Stars of both the special event and entertainment worlds were named to the creative team to produce the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games, to be held Aug. 8-24, 2008. Renowned film director Zhang Yimou ("Raise the Red Lantern") will be joined by Ric Birch, producer of the ceremonies at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, along with Yves Pepin, president of French spectacle producer ECA2, and American superstar director Steven Spielberg.

Although details of the ceremonies are a closely guarded secret, the creative team will present working concepts to the IOC Board by the end of the year, Pepin tells Special Events Magazine.

"The success of a high-level Olympic Games with distinguishing features depends on the level of the opening ceremony," said Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organizing Committee, at last week's press conference announcing the creative team. "The 1.3 billion Chinese people are full of aspirations for the Olympic Games, and they have very high expectations for the opening ceremony. For billions of TV viewers around the world, the opening ceremony is also the 'first impression' that the Olympic Games have to offer." He added, "The opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing 2008 Games should not only give expression to the theme slogan, 'One World One Dream,' and three concepts of the Games--namely Green Olympics, High-tech Olympics and People's Olympics--but also embody the two major subjects of civilization and harmony."