Saturday, July 17, 2004

[Sing Pao, Oriental Daily, The Sun & Ta Kung Pao]

To welcome August's Olympic Games, TVB held its "Number 1 Celebrity Water Games" yesterday at the Kowloon Park indoor swimming pool, with Andy Hui, Winnie Yeung, Hon Yuk Ha and Chung Chi Kwong as MC's, guest hosts 2R and Carlo Ng and artistes that included four of the Olympic Stars Ron Ng, Lai Lok Yi, Sammul Chan and Kenneth Ma; Natalis Chan, Charles Szeto, Bernice Liu, Wong Chak Fung, Michelle Ye, Stephanie Cheng and the eighteen Miss Hong Kong Contestants. For such a high profile event, the atmosphere was buzzing, but the class of the stars was rather lacking.

Having injured his hip in an earlier footballing accident, Nat was insistent in joining seven of the Miss Hong Kong ladies in the 25m breaststroke competition. He indicated before that he will leave everything to fate and if he wins it means he is a sporting genius, but if he loses then he will be gracious in defeat. In the end, he breezed to win the race.

Stephanie Cheng took part in the Ladies 25m breaststroke and ladies 25m and 50m freestyle. She took the gold medal in the two freestyle races and a silver in the other race. Stephanie used to be in the swimming team at school, but she never represented her school in any competitions so she is happy to have taken part in this event and won. However, she had a small accident when she dived into the water as she had taken her goggles off and was swimming with her eyes closed. This led to her bumping her face into one of the lane separators and a rather swollen and bruised nose. After her work was done, she went away immediately to seek treatment. Having also injured her left arm earlier, it was suggested that this may be because she did not take part in the blessing ceremony. However, Stephanie says she is a Christian and she would not have taken part in the ceremony even if she was there.

Michelle Ye was the only leading star who got into the water, taking part in the 25m breaststroke and completing it in the very slow time of 45 seconds. During this, her head was constantly kept above the water, making her look like doing the doggy paddle. Afterwards, she indicated that she does not really know how to swim, but Ms Lok had told her to be confident and not to worry about it so she insisted on taking part. Former Hong Kong swimming team member Charles Szeto (Shui Kei) swept the gold medals for the Men's 25m breaststroke, 50m breaststroke, 25m freestyle and 50m freestyle, leading the "Hearts of .. 2" team to an overall team victory.

Wong Chak Fung originally took the silver for the 25m freestyle, but was disqualified for a false start. As for Winnie Shum only receiving a warning for the same fault, Chak Fung didn't mind and says it is all for fun and shouldn't be held so seriously as long as everyone is happy. He explains: "I had arranged for Charles to relax and for me to catch up with him to create some excitement, but I was too nervous and dived too early." Winnie took one silver and two bronze medals and later explained that she dived when she heard the signal, but was surprised when everyone around her was not moving.

During the floating bridge race, Cecilia Yeung was bouncing everywhere, getting so absorbed that all eloquence was left behind. Although it was fun, she still felt a little embarrassed, but in true sporting nature, she managed to get to the end of the track at the risk of revealing a little too much.

When Andy was asked what he thought of the contestants' figures, he joked: "Charles is not bad. (How about the girls?) I only look at the guys because men like to compare themselves. Take Nat for example, he is the red in a sea of green. If I was to take part, I would be on a par with Charles!"

Shirley Yeung made an appearance as a flag bearer and when asked why she did not take part, she explained: "I can swim, but have been filming and am very tired, so I didn't have to take part. You have to do a lot of practice to race and I haven't swum for a long time."

As a guest host, 2R's Rosanne was asked about being photographed getting into Edison Chan's car and she explained that there were five of them on that day, but the press only showed the pictures of the two of them and she did not get into Edison's car. She insists that they are just friends and when asked if she is attracted to him, Rosanne says: "I haven't thought about it because I like people who don't smoke, are honest and love me." Standing beside her, sister Race revealed that Edison smokes.

Producer Chin Kwok Wai was asked as to why Leon Lai was not present as was previously indicated and he said: "Leon called me last week to say that he is busy recording and was unable to take part. As for Jade Kwan, she probably couldn't fit us into her schedule. (Do you think the show is lacking in stars?) No, everyone had a great time tonight."


[Sing Pao, Ta Kung Pao & The Sun]

Steven Ma was a guest at the "YWCA Hotline 20th Anniversary Carnival" yesterday and a poll was made as to the words people most like to hear when they are down. Steven chose "No matter what, I will be here by your side supporting you!" because he feels that support is very important.

Steven says that if he meets with difficulties, he will talk to his friends and sometimes they will try too hard to offer advice, but when people talk about their problems they only want to get it out of their system, so we should all learn to just listen. In the past, Steven didn't know how to handle his emotional problems, thinking he was very strong, such as the time five or six years ago when his mother died and his work seemed to have ground to a half. His Chiu Chau chauvinism and pride got the better of him and he rarely spoke to other people about his probems, making him turn to drink to drown his sorrows. Asked if he became an alcoholic, he admits: "Yes. (Did it work?) It blocked out the problem, but it was tough waking up the next morning and didn't resolve the issue. I feel that I didn't address the problem properly so I have not drank any alcohol in recent years." Steven laughs that he prefers to discuss his problems with women: "Women are more sensitive, caring, patient and sympathetic so they are better than 'brothers'." He will also do sport to keep his energy levels up, with a recent interest in fitness, table tennis and badminton.

At the time, Steven did not go out for several months and his friends were very concerned for him, finally he managed to get through the bad times by taking up reading. One of his friends had given him a book that told of how to face life and death. This enlightened him and he feels that death cannot be controlled, so why not face difficulties with a positive and optimistic outlook?

Later, Steven will meet with more difficulties because he will be filming in the mainland for several ancient dramas. Away for six months to a year, Steven is worried about his family. He had earlier been to Beijing for a promotional event and had met with directors and producers who said that his face is very traditional and suited to period dramas, with someone suggesting that he is suited to playing poet Li Bai. When asked if he has been offered this part, Steven says: "We are in discussion, there are still a lot. (What about TVB?) I extended my contract in February, but we have an understanding and I have a great level of freedom. (How are you going to pay back your series debt if you are always in China?) I will do my best to fit in the time, I will film at least one series for them."

Steven appeared at the event on a voluntary basis and he indicates that many artistes take part in voluntary work, but he hopes that more can do it and not worry about receiving a fee. Also, if he has time, he will go to the YWCA to help man the phone lines.


[Sing Pao Special Report]

Kiki Sheung - Most Afraid of a Role where She Cannot Shine

"Once, when I went to see a dance performance, the story backdrop was a historical palace, with a complicated love affair where the male lead kills his own daughter with a sword. As he somersaulted from one side of the stage to the other to express his turmoil and pain, I was very touched and my tears flooded out..."

Kiki Sheung was touched beyond words by this powerful dance and as she recounts that evening, the characters appear before your eyes and her eyes redden as one again she is touched and she touches the people around her.

In those days, Kiki had just found a job working in fashion distribution and hoping to learn as she worked and make a name for herself in the line of fashion distribution. However, life always brings the unexpected and she was asked by a good friend to accompany her to get an application form for an actor training class. Kiki says: "So I decided to go with her, but I was not going to enter the class because I wanted to learn about distribution of washable silk fashion instead!" As the group of them arrived at the application venue, her peers urged her: "Come on, join in! We can keep each other company during the class." She finally agreed with the feeling of just playing along and had an audition. At the end of the queue to enter the audition room, the tutor asked her to read out some set lines and to everyone's surprise, she read it very well. Her friends even commented: "Kiki, you are reading for so long, you definitely stand a chance!" She smiled and thought nothing of it and did not even return for the second interview until the day she received a call from TVB saying: "Lau Fong Kong (Veteran TV production professional) would like to see you." After much discussion with her family, Kiki decided to go along and with the appearance of a mentor, she joined the class alongside Carina Lau, Margie Tsang, Sandra Ng and Michael Tao.

Kiki says with a smile: "Wow, all the girls in my class were so pretty, but I was ok!" She continues: "During the class, we did take part in some performances and no matter if I was just a passerby or an office extra, I treated it as a learning experience. Without these foundations, then even if the opportunity came along, I would not have been able to take it." TV series "Once Upon an Ordinary Girl" was an outstanding performance by the late Leslie Cheung and at the time, the pretty and lively face of Kiki was presented to the audience. With a quick calculation, the ever forward-looking Kiki says: "At the time, the producer and director told me how to act it and I just followed their instructions. I had no set goals, but to be accepted by the viewers then gave me a great inspiration." Even though she was not in the same league as those idols who had a group of fans waiting to give them presents every day, but to have the praises for her acting talent and the stream of work coming her way, this made her truly happy and satisfied.

The series "To Get Unstuck In Time" is a strong production for Kiki after her return to TVB and the direct no-nonsense character of 'Mon Jer' has been engrained deeply into the audience's hearts, but the same question hangs from on everyone's lips: "Why is Kiki Sheung playing a motherly part?"

Having spent nine years away from her old company, Kiki says: "Usually, make-up takes about an hour, but I have to go into make-up half an hour earlier because I have to spend twenty minutes saying hello to all the production and cast colleagues every day!" She continues open-heartedly: "Meeting so many new friends and seeing so many old colleagues and friends, I am very happy to chat with them." She does not evade the question and says: "In 'Unstuck', I play Roger Kwok's mother from when he is a child to when he is grown up, so I remain in the role as his mother, but just older. To be able to play the same character over two time periods, for an artiste, this is a great fortune and challenge. As an artiste, you have to totally respect everything about the character and when I receive a role, I will research into her life, experiences and interactions with the other characters. This also brings me great enjoyment because I have the chance to continuously improve my skills." After hearing this, Kiki's professional attitude provokes great admiration for her as she says that she has only gained and not lost from this role because she can single-handedly display the development of the character and gain the experience from it. She will play any role apart from one: "A role where I cannot shine, that is what I am afraid of and will be difficult for me."

With a few words of praise, this good friend will hold her hands together and bow her head saying: "You're too kind, you're too kind!" and in reflection, the look of seriousness combined with great modesty in her eyes is very powerful. In reply to the comment that her eyes are very expressive, Kiki says: "I learned this from the black and white Cantonese movies that I used to watch as a child after finishing my homework, maybe it had a subliminal effect on me." In her childhood, she was not a girl who liked to sing and dance for the adults, but was rather timid and certainly did not win any awards for performing. She says: "I was a person who never knew that I loved acting and when I first stepped into this industry, I joined with the feeling of happily gaining some experience of life. It was only when my workload incrased that I began to have expectations of myself."

A consciencious and professional artiste will definitely make lots of notes on their scripts and whenever Kiki is filming, she will not let go of her well scribbled script. She says: "Every time I make notes, it represents a deeper understanding of the script, which is every actor's treasure." Has Kiki ever met with any less than attentive co-stars? This actor who has high expectations from her work says: "I have no right to criticise, but I do respect those colleagues who have done their homework, are well prepared and are punctual. From my point of view, I will always be well aware of the characters' 'last scene and next scene'." Without any sense of tyranny, but exerting a presence of authority, due to her constant requirements from herself, Kiki says with sincerity: "Acting needs to be a shared experience as every expression and every line is important. When the viewer loves a show, then this is the success of true teamwork."

Having spent some time in a choir alongside the late Kiu Wang, Tang Wai Yan and Wong Hoi Yan, Kiki's singing talent has been explored. "When Wong Hoi Yan gave me the opportunity to take part in an event held by the Urban Council to sing one or two songs, I was very happy and singing the duet 'A Thousand Suns' with her, I really felt the co-operation needed in singing together. Whether it is two people or five people, if you have gained the joint experience in practice, then the viewer will feel it, so when they applaud you, the success belongs to everyone." As well as knowing that the views of the audience are clearly defined, Kiki also feels that what she strives for in her work is not for her own personal gain, but the success of the whole team. She mentions the names of people who have excellent talent but also bring out the feelings of others, including Chow Yun Fat, Sean Lau and Anthony Wong because they have not only a great acting skill, they have a lot of gathered experience and will bring out the potential of their opposites. As Kiki says: "They act from their hearts and bring their characters the true colours of life." When asked: "Are you happy with your performance?", she replies: "To do my part is important. I don't want to reach over 100%, but I don't want to be a failure." Who sets her targets? The answer is whether the audience accept her. During the interview, a passerby greets her by waving and calling her 'Mon Jer' and she replies happily. In this respect, she is no different from any other artiste!

Having just returned from filming in Kenya, Kiki followed the instruction from the doctors to take some preventative medicine and she smiles: "I didn't realise that I would get a little fatter after taking the medication, maybe the fat Kiki is returning!". She laughs as she brings out some photographs of her trip, but they are just pictures of the sunrise and sunset, lions and giraffes and some plains! She smiles again and says: "I don't think I asked any colleagues or crew members to take any pictures of me. What shall I do?" The photographer pulls her to one side and on this rare occasion, she strikes a very quick pose as she reveals that without a script, the real Kiki does love to laugh.


[The Sun]

Deric Wan and Sonija Kwok are having relationship problems again!! The latest news suggests that Sonija said quite openly: "We don't see each other very often." Although this is becoming very commonplace, the press still have to run it by with them and when Deric was called, the phone was answered by his assistant who indicated that he was filming in China: "There is no problem between them, just that they have an understanding that they will work hard for a few more years. Deric is busy with his current work, but he will be heading over to Beijing next month to visit Sonija." So there isn't anything going on then...


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