Friday, February 10, 2017

HK Television Wars – Latest updates

It has been a long time since I’ve written about the ongoing “war” between TVB and the HK television industry.  Personally, I haven’t really been following TVB news as closely anymore (though of course I haven’t abandoned them completely – kind of hard to after following them for 30 years), but I’ve continued to keep tabs on the HK entertainment industry in general, especially as it pertains to my favorite artists or entertainers I grew up watching.  And yes, I’m also still keeping tabs on the HK television wars (aka the free-to-air licensing issue) to some extent (time permitting of course).

Here’s an update on a few things that have been going on recently impacting the HK television industry and TVB (note that this is NOT all-inclusive of everything that has been going on in the industry lately…I only cover a few things that come to mind):

1)      i-Cable’s free TV arm Fantastic Television finally received their license in hand last year and a few months ago, they held a press conference announcing that they are planning a launch date of May 2017.  As with their usual style, i-Cable’s management team has been super-secretive about their programming content, though what is known so far is that their business model will be very similar to ViuTV (NowTV’s free TV arm, which launched last year) in that their focus will be on variety programs and purchased content rather than self-produced TV series.

To be honest, I don’t get these companies’ mentality.  It doesn’t sound like they are serious at all about competing with TVB.  Everyone and their mothers know how “obsessed” HK audiences are with television series and currently TVB is pretty much the ONLY option when it comes to TV series production.  Doesn’t it make sense then that if you’re planning to launch a new TV station, your first priority should be to produce high quality television series that will  give you a decent chance of pulling in the ratings and audience share long-held by TVB?  I would surely think so!  Yet, both of the TV stations that were granted free-to-air television licenses 4 years ago (gosh, time sure does fly!) have chosen to go the complete opposite direction.  When ViuTV launched last year, they even stated publicly that they are “not  trying to capture TVB’s core audience” but rather, are focusing on those audiences who have abandoned TVB already, with the goal of producing content that will bring these audiences back to watching HK television.  Um, ok….sure, ViuTV, that’s a lofty goal and we appreciate the idea of wanting to bring HK audiences back but don’t you guys think that’s an unrealistic goal given the current environment in HK?  Besides, do you guys truly think that HK audiences who have abandoned TVB are now all of a sudden going to come scrambling back to watch variety programs, reality shows, and Cantonese-dubbed Korean series?  Did the ATV lesson of “how not to run a TV station in HK” teach you guys anything???  Apparently NOT…..

Anyway, back to the subject of i-Cable (aka Fantastic Television) launching soon.  According to recent reports (like literally from yesterday’s newspapers), Fantastic Television – which had put in an application to the Communications Authority last year (June 2016) to grant them some of the over-the-air broadcasting spectrum that ATV had to give back to the government after they closed last year – has now decided to put the broadcast spectrum talks on hold.  The Communications Authority is perplexed at this decision (and rightfully so) because Fantastic  Television won’t be able to broadcast in a free-to-air environment without establishing a terrestrial network, which is what the spectrum does (don’t ask me to explain the details cuz I’m not scientific so not 100% sure how it works).  Basically, without the spectrum, the station would need to purchase transmitters and a bunch of other equipment in order to transmit their signals in the free-to-air capacity, which would mean huge investment on their side.  Frankly, I’m scratching my head on this one as well – I mean, I highly doubt i-Cable has their own broadcast spectrum like HKTV does (which is the reason why Ricky Wong didn’t bother applying for ATV’s broadcast spectrum back when they gave it back to the government last year).  Something doesn’t sound right with this whole thing (the media outlets are actually calling this “a blow to HK’s free-to-air television market”), though who knows what the real story is behind the scenes.  I guess we will have to wait and see what happens in 3 months when the station officially launches.


2)      On the free-to-air license application front, the “big” (albeit “old”) news is that Forever Top (the consortium led by David Chiu – the son of former ATV owner Deacon Chiu – and Pansy Ho) decided to “suspend” their application for a free-to-air license in September of last year.  Their explain was that they need to “reorganize their corporate structure” before deciding whether to resume the application process.  Not really sure what that means, but putting my business hat on, I’m going to make an educated guess that there was either a major change in their executive ranks (i.e. maybe David and Pansy’s companies decided to part ways?) or there was some type of merger / acquisition (or something of that sort)….whatever the case may be, there is guaranteed to be a financial impact in one way or another, which is most likely the “real” reason why they are suspending their application.

So with Forever Top suspending their application, that leaves HKTV as the only other candidate out there with their second application for a license still pending.  I’m pretty sure Ricky Wong is banking on the fact that the new Chief Executive (we will know who it will be soon enough) coming in will be “nicer” to him than CY Leung was and perhaps give him the license that he has been trying to get (anyone want to bet that RW is hoping and praying that John Tsang becomes CE, since he has an amicable relationship with RW and HKTV?).  To be honest though, when it comes to government and politics, there is no such thing as “playing nice” or “playing fair”….doesn’t matter that the former Finance Commissioner was “supportive” of HKTV in the past – once he gets to the CE spot (if he makes it that is), he will need to abide by a different set of rules.  Personally, I don’t think HKTV will ever get their license (and this coming from a huge HKTV supporter) – the political environment in HK right now is toxic and tensions in society are at its highest levels.  With all the issues in the city right now (some of them “life and death” issues), I’m sure that deciding whether to grant new free-to-air TV licenses is low priority.  Besides, if the government decides to deny HKTV for a second time, I’m fairly certain that Ricky Wong and HKTV won’t get the type of mass audience support they got back in 2013 after the first license denial.  I could come up with many reasons to support why but will only cover a few here:  one – a lot has changed in the past 4 years and there are more pressing issues for Hong Kongers to worry about now; second – with ATV gone and ViuTV flopping, most HK television audiences are already resigned to the fact that they will be forever chained to TVB and if they don’t like it, then they can look outside of the city (i.e. China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, etc.) for entertainment options that fit their needs, since the local alternatives (non-TVB fare) aren’t appealing.  Besides, after seeing how poorly ViuTV is performing, it’s understandable that audiences don’t have confidence that other stations coming in will do any better.  The bottom line is that the “momentum” is not there anymore – HKTV’s best chance of getting a license was in 2013 and maybe 2014 when their series were airing and everything was still “fresh” with audiences…now that 3 years have gone by (and who knows how much longer it will be until the government decides to pick up the license issue again), HKTV has already been largely forgotten.  I hate to say it, but as much as I still support HKTV, I’m not oblivious to the reality of the situation.

3)      In terms of TVB – well, let’s just say that they’ve (supposedly) got challenges of their own to deal with.  Aside from being fined left and right by the Communications Authority for repeatedly violating rules governing product placement and indirect advertising on their programs (which TVB has been fighting the CA tooth and nail), TVB has been trying to fend off unsolicited offers to buy their company.  Just 2 days ago, there was a little known Mainland production company that offered to buy 30% stake in TVB – this while internally, the station’s current biggest shareholder Young Lion Holdings, led by Mainland investor Li Ruigang, just launched a share buyback program that will give themselves an even stronger hold on TVB. 

In addition, TVB decided to return their pay TV license back to the government last month, citing that they’ve been losing money on pay TV service for years now and it is no longer sustainable to be in that market.  They’re also claiming that their 2016 net profit will be down significantly (they are saying it will be down by as much as 55% to 65%) due to declining advertising revenue.  The numbers aren’t out yet so there’s no way to know whether TVB is exaggerating or not, but as a point of reference, from 2014 to 2015, TVB’s net profit went down by 6% (they went from net profit of HK$1.41 billion in 2014 to HK$1.33 billion in 2015).  Ok, I will be the first to admit that I haven’t the slightest clue how much it costs to run a TV station, but um, with the economy the way it is right now, being able to still turn over a profit in the billions of dollars is damn good if you ask me!  Sure, TVB is “making less” than what they made the year before, but it’s not like they are really losing money or operating “in the red” like ATV was doing.  Honestly, TVB should quit their whining over declining ad revenue (and all the other stuff they’ve been complaining about such as audiences’ viewing habits changing to watching series online rather than on the TV) and instead put that energy into producing better programs.  Their reputation has been in the toilet for more than a decade now and things are only going to get worse with more and more entertainment options cropping up globally.  But I guess that’s too much to ask of a company that already has an unchallenged monopoly on the HK television industry….



Friday, January 6, 2017

News Article: Hong Kong’s king of comedy Michael Hui hopes to direct a film again after 25-year hiatus - to give the city some hope

Here is a great interview that SCMP did with one of my favorite HK actor-comedians, Michael Hui.  I was actually quite a huge fan of the Hui brothers (Michael, Sam, Ricky) back in the day – loved watching their movies and of course, with Sam, loved his music too!   The Hui brothers brand of humor was quite unique and Michael especially never failed to crack me up, whether with his comedic antics in his movies or his speaking gigs on various variety shows.  One of the things I loved most about the Hui family (back then and even now too) was the awesome chemistry between the brothers as well as how close-knit the entire clan was – it was always a joy to see how the brothers always supported each other both on and off screen (when any of the brothers would hold a concert, you’re guaranteed to see the other brothers sitting in the audience).   Their type of chemistry and also immense talent within the family is hard to come by nowadays in the entertainment industry (the only other family that comes close in my opinion is the Chiang family, whom I also adore).

Reading this interview brought back so many memories of the good old days for me.  It also made me realize how much I missed the Hui brothers (Michael rarely films anything nowadays and is enjoying a semi-retired life playing with his grandkids, Sam is officially retired and only comes out occasionally to do a concert or two, and Ricky – well, kind of hard for me to mention Ricky without getting teary-eyed since he passed away 6 years ago).   I remember back in the old days whenever Sam would do a concert and both his brothers Michael and Ricky would be in attendance to show their support, then during “intermission” they would go up and do their hilarious comedic segment (which usually included a song or two – that entire family is talented in music too!!).  Michael’s comedic routines (whether solo or with his brothers) were always funny and I always got a kick out of how Michael always managed to keep a straight face during his routines when everyone else was doubled over laughing (he’s known for this actually – he’ll say the most hilarious of things but still have a serious expression on his face, lol).

One of my fondest memories of Michael is how he would constantly “complain” (jokingly of course) that his little brother Sam overshadowed him in everything, whether it be looks (yes, Sam was definitely good-looking, lol), talent (acting and singing – well, Sam WAS the first generation God of Songs, lol), popularity (yes, Sam was VERY popular back in the day), their parents’ affection (Sam was the youngest of the 4 Hui brothers and as the Chinese saying goes, “the youngest son has the keys to the parents’ hearts”), etc .  So when Michael had grandkids first (since his children were older than Sam’s), he said he was so happy and proud because finally there was something where he was “better” than Sam.  The  way Michael described his little “feud” with his brother in interviews (and in his comedy routines) was absolutely HILARIOUS – he said something along the lines of when his first grandchild was born, he deliberately took the child over to Sam’s house so he could rub in his face the fact that he had a grandchild and that finally he had something Sam didn’t….but then later on, when Sam’s sons started having kids too, Michael’s bubble got burst when Sam brought HIS grandkids over to Michael’s house to boast that HE had grandkids now too (hahahaha…just thinking about the expression on Michael’s face when he recounted that story is enough to make me laugh!).  Awww, love these brothers, lol!!  Makes me want to go pull out a Hui Brothers movie now and re-watch it!

A side note about last year’s Golden Horse awards:  to be honest, I was kind of conflicted back when I found out both Michael and my idol Jacky Cheung were nominated in the Best Actor category (Michael for Godspeed and Jacky for Heaven in the Dark) for roles that both of them performed very well in.  I would’ve been happy if either of them won, though of course I would not want to be one of the judges for that awards show because I definitely would not have been able to choose between them (I ended up rooting for both, though it turns out that neither ended up winning).

Anyway…I definitely enjoyed this interview and hope you guys do too!  Oh, and I will most certainly be on the lookout for the next film that Michael is planning to write/direct/act in! 

*******

Hong Kong’s king of comedy Michael Hui hopes to direct a film again after 25-year hiatus - to give the city some hope

Source: SCMP
Written by Edmund Lee 

Michael Hui in the office of his production company in Causeway Bay.


After being nominated as best director in Taipei’s prestigious Golden Horse Awards for his 1978 film The Contract, Michael Hui Koon-man thought it was going to become a habit. After all, he had just co-scripted, directed and starred in the now-classic The Last Message (1975) and The Private Eyes (1976), and would go on to cement his place as a Hong Kong comedy legend within a decade.

But for the longest time it seemed that lightning was not going to strike twice.

“I remember that when I was nominated 38 years ago, I thought a nomination would follow every year afterwards,” says the 74-year-old, who was finally nominated again – this time as best actor – for his leading role in the Taiwanese film Godspeed. “If they were to give me the prize this time, it’d be because they thought I didn’t have another 38 years to wait – it would be for humanitarian reasons.”

Michael Hui Koon-man on the red carpet at the 53rd Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, Taiwan in 2016. Photo: Reuters

The cruellest part of the experience for Hui is that – despite heading into the November 26 awards ceremony as favourite for the best leading actor prize – he didn’t win this one, either.

Ironically, missing out on the top honour probably suited Hui just fine: during our 45-minute chat, he shows repeated glimpses of the perfectionism that has made him a solitary artist and one who seldom feels his work is good enough.

Michael Hui as a Hong Kong native who has had a hard time since moving to Taiwan in the film Godspeed.

It’s reasonable to think Hui might have put some of his pent-up frustration into his character in director Chung Mong-hong’s engrossing Godspeed – part road movie, part violent crime drama. In the film, Hui brings his funny Hong Kong accent to the role of Old Hui, a Hongkonger who has struggled to make ends meet since moving to Taiwan 25 years earlier.

Coldly received by his family, Hui spends his days and nights driving an old taxi around Taipei to save money for retirement. Everything changes one morning when he chances upon a drug mule (played by Na Dow) who needs to travel to the south of Taiwan to deliver a package. The long and winding journey eventually renews in the unlikely pair a much-needed sense of hope – an element Hui considers essential for any filmmaker with a story to tell.

The Hui brothers (from left), Sam Hui Koon-kit, Ricky Hui Koon-ying and Michael Hui Koon-man

“The reason I haven’t made many films in recent years is because I haven’t encountered any good scripts,” he says. “This one is excellent, so it took me no time at all to accept the part. I hope the Hong Kong audience will find it refreshing to see me in this film, because I haven’t acted in this way before. I was used to exaggerating my body language and my dialogue, but there’s none of that here.”

Born in Guangzhou, Hui moved with his family to Hong Kong in 1950 and first hit the big time when he co-hosted the early 1970s TV comedy variety programme The Hui Brothers Show with his younger brother, the pop singer Sam Hui Koon-kit.


Run Run Shaw (left) shakes hands with Michael Hui at a press conference in Kowloon in 1972

The elder Hui made his film debut in Li Han-hsiang’s The Warlord (1972), and went on to appear in several more films directed by Li, although it was the box office hits he scripted, directed and starred in alongside his brothers – Sam and Ricky Hui Koon-ying – that established him as one of the biggest stars of the ’70s and ’80s, not only in Hong Kong, but also Japan, Taiwan and across Southeast Asia.

Before Godspeed, Hui’s only prominent screen roles in the past decade had been in the mediocre comedies Robin-B-Hood (2006), The Bounty (2012) and Delete My Love (2014). He hasn’t directed a film since 1992’s The Magic Touch, which he made with popular comic Dayo Wong Tze-wah, and the writer-director-actor admits frankly that persistent doubts about his ability prevent him returning to directing.

“The reason I hadn’t directed since The Magic Touch was because I’m not satisfied with myself,” says Hui. “I’m not satisfied with The Magic Touch, either. And I thought to myself, if I couldn’t come up with something new, I should hide myself deep in the mountains. I should only make a film when I have something worthwhile to say; otherwise, what’s the point?”

Michael Hui (right) as a taxi driver who inadvertently walks into some unusual situations in Godspeed.

What Hui envisioned as “a little down time to think” has now spanned more than two decades, during which time he relentlessly tried to write the one story that would live up to his impossible standards. More than a dozen original comedy screenplays now line his bookshelves, waiting to be brought to life to entertain the public.

“I’ve written a lot of scripts that I thought were good,” he says. “Usually I’d write as soon as I got the creative impulse. Then I’d put them away – I’d go fishing or travelling – and later come back to look again and see if the spark is still there. If it isn’t, it means the script isn’t working.”

The collection of finished work has caught his wife’s attention. “Once in a while, she’d come and say, ‘This stack [of screenplays] is your life, wasted. It’s becoming the past and you don’t have much time left.’ I asked why, and she said, ‘Because people get old. How do you know the scripts aren’t working?’ And I don’t know, to be honest, because I’m the one who writes, directs and stars in my films. There’s nobody to give me opinions.”

Hui is hopeful he will start shooting his next directorial effort this year. “I don’t really like to act, but it’s not up to me. The jokes have a lot to do with timing; they won’t work if an actor turns around a second too late. So I’m sometimes forced to take up a part in my own film.”

Although he hasn’t yet given the comedy project a title, Hui is adamant his upcoming films, like Godspeed, will be optimistic. “This film is especially for Hong Kong, where everyone is so grim nowadays,” he says.

“Why don’t I make anything other than comedy? Because the world is sad enough, and there’s no need for me to remind people of that. Some filmmakers like to reflect on how cruel the world is, which leaves me wondering: why do you feel the need to reflect that [when it’s so obvious already]? It’s our everyday life.”

Nevertheless, Hui says a question he always asks himself to ensure a film’s universality is: “Would it sell in Congo? Like Security Unlimited, you can show it to a Japanese audience or an African audience and it’ll still work anywhere,” he says of the film that won him the best actor prize at the first Hong Kong Film Awards in 1982.

Hui understands that his early brand of Hong Kong-centric social satire is irrelevant today because “after 1997, it’s not about Hong Kong cinema any more”, he says. “Hong Kong is now part of China and, in the future, there’ll only be ‘Chinese films’ – and not any distinction between mainland productions and Hong Kong productions. It’s just like you wouldn’t differentiate American films between those made in New York and California.”

Why, then, have we rarely seen him in any notable Hong Kong-China co-productions in the past decade?

“Because it’s not really my…” Hui trails off and then starts again. “I only care about the script. I don’t care where it’s from. Why haven’t I [done any]? First, because I’m not familiar with the China market. It’s very hard for me to write [for it]. I wrote several stories but threw them away. And I don’t want to superficially write about something that I don’t understand, with the intention to [pretend that I do].

“I’ve had several offers [to act], but they’re not like Godspeed, which I find really meaningful in the ways it echoes my personal sentiments. I’m not quite interested in those other offers. At this stage, I’d rather just enjoy life; actually, filmmaking is part of my way to enjoy life. If I were to make a pointless comedy that says nothing after all the laughs, even if it does well at the box office – don’t waste my time.”

Hui looks extremely lively for a 74-year-old, but has he given any thought to real retirement? “I retired a very long time ago,” he protests, with a laugh. “The fact is that I retired 20, or maybe 30, years ago. But when people ask me about my favourite activities in my retired life, I still tell them that I like diving, fishing and making films. So that’s what I’m doing.”

Godspeed opens on January 5.

Monday, December 19, 2016

TVB Anniversary Awards 2016 – My Thoughts

Let me just start off by saying that I don’t have too much to say on the award results themselves, since I haven’t watched many TVB series this year and -- as has been the case the past few years -- I also haven’t watched a single TVB series in its entirety (meaning every single minute of every single episode).  With that said, any opinion that I give below regarding the results are based mostly on the episodes/partial episodes that I caught here and there during the times when I happened to be in the same room when a family member was watching the series.  Also, since the TVB awards have grown increasingly meaningless as each year goes by, I’ve become more and more indifferent towards who the winners end up being in most of the categories except for a handful that can pretty much be counted on one hand (i.e. TV King, Best Supporting Actor, Professional Actors Award, Lifetime Achievement Award).  Therefore, don’t expect me to comment on each category or to writeup a detailed recap like I’ve done in the past, as I feel it is a huge waste of time. 

As with past years, I’m more interested in who the presenters for each of the awards ends up being rather than who actually got nominated and/or wins in each category.  Over the years, I’ve found that the choice of presenters as well as the ‘speeches’ they give prior to presenting are often the biggest highlights of the Anniversary award show, sometimes even overshadowing the speeches from the winners themselves.

Ok, so diving right in….

Lifetime Achievement Award:  Chow Chung

This was actually the one award I was most concerned about this year, especially after stupid TVB chose undeserving Nat Chan as the recipient of this award last year (believe me, it was one of those WTF moments of the ceremony that I was pissed off about for months).  This year, they chose to give the award to 81 year old veteran actor Chow Chung, which was a great choice (ok, TVB, you redeemed yourself in this category this year – better not screw it up again next year!!!).  Though Chow Chung may not be the best of actors (to be honest, I’ve never been particularly fond of his acting), there is no doubt about his contributions to the television (and movie) industry throughout his extremely long acting career.   

In terms of presenters for this award, TVB did the right thing by having veterans Kenneth Tsang and Wu Fung do the honors.  Both artists are good friends with Chow Chung and have known each other for many years, plus all 3 were Shaw Brothers actors back in the day and collaborated often during those times, so of course, having them present was appropriate and relevant.  This is one category where I’m happy with the result!


Professional Actors Award:  Jerry Koo Ming Wah, Carlo Ng, Chun Wong

Ever since TVB added this category a few years ago, it’s been one of the few award categories that I pay attention to every year and largely agree with the results.  This year was no exception, though I do feel that only 3 artists receiving the award this year is not enough (I wonder why so few?  The past few years it has always been at least 5 artists receiving this award).  The way I see it, this category was created to recognize those veterans who have contributed greatly to the industry (most of them through stellar acting) but do not have much chance to receive any of the other ‘main’ awards.  I guess we could say that this is TVB’s way of still promoting the people they want to promote (to get the ‘main’ awards) but still throw an olive branch to audiences by still recognizing the veterans who actually deserve those ‘main’ awards way more but will never get the chance to be in the running.  Though I may not necessarily agree with the motive for creating this award, my take is that SOME recognition of veteran actors is better nothing, right?

I don’t have much comment on the recipients of this award other than I was surprised that Jerry Koo was on the list, since it’s not like he hasn’t won any major award with TVB before, plus he has been largely MIA from the small screen the past year or so (I had read that he was actually ill for a long period of time, to the point of having to be hospitalized, so that’s why he hadn’t filmed much for TVB this past year).  Of course, I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve the award because he does, but given that so few artists got the award this year, I was surprised that they gave it to him over others who were equally deserving.  I was definitely ecstatic to see Carlo Ng and Chun Wong receive this award, as it has been long overdue for both of them.  Both are great actors (and in the case of Carlo, he is a great host too) who’ve never gotten recognition from TVB despite their contributions.  In my opinion, Carlo gave the most moving speech of the night with the mention of his wife saying it was a good thing he hasn’t been tremendously popular over the years because that has allowed him to spend a lot of time with his family (indeed, Carlo actually has a reputation for being a family man as well as a good husband and father).  The fact that Carlo prioritizes his family over his work and would rather sacrifice the chance to become popular if it means he can spend quality time with his wife and kids definitely makes him a good man in my book!  Congrats to all the winners in this category!


Best Supporting Actor:  Raymond Cho

For me, this has always been a tough category to choose a winner, as most of the candidates are usually very strong.  This year, TVB decided to go with Top 3 finalists (as opposed to top 2 like they’ve done in the past).  While I agree with Raymond Cho and Hugo Ng making it into final 3, I had no clue what TVB was thinking by putting FAMA’s Luk Wing in the 3rd spot (my immediate reaction when I heard them announce final 3 was – WTH, Luk Wing made it into the last spot?  What happened to the other more deserving nominees such as John Chiang, Power Chan, Carlo Ng, Jimmy Au, etc.?)  Though in the grand scheme of things, it probably didn’t matter much since the ‘race’ was pretty much between Raymond and Hugo anyway (both were hot favorites for this category), but still – would’ve preferred for the ‘race’ to be tighter like in past years. 

In terms of result, I would’ve been happy with either Raymond or Hugo winning, as I like both actors and both were equally deserving of the award (though I kind of felt that Hugo had a slight edge in that he was pretty much the sole highlight of Brother’s Keeper II and made that series even remotely watchable, so in a way, he single-handedly saved that entire series – no small feat given how horrible that series was overall).  But Raymond definitely did stand out this year as opposed to previous years (though he has actually given enough outstanding performances in the past to make him long overdue for this award).  I was happy to see Raymond finally get this award and also enjoyed watching him give his acceptance speech with the signature humor that has always made him endearing to friends and fans (I chuckled when he made sure to thank his father-in-law John Chiang not once but twice, LOL).  Congrats to Raymond but at the same time, kudos to Hugo for putting in such a strong performance!  I’m actually glad he’s back and look forward to seeing more from him in the future!


Most Improved Male Actor:  Jonathan Cheung

I usually don’t care much about this category and to be honest, this year I didn’t really care a whole lot either.  But since Jonathan Cheung was nominated this time around and he’s an artist I started noticing a few years back as an actor with huge potential, I naturally was interested in this category this year.  After Jonathan’s win at the Astro Awards in Malaysia, no doubt that he was a shoo-in to win again at the Anniversary awards too, but I was curious to see whether TVB would pull an upset or not.  Luckily TVB came through as they were supposed to and chose Jonathan as the winner – definitely a wise choice given the rest of the nominees who made it into top 5 were extremely weak (to the point that I’m sure TVB would’ve gotten major backlash if they chose any of the others to win in this category).  Jonathan gave a great acceptance speech (though not as touching as the speech he gave in Malaysia, which had most everyone in tears) – glad he got the chance to thank people that he had forgotten to thank in Malaysia (such as Andy Lau for instance).  Congrats to Jonathan for a well-deserving win!


TV King (aka Best Actor):  Ruco Chan

Ok, I will admit that Ruco’s win in this category was unexpected in my book.  Nothing against Ruco, as he is definitely a solid actor – in fact, he’s one of the few ‘current generation’ actors I actually like due to him having true acting talent.   Ruco’s performance this year was solid as usual, but acting-wise, was not as challenging as past roles he’s had, especially when compared to Roger Kwok, who was outstanding in Dead Wrong.  If it was based on acting, I would’ve definitely chosen Roger over Ruco (and yes there is a little bias at play here due to me being a Roger fan).  I don’t think it would be a far stretch to say that Ruco had an advantage due to the popularity of his character and the series itself, plus the fact that Roger’s series aired so late in the game (the final episode of Dead Wrong aired just 1 day prior to the awards).  Those of us who have been following TVB’s awards for a long time know that when it comes to TV King and Queen, it’s not necessarily about whose acting is truly the best – popularity of a series, ratings, hype, etc. can impact the results and it’s obvious that’s what happened with this category (and with the entire awards ceremony in general, since Ruco’s series A Fist Within Four Walls pretty much swept the awards with 6 wins).  With all that said though, I guess it shouldn’t matter to me, since my first choice for this category (Liu Kai Chi, an actor I adore who did great in his series Law Disorder) didn’t even make it into top 5 (can’t even remember if he was nominated or not, since there was like zero hype for his series).  So I guess you could say at the end of the day, I’m indifferent to Ruco’s win – I’m neither for nor against it, just surprised given TVB’s pattern of rewarding veterans the past few years.


That’s it for me in terms of award results (LOL…obviously I didn’t care about the other categories so didn’t even bother mentioning them).  I do want to say a few things about the presenters this year as well as the awards ceremony itself.

I will admit that the choice of presenters for some of the categories was very surprising (in some cases, pleasantly so).  I was happy to see some familiar faces back again and appreciate that TVB put in the effort to do a “partner” theme this year with the presenters.  Of course, the presenters were relatively lackluster in that they were all mostly current/former TVB people (or non-TVB people currently filming series for TVB) and no big names like they’ve had in the past (though this has actually been the case for like what 4-5 years already?).  The “highlights” of the night in terms of presenters (in my opnion) were definitely:  the Virtues of Harmony cast (Nancy Sit, Louis Yuen, Joyce Chen, Johnny Tang), the Come Home Love cast (led by Lau Dan), Frankie Lam and Jessica Husan, Andrew Lam and Johnson Lee (mostly for Andrew’s irreverent humor, which always manages to crack me up, lol), and of course, the biggest surprise of the night, Sheren Tang returning to present the Best Series award alongside Wayne Lai.  No doubt that the 64 million dollar question that has been abuzz since the awards wrapped is whether Sheren will return to film another series for TVB or not -- my gut instinct is “no” given Sheren has such strict requirements nowadays for filming series and TVB obviously is not high on her list of priorities…however, if Wayne is persuasive enough and TVB is willing to meet her requirements (and if they bring back producers/scriptwriters that Sheren is willing to work with), it still might be a possibility in the near future (though my personal preference is for Sheren not to return if TVB is just going to give her crap series, plus the way they treated her, I wouldn’t even give them the time of day if I were her).

Rundown wise, I honestly didn’t really like the format this year.  The whole Dodo + FAMA gimmick has been used/re-used way too much this year and it’s getting old.  They should’ve gone with either having Dodo host the show by herself as she’s done in the past or perhaps just pair her up with Sammy Leung (who is a good host actually) if they truly wanted to switch things up this year.  The way they did it with Sammy officially hosting and the others kind of doing a ‘side-hosting’ thing was a bit unprofessional in my opinion (plus kind of annoying).  Other than that, the show was similar to previous years in that it was largely disorganized and lackluster.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Back from hiatus + Jacky Cheung’s 2016/2017 World Tour Concert – post #2

I’m back!!!! :-)

Yes, after a nearly 3 month hiatus, I am finally back to writing and posting stuff on my blog.  My apologies to those readers who have continued to follow my blog, expecting to read about certain topics, but in the end, the posts didn’t materialize.  I am working on finishing up some of the posts that I’ve had in draft mode for ages as well as hopefully getting around to starting some of the newer posts that I’ve been wanting to do but just haven’t had time to gather my thoughts on.  I am hopeful at being able to do at least a few posts a month rather than the dismal one post every couple months that I’ve been averaging.  To all my blog readers – thank you in advance for your patience!

Ok, so with that out of the way….I can’t think of a better way to “return” to blogging than to blog about my idol, Jacky Cheung!  As I’m sure all of you know by now, Jacky launched his highly anticipated “A Classic Tour” concert on October 21st in Beijing, China and since then, has already completed multiple shows in other Mainland China cities such as Chongqing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Wuhan.  Jacky kicked off the Hong Kong leg of his tour 6 days ago on 12/4 at the Hong Kong Coliseum (a ‘second home’ of sorts for him given the number of concerts he’s held there in his 30 year career).  He will be doing 23 shows in HK this month, with the last show on January 2nd.  Not surprisingly, tickets for Jacky’s concert have been extremely hard to get, with each show selling out within a matter of hours from when the tickets officially go on sale – so if you were able to get tickets to watch his concert, I absolutely salute you (though please be careful because there have been an unprecedented number of scalpers in recent months buying up Jacky’s concert tickets and re-selling them for ridiculously inflated prices)!

Even though I haven’t really kept up with posting actual written content on my blog, I’ve been doing my best to keep up with the schedule for Jacky’s concert tour and so have posted up the latest tour dates and venues on the side bar of my blog for those who are interested.  Like many others I’ve talked to, I am anxiously awaiting the announcement of the dates for the “overseas” leg of Jacky’s tour – more specifically, for the U.S. leg, since that’s where I live.  The concert organizers (Jacky’s record label Universal) have confirmed that Jacky will definitely come to the U.S. and Canada for a few shows, but they are still working out the schedule as well as the choice of venue.  This actually does make sense, as Jacky’s concert this year is unique in that he decided to bring back the ‘4-side open stage’ concept to his concert, which is something he hasn’t done in over 20 years (the last time he did a ‘4-side open stage’ concert was back in 1995 if I remember correctly).  And for those who have seen any of the 23 shows Jacky has done so far, I’m sure you can attest to the spectacular effect the stage has on the show this year.  With that in mind, the search for an appropriate venue that would be able to accommodate the stage is crucial and will undoubtedly take some time, so I will continue to patiently wait because I know it will be well worth it.  Of course, just being able to see Jacky perform live is already worth the wait (I already waited 4 years for Jacky to do another concert tour, what’s another few months, right?)!  Admittedly, I am super-excited about Jacky’s concert this year, especially after watching some of the fan-vids that have come out of the past few shows as well reading the various opinion pieces that people (both Jacky fans and non-fans alike) have written after watching the concert.  Please, Universal, announce the U.S. dates soon!!!

While I have been following Jacky’s concert pretty closely since its launch in October, I don’t intend to do a recap of the shows so far, as I don’t feel that I would be able to do justice to all the great moments that have occurred so far (and we’re barely 25 shows in).  With that said though, there ARE a few highlights from the past few shows that I do want to mention.  I will try to post up relevant pictures where I can, but it may not always be possible due to the sheer number of pictures that are out there now, especially on social media.  Anyway, if you weren’t hyped up about Jacky’s concert before, you probably will be after checking out these highlights!! J

**NOTE:  All pictures credited as listed ***

Beijing kickoff – October 2016

**Jacky performed to a sold-out stadium packed with fans who have been highly anticipating his return to the stage.  Of course, Jacky did not disappoint, as the first night was absolutely spectacular, with Jacky giving 110% as he always does and audiences from that night walking away after the concert regretting that they didn’t buy tickets to the other 2 shows as well!

** On the third and last night of the Beijing leg, Jacky supposedly ‘screwed up’ a little on one of the songs (meaning he couldn’t hit one of the notes in the climax of the song and his voice nearly cracked).  Of course, no one noticed that he messed up, but being the perfectionist that Jacky is when it comes to his singing, he absolutely noticed and essentially beat himself up over it – during the “talking” segment of that show, Jacky apologized to the audiences and to the crew for his ‘mess-up’ and vowed to work even harder to ‘perfect’ that particular song.  To be honest, not a single person in that stadium that night minded that he had messed up (in fact, probably 99% of the audience didn’t even notice), yet Jacky took the issue to heart and took it as an opportunity to do even better.  No other celebrity out there has the type of work ethic and super high standards set for themselves as he does!  Of course, this is one (of the many) reasons why we love Jacky so much, but at the same time, it’s heartbreaking to see Jacky beating himself up over a non-issue.  Aside from that small ‘incident’, the rest of the Beijing leg was spectacular!

**In terms of ‘celebrity sightings’, there were quite a few ‘big names’ and familiar faces who flew to Beijing to support Jacky, including the following (not all-inclusive):

--- Jacky’s former record producer Michael Au (who lives and works in Beijing now) as well as Jacky’s good friend and long-time singing partner Priscilla Chan (loved their frequent collaborations in the 80s and 90s).




--- Songwriter Keith Chan and family (his wife and 2 daughters), who penned the lyrics to many of Jacky’s greatest hit songs back in the 80s/90s and is still a frequent collaborator even now (Keith’s wife is also a former songwriter who wrote some of Jacky’s songs as well).



--- CRHK DJ Vani, who is also Jacky’s god-sister (she also went to Jacky’s HK shows too!)


--- Actress Zhang Zhiyi and her husband Wang Feng; also singer Eason Chan, who also held his concert in Beijing on the same days as Jacky, but still went to Jacky’s concert after wrapping the last show of his own concert. (sorry, couldn't find the actual pics so had to use a newspaper clipping)



--- My personal FAVORITE moment of the night though was ‘Film King’ Tony Leung Chiu Wai attending the concert and surprising Jacky by showing up backstage after the concert.  I’m sure all Jacky fans know how close Jacky and Tony are (gosh, they’ve know each other for what, like 30 years now?) and with both artists’ busy schedules, it’s not always possible for them to get together…so obviously, us fans were overjoyed to see the two of them share such “sweet moments” together, lol (yes, I know – I’m technically a Jacky/Harlem shipper, but hey, I love the Jacky/Tony ‘bromance’ just as much, haha!).  Oh, and big THANK YOU to Vani, as she was the one who took the photos of Jacky and Tony together backstage and shared them with fans via weibo.  [Sidenote:  the pictures of Jacky and Tony were all over various media outlets’ entertainment sections the next day, lol!]



 




Hong Kong kickoff – December 2016

** Jacky kicked off the HK leg of his tour on 12/4 and once again, it was spectacular!  Performing in his hometown, Jacky said that he was very nervous because he didn’t want to let HK audiences down.  In interviews with the media after his concert, Jacky said that he would only give himself a score of 80% for his performance, as he felt that there some things he could’ve done better.  Sorry Jacky, but we have to disagree with you -- most of us felt that you were flawless that night!

** The HK shows are special not just for Jacky, but for us fans as well, since it’s also home to many of the celebrities we know and love.  I am highly anticipating all of the celebrities who will undoubtedly attend one of the 23 shows in HK, but so far, the number of celebrities who came out to support Jacky on the first night was enough to make my jealous of those fans / audiences who were able to score tickets for that show!

--- On that first night (12/4), many of Jacky’s long-time friends (the crowd that Jacky usually hangs out with outside of work) came out to support him by attending the concert together as a big group (they all sat together in the same section too – man, those fans who sat behind them were SO LUCKY!!!).  A few of those friends include:  Eric Tsang, Alex To and his wife Ice, Kenny Bee and his wife Fan Jiang, Chingmy Yau and her husband Shum Kar Wai (they also brought one of their daughters with them), Nansun Shi, Margie Tsang, Tina Liu, Anna Ueyama, etc. (I didn’t name everyone, as there were way too many). 





 


--- In addition to Jacky’s friends, other celebrities such as Na Ying, Candy Law, Candice Yu, etc. attended as well. Jacky’s godfather Wu Fung also went to support his godson (Wu Fung is so sweet – so far, he’s gone to 3 of the shows!), as did Jacky’s god-sister Vani (who went again after flying to Beijing to attend the debut shows).

--- I’m still trying to catch up but I know on subsequent nights, other celebrities attended the concert as well, including Nick Cheung, Bernice Liu, Karen Tong, Miriam Yeung, C-Allstar, etc.  I haven’t gone through all the pictures yet so only posted up a few below.





***** TO BE CONTINUED….. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due......


I’m sure when you first read the title of this post, you were probably wondering what this post would be about and who in particular I felt the need to ‘give credit’ to.  The answer:  TVB!   Ok, before anyone has a conniption, let me explain why I felt the need to give some rare praise to TVB….

Everyone knows that when it comes to TVB, I have no problems dishing out the criticisms (they actually bring it on themselves to be quite honest, though I’ll save that discussion for a different occasion).  At the same time though, I consider myself a fair person who also has no problems giving credit where it is deservedly due….so when TVB has those rare moments where their management actually decide to pull their heads out of their butts (keyword here is “rare”) and do something right for a change, I feel it’s only fair to call it out.

One thing that TVB did recently that I’m actually happy about is that they FINALLY came through on their promise to open up their online TV series platform to overseas viewers (meaning viewers who reside outside of HK).  Before I explain further, let me give a little bit of background:

When TVB established their GOTV site several years ago (that was their TV series repository that housed all of their series ever produced, from the 1970s to present), I was thrilled because it meant that audiences would finally have access to TVB’s classic series from the old days (most of which were/are 110% better than the crap TVB churns out nowadays).  But of course, typical TVB, they decided to restrict GOTV to HK region only, which meant that overseas audiences would not be able to watch (and to add insult to injury, they made it subscription-based where you had to pay a monthly fee – and if that weren’t enough, they restricted it further to only accepting credit cards from 2 very region-specific banks).  The worse thing though was that they decided to limit to HK region, but did very little promotion for GOTV (raise your hand if you heard of GOTV – whenever I would bring it up in online discussion forums, people seemed to have no clue what I was talking about).  Needless to say, I was pissed at TVB for essentially throwing away the chance to make themselves relevant again (which they could’ve done by opening up their classic series to a new generation of audiences who never even knew of their existence and possibly recapturing some of that past glory from TVB’s golden years).  From day one since GOTV launched, TVB had been promising to extend the platform to overseas viewers – however 2 years passed and still it was only restricted to a very limited number of HK viewers.

Earlier this year, when TVB decided to launch myTV Super, which was basically a more robust version of their myTV online platform, with the difference being that it would be OTT-based but still extend across multiple platforms (i.e. mobile devices, internet, etc.), they announced at the same time that they would be discontinuing GOTV and perhaps merge it with myTV in the future.  Of course I was pissed, since I was waiting for them to open up GOTV to overseas viewers but instead they decide to discontinue it (at that time, all indication was that myTV Super would follow its predecessor myTV’s footsteps and continue to be restricted to HK region only).

Well, it turns out that as part of TVB’s myTV Super project, they also decided to put more focus on their ‘international’ arm, which for us here in the U.S. would be their TVB USA division (which, to be honest, has always been a way better division than TVB HK itself – I’ve interacted with TVB USA numerous times and can say from personal experience that their customer service is quite good).  Several months ago, TVB USA revamped their mobile viewing app (which was kind of crappy if you ask me – I for one had difficulty getting their app to work properly) and TVB as a whole launched the “TVB Anywhere” platform, which in theory allows audiences to watch TVB programs ‘anywhere’ in the world (now you guys know why TVB cracked down so hard on that illegal TVpad thingie, which made headlines all over the place).  Of course, the ‘anywhere in the world’ hasn’t quite happened yet, but frankly, I’m really not that concerned about the ‘world’ part as long as the U.S. part works, since that’s where I reside, lol.

I had some time recently to check out “TVB Anywhere” and was pleasantly surprised to find that, in addition to providing access to TVB’s currently airing series (which I really don’t give a hoot about), TVB also uploaded many of their ‘older’ series from the past 49 years on the site as well!  Of course, it’s not as comprehensive as GOTV, since they only upload several dozen series at a time and there is a mix of old and new (versus GOTV where it was ALL their series, conveniently separated out by year and you could do various searches by pretty much any category / theme / genre / artist, etc. that you wanted) – but hey, I’ll take it!  For the first time in TVB’s 49 year history, they are actually allowing ALL audiences (basically anyone who has access to Internet) to watch their series online, LEGALLY and FOR FREE!   I actually tested it out and it works like a charm – just go to the designated website, click on the “TV series” tab, choose the series you want to watch, and that’s it (I re-watched a few older dramas on there already – ones that I’ve watched/re-watched so many times already that I practically have the dialogue memorized -- and can tell you that they are the EXACT same versions as the old videotape versions, which means that they didn’t cut out anything…yay!).  I am currently re-watching Blood of Good and Evil from back in 1990 (one of my all-time favorite TVB series) for like the 50th time (I’ve seen that series so many times over the years, I’ve lost count already) via TVB Anywhere and am enjoying EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of it!!

Ok, now that I’ve given proper credit for a job well done in one particular area, I have to say this:  For the record, this does NOT mean that I am changing course or anything – I am and will continue to be highly critical of TVB and will continue to slam their management for the horrible way they operate.  So yes, consider this praise short-lived, since I don’t have much confidence that TVB is going to do much else that is praiseworthy (especially judging from their usual pattern of taking 10 steps back for every 1 step forward).

Due to time constraints (obviously, since I’m posting this at 1am in the morning), I’m not going to go into too much detail about how to access TVB Anywhere right now.  However, if you would like more details, feel free to leave a comment and I can walk you through it at the next available opportunity I have.


Talk to you all later! 

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Menu -- movie version

Long time no see, everyone!

I’ve been super-busy lately with work (and life in general) so have kind of neglected (albeit unwillingly) this blog the past few months.  Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough time in the day to keep up with everything that goes on, which is a fact that I hate to admit but have slowly started to come to terms with in recent weeks.  Because of this, I would like to take the opportunity to thank those of you who continue to follow my blog and continue to give me words of encouragement, despite the horrible job I’ve been doing with maintaining this blog.  I definitely appreciate the support and will try as hard as I can to carve out more time to update this blog whenever possible!

Ok, so with that out of the way…..

I’ve been meaning to post up something about this topic for months, but just never got around to it.  A few months back, I had written a post about the HK movies that I wanted to watch this year.  I’m sure those who have been following my blog for a while or have been following my posts in other forums probably noticed that there was one particular movie noticeably absent from my list (which was a small list to begin with, lol) – the movie version of The Menu (HKTV’s popular TV series that is also one of my favorite HK television series of all time).  At the time I wrote that particular post, the exclusion of The Menu from the list was actually deliberate on my part, as the movie was still in its filming stages and not a whole lot of information had been revealed about it yet so I didn’t want to put it on my “want to watch” list and regret it later – plus I’m not the type who will automatically like something by default of association without doing some research on it first (which means that just because I liked the TV series doesn’t necessarily mean I want to watch the movie version of the series – sometimes, it’s better not to watch so as not to be disappointed). 

Well, now that the movie has already premiered in theaters (it officially debuted in HK and Macau on 8/4) and everything from plot to characters to behind-the-scenes stuff is out in the open, I can safely say that I definitely WANT TO WATCH the movie version.  I’ve actually been having quite a few lengthy discussions about the movie with fellow The Menu fans over the past couple months and even though I still have reservations on the movie itself compared to the series and some unresolved questions on how certain things are going to turn out, I have more confidence now (based on all the stuff I’ve read/heard/watched related to the movie) that I likely won’t have as negative a reaction to this movie as I’ve had toward every other “movie version of TV series” out there (almost all of which I essentially hated…it got to the point where I was starting to wonder which was worse – doing a sequel to a popular TV series or filming a movie version to it…I came to the conclusion that both options are equally bad…).  Ok, fine, I admit that my aversion to most of the previous ‘TV series to movie’ adaptations was partly because the movie versions were either produced by TVB (i.e. their movie arm Shaw Brothers) or those involved with the movie had nothing to do with the series originally so it was a completely different interpretation.  With The Menu, neither ‘aversion factor’ exists – no TVB involvement since the original series was not a TVB production (thank God!!!) and almost everyone involved with the production of the movie behind-the-scenes (scriptwriter, producer, director, music director, even other crew such as makeup and hairstylists) was also involved with the series when it was filmed 4 years ago.

I haven’t had time to go look up box office revenue for the movie yet, but in terms of word of mouth -- in the 8 days that The Menu has been in theaters, the response to the movie has been overwhelming and so far, all the reviews have been positive (granted, most of the reviews I’ve read/seen were from regular movie-goers who hadn’t watched the TV series so they went into it without set expectations and without a comparison point).  I have yet to talk to any of my fellow The Menu fans who’ve actually seen the movie (as I said earlier, been sort of in a bubble the last 2 weeks due to busy work and personal life), so not sure what their opinion is yet but I’m definitely looking forward to the discussions and am interested in seeing whether our earlier opinions of the movie still stand.

Anyway, when I get the chance later, I do hope to do a recap of some of the discussions we’ve had so far about the movie and maybe even a review after I watch the movie.  For now though, here is the final trailer for the movie that was released in late July.  Enjoy!

Final Trailer: The Menu


Monday, May 23, 2016

My 'TVB Rant' #28:  Wow, just....WOW:  TVB's bullying taken to new heights.....

TVB did something this past week that I'm so pissed about, I have to write about it to vent my frustration (as if I haven't written about it enough already in various discussion forums and such, lol).

Anyway, the big entertainment news from this weekend was the huge fallout (second one in less than a decade) between record company Universal and TVB over copyright terms for using Universal artists' songs on TVB programs feature on their Internet channels (i.e. myTV, myTV Super, TVB.com).   The way it works is that the record companies give TVB contracted rights to use their artists' music/songs for a period of 3 years and after that, the contract gets renewed if both parties agree on the terms.  Well, TVB's latest contract with Universal expired on 5/1/16 so both parties got together to discuss contract renewal as they've been doing for the past few decades.  TVB sent Herman Ho - the head of their own music label Voice Entertainment - to discuss contract terms with Universal's higher ups (I'll explain in a minute why I have a problem with this arrangement in the first place) and departing from usual terms, this time around, TVB put in a requirement that is at the same time ridiculous and impossible to fulfill.  TVB basically requested that Universal sign over the exclusive rights to use their artists' songs FOREVER (yes, you read it right - the word used was FOREVER!) - which meant that TVB could continue to use Universal copyrighted songs in any program they feature on their Internet portals even after the contract terms are up without having to worry about getting copyright approval (which implies that they don't have to pay Universal royalty fees) and also that Universal can't allow other stations to use those songs.   Universal of course said HELL NO (kudos to them!!!) and decided to not renew their contract with TVB (lol...the Universal execs reacted quite professionally - if it were me, I would've told Herman Ho to go to hell!)  Based on the contract terms, TVB has 3 years from expiration date (so 4/30/2019) to either remove all Universal copyrighted songs from their Internet programs (which of course would be a lot of work) or take down the affected programs from their Internet portals entirely (note that these terms don't apply to programs aired on TVB's regular free-to-air channel).  So basically, TVB was once again trying to be the arrogant bully that they are but this time, it backfired on them because Universal refused to bend to them.

I don't think any of us need to be rocket scientists to understand what type of impact this is going to have on the HK television and music industries.  Herman Ho claims that TVB still 'welcomes' all Universal artists to participate in their programs provided their appearance doesn't violate contract terms (meaning there is no singing / music involved), however knowing TVB's track record, that is pretty much lip service, as we all know that TVB is petty and will now be 'banning' Universal artists just like they did during the royalty dispute 7-8 years ago.  Besides, who the hell gave Herman Ho the right to speak for TVB as a whole when he's only the head of their record label?  Oh, that's right - his wife is Sandy Yu, who, on paper, is only the head of the variety programs department (and is at the same level as Catherine Tsang, who is head of the drama department), but in reality, she is the actual one 'in power' at TVB now.  Go figure!  The fact that TVB sent Herman Ho to negotiate with a fellow record company is conflict of interest first of all (since both are heads of rival record companies) and it also reeks of insincerity on TVB's part -- if TVB CEO Mark Lee felt it was beneath him to negotiate with a mere record company, then at least send one of the GMs who oversee all production to negotiate with Universal...after all, the outcome of the talks will for sure impact all of TVB's programs, not just music-related ones.  With this arrangement, TVB already started off on the wrong foot (though to be honest, I'm not sure whether this was a deliberate move on TVB's part to "pay back" Universal for opposing them so many times over the past few years or the current execs over at TVB are just dumbaxxxs who have no clue what they are doing....I personally think it might be a combination of both).  The reason I threw that 'pay back' thing in there is because Universal's execs said that they've had the same contract with TVB for decades and the discussions have always gone smoothly, but this time around, TVB dropped that "forever" clause on them out of nowhere, which is what caused the discussion to go sour (why the sudden change in terms, TVB???)

The latest 'development' in this absurd saga is that as of yesterday, TVB (um, actually Herman Ho - but I guess he represents all of TVB now) was "crying a river" to reporters, claiming that Universal was the one being "unreasonable" by forcing TVB to take down/remove Universal copyrighted content within 3 years.  How INSANE is that????  TVB is the one who started the dispute by putting forth a RIDICULOUS to the max requirement that NO ONE in their right minds would agree to - now when Universal says NO and proceeds with terminating the contract as per terms, TVB is trying to make themselves look like the victim by shifting the blame on the record company instead?  WTF?  Oh, but it gets better....in the same "crying a river" interview, Herman Ho goes on to contradict himself by saying that the 'impact' of this dispute to TVB won't be much at all, as 'only a handful of programs will be affected' (yeah, right!!!!).  Um, if only 'a handful of programs' is being affected, why the bloody hell is TVB (via Herman Ho) trying to shift the blame to Universal?  Herman Ho is actually outright lying, as it's obvious to anyone with a brain that the impact of this is going to be huge, especially since the copyrighted songs date all the way back to the 80s/90s (which includes all the songs under Polygram, which Universal bought out in the 90s).  Even TVB's former GM Stephen Chan said that he hasn't been paying much attention to the details of the issue, but he knows for a fact that if TVB has to remove/take down all copyrighted programs, that will definitely be a huge problem for them.  With Universal being one of the largest international record companies out there with practically half the HK music industry signed to them (including many of the industry's 'biggest names' such as Alan Tam, Jacky Cheung, Hacken Lee, Sandy Lam, George Lam, Eason Chan, Kelly Chan, etc.), it will obviously be TVB's loss if they don't rectify the situation and proceed to 'ban' Universal (as is widely speculated).  Universal definitely does not need TVB, as they have a plethora of other options and platforms to promote their music (including TVB's rival free-to-air station ViuTV - which they already have collaborations with - as well as the cable networks and of course, internet platforms such as Youtube).

To be honest, I am actually a bit surprised that TVB would make such a bonehead, stupid move at such a sensitive point in time when their reputation is already in the toilet, their production quality is at an all-time low, artists and behind-the-scenes people are jumping ship left and right, and their own in-house produced singers (the Voice Entertainment crowd) are being heavily criticized for lacking actual singing skills.  Also, in this day and age, with all the technology and resulting doors that have opened up with Internet platforms, there's no way that TVB doesn't know that the record companies have tons more options than they've ever had in the past to promote their artists' music.  Does TVB really think they are that 'high and mighty' as to demand that the record companies collaborate ONLY with them and forego all other opportunities to make more money?  What record company would be stupid enough to cut off a large part of their revenue source just so they can cater to TVB's ridiculous whims?  (Ok, ok, I know that there ARE some record companies out there who would be willing to do it because they are so pro-TVB...not that I'm going to name names though, lol).  What planet are these TVB execs living on?  Like I said in another forum - either Herman Ho is deliberately trying to sabotage TVB's relationship with other record companies in order to boost his own record label or TVB has gotten to the "arrogant beyond saving" stage where they are stupidly flexing their power to see who will bend to them without giving a crap about the consequences.

Lastly...I don't think it's lost on anyone reading this that there will be one more 'consequence' that none of us HK television fans want to see happen:  the television screen for the next 3 years (and perhaps beyond that) will essentially be 'dominated' by Voice Entertainment singers (argh, please kill me now...) and the JSG awards ceremonies will go back to being "the EEG + Voice Entertainment Music Awards".  TVB just gave me more reason to stop watching their programs!  I swear, TVB is slowly chipping away at the small circle of 'support' that I still have for them - if it weren't for the few artists and behind-the-scenes people I care about still working for TVB, I would've abandoned this station a long time ago.

Words of wisdom to TVB from a long-time 'follower' (me - though of course, not that TVB gives a damn, lol):  Stop testing our patience with the arrogant attitude and pettiness!  Despite the fact that you have let us down time and time again, many of us still continue to 'support' you to some extent because of sentimentality (and other) reasons.   Stop taking advantage of your audiences' goodwill and stop treating everyone like brainless sheep who must adhere to your every beck and call.  Let ATV be a lesson on how NOT to manage a TV station (though looks like it's too late for this one) because if you fall, it will be 100 times worse and the damage will be far-reaching....