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Nominees For Star Awards' Top 10 Most Popular Artistes Sound Off

24 Apr

SINGAPORE: There’s nothing like a popularity contest to make you feel like you’re back in school.

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when an artiste’s worth is determined by whether or not they get a coveted Star Award – Singapore’s handy-dandy three-in-one version of the Emmys, Golden Globes and People’s Choice. It’s all very well to be nominated for Best Actor – but wouldn’t you rather be popular?

Most of our actors and actresses would never come right out and admit that they’d love a spot on the Top 10 Most Popular Artistes list, but there are sweet perks that come with being on that list that are worth fighting for – plum roles and endorsement deals not least among them.

So what did some of the nominees have to say about being top of the pops? Qi Yuwu said it’s all about the fans, Adrian Pang’s fleeing to London to heal the pain, and Fiona Xie… Well, Fiona’s getting naked.

Channel News Asia

Who Wants To Be A Tourist?

20 Jan

SINGAPORE – “I Want a Holiday” is a new travelogue game show on Channel 8 that’s all about getting around.

At the first taping session last Monday, guests Fiona Xie and Zhang Yao Dong were more than willing to sound their gong to answer the questions posed by host Dasmond Koh.

Together with two other teams of non-celebrity contestants, they competed to garner the most correct answers for the chance to win a dream holiday to destinations like China, France and Japan.

The travel-themed game show revolves around general knowledge, fun facts and cross-cultural understanding, including trivia about tourist attractions and world cultures.

Yao Dong – who is an avid traveller, loves backpacking, and has sojourned all over China – counts scuba diving as one of his most memorable travel experiences. “I loved it because it was very quiet. You feel like you’re in your own world. My dream is to go to Africa on safari and get in touch with wildlife,” he told TODAY.

“It’s beautiful, I heard you can live in tents,” Fiona, who would like to go on a vacation in outer space, chimed in.

“I don’t have a particular travelling style,” the bubbly actress told TODAY. “I enjoy staying in budget hotels and backpacking, as well as luxury and high-end things. I enjoy eating at Michelin restaurants, for example.

“I think the fun part is being flexible. A show like this makes you feel like you need to open your eyes and pay attention.”

If you’re planning on popping overseas for a trip, Yao Dong has a travel tip for you: “Don’t forget to bring your manners. Smile and say hello. Otherwise, people will have a bad impression of Singaporeans.”

Even on the plains of the Serengeti, it’s important to mind your P’s and Q’s.

Channel News Asia

Serving Up The Right Stuff

9 Jan

SINGAPORE – MediaCorp TV Channel 5’s newest sitcom “Serves You Right” is all about making the most of yourself. Starring Fiona Xie, Alaric Tay and Cassandra See, the show revolves around the classroom antics of a motley group of adults attending a part-time class to upgrade their service skills.

Fiona plays dedicated instructor Faith Foo, a young, idealistic trainer who has trouble getting her students to take her seriously.

“My approach is very Sarah Palin,” Fiona told TODAY. “I’ve got the hairstyle and the exaggerated smile. I wanted the glasses, too, but they refused to give it to me. They said it’d be too much. So, it’s Sarah Palin upgraded – with contact lenses.”

“My character is the nemesis,” said Alaric, who plays a potential investor of the school. “Kingston is a spoilt brat from a very rich family … Very often, I play the good nerdy guy, but this time I get to play the bad guy.

“He’s annoying, obnoxious, rude and irritating. That’s absolutely a lot of fun (to play).”

Cassandra brings glitter and glam to the show as a getai singer who aspires to manage her own singers. “Everything I wear is gold or silver!” she exclaimed. “This isn’t my usual style, of course!

“I think if I stand on the roof, you can see me from far away … My character is very loud and very colourful.”

The other students include a part-time kueh seller with anger management issues (Fadhilah Samsudin), a mama-shop owner who doesn’t miss any opportunity to hawk his wares (Puruvalan N) and a social misfit who believes he’s a Transformer stuck in a human body (Kun Wai Kit).

It’s “Mind Your Language”, Singapore style, with an important message to boot: There’s always room for improvement. Even if you’re a Transformer.

Serves You Right premieres January 27 at 8pm. –

Channel News Asia

About A Girl Called Katy

19 Dec

SINGAPORE : What do you get when you combine the kookiness of Zooey Deschanel, the sensuality of Dita von Teese and the spunk of Courtney Love?

If you answered, “Fiona Xie”, go boil yourselves under a silly person.

We are – with all due respect to dear Fiona – actually talking about hot American singing sensation Katy Perry, who’s been making headlines this past year with her debut album, “One of the Boys”.

The album itself is a pretty poppy affair, but thanks to having song titles such as “I Kissed a Girl” and “Ur So Gay”, Perry found herself a target from various circles of society and, of course, the media. But as is so often the case, many of the gripers just took those phrases at face value and didn’t actually listen to what the songs were about.

Perry’s response? A shrug.

“The media has to sell papers and get hits on websites,” she said. “I understand that. It’s the nature of the beast. I knew exactly what I was getting into when I released a single called ‘I Kissed a Girl’. I was okay with whatever the media thought, because I knew I would have a chance to show people that there are different sides to me as well.”

That was what she was doing when TODAY caught up with Perry. She was en route to Barcelona, Spain, on her second European tour to promote the album, but took time out to get on the blower.

Channel News Asia

Don't Forget Your Lyrics

19 Nov

SINGAPORE : Half a million dollars – that’s how much a forgotten lyric might cost you if you are a contestant on new Channel 5 game show, “Don’t Forget the Lyrics”.

Hosted by local celebrity, Gurmit Singh, contestants are required to sing out – karaoke style – the words to fill in the blanks in the song. And if you can keep singing it right for 10 songs, you’ll walk away with S$500,000!

Easy peasy you say? Well, not quite.

“These people who come along thinking they know the song and when the music stops, the lyrics go away, they get stumped!” Gurmit said.

“My theory is this, when people see blanks, dashes, their minds go blank as well.”

Each game consists of three tiers which are divided into nine levels. The difficulty of the challenge increases with each tier and the tiers dictate how many blank lyrics contestants have to remember and sing within a stipulated time.

Contestants have to get every exact lyric correct to pass the stage, and like “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”, they can get help if they wish to.

Each contestant is entitled to three lifelines also known as “backups” that they can use when they are stuck at any point of the competition. But each backup can only be used once.

“Backup Singer” allows the contestant to bring a friend or family member on stage to help sing the missing lyrics.

If contestants opt for “Two Words”, they can choose any two words they have filled in to check if they are right.

The last, “3 Lines”, allows contestants to pick the correct answer from three multiple choice options.

“Every time you answer correctly, you keep going up (the different levels), higher and higher. But every time you lock in the words and they are wrong, any single word, any single punctuation is wrong, you go to either zero or S$10,000 threshold level,” Gurmit explained.

The game show also features celebrity contestants like MediaCorp actresses Fiona Xie and Jade Seah, characters from Channel 5 sitcoms such as Phua Chu Kang (Gurmit Singh), Sergeant Dollah (Suhaimi Yusof), Adrianna Wow and Barbarella Chanel (both played by Michelle Chong) and even “Singapore Idol” winners Taufik Batisah and Hady Mirza, as well as runner-up Jonathan Leong.

But the one to look out for is actress Andrea Fonseka who is “really good”. “She knows many songs, she’s like a walking encyclopedia,” said Gurmit.

“Don’t Forget the Lyrics” premiered last year in the United States, and Singapore is the 30th country in the world to showcase the popular game show. It premieres Thursday, 27 November, at 8pm on MediaCorp’s Channel 5.

– CNA/km

Channel News Asia

A Star 25 Years In The Making

19 Aug

SINGAPORE : Nowadays, Vadi PVSS (no, we don’t know what it stands for, either) is getting a lot more attention than he’s been used to.

People approach him for autographs and pictures. Others smile and say “hi”. He even gets “special treatment” at restaurants and enjoys the occasional free taxi ride.

What Vadi is getting is no mere attention – it’s star treatment.

But if he’s so famous, how come you have never heard of him? Here’s a clue: “Ey, Mumbai da, India!”

Vadi delivered the punchline for a Viewers’ Choice-winning 30-second TV commercial by M1.

He is now the star of the new 30-minute MediaCorp TV Channel 5 sitcom, “Calefare”, which also stars Gurmit Singh, Fiona Xie and Benjamin Heng.

The 38-year-old may be a new face to Channel 5 viewers, but that is not the case with the Tamil community in Singapore and even Malaysia.

That’s because Vadi has been doing TV shows on MediaCorp’s Vasantham Central -such as Kanbom Karpom (Let’s See Let’s Learn) – since he was 13.

In fact, he was proud to tell TODAY that he won the Best Actor award in 1998 for the drama, Amali Thumali.

So, why did it take Vadi 25 years to cross over to Channel 5?

He doesn’t want to be too famous, he said. “I didn’t want to do English programmes because I felt that it would take away your privacy completely”, said the part-time actor although he did make an appearance in thesitcom, Gurmit’s World (1994).

When he agreed to take on the advertisement that would propel him to island-wide fame, Vadi had no idea that it would be aired “full blast” on prime-time TV and on the big screen.

“They said it might be a trade advertisement … Then, it came out and everyone was watching it,” said the chatty comedian, who holds two Masters degrees.

Although acting is a passion and a part-time hobby, it is his day job that gets his full attention.

No, he does not own an Indian restaurant in Mumbai. “I’m an economics teacher”, said Vadi, who works at a top junior college, where he gets teased endlessly by students who chorus “Mumbai da!” when they see him

He is also the teacher-in-charge of its drama club. As if there’s not enough on his plate, Vadi is also the founding member of two theatre groups – the Ravinbran Drama Group, a leading ῭῭20-year-old Tamil theatre group, and the Miror Theatre.

“My experience allows me to impart my knowledge to my students,” said the former Tampines Junior College student. “I’ve also gotten some of them to act on TV.”

Maybe someday they, too, can star in their own 30-second commercial. Dream big, kids. Dream big.

“Calefare” airs on Tuesdays at 8pm on MediaCorp’s Channel 5. –

Channel News Asia

'television Extras' Given More Air-Time In New Channel 5 Comedy

19 Aug

SINGAPORE: Media household names Gurmit Singh and Fiona Xie are putting themselves in the shoes of television extras in the new Channel 5 comedy, “Calefare”.

Together with Benjamin Heng, Vadi Pvss, Mastura Ahmad and Tracy Tan, this group of much-neglected actors are off to pursue their dreams of fame, fortune and glamour in Singapore’s television industry, without whom the stars on stage and screen cannot do their job.

Speaking to Primetime Morning, Gurmit and Fiona share their insights on the types of calefares that are out there and on what it is like having not many people notice them, since they are now relegated to being behind the scenes.

Waiting eagerly for his big break is Gurmit’s character Andy Lau Hong, who has been in the industry for the past 15 years.

Ironically, although “Calefare” is scripted, Fiona divulges that “there’s a real extra on set who has climbed the rank” and is almost like Andy Lau Hong who is waiting to see when he will strike lucky with the stars.

Fiona’s character is Joleen, a wannabe ’emo’ singer who hopes that a singing contract will land in her hands.

Although acting and singing may not have a direct correlation, Joleen believes that being in the same industry will give her the opportunity to meet the right people, and somehow will land her a big break!

Looks like some calefares will do anything just to merit the attention!

So, are there any struggles or differences between being mainstream actors or bit-role actors?

“At some levels, we are all the same because we have to wait a lot,” shares Gurmit.

Essentially, what you get behind the scenes are just hordes of people waiting around for the scene to be set up.

With his funny man antics, Gurmit jokes that the actors will be in front of their laptops, busy chatting away, while others will doze off unknowingly, maybe a chicken wing in hand!

Now that’s presenting the unglamorous side of the media industry!

However, did the both of them ever have to start out as calefares before attaining their present amount of fair attention?

For Gurmit, he was emceeing at the old Haw Par Villa when a producer from the then Singapore Broadcasting Corporation discovered him and invited him for auditions. And the rest they say is history.

On the other hand, Fiona was “plunged” into acting but she says that acting as a calefare has given her more “empathy” and now makes an effort to understand them more.

“Calefare” will also feature weekly guest star appearances such as Michelle Cheong, Utt, Edmund Chen and Jonathan Leong.

For more behind-the-scenes drama and laughter, you can catch the series every Tuesday evening, 8pm on MediaCorp’s Channel 5.

– CNA/jk

Channel News Asia