As the opening of the $5.5 billion Shanghai Disneyland draws near, Walt Disney Co has a challenge. The hold of rival Asian characters such as China’s homegrown Boonie Bears or Big Big Wolf means seven-year-olds like Li Yixuan have less time for Mickey Mouse and Friends. As Li settles on the living room floor for 15 minutes of cartoons before homework and bed, Disney doesn't get a look-in this time, as his favorite animated hero, Ultraman Ace from the hit Japanese series, does battle with space dinosaurs. And as the number of competing theme parks in China soars, it will become even harder to win the hearts of Chinese children — and open the wallets of their parents — to fuel long-term traffic after the turnstiles start clicking on June 16. "When we get kids now to write down their favorite cartoon character, very few put down Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck," said Song Lei, Hong Kong-based director at Animation-Comic-Game Group, the organizer of Asia’s biggest … [Read more...] about Mickey takes on the locals with Disney’s $5.5 billion Shanghai bet
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Brad Takei, left, with attendees during DirecTV's "To be Takei" media reception at The General NYC on July 2, 2014 in New York City. There's been no shortage of important roles for George Takei to play. As Mr. Sulu, he helped "Star Trek" set a course for intergalactic fame and broke ground for Asian-American actors along the way. As a gay Japanese American, the discrimination he faced steered him toward human rights activism. He's fought for LGBT issues and put the spotlight on the internment of Japanese Americans during War World II, a dark chapter in U.S. history that he experienced first-hand when soldiers forced him out of his home at age 4. On top of that, he's also become a Facebook phenom with more than 7.5 million fans, many of whom seek levity from his daily postings of fan-generated images. All of which is to say that Takei, at 77, has lived long and prospered within a world that has tried to contain him behind barbed-wire fences - both real and virtual ones - since he was … [Read more...] about Live long and prosper: Mr. Sulu’s full life and the scenes you won’t see in ‘to be Takei’
Bars still hip to hosting pop stars (10-01-2008) Decreasing profits from music sales have musicians working the bar circuit. Retro night: Fans of pre-war music find their way at Van Nghe Bar. — VNS Photo Over time, bar stages have proven to be a promising place for generations of Vietnamese pop singers to cut their first chords. Many young people with unique voices have graced the stages before pursuing a variety of singing careers. Nowadays, in the country's current state of entertainment development and with the slowdown in new recordings, these bar stages have once again become a potential market for even the most seasoned of local pop stars. Bar stage culture Sai Gon (now HCM City) pre 1975, under the US-backed administration's control, marked the pinnacle of bar stage culture in Viet Nam. Back then, bar stages were most often linked with night clubs and other sultry dens and were as such considered "unhealthy" places for public gatherings, and were eventually … [Read more...] about Bars still hip to hosting pop stars
FOR years Hue has had only three large hotels - Huong Giang, Saigon Morin and Century Riverside. They can no longer accommodate the growing number of foreign visitors who come to explore the Imperial City World Heritage Site. During the biannual Hue Festival in particular, foreign visitors have found it hard to secure a room in the city, simply because there are not enough luxury hotels. Travel agents have to direct clients to other places such as Danang or Hanoi instead. This shortage has inspired Eric Merlin, a Frenchman who owns Exotissimo travel agency, to set up a venture with a local company to build a hotel at 5 Le Loi Street in Hue. The 120-room hotel is expected to have a soft opening next June to accommodate visitors during the festival. Merlin is not the only investor setting his sights on the hotel business in this beautiful and historic city. Other developers have seen opportunities in the room shortages during the peak season to establish large hotel projects there. New … [Read more...] about Room at the inn:how much is enough?
by Pham Ngoc Tuy Tran rarely left the city. Although he had travelled to a few places around the country, his only longing was for a single desolate area in the Central Highlands. It was a long, dead valley at the foot of a mountain which had suffered from a fire. When he visited, the trees had yet to grow back, but strangely enough, this place was imprinted on his memory. The engine of Thong Nhat Train No 1 broke down midway to its destination. It was forced to stop at a small deserted railway station in the middle of the forest. All of the passengers expressed their disappointment at being stranded between immense fields of white reeds on a stretch of land that war planes had destroyed with herbicides long before. Half an hour later after the train was forced to stop, local residents brought simple food and drink of all descriptions to the station to serve the unlucky travellers. As he finished his food, Tran spotted a young girl leaving her carriage to rush through a vast stretch of … [Read more...] about Alone in the wild fields