In the eyes of Chinese audiences, the bloom is still on the rose for reality television (though the country’s government is about as enthusiastic about the programming genre as I am about anything with the words “Real Housewives” in the title). The popularity of reality shows in China is part of the explanation behind Paramount Pictures’ decision to run a TV competition in which the winners will receive parts in Michael Bay’s Transformers 4.
The show, a talent competition called Transformers 4 Chinese Actor Talent Search (maybe the title is catchier in Mandarin?), will be judged by a a group of Hollywood showbiz types alongside a pair of Chinese movie industry executives. Parts of Transformers 4 will be filmed in China, and because Paramount is co-producing the film with China Movie Channel, the studio is interested in including a substantial Chinese cast in the project (and, ultimately, appealing to the ever-growing Chinese market).
The televised competition, says one of it’s American producers, will “give actors and fans of the Transformers franchise the opportunity to be appearing in a major motion picture, and it will provide the world audience yet another glimpse of the Chinese people, the Chinese culture and China itself.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, the producers will charge Bay with casting “a number of talented Chinese actors and actresses” through the regular casting process, but joining them will be four contestants from the new reality show—two will be professional actors, and two will be non-actors. The talent search will begin in June—exactly one year before Transformers 4 is due to hit theatres.
Incidentally, Transformers 4 Chinese Actor Talent Search isn’t the first show to harness the power of reality TV for casting purposes. Last year, the CBC aired Over the Rainbow, a talent search designed to find the perfect Dorothy for a stage production of The Wizard of Oz. (BBC One aired their own version of Over the Rainbow two years earlier.)