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New SBS drama set to be a smash

2008/02/26 Source

The blockbuster-making duo Sin Woo-cheol and Kim Eun-sook have teamed up again to create SBS' new drama "On Air".

Producer Sin and TV scriptwriter Kim masterminded the hit SBS dramas "Lovers in Paris" (2004), "Lovers in Prague" (2005) and "Lovers" (2006). Their biggest hit, "Lovers in Paris", which starred actress Kim Jung-eun and actor Park Shin-yang, brought in a record viewer rating of 56.3 percent.

Now, Sin and Kim are pooling their talent to create an entirely new and refreshing miniseries. They started off by exchanging their trademark byword "lovers" for a much less romantic title, "On Air". And that's not the only thing different about their latest project.

""On Air" is about how a drama is made", said Shin at a press conference last week. "It will start with the planning of a drama, to its casting, its filming, the airing of the first episode, the viewer ratings, and will go all the way through to the airing of the last episode. This drama will show the entire process".

According to Shin, their new miniseries, which features four main characters instead of the usual two, is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a drama. Just from the plot synopsis, it is clear that this isn't your everyday love story.

But why make a drama within a drama? Will this lure viewers? Kim thinks so.

"Now, Korean dramas are not just seen in Korea", explained Kim during the press conference. "They can be seen everywhere. So I think interest in Korean dramas is higher than it has ever been before".

Kim may be onto something. Several Japanese reporters and fans attended the press conference, testifying to the power of Hallyu. And, of course, to the star power of Hallyu icon Park Yong-ha, who will be playing a producer in "On Air".

Park, 30, who took part in the press conference, fielded a question about his current popularity in Japan by saying, "I find it to be a huge obligation ... I am trying not to think too much about it, and am focusing on my role".

With a Hallyu star like Park on board, "On Air" is sure to catch viewer interest abroad. And it has already managed to get the attention of Taiwanese viewers, thanks to two weeks of on- location filming in Taiwan.

But just how accurate will "On Air" be? When asked about how she conducted research for this drama, scriptwriter Kim answered, "I was worried that this question would be asked. I guess everybody is really interested in just how much of what I wrote was real, and who it was based on".

She went on to say, "While writing this script, I realized just how little I actually knew about the drama-making process. Since I don't go on set often, I didn't know how they filmed a scene, so I went out on set. And since I didn't know the broadcasting station really well, I drew a map of it".

When it came to researching celebrities, she played the part of a reporter, and talked to them in person.

"I asked the actors and actresses here about their lives, both public and private", said Kim, gesturing to the cast of "On Air". "I asked them about fun incidents on sets, and things that made them happy, people who touched them. As written into the script, 'Getting to know celebrities is harder than getting to know aliens'. While I meet and see celebrities often, I don't really know them. So I talked to them a lot".

But Kim was quick to clear up any mistaken speculations about the true identities of her characters.

"I couldn't just write it out the way it was", she mused. "So, to make it a bit more fun, I made it more theatrical. I was really worried that this might start up rumors about who these characters are based on. But you won't know who it is. I expanded upon and revised the characters".

But, though these characters aren't based on any real celebrities, an all-star cast promises to make them larger than life.

Actress Kim Ha-neul, 30, who starred opposite kwon Sang-woo in the hit flick "My Tutor Friend" (2003), will be playing the diva actress, Oh Seung-ah. And veteran actor Lee Beom-soo, 38, who won audiences over in the hit SBS drama "Surgeon Bong Dal-hee" (2007), will be playing her manager.

Hallyu star Park Yong-ha, who was Bae Yong-joon's rival in "Winter Sonata" (2002), will be playing the arrogant SBC producer, Lee Kyung-min. And actress Song Yoon-ah, 34, who starred opposite actress Kim Hee-sun in the SBS drama "Mister Q" (1998), will be playing the feisty TV scriptwriter, Suh Young-eun, who gets under producer Lee's skin.

Of her role as diva extraordinaire, actress Kim said, "My character was brought up by a really tough manager. And that experience scarred her ... That's why she is so harsh.

"This role is really different from the previous characters I've played", she added.

Co-star Lee discussed his approach to his role: "My character is not just a manager; he is more like a young boy with a lot of dreams".

Judging from the preview screening of "On Air", both Lee and Kim promise to bring strong, colorful characters to the screen. And co-stars Song and Park may be hard-pressed to keep up.

With four top stars playing the title roles, and a hit producer-scriptwriter duo, "On Air" is destined to live up to expectations. But viewers will have to wait till March 5 to get the first installment of what promises to be yet another blockbuster.

"On Air" airs its first episode on Wednesday, March 5, at 9:55 p.m. on SBS.

By Jean Oh

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