Wednesday, October 25, 2006

[Ta Kung Pao 26/10/06]

Singers Gather to Celebrate TVB Anniversary

The "Jade Singers Celebrate TVB Anniversary" show will place on the 4th November and the MC's for the night will be real-life lovers Carol Cheng and Lui Fong. At the press conference for the event yesterday, Carol and Lui Fong immediately became the centre of attention and they often had the focus from the media sent in their direction by Hacken Lee, who is soon to be married. He joked that Carol and Lui should get married with him, but Hacken refused to reveal any details about his forthcoming wedding. He just insisted that he will not stop working because of his wedding.

In attendance at the event, aside from Carol and Lui were singers icnluding Eason Chan, Miriam Yeung, rumoured couple Justin Lo and Gia Lam, Jolie Chan and many others. Leon Lai also made an appearance as the mystery guest. At the event, when Carol was introducing the line-up for the female singers, there was suddenly some booing from the group of men. When Carol indicated that she knew who was booing, Hacken immediately stood up and admitted it and received a stern scolding from Carol: "As a bridegroom, you should show more reverence, getting married is not everything!" Not to be outdone, Hacken responded by suggesting that she and Lui Fong should join him and get married too.

When the other details of the show were being introduced, Lui Fong seemed rather nervous and spoke quite quietly, often needing cues from Carol. Afterwards, he was asked if he was nervous and he denied that he was just reading from the script and he is not nervous. It is not the real thing yet, so he does not need to speak too loudly. As for Hacken's heckling, he smiles: "Let him get married first, then it will be me. (You were the butt of their jokes?) No-one was joking about me, just Hacken. In any case, I will do this job well." When it was suggested he would lose out to Carol's wit on the night, he smiles: "She has not seen the real me yet, but she will!"

Carol was very supportive of her partner and said: "Lui Fong has been the host for 'Jade Solid Gold' before, but maybe he has just not done it for so long. Treat this as a rehearsal and he will do better then." Will she be looking out for him on their first co-operation? Carol says that it will depend on the situation, if it is desperate, she will not care too much! As for whether they will have any arguments, Carol laughs that they are adults and will not do that. Asked about Lui Fong's comments about marriage, she says he is talking nonsense because it has been a while since he has seen so many people and he is a little overwhelmed.

As for new reports that Lydia Shum's condition is worsening and she is making final arrangements with Lau Ka Cheung, Carol replies to the reporters saying: "Is that really true? You can't believe anything that they write nowadays. I hope that Lydia will get some good rest and this year's Anniversary will not be the same without her because we will miss her laughter, but she should take plenty of time off to recover. (Have you visited her?) I sent some flowers to the hospital earlier, but the hospital refused them. I dare not contact her and I don't know Joyce [Cheng] very well. I hope she will get some peaceful rest."

Special guest Leon will be working with Andy Lau on this year's show in a special act that is under a shroud of secrecy. There are reports that Leon's collaboration with Andy is 'breaking the ice' that has grown between the two stars after recent frosty receptions. Leon seemed rather impatient when he heard this and said: "Even the volcano has been broken up, never mind the ice. There are no problems between us and I am performing with sincerity." Asked how he would describe his relationship with Andy, he says that apart from the anniversary he has not seen Andy for a long time and hopes that people will not use their working relationship as a basis for news because all people want to see is the performance.

With the much anticipated return of the two 'heavenly kings' in co-operation, Leon says he will not feel any pressure. He says he remembers when he was just waving weapons around at the back for the TVB anniversary, so this proves that showbiz will always provide opportunities to newcomers and he believes that everyone has their own pressures. He may be standing in the front today, but one day he may be at the back again. He does not mind though because this is the unchangeable truth and the most important thing is to keep yourself swimming forward.

Leon warns everyone not to raise the expectations for the act too high to avoid giving him and the TVB creatives too much pressure. As for comments that his performance is to save the male singers team, he admits that it should help. With suggestions that he is only taking part in the show to help support his own company's singers, he insists that he is also showing support for TVB.


[Ta Kung Pao 26/10/06]

Hacken and Joey Supporting TVB Anniversary

There are reports that Hacken Lee will be getting married next month and at yesterday's TVB anniversary event, Hacken was chased by the eager press to find out more about his wedding plans. However, he refused to reply, saying that he will not put down his current work to get married and both will go ahead in parallel.

Asked if he will be getting married next month, Hacken told the reporters to go and ask Andy Lau. With all his good friends keeping their oath to secrecy, Hacken laughs that he has a lot of good friendships. Asked if he had set a date yet, he says: "Getting married is not like cooking a dish on TV, so I don't need to tell you every step along the way. If you need to know, then you know, if you don't, you don't." So are the reports true?He says that there are a lot of reports and some are not true at all, but one thing he will say is that he will not let his wedding affect his work.

The reports also suggest he will be resting for a month, but he says that if he stops working, then he stops earning, so he can't stop for a month because he is not as rich as Mr Tam [Alan Tam]. He says that everything will happen at the same time and he will not rest. His new album is due to be released in November, so he has to work. So is this will be double celebration for his wedding and the release of his album at the same time? Hacken declined to comment. As for reports that Joey Yung is trying to coax him into joining EEG, Hacken says he is still with Universal at the moment, so it would be unfair to discuss any changes at this point.

Joey will be the female team captain at the TVB Anniversary Singers event and she appeared at the press event yesterday in a backless dress and captured the attention of the press. Asked if she has done all the preparation, she says: "The outfit fits very well, so I don't need to use tape." She says that as the team captain, she will be showing the assertive and bossy side of her to the other team.

Miriam explained why she was not the team captain this year and indicated that she and Leo Ku would be performing in the Operatic piece "Princess Flower", so as the costumes were big and bulky, she did not want to take on the responsibility this year. She says that she did something similar in a charity show earlier, singing 'Tong Pak Fu woos Chau Heung' and this earned her the nickname of 'Big Head Chau Heung' because her appearance was so frightening! She laughs: "It was only aired at 4am and this time it will be during primetime viewing, so the pressure is quite high! This was arranged by TVB though and it is my way of showing support. (Is this showing a fall in status?) It's nothing to do with that! If I sung badly, then that would be a fall in status. After so many years in the business, I will not think about these stupid things."

With the merger underway at Universal, there have been reports that there is a clash at the top of the ranks between Eason Chan, Jacky Cheung and Hacken Lee. Eason says he did not know about this, but the industry is in decline and mergers are the way forward to stay afloat. He jokes: "With the market so bad, they should not hold press conferences, just share out the money instead. (TVB have money though?) It's all on the outside!" Eason realised he'd made a slip up after saying this and immediately turned it around, saying: "The whole of the showbiz industry is like that!"


[Ta Kung Pao 26/10/06]

Sonija Kwok meets her fans in Hangzhou

TVB joint production series "The Conquest" starring Joe Ma, Sonija Kwok, Chen Kun and Damian Lau will be shown again on a mainland satellite channel to meet popular demand after the show's roaring success in China in June and Sonija and Chen were invited to a promotional event to mark the occasion.

As soon as Sonija arrived at Hangzhou's airport, she was met with flowers and gifts from the waiting fans who clambered to have their photo taken with her. Sonija showed her friendliness and stopped to chat with them and found out that some had flown in especially from Shanghai to see her and she was very touched. The first event was arranged at the Wangmaxiao district, where hundreds of fans and citizens were packed into the streets to catch a sight of her. Some lucky fans were invited onto the stage to play games and draw with Sonija and she was very pleased as she admired the portrait sketch that was made of her. At the end of the event, a special presentation of a gift of local tea-leaves from her Tibetan fans was made, making her very happy indeed.

After this, Sonija and Chen were quickly rushed to meet the media and as they share the largest number of scenes in the series, they were asked what they thought of each other. They said that they felt there were no barriers between them and praised each others good looks. Chen said that Sonija is the only choice to play Xishi and Sonija returned the compliment, saying that he was very handsome and has his own interpretation in acting, so she has learned a lot and been inspired by him.


[Ta Kung Pao 26/10/06]

Kenny Bee has a lot to say for "Be My Guest"

After finally reaching the end of his bankruptcy term, Kenny Chung (aka Kenny Bee) was the latest guest on TVB Executive Stephen Chan's chat show "Be My Guest". As is the custom, Stephen presented Kenny with some gifts and on this occasion, it was in three parts, the first of which was Ginger Rice. Stephen says: "Ginger Rice reduces chills and encourages moisture. I daren't eat it, but you can." The second gift was a buddhist pine with a golden chocolate hanging from it. Stephen explains: "With a buddhist pine in the house, you will never be poor again." The third gift was an electric guitar.

Kenny was very surprised to receive these gifts and he never thought that anyone would be so thoughtful. Asked what questions he would not answer, he laughs: "I have to know the answer first, but I have confidence in Stephen. (He wants to ask you who dumped who when you dated Virginia Lok?) What? It would take more than three hours to talk about that!"

Although Kenny has always maintained an amicable relationship with TVB, with the company often offering him series, they have never had the chance to work together. He laughs: "Filming series in Hong Kong is very rushed and I am worried I cannot do it. In the mainland, it is different and it is more like the movies. Their treatment of their cast and crew is also very good, so I would rather stick to singing in Hong Kong."

After ten years since his last Cantonese album, Kenny plans to release his new album in November. He says: "I have taken two years to prepare for it and production has been supported by my friends. They are all new songs and I will probably be releasing it myself. I released a Mandarin album four years ago and although they took all my songs, they did not use them and I felt like a prop."

As for reports that he has a Thai curse tattooed on his wrist, Kenny immediately explained this by showing off his wrist: "This tattoo was done for fun when I was in Holland with Fan Keung. There is no special meaning, but it is said to bring peace and happiness. As for the red string,it was bought from a charity project."

The meal for the chat took place at a Thai Restaurant that Kenny once was the spokesperson and shareholder for, but he indicated he has not been there for a long time. Asked if he still has shares, he says: "No! It has all gone, I don't know what happened. If there is money to be given out, then I would be happy. (How do you feel about going back to the old place?) I don't have a car parking permit any more, so I have to pay for parking! Oh and I have found that Ginger Rice tastes quite nice."

Before the interview, Stephen explained that he would be asking about Kenny's relationship with Virginia Lok because their romance was very deep in the hearts of the public at once stage and so Ms Lok does not mind him talking about it.

There have been headlines in a tabloid magazine claiming that Lydia Shum is suffering from cancer of the bile duct and in response to this, Stephen says that he has not heard of her suffering from this condition and he only knows that she needs to rest. He has not been to disturb her and has just sent her a card. As for Lydia's show 'A Gathering of Friends' having only 22 episodes completed out of the forty, Stephen says that he will take over to host the remaining episodes so that it meets its scheduled air dates. Asked if Lydia would appear on the anniversary show, he says he is quite sure she will not be there because she needs to rest.

Talking of the current contest brewing between artistes for the Anniversary awards, Stephen feels it is a good thing for so much emphasis to be placed on the awards because this can also be the focus of the viewers conversations. If not, there would be no point in holding the ceremony. As for the rumours surrounding Best Actress favourites Myolie Wu and Charmaine Sheh, who does he think will win? He smiles it is hard to answer because there are other nominees too, such as Ada Choi and Sheren Tang.

As for the reports that new series "To Grow With Love" has won ratings but lost on reviews and suggestions that Fat Tin's actions are similar to Joyce Cheng, Stephen laughs: "Not at all! I find it is a great watch and Myolie was very professional in agreeing to gain weight for the role because not every artiste will be prepared to do this." It emerges that when Myolie was filming in the Mainland, it was Stephen who personally offered and negotiated the role to her. Asked if an award was part of the agreement, Stephen says that they did not know when it would be aired when it was filmed, so there was no way this would be agreed in this way. He just feels that the show is in a very favourable timeslot so it was chosen to be aired first.


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