Gonna Make Zhu a Star

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Talk about an emerging market... Thousands of Chinese are spending $10 a copy on a video of premier Zhu Rongji’s first press conference. The spectacle of a Chinese leader in an unscripted interaction with the media was so unusual in a nation dulled by broadcasts of anodyne speeches that an enterprising TV executive saw the opportunity and went with it. Sample of the wisecracking premier’s best-selling performance: “Yesterday I saw my picture on the cover of the latest issue of TIME, which seemed to be better-looking than the one on the cover of Newsweek... But I did not blame Newsweek in the least because I am not that good-looking.”

Note to Mike McCurry: In Beijing you’d be worth at least a three-picture deal.