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Contributing to a Legendary American Television Production: Yuan Liang

When you hear the name Entertainment Tonight, you immediately hear that iconic theme song and picture the hosts discussing celebrities and their latest projects. While ET is the number one syndicated entertainment newsmagazine in the world with two Daytime Emmy awards, eighteen Primetime Emmy nominations (plus a host of other awards), editor Yuan Liang was not that familiar with it before coming to the US. Some latitude can be offered to Yuan as she is not a US native and the show has been around since 1981. Her time with Hunan TV Station, China Central Television (CCTV) Animation, and Hubei TV Station in China all saw her performing work similar to what she now does at CBS. While Yuan has become an intrinsic part of ET, her prior unfamiliarity with this iconic program has served to infuse a freshness in her editing. The ET logo she passes everyday as she enters work serves to remind her that dreams are achieved by those whose determination matches their talent.

Entertainment Tonight’s longevity has amassed a time capsule of B-roll footage that gives a depth to the artists and celebrities discussed on the show. Matching Yuan’s cultural freshness and new-generation approach with this content has resulted in an exciting tone. Working on pieces for both broadcast and internet requires editors familiar with the different mediums who cut fast and cut well. Yuan familiarized herself with the signature pacing and utilization of graphics which ET has been known for throughout decades. The internet and its preeminence with younger demographics has drastically changed the work of an editor such as Yuan. She describes, “Cutting for TV is generally much more formal, with a lot more graphics involved. After finishing the new content, it will be stored and played during the daily Entertainment Tonight show recording with the hosts’ introductions, cues, and tags. For web-based news and interview clips, I have to cut them really fast due to breaking news. Updates to stories and award announcements need to go out right away so the audience will get the latest information.”

Those involved in the TV and film industry understand that next to a director, an editor has the greatest impact on the final product. Yuan’s work in TV and feature films has benefitted her work on ET. Editing segments on Lupita Nyong'o of Jordan Peele’s Us (with a record breaking weekend of $70.25 Million as the highest grossing original horror opening ever) discussing her psychological preparation for her performance duality; the announcement of Jussie Smollett’s classification as a suspect in his alleged attach; or “Jordyn Woods on Red Table Talk: The Biggest Reveals”, Yuan must present each piece in a manner which dons the character of the personality as well as Entertainment Tonight…as well as correlate to the medium it’s being presented on!

While there’s an obvious injection of this editor’s modern mindset, she honors the history of this long-running program. Yuan confirms, “Everyone here is considerate, loving, caring, and always ready to help. It’s such a big machine; no one could make this show happen by themselves. Team work is the most common phrase I hear at ET. There are professionals from all over the world working here and you get a sense of the loyalty and respect they have for what has been built. I feel it and it’s inspiring to me to be a part of the lineage. It’s an incredible feeling and I sincerely think this is what has kept the show on air for so long. ET is always adjusting itself to new environment and trying to keep up with this fast pacing and ever changing society to find how to deliver information and news to people in the most convenient way.”

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