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China Provides Drew Carey Humor

November 3, 1998

BEIJING (AP) _ What happens when an American who has never left his continent before is drugged, flown to China, and dumped on the Great Wall without a passport or money?

Well, comedian Drew Carey had a crazy adventure.

The idea of an insular American cast adrift in an unfamiliar land of chopsticks, Chairman Mao and 1.2 billion people provides the humor for an episode of ``The Drew Carey Show,″ a top-rated sitcom on the ABC network.

On location Sunday at the Temple of Heaven, one of Beijing’s best-known ancient landmarks, Carey and his producers said the show poked fun at cultural differences, not at China itself.

The laughs come from ``somebody stuck in a culture that they don’t understand, a language they can’t speak, and how he’s going to deal with it and get out,″ Carey said.

Even after 20 years of reforms that have pried China’s doors open to the world, China’s language, customs and even its traffic regulations often baffle foreign visitors.

The crewcut, bespectacled Carey _ who had never visited China or the Far East before _ confessed jokingly that he’d ``head right to McDonalds″ if he got dumped on the Great Wall like his character.

He’s already opted once to eat at Beijing’s Hard Rock Cafe because ``I don’t want to eat eel or anything.″

The show has Carey’s character waiting in an airport to fly to Canada on business when Mimi, his tormentor, drugs him and bundles him off to China in an act of revenge.

He wakes up on the Great Wall, north of Beijing, and rides an ox cart, sells chickens, begs and loses a shoe on a torturous trip back to the city without money or I.D.

``It’s the ultimate Mimi thing to do to me,″ Carey said.

Before filming could begin, Chinese bureaucrats had to approve the script and issue special permits to shoot at famous landmarks. Producers described the process as complex and time-consuming.

``You couldn’t come here and say what a filthy city, what a bunch of idiots Chinese people are,″ Carey said. ``They wouldn’t put up with it.″

The show also suffered a setback when Tiananmen Square in central Beijing was fenced off for renovations, forcing producers to film in a side street instead.

Carey also regretted writing the script without having visited China first. This created problems when it came to filming in a village, because the real thing didn’t match up.

``Instead of coming to China and going: ``Oh, this is what the villages look like, we’ll write around that,″ We went: ``No, no, we imagine a village to look like this,″ Carey explained.

``So we redressed the village and brought in different stuff and we had to have people dressed a certain way,″ he said. ``That bothers me. But what are you going to do? It’s too late now, we already wrote the thing.″

On Sunday, with crowds of curious bystanders and autograph hunters looking on, Carey shot and reshot the show’s last scene, in which he limps exultantly up intricately carved stone stairs to the Temple of Heaven. The scene is a parody of Sylvester Stallone’s sprint up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum in the movie ``Rocky.″

All in all, the show _ which airs Nov. 18 _ should offer ``a pretty good look at China,″ Carey said.

``We are trying to show off the country a little bit, show that it’s OK for people to vacation here and stuff like that,″ he said.

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