Archive | August, 2010

SMU Students Go The Distance To Promote S'pore Youth Olympics

30 Aug

2 Wheels Good
SMU students go the distance to promote S’pore Youth Olympics
August 30, 2010
 
 

A JOURNEY of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

The same can be said for a 2,010km cycling expedition.

For six intrepid cyclists from the Singapore Management University, their first pedal stroke began in Phuket, Thailand, on July 18.

Part of the SMUXtremists – the university’s outdoor and extreme adventure club – the group were cycling back to Singapore to raise awareness of the Youth Olympic Games and to celebrate the university’s 10th year since its founding.

Said expedition leader Kelvin Liew, 22: ‘The YOG was just round the corner and we wanted to do what we could to raise the hype. At the same time, we wanted to challenge ourselves and find out what we could accomplish.’

The 28-day journey, which comprised 19 days cycling and nine rest days, took the group through the scenic countryside of Thailand and Malaysia before arriving in urban Singapore on Aug 14.

Its longest expedition to date, the club began training for it last December.

Mr Liew said: ‘It was tough finding time to train. We were training three or four days a week, up to 100km each time.’

But the members’ efforts paid off when they faced adverse conditions during their expedition.

The team, which comprised two women and four men, faced torrential rains during the 18 days they spent in Thailand.

Expedition adviser Tan Jing Min, 22, said: ‘It was the monsoon season and our route took us through the coastal areas.

‘It was really cold, but the toughest part was to keep the bikes in serviceable condition.’

The team covered anywhere from 80 to 160km each day.

Being a woman, Ms Tan felt she was at a disadvantage. ‘We definitely lose out to the guys. But we’ve all done expeditions before, so we know what getting on the saddle every day is like.’

The weather let up when the team reached Malaysia, but then it was the heat that bothered them.

Mr Liew said: ‘It was really difficult in Malaysia, even though the terrain was flat. The heat was really unbearable and the road conditions were really bad.’

The six plucky riders got a respite when their cycling buddies rode up to Kukup to accompany them the rest of the way back.

Ms Tan said: ‘It was really heart-warming, seeing their faces and finally meeting our family at the end after so long. It made it all worthwhile.’
 

The NewPaper

COVER SPLATTER

30 Aug

COVER SPLATTER
Are some magazines going too far with ‘shock’ covers like the one below?
By Tan Kee Yun
August 30, 2010
 
 

THEY are covers that leap out at you.
— TNP PICTURE: YAP NING

We’re talking about the recent issues of Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, that have sold out – or selling out fast – at bookstores and key news-stands.

In Rolling Stone’s September issue, the three leading stars – Alexander Skarsgard, Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer – of hit vampire TV series True Blood are stark naked and streaked with blood, their bodies pressed closed to one another.

Look a little closer and you’ll notice that brooding Moyer has his right palm over actress (and wife) Paquin’s left breast.Scan your eyes over to Vanity Fair, and the monthly US magazine, had Lady Gaga as its August cover girl.

To be sure, these are not the first nude covers, with pictures in the same vein inside, that the magazines have done.

But have they outdone themselves this time?

Reactions among parents, magazine readers and those in the publishing business were varied.

Secondary school teacher Yong Mee Ying, 45, said she would shun such titles.

‘The people behind these publications should have considered the fact that when they are placed on news-stands, kids are able to gain access to them,’ said the mother of two girls aged 13 and 11.

‘More bold pictures on the Internet’

‘Call me conservative, but I wouldn’t like my kids to be flipping them,’ she added.

Ms Margaret Song, a secretary in her mid-40s, disagreed.

‘I actually find the Rolling Stone cover tastefully done,’ said Ms Song.

And she wouldn’t mind it if her 21-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old son bought these ‘sexy cover’ issues either.

She said: ‘I believe in letting my children be exposed to different things in life.’

Indeed, the Internet renders the nude covers a non-issue, said Miss Tina Tan, deputy editor of local weekly entertainment magazine U-Weekly.

‘Youngsters have seen many more bold pictures on the Internet,’ said Miss Tan.

‘To a certain extent, magazine editors are putting out a lot more daring covers to attract readers, partly because of this immunisation to sensational pictures.’

Matter of taste

Besides, said other supporters of such covers, the point is not the nudity in itself but its treatment.

Shots of undressed superstars can be tastefully done, argued Miss Kerri Teo, 19, a first-year student at the Singapore Management University.

‘Some people might even go so far as to call those pictures a work of art. I believe it takes a lot of creative direction for the photoshoot,’ she said.

Local magazine editors had their own take on the latest covers.

The three we spoke to, including U-Weekly, said that covers are the first thing that grabs a reader’s attention.

Make it snazzy enough and you could convert the browser into a buyer.

Said Ms Elisabeth Gwee, editor of Her World, Singapore’s leading women’s fashion and lifestyle magazine, said that studies have shown that ’80 per cent of consumer magazines’ news-stand sales are determined by what is shown on the cover’.

Ms Gwee added: ‘The average reader spends only three to five seconds scanning a magazine cover before deciding whether to buy it.’

Mr Richard Augustin, managing editor of New Man, a men’s magazine distributed here and in Malaysia, agreed.

‘Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and even Playboy boast great writing and content…they don’t have to ‘resort’ to such (scintillating) covers.

‘But it is a fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult to survive in the highly competitive magazine market,’ explained Mr Augustin.

So, will we ever see a jaw-dropping cover in local magazines?

Not likely, it seems.

‘The most recent ‘daring’ cover we did was Zoe Tay in a Chanel bikini and bomber jacket back in July last year,’ said Ms Gwee, adding that the issue received ‘great reviews’.

Likewise, Miss Tan said that sexy images in U-Weekly are often mild, as the magazine ‘positions itself as a family entertainment publication’.

New Man’s Mr Augustin said that given the opportunity, he would love to ‘push the envelope’.

But he felt there was ‘no chance…of seeing anything (as) remotely’ brazen as the Rolling Stone’s True Blood issue, citing strict laws.

In an earlier report, the Media Development Authority (MDA) had said that close to two million publications are imported into Singapore every year.

To facilitate the clearance of publications, the MDA has a Registered Importers Scheme where publication importers are expected to self-regulate based on a set of content guidelines provided by MDA.

Laws aside, Mr Augustin added: ‘Our regional celebrities are also less liberal and more traditional compared to international stars.’

In the end, the shocking covers may be just a matter of creating that momentary buzz.

Loyal Rolling Stone reader, Mr Sazali Aziz, 23, an administrator, said: ‘Based on its brand name and content alone, the magazine doesn’t have to resort to ‘shock tactics’ – like plonking pictures of scantily-clad celebrities on covers.

‘But the publishers do so, perhaps, to get people talking.’

Rolling Stone & Vanity Fair had nude celebs on cover before

THE True Blood issue of Rolling Stone was not the first nude cover it rolled out and got tongues wagging.

In 1981, the magazine put portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz’s picture of a naked John Lennon on its cover, as a tribute to the deceased musician.

Lennon is seen curled up and kissing his wife Yoko Ono.

Over the last two decades, other naked celebrities featured on Rolling Stone include funk rock outfit Red Hot Chili Peppers, singers Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears.

Like Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair is no stranger to celebrity nudity.

On its August 1991 cover was actress Demi Moore, seven months pregnant with her second child – in the buff.

Another of Vanity Fair’s memorable skin-baring covers was its March 2007 issue. It showed actresses Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley – both without a stitch on – posing with fashion designer Tom Ford.

In 2002, Rolling Stone had caused a furore with the apparent ‘new direction’ it was taking.

According to British daily The Guardian, Rolling Stone, the magazine that single-handedly invented rock journalism, was slammed by critics for being a ‘sellout’ with ‘inclusion of airbrushed cleavages and lacy lingerie’.

What particulary raised the ire of fans was the publishers’ decision to put pop princesses Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on its covers – in different stages of nudity.

Pop critic Robert Hilburn, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, said that Rolling Stone’s’own editorial decisions in recent years have done more to harm its credibility…than any threat from its direct rivals’.

 

The NewPaper

More Than A Sneak Peek Of Her Assets

29 Aug

Net Noise

We round up the Internet sites or videos that people are talking about
More than a sneak peek of her assets
August 29, 2010
 
 

What’s the noise:

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian gave fans a sneak peek of her upcoming project by plastering it onto her Twitter page.

Kardashian, 29, posted a picture of her in a skimpy bikini, looking oiled and tanned and lying down in front of a metallic background.

The picture is from Kardashian’s upcoming 2011 calendar, where the socialite will be seen in a variety of steamy poses.

Kardashian wrote: ‘New Twitter background…it’s a sneak peak from an upcoming calendar shoot.’

But her fans’ (including 4.5 million Twitter followers) happiness may have been shortlived.

Kardashian kept the picture up for only a day.

What we say:

Always the Queen of self-promotion, Kardashian sure knows how to get her fans all excited.

Lately, she’s been showing off her curves in numerous photo shoots, including a provocative spread with teen star Justin Bieber for Elle magazine.

With all that exposure, it’s easy to forget that Kardashian hasn’t really contributed much to the entertainment industry.

Seto Nu-Wen

What people say:

‘She has a gorgeous bod…There is not a woman on the planet that would not kill for her figure.’
kitty

 

The NewPaper

Upbeat Just Before Suicide Bid

29 Aug

Net Noise

We round up the Internet sites or videos that people are talking about
Upbeat just before suicide bid
August 29, 2010
 
 

What’s the noise:

A clip of American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino at an AOL live sessions performance shows Barrino just days before she was hospitalised after an apparent suicide attempt on Aug 9.

In the clip, the 26-year-old singer looks upbeat and happy. She is shown laughing and joking backstage before a photoshoot, mingling with staff at the AOL offices and blowing the camera a kiss backstage in the studio.

The taped segment was to promote Barrino’s third album, Back To Me.

What we say:

Barrino’s story was a true underdog’s one – raped in high school and a single mother at 16.

But it’s her powerhouse vocals and stage presence that have made Idol judge Simon Cowell once call her ‘the best performer’ in the history of the talent contest.

Looking at how down-to-earth she comes across in this video, you realise this is the Fantasia that fans love and voted in as their Idol champ in 2004.

Seto Nu-Wen

What people say:

‘Too bad she is so distracted and unable to handle the fame.’
Jane

 

The NewPaper

Beyonce's Biker Chic

29 Aug

Net Noise

We round up the Internet sites or videos that people are talking about
Beyonce’s biker chic
August 29, 2010
 
 

What’s the noise:

What better way to sell your clothing than posing in them yourself.

Beyonce’s Dereon fashion line has just unveiled its fall-holiday 2010 ad series.

And the 28-year-old stepped up to model for the brand in a series of photographs which are described as ‘1960s pin-up girl meets futuristic biker chick’.

The ad campaign was shot by celebrity photographer Tony Duran and the styling was done by Beyonce herself and her Dereon partner and mother, stylist Tina Knowles.

What we say:

Talk about two in one.

Hire Beyonce and get Sasha Fierce (Beyonce’s flamboyant onstage alter ego).

We love this garang (Malay for fierce) look on Beyonce. It’s certainly a welcome change from her usual get-up of mermaid dresses and bodysuits.

Here’s looking to Dereon to suit up Beyonce for her next album.

Seto Nu-Wen

What they say:

‘She looks like Jesse James’ mistress.’
Jade, referring to actress Sandra Bullock’s tattooed ex-husband

 

The NewPaper

It's So GOOD To Be BAD

29 Aug

It’s so GOOD to be BAD
Jeanette Aw vamps it up in latest drama but says she has done sexier scenes
By Kwok Kar Peng
August 29, 2010
 
 

JEANETTE Aw pole-dancing seductively in a skimpy black skirt.

KAP-AW! Jeanette gives the pole a twirl as extras look on.
TNP DESIGN: PRADIP KUMAR SIKDAR
TNP PICTURES: YAP NING

That is so not The Little Nyonya, you say.

The actress famously remembered for her stoically righteous roles like that in the above-mentioned drama has tapped into her darker side for the new Channel 8 drama Breakout.

In one scene, she gyrates sensuously on stage and in another, she fondles actor Darren Lim in a car.

Yet, as saucy these scenes sound, they are actually not the worst that she’s filmed, a cool Aw told The New Paper.

‘For one scene in my very first drama, Touched (for MediaWorks’ Channel U), in 2001, I straddled actor Wang Yuqing and sat on his lap in a car,’ the 31-year-old recalled.

‘I also kissed him on the lips. I was so new, shy and embarrassed then, although Yuqing was very nice and made sure that I was relaxed.’

In Breakout, which debuts on Dec 6, Aw is part of a family of misfits. Her character, Nianqing, suffers from multiple personality disorder, one of which, Aw said, is that of a ‘cold-blooded killer’.

The drama also stars Christopher Lee, Elvin Ng, Guo Liang, Dai Yangtian and Zhou Ying.

Aw was speaking to The New Paper on Wednesday at a club in Orchard Towers in between takes for the pole-dancing scene.

In the scene, Nianqing drops by the club for a drink and on impulse, decides to get up on stage. The actress was dressed in a white shirt, a tight black skirt, stockings and black heels.

Even though co-star Lim, who plays lawyer Lianzhou, and around 10 extras were present, Aw appeared relaxed and at ease throughout the two-hour filming.

She said she had only about two hours of pole-dancing lessons a few days before the shoot.

‘The director didn’t want the choreography to look professional because he wanted it to appear like a customer just got up and danced impromptu,’ she said.

Aw, who learnt gymnastics as a child and took up ballet at 13, also didn’t bat an eyelid at her costume for the scene.

‘I’ve worn even more revealing costumes in my university dance events, like bikini tops,’ said the actress.

The sexiest, she said, was a mesh top worn over a nude-coloured top and shorts, which made it appear like she wasn’t wearing anything underneath.

She continued: ‘To me, it’s just a performance and the outfits bring out the character.

‘It doesn’t matter if it’s too revealing, as long as I know that I’m fully clothed, and that I won’t reveal anything.’

But she said she wished she could have done more for the scene.

‘It’s a pity that I couldn’t do the more difficult moves like twirl around the pole because of space constraints.’

She had learnt how to wrap her legs around the pole and twirl down the pole.

As for the scene where she fondles Lim in a car, Aw said she felt comfortable as she is familiar with him.

Aw and Lim have co-starred in dramas like The Defining Moment and The Little Nyonya.

Nothing risque happens in the scene though; it ends with a drunken Nianqing vomiting on Lianzhou.

‘Darren’s a very funny guy and we joked a lot, especially about the part where I threw up on him in the car,’ she said.

‘He also made a lot of noises during the scene and the director had to tell him not to breath so hard.’

Lim, 38, also gave Aw the thumbs-up for her pole dancing.

He added: ‘She’s a natural dancer and I don’t think it was a challenge for her. And yes, it was sexy enough for the scene.’

He added that it was just work for him, not enjoyment.

‘I was away having a drink for most parts of her dance,’ he said.

The actor also played down their raunchy scene in the car.

‘She touched only my chest and my shoulders. Of course, it was all above the waist. This is Singapore, where did you think we can go?’ he joked.

Still, such risque scenes are not what viewers normally associate with Aw, who has played mostly feisty and kind-hearted women.

This is the first time in her 10-year career, she said, that she gets to play a baddie.

Nevertheless, she is cool about having to play naughty characters as she has done saucy scenes before .

In 2008 drama The Defining Moment, her character strips down to nothing during a dance performance.

Aw said: ‘I had to bare my entire back to give the impression that I had stripped off all my clothes.

‘So I wore a pair of boxer shorts and covered my front with a tube top (stuck to my body) with lots of masking tape.’

That, she said, was more daunting than the pole-dancing scene, because ‘it was filmed in a small studio with 80 to 100 extras sitting less than a metre away from me’.

‘I felt very, very stressed.’

Not easy

For the pole dancing, she said: ‘I had my personal space and the audience was further away.’

Yet, her role in Breakout is no walk in the park.

Aw admitted to breaking down and crying at home after the first day of filming as she couldn’t handle Nianqing’s emotional ups and downs.

‘Nianqing can go from being cool to scared to crying in a matter of seconds,’ she said. ‘It’s very extreme and quite intense, and I feel very tired afterwards.’

Some of the challenging scenes include two suicide attempts – one where she slashes her wrists and one where she attempts to jump off a building.

Aw is also preparing to film a scene where she goes berserk, and tortures and almost kills Pan Lingling’s character.

‘Even though it’s tiring, I’m enjoying the whole process because I’ve never tried being a baddie before,’ she said.
 

The NewPaper

SEX SCENES TOO DISTRACTING?

28 Aug

SEX SCENES TOO DISTRACTING?
S’pore’s ‘most erotic movie’ premieres to mixed reception
By Tan Kee Yun
August 28, 2010
 
 

AFTER two months of hype and fuss, selected members of the public finally got to watch Hush in its entirety.
PREMIERE: Director Jeremiah Oh (with cap) with guests at the gala premier of his short film Hush on Tuesday night. A still from the movie.
PICTURE: TIER PRODUCTIONS

Touted by its film-makers as “the most erotic movie ever made in Singapore”, the 20-minute local short film was screened for the first time on Tuesday night at Filmgarde Bugis Illuma.

The 248-seat theatre was packed. The premiere was an invitation- only event and the audience was made up mainly of film industry types, celebrities as well as journalists.

Hush, directed by Singaporean Jeremiah Oh, created waves in June when a Facebook page was set up to publicise the film.

Oh had highlighted that the movie features several scenes of sexual activity, including a brief full-frontal shot of one of its actresses.

It also appeared to break new ground by being promoted as the first local film to depict group sex.

Hush, which passed uncut with a R21 rating in July, is about a dysfunctional family whose members hide dark secrets from one another.

It stars local actresses Evelyn Maria Ng, Natalie Faye and Canadian-Chinese actor Darren E Scott.

Trailer

After the gala premiere, Hush will be screened in September at Sinema Old School.

Before that, a minute-long trailer was available on YouTube, although it had been edited such that all the nude scenes were cut.

So did Hush live up to its hype? The overall reception seemed to be mixed.

Some, like Mr Richard Ho, a music production manager in his 40s, did not bother to hide his disappointment.

“It certainly lived up to its marketing tagline (“the most erotic local film”), but aside from that, I feel that it lacks substance,” he said.

“The storyline wasn’t very clear, I don’t get the message the director was trying to convey with the nudity and bed scenes.

“Personally, I feel the film’s just trying to be provocative.

Well, it did succeed in provoking our senses.”

Echoing Mr Ho’s sentiments was Mr Zac Koh, 23, a movie buff who had recently completed his national service.

He found “some of the sex scenes too distracting”.

“I think the director tried to say too much in 20 minutes. As a result, the sex scenes failed to add much (value) to the film,” said Mr Koh.

Local TV actor Paul Foster, 29, one of a handful of entertainers spotted at the gala premiere, disagreed.

He said he felt it “conveyed a good story” and “took the level of local film-making up a notch”.

“It’s extremely raunchy, more so than anything we’ve seen so far in Singapore,” he said.

“I must say that the cast did a great job with the bed scenes.

“It must have been difficult to shoot those at first, what with the camera crew around. They were really convincing.

“Given the chance, I might consider doing a film like that, as it’s challenging and pushes you as an actor.”

Cinematography

Freelance artiste Mr Jae Leung, 25, felt the cinematography deserved praise.

Former Singapore Idol finalist-turned-actress Maia Lee, 27, felt that while Hush was “definitely something new for the local film industry”, the risque factor fell a little short of her expectations.

At the premiere, director Oh also revealed the trailer of his debut feature film, the horror-themed Mea Culpa (latin for “My Mistake”), which is currently in the midst of production and slated to go on screens in 2012.

He told The New Paper that he plans to package Hush together with Mea Culpa for commercial release then.
 

The NewPaper