Saturday, July 24, 2004

[The Sun]

Although Belinda Hamnett has successfully lost weight and shaken all the "Fat Bum" nicknames, whilst taking part in a promotion for "To Catch the Uncatchable" with Dayo Wong and Claire Yiu yesterday, she was the brunt of their jokes once again. Whilst playing the darts game Dayo chose Belinda to be his target, saying: "She has a wide expanse... on her chin!" Later when Belinda had to play dead, he joked again saying: "Belinda seems like she is about 180 lbs." leaving her very embarrassed. Eventually, Dayo was made into the darts target and ended up with darts all over his face.

As for complaints that the show is affecting the image of the insurance industry, Dayo says: "This is purely a comedy and people should not be so serious! If they have to complain, they why don't they ask why someone as bad as 'Constable Mok' can become a police officer." He also denies that Ada Choi is acting in the style of Dodo Cheng. Producer Tsui Ching Hong also admits that they have received two complaints.


[Ta Kung Pao Special Report]

Ron Ng sets his sights on Chow Yun Fat

Ron Ng found fame after filming for "Triumph in the Skies", making him the most popular out of TVB's six Olympic stars, even overtaking Raymond Lam who was the original leader of the pack. Recently TVB has also cast him as the lead in "Police Cadet Brave Hearts", obviously creating a mark for him as the title 'King of Newcomers' becomes quite befitting.

Ron's series with Raymond "Twin of Brothers" is finally airing and although it is not yet known how the results will be, but everyone is interested in who the big winner will be from this show. As they are both currently heavily promoted bu TVB, is there much competition between them? Ron replies quickly: "There is some gentle competition, but this does not affect our friendship, because we have known each other from the days of the training class and although I was in the dancers' class and Ray was in the actors' class, we would still bump into each other every day and we often met up for lunch and knew each other very well. This friendship is not easily damaged." He also praises Raymond for having a great 'ancient feel', looking and feeling the part when he is doing wirework or fighting and he ought to learn this from him. Actually, when they work together, they are constantly encouraging each other and not stealing the limelight from the other person, so as far as Ron is concerned, working with Raymond puts him totally at ease.

Last year, whilst filming in China for "Twin", the trip lasted four and a half months and they experienced many memorable times that Ron recounts one by one. He says: "The most memorable occasion was the experience of working in both the hottest and coldest weather conditions. The highest temperature was 43 degrees and I had to walk around without a top on to release the heat. As for the coldest, this was below zero and one scene in water was filmed during this time. The story told of me, Ray and some others standing on a raft and we had to wear sleeveless costumes, so when we had finished a scene, the four of us would huddle together to keep warm."

Ron is very afraid of the heat, but luckily he made it through, Talking of how they often have to bear the hot and cold during filming, Ron says he would rather have to face the cold, but he does like to sunbathe. As well as having to face the extreme temperatures, there was also some happy memories, one of which was not needing to film night sessions, so he, Ray and the others could set about trying all the local delicacies and luckily he managed not to put on any weight from this.

As for being promoted by the company now, has Ron set any goals of his own? He explains that he sees Chow Yun Fat as his role model, because Chow's acting is outstanding, but he has no attitude or arrogance and although he has not filmed television for over twenty years, many crew members still praise him for being very faithful to his roots. Also, Ron hopes to break into the mainland markets and it is a shame that "Twin" is not being aired simultaneously in Hong Kong and China, otherwise, this would help raise his profile there.

Apart from work goals, of course Ron would like to reap monetary rewards and his dream is to own a three storey villa that faces the sea one day. The bottom storey will be used to entertain his friends and family and also for his cats and dogs to roam free in. The second floor will be for his family and the third floor will be his own space. As he has received a lot of work for advertisements since finding fame on "Triumph", the day he can afford his own home should be quite close now.

At the moment, Ron is working on "Police Cadet" and this show brings back memories of his schooldays. When asked if he looked forward to the summer vacation, he laughs: "As an artiste, then of course the busier the better and to be honest, I used to get very bored during the summer. Apart from doing vacation homework and playing ball, I would go to my father's courier company to help deliver some documents. There was nothing like the kids today who can go on summer schools abroad and have so much fun."

With many artistes following a number of different workstreams such as singing or doing advertisements, no wonder TVB has to keep its own artistes happy by offering them extra work such as singing series theme songs. Does Ron have any plans to enter the music industry on the back of this? He says that this is up to the company. Of course, with the current promotion from the company, they will make the necessary arrangements for him and he does not have to worry about this, just having to concentrate on acting his parts well.

Reporter: San San


[Ta Kung Pao Special Report]

The Way Forward for TVB Series?

TVB's newly aired show "Twin of Brothers" carries an important burden as the ratings and reviews will affect the way forward for future TVB productions. This is because "Twin" was the first TVB series to be entirely planned and filmed on location in China, with much of the post-production being done there too. The biggest difference between this series and TVB productions in the past is the amount of time that artistes and crews have to spend in China compared to the shows that just have a proportion of location filming in the mainland.

As this show is a historical martial arts series, there are many advantages to filming in China. Firstly, there are many choices for the locations, no matter if a mountain or valley is required, or if you need a famous landmard or even just a period building or pagoda, it is not only easy to find, it is also more convenient and less expensive than anything comparable in Hong Kong. Moreover for the scenes requiring hundred and thousands of extras, or an antique prop or costume, this is also so much easier to sort out than in Hong Kong.

Of course, filming in China requires an element of preparation. In the areas of locations, accommodation, support and contacts, there is some work required or co-operation is needed with a local company. This not only makes things run very smoothly, but there will be added assistance and less resources will be needed. This is the format often adopted by Hong Kong and Taiwanese production companies in the past, but it would never have been envisaged that even TVB would end up taking this approach.

This method of filming means that the production budgets can be more effectively utilised. As an average series takes between three and five months to film, then the preparation needs to be very thorough, especially in terms of the budgets as for an independent company, financial shortfalls can have a major effect on production. With TVB tightening its belts in recent years, this co-operation will make controlling budgets even more efficient. Moreover, with many high profile artiste signing 'per-series' contracts, then this is the best way of utilising them. The introduction of mainland artistes adds a fresh element as they make new combinations with established actors. If this method proves effective and still maintains the good reviews and ratings, then there will be even more productions made in this way in the future. After all, there has been a few million dollars invested in building some of the sets, so why not make the most of them and use them a few more times. As for the staffing needs in Hong Kong, then these may require a review as a result.

Reporter: Chui Hiu


[Ta Kung Pao Special Report]

Over exposure in beauty pageants...

The view is from some that beauty pageants have lost their novelty and are no longer anything of note. Ultimately, for a beauty contest, the standard of its contestants is very important because no matter how much class is placed on the performance, this all passes and it is the quality of the people that is the attraction at the end of the day. TVB has been concerned about its traditional Miss Hong Kong contest and as a result has put in a lot of gimmicks this year to try and push it. Even though there have been more criticisms than praise for the events leading up to the final, the hype has still been strong and the requirements have been reached. Provided the ratings are not too weak, then they have fulfilled their pledge to the sponsors.

As for the earlier "Number 1 Water Games" that opened the lead up to this year's Olympic games, it also served as a great promotional event for the Miss Hong Kong contestants, killing two birds with one stone. The highlight was seeing the girls in their swimsuits taking part in the energetic activities that showed off their girls figures naturally and of course the obligatory 'exposure' incidents that push them into the limelight of the gossip reports. Even if this was not part of the original plan, the organisers and the contestants have both gained in this win-win situation.

For the contest to have a good formula for promotion, this is the ultimate success and there are many ways of achieving this. Take the Miss Asia Pageant of 1998, when the organisers arranged for a group of Japanese swimsuit beauties to guest star at the performance. During the show, one of the ladies lost her bikini and became the star of the show, overshadowing the contestants. Was this purely an accident? Little investigation was done, but if this was done to raise the profile, then isn't this a rather crude way of doing it?

Talking of other 'exposure' events, in 1987's Miss Asia Pageant, first runner up Tsang Siu Yin caught the gossip headlines when she displayed that she was not wearing anything under her dress and thus uncovering the secret that traditionally the contestants did not wear anything under their chipaos. Luckily, times have moved on and in order to prevent the same thing happening again, the developments in invisible underwear have put an end to this.

Having hosted many Miss Hong Kong pageants in the past, Natalis Chan has also attracted much discussion after donning his swimming trunks in public, with complaints being received by the broadcasting authority as well as a fallout between Nat and CRHK. Causing so much trouble just to get some airtime, was this within the original plans of the parties involved?

No matter if this exposure and revelation is planned or accidental, they should just be small events within a large show and as long as they are kept within limits, then there is no big deal. In this case, they can even provide a promotional advantage, but it shouldn't be pushed over the line of decency.

Reporter: Chow Yan


[The Sun]

Fiona Sit took part in a slimming product autograph session yesterday and as well as attracting a group of fans, her father was also there for support, filming her with a DV recorder. Talking of her co-star in "Police Cadet Brave Hearts" Deep Ng, Fiona said: "I saw him this morning at around seven o'clock and he seemed more energetic than before and looked great. He is still very absorbed in his work and does not seem to be too affected emotionally. (Have you comforted him?) I am afraid of awkwardness, the biggest help to him is to pretend nothing happened and that will put him at ease."

Originally planned to finish filming at the end of July, "Police Cadet" will now be filming until the end of August and this will affect Fiona's other work. She says: "My recording schedule has all be messed up and postponed until the end of August. Originally I was to appear at a signing for this year's book fair, but this has been postponed to the comic fair later."


[Oriental Daily]

Having been charged and pleaded guilty to drug possession charges, Deep Ng, who is currently awaiting sentence, was back at TVB City making up some fighting scenes for "Police Cadet Brave Hearts" yesterday and he says he is not expecting the worst, because looking at his performance career, it has not yet hit rock bottom.

After the first night of his curfew, Deep kept to the rules and only emerged from his home yesterday at around half past six, heading out to TVB City with his manager to make up the scenes. As the producer hopes that he can concentrate on his work, he allowed Deep to prepare in the Studio One make up rooms where the press are not allowed in. During filming, the press looking in through the studio doors saw him in good spirits as he filmed a boxing scene opposite Kwok Lik Hang, as he showed off his rather largely built body. Deep says that he would like to take the chance to thank his fans for their support and his family for their tireless encouragement. He will not give up on himself.


[Oriental Daily]

The 18 Miss Hong Kong contestants are currently undertaking a four day trip of Guangdong province filming and promoting and in the two days passed so far, number 4 Jaymee Tang has had some funny incidents. Not only did she sing out of tune in the welcoming song, she also walked into a glass door as they looked around some real estate in Zhangmutou yesterday, leaving her with a bump on the right side of her forehead. Afterwards, she tried to explain herself saying: "The glass was too clean and I couldn't see it. I crashed into it quite hard and it does hurt. I was also a little dizzy and had a little blackout."

Also, number 2 Irene Yu was revealed as living in a council estate and she said openly: "I don't mind people finding out my background, it is to be expected when I entered. They can call me 'Miss HK Council Estate' if they want, I only enter because I know my standard and it has nothing to do with where I live and there is nothing wrong with saving money by using public transport because the taxis are too expensive. The contest does not have any make-up sponsors, so I did not help myself to a lot as the report suggests."


[Oriental Daily]

Nnadia Chan held a book signing at this year's Hong Kong Book Fair yesterday and she greeted her readers with a low cut top, raising the temperature somewhat and even attracting Chan To On from a neighbouring stand who came over to present her with a copy of his new book. Cutie Mui also appeared to lend her support and Nnadia was rather touched by this, saying: "Cutie called me to congratulate me and then came over to support me and brought a bottle of perfume to spray over the books." As for her sexy image, Nnadia laughs: "It is a little bit low cut, but I felt that the weather is so good that this will keep me nice and cool, so I am happy." However, Nnadia says she has prepared herself just in case so she will not reveal herself too much.


[Sing Pao]

In the recently aired new series "To Catch the Uncatchable", Gilbert Lam plays an insurance sales manager who exchanges sexual favours with rich clients for business and this storyline has incurred the displeasure of the insurance industry, saying that this gives a bad portrayal of insurance professionals and preparing letters of complaint to TVB.

In response to his character being criticised, Gilbert agrees, saying: "Oh? There are complaints? I feel that they should to, but you'd better ask the producer. Making series is just for entertainment, but I do feel there is a problem and they should complain!" He indicates that at the time, he should have been filming another series and when the producer asked him to play the part it was difficult to fit this into his schedule. However the producer talked him round because there were not many scenes and this was an integral part of the story, so he agreed. However, when he received the script, he felt that there was a problem with the storyline and the role, but as he had agreed, he had to carry out his duties and as an artiste, no matter how bad the character is, he still has to play it.

He says: "When I received the script, I did reflect my feelings and asked if we had to take it so far, because there is no evidence that these things do take place in real life and this was taking things too far. I felt uncomfortable and didn't really get into the part when we filmed it. After it was aired, I daren't go out because I am afraid of being scolded in the street. I have a lot of friends who sell insurance products and they have called me for a joke, asking if I needed to do this. I would never have thought that there are still this kind of remarks, this has to be the worst of all the nasty characters I have played."

Gilbert reveals that his friends have complained to him about this role that has upset the insurance industry and as the actor behind the role, he is very apologetic and expresses to everyone: "Please don't be so angry, come to my dessert store and everyone who works for an insurance company can have a 20% discount!"

As for producer Tsui Ching Hong, he says that as "To Catch" is a modern show, then the storyline has a chance of reflecting a certain industry or profession and Dayo Wong's police officer character also has some comedic elements. In every profession there are good people and bad people and Gilbert Lam's bad insurance salesman does not reflect on the industry as a whole. The scriptwriters based this story on articles they had seen in the news and in real life society and in the same light, Ada Choi plays a very hard working insurance professional. He says: "To have such a big response is a little exaggerated, but I can't blame them. However, before airing, the show was passed through TVB's internal censors and they had to approve this before it was allowed to be broadcast."


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