Frogs stew really does taste like chicken. Frog stew in Sichuan tastes like spicy chicken. Many things in China taste like chicken.


I went to a city called Fuling which is in western China. It’s home to a few million people yet it doesn’t have a single Starbucks (at least none that I noticed). I was there to discuss the possibility of a entertainment related theme park. When meeting with the powers of the city I asked what is it about the city would make  tourists travel there as its clearly a bit out of the way from visiting the known places like Beijing and Shanghai. The first part of their answer astounded me. “people come here from all over China to see the home of the famous Fuling pickles”. I restrained my smirking out off politeness. I had never heard of Fuling before let alone Fuling pickles. In my own head I dismissed the idea that this could be a viable location for anything. Now after returning to Beijing, I recounted the experience to many of my Chinese friends and just about all of them said ‘Fuling pickles are known throughout China” or “I love Fuling pickles”.

So I have now changed my tune and once again realize that China is not the US and people think different. You cant make judgements about what will work in China from your desk in Burbank. Maybe Fuling wont be the right location for the next Disneyland but between the incredible lakefront, forests, clean air, and yes those pickles there are many possibilities for sustainable business in cities we westerners have never heard of.


Alright I’m missing it again and no cooking matzo ball soup and beef brisket for me. Ill be in Shanghai which is not exactly the place to celebrate passover but it could be worse. Shanghai actually has a very big history of connection to Jews. During the early days of WWII when Hitler was marching over Europe, China took in thousands of Jews when very few countries would. The formed what was known as the Shanghai Ghetto. Better a ghetto than a gas chamber. Even today you can find the temple in operation. Last year we got a ice surprise when a nice Jewish boy from Toronto opened a Jewish deli called TOCS. Good soup and the pastrami is home made and very respectable. He even found a place to bake rye bread to his specifications. Now of course its that Toronto style rye not NY rye but as they say beggars cant be choosers.


It amazes me how many China experts have come out of the woodwork in the  last  year. There are now China film blogs and doing business in China blogs everywhere. So many experts became experts overnight. Its funny how I have never seen any of them in Beijing and when I do meet up with them in the US you can not pin them down on when exactly they were in China and what it is that qualifies them as experts.


Img214590708You know how sometimes in Hollywood a celebrity will do something illegal and completely get away with it? The director of Hero had better hope the same rules apply in Beijing.


As we reported earlier, famed Chinese director Zhang Yimou became the subject of an incriminating rumor that he had violated China’s notorious one child-policy by having as many as seven children with four or more wives. After several months of investigation and no word on the matter from the director himself, Zhang took to his official Weibo account to address the allegations. In an open letter issued from his office, Zhang admits that he did, in fact, father more than one child with his wife, Chen Ting. The two had three children in all: two sons, and a daughter.


The Chinese director is now fully prepared to cooperate with the investigation, going so far as to send representatives to the family planning office in the Binhu district of Wuxi. In addition to confirming that he has one or two children too many, Zhang goes on in his letter to deny having any further children with any other women. He goes on to say that any speculation that he fathered seven children and paid the mothers off is simply people trying to bring him down. Besides, seven kids? No one but ancient monarchs and Stellan Skarsgard do that.


If proven guilty (which he omitted to), Zhang will have to pay what is called a “social compensation fee,” which could run him up to $26 million. And you thought your child support payments were steep.


michael_bayBy now, you are well aware that Michael Bay decided that trilogies are for suckers and got a green light for a fourth Transformers movie. You’re also probably aware of the fact that the latest installment of giant robots vs. giant robots takes place mostly in China. What you might not be aware of is that while shooting in Hong Kong, Bay’s crew was confronted by some young Chinese extortionists. Look for it in the blooper reels.


If you missed it, Michael Bay was filming some non-explosion scenes for Transformers: Age of Extinction when some young men began reeking havoc on the set by playing loud music and harassing actors. Their goal was to separate Bay from roughly $13,000 to allow him to film in their territory. Later on, another man high on drugs and rage, wielded an air-conditioning unit and attempted to KO Bay himself. Fortunately, with the assistance of several Hong Kong police in riot gear, he was unsuccessful.


Was Michael Bay deterred from continuing to film in Hong Kong? If you think that’s the case, then you obviously don’t know Michael Bay. He made Megan Fox bend over a motorcycle once, so the man can do anything explosion related.


Not only is the Armageddon director going to continue filming wherever he pleases, he actually enjoys Hong Kong. In an interview with South China Morning Post, Michael Bay gushes about the time he’s spent in China and even says that Hong Kong is “a very visual city.” So Bay thinks Hong Kong is “visual.” Literally every city is visual, if you can see it. I guess if you’re used to spending your time in Los Angeles or a green-screen studio, everything else seems so pretty.


You may have drug-addled extortionists, Hong Kong, but Michael Bay hearts you.Transformers-4-Autobot-Cars


As of this post, Bay is still shooting his latest CGI infused masterpiece, which has relocated to mainland China. The next scenes will be shot in Beijing and the Great Wall, which will be blown up for your entertainment. Catch it in June 2014.


While the Chinese/Hollywood co-production Outcast finishes shooting in China, the Con Air actor and his ponytail (no, really) sat down with CCTV to talknicolas-cage about the film, his role, and a few other things on his mind. “What ‘things?’” you might ask. One of those “things,” as you put it, was the noticeable lack of leading roles for male Asian actors in Hollywood. Perhaps Mr. Cage was too busy saying “yes” to Season of the Witch to notice any of the Harold and Kumar movies. Hm?


Nicolas Cage may not be too savvy when it comes to selecting the right acting role, but he does understand how the entertainment industry is slowly migrating from Hollywood to China. In addition to calling out Hollywood for not inviting Asian males to casting couches, Cage goes on to point out the possibility, and likelihood, that China will be the new face of the film industry.


Outcast_poster He also brought up his son, Kal-El, who Cage named after Superman’s birth name on Krypton (no, really). Kal-El (Cage’s son, not Superman) is half Korean, and his father speculates that some day he might want to be an actor when he grows up, just like daddy. Unless something changes in Hollywood, Kal-El Cage may never realize his potential in show business, but he’ll still have the coolest name ever.


It seems like Nicolas Cage has a very good eye on the evolution of the film industry, but one can’t help but wonder about his motives. Granted, his observations are accurate, but it may be a move to make some new friends on the winning team. That most likely isn’t the case, seeing as how Nicolas Cage’s career isn’t waning from lack of prominent roles in film, right? Right.


iron man 3 bannerWith the Iron Man films over – Unless you count the two upcoming Avengers sequels, potential guest appearances on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.ELD., and rumors of a fourth Iron Man film – it seems like there’s nothing left for Tony Stark to do but retire his expensive superpowers. Except, wait, that’ll never happen! Given how successful the Iron Man character has been in the superhero movie world, it’s hardly likely that he’ll hang up his gold/titanium alloy tights for good.


That is, not as long as Disney’s holding the reins to the Marvel film franchise. And before you think they’re milking it a bit too much, count how many Pirates of the Caribbean films they’ve made/are making and get back to me. I’ll wait . . .


For everyone in the States eager to see their favorite metallic hero in person, prepare to either be disappointed or afford airfare to China. Hong Kong Disneyland is laying the IronManFan012213groundwork for what they’re calling the “Iron Man Experience” where Tony Stark will suit up against alien invaders in his own themed area of the park made to look like the streets of Hong Kong. That’s right, Iron Man gets his own land in Hong Kong Disneyland. If you think that’s a bit much for one character in the Marvel universe, just remember how successful Iron Man 3 was in China. If you’re having trouble remembering, it’s over $160 million.


Iron Man will arrive in Hong Kong Disneyland in 2016, which means you only have three years to preorder your tickets.


For any Chinese citizen eager to share cat memes and hashtags with the rest of the world, your chance is coming very soon.facebook-logo-1024x787 Starting this month, the Chinese government will make available Facebook, Twitter, and the New York Times. Don’t get too excited, however, because the newly-unbanned websites will only be unbanned in what China is calling the free trade zone.


The Chinese government wants to compete with New York and London in terms of financial trading by making Shanghai a world-trading hub. In order make foreign representatives comfortable in their country, China created an 11-square mile area that would allow Internet users to access websites that Chinese citizens would otherwise be restricted from using. I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m in a foreign country, I can alleviate my homesickness be going on Farmville.


Facebook_like_thumbThe move to relax restriction on the Internet is a strange one on the part of the Chinese government, considering how obscenely restrictive they are on the world of cyberspace. China is notorious for its swift and unrelenting censorship of anything and everything their government demes defamatory or potentially revolutionary. Case in point: a Chinese high school student was recently released from custody after being detained for questioning a police investigation. Sixteen-year-old Yang Yong earned his stint in prison after making a comment online about an investigation into a suicide was actually a cover-up of a murder. According to new legislation in China, you could face three years in prison if your rabble-rousing comment is viewed more than 5,000 times or re-tweeted more than 500 times.




J-C-jackie-chan-18739733-1280-960While the world famous kung fu star is busy filming The Expendables 3 (unless he got replaced too) with Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis Harrison Ford, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan is entertaining a dream to build his own theme park in Beijing. Not just any theme park, mind you, but one that one in which he is the main attraction. The proposed name for the future park is “JC World.”


Guess what the “JC” stands for. No really, guess. Are you guessing?


Anyway, it’s unclear at this point when construction will begin and what sort of attractions it will have. I know what you’re about to ask, because it’s a burning question in my mind as well: Will there be rides? As of now, however, it’s too soon to tell if this amusement will feature any actual “amusement.” So, if not rides, what will be featured in JC World? As far as anybody knows at this point, there will be a lot of Jackie Chan’s Rush-Hour-1-posterpersonal belongings. Whatever piece of antique furniture, jewelry, or other alluring artifact the actor has collected over the course of his four-decade spanning career will be on display like a giant Jackie Chan museum.


If you’re worried about how much coin you’ll have to drop in order to gain entrance to JC World, please relax. Admission will definitely be free, although there will be some aspects of the theme park that will charge for tickets. Basically, you can check out Jackie Chan’s suit from The Spy Next Door for free, but Rush Hour: The 4D Experience will cost you some dough. I don’t know for a fact that there will be a Rush Hour: The 4D Experience, but if anyone is interested I have a script, theater blueprints, and a crate of 3D glasses that aren’t going anywhere. Anyone?