Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Entertainment Newsreel #2: More OCTB news + HKFA nominations

Here's this week's HK entertainment news items that I found interesting....

Movie news

Hong Kong Film Awards

-          Nominations list came out today for this year's HKFA (which will be held in April).

-          Ann Hui's wartime epic Our Time Will Come leads the pack with 11 nominations, followed by Sylvia Chang's Love Education and Wilson Yip's Paradox, each with 9 nominations.

-          Best Actor race will be interesting this year, as there are 3 veteran HK actors nominated (Andy Lau forShock Wave, Ronald Cheng for Concerto of the Bully, and Louis Koo for Paradox), 1 newcomer (Ling Man Lung for Tomorrow is Another Day) and 1 Mainland actor (Tian Zhuang Zhuang for Love Education).  This is the first Best Actor nomination for Ronald (he won Best Supporting Actor a couple years ago and also won Best Song twice previously) and I believe the third or fourth nomination for Louis.  No predictions on my part since I didn't watch any of these movies (not yet anyway) but I heard Ronald's performance was good and also quite a departure from his usual comedic roles so if I had to pick someone to root for, it would probably be him.

-          Best Actress nominees were actually anticipated, as most of these were already nominated in other awards shows.  The nominees include:  Chrissie Chau for 29+1, Zhou Xun for Our Time Will Come, Stephy Tang for The Empty Hands, Sylvia Chang for Love Education, and Teresa Mo for Tomorrow is Another Day.  Again, no predictions from my side but considering Stephy Tang already won Best Actress earlier at the Hong Kong Critics Association awards, no doubt that she is one of the hot favorites going into HKFA.  I'm curious to see the results, though I'm not rooting for anyone in particular in this category.

-          I'm not going to recap all the nominees (you can check out the entire list at the link below) however just a few interesting things I saw: 

o   In the Best Supporting Actor category, Philip Keung has 2 nominations – could this finally be his year to win?   Two nominations can be a blessing or a curse, as it could cause the vote to be split, which decreases one's chances.  I like Philip so I'm fine if he wins, though Paul Chun is also nominated in this category again and despite not having watched the movie he was nominated for, I'm still rooting for him because he's one of my favorite actors, lol.  Interestingly, last year's Best Actor winner Gordon Lam is nominated in Best Supporting Actor this year forParadox, which I heard he did a great job in.  

o   Best Supporting Actress category is all over the place, as it pits veteran actresses (i.e. Deanie Ip and Susan Shaw) against film industry newcomers (i.e. Joyce Cheng and Baby Bo).  This will be an interesting race as well, though again, no one in particular that I'm rooting for.

-          Here's the full list of nominees (courtesy of SCMP):  HKFA nominations

Television news


- Reference this post I wrote about season 1 airing on Netflix starting this month.  Also, season 2 cast is still a pretty huge discussion point at the moment, with the latest "rumor" being that, due to the Netflix connection, they are currently in talks to secure Hollywood stars to participate in the series.  Details are in the above post.

- I had mentioned in my previous newsreel post that filming for season 2 was scheduled to begin after Chinese New Year.  Well, according to an article that came out today, looks like the plan might have to change now due to an unforeseen circumstance.  In an interview today, producer Jones Soong had the below to say:  "Originally we had already confirmed that a 'big name' artist would participate, someone whom audiences were really looking forward to seeing.  Unfortunately we just received word that there is a slight issue with that artist's schedule, so he will no longer be able to participate.  Of course this will affect the script, so we will need to do some re-writes now."

o   So now, filming will be delayed until March so that the re-writes can be done with the script.  In terms of the delay in filming, Jones Soong wanted to reassure audiences that their intention is to give the very best to audiences:  "I've always been of the mindset that a lot of focus has to be on the script being well-written.  I insist on completing the entire script before commencing filming because in my mind, on-the-fly scripts do nothing to help the production."    Jones also emphasized that he (and his team) won't rush things just to meet a particular deadline or to get their deposit quicker, as they don't operate that way.  The one thing that will be the biggest concern for them is artists' schedules, as that will impact their production significantly.

o   Bummer…looks like we will now have to wait until March for season 2 to start filming.  But I'm fine with it, since they want to make sure the script is properly written before they start.  There are very few production companies out there nowadays that focus on the script like this so kudos to Jones and his team for their efforts!  Though I can't wait for season 2 to start, I also admire and respect the team's decision to make sure the script is 100% good to go before they start – if that means filming is delayed, then so be it!

o   Sidenote:  As to who that artist is who originally committed but had to pull out due to scheduling conflicts?  Of course Jones Soong won't say.  So the reporter tried taking the "highly anticipated by audiences" route and asked Jones about one of the open endings from season 1, which was the identity of "Godfather" Sun Ye's son Michael (featured in a scene with only his backside and also his voice), whose identity was to be revealed in season 2 and whether that is the character affected. [This makes sense to me, as what other character would require the script to be rewritten due to the artist pulling out?].   In response to this, Jones laughed and said:  "Think about who in this industry is named 'Michael'!"  [Ha, that's such an obvious clue, lol!  If the artist Jones is referring to is indeed Michael Tse, then looks like my guess wasn't too off the mark.  Too bad he won't be able to participate in season 2 anymore though, as it would've been awesome to see Chicken (Jordan) and Dai Tin Yee (Michael) reuniting (though of course, they would've been on opposing sides, with Jordan's Phoenix battling Michael's triad leader character).

o   Here's the source of the article for those interested in reading it:  HK01


-          I read the other day that the series that will be taking over The Forgotten Valley's (the Louisa So series that is currently airing in the regular prime time slot) will be "Watch Out Boss", which is the series starring Flora Chan and Ben Wong that had been filmed 3 years ago (one of TVB's last series that was still buried in their warehouse).  I'm not interested in watching the series, as I'm not too fond of the cast first of all (aside from Flora and Ben, both of whom I like, not really keen on the other 2 leads), plus from what I've seen in previews and such, the story sounds lame (seems like another pointless comedy to me).  However I decided to include a snippet about this series in this post because, well, those who read my first "Entertainment Newsreel" post will probably know that most of the TVB-related stuff I cover in these posts are along the lines of "WTH moments"….given all the controversy surrounding this series at the moment (before the series has even aired), I think this legitimately falls into "WTH" category (ok, probably more like "WTF" territory depending on if you're a Flora fan or not).  So here's the lowdown:

o   Given Flora's popularity with audiences (back during the height of her career, she had won multiple audience-voted "TV artist of the year" awards from a few media outlets), you would think that TVB would cherish the opportunity of having her film for them as a way to get back into HK audiences' good graces (something that TVB desperately needs nowadays).  Well, apparently not – looks like TVB is still its old petty self and continues to have no qualms about playing their internal politics as long as it suits their fancy, even if it is at the expense of their artists and also the audiences who still support them.

o   Earlier, TVB released the trailer for the series as a precursor to the series airing – at that time, fans were already complaining that Flora was barely in the trailer, with her presence being reduced to a teeny tiny shot of her head.  If you think that's bad, wait, there's more...

o   It is now rumored that the episode count of the series has been cut from 20 episodes to 15 episodes.  The reason for the "trimming down" of episodes?  No, not to help the plot flow better by cutting out excess stuff or improve overall quality by editing out mistakes and such (which is what most "normal" production companies would do).  Supposedly, most of the scenes that will be cut are Flora's scenes – the rumor is that through post-editing, TVB is cutting out most of Flora's screen time so that instead of her being first female lead as was the case when she filmed the series, she will be reduced to "supporting" role and the series' second female lead Ali Lee will become first lead instead.  [Sidenote:  I know you're probably wondering how is it even possible to turn a supporting artist into lead and a lead into supporting purely via post-production editing?  Of course it's possible – just go ask world-renown HK director Wong Kar Wai, who practically wrote the playbook on this particular editing skill, though his reasons for doing it has nothing to do with politics – unlike TVB!]

o   So why is TVB doing this?  Some people are saying that TVB is trying to ride the Ali wave and since she's under their management contract, it makes sense that they would try to promote their own people.  While that may be true to some extent, it's not like Ali is a big enough name actress for TVB to give such special treatment to, especially when there are other artists at her level (second female lead whom TVB is currently promoting) filming other series also with veterans, yet same thing (editing out the veteran's scenes) is not happening there.  So to me, this theory doesn't hold any water.

o   The REAL reason why TVB is cutting Flora's scenes goes back to my earlier assertion that TVB is being petty again, as Flora is currently working for their rival station ViuTV.  A couple months back, during ViuTV's sales presentation, it was revealed that Flora will be producing an info series for ViuTV, called "Stages of Marriage".  The program will invite 5 different married couples from different walks of life and also different countries to share their different perspectives on marriage in efforts to help audiences understand how marriage is perceived across cultures.  Flora and her husband will be one of the 5 couples on the show.  Back when she was interviewed during ViuTV's sales presentation, Flora said that she agreed to do this program because the topic interested her but more importantly, it lets her go back to her roots, as audiences may remember that she was a producer for TVB's Pearl channel (their English language channel) prior to becoming an actress.  She indicated that she likes being a producer more because she has more control over the quality of the production (she also said that she is interested in doing more behind-the-scenes work and already completed writing of a script, a society piece  about life choices and decision-making that she hopes to produce / direct herself as a way of giving back to society).

o   While on the one hand, I can understand TVB not wanting to help another station promote their artists, I still feel that it's utterly ridiculous for TVB to take these types of petty actions that do more damage for themselves than good.  I mean, how is the series going to look like after TVB cuts out all of Flora's scenes?  Um, TVB certainly ain't no Wong Kar Wai (not even close!!) and their producers have nowhere near the skill he does.  Besides, I've seen the way TVB edits their programs and believe me, it's horrifying! [Sidenote: It's kind of ironic but subscribing to TVB's channels here in the U.S., we're kind of treated as second-class citizens in that we sometimes get the "shoddily edited" version of their programs complete with scenes cut out – not the same way the program aired in HK – and the ones I've seen have been pure CRAP!  There was one time where I got so frustrated with a variety program that they edited to the point of being unwatchable – literally they were cutting people's dialogue off mid-sentence! – that I actually called up TVB USA and gave them a piece of my mind (luckily TVB USA had and continues to have good customer service and actually is sincere about trying to fix issues – unlike its HK counterpart – so I went easier on them than I normally would other companies, lol)].   So yea, petty TVB is at it again – stroking their own egos and playing politics for politics sake with absolutely zero regard for anyone or anything (even those who support them)!  This kind of bullcrap (which TVB pulls more and more often nowadays) is actually one of the (many) reasons why I've stopped supporting TVB despite being a die-hard fan for 30 years.  IMO, Flora's fans should get together and boycott TVB – or perhaps flood the Communications Authority with complaints deriding TVB's stupid politics and pettiness (though probably this won't happen since HK audiences will always have some amount of sentimentality toward TVB no matter how badly they screw up….).


  1. Is it just me or does the HKFA nominate a lot of films that haven't even been released every year? I'm really looking forward to watching The Empty Hands, even though some of the trailer looks sorta out there...and being a fan of martial arts, some of the action looks ridiculous even if it is a dream sequenece.

    I have 29+1, Paradox, Shockwave and Chasing the Dragon on my HD. I'll definitely watch those soon. Extremely surprised Chasing the Dragon is nominated, that's a Wong Jing movie!

    1. @Anonymous: LOL...I think they've always done that though. Alot of times, they will do a limited release of the film just to qualify it for HKFA, then do the "real" release later.

      I'm actually more interested in watching Stephy's other movie Somewhere Beyond the Mist rather than The Empty Hands, as I heard she put in a superb performance in that one (even though her screen time is not as much as the other one). I read that Somewhere Beyond the Mist has been getting rave reviews with practically the entire cast putting in stellar performances, so if I had to choose between those 2 Stephy films, I would probably choose that one.

      Haha...I know, I was wondering the same thing about Chasing the Dragon. Not surprised though, as Wong Jing's movies DO usually get nominated in various categories, it's just that he never gets nominated for Best Director and even if he does, he never wins (this is actually a known fact that has made Wong Jing the butt of alot of jokes the past 30 years, lol). HKFA favors art-house directors who make "real" movies (lol) so someone like Wong Jing doesn't stand a chance in terms of director award. Even if he is in the running (i.e. nominated), they would rather give it a newbie director than to him.

      I actually haven't been paying as much attention to HK movies this year as I have the past few years, so I don't really have any particular ones on my "to watch" list at the moment...

    2. Some of those art-house films are just fucking horrible. I tried watching Ten Years last year, jesus christ, what a bad movie. I get what they were trying to do, but it was not subtle at all. It was the equivalent of someone yelling "MESSAGE!" in my face every couple of minutes.

      I'm surprised it won best picture, it might've been the worst movie I've watched last year and I watched 15 Lifetime movies with my ex last year.

  2. Wow, quick update. Thanks again :).

    I do have a question about Eric Tsang, I saw that he left the chairman (I'm not sure) place of the "Celebrity Club" (I don't know which name they gave for it) and it was replaced for Louis Koo. Does this has to do something about Eric's scandal?

    1. @Anonymous: No. Actually, Eric Tsang had stepped down as President of the HKPAG (HK Performing Artistes Guild) several years ago (I think it was around 2014 or 2015? I don’t remember the exact date but it was definitely after the whole free-to-air license debacle). Eric was actually in that position for more than a decade (and in a way, he was the perfect person for that spot due to his position in the industry and his connections to so many artists across Asia). At that time, his reason for stepping down was because of his position as a TVB artist, which made it impossible for him to be impartial on the license issue (specifically his obligation to support TVB’s position in discouraging the government from issuing more licenses). After he stepped down, Jackie Chan replaced him as President -- of course, I personally didn’t think Jackie Chan was a better choice than Eric given Jackie’s reputation and background, but hey it was based on voting by all the artists in the guild (which was pretty much every artist in the industry, lol) plus no one else wanted to take that position anyway.

      This year, Louis Koo got voted in as President of 13th Executive Committee, which is the same position that Jackie Chan held previously (with that said though, there is still the Honorary President position which is pretty much held by the guild’s founders – Jackie Chan, Michael Hui, Anita Mui, Eric Tsang, Alan Tam – they don’t usually get involved directly as that’s the President’s job, but when there is need for massive outreach like in the case of charity events for earthquakes and such, it’s usually one of the honorary presidents – minus Anita Mui of course – who steps in to gather everyone together). The position is based on votes from guild members – they probably felt that Louis Koo was a good candidate for the job so they voted him in. So basically, it had nothing to do with Eric Tsang or his current scandal, since he hasn’t been in that position for several years already.


    2. @Anonymous: Btw, I can see where you might have gotten the information from that Louis Koo replaced Eric Tsang, as some of the Mainland China media outlets have been reporting this, but it’s actually not true (as I explained in my previous comment, prior to last month’s elections, Jackie Chan was the President presiding over the 12th Executive Committee, not Eric). This can be easily confirmed by going on to HKPAG’s website, which lists out all past years’ committee members since the beginning of time. Some of the less experienced (or lazy) HK media outlets / reporters might have picked up Mainland media’s reports and republished without fact-checking, which is a shame. This is why I always read entertainment news with a grain of salt (and most of the time, I fact-check across several different sources)…

  3. I watched Chasing the Dragon at the theater when it first came out and I was excited for it because it's got that nostalgic HK look and it's got Donnie Yen. Right before I watched it, I watched To Be Number One with Ray Lui and I have to say that To Be Number One was WAYYY better than Chasing the Dragon. Chasing the Dragon looked like a cartoon in comparison.


    1. @ch1kusoo: Hahaha! Actually, I have the same opinion about Chasing the Dragon, except that I didn’t bother watching the movie. Since I already saw the original Ray Lui version back in the old days, I took one look at the way Donnie Yen was dressed in this reboot version and thought immediately he looked ridiculous and cartoonish (which was later confirmed when I watched the trailer, which totally turned me off from wanting to watch the movie, lol).