Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Stars react to the spread of Illegal Downloading

[Oriental Daily 27/01/05]

Customs officers in Hong Kong earlier cracked the case surrounding the illegal sharing of copyrighted material via Bittorrent (BT) and arrested a man in connection of these activities, but the filesharing network continues and the three prime time series currently airing on TVB "Master of Kung Fu - Wong Fei Hung", "Shades of Truth" and "Jewel in the Palace" can all be easily found on the internet and even the forthcoming series "Lost in the Chamber of Love" is already available. Little wonder that the stars of the show, Ron Ng, Myolie Wu, Kenneth Ma and Michelle Ye are all in unison as they express concern over the show's ratings and Ron says: "Hearing this news makes me very disappointed because filming these series takes a lot of time, effort and hard work and it is shocking to find that the show can be downloaded even before it has been aired. I hope that everyone can support original copyrighted productions and not download the series to watch from the internet because this way you will be wasting the efforts of everyone in the cast and crew."

Gigi Lai was also asked if she thought that BT downloading was affecting the ratings for her series "Shades of Truth" and she says: "I believe that there will be some effect on the ratings because of BT. A lot of people have said that they have watched the show and liked it and I never understood why the ratings were so low in the twenties all the time. Now I realise that the viewers are able to download it from the internet to watch and it makes me feel very helpless."

TVB's External Affairs Assistant Chief Tsang Sing Ming indicates in reaction to this: "BT is an infringement of our copyright and of course it will affect TVB's ratings and material rights. The higher the ratings, the more advertising revenue we make, but there is nothing we can do immediately as it is all handed over to our legal team to handle."


[Ta Kung Pao & Oriental Daily 27/01/05]

TVB's new series "Always on Standby" held its costume tryout yesterday and cast members present included Ekin Cheng, Charmaine Sheh, Bowie Lam, Shirley Yeung and Linda Chung. They all wore a smart uniform and Production Department Deputy Director Catherine Tsang was also present to watch over the proceedings.

Catherine indicated that they have received 100% support for filming from the Hong Kong Government Flying Services on the condition that they will not interfere with the normal emergency work of the teams. Even if they are in the midst of filming, if there is a call for the team to go on a rescue, then the crew must stop work immediately and as a result the plan is that filming the 30 episodes will take around 4 months. She says: "We have not allowed the cast members to take time out from their schedules and have prepared a backup, so if Plan A is delayed, then we can film Plan B and not affect filming progress."

Since filming "Face to Face" with TVB six or seven years ago, TVB has been offering Ekin series scripts, but he has not had time and this has fallen through on numerous occasions. When Catherine mentioned this series to him, he felt that the theme was quite fresh and it needed a brave artiste who was willing to go and do all his own scenes, this fitted the bill for Ekin and he immediately agreed to it. He even cut off his mop of long hair to show how serious he was for the role. In order to meet the challenge, Ekin has undergone a special training course last year. He laughs: "I feel that I should actually go and work for the flying services, but I am not educated enough." As for the need to climb mountains and enter the sea to rescue people in the show, even going out as far as an oil rig, is he worried about the danger? Ekin smiles: "It should be safer than shooting movies! (Catherine is not allowing cast to take time to do other things, will this affect your other work?) No, because I have already set out my schedules." Originally, Ekin owed TVB 20 episodes from an earlier contract, so not only has he repaid his debt, he has exceeded it this time. When asked if he will be singing the theme tune, he says this is still in discussion.

Charmaine has just returned from filming "Yummy Yummy - Food For Life" in Singapore and only arrived in Hong Kong two days ago. In the new series, she plays a doctor in ER, who volunteers to help with the Government Flying Services at the weekends. She will also have romantic affairs with Ekin and Bowie in the show. As for all the previous female artistes who have worked with Ekin having nothing but praises for him, Charmaine laughs: "I can see for myself whether or not he is so good this time!" With many rumours of animoscity between Charmaine and Shirley whilst filming for "Angels of Mission", Charmaine indicates that there should not be too many rumours this time because they do not have many scenes together and laughs: "It was all just publicity before anyway.". Later on, she posed happily with Shirley for photographs. In the series, her character will be in a car accident and fall into a coma, so she plans to either cut her hair short or even cut it all off. When it was mentioned that her good friend Sonija Kwok seems to have had a downturn in her luck after cutting her hair, Charmaine was asked if she was afraid of the same thing happening to her, but she replied that it is not related.

Bowie will be playing a Class I pilot in the show and he laughs that this will be more comfortable than Ekin because he is only responsible for flying the helicopter, whereas Ekin has to get wet through during the rescues. Bowie has also been through special training for the show, but he can only pretend to fly the helicopter and not do it for real. Bowie says that he has thought about applying for a helicopter licence, but he does not know how much the lessons will cost. He also says happily that he gains a lot of good from each of his shows as last time he learned to dive and this time he has learned how to fly a helicopter, so he can really handle land sea and air!


[Ta Kung Pao 27/01/05]

This year's Miss Chinese International Pageant will be taking place on Saturday and yesterday, the 22 contestants together with MC's Cheng Dan Shui, Stephen Au and Joe Ngai were rehearsing in TVB City and it also happened to be the 20th birthday of No 6 Linda Tomko from Seattle. The crew prepared a birthday cake for her and everyone sung 'Happy Birthday' to her and presented her with cards and flowers, making her very happy. Ah Dan called out that the MC's had to give her a birthday kiss, but in the end, he was the only one to blow her a kiss. The other girls then played a trick on the birthday girl, leaving her with cream on her nose.

Spending her birthday with 21 other girls from all over the world, Linda felt very happy because she has never spent her birthday with so many other girls before, so even if she had cream on her nose, she didn't mind because it was a lovely and happy surprise. When asked about her birthday wish, she hopes that she and her family have good health. Asked if she would like to win an award as a birthday present, she smiles that she will try her best. As well as the flowers and cards, some of the other girls had also presented her with some gifts, such as a purse and accessories.

Ah Dan was asked whether his refusal to really kiss Linda was because he was afraid of his wife and he laughs: "No, it is just that we did not need to go that far." He has been at TVB for over ten years, but this is the first time he has MC'ed for MCI and he feels very excited about it, complimenting the girls' appearances, saying the quality was not bad, especially No 10 Fala Chen.

Joe was the MC for Miss Hong Kong when Amy Kwok was the winner, but he will just be a guest this year, responsible for asking questions about Chinese history, so he will not bee too hard on them. Talking of the quality of beauty this year, Joe says that they are overall better than Miss Hong Kong, where he judged the 'Perfect Skin' award last year. In comparison, he feels that the MCI girls are more embracing and eyecatching, especially Kate Tsui, who seems more radiant and youthful than when she entered MHK, so she stands a good chance of winning.


(File photos)

[Ta Kung Pao 27/01/05]

Magazine reports broke the news yesterday that Law Ka Ying has been diagnosed with intestinal cancer and the press immediately called him to ask after his condition. Ka Ying did not evade the question and bravely admitted that he had suffered from cancer, but did not indicate which part of his body it affected, simply saying it was one of his vital organs and he has reached stage 3 of the condition. He said openly that he had an operation at the end of last year to remove the cancerous cells and with the chance of the cancer returning, the coming year will be a critical one and so he has stopped working at the moment so that he can rest and recover.

Ka Ying reveals that last year he was suffering from stomach pain and after a detailed body check, they could not find what the cause of the problem was. Only after an MRI scan did they find the cancer. He remembers distinctly that the date was 20th December and the operation was booked for 29th December. The wound from the operation is about a foot long and he needs to rest for at least three months to recover from his operation. At the moment, he has to eat very simply and keep a highly vegetarian diet as well as vitamin supplements to keep up his nutritional levels. He goes for check-ups every three days and after the operation he has not required chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Ka Ying says that at first when he found out about his condition, he was quite numb, but it is quite serious and of course this has left him with a low mood. Originally, he wanted to keep it low profile, because he did not want his family to worry about him, especially his mother who is in her eighties and has had a heart attack two years ago herself. He did not want to shock her in case her heart stopped again nor did he want to upset anyone else. Although his condition has been discovered now, he does not want to say much more.

Ka Ying says that this illness has made him realise that we should treasure life and our health. When asked if he will treasure his friend and consort Liza Wang even more, he says: "I will treasure our love. I have received an even greater care and love from her and her family since developing this condition and my friends have provided me with a lot of tips to get well, but I will only be receiving Western treatment for now. Still, I am thankful to my friends for their offers of help." His voice on the phone seemed rather weak and he indicated that he could not say too much. During his convalescence period, he is just taking it easy and not thinking too much and he just hopes to recover soon and get back into work.

Since Ka Ying confirmed his illness, good friend and partner Liza has been the focus of the press and after filming for "My Sassy Mother-in-Law" yesterday, Liza returned home to rest before returning to TVB City in the evening to continue filming. In response to the media attention asking after Ka Ying, she did not want to say very much at first, telling the press to ask him directly, but after continued hounding from the reporters, she finally spoke about his condition.

When asked if she was worried about him, Liza says: "He has been to see the doctor and had an operation a few weeks ago, we know that he is fine now. Illness is so difficult to predict and no-one wants to be ill. (How is he now?) Physically, he is rather weak and he has cancelled a lot of work so he can rest. The doctor has advised him to do some gentle exercise. Usually I have much more ailments than him and lacking in exercise. Conversely, he takes a lot of exercise, such as football and golf, so it is so hard to judge when illness comes."

Liza says that Ka Ying will have to rest for at least two months and originally they had planned to fly to Toronto to do a show at Chinese New Year, but now she has told him to stay at home and rest because the weather there is cold and she is worried that he cannot handle it. Liza adds:"A few days ago, he came to visit me filming at TVB City as well as dropping by to see Yuan Biao and Leung Ka Yan, but after walking a few paces in the car park, he was already very tired. Luckily his condition is very optimistic and he laughs that the operation was just like having a tooth extracted." She says that luckily the illness was detected early and in time, there should be good recovery.


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