Tue, Nov 06, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Discovery Channel to run series on Taiwan's finest

SPIRIT Six Taiwanese production teams were selected to undertake the project, which profiles six prominent figures, from a software giant to a television personality

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Discovery Networks Asia CEO Tom Keaveny, first left, Government Information Office Minister Shieh Jhy-wey, second left, Lee Sung-yang, third left, and Huang Feng-shih, first right, yesterday attend the opening ceremony for Portrait: Taiwan at the Sheraton Taipei Hotel in Taipei.

PHOTO: SUNG CHIH-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Over 115 million people in 24 countries will have a chance to get to know Taiwan as the Discovery Channel showcases six prominent Taiwanese figures in an upcoming documentary series Portrait: Taiwan, which starts this Sunday.

The six-part series features a puppet maestro, an entertainment super diva, an illustrator, a bookstore builder, an anti-virus computer software giant and an entomologist.

"The biography series captures the spirit of the Taiwanese. It is incredible that this small island has so many amazing stories," Tom Keaveny, executive vice president and managing director for Discovery Networks Asia, told a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

This is the second time that the Government Information Office and Discovery Networks have teamed up to document some of Taiwan's forerunners' lives on film. After the first Portrait: Taiwan was introduced in 2005, Malaysia, China and other Asian countries followed suit.

Six Taiwanese production teams were selected to undertake the project.

One of the six personalities introduced in the series is the internationally known entomologist, Lee Sung-yang (李淳陽), 85, who has been dubbed Taiwan's Jean Henri Fabre after he made a documentary entitled Your Hidden Neighbors, which led to the a BBC documentary, The Insect World of Dr. Lee, in 1976.

"I don't belong to a particular faith, but I do believe God has given me a gift for getting to know insects. It is my responsibility to share this gift with the rest of the world," Lee said.

He said the reason why it took him eight years to make the documentary was because "bugs don't listen to directions."

The only person among the group of six who is not alive today is the "Father of Taiwanese Puppet Shows" Huang Hai-dai (黃海岱) who passed away at age 107 this February. Thousands of mourners, including the president, went to his funeral to pay their respect to the master.

"My father often said puppetry was not just a career, but a life calling. He was adamant about using his puppet shows as a conduit to teach traditional Confucian values to the audience," said his fifth son, Huang Feng-shih (黃逢時).

Steve Chang (張明正), the world's leading anti-virus software maker, said he enjoyed being the subject of a documentary because it gave him a chance to reflect on his life experiences.

Chang's company Trend Micro was the first foreign company to go public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, and Harvard Business School called Trend Micro a better example than Sony or IBM of how to run a global business.

"My job is to defeat the computer hackers. It is like we are the good guys battling against the dark evil force every day," he said.

Another person featured in the series is child-star turned variety show host Chang Hsiao-yan (張小燕), who has been prominent in show business for the last five decades. She was also the creative brain behind many popular variety show characters.

Eslite Books founder Wu Ching-yu's (吳清友) dedication in establishing a cultural haven in Taiwan was also documented in the series. His bookstores are not only known for their wide selections of books, but also for their innovative architectural designs. His flagship store in Hsinyi District has become a must-see landmark for many foreign visitors to Taiwan.

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