Monday, March 12, 2018

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

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

TV News

HMV (China 3D)

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

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

Fantastic Television (i-Cables free TV arm)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

And finally….TVB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  1. Thanks for the info on HMV, not to fond of Louis Cheung and Myolie Wu so that series is a skip for me.

    Is this new series by Bowie, Fatball, and 25 for ViuTV? Lol I guess all those flopped series by Margaret and David including part 3 by author/producer was enough for them?

    If so that’s a huge surprise since the two directors said angrily they won’t work for them anymore. In short, the fallout was over power struggle and creative freedom. Directors has different opinions and respected actors’ input and freestyle dialogue. Author unrespectfully editted out scenes she dislike without understanding or over seeing filming process just cause script wasn’t word for word and different from her script. Notable outrage was ChauKaYee and PoonChanLeung’s cut scene and muted voices. Of course I stood by the directors and actors since this author know nothing about filming tv series. In FatBall’s words “audience are cruel they don’t care what you have to say”. Green Bean’s success was due its realism.

    1. @sport: I like Louis so I’ll probably watch (I don’t like Myolie though but it doesn’t sound like she has a huge role anyway). I still have my reservations about HMV and Stephen Shiu Jr., but part of me wants to support them just because they are so fiercely fighting against TVB, hahaha….but anyway, for me, it boils down to how much time I’m able to free up so may not end up watching in the end…

      That’s a good question about the Bowie series – I’m actually not sure, as Bowie didn’t mention anything about what platform the series would air on. I kind of got the feeling he wasn’t planning on saying anything yet since they are in such preliminary planning stages but because of the hoopla over Jonathan Chik’s series and Bowie not being included on the list, he figured he needed to put some info out there. I know Bowie still has a good relationship with ViuTV (in fact, the interview HK01 did was after Bowie attended a ViuTV event), but it sounds like he has an even better relationship with the 2 directors so if they refuse to work with ViuTV again, he could very well side with them. Besides, nowadays, there are so many platforms to air series that he has plenty of options to choose from….maybe he should get with Jones Soong (producer for OCTB) and get some tips from him, lol.

  2. Hmmm…ok, so I read up a bit on the series that HMV have planned. The West Side Stories one is actually not a regular series but rather a bunch of individual, unrelated stories combined into one. There’s also a second series they produced which stars Jeannie Ho, Joyce Cheng, and a few other HMV artists that is 10 episodes long and will be airing soon. Both series revolve around relationships and sex and supposedly have “pushing the envelope” stuff such as foul language, sex scenes (though of course all staged and made to look realistic), etc. There will be some scenes / episodes that poke fun at current trends in society and the dialogue is meant to reflect real life situations (i.e. for HKWSS, Louis’ character is an animal whisperer who tries to swindle clients out of money by pretending to be able to talk to animals when he really can’t, which is a nod to a real-life situation that occurred in HK awhile back ago).

    To be honest, if the above will be the premise, I am seriously very disappointed because Stephen Shiu Jr’s company was doing so well the past couple years in rebuilding their image and getting away from all those category III sex romps that they were notorious for producing back in the day. Yet with their initial foray into web series, it looks like they are heading back in that direction? I will continue to give them the benefit of the doubt for now but I honestly hope that I’m wrong this time. As it is, despite every production company out there doing web series, most of them are “jumping on the bandwagon” type stuff with little substance that honestly is not worth watching. I’m hoping the web series realm won’t end up like the free-to-air TV realm where it gets to the point that nothing is worth watching anymore….

    1. No worries, it'll probably be really tame, especially if they're trying to hook people from China. It'll be more PG-13 raunchy comedy than something that would air on HBO or Showtime. We won't see anything, and the sex is probably going to be played up for laughs.

      I'm interested in it tbh. I'd like to see how Louis Cheung would do as a comedic lead. Where would we be able to watch this?

    2. @Anonymous: Actually, you’re right – the China factor means that it will likely be relatively tame, though of course, they could always edit the version they intend to release to Mainland audiences and take out stuff that wouldn’t pass the censors (TVB supposedly does this currently with their series that air on Mainland platform – they edit it down slightly so that everything passes the censors…apparently, they haven’t yet learned the “sophisticated art” of writing a HK-based script exclusively for Mainland audiences like their buddy Wong Jing has, lol). In any case, I think it’s worth checking out, since we’ll never know until we try watching….

      The link to HMVOD’s site is below. I haven’t had a chance to check out their site yet so I’m not 100% sure how the site works or if it is even HK only. The TV series section is the third tab over. You might have to create an account first before you are able to access their content though (similar to Netflix and most of the other sites out there that stream TV series / movies). I had heard that they have an assortment of movies that are available to watch for free as well, with the biggest one (for Hong Kongers at least) being John Woo’s classic A Better Tomorrow….so if you’re interested in classic HK movies, might want to check out that section as well.

    3. Looks like it's subscription based and region locked. Looks like I'm gonna have to find a way to watch this somehow. Thanks anyways, llwy12!

    4. @Anonymous: Oh -- what country are you in? I'm in the U.S. and I just put that link into my browser on my laptop and I'm able to watch it without a problem -- didn't need to create an account or subscribe or use a VPN. Perhaps it's restricted based on country?