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Kids And Arts Central To Be Relaunched As "Okto"

25 Aug

SINGAPORE: MediaCorp TV12’s Central is undergoing a revamp. From October 19, there will be “okto”, MediaCorp’s latest television channel.

The revamped channel will have 105 programming hours each week, combining the best of what’s currently offered in Kids Central and Arts Central.

There will also be more airtime for interactive user-generated content and local shows.

Daisy Irani, VP, Central Network Programming & Promotions, MediaCorp TV12, said: “We’ll be going into comedies. Gurmit Singh and Mark Lee will be on for the first time in okto.

“We’ll also have a lot of info-ed programmes, live action, animation, like ‘Avatar’. There will also be critically-acclaimed films, such as ‘Good Night and Good Luck’, ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and a lot of info-entertainment as well.”

The opportunity came in March when Parliament decided to expand Vasantham Central into a standalone Tamil-language channel.

TV12 hopes the new programming structure will help retain more viewers.

Lim Suat Jien, managing director, MediaCorp TV12, said: “Some of the audience are not mutually exclusive. So we do have the older kids who actually watch Arts Central. But then they stop halfway because Vasantham comes on. And sometimes they don’t rejoin us back in Arts Central.”

“okto” means eight in Greek, and fittingly, it will be available on Channel 8 on cable television, both Starhub and Singtel mio, and Channel 30 on free-to-air TV. – CNA/vm

Channel News Asia

'Improve Bus Operations First'

23 Aug

Passengers of KTM Komuter want a more efficient train service, especially during peak hours, where jostling and pushing have become a norm.
Passengers of KTM Komuter want a more efficient train service, especially during peak hours, where jostling and pushing have become a norm.

KUALA LUMPUR: It is a norm for passengers to push and shove their way into KTM Komuter and Light-Rail Transit (LRT) trains during the rush hours.

A quick survey by the New Straits Times at several train stations, including Masjid Jamek, KL Sentral, Bandar Tasik Selatan and Serdang, saw most passengers wishing for a better rail system.

“I have been commuting between Kuala Lumpur and Seremban daily for the past five years,” said regular commuter Mohd Zain Hussaini, a 38-year-old banker.

“Getting jostled or sandwiched by passengers during the rush hours is normal,” said Mohd Zain, adding that the high petrol price stopped him from driving to work.

He suggested that more officers be placed at train stations during the rush hours to control the transiting.
Teacher Noriza Abd Ghani, 38, was frustrated that certain stations had very few ticket vending machines and counters.

“We end up waiting a long time to buy our tickets, causing us to miss the train at times,” she said, adding that having an integrated public transport ticketing system would improve the situation.

Student Norzalina Shaharin, 21, has more than one bitter experience to share.

“I have tripped, had the door closed on me and sat on wet seats. If someone like me finds it difficult to commute on the train, I cannot imagine how it would be for the disabled or the senior citizens,” she said, adding that more carriages should be introduced.

Sales representative Melinda Yap, 32, wished that Putra Line would consider closing some of the stations during peak hours so that passengers could reach their destinations sooner.

Centre for Environment, Technology and Development (Cetdem) chairman Gurmit Singh said an efficient bus system could help tackle the problem.

“There is no point in focusing only on the LRT and KTM Komuter services as they need the feeder bus services to complement them.

“It’s much cheaper to improve the bus operations than the LRT and rail commuter systems.

“The government can foot the capital cost of the buses, as they had done for the LRT through RapidKL, and let the companies run the operations.

“Licences can be given to the operators and if they do not perform, the licences can be withdrawn.”

He said mass rapid transport systems such as the LRT were “prestigious transport options” and the “new status symbol” of developing countries.

“The capital cost for building LRT and railway lines and stations is much higher than to improve existing bus routes.”

A more workable solution would be to have dedicated bus routes and ensure that the time schedules were kept, he added.

New Straits Times

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

Catch Him If You Can

28 Jul

SINGAPORE : You’ve been watching a lot of Chua Enlai on TV recently. Only, you might not have realised it.

“Chua Enlai, who?” asked a few people when this reporter did a straw poll – despite them living on a diet of TV and fizzy drinks.

You know, that obnoxious kueh chang (rice dumpling) shop manager, Dennis, who brown-noses Tan Kheng Hua’s Tow Kay Neo character in “Sayang Sayang”? And Al, that gossipy colleague of Adrian Pang’s James in “Parental Guidance 2”?

“Ohhh! That guy! He’s quite funny.”

Yes, that would be Enlai. He also played multiple characters in “The Noose” with Michelle Chong and Gurmit Singh, appeared in three seasons of “My Sassy Neighbour” with Patricia Mok and hosted two seasons of “Heartland Getaways”.

He can currently be seen on MediaCorp TV’s Channel 5 in “Parental Guidance 2”, “Sayang Sayang”, and in the second season of “The Noose” when it returns next month – this time, replacing Gurmit as the news anchor.

But if you’re still scratching your head, go ask your kids. They’ll know Enlai as Science Guy PI and as that fun guy on “Hobby TV and Jobs for Juniors” on Kids Central.

The 29-year-old actor is a lot of fun off-screen, too.

When he met TODAY for this interview at the Pan Pacific hotel, the slight Fly Entertainment artiste gamely climbed up a runged wooden partition and wedged himself into a cranny for the photo shoot. Mind you, he pulled these stunts with a braced back, which he injured earlier in the year, and he’s still seeing a physiotherapist.

As we found out during our very long chat, Enlai has a tendency to digress into his random little anecdotes and comically forgets the original questions (“The Red House pepper crab is damn good!”; “I’m a complete champagne brunch lover!”; “I’m a very good squatter – I’ve never had a squat toilet, but I can squat very well and for a long time.”)

But when it comes to acting, Enlai, who lived and studied in New Zealand for 12 years, is dead serious.

“Acting is about imitating life. The human condition really interests me,” said the thespian who is recognised for his theatre works such as “Shopping and F***ing”, “Landmarks: Asian Boys Vol 2”, and “Fundamentally Happy”. He’s also in the cast of “Superhero Diaries” which has been postponed till March next year.

“(Whether you see yourself as a) star or an actor, I think if you get too much up your own a*se, when it becomes about you so much, it’s not very interesting, is it? It should never be about Chua Enlai; it should always be about the character and that world,” he said.

Maybe he’d be okay with you knowing his face, but not his name, after all.

Channel News Asia

He's The Dominator

9 Jun

SINGAPORE: Dominic Lau is smitten by a MediaCorp hottie. Only, it’s not Fann Wong, Fiona Xie or any other lithesome beauty.

In fact, his crush doesn’t even own a set of ovaries.

“I actually got to meet Gurmit Singh and I was so blown away!” said the Eurasian good-looker (his mum’s English). “He’s a big star in the region you know!”

While Gurmit is indeed a bright, shining star on our sunny isle, it was surprising to hear the Hong Kong-based Dominic go on and on about him (“He’s such a funny, warm, great person!”) – especially when the highlight of his career was hosting a programme on the red carpet at last year’s Academy Awards.

“It must have been the biggest thing I’ve done,” said MediaCorp TV Channel 5’s latest hunk and Channel V VJ. “It was my first live telecast ever and I was so nervous. But it was amazing to get to interview big Hollywood A-listers, like Helen Mirren, Eddie Murphy, Greg Kinnear, Clint Eastwood, Steve Carell and Al Gore.”

As he went on about his Oscar adventure, thanks to his additional role as the host of Star Movies’ VIP Access – he has a manner of prattling on as if you were his newfound best friend – one couldn’t help but wonder: Isn’t going from Tinseltown to Caldecott Hill a bit of an anti-climax?

“Of course not. I got to interview some big stars of America. Now, I get to mingle with the big names of this region,” the 26-year-old former model said.

Dominic was in town to promote his newly-minted job as host of The Showdown, the Channel 5 game show that pits local celebrities against each other. The commercial music graduate told TODAY that all it took was one phone call from MediaCorp to get him on a plane to Singapore.

That and our pretty women.

“The girls here … Woah! So pretty and always in shorts and flip-flops!” he said, grinning mischievously.

But isn’t there a special someone in his life to keep him in Hong Kong? For the first time during the interview, Dominic’s cocksure but likable demeanour turned almost wistful.

“When I first started out with Channel V back in 2005, I met a very beautiful girl called Sarah (Tan),” he said. “I was very smitten and I am not usually like that with girls or people.”

Former Channel V VJ Sarah Tan and ESPN Star Sports presenter Soo Kui Jien got married in Bali on Dec 21 last year and are expecting a baby due anytime soon.

“I sincerely hope from the bottom of my heart that she’s doing well. Kui Jien is a really lucky man,” he said.

And that was when the articulate host blessed with pretty-boy looks and who’s on the way to becoming a household name in Singapore fell uncharacteristically quiet.

“Sarah Tan is the one that got away.”

The happily-married couple politely declined to comment.

The Showdown airs every Thursday at 8pm on MediaCorp TV Channel 5. –

Channel News Asia

Time For "The Showdown"

15 May

SINGAPORE : It’s the battle of the stars!

Singapore TV personalities put aside their friendships and ditch their glamourous images for a day, to get down and dirty to outdo each other in “The Showdown.”

Forget your usual telematch games like tug-of-war, host Dominic Lau and Game Master Suhaimi Yusof will take you on a wild ride as the teams battle it out in a series of wacky, off-the-wall challenges like Treadmill Feast and Human Fooseball.

Celebrity teams of four will be put to the test to see how well they do in a physically challenging environment outside of their element. Some games really test your agility and strength while some are just plain silly with contestants all dressed as birds (Lil’ Birdie).

Gurmit Singh, Irene Ang, Utt, Jade Seah, and Daren Tan are just some of the celebrities that viewers will be able to catch on the show.

Though this is the first time Lau is hosting a game show, the Pan Asian model and VJ from Hong Kong had so much fun that hopes to return to work in Singapore, or maybe even come back as a contestant on “The Showdown.”

“If I was in the competition, I would have kicked a**!” said a confident Lau. “Maybe not so much this egg between the legs game [Lil’ Birdie] but I’m a physical kind of guy and I enjoy a good challenge.”

On top of bragging rights, members of the winning team will also walk away with a cash prize of S$4,000! Pretty good deal for a day of fun and games.

Catch The Showdown every Thursday at 8pm, on MediaCorp Channel 5. You can also get your weekly dose of The Showdown online at

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