Red Mansions to show Hu Mei the door?

Hu Mei with Daiyu winner Li Xudan (l) and Baochai winner Yao Di (r).
Although it's been almost a month since the conclusion of the televised casting competition for the new version of Dream of the Red Mansions, no one is really sure who will end up playing the leads. The director of the adaptation, Hu Mei, has said she reserves the right to refuse to cast the winners of the contest. She doesn't talk much to the domestic press, but that hasn't stopped them from speculating.

However, it was a foreign paper, The Times, that scored an interview with her this week:

Hu Mei has crowned a year-long television search for the leads in the most famous novel of Chinese literature by revealing that she will go her own way.

"You can choose who you like, but I will direct as I like," she said in an exclusive interview with The Times....

It was so complicated that the Chinese media described it as more difficult than the Goldbach conjecture, the unsolved mathematical puzzle. Contestants tossed out by the judges could return by popular vote. Others seemed to reappear just because they had good connections. Many made their way ahead with the help of financial backing.
The director, Ms Hu, had always hinted that she was unhappy with the process of using a contest reminiscent of Pop Idol to select three of the most arresting characters of Chinese literature. She told The Times: "I think the results are not satisfactory. Maybe I will try them in my other television programmes and when I shoot Dream of the Red Chamber it's possible that I may use them. But in the end maybe I will use none of them."

The contest's producers are not particularly happy with Hu's recalcitrance. From the Shanghai Morning Post:

Yesterday, Beijing TV deputy editor-in-chief and Red Mansions casting competition executive producer Zhang Qiang said that Beijing TV and Hu Mei had not signed a contract, but at the start the casting competition had signed an agreement with Red Mansions investor Central Motion Pictures Group. "If the new Red Mansions does not use the contestants, then we may switch directors."

However, Hu Mei told webcast host He Dong, who seems to be her sole confidant in the domestic media, that her plans for the new drama are completely independent of the casting competition, as are her own financial partners.

Here are some excerpts from He Dong's latest chat with Hu, in which she explains why she talked to The Times, the true nature of her relationship to the casting competition, and how the plans for the TV shoot are shaping up:

He Dong: I've been booking guests for Phoenix Extraordinary Words for a while and you've always refused requests for an interview. But you agreed to an interview with the Times as soon as they asked. Is this some sort of fawning worship of foreign things?
Hu Mei: You know that I'm not very good at working with the media. In addition, today's paparazzi climate makes me uncomfortable, so I find it best to speak as little as possible. The Times had been sending letters requesting an interview for a while as well; it is British newspaper that is internationally-authoritative with a high level of trust. So I agreed to grant them an interview.
He: I've heard that through this Red Mansions casting contest, Beijing TV and other participating companies mage more than 100 million yuan through the course of the event, from advertisements and sponsorship fees. Another sponsor, Jiangzhong Throat Tablets, did not lose out either - its products are all practically out of stock.
Hu: I've mentioned to you before that this casting contest should be looked at as a clever business strategy. But I know nothing about the business details on that end, and I don't care. However, I ought to say one thing, and that is that at least this money wasn't made off the contestants themselves, because there was no application fee. The producers even had the sponsors provide contestants with free room & board, transportation, training, and touring.

He: As the director of this show, were you involved in the business strategizing and detailed operations?
Hu: Here I must make a clear statement to the public: The Red Mansions casting contest was not my creation, nor was it anything that I was at all interested in. From start to finish, this had absolutely no connection, whether legally or economically, to me as general director.
He: But throughout the entire Red Mansions casting contest process, from start to finish they always used your name as a draw. Later, when hype over the casting contest blew up, the impression given was this: it seemed that whoever was selected represented the will of the people, and as director you could not refuse them.
Hu: This was a misconception on the part of the producers. They thought that being a director was like working for hire, that you had to obey the investors. Because of this, they later forced me to make a public statement: the casting contest is unrelated to my filming.
First, I did not receive any economic gain from the Red Mansions casting contest; second, I never signed any contract with the casting contest to participate in the contest or to promise or guarantee anything.

He: The question is whether or not the casting contest producers signed this type of contract with the sponsoring companies and contestants...
Hu: I have no clue what sort of contract the casting contest signed with the sponsors or advertisers. But in actuality, the other partners who participated in the casting contest never let me look at the contracts they signed with Beijing TV or commercial sponsors.

So how can I take responsibility for them? Why should I take responsibility for them?
When I agreed to appear in the finals of the competition, I had clearly and repeatedly explained that whatever the selection, I'd exchange whoever wasn't inappropriate.

So onstage I repeatedly said that there were still conditions on becoming a lead actor. This precondition was "if there is nothing unexpected." I stressed this several times. Why did I especially stress the so-called "unexpected"? Because the biggest "unexpected" could come in two forms. I may want to use you, but after a trial I discover that you are not appropriate for the character! Another "unexpected" is, what happens if after a while I discover another actor who is better-suited to the role? Before filming formally starts on a new show, no eventuality can be excluded.
He: So in the unlikely event that circumstances change once again, if all sorts of things do not go as you would like, will this new Dream of the Red Mansions ultimately be stillborn?
Hu: It's impossible to rule out the unexpected. Of course we should consider another case: the script for the new Red Mansions is an independent creation produced through our own concentrated efforts. It has been completed. I never used the script by Mr. Huang Yazhou that the partners provided to me. We've started work on the new Grand Prospect Garden set in Huairou, and this was built through the investment of our own partners. These are all unrelated to the participants in the casting contest. And we have our own work troupe. But no matter what the outcome of the casting contest, we will definitely shoot a good version of Red Mansions. Our determination cannot be shaken!

As for the time? The higher-ups have talked about lots of complicated elements, so the start of filming will have to wait at least until construction of the new Grand Prospect Garden is completed next year. We are in no hurry; why not wait until the "casting competition" cools down and see what happens?

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There are currently 1 Comments for Red Mansions to show Hu Mei the door?.

Comments on Red Mansions to show Hu Mei the door?

Heh, the casting process for this was just a rip-off of the casting process for 又见一帘幽梦/Dream Links on Hunan TV. And they did it without all the drama.

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