13 March 2008

China Gets Ugly

I mean, they're doing their own version of Ugly Betty. They're calling theirs Invincible Ugly Woman. Mwahaha, funny title. I'm not kidding.

Satcaster Hunan Television, which scored a major hit with its "American Idol" hybrid "Super Girl," has bought the rights to the format, according to local media reports, and will rename it "Invincible Ugly Woman."

The Chinese adaptation has a budget of 150 million yuan ($21 million), and shooting is slated to begin next month. It will run for five seasons, or a total of 400 episodes.

Producer Chen Xiaodong said Hunan TV has chosen a Chinese woman with no prior acting experience to play Betty.

Chen said the format needed adjustments to suit Chinese auds. Among the team of scribes is Sheng Heyu, who wrote Feng Xiaogang pic "The Banquet."

Although there is no confirmation of which version of the telenovela Hunan has acquired, Televisa's TV veep Jose Antonio Baston told journos in a finance conference call last month that the Mexican giant was co-producing "Ugly Betty" with the Chinese. But he refused to identify the co-producing company.

Televisa set up an office in China last May and is planning co-productions in Mandarin with pubcaster CCTV -- a strategy that will allow Televisa to skirt Chinese quotas restricting the number of foreign productions local broadcasters can air.

"Ugly Betty," which has become a worldwide TV phenom, began as the Colombian telenovela "Yo soy Betty, la fea."

We're up next, did you know? ABS-CBN is doing the Pinoy version.