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China gets local "Access"

By Steve Brennan
from The Hollywood Reporter

Feb 13, 2007

It might be in Mandarin and cover mostly Chinese movie and TV celebrities, but a new Chinese "Access Hollywood" has been designed to come with all the glitz of the U.S. original, according to NBC Universal.

A Chinese version of the popular showbiz news program has come about through a landmark deal announced Monday by Leslie Jones, vp international sales and format production at NBC Universal Television Distribution.

Produced through Small World Television for Chinese satellite service NMTV, "Access Hollywood: China" can be seen throughout the country and has a potential audience of 300 million viewers. It is distributed by NBC Universal Television Distribution.

The series, produced in Beijing, airs as a one-hour weekly program and is hosted by Chinese TV personality Chen Juan.

"What's unique about this show compared to other versions of 'Access Hollywood' that we have done throughout the world is that it is extremely indigenous and is absolutely made for the People's Republic of China and is completely tailored to the culture," Jones said in an interview.

Jones credited Small World CEO Jon Goodman with creating "a wonderful hybrid" covering the Chinese entertainment environment and the global entertainment scene.

Goodman said in an interview that the Mandarin version contains about 70% Chinese entertainment news and about 30% news from the U.S. "The show is completely in Mandarin and has an elaborate set that looks very similar to the original set," he said.

Added Jones: "It's the most dynamic place in the world for media. Once you get on the ground there, you meet people like Jon, who splits time between America and China and has a finger on the pulse of what's going on there."

Goodman and Jones met at a media conference in Shanghai, where Goodman pitched the idea of a Chinese version of the show.

"It's a cautious media environment, and the way you break into China is that you have Chinese production companies that you know well and that understand what the Chinese want to see," Goodman said.

Line producer on the production in Beijing is Joe Lynch, who also is vp at Small World. "We're trying to keep the show true to the U.S. original," said Lynch, who oversees an expanding "Access" crew of 18 in the Chinese capital. The series also has added Asian actor-model Hu Bing to its lineup.

Also Monday, NBC Uni announced an Irish-made version of "Access" on Ireland's Channel 6. The weekly one-hour program is produced in Dublin and consists of local Irish and European entertainment news as well as U.S. content. "Access Hollywood" in Ireland is produced by Intermission Studios for Channel 6 and distributed by NBC Universal Television Distribution.

"The show is a perfect fit for the Channel 6 audience in Ireland, satisfying their thirst for entertainment news and celebrity culture," said Michael Murphy, founder and director of programming at Channel 6.


Jonathan Landreth in Beijing contributed to this report.


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