Monday, March 19, 2018

Entertainment Newsreel #5: Mostly movies and a little bit of TV news...

Lots of movie news this past week due to the start of FILMART + HK Film Festival and also award show season with the Asian Film Awards and Director's Guild Awards, so the focus this time will be on movie industry news.  There is some TV industry news too, but not as much compared to the recent happenings in the film world.

Also, FILMART actually just started yesterday but I didn't want to wait until the end of the week to do this post, since there is so much info already, so if need be, I'll do a follow up later in the week to cover whatever may emerge from there, whether movies or television (I actually have a feeling the news we are waiting for on OCTB will be announced at FILMART – just a hunch, no inside info or anything….anyway, I'll post something up once I hear further).

Movie industry news


-          The big news coming out of the HK film world this week (aside from Leon's news but I'll get to that later) has to do with one of this generation's most prolific movie actors – Louis Koo.   This year's Asian Film Awards and Director's Guild Awards were held within days of each other and Louis won Best Actor at both award ceremonies (for his role in the movie Paradox, the much touted second installment in the SPL franchise).   As Louis himself said during his acceptance speech at the Asian Film Awards (which was held first), this is his first ever movie-related award so of course it means a lot to him.  I'm glad to hear him say this because in my opinion, being able to win at the Asian Film Awards is more "prestigious" than winning in one of HK's awards shows because the artists are going up against other artists / movies from across Asia – to be able to defeat other talented actors outside of Hong Kong is quite an accomplishment!  Congrats to Louis!!

-          Personally, I've never been a fan of Louis' acting, whether back when he was at TVB or after entering the movie world and filming boatloads of movies (honestly, the word "prolific" is an understatement – at one point, Louis seemed to be in every single movie out there, lol).  Don't ask me to explain why because I don't know – his acting just never appealed to me for some reason.  With that said though, I do have a lot of respect for Louis as a person and that respect has grown over the years after learning about his charity work (which he rarely talks about) as well as seeing his contributions to the film industry and his efforts at improving the industry as a whole.  [Sidenote: Louis was recently voted in as HKPAG (Hong Kong Performing Artists Guild) Chairman (taking over for previous Chairman Jackie Chan) and hearing his ideas on how he plans to support the industry was very encouraging!]  I'm happy for Louis with both his wins and I'm sure this is a boost of confidence for him heading into the HK Film Awards next month – he's up against some tough competition though so even though he is the "hot favorite" to take him the award there too, the results are hard to predict so let's see what happens.

-          At the Director's Guild Awards, the highlight of Louis' win is that people kept playfully teasing him about going up on stage and gracing the audience with his singing again.  This was actually a reference to Louis attending the annual HK Film Workers' Spring Dinner event last week  where he was pulled on stage during one of the performances and invited to sing a few lines from one of his songs with them.  Louis actually obliged (and was very gracious about it) – the video of him singing was uploaded online and of course it took the internet by storm, since it's very rare nowadays for Louis to be willing to open his "golden mouth" to sing.  So now, at every event, his colleagues as well as the reporters "tease" him about going on stage and singing for them – of course, Louis politely turns everyone down, but I love that he is so good-humored about it, even playing along with them in some instances and "pretending" to leave when the word "singing" is mentioned, lol.  It's rare for us to see Louis' playful side (he always looks so cool and serious) so I can definitely see why everyone is taking the opportunity to "tease" him while it lasts.  My respect for Louis actually went up a few notches this past week after seeing how he handled the whole "singing" thing….

-          On the Best Actress front – Sylvia Chang took home the Best Actress award at the Asian Film Awards for her performance in Love Education, which she also directed.  She wasn't able to repeat the win at the Directors Guild Award, however she did end up taking home the Best Director Award at that ceremony.

-          The winner(s) of the Best Actress award at the Directors Guild Awards ceremony were Teresa Mo for Tomorrow is Another Day and Stephy Tang for The Empty Hands.  Yes, you heard right – there were 2 winners for Best Actress because both actresses ended up in a tie and so the Guild decided to award both.  There's actually a funny story to this, which Teresa Mo told during her acceptance speech.  Teresa said that she threw away her husband Tony Au's voting form for these awards because he was away on a trip and she didn't feel it was right to vote on his behalf, even though she knew that he would've cast his vote for her in the Best Actress category anyway.  It turns out that 'one vote' mattered in this case, since it meant the difference between her winning the award and having to share it. 

-          The Best Actress race at the HK Film Awards next month will be interesting, as all three actresses -- Sylvia Chang, Teresa Mo, and Stephy Tang – are in contention for the coveted award (rounding out the category are Zhou Xun for Our Time Will Come and Chrissie Chau for 29+1).  The Directors Guild Awards is generally seen as a precursor to HKFA, as the winners there usually go in to win at the HKFA as well – true or not, I'm pretty sure they are not going to do another "shared win" thing at HKFA (can't remember the last time – if ever – that they had such a win at HKFA).  Personally, I'm rooting for Teresa (since she's an awesome actress and also one of my favorites) – this will be her 7th time being nominated for HKFA Best Actress so it's about time she won, though in all honesty, doesn't really matter to me who wins since I haven't watched any of the nominated films this year so can't really complain.  From various reports, I know that Stephy has done a great job this year and has already won multiple Best Actress awards already at other awards shows, so she is definitely the "hot favorite" going into HKFA, however I think both Teresa and Sylvia will give her a run for her money.  I'm fine with whoever ends up winning in this category. 


-          Speaking of Louis Koo – I'm sure Louis fans will be happy to know that there is finally more news on the movie version of his "classic" TVB series A Step into the Past.  Rumors have been circulating for several years already that Louis plans to do a movie version of the series and invite back the original cast to participate.  It was confirmed last year that Louis will indeed be producing the movie and starring in it, but beyond that, there weren't a whole lot of details available.  Well, yesterday at FILMART, they unveiled the official poster for the movie and provided some more details as follows:

o   The Chinese name of the movie will be the same as the series but the English name will now be called Back to the Past

o   Louis's own production company One Cool Film will be producing this, which I assume means that Louis will be given the Executive Producer title for the project (I didn't catch who the director will be though), however this will also be a co-production with Mainland company Huace Pictures.

o   Filming is scheduled to begin at the end of the year.

o   Confirmed "original" cast from the series are Louis, Raymond Lam, and Jessica Hsuan (this is actually not surprising, as it was already revealed earlier on that both Raymond and Jessica signed to Louis' management company, so it makes sense that they would re-unite for this film).  

o   The big question now is whether other "original" cast members will return as well.  There was no mention of additional cast at FILMART (at least not yet), so no doubt there will be further announcements and possibly press conference forthcoming in the next few months.  Current speculation though is that most likely the rest of the cast won't return, since majority of them have retired from the industry already or are have other filming obligations, plus the movie is a co-production with Mainland, which means that they have to save a few of the "top" roles for Mainland artists. 

-          My take – I was never a fan of ASITP the series so I'm indifferent toward the news of a movie version now being filmed, but I know a lot of people out there loved the series, so if those of you reading this are a fan of the series, I'm curious to hear your thoughts – please feel free to comment!  The way I see it, one good thing about this production is that Louis is producing it himself and with how involved he had been in the series (supposedly he had even written parts of the original script) and how much he cared about it, at least you know he will put in the effort to make it good and not butcher it like others would (I'm sure people still remember the previous movie remakes of TVB series that were done by different companies and ended up being horrible / un-watchable).     

-          The other "big" movie industry news (though technically not really specifically movie-related but since the artist is a film actor now, figured putting it here was more appropriate) this week – this one is "hot off the press"….Heavenly King Leon Lai finally confirmed that he will become a dad soon.  For those who were not aware (which is kind of impossible given how big this news has been, lol), media reports had surfaced last week that Leon and his assistant Wing (she works for his record label A-Music) were dating and that Wing was photographed with a bulging belly, which in the HK media world, meant that she is "most likely" pregnant.  So of course, rumors started flying that Leon will be a dad soon, though he had yet to confirm anything.  Leon had actually attended FILMART yesterday and refused to say anything when reporters asked him, but then a few hours later he posted a formal announcement on his Facebook page confirming the news that he and his girlfriend are indeed expecting (I'm sure all the media outlets – Chinese and English – will be re-posting his FB post so not going to bother posting it here).  With Leon joining the ranks of fatherhood now, he is the last of the 4 Heavenly Kings to settle down and start a family (though whether he will marry Wing or not remains to be seen – there was no mention of marriage in the post, only that he will become a father soon).  Congrats to Leon!  Even though I'm not a fan of his, I'm still happy for him, as having a child is a huge milestone and deserves to be recognized.

TV Industry news


-          The big news in terms of HKTV is that they have sold the rights to their series to i-cable arm Fantastic Television, who will be airing their series on their free-to-air channel starting on April 17th.  I won't go into detail here, since I already wrote up a  post on this a couple days ago and also stated my thoughts on this already.  Those that are interested can read that post here.


-          Fox Asia released a new extended trailer for their series Stain'd.  The trailer is 2 minutes, 12 seconds long and all 3 A-list leads – Anthony Wong, Kara Hui, Tse Kwan Ho – are featured.  This article from HK01 has a link to the trailer so you can watch it there, though I'm sure Fox Asia's webpage and also Youtube channel have it as well.  I actually haven't had a chance to watch it yet so can't really comment right now, but once I do get around to watching it, I'll definitely post something up about it.  Also, if I hear any news about when Fox Asia's series are scheduled to air, I'll make sure to post an update.


-          This one I'm actually excited about!!  If, like me, you're a fan of the TVB series Untraceable Evidence and have been "dying" for another Bowie Lam / Flora Chan collaboration (they did film Healing Hands together, but I wasn't a fan of that series / franchise so that doesn't really count, lol), rest assured that your (our) wish might be granted some time in the near future.  Bowie and Flora attended an event the other day (no, nothing related to entertainment stuff – it was an environmental / beach cleaning event that was sponsored by one of their mutual friends, former actress Sharon Kwok) and so reporters seized the opportunity to ask them when they are going to fulfill fans' wishes for them to collaborate again.  Bowie said that it's something he and Flora have talked about and that when they had their Untraceable Evidence cast reunion dinner a few weeks ago (I saw the pictures – ah, the memories!!!), he had already told Flora to save some room in her schedule for him.  Flora's answer was more of a "we'll see" response because she is currently working on her PhD in Education and so her schooling comes first (aside from her family of course).  She said that she had agreed to film that program about marriage for ViuTV because it fit her schedule for one, and two, they allowed her to produce the program and gave her free reign to do the program how she wanted, so she decided to add some educational elements to the show. 

-          Bowie opened his own production company recently and currently has a few scripts on hand that he is reading through (I wrote in my Entertainment Newsreel #4 about Bowie's plans to produce  and star in his own series – you can read the details here) – he said that from day one of opening his production company, he was already planning to invite Flora for another collaboration.  He said that there will definitely be another chance for them to collaborate again, but he can't confirm when that will be due to Flora's studies being her top priority right now.  Both of them are for it though, so it's just a matter of time. 

-          As a fan of the Bowie/Flora pairing in UE, I'm one of those waiting for them to collaborate again.  Now that Bowie has his own production company and the freedom to film whatever he wants, looks like we are closer than ever to seeing another collaboration between these two, the only thing is timing.  Flora did say during their joint interview that she also wants to collaborate with Bowie again, however she still has another 3 years to go in terms of her studies (for her PhD) so it will really depend on whether she is able to carve out some time in between.  I'm secretly praying that Flora will find the time in between her studies to take Bowie up on his offer.  PLEASE PLEASE Flora, please don't make us wait 3 years for another collaboration! 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

News Article: HKTV series to air on Fantastic Television starting in April

Some interesting news that came out a few days ago:  starting in April (on the 17th to be exact), i-Cable’s free-to-air channel Fantastic Television will be airing HKTV’s series.  According to the below article, the series that will be aired first is To Be or Not To Be (來生不做香港), which also happens to be one of my favorite HKTV series (I wrote a review on this series a couple years back – those interested can read it here).  When the reporter for media outlet HK01 contacted Fantastic Television, they gave a bit of a vague response and would only confirm that they will indeed be airing To Be or Not To Be starting 4/17 but declined to state whether they will be airing all the rest of HKTV’s series.  There are also (so far) few details on how the deal went down – meaning, did Ricky Wong sell the broadcasting rights for the series to Fantastic Television back when he was still in charge of HKTV or were the rights sold to them by his partner after he sold his stake in HKTV to him a few months back?  Also, did he sell ALL 16 of their series or only select ones?

My initial reaction when I heard this news – I wasn’t shocked, since I had already been anticipating something like this would happen…from the moment HKTV was denied a free-to-air TV license and their option to operate as a mobile broadcaster was also shot down by the courts, the writing was on the wall that something like this was inevitable.   With that said though, my only question is:  why Fantastic Television?  That is the one station with the least amount of standing in HK audience’s eyes right now – I mean, the station launched last year to little fanfare (to the point that many people had no clue they had launched) and since then, they have been the “quietest” station in that basically no one knows what programs they are filming and when they will air.  In fact, I heard that Fantastic Television had aired one of their own locally produced series a few months back yet barely anyone watched it because no one knew it was on.  To be honest, I would much rather that HKTV sell their series to ViuTV, as ViuTV at least has already established decent presence as a free-to-air channel and has a steady audience base already (albeit their audience pool is more of a “niche” group, but hey, having a steady audience that watches their programs on a consistent basis is better than having no audiences at all, right?). 

Given the circumstances, I am actually very curious how this “deal” came about and the reasons behind it.  If I have time, I’ll try to do some “digging” and see what I find.  Meanwhile though, fellow HKTV fans, I would like to hear your thoughts – do you think this is a good move on the part of HKTV, or a bad one?  Or neither?  Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section!


**Translation of article below – please note that I took some liberties when translating this article due to my more in-depth knowledge of the series and HKTV itself, so there were some facts added that weren’t in the original article itself.  Therefore, I consider the below to be more of a “paraphrase” of the article rather than a straight translation.**

Article originally published 3/15/2018

Source:  HK01

Fantastic Television to air HKTV series:  To Be or Not To Be will “re-broadcast” in mid-April

HKTV’s former chairman Ricky Wong (王維) had tried his hand at building up his TV station HKTV (香港電視網) from scratch, at one point investing heavily in the production of over a dozen high quality series such as The Election (), Borderline (警界), The Menu (導火新聞), etc.  Many of the audiences who watched HKTV’s series praised the subject matter for being fresh and also the overall high quality of their productions.  Unfortunately, despite audience support, HKTV was unable to obtain a free-to-air television license from the government, which forced them to halt all television production indefinitely and later on switch to becoming an E-commerce business instead.  Awhile back ago, HKTV decided to upload all of their series to Youtube so that all HK audiences could get a chance to watch their series, however later on, it was changed so that only overseas audiences could access, resulting in many HK audiences who wanted to watch not getting a chance to do so. [TN:  I actually didn’t know about this part, as I tried “re-watching” a few of HKTV’s series back when they first uploaded them to Youtube and didn’t have a problem accessing at all —but then again, I’m an “overseas audience” since I live in the U.S., so maybe that’s why?  If anyone who currently lives in HK happened to try accessing HKTV’s series on Youtube and indeed wasn’t able to, I would be curious to know if this part is true or not…].

For those audiences in HK who didn’t get to watch HKTV’s series, here’s your chance to do so, as their series To Be or Not To Be (來生不做香港) will be broadcast on new free-to-air station Fantastic Television’s channel 77 starting on April 17th.

Actually, To Be or Not To Be is a pretty good series that had received acclaim back when it first aired on HKTV.  Led by a strong veteran cast consisting of Maggie Cheung (張可), Prudence Liew (劉美), stage actor Poon Chan Leung (潘燦) [he is known as ‘Prince of Stageplays’], Savio Tsang (曾偉), Mimi Kung (龔慈), Wilson Tsui (), etc., the series tells the story of two sisters and their differences in upbringing [one in Mainland China and one in HK] that highlights their disparity in culture as well as value systems.  Even with the 3 to 4 year gap from the time the series initially aired to its re-broadcast next month, the series does not feel ‘outdated’ at all and in fact the subject matter is very much still relevant today.  With this news of Fantastic Television airing HKTV’s series, plus the earlier news that Fantastic Television had hired actor Wong He () as their Director of Programming, it appears that the station is now finally preparing to take some action on the TV series side of things. [TN:  I wrote about the Wong He thing in my Entertainment Newsreel post last week.  You can read about it here].

Towards broadcasting HKTV’s series, Fantastic Television responded to HK01’s inquiry as follows: “Fantastic Television will begin airing HKTV’s series around mid-April, with the intention that HK audiences will be able to enjoy their series on a free-to-air TV station.  Fantastic Television is committed to searching out and bringing high quality programs to its viewers.  As one of HK’s free-to-air television stations, Fantastic Television encourages growth and development of the television industry so that audiences can enjoy diverse and quality programming and truly have a choice in the free entertainment realm.”

In terms of whether the rest of HKTV’s series will be scheduled to air in the near future, Fantastic Television’s rep did not respond directly, only stating that there will be announcements of other productions airing at future dates [TN: They did not specify which productions so they could be referring to either their own productions or HKTV’s productions].

Monday, March 12, 2018

Entertainment Newsreel #4: More TV-related news….

Lots of TV news this past week!  Below are some of the highlights of TV industry related news that I read about this past week.  Again, this is not an all-inclusive list and most of this is being written from memory so there's a huge possibility I missed some stuff.  If there is anything I missed that you would like to know about, feel free to put in the comments and I'll either respond there or put it in the next post if I remember….

TV News

HMV (China 3D)

-          Hmv (China 3D) chairman Stephen Shiu Jr.  held a press conference last week announcing his intention to foray into TV series production (for those who are not familiar, his company currently produces movies and also music).  Stephen Shiu Jr. said that he is interested in doing web series because that's the largest media platform aside from movies – with movies, audiences spend 2 hours watching and that's it, but with TV series, they could spend 30 hours or more chasing a series.  He will be entering the web series arena (like pretty much every other HK production company out there nowadays) and his series will be available in OTT format as well as via phones and tablets.  One thing that Stephen Shiu Jr. said during an interview which I thought was interesting (and I'm assuming a huge reason why so many production companies nowadays are going into the "web series" market) is that he prefers web series because there are little to no limitations on what they are allowed to do, versus "regular" TV series (i.e. the kind TVB films) where target audience is more family-oriented and so they are limited by strict broadcast regulations.  He also said whether they continue on the series production route will depend on whether this first series is successful.

-          HMV's first series has already been filmed and is currently available on their platform HMVOD.  The series is called "Hong Kong West Side Stories" and will be 13 episodes at 30 minutes each.   Louis Cheung will star in the series as will Myolie Wu (in what is touted as her first official "comeback" since giving birth).  I still need to read up more on the series so not a whole lot of information to share at this point other than the series is a comedy and Louis plays an "animal whisperer" (someone who communicates with animals).

Fantastic Television (i-Cables free TV arm)

-          Awhile back ago, when ATV made its "comeback" as an internet TV station, one of the highly-touted "recruits" to join their venture is former TVB GM and current CRHK chairman (CEO? I'm bad with the terminology) Stephen Chan, who will be hosting the 2018 version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire for the station.  Nowadays, where Stephen Chan goes, we are likely to see his buddy Wong He as well, which is why I was not surprised in the least to see Wong He also attend ATV's launch party (filling in as host for Stephen Chan, who fell ill and couldn't attend) and confirming that he will be hosting a weekly program for them.  Well, it turns out that in addition to hosting programs for ATV, Wong He will have another responsibility soon – he was invited by the new COO of Operations for Fantastic Television (i-Cable's free-to-air TV arm that "quietly" launched last year) to be Creative Director overseeing production of their TV series (OTT format of course).  The announcement hasn't officially been made yet and while Wong He alluded to it in a recent FB post, it is pretty much still a "rumor" at this point (and apparently, not everyone at Fantastic Television knows, as HK01 interviewed someone who works there and they only know Wong He is joining but don't know what capacity).

-          Personally, I'm not too surprised, as Wong He has always been a talented (albeit opinionated) actor who obviously has his own ideas on how TV series should be produced (when he was with TVB, he was very vocal about stuff that he felt didn't make sense and had no problems approaching scriptwriters to "tweak" dialogue and such that didn't flow right).  In the years since leaving TVB, Wong He has continued to film stuff (movies, TV series, hosting programs etc.) and took the leap into behind-the-scenes work as well, writing scripts and also directing/producing stuff (this is what I've gathered from his interviews the past couple years – I don't have any specifics on what types of projects he has been involved with though).

-          It will be interesting to see what Fantastic Television's vision will be in terms of TV series with Wong He at the helm.  Since they launched last year (to pretty much zero fanfare), they have pretty much been in the shadows will not much coverage about them in the media (I follow some non-mainstream media outlets and only hear of the programs they produced occasionally).  I know they did produce a few series earlier on (I think they were idol-type series focused on love and relationships) but not sure if those series ever aired or whether they will continue in that direction in the future.


-          Ok, this one is technically not related to ViuTV (at least not yet), but since the artist I'm writing about currently still "works" for ViuTV (well, at least he still attends various ViuTV functions) and the news has to do with one of their series, I figured this was the most appropriate place to put this.

-          Earlier, when it was announced that former TVB producer Jonathan Chik (who has moved his career to Mainland) will be producing a brand new Mainland series with the cast from his 2011 TVB series "When Heaven Burns" (a series which fared dismally when it aired but was later pushed up by netizens as a "godly series"), there was much talk about the reunion between that series' main leads Charmaine Sheh, Moses Chan, and Kenny Wong.  However, one lead's name is glaringly missing from this list:  Bowie Lam.  Of course, people immediately started wondering whether Bowie will be in the new series or not, since he was instrumental as one of the 3 male leads (and technically it wouldn't be a true WHB reunion without him).  Well, according to HK01's interview with Bowie (which was in an article that came out early last week), Bowie will not be participating in Jonathan Chik's new series.

-          When asked about the new series, Bowie said that Jonathan Chik never approached him about it (interesting though not entirely surprising).  He said that even if Jonathan does approach him, he wouldn't be able to participate anyway because he will be producing and starring in a series of his own this year.  Bowie said that his series is in its preparation stage right now with the script still being worked on – cast hasn't been decided yet, all he knows is that he himself will be in it.  The series will be co-directed by 'fat ball' and '25', whom some of us here will recognize as the directors of the series that Bowie filmed for ViuTV earlier, "Margaret and David: Green Bean" – Bowie will serve as executive producer as well as main lead (not sure if he is writing the script too, as he didn't say specifically).  Bowie said that he hopes the series will be able to air at the end of this year.

-          I'm actually kind of excited because I was probably one of the few people who actually watched "Green Bean" and really liked it.  I didn't really follow the production too closely at the time but I had heard there had been problems during filming because of discord between the series' producer / author of the books the series was based on and the directors/cast (@sport – since you know more about this than me, feel free to comment), so it looks like this series gives the directors and Bowie the chance to do what they had wanted to do with M&D but couldn't?  I will definitely be keeping my ears open for more information on this.

And finally….TVB

-          The big news last week (which I'm sure everyone knows by now) was that TVB held a press conference on 3/9 "officially" announcing the return of golden screenwriter Chan Po Wah (she wrote many great series but the one all of us fans remember the most is of course "Blood of Good and Evil").  Technically, this is "old" news because Po Wah Jeh had already indicated in previous interviews last year that she would be returning, it's just that she was still working on the script for her new series at the time so nothing official was confirmed yet.  Based on those interviews, Po Wah Jeh will be returning for this one series only (as a favor for TVB) and will continue her career in Mainland (which has been very successful) once she's done.

-          The name of the series is "Wonder Women" and it will be a comedy.  Most of the cast had actually already been announced previously (male leads will be Raymond Wong and Pakho Chau) but TVB had (supposedly) kept the female lead top secret so they could announce on the day of the press con (more on this later).  Of course, everyone knows by now that Miriam Yeung was cast as female lead and will be returning to film this series for TVB after a 17 year hiatus (her last series was 2001's A Taste of Love).  Miriam will be pairing with Raymond in the series – this will be a reunion of sorts for them, as both of them collaborated previously in the movie Love Undercover.  The interesting part is that Raymond's character in this series has the same name as his character in that movie (which to me is a sign that TVB is playing up the Raymond/Miriam reunion and using their previous collaboration as a gimmick to hype the series).

-          Personally, I like Raymond – he has always been a solid actor in my book and was unfortunately under-utilized by TVB most of his career (I guess having a background in movies didn't help him much).  From the looks of things, it looks like Raymond will FINALLY be first lead in this series given that he will be pairing with Miriam – but of course, this is TVB after all so who knows….it's pretty obvious that TVB is trying to promote Pakho big time so they could very well make him first lead and Raymond is just co-lead like usual.  

-          Speaking of Pakho – I watched the his interview with reporters at the press con on the news the other day and he actually said that he knew in advance that Miriam was cast as the lead on the female side.  Normally this is no big deal, but the reason why I'm bringing it up here is because there was so much hoopla over TVB keeping the female lead a secret up until the press con – in fact, TVB made it quite clear that only the top execs and the series' producer/director knew who the female lead would be.  Raymond said that he had no clue who the female lead would be and only found out when he saw Miriam walk onto the stage during the presscon (though he said that when he heard his character's name in the series, he did suspect for a brief moment that it could be Miriam but he didn't think it was possible given her status now).  So if only the execs and producer were supposed to know and it's obvious no one else from the cast knew, how the hell did Pakho already know in advance?  Sounds suspicious – either Pakho is claiming to know when he really didn't or TVB chose to share the information with him only, which tells me that in their eyes, they are considering Pakho as the lead who gets privy to "inside" information (this is the way TVB usually does things – when they have someone they consider a big enough lead filming for them, they will share all sorts of information with them…I honestly don't consider Pakho a "big name" but I guess TVB has different standards, as usual).

-          Personally, I'm not excited at all.  Chan Po Wah is one of my favorite scriptwriters and prior to this announcement, I truly was looking forward to her new series, but as soon as the cast was announced, all interest went out the window.  I like Raymond, but not to the point where I would watch every series he is in.  I'm not a fan of Miriam's and though I feel she is a competent enough actress, she's not someone I would be excited to watch.  No comment on Pakho, since I didn't watch his previous series (though I heard that his performance was very wooden) but I've never been a fan of his singing either so him being in this series means nothing to me honestly.  For me, the biggest reason to skip this series is because Tony Hung and Rebecca  Zhu are also co-starring in this – both are artists I can't stand at all (I've taken to turning off the TV whenever I see Tony on screen now, lol).  So yea, this one is a definite skip for me.

-          By the way, for those who are wondering – yes, this is the series that Chan Po Wah had originally said she had "written especially for" Sheren Tang…and yes, this was the series that triggered all those rumors of Sheren returning to film for TVB again after the fallout they had earlier (I saw some websites back then "report" Sheren's return as "confirmed" and "for sure" which honestly pissed me off because I hate such irresponsible reporting – one of my biggest pet peeves is when people try to pass off rumors as "confirmed truth" without doing their due diligence to vet the info….how hard is it to put "rumored" in front of the information so people aren't misled??).  Anyway, looks like whatever the original plan was for Sheren to star in this, those plans fell through – I'm not sure what happened (I've been trying to dig on both sides but so far haven't come up with anything).  Reporters did ask Po Wah Jeh at the press conference about Sheren originally being slated to star in this series, but she gave a vague response, saying something along the lines of "Sheren and I will get the chance to collaborate again in the future".  From Sheren's side, I know in earlier interviews (late last year), she had talked about being really excited to work with Po Wah Jeh again and all indication at that time was that the likelihood of her returning for the series was high.  Since I like Po Wah Jeh, I am going to give her and TVB the benefit of the doubt in this instance and assume that Sheren couldn't participate due to schedule conflict (though of course I have no idea how it went down).

-          One last interesting fact – in previous interviews, Po Wah Jeh had thrown around the idea of casting Sheren and also Francis Ng as the leads for this series, but now the confirmed leads are Miriam, Raymond and Pakho.  I don't know about you but to go from Sheren and Francis to  Miriam / Raymond / Pakho is a HUGE downgrade in my opinion.  Just saying….

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Entertainment Newsreel #3: Mostly television industry news....

Hello!  My apologies for how late this post is compared to my earlier newsreel post.  I’ve been really busy since returning from Jacky’s concert in mid-February so I’m still trying to play catch-up on some stuff.  Luckily, with the Chinese New Year holiday, there wasn’t a whole lot of major entertainment news the past two weeks (at least not stuff that I care about) so that’s good.

Below is this week’s newsreel post.  Note that it’s shorter than usual because I’m still catching up, plus most of what I wanted to relay about HKTV and the television industry I already posted up detailed articles on last week so make sure you check those out as well.

Television industry news


-          Someone asked me earlier if I knew when Fox Asia’s 2 HK series Trading Floor and Stain’d will air.  At the time, I said I don’t know because I truly didn’t know…but last week, I read an article where one of the executives from Fox said that both series are scheduled to air in “Spring 2018”.  Of course, that’s still a big vague, but at least it helps us narrow down the time period – since spring officially starts in March and lasts through May, then it’s pretty safe to say that both series will air anytime within the next 3 months, so watch for the official announcement (which I anticipate will come any minute now).

-          Honestly, I can’t wait, as I’ve been highly anticipating both series.  I even downloaded Fox’s app on my iPad already so I can be prepared once they air (and yes, I already combed through it when I downloaded it to see if there was any info about the 2 series, but so far nothing – I didn’t check last week though so unless they updated recently….).


-          So far, the only “big” news from ATV is that they are already working on the much-touted television remake of “A Better Tomorrow”.  ATV’s CEO Ng Yu attended an event recently and revealed that they are throwing millions of dollars into the production, though cast has still not been confirmed yet.   I personally still think that the leads are going to be Mainland artists, as Ng Yu pretty much “hinted” at such when he said that they “will be throwing millions of dollars into the production because they want to ensure quality and also well-qualified Mainland actors are expensive” (yes, he actually did mention Mainland actors and production costs in the same sentence, though he didn’t say outright that he was going to cast Mainland artists). 

-          Ng Yu also implied that he originally was thinking about having HK singer/actor William Chan star in the series.  When reporters asked him about the cast for ABT remake, Ng Yu said that they are still working on it, but the biggest problem is with artists’ schedules – for example, in the past, whenever he would approach William Chan to participate in something, he would readily oblige, however nowadays when he approaches him, he is not able to accommodate due to his busy schedule filming in Mainland (remember that Ng Yu was head of EEG before he got pulled out of retirement to head up ATV comeback venture and William was EEG artist, so of course he could get him to do anything he wanted).

-          As I’ve said before, I’m not keen on this whole remake thing, especially with such an iconic classic as ABT, so most likely I won’t watch anyway, no matter who they end up casting.  Personally, I’m just interested in seeing how ATV fares this time around and whether they will succeed in “re-inventing” themselves.  So far, it doesn’t look promising at all (read my previous posts on ATV and you’ll probably understand why) but it’s still early so we’ll see….


-          I know everyone is dying to find out latest on OCTB.  The latest “news” on the OCTB front – this comes from a  post that OCTB production team put up on their social media pages back on 2/22: they will officially start filming Season 2 in Spring 2018 (everyone seems to love spring, lol), which pretty much means in the next couple weeks, with anticipated airing date of Winter 2018 (so December it looks like).  This is great news actually, as I originally thought we won’t get to watch season 2 until 2019, but looks like they are pushing for sooner – basically end of the year 2018.

-          The same social media post also indicated that there will be 2 major OCTB-related events coming up soon so watch for those announcements!  [Sidenote:  I have a feeling I might now know what those “events” are but I will hold off since I could be completely wrong for one and two, it sounds like the announcement will come really soon so no point in speculating].

-          The following is actually “old” news from end of February (I read about it at the time but didn’t have time to write up this post on it so figured I’d mention it here):

o   HMV setup a booth at the annual CNY fair in HK a few weeks ago selling all sorts of OCTB paraphernalia – pillows, mugs, playing cards, etc., all with OCTB cast and/or scenes and/or logo on them.   Justin Cheung (aka Jiu Jik) and Benji Chiang (aka Sai Wah) were responsible for manning the booth each day and helping to sell stuff (Justin especially since a lot of the stuff had his Jiu Jik character’s face on them, lol). 

o   Benji was interviewed and said that they actually have plans to release more OCTB merchandise in the coming months for fans to purchase, since it will be awhile before season 2 airs and they wanted to keep the momentum going.  He said that they are super excited about OCTB character action figures that are being made right now and also video games based on the series that are in the works as well.   Looks like they are definitely “going all out” in terms of promo for the series, which they can afford to do now that they’ve got Netflix backing them financially!

o   Speaking of Netflix…Justin was interviewed as well and was asked about season 2 and 3 filming.  He wouldn’t reveal too much of course but he did say that seasons 2 and 3 both got the green light to film.  Both seasons will also air on Netflix, which has become an investor in the series and will be contributing financially to the project (this of course means that future seasons could incorporate Hollywood stars).  Also, Justin’s character will continue to be significant in season 2 and they are currently planning out how his character will evolve…

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

News Article: Hong Kong to liberalise rules for cross-media ownership in first major broadcasting policy change in 17 years

The big news in the HK television industry this week is the government's long-awaited move to "loosen up" the city's notoriously restrictive broadcasting rules.  

The article below explains it pretty well so I'm not even going to attempt to paraphrase things — you can read the details for yourself either below or in the link to the original article provided.

So what does this mean for the issuance of new free-to-air licenses?  Well, here's the thing — essentially the only major change the government is making in terms of licenses is that they will allow some of the companies that were previously banned from applying for TV licenses (newspaper outlets, advertising agencies, etc) to do so now.  With the "playing field" expanded now, this opens the door for more "players" to come in and apply for a TV license in HK, which means that there could potentially be more "contenders" for licenses than ever before.  With that said however, the other major rules (owners must be HK resident for minimum 7 years; final approval of license rests in the hands of Chief Executive) as well the license approval process in general don't change (at least not on paper), which means that the government can still decide to approve or not approve licenses at whim — in other words, the change may mean more applicants, but that doesn't necessarily equate to more licenses, since approval is still up to the government.

TVB is understandably okay with these "new rules" because 1) it doesn't really affect them much where competition is concerned, since government still has final say-so in terms of approvals and we all know that TVB has the government "in their pockets", ready to do their bidding; 2) it is actually more beneficial to TVB because one of the rules the government is doing away with is having to get their (govt) approval for non-HK residents to have a "controlling stake" in a free TV station (TVB's Mainland investor Li Rui-gang tried to do exactly this — officially "take over" the station — last year but had to abandon the effort because it violated this particular rule).  So now Li Rui-gang can renew his efforts without fear of being rejected and proceed to turn TVB into a Mainland station with expanded footprint into Hollywood (wait, wasn't TVB already going down this path anyway?).

The other 2 free TV operators in the city — ViuTV (NowTV) and Fantastic Television (I-cable) — haven't officially responded to this news but to be honest, it's not like they have much of a say anyway, since their footprint is so small right now that their opinion probably doesn't matter much in the eyes of the government.  

Who this really affects are those companies that currently have license applications still "pending" with the government (specifically HKTV) as well as any future companies that may decide to apply.  With the opening up to more applicants, a company like HKTV, which already got rejected once by the government and basically has been on their shxt-list ever since, stands even less chance of ever being approved for a license (the govt will now have more companies to compare against and claim that all of them are "more qualified" than HKTV).  Like I said in the previous article that I posted — more and more, it's looking like Ricky Wong made a wise decision to pull himself out and instead focus on e-commerce.  No doubt he will find more success there than the struggling HK television industry....


Source: SCMP

Hong Kong to liberalise rules for cross-media ownership in first major broadcasting policy change in 17 years

Cross-media ownership rules in Hong Kong will finally be liberalised under proposed changes to broadcasting regulations widely viewed as outdated since they have remained unchanged for 17 years.

If the suggested changes, laid out in a public consultation document released on Tuesday by the government, are approved by the Legislative Council, newspaper owners, advertising agencies and other media companies will be able to get into the free TV, pay TV or radio broadcasting business.
They had previously been banned from cross-media holdings to avoid editorial uniformity and a potential industry monopoly, but a rapidly changing media landscape and technological advances have prompted a total rethink.

However, the ban on awarding new broadcasting licences will remain in place for those already running free TV, pay TV or radio businesses.

And individuals who have yet to gain permanent residency through seven consecutive years of living in Hong Kong will not be given new licences either, making such businesses off-limits to overseas or mainland Chinese owners.

Besides relaxing cross-media ownership rules, the government also proposed to: refine restrictions on foreign control by allowing non-Hong Kong residents to own more shares in free TV companies without securing the government's approval; allow free TV and sound broadcasting licensees to be subsidiary, rather than independent companies; and keep the status quo in granting approval for broadcasting licenses.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said "the proliferation of online infotainment covering a range of different tastes, focuses and stances" meant the risk of editorial uniformity in traditional media "had been significantly reduced".

"Our goal is to facilitate innovation of and investment in the industry to bring about greater benefits to the community," Yau said, adding that easing the rules could also help traditional media stay afloat amid increasing competition from their internet-based counterparts.

While the city's dominant free-to-air broadcaster, TVB, welcomed the government move as long overdue, some academics and experts were lukewarm about it, seeing the official approach as too conservative.

The three-month consultation announced on Tuesday is the first major bid to overhaul broadcasting regulations, which were introduced in 2000 when internet access was just expanding. Industry players have long called for a review of the rules, given the evolution of the media landscape.

Current restrictions resulted in mainland Chinese media tycoon Li Ruigang, a major shareholder of The Young Lion Holdings, seeking special approval from then chief executive Leung Chun-ying in 2016 to become a non-executive director of TVB because of his association with an advertising agency across the border and overseas.

In 2000, Richard Li Tzar-kai, a son of tycoon Li Ka-shing, had to obtain special approval from the government to buy Cable and Wireless HKT VOD services. It was because his father and his elder brother Victor, who control Hutchison Whampoa, now called CK Hutchison, are the ultimate owners of Metro Radio.

A TVB spokesman said: "We have, many times in the past, reflected to the government and the Communications Authority that some parts of the Broadcasting Ordinance … were too harsh and out of date."

Major pay TV service operator Cable Television said it was not prepared to comment at this stage.
The head of Shue Yan University's department of journalism and communication, Professor Leung Tin-wai, said: "Rapid advancement in technology is blurring the traditional boundaries between telecommunications and broadcasting. The government is too conservative. It should have removed all the licensing obstacles for media."

Francis Fong Po-kiu, president of the Hong Kong Information Technology Federation, echoed Leung's views: "Many newspapers now run videos to supplement their online reports. And TV stations also make use of the internet to reach out to more audience. It is a bit backward if the government still mulls ways to control the media by means of licensing."

Fong said the proposed changes were also meant to address the "imbalance" in the regulatory regimes for traditional broadcasting services and internet media, as the growth of internet-based TV and audio programme services in recent years had changed the business environment of Hong Kong's broadcasting industry.

According to government studies, the time a viewer spends on free TV dropped from 3.2 hours a day in 2009 to 2.3 hours last year.

In 2009, some 85.6 per cent of the audience would view free TV programmes every day, but the percentage dropped to 71.8 per cent in 2017.

TV advertising revenue fell from HK$13.4 billion (US$1.71 billion) in 2013 to HK$11.9 billion in 2016, while that of digital media rose to HK$5.2 billion in 2016, from HK$3.5 billion in 2013.

In its evaluation of the current regime, the government rejected public calls for the Communications Authority alone to approve free TV licence applications, maintaining that the chief executive in council should remain the authority for free or pay broadcasting services locally.

As for internet-based TV and sound programme services, the commerce minister referred to the experience of regulators overseas and stated the government's preference for such areas to continue operating without broadcast licensing controls.

The public consultation for changes to broadcasting regulations ends on May 19. Later this year, the government will consult the public on proposed amendments to telecommunications regulations, specifically relating to 5G services and the internet of things.

Lawmaker Charles Mok, who represents the IT sector, said the government had not addressed in its consultation paper the issue of quality of programmes in the media.

But he was pleased to see that officials had decided against a licensing scheme for internet-based media.

News Article: Google and HKTV to wake up Hong Kong's e-commerce 'wasteland'

This is a supplemental article which I came across recently that "follows up" the 2 articles I posted last month about HKTVmall and Ricky Wong's new marketing project (announced via press conference back in January).  This article says essentially the same thing as those other 2, except in English (good, so don't have to translate, lol) and also talks about the Google connection, which neither of the other articles (in Chinese) had mentioned.

So it looks like Ricky Wong's focus will truly be on expanding HKTVmall rather than television production.  Of course, I don't blame him for what comes down to "giving up" on the HK television industry...I mean, it's a pretty big deal to partner up with a major company like Google and seeing that HKTV is essentially a "pioneer" for e-commerce in HK with the potential to expand across Asia, it makes sense to focus on a business that makes good money and has a bright future.

By the way, there is some major HK television industry news that came out this past week which could affect the issuance of licenses in the future and also shake up the future TV landscape pretty significantly (I'll post the article up on that when I get a chance)...that news coupled with HKTVmall's obvious better success in the e-commerce realm, sounds like Ricky Wong chose the right path this time around...


Google and HKTV to wake up Hong Kong's e-commerce 'wasteland'

Source:  Nikkei Asian Review

HONG KONG -- Hong Kong has long been a shoppers' paradise, a densely packed city with an endless variety of shops. Ironically, perhaps, this has made it hard for online retailers to gain a foothold, earning the territory a reputation as a wasteland for e-commerce.
But things are changing. Smartphone-toting young people are moving online in search of deals, bringing life to the online retail market. In response, Hong Kong Television Network, the largest e-commerce player in the territory, has joined hands with Google to help sellers break into the business.
The partners have begun a program that offers a relatively inexpensive way to put one's wares online. For a fee of 100,000 Hong Kong dollars ($12,700) to Google, retailers can open an online shop on HKTV Mall, a web shopping portal. For the first year, sellers are exempt from sales commissions, as well as having annual membership fees of about 6,000 HKD ($768) and deposits of some 5,000 HKD waived.
This frees up time and money for web retailers looking to open shops on the mall, and gives them access to Google tools that let them track and analyze shoppers' viewing and purchasing histories, helping them raise sales and profits.
HKTV has also started a marketing support program for people new to e-commerce. The Base, located in the company's Multimedia and Ecommerce Centre in the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate, offers work spaces, equipment and seminars for new and would-be online entrepreneurs.
The Base was once a studio for shooting TV dramas. The former studio's recording equipment and facilities are available for free. They can be used to produce promotional videos for goods sold online, for instance. In addition to participants in the company's e-commerce startup program, popular YouTubers and social media stars with a certain number of followers can use The Base for free.
Nearly 200 people attended a recent event organized by HKTV to introduce its e-retail support program. Speaking at the event, Chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay said the future of Hong Kong will be determined by young consumers. The telecom and media mogul added he wants to learn new ideas about e-commerce and digital media from young people.
One attendee welcomed the initiative, saying opening a physical store is a big financial challenge because of soaring rents in Hong Kong. Wong is popular among young residents as a business whiz with a flair for spotting and riding new trends.
In the 1990s, Wong elbowed his way into the market for fixed-line telephone service in the territory, which was then dominated by big conglomerates, triggering a price war.
In 2012, he renamed his business HKTV to emphasize his foray into broadcast TV. But the Hong Kong government refused to grant a license to the outspoken tycoon, fretting over his penchant for controversy.