Archive | July, 2010

TOUCHED BY GREAT WALL.

31 Jul

Star Treks
TOUCHED BY GREAT WALL.
Globe-trotting celebs share their holiday snaps and stories
By Tan Kee Yun
July 31, 2010
 
 

SINGER Darren Chiu of Taiwanese Mandopop duo The Drifters had no idea that his maiden trip to the Great Wall of China in Beijing would turn out to be such an emotional affair.

PICTURE: SONY MUSIC

Witnessing first-hand the grandeur of the historical stonefortifications almost reduced the tanned, muscled dude to tears.

“I was so touched looking at the awe-inspiring, intricate structures before me that I nearly cried,” Chiu, who is in his late 20s, told The New Paper.

“It was kind of surreal, like we were suddenly transported backin time to the Warring States Period (475 to 221BC).”

The period was a time of small feuding Chinese kingdoms butalso rise of great philosophers such as Confucian thinker Mencius.

“Back then, the poor common folk were ordered to manuallycarry bricks and stones up the mountains in order to build theGreat Wall. Somehow, all these images started appearing in mymind.”

The Drifters

Advertisements

OMG, It’s The Same Faces.

31 Jul

OMG, it’s the same faces.
New reality TV show discovers new S’porean talent, yet revisits usual stars for hosts, judges
By Germaine Lim
July 31, 2010
 
 

EXPECT the unexpected, so One Moment Of Glory (OMG)claims.

TNP PICTURE: KELVIN CHNG

The new local reality talent TV show

A Sunday Newspaper Love Story

30 Jul

A Sunday newspaper love story
Sunday Times editor marries her JC crush in lunch ceremony
By Sylvia Toh Paik Choo
July 29, 2010
 
 

A WHIRLWIND romance and Sumiko Tan married her Hurricane.

PICTURE: THE STRAITS TIMES

The Sunday Times editor and columnist, effectively one of the first bloggers with her Sunday Times column on life and loves, tied the knot with her junior college crush (nicknamed Hurricane after a Korean TV hero) last Sunday.

In a wedding friends described as ‘nice, simple and classy’, the nice and classy Tan became Mrs Quek Suan Shiau before 200 family and friends at the Four Seasons Hotel.

The pair of JC mates went their separate ways after one date – she broke his heart according to him – and reconnected only last year.

You would have read all about it (the long poem he wrote and read her, the second date in Mexican cantina in Dempsey) – the not-so-much storybook romance, more a Sunday newspaper love story.

The couple, both in their mid-40s, pledged their troth in a lunch ceremony which left not a few colleagues teary-eyed.

As a wedding guest retold it to The New Paper: ‘The common refrain was, we were all so happy to see how happy she was!’

The bride wore a lovely ivory gown with short train and the groom, a dark suit with a silver-buckled belt.

The guest added: ‘They had to kiss three or four times for the photographer.’

Every shot of the lovely couple radiated delirious bliss.

‘She was a little giggly, probably nervy and ecstatic.’

The best man interviewed the couple about their love story. The groom’s brother baked the traditional wedding cake and the bride’s young niece ‘helped me out with the informal wedding,’ said Ms Tan.

A bunch of colleagues had prepared a video for the bride-to-be’s hen night the Sunday before – she so loved it, she showed it at the wedding.

‘No, no, no baby photos of their growing-up years. There was a shot of Suan Shiau when he had a full head of hair, though,’ said one of Ms Tan’s colleagues.

Do not back out

Another office friend had good-naturedly formed a Do Not Back Out Of Wedding support group for Ms Tan. No cold feet, just the warmest of wishes from everyone.

There were cocktails at 11am. The couple appeared half an hour later to mingle with friends, guests and family, followed by the solemnisation in the ballroom and then a ‘scrumptious’ buffet lunch.

‘It was intimate and beautiful. One of our artists was the wedding planner, right down to the flowers which had a little note, ‘take me home’,’ said a colleague.

‘She couldn’t invite everyone, but remembered the people she ‘grew up’ with, worked with in her early days at The Straits Times.’

Ms Tan thanked her newly extended family – hubby’s from a large family compared to hers (mother and sister and niece and nephew and brother-in-law) – all by name, and the groom said he ‘always knew she was the one for me’.

Final word from Ms Tan when we called her up for a quote?

‘The wedding was everything we’d hoped for and thanks to our family and friends for their support.’

 

The NewPaper

Clubbing In The SUN

30 Jul

Clubbing in the SUN
Bars lining Sentosa’s beaches hope to get partygoers to play long before the sun sets but some detractors say that requires a mindset change
By Germaine Lim
July 29, 2010
 
 

THE formula seems foolproof.

TNP DESIGN: PRADIP KUMAR SIKDAR
TNP PICTURES: BENJAMIN SEETOR

Sand, sea, sun and – perhaps the most important part of the equation – sizzling bods and bikini babes. They are the stuff of Sentosa’s beach clubs.

But five years since beach bar pioneer Km8 opened on Tanjong Beach, Singapore’s beach club culture still appears to be languishing. Km8 itself pulled down the shutters last year.

Although they insist there is a growing market for beach clubs, operators whom The New Paper spoke to acknowledged the difficulty of encouraging patrons to adopt a beach lifestyle.

There are 15 beach bars and restaurants jostling for what operators admit is a selective demographic along Sentosa’s 3.2km stretch that includes Siloso, Tanjong and Palawan beaches.

The absence of an active beach culture is ironic, considering that we are an island state, pointed out Ms Cheryl Ho, spokesman for The Lo & Behold Group.

Its $3 million restaurant-bar Tanjong Beach Club opened two months ago on the premises of Km8, which closed in March last year.

Wave House Sentosa’s sales manager, MsMonette Evangelista, said the most challenging part about setting up a beach club is shifting people’s mindset that having fun with friends over drinks need not mean a late night out and getting dressed up.

‘Fun can be had on a lazy afternoon, wearing board shorts and bikinis and lounging under the sun, by the surf and the sea,’ she said.

Wave House, a restaurant-bar which opened last October and boasts two pools with artificial waves on which patrons can surf, cost $18 million to set up.

Breaking even for a beach club takes longer, LifeBrandz chief executive officer Bernard Lim admitted.

Cafe del Mar, which opened in 2007 and is owned by LifeBrandz, unveiled its revamped premises on Silosa Beach last month.

He said: ‘Cafe del Mar (which cost $3 million to set up) broke even in the first 15 months of operation. A typical club takes nine months to do the same because there is greater sales volume. The growth of beach clubs tends to depend on word of mouth and hence, is slower.

‘To be fair, Cafe del Mar is not a typical model. It is one of the first beach clubs here.’

When asked if its recent fix, which cost about $200,000, was an attempt to rejuvenate an ailing business model, Mr Lim denied it and explained it was ‘time for maintenance’.

The outlet revamped its menu and added new club features such as a retractable roof so patrons can ‘dine under the stars’, Mr Lim said.

The once-elevated DJ console has been lowered for ‘closer interaction and engagement with the crowd’.

Renovations lasted two weeks, during which Cafe del Mar, a franchise of the original Ibiza hot spot, remained open.

Km8 closed after four years when Sentosa Leisure Group, which runs the island, did not renew its lease, The Straits Times reported last year.

While operators say patron numbers are healthy, it seems some partygoers are not sold.

Inconvenient location

The concept is great, said Mr Joey Tham, who is self-employed, but Sentosa is simply inconvenient.

That’s why he visits the island’s beach clubs just twice a year on average.

The 26-year-old said: ‘I went to Cafe del Mar out of curiosity, since it is an internationally known beach bar. The interior is nice and the music is good. The idea of bikini-clad servers is also quite fun.

‘But to me, the location is just bad. Plus we have to fork out additional money just to enter Sentosa to party. It doesn’t make sense to me.’

Singapore’s heat and humidity are also deterring factors, said 26-year-old creative director Collette Chan.

She prefers an air-conditioned venue, where she doesn’t have to ‘sweat it out with the crowd’.

Besides, a beach is where people enjoy the sun and sea, she added. ‘It’s weird to go to a beach at night, specially since I feel partying should be left to nightfall.’

Mr Lim said Cafe del Mar attracts about 600 patrons every week, while Wave House Sentosa’s Ms Evangelista said the outlet sees between 300 and 500 people on average.

Visitorship goes up to 700 to 1,000 on Wednesdays when Wave House patrons enjoy one-for-one deals on food, drinks and wave rides.

More visitors

Operators are optimistic that numbers can only increase from here. Island visitorship grew 30 per cent from February to April, compared to the same period last year, Channel NewsAsia reported in May.

Singaporeans are more receptive to heading off the mainland for recreation, The Lo & Behold Group’s MsHo said.

‘Patrons are becoming more discerning these days and keen to seek out alternatives to what they have grown accustomed to.’

Urbanites like sales executive Shannon Wee and graphic designer Alvin Tay find respite in beach clubs.

For 30-year-old Ms Wee, Sentosa represents a form of escape from the concrete jungle.

She said: ‘I feel as if my state of mind is being transposed during my journey there. The scene is refreshingly different yet familiar at the same time.’

Mr Tay, 33, said: ‘The mainland bars have the same ambience and scene week after week.

‘With beach bars, you literally lounge the day away. The atmosphere makes you forget you’re in concrete jungle Singapore. Plus the babes in bikinis are a sight for sore eyes.’

Still, the pool of customers remains smaller than that of the mainland’s, LifeBrandz’s Mr Lim admits. But he pointed out that there are also fewer options to choose from.

He said: ‘It’s a captive crowd – you have a group of people who like going to the beach to play. We have enough people to fill up these places, compared to the mainland’s nightclub scene, where there are a lot more competitors.’

Each outlet is conceptually different and caters to a different niche, Ms Ho pointed out – like Wave House’s pools for surf enthusiasts and Cafe del Mar’s laid-back environment with full restaurant service.

Tanjong Beach Club is the only such facility on Tanjong Beach.

Ms Evangelista said: ‘Beach bars give a different twist to Singapore’s night life. The birth of the local beach bar lifestyle infuses the style of partying not dissimilar to that of California, Miami and Ibiza. This was not so accessible in the past for those of us who are living in Singapore.

‘In any place, not just Sentosa, the number of visitors doesn’t depend on its natural supply but on how one creates the demand for one’s venue.

‘It is up to us and to the other Sentosa partners to create that draw to the island so as to sustain the existence of the attractions and beach bars.’

 

The NewPaper

CelebriDucks BUNKFACE

27 Jul

Ditulis oleh Nonie
  
  

“Kami puas hati dengan produk yang dikeluarkan. Lebih-lebih lagi kami selebriti pertama di Asia yang keluar dengan produk dari CelebriDucks. Idea ni keluar dua bulan lepas dan syukur hari ini (24 Julai) patung kami dilancarkan. Rekabentuk dan pakaian direka mengikut pendapat kami,” ujar Paan.

CelebriDucks terkenal dengan rekaan artis popular antarabangsa yang dijelmakan dalam bentuk rubber ducks seperti Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Micheal Jackson dan ramai lagi. Dan kini Bunkface menjadi satu-satunya artis di Asia yang meraih perhatian pengeluar ikon itik getah untuk diabadikan dalam koleksi CelebriDucks hasil daripada kejayaan luar biasa perjuangan muzik indie mereka.

“Kami harap CelebriDucks akan menjadi fenomena di kalangan peminat industri dan menjadi peransang kepada artis lain untuk lahir dengan produk mereka sendiri. Patung ni boleh dibawa mandi dan bolehlah andaikan peminat mandi dengan kami (ketawa),” gurau Sam.

Bagi anda yang berminat dengan CelebriDucks Bunkface, anda boleh dapatkan setiap satu dengan harga RM85.00. Layari http://www.broadwayacres.net untuk maklumat lanjut.

CELEBRIDUCKS SAM

 

Mangga Online

He Invests In Inspiration

27 Jul

Star Bucks

Big spender or penny-pincher? Stars speak their mind on money matters
He invests in inspiration
By Kwok Kar Peng
July 27, 2010
 
 

MEDIACORP actor Nick Shen believes in putting his money to work, but not just in traditional properties or shares.

PICTURE COURTESY OF NICK SHEN

Since 2008, he has spent around $12,000 on 12 motivational workshops.

‘I find them an awakening experience and very life-enriching,’ he told The New Paper.

The workshops the Star Search alumnus attends cover topics include developing the subconscious mind, reprogramming the mind, money management and acting in Chinese opera.

The speakers include former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, US author Denis Waitley and Taiwanese actor/author Guo Teng Yi.

The price for each workshop ranges from $1,000 to $2,000, and they run for one to three days.

He has even travelled to Kuala Lumpur twice to attend the workshops.

Shen, who is in his early 30s, said he attends the workshops to improve himself and balance his life.

He said: ‘It helps me be more aware of what’s happening in the world and adds value not just to my life but also my friends’ lives, because I can chat about more than just movies and the World Cup.’

Motivated

He added that he now feels motivated and excited at the beginning of the day and satisfied at the end of it.

Why not just buy motivational CDs and books, which would save him from spending thousands of dollars on the pricy courses?

Shen, who also listens to such CDs when he’s driving, replied: ‘It’s because I get to meet like-minded people at the workshops who are entrepreneurs and from other professions.

‘I can learn from the questions they ask and also communicate with the speakers.’

He added that most of the speakers are prominent in their fields, so he feels it’s more credible listening to them share their success stories and failures.

The actor, who is also an occasional Teochew opera performer, said he is seeing results from the workshops.

He will soon be the new troupe leader of the 120-year-old Teochew opera troupe Lao Sai Tao Yuan.

It was, however, not a decision he made easily.

Shen said: ‘When the current troupe leader approached me, I was resistant to the idea because I didn’t want the commitment of making sure the performers get their salary.

‘But I spoke to some of my entrepreneur friends who gave me interesting insight.

‘If I take over the troupe, I’ll be able to promote the culture of Teochew opera. The old can continue to enjoy it and the young can learn to appreciate the art.’

In line with this goal, he has also started an online business called Tok Tok Chiang!, selling Teochew opera costumes and Chinese opera puppets as art pieces.

However, he stressed that he will do all this only during his free time and that he’s still a full-time actor with MediaCorp.

‘The workshops have helped me to realise my potential,’ he said.

 

The NewPaper

LOTTO ALBUM

27 Jul

LOTTO ALBUM
Anugerah 2005 winner Hyrul Anuar leaves MediaCorp to create debut album on his own. Will his gamble pay off?
By Juliana June Rasul
July 27, 2010
 
 

AFTER four years with MediaCorp since his Anugerah win in 2005, singer Hyrul Anuar has struck out on his own.

TNP DESIGN: PRADIP KUMAR SIKDAR
PICTURES: GUMBIRA, SURIA RECORDS SDN BHD

Hyrul was only 19 when he was crowned the winner of Anugerah, edging out hot favourites Syed Azmir and Fauzie Laily in that year’s hotly contested inaugural reality singing competition on Suria.

Now, at 24, he finally has a debut album – all thanks to his own sweat and tears.

He left MediaCorp last year to pursue the project after being ‘frustrated’ with how long it took to get an album out.

‘People kept asking me when I was going to put out my debut, but I didn’t have an answer,’ he told The New Paper.

The year he won Anugerah, there was no recording contract offered.

This is unlike the last two seasons when winners Aliff Aziz and Sarah Aqilah were offered contracts with established labels.

Not that Hyrul had expected his career to be smooth sailing once he’d won.

‘Honestly, I joined just because I wanted a laptop,’ he joked. ‘I had no expectations for my career at the time. But when I did win, I thought, hey, this could be something.’

His only hurdle to success, he thought, was the two-year National Service (NS) stint he had to do before he could devote himself full time to being a recording artiste.

But even when NS was over, things moved at a snail’s pace.

He released three singles in those four years, including Tanda Kasih (Sign Of Love) that stayed on the local charts for 18weeks.

‘I performed at a lot of shows, I still had my fans, but my dream was always to have an album. Without it, I felt like I wasn’t a complete artiste,’ he said.

And now, he has one – titled Sesebuah Perubahan (A Certain Change), the result of almost a year’s work by Hyrul himself.

He travelled frequently to Kuala Lumpur, where he recorded the album with Malaysian studio rafikoncept and with support from local singer Imran Ajmain, whose company Gumbira is handling the distribution of the album here.

And he did all this while juggling schoolwork – he’s a student at UniSIM – and performing at events on weekends.

Hyrul will perform at Cinta – Puisi Berlagu alongside Adi Rahman, Kalysa and Roze Kasmani this Saturday at the Esplanade Recital Studio.

It was exhausting, but Hyrul says he ‘had to do it’.

His contract with MediaCorp ended last December. But he discussed his exit with his management before that, which gave him time to start work on his album earlier.

‘I felt scared at times because I thought of what might happen if I couldn’t get things off the ground,’ he said.

He was also candid about fears that a split with the company that had given him his major break would affect his future on the local entertainment scene.

That’s why, he said, it was important for him to pursue his independence ‘respectfully’.

According to Hyrul, there is no bad blood between him and his former management.

The split from MediaCorp, he says, was ‘amicable’.

The four years he spent being managed by MediaCorp weren’t a waste of time, he stressed.

He made important contacts in the media industry that he has since linked up with again.

‘At first, it was a bit daunting because I had to re-establish contact with so many people to inform them that it was just me now, with no manager,’ he said. ‘But thank God, people have been extremely helpful.’

Cold calling

The contacts were especially useful when it was time for Hyrul to plan his album launch in June.

He also had to cold call companies seeking sponsorship.

He has to constantly run around trying to fit things into his schedule without the benefit of having a manager.

‘It’s difficult, but I like doing it,’ he said.

‘I like knowing exactly what I’m going to be doing, what my plans are for my career.’

Hyrul added that he is comforted by the support he gets from Imran and the fans, friends and family members who are always there to help.

‘Even at my album launch, it almost felt like my family was helping me out with my wedding,’ he laughed, describing how family members and fans turned up to help with press kits and to set up the ballroom.

Asked if he felt he should have joined a later season of Anugerah so that he could have won a recording contract and avoided four years of waiting, Hyrul disagreed.

‘I think everything happens for a reason,’ he said. ‘It’s definitely an uphill task for me now to strike out on my own, but I feel much happier.’

New album, new look, new dreams

THERE was no four-year wait for Sarah Aqilah.

Just a year after her Anugerah win, the singer is already armed with a self-titled debut album and a cool new look.

But despite being the latest artiste in Suria Records’ stable – which counts Siti Nurhaliza and Liza Hanim among its stars – the road has not been easy for the former secretary.

Two months after emerging victorious at Anugerah, Sarah’s younger sister, Ms Shaffadina Jamil, died after contracting a mysterious virus on a trip to Kusu Island.

Only 20, Shaffadina left behind a husband and a two-year-old son.

Sarah, now 26, was in the midst of preparing to perform at the President’s Star Charity when her sister was admitted to the hospital last October.

‘I don’t think anybody would have wanted to be in my shoes at that time,’ she told The New Paper.

It was the incredible support of her family that kept her going through that difficult period.

At her parents’ behest, she continued with rehearsals for the show.

Her sister died three days later.

‘I had to choose between work and family. But my parents would ask me to go work because they knew it was important that I carry out my duties,’ she said.

Sarah took a personal break for only a few weeks before she was back to the grinding schedule of travelling back and forth between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to record her album.

Challenge

While the album plays on her strengths of belting out ballads, she faced the challenge of singing an upbeat pop song, Jatuh Cinta, which is likely to be her next single.

In the midst of all that, she also put herself on a strict gym routine to lose 5kg for her album cover.

‘I looked plump, so I knew I wanted to do this for myself, to look better for the album cover,’ she said. ‘I love food, but I had to lose the weight.’

The former Singapore Armed Forces FC women’s team player even took time out to organise a futsal tournament earlier this year for her fans and has plans to do more.

While she readies herself for the upcoming busy Hari Raya season, Sarah says she has not stopped dreaming about future possibilities – an English album and a duet with Malaysian heart-throb Anuar Zain.

She may even pursue an acting career; she had a stint on teen drama Cinta Ixora earlier this year.

‘I’m not going to say no to anything. I never know what other talents I may have,’ she said.

 

The NewPaper