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'Drew Carey' visits streets of China

Web posted on:
Tuesday, November 10, 1998 2:17:17 PM EST

BEIJING (CNN) -- Drew Carey is no ordinary tourist, and China is no ordinary place to shoot a situation comedy. But this is the November sweeps period, a time when networks take extreme measures to ensure high ratings and their accompanying advertising dollars.

So "The Drew Carey Show" has picked up its protagonist and transplanted him from middle America to the middle kingdom for an upcoming episode, in the first time an American sitcom has ever been shot in China.

The premise: The show's cosmetically endowed assistant Mimi (Kathy Kinney) hatches a practical joke that gets Carey drugged, then shipped to China, where he is stranded.

"I can't think of a worse place to be, without a passport, without any money," Carey says. "Then you'd be really screwed."

Carrey's character finds comfort after discovering a McDonald's restaurant

At least there's McDonald's

The show used Chinese extras for its scenes, which were taped in various locations, including a village in China's Hubei province, and at Beijing's Temple of Heaven -- hundreds of miles away.

For Carey's character, figuring out how to get back home isn't easy. One of his shoes is stolen and the Cleveland, Ohio, native speaks none of the Chinese dialects, so nobody understands him. But fortunately for the meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, China does have a McDonald's.

To the amusement of many onlookers, English-speaking tourists (including some Australian students) wanted pictures of Carey during filming, as well as his autograph. But the cultural relics police were not so amused when Carey laid down on top of an ancient stone carving. They stopped the filming and said he would have to pay a fine.

"I guess the system is different," said director Gerry Cohen. "We thought, 'OK, we had a permit for this, we are ready for this, we are going to be here on a certain day at a certain time and everybody knows, right?'"

The authorities weren't about to give up. Although they did stop the cameras, most of the scene had already been shot. But fortunately for Drew Carey, they didn't make him pay the fine. The episode, titled "Drew Carey: The High Road to China," is scheduled to air November 18 on ABC.

Beijing Bureau Chief Rebecca MacKinnon contributed to this report.

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