Sunday, November 14, 2004

[Ta Kung Pao, Oriental Daily & The Sun 15/11/04]

TVB's new series "The Last Breakthrough" will begin airing today and a special premiere party was held in a hotel where cast members including Nick Cheung, Raymond Lam, Sonija Kwok, Candy Lo, Leila Tong and Bosco Wong were present together with a group of children dressed in different national costumes to perform dance routines. There was also a photo exhibition to show off the different scenes from various places.

During the event, Nick joined some children and played 'Rock Scissors Paper' with them, but he would not let them win. Afterwards, he said that the children were a lot of fun and it reminded him of when they were playing football with the local children whilst filming on location, using a ball that was made from a few material scraps tied together. The children played in bare feet, but they did very well. Nick says: "Maybe the Kenyan national team was trained up in this way." During filming, Nick got on particularly well with the local girls and boys and he laughs that they are all his godchildren. Nick often took them some of the food he had brought with him, but they were very polite and as well as smiling thanks to him, they would not open the food in front of him. Even if Nick told them to eat it, they would only take a little and then wrap the rest up.

Nick says: "I really miss them. (Why don't you have a child of your own?) We will not do things rashly, as we are both from the acting trade, we have abused our health in the past, so we have to get back to health first. I am using Chinese herbs to help bring back my fitness, so everything is just down to fate." Nick says that for the sake of his children, he does not even dare to drink cold drinks any more, but he is still worried because he is a sufferer of Thalassaemia and if his children inherit this from him, then they may have to have blood transfusions all their life. When it was mentioned that if his wife Esther does not have this gene then the chances of the child getting it would be slimmer, he says: "She has been for a test, but we have not had the results yet. However, even though I have this condition, it is only minor and my life is like any other normal person, so even if Raymond Lam faints, I won't!"

Also, there are indications that "Breakthrough" is already available for download from the internet even before it has aired and Nick says: "There is nothing we can do about this as artistes, we just hope that TVB will have policies to prevent this such as having a worldwide release date. Maybe we can look at this more optimistically and say that there are a lot of people who are looking forward to this show, but most viewers will not download it and even if they have seen it already on the internet, then they can treat the real broadcast as a repeat."

As for Sonija, she is not worried that the internet download will affect the ratings, but it will affect TVB's profits and she hopes that people will not download and watch it through the proper channels. She thinks the show will have at least 30 point ratings. Leila has known about downloading of series since the days of "Aqua Heroes", but she hopes that people will not do these illegal things because you can just wait a little while to watch it or rent DvD's. As for Bosco, he feels that these things are hard to control and they can only wait for the company to make appropriate arrangements.

Raymond will be appearing in a "Net Dance" with Bernice Liu at the anniversary celebration and there have been reports that they will be wearing skintight outfits for this performance. Is he worried that he will show parts he would rather keep concealed? He says he does not mind because this item is all about the action. As for whether Bernice's limelight will be stolen by his figure on the night, he laughs: "How would that be? It doesn't matter if my upper body's lines are shown off, but I will be wearing a few pairs of boxing pants to keep my lower body under wraps. (Will you be wearing a T-back? [G-string]) I do have some, but because there is too much action, I am afraid it will move out of position, so I will not be wearing a T-back."

Also, responding to the news about "Breakthrough" being available for download already, Raymond says: "Everyone is so enthusiastic and eager to watch and it is usually down to fans and TV addicts, so when it is actually aired, then they will watch it again and I am not worried about ratings." Raymond will be singing the theme tune to the series and there have been comments that it is not bad at all, but he has high expectations of himself and he feels that he was not on form during recording as his singing has deteriorated and he had just come back from filming in China at the time.


[Ta Kung Pao & The Sun 15/11/04]

The TVB anniversary extravaganza will be aired on Friday and due to the massive popularity of "War and Beauty" this year, the show's female leads are hot favourites for this years awards and following on from Sheren Tang, Gigi Lai has also been offered a jewellery sponsorship for the evening. Gigi was at the jewellers yesterday, trying on some jewels and the first set she tried is worth over $1.7 million dollars. The second set is still being finished and is unique, valued at $19.8 million. There is also a yellow diamond necklace worth $8.8 million among other pieces, so the total value of all the jewellery sponsored will come to over $30 million. 'Lady Yuk Ying' has not only beaten Sheren in terms of value, she will also be wearing jewellery worth more than that of the TVB 'big sisters' such as Carol Cheng, who has sponsorship worth $27 million, Lydia Shum and Liza Wang.

Gigi's second set includes a diamond wristwatch and ring, studded with 88 carats of diamonds, with a value of $19.8 million. The set that she tried on yesterday includes a 15 carat wristwatch worth $710,000; a 4 carat diamond ring worth $500,000; 13 carat diamond necklace worth $300,000 and a 4.5 carat earrings worth $80,000. The other items are a 30 carat yellow diamond and 30 carat diamond necklace worth $8.8 million.

With such a line up of gems, Gigi says that although there will be very tight security on the night, she is still a little frightened and worried that she will be shaking with nerves. However, there are suggestions that this is a reflection of how popular she is to take the female lead award on the night. She says: "It's not about who wins over who (on value), even if I am in the lead, it does not mean I will win the award. Actually it doesn't matter whether I have a jewellery sponsor or not. To be sponsored is my honour and there is no way that my popularity will outshine that of Carol, Lydia and the others. As the other artistes are all my peers, then there is no word of who overshadows someone else."

Gigi has also been sponsored two or three outfits for the evening by a designer label and she insists that this is just being respectful to the event and she will not wear low cut dresses just to sell her sexiness, so all her outfits will be low backed. She also says that she will not take 'private offers' of sponsorship because she is concerned that there may be other conditions attached. With the earlier reports and suggestions of this, she feels that she may have been misinterpreted. If she did not have this sponsorship and there was a need for diamonds, then she would have bought them for herself to avoid any misunderstanding. Her most valuable item of jewellery is a diamond that she bought for $150,000 as it will keep its value, so she feels it was a worthwhile investment.


[Oriental Daily & The Sun 15/11/04]

Miss Hong Kong 2000 winner Vivian Lau will be marrying her rich fiance Lam Hau Kee on the 20th of this month and holding a grand reception in Wanchai's Convention and Exhibition Centre totalling 60 tables. Many friends and family have received specially designed invitations from the couple that feature their wedding photos and child pictures as well as a picture that shows them in formal outfits, holding out their rings in a show of their great fortune.

However, some friends and family have found that they have only received an envelope and the invitation has disappeared. Vivian explains that the news may have been leaked and the invitations stolen, but says: "I have been very busy recently preparing for the wedding and I was so forgetful that when we went to have the wedding photos taken, I just took myself there and had forgotten to take my shoes, underwear and everything else. I am really so clumsy!"


[Oriental Daily & The Sun]

Melissa Ng was rehearsing for her anniversary dance routine in TVB City yesterday and she reveals that she is worried about not being up to standard on the night of the performance because her partner Joe Ma has not had time to rehearse as he has been busy filming. When asked if she is worried he will bring her down, she says quickly changing her tune: "I have confidence in him, so I am working hard to perfect my routine, but even after a couple of days, I am feeling the strain and have injured my neck."

Melissa's series "The Conqueror's Story" is receiving rather mediocre ratings and she says: "Yes, I know that the ratings are not very good, but for a historical drama it is not bad. There are many friends who are enjoying the little Chinese saying explanations at the beginning of each episode as this helps to improve their knowledge."


[Oriental Daily & The Sun 15/11/04]

After their water kissing scene, Ron Ng and Mandy Cho were filming earlier for "Courageous Kunlun" in a final fire scene, where Ron has to rescue Mandy and overcome his pyromania, rushing into the danger of a burning building to bring her to safety, but burning his left leg in the process. Although the scene was rather dangerous, Ron was still willing to do the scene himself, but with a number of NG's during filming, Ron's leg was set alight ten times. He says: "Actually there are full safety precautions and there are plenty of people on hand to help. I had also sprayed water all over my shoes, so I would not have been burned. However, with the fire being there for so long, the water was heated up and I think it was at least in the thirties."

When Ron was asked if the NG's were caused by Mandy, he supported her, saying: "It is nothing to do with that, sometimes with filming, you have to try things before you know if they work or not and she has improved a lot. At least she is not covering the light, after all she is not from the classes and a lot of things have to be learned on the job, so we cannot expect too much from her."

In the story, Ron and his good brother Sammul Chan are turned against each other by Mandy's character, but Ron laughs that the same thing has not happen in real life. When asked if Mandy was the type of girl he likes, Ron says with much execution: "Not my type! I don't like girls who are too pretty, but I don't like girls who are too ugly either. The best thing would be if she can cook dinner." Mandy had men trying to court her whilst she was studying in America, including Mexicans, Spanish and Americans, but she was already dating at the time and did not give them a chance."


[Oriental Daily 15/11/04]

Julian Cheung was at a filling station when he was photographed with a ghostly image in his car and with the report breaking yesterday, the reporters called him to ask how he was, but he laughed at them and said: "Do you really believe that? That was just an old man who walked past my car. I was quite curious when I saw the picture because it did seem rather spooky, so I went back to the gas station and asked the staff to show me the security video for that night and it was clearly showing a man walked past my car on that day and the image was definitely human. Don't be so immature!"


[The Sun 14/11/04]

Soon to be a father, Simon Yam was wearing shorts and sports gear out running in Happy Valley, where he bumped into Steven Ma and Joyce Chen filming for "Virtues of Harmony". When the crew saw Simon, they all said hello to him like an old friend and shook his hand and he was suddenly overcome by the urge to take part, so he stayed on as a 'guest'. So whilst Steven filmed, Simon ran alongside the director to study the filming angles and when he saw the sound recordist was busy, he also picked up the microphone to help with the recording as he became the 'odd job guy' for the TVB crew and the most famous stage hand that "Virtues" has ever had.


[The Sun 14/11/04]

TVB is planning to introduce an animated character to host its popular children's magazine programme "Kid Click" to try and break into the children's market and release a range of supporting accessory products to fight opposite Mickey Mouse and Hello Kitty for a share in the fancy goods market. As a result, the human hosts will play a secondary part and in order to reduce the cast, there will be some cuts made. There are rumours that after twenty two years hosting children's programmes, Tam Yuk Ying will be one of the ones to be kicked out.

When reporters contacted TVB's Educational Programmes Department Manager Siu Wai Hung, he said: "This is still being looked into and whether or not it will include Tam Yuk Ying has not yet been confirmed. However Yuk Ying has been doing it for so long now and we have the utmost respect for her. There are a number of formats under development and we are still studying them all." As for using a cartoon character as a host, is this to save on production costs? Mr Siu said: "It will not be a saving, but it will be a fresh concept. We will have to see how the children respond to it and as we will be using CGI, then there will be a lot of things to take into consideration, so the costs will actually be higher."

As for being dubbed as 'over contracted and overpaid' leading to rumours of her being ousted, Tam Yuk Ying says that she knows that the company will be overhauling the children's programme again and adds: "The company will make arrangements for me, but I don't know if that means they will get rid of me. My contract doesn't expire until March next year, so I will not be discussing contracts with them just yet."

Yuk Ying indicates that she will not be disappointed if she is dismissed, but it would be a shame: "After so many years, I am used to the arrangements with the company and I will not think about it too much because it is not as though TVB will let you do it if you say you want to. I can only accept it and I did exceed my contract before, but with the changes in how these are calculated now, then I do not do as many shows now and it is not just me, this is the general trend in society."

At the moment, Yuk Ying is studying child psychology in an Open University course but she denies that she is paving her way after TVB. As for when she will be getting married to her boyfriend, she says: "I won't! There are too many people getting divorced nowadays!"


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