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Chinese business leaders visit Lodi to consider trade

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Posted: Friday, June 7, 2013 12:00 am

An Oscar-winning screenwriter is considering producing a movie for a Chinese audience that may include a touch of Lodi.

Barry Morrow, who won an Oscar for the 1988 film “Rain Man,” talked to a delegation of 19 CEOs from China who toured Lodi on Thursday.

“We’ve discussed a movie produced in China primarily for the Chinese market, but with some appeal to North America as well,” Morrow said in an interview after his presentation to the Chinese delegation.

The movie might be set in China, but they may be drinking wine from Lodi.

There’s no script yet.

“We’re talking about ideas and different story lines,” Morrow said. “Really, the story comes first.”

Morrow said he’s traveled to China several times past 15 years to travel and to give screenwriting workshops.

“China is really on the rise — economically, politically and all ways,” Morrow said. “And the movie industry is undergoing a metamorphosis.”

A film called “Lost in Thailand,” a 2012 comedy, is the most popular movie in Chinese history, Morrow said. That’s because it’s a comedy rather than about Chinese historical leaders or kung-fu.

The delegation of 19 CEOs from China toured San Francisco this week before arriving in Lodi on Wednesday night. While in Lodi, they listened to presentations from the Chamber, toured the Downtown Lodi Farmers Market and attended a private party. They will head to Southern California after breakfast this morning in Lodi.

The delegation participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at School and Pine streets marking the Chamber taking over Farmers Market operations from the defunct Downtown Lodi Business Partnership.

Some of the overseas tourists were excited to have their picture taken with the A&W Root Beer mascot, a statue at School and Oak streets, and in front of the Chamber office sign on School Street.

The Chinese CEOs visited Lodi when Frank Gayaldo, a Lodi grape grower who doubles as a senior adviser for the U.S.-China Business Cultural Association, invited them to check out the area’s agricultural industry, especially its wine.

Lodi’s goal, Gayaldo said, is to export wine and dairy products such as milk and cheese to China. However, he said, the idea is to send the finished product, not the ingredients.

That way, it could create a job-producing boom for San Joaquin and other Central Valley counties, Gayaldo said.

Gayaldo works closely with Tie Zhang in the U.S.-China Business Cultural Association. Zhang, who heads the association, organized the trip for the Chinese CEOs, which included three days in San Francisco before coming to Lodi on Wednesday night. The tour will end with a visit to Fresno, Southern California and Las Vegas.

Zhang also translated presentations by Morrow, chamber leaders and Patricia Darragh of the California Olive Oil Council into Chinese.

Zhang grew up in China and came to the United States in 1996 to pursue a master’s degree in business at University of California, Davis. He has homes in Elk Grove and in China.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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