Satellite TV this past summer. Other than its format and content, its starry lineup, including Huang Lei and Sun Honglei besides the record-setting Huang Bo, is strong enough to fill up a Zhang Yimou-directed blockbuster.

This is where China's reality programming is heading-turbocharged with big money, big stars and, hopefully, big audiences.

But insiders are complaining about this direction. "It is abnormal," says Zhang Shaogang, a television host and producer. "One or two stars should be enough for this kind of program. But production companies and television stations are rushing into the bigger-is-better approach, which cannot sustain itself."

While head scratching has turned into head shaking, which has turned into fears of an implosion, audiences have so many choices that for a while every channel seemed to have its own reality show. It was estimated the total for 2015 is 30 such shows on the tube.

Some investors and producers say privately that they feel they are on autopilot. They are under enormous pressure to get into this game but are acutely aware that the last one standing will be the fool caught with his pants down. They know that the trend cannot last, but just don't know when it will blow up in their faces-or whether they can escape unscathed and with their winnings intact.

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