SundanceTV’s upcoming two-night miniseries One Child is about a young Chinese woman who was adopted at birth by a couple in England, but is called by her birth mother in Guanzhou to return to China and help with a family crisis. Her brother — whom she has never met and knew nothing about — was wrongly accused of murder and faces execution.
In the cast are such stars as Katie Leung (“Cho Chang” in the “Harry Potter” films) as the young woman (“Mei”) and Elizabeth Perkins (Weeds) and Donald Sumpter (Game of Thrones) as her adoptive parents.
Also on board is acting newcomer Mardy Ma as the birth mother.
The Chinese-born Ma, 39, told The Wire she knew the casting director for this BBC co-production after auditioning for a part she lost to Lucy Liu some years ago. This time the tryout call came while Ma, who lives in California, was in China doing a real-estate deal for a theme park on behalf of the Goddard Group.
After auditioning in Beijing, she learned director John Alexander had chosen her, saying her performance “stood out immediately.”
Her character in the film, Liu Ying, starts out seeming cold: She won’t even look her daughter in the eye. It’s soon clear, though, that she’s ashamed about the adoption, forced on her due to China’s one-child policy. Later, she’s elated when things go well, and horrified by the setbacks in a twisty drama that exposes corruption in China.
“All my scenes were really, really sad,” Ma said. She said she tried not to over-emote, though: “Too much tears will make the audience bored.”
Ma also did her best to break the tension between scenes; she told jokes with “her wicked sense of humor,” Leung said. “Her presence on the set was a real pleasure to share.”
Now, Ma would love to parlay this part into more roles. “If I can become a full-time actress, I would be so happy to. I’m ready to work as an actress.”
One Child airs Dec. 5-6 at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) on SundanceTV.
Golf Channel’s Teaching Moment
Continuing to expand beyond the linear network, the Golf Channel brand will play through on instructional outlets at public courses, clubs and resorts, starting next spring.
Unlike other extensions that digitally enable golfers to set up tee times or score rounds, the 80 million-subscriber channel’s latest initiative is a brick-and-mortar gambit. It will hang its shingle alongside some of the nation’s top club pros.
Golf Channel Academy plans to tee off with a minimum of 20 charter locations in 14 states and in Ontario, Canada, as the season gets into full swing next spring. In the meantime, it’s looking to further build its base of elite instructors from the ranks of PGA and LPGA teaching pros.
“Golf Channel Academy is another way we’re looking to enhance our position beyond the traditional network experience,” Golf Channel president Mike McCarley told The Wire. “We want to continue to build deeper, richer relationships with our viewers and get more people playing the game.”
McCarley said the network has solidified audience ties with such lifestyle businesses as Golf Advisor.com, a review website by golfers for golfers that launched earlier this year, and Golf Now, a tee time booking venture, as well as its instructional Golf Channel Academy, GolfLive Extra streaming and Golf Channel apps.
Academy coaches will benefit from business consulting services and products addressing marketing, sales, technology and back-office solutions needs, as well as shared best practices.
Coaches also will have the opportunity to appear on instructional programming across Golf’s TV and digital platforms. And golfers enrolled at Academy locations will be able to track progress alongside their coach using advanced software to measure specific goals.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Golf Channel, which has worked with NBCUniversal parent Comcast in hosting some golf events, is looking to broaden its distributor ties with more tourneys, outings and now instruction. “We want to start working with affiliates,” McCarley said.
— Mike Reynolds
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