Tuesday, February 2, 2010

January Flavour of the Month: Xiao Xiao Bin

Xiao Xiao Bin (小小彬) is the child actor who has had an immediate impact in the hit drama series Autumn Concerto, even managing to upstage his idol co-stars. He first appeared in the series in November, and almost immediately the ratings began to shoot up. In the new year, as the ratings continue to climb, Xiao Xiao's celebrity status likewise continues to reach new levels.

He began the year with a prominent role in Taiwan's Flag Raising Ceremony, the first of several public appearances in January. His father, who also acts as his manager, then announced a schedule that includes four movies and six commercials in the near future. Xiao Xiao's weekly earnings were also revealed (Chinese article here): 700,000 Taiwan dollars, or US$21,000 - much more pocket money than I ever received.

Xiao Xiao also got his first taste of the dark side of being a celebrity, when he had to answer some tough questions during a variety show interview. The five year old, whose parents are divorced, was asked "Do you want a new Mommy?". His response, that his old mommy didn't want him anymore, hinted that behind his bright and cute persona his parents' break-up may have left some scars. Some people felt the interview had gone too far, but the show's host defended himself, a little insensitively, by claiming it's all part of a child star's job. (Original Chinese article here, and a translation from Asian Fanatics here).

Questions have also been raised about Xiao Xiao Bin's heavy workload, and whether it's appropriate for someone who, let's face it, is just a little boy. His Autumn's Concerto co-star, Ady An, has publicly expressed her wish that his father doesn't put too much pressure on him. Even the Bureau of Social Affairs were called in to investigate his workload. At least Xiao Xiao, his waking hours taken up with acting and promotional appearances, doesn't have to go to school. Instead he will receive private tutoring, a decision that has also received criticism.

Although Autumn's Concerto nears the end of its run on TV - the show has two more episodes to go - Xiao Xiao Bin will continue to remain large in the public eye. A rival idol drama series, Down With Love, in which he has a prominent role, has just started its run on Sunday evenings. He will also act in TTV/SETTV's follow-up to Autumn's Concerto, with the working title P.S Man.

His father has also revealed plans for a CD, possibly for release at the end of the year. First however Xiao Xiao has to learn how to sing and dance. While no one doubts his acting ability, an appearance on another variety show exposed his shortcomings in the fields of song and dance. Dance lessons, not to mention English tutoring, have been added to his already busy schedule.

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