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Feb 12

The Biggest Super Bowl party in Shanghai!


The New York Giants “did it again” to the hapless New England Patriots at Super Bowl XLVI!  I had the pleasure of being invited to the Kerry Hotel in Pudong, Shanghai, for their official NFL Super Bowl party.  This was my first time watching the Super Bowl in China, and I could not imagine this virgin experience being any better.  There’s nothing like waking up early on a Monday morning to watch the most watched sporting event in the US with over four hundred sports fans in the same venue.

Along with a silent auction to raise charity for a few charity organizations along with a “Tryouts Area” for the anyone game to catch some passes from a football machine, the event had it all.  We even had Marion Barber, running back for the Chicago Bears, in attendance to make it NFL official.  Of course, there’s nothing like sipping on fresh micro-brewed beer from The Brew at Kerry Hotel, and the staff even set up a Beer Pong table for the participants to give it a go…

Add it all up and it made for one unforgettable Super Bowl experience here in China!  Jack Brewer, a former Giants player, even added that this is the biggest party he’s been to for this event so congratulations to Ed, Miguel, Lisa, Mike, and their fantastic staff for putting together such a fun event for all of us football fans to enjoy.  Special thanks to Andrew West for inviting my family and me to be a part of it all!  You all rock!!!


Feb 12

“I’ll bring China to you!”


Back in the race


Updated: 2012-02-03 07:42

By Mike Peters (China Daily)

Print Mail Large Medium  Small 0


 Back in the race

Allan Wu, host of Amazing Race: China Rush, now lives in Shanghai. [Provided to China Daily]


US-born TV host who was once lost for words found his voice in China

As a child in San Marino, California, Allan Wu had no vision of himself as a bridge between his family’s ancestral culture and its new one.

“My parents were first-generation immigrants from Shenyang in Northeast China,” he says. “But I was born in America and I wanted to be an American – ‘to be like everybody else’.”

Today the community where he grew up is about 30 percent Asian, “but back then there were just a handful”.

So young Wu struggled to learn English because it was not the language at home, and he resisted his parents’ urging to learn Chinese because that was not his vision of himself.

“I was an ESL (English as a second-language) student through at least the second grade,” he says. “I remember an exasperated teacher finally asking, ‘What language CAN you speak?'”

Fast forward to a recent week in Beijing, when the host of TV’s Amazing Race: China Rush bounced into China’s capital with snappy banter that flowed freely between English and Mandarin.

At one appearance, one-time VJ Wu was exhorting a crowd of US expats at the Temple Theater to chant “You peng zi yuanfang lai, bu yi le hu. (We are happy when friends visit from afar.)” He was in town to help launch Project Pengyou, a campaign to rally American “China veterans” to support US President Barack Obama’s 100,000 Strong Initiative.

That effort is designed to boost the number of US students in China from 13,000 to 100,000 in four years.

Wu himself first came to China not as a student but an actor wannabe. He had been working as a model with the Ford agency in Los Angeles, with some VJ gigs on the side. “I liked representing the Asian community in the States,” he says, but he grew tired of being “a token” in a fashion shoot with eight Anglo-Americans, three Latinos, two blacks and him.

“I wanted to be an actor, and I wanted to work in an environment where I was part of the majority.”

So he snagged a $100 flight to Asia as a documents courier, and auditioned to be a VJ for music television in Taipei. “I had to introduce a Smashing Pumpkins video” – and got the job despite one small problem.

“Your Mandarin is absolutely atrocious,” Wu recalls being told. “But we see something in you.”

That “something” could have been his gift of the gab, or the raw zest for life that makes images of the muscle-shirted actor leap from his webpage.

Resisting one last tug from his life in Los Angeles – “I had just gotten my personal trainer certification so I didn’t have to do the ‘waiter in between acting gigs’ thing.” – Wu made the leap to Taiwan.

“It was really hot and humid, and my mother asked me, ‘Why do you want to come here, after we sacrificed so much to come to the US and give you the opportunities there?’

“It was so, so ironic,” he says, laughing at the memory of himself as a child, so determined to be a US citizen, not Asian.

“But she was very supportive when she realized how serious I was about the opportunities on this side of the Pacific.”

He felt very alone at first, but buckled down to study Mandarin and savored the “cool” job at MTV, where his main responsibility was interviewing foreign artists like Julio Iglesias and Mariah Carey as they came through Taipei. But when his one-year contract was up, he was off to Hong Kong looking for movie roles.

“That was back to the starving actor life again. I just didn’t mesh with the place as quickly as I did in Taiwan, and while I was still trying to learn Mandarin, suddenly Cantonese was a whole new challenge.”

He planned to move on to Shanghai within a year, but fate intervened.

Wu had some part-time work in Singapore – he hosted the CommunicAsia show for a Japanese telecom giant, among other gigs. “On one trip I was checking out some agencies – there are great photographers out there, etc – when one agency rep said to me, ‘When I look at you, I see dollar signs.'”

That was flattering, Wu says with a monster grin, “but I told her that I’d done the modeling thing and what I really wanted was to act.” So she introduced him to a talent manager in Singapore, and suddenly he had a contract to make Chinese television dramas.

His new employers were “keen on new faces”, he says, and he found himself playing the lead in what turned into a blockbuster Chinese drama even though he still could not speak Mandarin very well.

“Those were some really dark days, messing up my lines all the time.” But he relished the challenge. “That’s an intense way to learn language, being in somebody’s face all the time and having to say the lines.” The producers eventually decided to dub him, which was commonly done anyway, but Wu was disappointed that they did not use his own voice. He won that chance back, “but not until about my third drama there”.

It was a great job, Wu says, but then he learned that the producers of television’s The Amazing Race were auditioning potential hosts for an Asian version of the show. He was itching for the job.

“There were a lot of people gunning for that – hit show, fun concept, lots of travel. I had been a contestant on Fear Factor – eating bugs, the whole thing – so I was a big reality-show junkie.” The candidates were narrowed down to three, and Wu says he got picked both for his on-camera skills and because once, during a sudden thunderstorm, he delighted a producer by roaring onto the set on his motorcycle, dripping wet.

After a few seasons he was approached by another company about doing an Amazing Race show for China. Once that group secured the rights to do the show officially, Wu was again ready to pack for Shanghai.

In the meantime he had spent 10 years in Singapore, married the actress Wong Li-lin and become half of a celebrity couple. He also became the father of two children.

At home he often found himself talking like his parents. “It was that cross-culture irony again,” he says. “The whole time in Singapore, I’m saying to the kids, ‘You gotta speak more Chinese.'”

After agreeing to host Amazing Race: China Rush, Wu jokes that he laid down an ultimatum: “You don’t want to learn Chinese. I’ll bring China to you.” And a few months ago, after the show’s second season, the family was settling in Shanghai.

“We are looking for candidates, contestants for season three now,” he says. Meanwhile, he was emceeing a concert for Project Pengyou and helping the organizers figure out how to get more US students to come study in China.

“Most stereotypes are not rooted in hostility but in a lack of interaction.

“And exposing young people from all parts of US society to China’s culture is a big step forward,” he says.


Feb 12

Me, Myself, and I in Shanghai


Allan Wu:  Alone in Shanghai

By Charlene Chua
The New Paper
Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012

Shanghai may well be the perfect place to get a taste of a truly authentic Chinese New Year experience.

But local celebrity couple Allan Wu and Wong Li Lin spent their Chinese New Year apart – with she and their children spending the holidays in Australia.

They relocated to Shanghai last August with their daughter Sage, seven, and son Jonas, five, with Wu aiming to make inroads in the China market.

It turned out that due to last-minute jobs that came in, Wu was unable to join his family in Australia, where they planned to spend 11/2 weeks.

So while the trio were on an “obscure” farm near Sydney that had no Internet access, US-born Wu was alone in China.

The 39-year-old told The New Paper over the phone from Shanghai: “Work is one of the top priorities now as we’ve been here only for five months and people (in the entertainment industry) are still getting familiar with me.

“My end goal is to go into the production business or import and export of a health, beauty and fashion business.

“If I were offered the chance to be a singer and cut an album, I would say yes too.”

Over the festive season, Wu had made appearances on several Chinese New Year shows that required him to host, dance and sing in Mandarin.

The actor-host said he hasn’t been picky with the jobs offered to him as he’s still trying to carve a niche for himself in the Chinese entertainment industry.

He also explained that he had booked only Wong and the kids’ air tickets in advance and would have joined them at the last minute if he was free.

Wu said his family had a great time playing with the animals on the farm and they would go on to visit friends and relatives Down Under.

He added that Wong wasn’t disappointed that he couldn’t join them as they normally spend a lot of time together.

Wong and the kids are due back in Shanghai this week.

Meanwhile, Wu has been relishing his Chinese New Year solo.

He said: “A lot of people in Shanghai actually go back to their hometowns in other parts of China so I had expected it to be rather quiet here.

“But Chinese New Year here is a huge holiday and firecrackers were going off non-stop, it felt like the city was under siege.

“The mood was so festive, it was really great. I had dinner with my friend’s family and it was delicious, authentic Chinese food cooked by the Ah Yi (helper) like nian gao.”

Wu and Wong haven’t had a chance to feel lonely in a foreign environment because they have many American-born Chinese friends in Shanghai.

Wong has also been having fun travelling around Shanghai with her brand new set of wheels – a pretty bicycle with an attached child seat at the back.

Like Wu, 38-year-old Wong is also making a living by doing hosting jobs at variety shows, gala events and product launches in Shanghai.

Calling the relocation a “tough challenge”, Wu revealed that he and Wong haven’t had any major disagreements – save for when she over-indulged in buying winter clothing for the family.

The secret to their happy union?

Open communication.

Said Wu: “Li Lin and I talk about everything and we make sure we tell each other when we are unhappy with something.

“When you keep the channels of communication open, it prevents quarrels and fights.”

But what was difficult for them was finding a suitable Ah Yi.

Hard to find help

In China, “Ah Yis” are part-time or full-time help who do the daily household chores, cook and handle childcare.

Wu said they had interviewed many Ah Yis and most of them, when they found out that they were foreigners, asked for a much higher salary.

An Ah Yi can cost up to 6,000 yuan (S$1,200) a month to hire.

He revealed that the cost of living in Shanghai is high and even more so for him and Wong as they wanted to find good help and also send their kids to international schools.

But the family may be moving again at the end of the year.

Said Wu: “I would like to score roles in Hollywood movies.

“My agent and manager are in the US now, (so) we may move there at the end of this year depending on how things work out.

“I have absolutely no regrets about moving to Shanghai. For now we are looking forward to visiting Singapore in March.”

This article was first published in The New Paper.