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Shanghai! Shanghai!

2009. 29 May

( People visiting Shanghai during the World Expo next year will be able to see not only a lively metropolis, but also the process the city undertook to become what it is today.

"Shanghai Shanghai", a 40-episode TV drama set to reprise the city in the early 20th century, is currently under production, reports. It will begin airing on local television on April 30, 2010, the eve of the World Expo opening.

The Shanghai Media Group (SMG), a local media conglomerate that is producing the drama, says it will be an epic chronicle of Shanghai's modern history.

SMG is paying tribute to the 2010 World Expo with the drama, spending a hefty 40 million yuan (US$5.85 million) on its production.

"Shanghai Shanghai" revolves around a business tycoon named Liu Gongzheng, whose ups and downs reflect the changes in Shanghai during the eventful 20th century.

The protagonist is played by Duan Yihong, who gained a solid image following his tough roles in "Soldiers Sortie" (2007) and "Soldiers and Their Commander" (2009), both with military themes.

Yet Duan is determined to shed his tough-man stereotype as he strives to pass as the elegant, chivalrous Liu Gongzheng.

Duan said at a press conference last week that he had enriched his knowledge about old Shanghai by reading through nearly 50 books. The Xinjiang native is also learning Shanghai dialect with a linguist.

Besides Duan, director Mao Weining has rallied such stars as Zuo Xiaoqing and Wu Xiubo, as well as Beijing-based American actor Jonathan Kos-Read.