Archive | January, 2010

‘Unexpected Access’ Season 2: More Gore Than Before

26 Jan

SINGAPORE: The first season of “Unexpected Access” had quite a number of disturbing scenes, ranging from the bloody slaughter of animals at an abattoir to the graphic sequence of an embalmer carrying out his macabre task at a funeral home.

If you have watched “Unexpected Access”, you would probably be prepared for what is coming up in the second season. Right?

Wrong.

Andrea De Cruz, who takes over from Wong Li Lin as host of the hit show, feels that nothing can quite prepare you for the stuff you will see in the upcoming instalment.

“I went in prepared or at least I thought I was until I got there,” she said.

When the show returns to Channel 5 on February 4, viewers will get to follow the exploits of a group of volunteers from the Por Teck Tung Foundation in Bangkok, Thailand, who tend to the injured, collect the bodies (and sometimes what’s left of them) of road accident or crime victims and provide funeral services for them, as a service to the city.

“When we got to an accident site, it was a fresh body, warm, still laying there from a motorcycle accident and you were just like two feet away from it,” said De Cruz, adding that she was amazed at the type of events they covered in Thailand like a domestic dispute that went horribly wrong.

“We saw a man bleeding out because his wife actually wanted to cut off his [genitals],” she said, “but she didn’t manage to you see, so in the end he got stabbed in the groin, the wife just sat down like nothing happened.”

And that was just while shooting the first episode.

The shoot was especially challenging for De Cruz because of her own issues with death that stem from her near death experience back in 2002. At that time, the 34-year-old actress-host suffered from liver failure after taking the controversial Slim 10 slimming pills.

She only survived after getting a liver transplant from her actor husband Pierre Png, with whom she was engaged at the time. Even till today, she has to take anti-rejection medicine daily to live.

“I don’t even go to funeral wakes if I can help it because I have a problem with dealing with death,” she said.

Personal issues aside, there were also practical problems to consider, like how to avoid vomiting.

Other episodes in the series had her watching a surgeon cut open his patient to do reconstructive surgery and touching rotting food at the IUT Singapore food waste recycling plant.

All rather unpleasant things to do for a pretty lady who is more often associated with hosting elegant events like beauty pageants than wading around in swill.

“You could almost taste the smell of the plant. You had to take multiple showers and like three, four hair washes to get rid of the smell,” De Cruz said. “When we [the crew] congregate the next day, it was like ‘Wah, how many times you have to wash your hair’,” she said, adding that the whole crew felt sick after the first day of shooting for that episode.

“Always bring kana (sour plum), in case you barf and always bring like Axe oil or something, some nice-smelling things,” she advised in mock seriousness before breaking into laughter.

Very often, sequels come along that do no justice to the original work but “Unexpected Access” season two is shaping up to be an exception. Containing even more gore and more controversial subject matter than the hit first season, the completely unscripted show looks set to shock audiences once more and probe the limits of television censorship.

“In all honesty, there is a lot of gore, it’s a matter of what can be televised on local television,” De Cruz said. “Eat your dinner waaay before the show.”

Channel News Asia

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Inglourious Basterds Wins Top Honour At Oscars Indicator

24 Jan

LOS ANGELES: Quentin Tarantino’s bloody World War Two revenge flick “Inglourious Basterds” won the top honour at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards Saturday, a key indicator of possible Oscars contenders.

After being overlooked in favor of science fiction epic “Avatar” at last week’s Golden Globes, “Inglourious Basterds” revitalised its Oscar hopes by scooping the best ensemble performance award.

The SAG Awards are seen as a bellwether of likely winners at the Academy Awards, which take place this year on March 7.

For the past two years, the winner of the SAG Awards best ensemble statuette has gone on to win best picture at the Oscars, with “Slumdog Millionaire” triumphing in 2009 and “No Country For Old Men” prevailing in 2008.

Actor Eli Roth accepted the award Saturday on behalf of the “Inglorious Basterds” cast, which included Brad Pitt who was nowhere to be seen Saturday.

Roth paid tribute to “Pulp Fiction” director Tarantino in his acceptance speech. “Quentin your belief in us lets us rise to the occasion and brings out the best in all of us, it was an honour to be a part of this,” Roth said.

Other films nominated in the category included “An Education,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Nine,” and “Precious.”

Top individual acting honours were won by Hollywood veteran Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock in a repeat of last week’s Golden Globe Awards. The wins cement Bridges’s and Bullock’s status as Oscars front-runners.

Bridges, 60, won for his portrayal of a washed up country singer battling to rebuild his career in the drama “Crazy Heart.”

“This means so much to be acknowledged by my acting family,” Bridges said. “It’s like a big family, playing advanced version of pretend. I love being an actor, pretending to be other folks.”

Bridges beat out competition from George Clooney for “Up in the Air,” Colin Firth for “A Single Man,” Morgan Freeman for “Invictus” and Jeremy Renner for Iraq war drama “The Hurt Locker.”

Bullock triumphed for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy in “The Blind Side,” the true story of how the southern housewife took in homeless black teen Michael Oher, who went on to become an American football star.

“If this were only not televised so I could use the appropriate words I’m feeling right now,” Bullock, 45, said in her acceptance speech, which included a heartfelt tribute to her husband of five years Jesse James.

“You get dressed up in monkey suits and sit at tables with people you don’t know,” Bullock said. “I love you so much and you’re really hot and I want you so much.”

Other nominees in the category included Helen Mirren for “The Last Station,” Carey Mulligan for “An Education,” Gabourey Sidibe for “Precious,” and Meryl Streep for “Julie & Julia.”

In the supporting actor categories, Austria’s Christoph Waltz followed up his success at the Golden Globes to underscore his status as Oscars favorite.

Waltz won for his performance as a deranged Nazi officer in “Inglourious Basterds.”

Other nominees included Matt Damon for “Invictus,” Woody Harrelson for “The Messenger,” Christopher Plummer for “The Last Station” and Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones.”

The best supporting actress award was also a repeat of the Golden Globes, with Mo’nique taking home the statuette for her performance as an abusive parent in the gritty drama “Precious.”

Mo’nique beat out comptition from Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick from “Up In the Air,” Penelope Cruz from “Nine,” and Diane Kruger from “Inglourious Basterds.”

– AFP/yb

Channel News Asia

Enough’s Enough

23 Jan

Enough’s enough
Local singer Huang Jinglun is tired of Taiwan media hounding him about his virginity
By Tan Kee Yun
January 23, 2010
 
 

STOP harping about my virginity.

QUIRKY FUN: Huang Jinglun in one of the photos taken for his latest album.
PICTURE: WARNER MUSIC

That would be what local singer Huang Jinglun would say to the Taiwanese media, should he have the chance to vent his frustration.

In October 2008, the 26-year-old, a finalist in the third season of Taiwanese reality talent competition One Million Star, secured a recording contract with music label Warner Music.

His management agency, in a bid to generate interest in the then-newbie, leaked to the media that he was ‘a virgin’. Jinglun unwittingly confirmed it and was teased about it.

And he has not been able to shake off that reputation since. His virginity is still a hot topic when he appears on a television or radio show in Taiwan.

‘Actually, I don’t mind if they talk about it in a positive light,’ said the former Singapore Institute of Management student in an interview with The New Paper.

He has put his studies on hold to focus on his entertainment career.

Jinglun, who starred in Taiwanese idol drama Momo Love, was back home to promote his second Mandarin album, OK Man.

He said: ‘No matter which programme I go on, the hosts always talk about it (his virginity) incessantly, without adding anything new to it. Frankly, it has left me a little annoyed.’

In earlier interviews, he has stressed his stance against pre-marital sex, saying that he wanted to save his ‘first time for marriage’.

If you’re curious about whether he’s still a virgin, Jinglung reassures his fans that there has been no change in that department.

‘It’s still the same,’ he said. ‘And I’m still single.’

Taiwanese girls

Despite the Taiwanese media’s obsession with his virginity, the amicable bachelor, who has been based in Taipei for two years, did not hide his fondness for Taiwanese girls.

‘I think the girls there are warmer and more passionate compared to Singaporean girls,’ he said.

‘In Singapore nightspots, if you approach a girl you fancy for her number, she’d definitely bo hiu (Hokkien colloquial term for ignore) you.

‘But in Taiwan, even if the girl doesn’t like you, at least, she’d make an effort to talk to you.’

The first thing you’d notice in Jinglun’s sophomore album is the Superman T-shirt he wears on the cover and the short, spiky crop of hair.

He looks very different from the floppy-haired sensitive new age chap on the cover of his debut album, Jing’s Note, released in November 2008.

‘Many of my fans couldn’t accept my new image at first,’ Jinglun said. ‘They felt the Superman look was too cute for me.’

But he said the pictures he took for OK Man, which also features him wearing geeky spectacles and funky-coloured bow ties, were ‘closer to his heart’.

‘On this album, I got a chance to show my youthful, energetic side,’ he said.

The youthfulness is obvious in his songs too. There are heavier rock numbers, a departure from his signature sentimental ballads.

Believe it or not, Jinglun has set his sights on becoming the ‘next Show Luo’.

Show, one of the most popular artistes in Taiwan at the moment, is known for his multiple talents.

‘He is a comedian who sings, dances, acts and hosts. I would love to be an all-rounder like him,’ said Jinglun.

‘Well, maybe just not the dancing part. I can’t dance for nuts.’

 

The NewPaper

6ixth Sense Rakam Album Di Bandung?

21 Jan

Ditulis oleh Nonie
  
  

 

Betulkah album terbaru mereka akan mengambil proses sepenuhnya di Bandung? Tertanya-tanya juga Mangga Online mengapa tidak dibuat di Malaysia sahaja? Sixth Sense optimis dan menjelaskan segalanya masih dalam perancangan.

“Kami cuma mahukan kelainan untuk album terbaru nanti. Sambil recording, boleh juga bercuti sebab di sana barangan dijual murah.

“Lagipun kami bukan rakam full album di sana, hanya beberapa buah lagu sahaja. Kemungkinan kami akan membuat dua buah lagu di sana nanti,” ujar Ayoy (bass) mewakili anggota Sixth Sense yang lain.

Mungkin juga Sixth Sense sedang mencari peluang yang lebih besar di negara seberang, dan kita sendiri tahu vokalisnya berasal dari sana.

 

Menurut Adi, keinginannya untuk meneroka pasaran luar begitu besar selepas lagu Tak Bisa Memilihmu menjadi hits di Indonesia. Adakah kejayaan itu bakal berulang? Sama-sama kita nantikan single terbaru mereka.

Lima tahun mengabdikan diri dalam industri, namun masih tidak mahu meletakkan target untuk memenangi sebarang anugerah.

“Bukan kami tak mahu, cuma tak terlalu mengharap. Kalau menang pun orang akan letakkan harapan yang terlampau tinggi kepada kami. Kami lebih selesa dengan keadaan sekarang.

“Tercalon dalam Anugerah Bintang Popular 2009 satu kejayaan dan kalau menang memang satu bonus kepada kami. Tapi saingan memang hebat terutama bila dicalonkan bersama Hujan dan Bunkface,” ujar Sixth Sense yang bakal mengadakan showcase bersama artis universal termasuk Nidji pada 27 Januari ini.

Mangga Online

Leading Men, From TV To Film

21 Jan

FIRST SNEAK
Leading men, from TV to film
January 21, 2010
 
 

FiRST is celebrating men this week, from pretty boys to matinee idols to veteran actors.

PICTURE: INNOFORM MEDIA / CATHAY

Throughout showbiz history, actors have made the crossover from the gogglebox to the silver screen.

Many fine up-and-comers aspire to be the next George Clooney or Louis Koo, as the move from television to film is often seen as the epitome of success.

The likes of Taiwanese actors Wu Chun, Godfrey Gao and Eddie Peng, who have all found fame in TV-land, are now trying to get a foothold in movies. Will they find success or should they stick to prime-time?

Over in Hollywood, Mel Gibson is gearing up for his comeback with the upcoming release of his new movie Edge Of Darkness. The Oscar-winning actor and filmmaker has been MIA for the past seven years.

Will he be able to lure people into the cinemas again?

We think so. After all, we’ve seen many actors who have fallen off the radar making a triumphant return.

Mickey Rourke, John Travolta and Robert Downey Jr ring a bell?

Fans of Heath Ledger can also catch the late Australian actor’s celluloid swansong in The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus.

Directed by visionary director Terry Gilliam, the fantasy film was almost doomed to be shelved as Ledger died midway through production.

Also returning to the big screen after a three-year absence is Tobey Maguire, who delivers an impressive performance as a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder in Brothers.

For more of these men and their latest movies, look out for our FiRST movie section in The New Paper tomorrow. Also, find out how you can win movie tickets to Universal Soldier: A New Beginning, which sees Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren reprising their iconic roles.

 

The NewPaper

DEATH STILL HAUNTS HER

21 Jan

DEATH STILL HAUNTS HER
Unexpected Access 2 host Andrea De Cruz surprised that she can’t deal with death despite liver scare
By Germaine Lim
January 21, 2010
 
 

HAVING been on the brink of death, you would think Andrea De Cruz would be less fazed by it.

The 34-year-old actress-host had liver failure in 2002 after taking the controversial Slim 10 slimming pills and survived with her then-fiance and now husband, actor Pierre Png, donating part of his liver to her.

However, Andrea says she has not been able to deal with death well since then.

She told The New Paper: ‘I was a lot braver before my transplant. I was content. I felt complete. I pretty much got what I wanted. My career was going well. I couldn’t have asked for more.

‘I even told the (Catholic) priest who prayed for me before my surgery that I was ready to go.

‘Having gone through what I have, I would think I was ready to deal with stuff like that.

‘Unfortunately, it has gone the other way. I’m not ready to go. A huge part of me feels that I’m on borrowed time.’

In 2007, she passed the significant five-year mark – survival rate for the first five years after the transplant is 50-50 – and was given the all-clear by her doctors.

Then, last August, she was struck with H1N1.

‘I felt down because my liver enzyme levels were all over the place. I thought, come on. I’ve passed the crucial stage. It’s about time the body accepts the liver as its own.

‘But in reality, it will never happen. I’m on anti-rejection medication every day. I think being down with H1N1 was God’s way of telling me to slow down.’

As it is, health concerns have forced her career to take a back seat.

Her last major TV appearance was on Channel 5’s comedy series Sayang Sayang last year.

She stayed out of the limelight in the first five years after the transplant to focus on recuperating.

Now, Andrea discusses every potential show with Pierre, whose main worry is the health risk involved.

‘He will always ask, ‘Is this project worth it?’ ‘

In the case of the new Channel 5 documentary series Unexpected Access 2, Andrea insisted it was.

The first season, which was hosted by Wong Li-Lin last year, led viewers into ‘forbidden’ places like an abattoir and funeral home.

This time, Andrea visits accident sites in Bangkok and a food waste recycling plant IUT Singapore.

The first episode of the weekly six-part series airs next Wednesday at 10pm.

Until she filmed an episode in Bangkok last month where she followed paramedic volunteers who tend to accident victims, Andrea had not realised her phobia of death.

‘It’s really adrenaline-pumping. We staked out on the highways in a police vehicle and rushed to the scene when we received a phone call.

‘When I got there, it just dawned on me that I’m actually not ready for this. You’ll see that I’m shaking and desperately trying to hold back my tears.’

Unfortunately, because of Bangkok’s heavy traffic, these victims usually die before the paramedics get to them.

Unexpected Access 2 is also a departure from Andrea’s usual repertoire of hosting glamorous events like Miss Singapore Universe.

Who would imagine the dainty, feminine Andrea getting her hands dirty at a food waste recycling plant?

Andrea protested: ‘I change the light bulbs and paint the walls at home if I have to, okay?’

She loved the first season of Unexpected Access and thought it was ‘challenging’ to take on.

‘I wasn’t hesitant at all when I was approached to do the show. Pierre said he would be very proud of me if I pulled it off.’

For Unexpected Access 2, the couple was concerned about the availability of reputable medical care in Bangkok, should she require any.

Andrea travels with her well-stocked medical kit which includes her daily oral medication.

She admitted that some directors are still hesitant about her because of her condition – and she understands.

‘Of course there was a tinge of sadness. Just when you thought your career was getting somewhere, the transplant happened.

‘I don’t see them as ostracising me or that I’m not good enough and can’t deliver.

‘What if I fall ill halfway through filming? I would be holding up production and directors still have to deliver the projects. I understand their responsibilities.’

Marriage on the rocks?

Her once-shining career may have been halted in its tracks, but she does not mind it because ‘everything has worked out very well’.

‘Post-transplant, I didn’t see being on TV as important. There were other priorities like the lawsuit (she sued the distributors of Slim 10 and MediaCorp colleague Rayson Tan for selling her the pills in 2003) and my marriage.

‘My husband’s career was taking off and I felt it was time for me to be the supportive wife.’

A failed liver, transplant and lawsuit – Andrea and Pierre have been through some tough times.

When rumours of them heading for splitsville surfaced last year, they hardly batted an eyelid.

‘We weren’t seen at events a lot and he was filming overseas for a long period so people thought we separated. I received so many phone calls and people were asking me to clear the air. But there’s nothing to clear.

‘We have never been on the verge of breaking up.

‘Our experiences have made us more open and willing to compromise. We don’t bother ourselves with trivial arguments.’

Yet, six years after getting hitched, perhaps something’s still missing.

Andrea – who has spoken about wanting kids and the possibility of adopting – feels her maternal instincts kicking in.

Previous reports say that given her current medical condition, it may be dangerous for her to conceive.

Last year, she met a three-year-old boy from the home she volunteers at.

‘The affinity was undeniable. The first time we met, he propped himself on my lap immediately.’

Andrea’s affection for the boy has led her to sponsor his speech therapy lessons as he has speech problems.

However, adoption plans are still up in the air.

‘Pierre feels that we should spread our love instead of focusing on just one child.

‘Besides, there’s a lot of red tape to clear. His parents have to agree to give him up for adoption. We’re taking one step at a time.’

 

The NewPaper

The TVBoos Awards

19 Jan

JADE SOLID GOLD AWARDS
The TVBoos Awards
Copyright laws and no-shows mar TVB awards, with boos and questions hanging over worthiness of winners
By Maureen Koh
January 19, 2010
 
 

HE MAY be Hong Kong TV’s ‘Yat Gor’ – Big Brother or A-lister – but when actor Raymond Lam was named Most Popular Male Singer in the Asia-Pacific Region on Saturday night, the audience hooted and booed.

Clearly affected by the reaction, the actor-turned-singer fought back tears to ramble: ‘I’ve been with TVB for 11 years. Everything I have comes from TVB… I’ve never felt so nervous on stage before…’

And what a loaded statement that was.

It was the first time that the 29-year-old was participating in the annual TVB’s Jade Solid Gold Best 10 Awards Presentation.

The annual awards are handed out by top Hong Kong broadcaster, TVB, and are the most coveted Cantopop prizes in the industry.

But a dispute over copyright fees between TVB and four major record labels – Universal Music, Warner Music, EMI Music and Sony Music – saw the event held at the Hong Kong Coliseum lose its shine.

Wedding planner Claire Tan, 28, who watched the live telecast on cable television, told The New Paper that Raymond’s win was ‘a joke’.

She added: ‘Ask any pop fan and Eason Chan is definitely tops.’

Unfortunately, Eason is with Universal Music and was barred from performing for TVB.

Raymond was not alone. Taking the flak too was Joey Yung, who picked up seven awards including Most Popular Hong Kong Female Singer in the Asia-Pacific Region and two of the Top 10 Gold Song Awards.

In between tears, she thanked her fans and said: ‘I’ve been singing for 10 years and music has become my lifetime partner.’

Some begged to differ. Netizen quitheact wrote: ‘Oh pls, do you think she can win so many (awards) if not because of the dispute?

‘Joey is the big(gest) winner only because she is with EEG (Emperor Entertainment Group).’

Netizens labelled the show ‘TVB’s Friendship Award Ceremony’ and noted that the EEG had much to gain as the singers in its stable collected 19awards – almost half of those up for grabs.

For the first time in 27 years, some of the region’s most popular singers were noticeably absent, like Eason, Kay Tse, Hacken Lee, Khalil Fong, Hins Cheung and Fiona Sit.

Even Jacky Cheung – who had been tipped to open the night’s show – did not turn up.

Instead, spotted among the guests were TV artistes turned singers Raymond, Kate Tsui and Myolie Wu.

Copyright fees

TVB had failed to reach an agreement with the Hong Kong Record Industry Alliance (HKRIA) – formed by the four labels after they broke away from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) Hong Kong two years ago.

When both parties were unable to compromise on the copyright fee percentage payable, the row went public just weeks before the annual music awards season in Hong Kong.

While waiting for a resolution at the Copyright Tribunal, the four labels withdrew and barred their singers from TVB shows.

The broadcaster retaliated by keeping all the labels’ songs and music videos off the air.

Netizen misschopsticx felt that ‘half of these people did not deserve the award they got… It’s sad as JSG (Jade Solid Gold) award used to be one of the most coveted awards… now, there’s really no credibility…’

Ashfury described it as ‘probably the worst awards show… So singers like Eason Chan, Kay Tse… could not get awards even though they deserved them.’

But others, such as outsider jumped to Raymond’s defence.

The netizen wrote: ‘People should stop criticising the results. Big4 (music labels) gave up the chance to get (the) awards. Though I think many male singers can sing better than Raymond, I don’t doubt his popularity.’

Omcdreamy agreed: ‘Look at the entire male artistes that turned up.

‘Seriously speaking, as laughable as it seems, was there anyone in their presence who would boast a following like Raymond Lam in Asia? Leo (Ku) does not even come close. Who else could they have given it to?’

However, summing up the situation best is probably Mr Peter Yang, 39, who had attended the show in Hong Kong.

The web designer told The New Paper: ‘Seriously, one questions the rationale behind the (four labels’) decision.

‘They started the dispute so close to the awards season. What did they expect? In the end, the ‘victims’ were their own artistes.’

In closure, host Eric Tsang said: ‘Here are the winners for this year. Let’s hope that next year, we’ll see all the main leads back on the same stage.’

WINNERS’ ROLL:

Most Popular

Male Singer: Leo Ku

Most Popular Female Singer: Miriam Yeung

Most Popular Hong Kong Male Singer in the Asia-Pacific Region: Raymond Lam

Most Popular Hong Kong Female Singer in the Asia-Pacific Region: Joey Yung

Most Popular Newcomer:

Gold: Kate Tsui

Silver: Jonathan Wong

Bronze: Cilla Lok

Best Stage Performance: Grasshopper

Top 10 Gold Song Awards:

1. Sherman Chung: A Letter To Myself

2. Joey Yung: In Search Of The Deities

3. Raymond Lam: If Time Comes

4. Denise Ho: The Diamond Sutra

5. Leo Ku: Earth Is Dangerous

6. Kary Ng: Here We Are

7. Charlene Choi: Two Without One

8. Stephanie Cheng: Borrow

9. Miriam Yeung: Living Very Happily

10. Joey Yung: In Song In Tears
 

The NewPaper