Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My ‘TVB Rant’ # 24: Will the TVB ‘Name-Dropping’ Ever Stop??

I know I just ‘ranted’ about TVB a few weeks ago and to be honest, I didn’t think that I’d have to rant about them again so soon (LOL), but hey, when the situation presents itself, sometimes got to just let it out…

Recently, a few articles came out (in various newspapers and magazines) detailing how Eric Tsang has plans to produce a new series for TVB (filming to start in May) tentatively titled “Aerobic Girls” and will be casting many ‘heavyweight’ (aka ‘big name’) actors/actresses in the series – many of the actors/actresses will be ones whom audiences have not seen in a long time so it will definitely be something ‘to look forward to’ (his words, not mine).  Almost immediately after Eric opened his mouth (more like before he even finished speaking), speculations and rumors started to formulate about who those ‘long time no see’ actors/actresses would be.  One of the first names ‘dropped’ was award-winning film actor Tony Leung Ka Fai – he was of course an ‘easy target’ for the Media to ‘associate’ with this series, since Eric had very publicly ‘announced’ prior to this that Tony had approached him voluntarily to ask about ‘helping’ TVB out by filming TV series for them.  Around the same time, there were ‘rumors’ that the female leads being considered for the series included Teresa Mo, Veronica Ip, Vivian Chow (just to name a few) – the funny thing is that even though Vivian’s manager immediately denied the rumor and Vivian herself even said that the chance of her returning to TVB to film series was very slim (pretty much ‘zero’), there were still a lot of people out there who were ‘excited’ about seeing Vivian return and started talking about the series as though that particular ‘casting’ was a ‘done deal’ already. 

Of course now, several weeks later, the ‘rumored’ leads for the series have changed (I wonder what those people who previously insisted on the Tony / Vivian / Teresa / Veronica casting think now??) – the latest ‘rumor’ is that Lawrence Ng (aka Dr. Paul Ching – just had to point that out, since I know of at least 3 Lawrence Ngs in the HK entertainment industry and wanted to make sure people didn’t get confused…LOL) will be participating in the series and the ‘rumored’ female leads have changed to Teresa Mo, Flora Chan, and Sheren Tang.  As of right now, none of the 3 rumored female leads have confirmed anything and both Lawrence and Eric are remaining purposefully ‘vague’ about the whole situation (as he did before, Lawrence dropped a ‘hint’ that the 3 leads were actresses he had worked with before – um, yea, like that means anything...).

Ok, so now that I’ve laid it all out, you want to know what my thoughts are on this?  Well, here goes…

I’m pretty sure the piece about Lawrence participating in the series is true, since he as much as admitted it himself already (from what has come out so far, his role supposedly won’t be too significant, so not sure what he is so excited about…haha).  As for the other 3 ‘rumored’ female leads – well, let’s look at it based on the information we know: 

.-- Teresa Mo already said in an interview a few months ago (a Mingpao interview that I actually translated and posted on my blog for those interested in reading it) that she has no intention of going back to filming TV series because of the overwhelming guilt she felt in ‘neglecting’ her family for the 3 years (2008 to 2010) that she had returned to film for TVB earlier -- so she is basically going to focus primarily on her film career and on taking care of her family.   So to me, this means that the likelihood of her agreeing to this series is very slim (unless she decided to change her mind, which I doubt) – in any case, if it turns out she does agree to this series, I for one will definitely want to understand the reason why.

.—Flora Chan stated in an interview a little over a year ago that she was going back to school to get her Masters (and possibly a Doctorate later on) in English so that she can pursue a career in Teaching later on down the road.  She said that when her daughter is older, she plans on moving the family to the U.S. and teaching there (true to her word, she is currently enrolled at HKU and studying English).  Despite that interview, there continue to be ‘rumors’ every other month or so (literally) about Flora returning to TVB to film series (honestly, I’m tired of hearing about it myself….doesn’t the Media ever stop?).   She had said in that same interview that she was going to take a break from filming series for at least 2 years if not more.

However, according to the articles that have come out, Flora is supposedly in ‘final discussion’ with Eric and them on this series – they claim that Flora agreed to film this series because it would be during summer break when she has a few months off from school (so the ‘caveat’ is that the filming needs to be completed before the next semester begins).  I guess it could work out…but still not looking forward to this because the last time Flora returned, she got a really crappy script and made a really crappy series (that barely anyone bothered watching).

.—And finally, there’s Sheren – what are her chances of accepting this series?  Well, at this point, unless the script is finalized, the chance is ‘zero’ because she already learned her lesson from the ordeal she went through filming the WAB sequel and so going forward, will only film series that have a complete script.   Also, knowing the way Eric Tsang operates, I highly doubt Sheren will want to work with him because he does exactly the same thing scriptwriter Chow Yuk Ming does – ‘on the fly’ scripts that change from one day to the next…in fact, in many ways, Eric is way worse because he’s known for being ‘spontaneous’ when it comes to filming and could change things from one minute to the next (remember how Teresa said that she would get the script the morning of filming and a couple hours later, after she memorized everything already, as she’s getting ready to film the scene, she is told to ‘scrap’ everything she just memorized cuz the script changed – Eric had just come up with a new idea for doing the scene and so changed things on the spot).   Based on this, I highly doubt Sheren is going to accept the series, as I don’t feel that she is willing to put herself through all that torture for TVB’s sake (plus it’s not like she’s contracted with TVB anyway – she’s a free artist so she can do anything she wants pretty much).


Obviously, I don’t look upon this particular ‘project’ of Eric’s very favorably – at this point, I truly feel that it’s all just Media hype.  And honestly, the name of the series itself (“Aerobic Girls”) already turns me off because it sounds so much like an ‘idol’ series (which I absolutely can’t stand).  I surely hope that the title will be changed because as of right now, based on the title alone, the series sounds lame (and it doesn’t help that Eric is producing it – most of his recent productions have pretty much been borderline ‘raunchy comedies’, so I can’t help but think that this one will be the same…).

Oh, and what about the script?  Again, knowing how TVB operates (some things never change), most likely the script is going to suck (as it usually does in these types of ‘grand’ productions with a supposed ‘all star’ ensemble cast).  In fact, that’s one of the (many) things I can’t stand about TVB – their mentality that as long as you stuff as many ‘big names’ or ‘popular artists’ (aka artists that audiences want to see) in a TV series as possible, you can pretty much take the ‘lazy’ route when it comes to the plot and script because the naïve HK housewife audiences aren’t going to know any better and aren’t going to care as long as the artists they like show up on their screens every night.  No, I’m actually not exaggerating because it’s pretty much a fact that HK audiences have an affinity for ‘familiarity’ (there’s actually been a lot of articles written about this over the past few decades) – it’s one of the (many) reasons why TVB has continued to be so ‘successful’ over the years despite serious decline in the quality of their productions and lack of talent.  This concept also explains the reason why for many years, TVB has been utilizing the strategy of inviting ‘old’ artists back to film for them (though there are other reasons as well, such as the lack of young talent to carry a series, for example).  If you want to see whether this is true or not – well, just take a look around you….if you were to tell friends and family around you (those familiar with HK entertainment of course) that TVB plans on bringing Andy Lau or Chow Yun Fat back to film series, what do you think their reaction would be?  And ‘why’ do you think they would react that way?  I rest my case….


Some last thoughts about this whole ‘name-dropping’ trend from recent years….

Honestly, I’m sick and tired of all the ‘name-dropping’ that TVB (via the likes of Eric Tsang, for example) and the Media have resorted to the past 2-3 years in terms of artists they hope to ‘invite back’ to film series for them.  Some examples of ‘names’ that have come up:  Chow Yun Fat, Andy Lau, Carina Lau, Sandra Ng, Anthony Wong, Vivian Chow, (big) Tony Leung, Deanie Ip, Jacky Cheung….and the list goes on….pretty much anyone you can think of who was once associated with TVB in one way or another (which is pretty much 90% of the artists in the HK entertainment industry) is ‘fair game’ for a so-called ‘return’ to TVB – that is, unless you do what Gordon Lam did (kudos to you, Gordon!) and outright reject TVB with a firm ‘No! Absolutely not!’ [Gordon revealed in a few interviews recently that he was contacted by TVB inviting him to return and film series for them, but he outright rejected them without bothering to listen to any further details of the series from them.  He said he did so because he already knows what he wants in terms of future career path (which involves a career in film, not TV), so why not just be direct with them and say no instead of going back to do a meaningless project that does nothing for his career goals?]  You hit the nail on the head, Gordon!!  It takes guts to go against an established ‘giant’ like TVB and the fact that he did it so firmly and confidently (without being rude about it) definitely deserves praise in my book! (Boy I would have LOVED to see the look on those lame TVB execs’ faces upon hearing Gordon reject them so bluntly – seeing those fake, smug smiles wiped off their faces for even a minute would have provided one of those ‘priceless’ Kodak moments that no amount of money could buy!  LOL!).  So basically, if an artist gives any answer other than a firm ‘No!’, they will be caught in an endless ‘speculation’ game with the Media and general public (keep in mind that there are many audiences out there who will very readily believe anything the Media says without question).

This is why I absolutely get annoyed when TVB (and the Media) ‘jumps the gun’ and starts ‘leaking’ all this information out prior to anything being confirmed. What’s the point of doing this, since it’s a ‘no win’ situation for both sides if the collaboration doesn’t work out? The only 2 reasons I can think of are: 1) they ‘leak’ this stuff out as a means of publicity / hype for the series – so basically, it’s pretty much a ‘publicity stunt’; and 2) it’s a tactic employed by the company (TVB in this case) to ‘force’ the artist(s) to accept the offer, since all the pressure from the Media (and the audiences / fans) definitely does have an impact (take Francis Ng for example – part of the reason why he agreed to return to do TITS2 was because of audience pressure – he had said in an interview previous that initially, he wasn’t going to film the sequel because he doesn’t believe in doing sequels for sequels sake, but then everyone kept pestering him about it and because he felt the audiences (and fans) really wanted him to return to film the sequel, he gave in and did it).

In conclusion….I have a feeling this won’t be the end of this whole ‘name-dropping’ thing – in fact, this is just the beginning!  I’m sure that there will be many more instances of this in the months / years to come (especially if rival HKTV finally does end up getting their license). 

Let’s see who the next big ‘name drop’ will end up being (anyone want to venture to guess?)....I have a few ‘guesses’ in mind, but for now, let’s just ‘sit back’ and see what happens…


  1. Haha, what a good justified rant :P and yeah unless the artists themselves confirm it I won't believe anything the media dishes out. If the script is rubbish then even the greatest artists can't save the series. I will only be interested if they manage to get little Tony or Aaron which will never ever happen, LOL

    1. @exoidus: Haha…thanks! Figured might as well consolidate my various comments and thoughts into a rant, since I sure had enough ‘material’ to write one…LOL.

      Anyway, TVB surely has a way of pressing my buttons – though to be ‘fair’ to them, part of the problem is also the HK Media for ‘feeding the monster’ so to speak. I won’t believe anything the artists don’t confirm themselves either – but unfortunately, sometimes the artists themselves aren’t really a reliable source either because of the PC world we all live in and also the ‘tendency’ in the HK entertainment industry for the artists to be ‘polite’ when it comes to public-facing stuff. Just take one look at the responses that all the artists whose names have come up so far (with the exception of Gordon of course) and we can see how true this is – in the past year or so, I don’t think I’ve heard any artist outright say ‘no’ to filming for TVB (except Gordon), even though they know full well that they would never film for them no matter what happens and/or their schedules definitely wouldn’t permit it. Of course, this provides just the ‘fodder’ that the Media needs to engage everyone and their mothers in a ‘guessing game’ of whether they will accept and if so, in what capacity. Definitely frustrating to say the least (not just for us audiences, but for the artists themselves…). Sometimes I wish that every artist would be like Gordon and just come right out and say it…who the hell cares about TVB’s feelings? Times have changed and will continue to change in the future – no matter how hard they try, TVB will never be able to get back to that ‘only game in town’ gig that they’ve enjoyed for decades (whether the competition comes from within HK or outside of it, there will always be competition for them no matter where they turn).

      Haha…yup, so true! Even the greatest actors/actresses can’t save a crappy script (and boy have we seen MANY examples of this with TVB over the past decade). Which is why for the past few years, I haven’t been able to get myself ‘excited’ over any of the artists they’ve brought back, since I know it most likely won’t amount to anything ‘good’ anyway (though I will admit that there was definitely a ‘glimmer’ of excitement on my side over the Bobby/Esther reunion, but that ‘glimmer’ quickly got squashed after hearing the plot summary and also seeing who else was part of the cast…LOL). Now I will say that if they ever manage to bring scriptwriter/producer/director Wai Ka Fai back (that dude is brilliant – one of the best scriptwriters/producers/directors in HK), THEN I will definitely be excited – but of course, we all know that will never ever ever ever happen…LOL!

      As for little Tony and Aaron – haha…yup, those 2 won’t ever happen either, considering they don’t have very good relationships with TVB to begin with, for one, and two, they’re just not the type to ‘lower’ themselves to film TV series. Oh, speaking of Aaron – he gained a few brownie points in my book last year when the reports came out about TVB trying to invite him on their Spring Festival show (hoping to ‘reunite’ the 4 Kings) and his manager Siu Mei said: “Nope, no time for it!” (or something along those lines)….such a slap in TVB’s face….hahaha!

    2. @llwy12: I love your thoughts about the issue with regards to Tvb, LOL. In fact I really enjoy reading your comments in general since they are usually really well thought out and make sense.

      I don't know if the monster feeding the media or the other way around. Yeah, hate it when artists are trying to be nice/good instead of rejecting them right away like Gordon.

      Haha, agree I can't get excited about their series anymore just feel like it's a waste of time watching their rubbish series and probably also bc I hate their antics with regards to new licenses!

      Seems like the mgt. team and the BOD have a too close relationship which isn't good corporate gov. Furthermore I don't get why the major shareholder I suppose there's one like RRS isn't doing anything to protect his/her investment. Human capital is one of the most important asset esp. for a company like Tvb! So to me it's really strange that they don't seem to have a plan whatsoever to retain talents.

      Seems like they are able to keep their earnings even though their series have become a laughing stock which is way they won't do anything to improve their scripts untill they take a major hit i.e issuance of new licenses...

    3. @exoidus: LOL…thanks! Funny you mentioned the words “make sense” because to be honest, that’s actually a big ‘philosophy’ of mine that I apply to all aspects of life….for me, everything has to ‘make sense’ – you could have the most ‘valid’ argument in the world and everything you say might be true, but if none of it ‘makes sense’ to me, there sure won’t be any ‘buy in’ or ‘agreement’ from me. Anyway, I guess I’m just the type of person who values ethics and therefore is a firm believer in doing research and truly trying to understand / make sense of things before I comment on them (which is why I can’t stand when people blindly comment and bash without knowing anything about the subject they’re bashing….but I’m sure you probably figured that out by now based on my comments in AF and on this blog…LOL).

      Anyway….back to your response….

      I just love your comment “Human capital is one of the most important asset esp. for a company like TVB!” – anyone with any type of good business sense knows that for a fact! (are you a business person by the way? Cuz that sounds like how a business person would speak…haha). And the fact that TVB management doesn’t think that way proves that they have no business sense (which isn’t surprising because most of them aren’t business people so they know pretty much nothing about how to run a successful business). I’m not too keen on the details of current TVB owner Charles Chan’s background, but my understanding is that he does come from the Corporate world, so I would think he should know better – but it also depends on how much time and effort he is willing to invest in changing TVB (cuz remember the first year he took over, he was pretty much “hands off”).

      This is why despite all the criticism of Ricky Wong (and yes, I do find him annoying overall in terms of his personality and such), I’m still able to respect him as a business person (and ‘support’ his free TV cause to some extent) because he’s proven through his actions that he knows what makes a business successful in the long term (he’s truly been taking the whole ‘human capital is a company’s most important asset’ concept to heart). And obviously, I’m not the only one who sees it – the people who work for him see it to, otherwise they wouldn’t say the things they do about him. Unfortunately though, majority of the audiences in HK – especially the HK Media – are too shallow and ignorant (meaning lack of business sense) to understand this concept and let their emotions run their lives rather than thinking things through logically / rationally (I’m basing this on the various ‘bashing’ comments I’ve seen directed towards Ricky Wong’ and people who work for him).

    4. @llyw12: That's a good "philosophy" i.e never invest in something where you don't understand the business model. I suppose you didn't buy "Bitcoin" LOL (i'm totally clueless why ppl would buy that instead of gold. Reminds me of a classic pump and dump). I know what you mean and sometimes fans/ppl take comments way too personal.

      I'm just a smiling wanderer, haha. Well I suppose i'm in the business. You do think like a business person as well :P

      I think the reason why Charles Chan isn't active involved in Tvb is bc it's only a small portion of his portfolio and/or he only invested in the business due to the publicity. The bottom line is that despite Tvb's deterioation in terms of quality it's still making a good return on invested capital. I do think Tvb is aware of the risk in the long run, but personally I think they are doing too little too late.

      Haha, you find Ricky annoying. I have listened to his arguments for free licenses and they all make sense. Love his comparison of the "animals" in the zoo finally being able to live in a free environment :D or put those assets in better use in order to create value. I thought appro.80% of the HK population supported free licenses according to a market research. It's really a no-brainer that more competition will only hurt the existing players (Tvb & Atv) all others will gain from it (viewers, artists, hk reputation etc).

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  3. Haha! A good rant indeed! But as to "not the type to ‘lower’ themselves to film TV series." -- Director Tsui Siu Ming did a rant on that kind of attitude in his weibo. He dislikes movie people looking down on their tv counterparts - and effusively praises Director Lee Ang for directing a US tv program project despite his success in the movie world.

    很奇怪香港和大陸很多的電影演員和導演將影視築起一道高墻,誓要將兩者分得像河水井水,有些更什,將電視看得像_有失電影人身份的職業,盡管他們是出身于電視;我在電視圈工作多年也見怪不怪了!我須出身電影,但受過電視的養分,卻常以電視人為傲,國際金像大導李安_我尊敬您!2013 3/25


    1. @Tamaya:  LOL…sorry, I probably should have worded it better….I meant ‘lowering themselves to film a TVB series’…haha.  I’m actually fine with TV series in general and have all sorts of respect for TV people – but TVB is a whole other story…

  4. like you, i'm completely turned off by the name "aerobic girls". although i would totally tune into a series if fat gor or big tony was cast in it, if the script is crap, i wouldn't continue watching it.