The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current, January 20, 2014, Page Page 3, Image 3

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January 20, 2014
‘Saturday Night Live’
comes to China’s internet
By Louise Watt
The Associated Press
EIJING — A popular online video
site is bringing the irreverent,
topical humor of “Saturday Night
Live” to China.
The late-night U.S. comedy sketch show
that regularly mocks politicians, popular
culture, and celebrities is being shown
exclusively on the website of Sohu Video, a
unit of Chinese online media group and
Nasdaq-listed Inc.
Ten episodes from the current 39th
season of “SNL” are available now. Future
episodes will be available online without
subtitles the Monday after airing in the
United States, and a version with Chinese
subtitles and explanations of cultural
references will be available at 10:00pm the
following Saturday, Sohu said in its
The NBC network show has been a
comedy proving ground since its inception
with Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey, Amy
Poehler, Jimmy Fallon, and Will Ferrell
among its cast over the years. Many of its
original sketches and musical perfor-
mances have been made into movies —
including the 1992 hit Wayne’s World — or
gone viral online.
Topics have featured China, including a
sketch of a press conference with then-
Chinese-President Hu Jintao berating
President Barack Obama over the national
But Sohu chairman and CEO Charles
Zhang said he didn’t expect the show’s
edgy themes to get them into trouble in
“Things that are controversial in
America are probably not controversial in
China,” he said. “And this talk show is in
the spirit of fun and humor. I don’t think
there will be any problem.”
Chinese films and television shows are
routinely censored to prevent criticism of
leaders or socially sensitive content,
including sexually suggestive humor, and
“SNL” frequently tests those boundaries.
Zhang said the show, if popular in
China, could inspire Chinese companies to
produce shows with similar formats —
although content was another matter. “It’s
a different political setting,” he said at a
news conference, also attended by Ameri-
can stand-up comedian Joe Wong and
Beijing-born television host and musician
Kelly Cha.
Sohu Video’s site, like many other
Chinese online video sites, licenses many
hit American television shows alongside
Japanese animation series, Chinese
variety shows, and in-house programs.
FILIPINA SUCCESS STORY. Rose Fostanes sings during a rehearsal of “X-Factor Israel” in Tel Aviv. The
47-year-old Filipino caregiver has emerged as the newest star of Israeli reality television, putting a human face
on the thousands of foreign workers who toil away in menial, back-breaking jobs in the country. (AP Photo/Ariel
Filipino diva is feel-good
story of Israeli television
By Isaac Scharf
The Associated Press
ERUSALEM — A 47-year-old
Filipina caregiver who emerged as
the newest star of Israeli reality
television, putting a human face on the
thousands of foreign workers who toil
away in menial, back-breaking jobs in the
country, won the inaugural competition.
Israeli viewers of the country’s myriad of
reality shows had grown accustomed to
successful candidates from various back-
grounds, including black-clad ultra-Ortho-
dox Jews, Ethiopian immigrants, and a
German convert to Judaism who became a
celebrity chef. But they had never seen
someone like Rose Fostanes before.
The diminutive woman with a booming
voice took “X-Factor Israel” by storm and
emerged as a national phenomenon.
Known simply as “Rose,” she is mobbed by
fans wherever she goes.
“It’s a big change in my life because
before nobody recognized me, nobody knew
me. But now everybody, I think everybody
in Israel, knows my name. And it is very
funny,” she said.
Fostanes arrived six years ago to work
as a caregiver so, like millions of other
Filipino workers around the world, she
could send money back home to her family
and her girlfriend.
She spends her days caring and cleaning
for an ailing woman in her 50s. To save
money, Fostanes lives in a crowded
apartment in south Tel Aviv, a
downtrodden area inhabited by foreign
laborers, with seven others.
Until recently, Fostanes was among the
thousands of Filipinos who work in similar
positions in Israel. The site of Filipino
workers wheeling elderly Israelis in public
places is so common that the word
“Filipini” has become synonymous with
Several months ago, a friend encouraged
her to enter the “X-Factor” competition, a
popular show hosted by Israeli supermodel
Bar Refaeli. Standing just 4’11”, Fostanes
captured her audiences’ hearts with a
surprisingly strong and soulful voice, belt-
ing out such hits as Queen’s “Bohemian
Rhapsody” and Lady Gaga’s “You and I.”
Israeli singer Shiri Maimon, a judge on
the show and a former reality TV
contestant herself, has served as Fostanes’
“mentor” throughout the season. After a
recent rendition of Christina Aguilera’s
“Beautiful,” Maimon could barely contain
her excitement.
“It was so moving. I am so proud of you.
We will have an amazing journey
together,” she said. “I’m speechless. It was
more than perfect.”
Fostanes said she has dreamed of
singing since she was a child, but suffered
discrimination because of her appearance.
She said she still can’t believe how far she
has come.
“Sometimes I am telling myself, ‘Is it
true that it happened to me?’” she said. “At
least I can express and show the people
that I have also talents and it’s not too late
for me to shine.”
Fostanes said she has been a caregiver
since the age of 23, working in Egypt and
Lebanon before coming to Israel. She is
among the roughly 10 million Filipinos, or
10 percent of the overall population, who
work abroad.
Israel’s estimated 40,000 Filipinos enjoy
relative freedom, as long as they have
work permits. Most remain for an agreed-
upon period of time before returning home.
Fostanes said Filipinos around the
world have heard about her and frequently
send her text messages of support. But her
success was tempered by the distance from
her loved ones. She last visited the
Philippines two years ago.
“Really I miss them, my family
especially, and of course my girlfriend
because this is the time I really need them
beside me,” she said, with tears in her eyes,
during the final rounds of competition.
Fostanes’ winning performance was
with “My Way,” a song made famous by the
late Frank Sinatra.
YORK ... Sohu chairman and CEO Charles Zhang
strikes a pose next to a poster for the American irrev-
erent comedy sketch show “Saturday Night Live” after
a press conference at Sohu Media Plaza in Beijing.
The late-night U.S. comedy sketch show that regularly
mocks politicians, popular culture, and celebrities is
being shown exclusively on the website of Sohu Video,
a unit of Chinese online media group and Nasdaq-
listed Inc. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Sohu’s early U.S. programs were “Lost”
and “The Big Bang Theory,” and last year
it obtained the exclusive online broadcast
rights for the second season of hit reality
show “The Voice of China,” which
generated nearly 2 billion video views,
according to the company.
Zhang said U.S. television shows have
been successful at generating advertising
revenue online in China. Zhang didn’t give
a figure for how much they had paid for
exclusive rights to “Saturday Night Live”
within China, but said it was cheaper per
episode than for a U.S. drama series.
China’s government restricts foreign
access to the country’s television audience
and bars most of its cable operators from
carrying foreign channels. Online video
provides more access for foreign pro-
Unlike a few years ago, most of the
western television shows and movies
found on Chinese websites today are
licensed, although pirated content still
exists. Zhang welcomed an announcement
from a government agency labelling
China’s largest search engine, Baidu Inc.,
and software company QVOD, the top two
copyright violators last year. The National
Copyright Administration of China also
fined both companies 250,000 yuan
($40,000), the highest penalty at its
Complaints by Sohu and other online
video providers had prompted its
investigation, which found the two linked
to websites hosting infringed content.
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