Chances are many Chinese may not know this lady, but very few haven’t heard of or seen her iconic and ubiquitous entertainment show, The Same Song (Âêå‰∏ÄÈ¶ñÊ≠å). Ms. Meng Xin, director of one of the most popular entertainment TV programs in China, is the Martha Stewart-like icon in China’s new age of pop culture and socialist capitalism, according to a feature story about her and her show by Sanlian Life Weekly magazine, translated by CDT:
The Same Song, a six-year old program born from China’s state-run CCTV, has become one of the top advertisement earners for the national broadcaster and has always featured the most popular singers and other celebrities in the Mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan. After losing her bid for the directorship for 2000 Spring Festival Gala (Êò•ËäÇÊôö‰ºö), a super famous and popular entertainment all-in-one TV show with sliding viewership, Meng started her own show, which has actually become a city-hopping, mobile Spring Festival Gala with 50 or so shows a year. It is as popular as, if not more than, the recent talent show Super Girls.
With Meng’s career and clout shooting toward the sky, her show and herself have both become the darling of many second-tier cities across China, which are the main clientele base for the show. Many of these lesser-known cities are putting huge stakes to get Meng on board for hosting the show, which in return will serve as the most sought-after promotion or advertising for many of local companies or officials.
The Same Song has about 50 shows a year and can easily fetch 200 million yuan in revenue, based on an average budget of 5 million a show, according to the magazine article. At a 20% profit margin, a year’s profit will be 40 million yuan.
No wonder that Meng and her show don’t need to print a business card. Her business card, if any, would be a uniformly designed poster with her image with “The Same Song Goes To …” held over her chest.
More importantly, and also the reason why local officials yearn to host the show, is that it has become part of the vanity project of building “a harmonious society.” On the one hand, the show “cements the adhesiveness of local government, enterprises and the people; on the other hand it promotes the resources and strengths of localities for the purpose of attracting tourists or investors.”
That’s why Baoji City of Shaanxi Province spent two years to pursue Meng and finally got to host the show in early September, as part of an ancestry mourning gala for Chinese all over the world (ÂÖ®ÁêÉÂçé‰∫∫ÁúÅ‰∫≤Á•≠Á•ñÂ§ß‰ºö). The city and six local firms, through a hired entertainment agent firm, was charged by Meng’s team an above-par rate of 7 million yuan, not including expenses for setting up special power connections, hotel accommodations and living costs for the show’s crew.
After a grueling negotiation process, Baoji officials had enough of being an underdog who had to put up with being bossed around. The show ended up being the delight of locals, but one official said this cooperation would be the last. [Full Text in Chinese]