Chinese Sitcom Modeled After 'Friends' to Launch Online

4:15 AM PST 01/29/2013 by Clarence Tsui

"Planet Homebuddies" follows the cosmopolitan travails of six friends living together in a Shanghai loft, and will debut on leading Chinese VOD sites Youku, iQiyi and SINA next month.

HONG KONG -- Chinese audiences will soon get chance to see what a 21st-century Chinese take on Friends looks like, when a six-part sitcom makes its debut on the country’s major internet portals before the traditional Lunar New Year holidays begin in earnest next month.

Boasting a theme song from the Rembrandt’s Danny Wilde -- who wrote the now-unforgettable “I’ll Be There For You” number that opened each episode of Friends -- the new show, Planet Homebuddies, revolves around the lives and loves of six middle-class urban Chinese characters who live together in one big loft, counting among them a failed advertising executive, an IT specialist, a DJ and an art curator.

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The title refers to their work-from-home lifestyle, according to the series’ producers Mei Tian Mei Yu, the makers of the weekly Chinese-language program Hello Hollywood. “Mei Tian has been keeping a close eye on the cultural trends developing among China’s youth,” commented Mei Tian’s president Jean Zhang.

“We noticed that working around the clock on weekdays and hanging out with friends on weekends is how most of today’s youth in China live their lives, with more and more adopting a ‘homebody’ lifestyle. Our new series will serve as the voice of today’s 20- to 30-year-old set in China, and examine this emerging trend.”

According to Mei Tian, the series’ release on online portals Youku, iQiyi and SINA is expected to reach over 800 million unique monthly viewers when it is launched around the so-called Golden Week that begins the Chinese Lunar New Year.

The company also said the series will have specifically designed content for smartphones and tablets, and its web origins will help in using the internet to pilot Mei Tian’s domestic and international TV projects. The company is in the process of finishing Chinese Girl, a localized version of the U.S. series Gossip Girl starring Mini Yang, one of the country’s most prominent young actresses.

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“The internet audience in China is used to longer-form programming than what we see from Western audiences. Couple that with the sheer size of the potential audience and it provides an ideal testing ground for TV piloting,” according to Larry Namer, president and CEO of Metan Development Group, the strategic consultant to Planet Homebuddies.

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