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Look Beyond The Bikini

14 May

SINGAPORE : Talk about being sporting.

High-jumping into the spirit of the Olympics, MediaCorp TV Channel 8 will roll out a new sports-themed drama, Beach.Ball.Babes, on July 7, just before the Beijing Games kick off on August 8.

The 20-episode drama about volleyball boasts a “royal” cast that includes former beauty queens Joanne Peh and Jade Seah, two of MediaCorp’s “princesses” Jesseca Liu and Dawn Yeoh, as well as Fann Wong’s groom-to-be, Christopher Lee.

Another volleyball show, you ask?

Well, it has been years since Chen Liping was seen in The Winning Team. Besides, this latest take serves up a lot more eye candy as a lot of the action takes place at the beach which means beach babes Joanne, Jade and Jesseca will be steaming up your TV screens in their bikinis.

But sports has always had a firm place in local Chinese dramas, from 1980’s Flying Fish which starred one-time TV poster boy Wang Yuqing to the more recent The Champions (2004), featuring hot young stars like Fiona Xie and Felicia Chin.

“We try to do one or two sports dramas every year,” Kok Len Shoong, MediaCorp’s Senior Vice-President for Chinese Drama Productions, told Today. “This year, it’s especially significant because of the Olympics.”

So, why volleyball, or beach volleyball, to be precise?

“Beach volleyball is a new item at the Olympics. We think it’ll be of great interest to our viewers,” Kok explained.

Channel News Asia

Drama Queen – Jade Seah

25 Feb

SINGAPORE: Jade Seah is getting her just desserts for not paying more attention in Chinese class back in school.

The 2006 Miss Singapore Universe first runner-up and TV host has landed her very first acting role in a Chinese drama about volleyball players, and she’s hard at work, taking lessons to polish her less-than-perfect Mandarin.

Dressed in a mini denim skirt and a fitting pullover, Jade was speaking to TODAY at Caldecott Broadcasting Centre just before scooting off for volleyball practice.

Of course, we had to cajole her into answering a question in Mandarin.

“Cannot lah!” she protested, even after we told her it would be “off the record”. “Don’t bluff, your recorder is still going!”

But she eventually relented: “Okay, ask me something simple – like what I like to eat.”

Of course, we spared her blushes for being such a sport – plus, she let us in on this sneak peek: She and co-stars Joanne Peh, Jesseca Liu and Dawn Yeoh would be appearing in bikinis in the new drama (it begins filming in April and is slated to air later this year).

“I think there’s one scene where we’ll have to walk through a market in our bikini tops,” she said.

Maybe then nobody will notice how her Mandarin is after all.

Channel News Asia

Caldecott Royalty Does The Fann-Cy Talk

6 Feb

SINGAPORE: Oh yes, Fann Wong is definitely in the mood for love. “I want that rose! It’s beautiful!” she gushed with excitement.

Then, she added coyly: “Valentine’s Day is coming … ”

Take a hint, Chris. And get your cheque book out.

The rose that has captured the heart of the Princess of MediaCorp is no ordinary flower – it’s really a painting titled Life Like Flower No 1 by renown Chinese artist Feng Zhen Jie, and it costs a whopping S$400,000.

“I’d like to receive that on Valentine’s Day. If not, then never mind,” said the actress, mock sniffing, before breaking into faux evil laughter.

It was 9.45 on a Monday morning when Fann met TODAY for this interview, and she was early. She had, in fact, been up since 5am to prep for her interview on Channel News-Asia’s Prime Time Morning, and it was to be a busy, busy day ahead – more promotional work for her latest movie, Jack Neo’s Ah Long Pte Ltd, followed by rehearsals for MediaCorp TV Channel 8’s Chinese New Year countdown show.

Yet, the actress, who just turned 37 two weekends ago, looked fresh as dew, and not a year older than 30. She looked a million bucks – even with minimal make-up – in a flirty white bareback Loewe dress under a matching white leather jacket.

Clearly in high spirits, Fann was uncharacteristically – for a superstar – candid and open, yakking and joking away without reservation.

“As long as the questions are not too personal, I’m okay with it,” she said, flashing her charming megawatt smile.

We took the opportunity to venture into personal waters and asked her why she seems much more open about her relationship with her actor beau Christopher Lee these days, and she teased: “I’ll kiss him back this year (at the Star Awards)!”

We pushed our luck a little further and asked her what her boyfriend thought of her “fanny-baring” scene in Ah Long Pte Ltd (for which she didn’t think it was “necessary to use my body”, so what you’ll be seeing is her butt double).

She volunteered impishly: “I wanted to pull his leg and tell him that it is going to be my butt just to test his reaction … and to see if he’d recognise that it’s not really my butt.”

My oh my. This is not the kind of talk we were expecting from the notoriously private Caldecott royalty who has starred in Hollywood movies alongside international celebrities like Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson and Maggie Q. But who’s complaining?

Behind that glamorous facade, Fann proved to be a goodie-bag full of surprises. We even found out that she sneaks into local cinemas to watch the occasional movie.

“I do! I just go. I don’t care,” she said.

You just celebrated your 37th birthday two weekends ago. Are you feeling the pressure of growing old in an industry that’s constantly thirsty for youthful beauty?

Is it my 37th? I’ve lost count! Age hasn’t bothered me since I turned 21, when I was really happy. I enjoy being where I am now.

I mean, you don’t want be in your 20s forever. I’d be very afraid if I had to keep doing the same things I did in my 20s. You grow older, you get to know yourself better and you become more confident. And I think it’s wonderful to have young people coming onboard the entertainment scene. New blood is a good boost for a small industry like ours.

So you don’t feel threatened by the so-called “Seven Princesses” of MediaCorp (Fiona Xie, Felicia Chin, Joanne Peh, Jeanette Aw, Rui En, Jesseca Liu and Dawn Yeoh) nipping at your Christian Louboutins?

I look at it very positively. You need a new face to represent every era. Yeah, I think every one of (the princesses) stands a very good chance.

I’m just very lucky as I happened to be in right place at the right time, meeting the right people. So, just three words of advice: ‘Hard work’ and ‘luck’.

Do you see yourself “stepping down” and retiring soon?

Being the free spirit I am, I think I’ll quit as and when there are no more fun and challenging roles left for me to play. Or, when I feel that there is something else that needs me to focus on, I’ll move on. It could happen tomorrow. Much as I love what I do, you never know ῅ passion can go out in a split second giving way to another.

Like family and motherhood, perhaps?

Maybe! I don’t know! Of course I’d like to have children. Ideally, if I can afford it, I would like to have enough children to form a football team!

But at the moment, time just doesn’t allow it. So, I’ll let nature take its course. I think I have ample time before I should start worrying.

As someone who can probably have anything you want, what is one thing you can’t have right now?

That’s not true! I can’t have that beautiful painting by Feng Zhen Jie (Life Like Flower No 1). It costs S$400,000! There’s nothing else I want.

Okay, seriously, I believe in being contented with what you have and being grateful … But I still want that art piece! I am going to steal it! –

Channel News Asia

Ezann Lee Is The Next Big Thing To Eric Khoo And MediaCorp

30 May

SINGAPORE : Slim, petite, baby-faced and impishly pretty, up-and-coming actress Ezann Lee is blessed with youthful looks that she reckons are assets in show business.

“It’s not so bad because I’ll probably have a longer shelf life,” said the personable 23-year-old MediaCorp artiste. “For now, I treasure this youthful look that I have.”

Having migrated from the now defunct broadcaster, MediaWorks, Ezann’s biggest claim to fame now is not that she’s sexy Ericia Lee’s younger sister, but the fact that she was a lead actress in Eric Khoo’s film ‘Be With Me’.

The movie is expected to open in cinemas worldwide soon after it dazzled audiences and film distributors earlier this month at the Cannes Film Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight programme.

It should open in Singapore in the August-to-October time-frame and perhaps help catapult Ezann into the local A-list of stars.

Currently seen on children’s programme Happy Sunday Kids, Ezann is also in the midst of taping Destiny, an upcoming Channel 8 drama starring Joanne Peh, Ix Shen and Hong Kong hunk Harwick Lau.

She had played a rebellious 14-year-old in a MediaWorks drama and a rebellious 17-year-old junior college student infatuated with another girl in Eric Khoo’s movie. In Destiny, slated for a July opening, she plays a 19-year-old whose love for Lau’s character is unrequited, causing her, again, to be rebellious.

Speaking in English and Mandarin, Lee said she is not like her new television character.

She doesn’t have tattoos, isn’t so bold that she will pursue boys, nor does she embrace a punk image. “It’s quite fun sometimes to act younger,” she said. “But it’s not easy because I have to act hyper in the show, which is not (how I am).”

And lest there be any confusion about reel life and real life, the currently single Ezann is not a lesbian, even if she had to kiss co-star Samantha Tan, who also plays a JC student, in Be With Me.

Khoo had cast her after her stint on his The Seventh Month mini-series last year, giving her a part that was tough because of its exploration of a girl-girl relationship and its paucity of dialogue.

“I felt it would be a challenge when Eric told me it was a lesbian role,” said Ezann, a former St Anthony’s Convent and Serangoon JC student who’d observed same-sex relationships first-hand.

“I feel it’s a very open thing in this society.”

To prepare for their on-screen kiss, Ezann and Samantha, 21, went drinking to know each other better and puckered up for a trial run. “It was quite awkward because I had never kissed a girl before,” said Ezann, sounding slightly abashed.

“(At first), we both looked at each other and laughed. After I kissed her, I collapsed onto the sofa,” she recalled.

“After that, it was very cool, very natural.”

Ezann, who said her family was supportive of her showbiz career, said she would try more daring roles if these didn’t require her to go further than kissing another girl.

But, she would stop short of doing sexy photo shoots, unlike her 27-year-old sister Ericia – who was the sultry bikini-clad cover girl of Citta Bella this month – and several local female artistes.

“She’s very sexy right?” the self-proclaimed tomboy said gleefully. “Is it too sexy? I have a different image.”

A lover of the outdoors who was into water sports before her acting duties meant she couldn’t get too tanned, Lee said her sister is more of an outgoing clubber-type than she is.

Now that she has been an artiste for nearly a year, Ezann said boys have been approaching her.

“They come up and ask if they know me from somewhere,” she said. “I guess they just find me very familiar-looking.”

In the next few months, as Ezann’s star rises, it won’t just be the boys who feel that way. –

Channel News Asia