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'Shanghai Rush' takes a slow, hard look at expats

AFTER a long and arduous audition, the cast and crew of the reality show "Shanghai Rush" have hit the ground running. Xu Wei discovers what might be happening and why the show is a breakthrough.

After months of preparations and auditions, the 12-episode reality show "Shanghai Rush" started filming around the city this week.

The show presented by International Channel Shanghai (ICS) will screen on May 3, the one-year countdown to the World Expo 2010 Shanghai.

It will air for 12 weeks every Sunday at 8pm on ICS.

According to the organizers, it is the first reality show in Shanghai to feature mainly foreigners.

The program attracted applicants from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Britain and Nigeria.

After keenly contested auditions, 10 teams of 20 contestants have been chosen to participate in the show, including a Brazilian pair who are new lovers and new to Shanghai, an American mother-son team and a Chinese-American husband and wife.

The show travels through 11 districts in Shanghai and the backgrounds will include Pudong New Area and Huangpu, Luwan, Yangpu, Minhang and Jiading districts.

Each episode will feature some of Shanghai's unique scenes and customs, all incorporating the participants in fierce competition and adventure.

"In each elimination round, the teams will have to complete a few missions to test their intelligence and ability to communicate as well as team spirit," says Ge Gong, a producer of the show.

Details about the scenarios are being kept secret to maintain suspense. But the contestants may, for example, compete in traditional Chinese longtang (alleyway) games or be found looking for typical Shanghai-flavored food at local markets.

In the final episode, three teams will vie for the grand prize of one year's free accommodation in a suburban villa. The winners will also have a chance to become TV hosts for the channel.

Brian Yang who speaks fluent Mandarin and conversational French will be the host of the show. Yang has been seen in a number of American TV series such as "General Hospital" and "As The World Turns." He also played the role of Little Yu in female Chinese-American director Alice Wu's "Saving Face" in 2005.

The crew has just finished its first week of shooting. Vivi Di, a member of the production team, says that they have already traveled to the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum and Century Park in Pudong.

"All the contestants get along very well with each other and are really excited by the fun and all the challenges the show offers," Di says.

Sun Wei, director of ICS, says that the show hopes to demonstrate the Shanghai Expo's theme "Better City, Better Life" and help expats have a deeper attachment to the cith and thus introduce Shanghai to the rest of the world.

"We also plan to make an international version of the show and broadcast it for overseas media platforms to reveal the original charm and character of the city to people around the world," Sun adds.

Later this year, ICS will also present a documentary series centering on the personal stories of a group of "China hands," and launch a series on charming towns in China.


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