Transformers 4 Chinese Actor Talent Search reality show to find 4 actors for the movie has started its casting process. The reality show is culling from 50,000 to 80,000 entries to find 2 professional and 2 amateur actors to play unspecified roles in the movie when filming starts sometime this summer in the country. The show is a result of a "cooperation agreement" between China and Paramount for unspecified financial, promotional and political assistance for the movie.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the paring down process will occur in several rounds. The first round will have the television station running the show pare down the contestants based on unknown criteria and putting their bio, photo and audition tape online. The top 400 chosen by Chinese citizens via online voting will move to the semi-final round where there will be additional auditions and testing (for what is not specified). Another round of online voting will move to the finalists round where 6 judges will continue to eliminate contestants until the final four actors are chosen. Basically its the American Idol model without the initial touring the country episodes.
The judges are show producer Sid Ganis, TF4 producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, casting director Denise Chamian, Paramount exec Megan Colligan, CTV-6 execs Jia Qi and Liang Longfel. The finalists round will air over five weeks staring in June as an hour long show. Its not clear if the American judges will travel to China or use a satellite feed but I suspect Paramount would prefer they be on site so they continue to work on the relationship with the Chinese government as they try to get more of their content into the country both via television, movie theaters and digital streaming (Ganis part of board for Jiaflix which is a Chinese version of Netflix).
Exactly how these elements will be incorporated into Transformers 4 remains unknown. Iron Man 3 created a Chinese cut of the film that has turned out to be a bit of a joke as it was really just 4 minutes of product placement using famous Chinese actors in inconsequential scenes. If Bay heads to China and films there as current rumors indicate, it suggests there might be some actual meat to the roles and scenes. As usual time will tell. Thanks to Wynton R. for the link.