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'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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Nine Faces Of Channel 5

12 May

SINGAPORE : Here’s a quick pop quiz: What do Gurmit Singh, Adrian Pang, Fiona Xie, Michelles Chia and Chong, Andrea Fonseka, Utt, Aaron Aziz and Jas Arora have in common?

If you don’t know, you’re obviously not watching enough TV. Suffice it to say, these are the nine faces of Channel 5 who are tasked with spearheading the channel’s latest re-branding exercise, which aims to put more home-grown talent on air.

Their faces certainly are familiar enough: Gurmit is a 13-year Channel 5 stalwart; you could say that Adrian has been in almost every drama, variety, comedy and game show; Andrea became TV’s “it” girl just after one season on Deal Or No Deal; Fiona and Michelle Chia have successfully crossed over from Channel 8; Michelle Chong is known for her comic turns on TV; Utt’s perennial hosting duties have given him a wider demographic; while Aaron and Jas had impressive outings on Heartlanders and Achar!, respectively.

So why then?

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Beijing Olympics Qualifier / Hockey: Minnows Italy Give Malaysia A Scare

7 Apr

Shahrun Nabil scored Malaysia's first and last goals in their match against Italy in the Olympic Qualifier yesterday.
Shahrun Nabil scored Malaysia’s first and last goals in their match against Italy in the Olympic Qualifier yesterday.

MALAYSIA were held to an embarrassing draw against minnows Italy in a nerve-jangling Olympic Qualifier at the Green Stadium yesterday.

With just seconds to go, Italy were leading 4-3 when the Malaysians equalised to remain in the running for a place in the final.

Nothing went right for the Malaysians yesterday as they bungled a handful of sitters and were always fighting to equalise. From only four attempts at goal the entire match, the Italians scored on each occasion.

Compared to their earlier matches, Malaysia played like novices yesterday and were punished in the 23rd minute from Italy’s first penalty corner when Alessandro Nanni flicked high into the net.

Italy had taken the lead much to the dismay of favourites Malaysia. Coach Sarjit Singh and his assistant Gurmit Singh look on in total disbelief. Malaysia are ranked 14th while Italy a distant 37th in the world.

It was sunny for yesterday’s earlier matches but one could feel the shivers going the spines of the entire Malaysian bench and officials watching from the stands.

Second penalty corner flicker Amin Rahim had a chance to put things right but his first try hit the post, his second was palmed away by the Italy goalkeeper while the third lacked any power.

The forwards were blunt and were only saved in the 35th minute when Shahrun Nabil equalised with a brilliant reverse stick shot. Malaysia emerged from the dressing room and tried to make things right but another surprise awaited them.

Italy scored their second goal!

This time skipper Jacopo Lunetta slotted in a penalty corner rebound in the 45th minute, and Malaysia were left trailing again. More embarrassment.

However, a few quick forays into the Italian semi-circle won them a 46th minute penalty stroke which Amin duly tucked in to make it 2-2.

Malaysia took the lead for the first time in the 58th minute when Jiwa scored a direct penalty corner push only for the Italians to equalise in the 64th minute through Daniele Malta, and then take the lead again courtesy of a Massimo Lanzano strike just two minutes later.

With time running out quickly, Shahrun saved Malaysia the blushes when he connected home just as the final horn sounded.

“This is the worst performance from my players since I took over as coach,” said an infuriated Sarjit.

“I have no immediate answers to what happened today (yesterday), but our campaign has not ended. It has just become tougher as we now need to win all the remaining matches.”


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This Is For My Ex-Wife

11 Dec

SINGAPORE: Huang Yiliang did it again – made another controversial speech involving former wife Lin Meijiao.

At Sunday night’s Star Awards, which were held at the St James Power Station for the first time, Yiliang won the Best Supporting Actor Award for his role in the drama Women of Times.

When he went on stage to accept the award, he said he wanted to give the award to Meijiao. In the same speech, he also thanked his current wife. It was a speech that raised eyebrows, not least due to the little-known fact that he has remarried.

In 2003, when he won the same award, Yiliang mentioned Meijiao in his thank-you speech, comparing her to a giraffe and saying her neck had grown from yearning for an award.

Meijiao was not present at Sunday night’s show.

Backstage, Yiliang lost his cool when quizzed him about the speech.

“Meijiao is more talented than me but she doesn’t have my luck,” he said. “I’ve always wanted her to win something so I’d like to give this award to her.”

He claimed he was simply voicing the wish of his daughter with Meijiao. He has been married for three years to Lily Liu.

“When I made that speech in 2003, I only had good intentions. I regret that it’s a joke that fell flat, I shouldn’t have made it.”

Visibly annoyed, he added: “Do you know how influential the media is? If you write bad stuff about me, that’s the end of me. Please spare me. I don’t have any bad intentions.”

Meanwhile, the Best Actor and Actress Awards were won by Li Nanxing and Ivy Lee, respectively, while Hong Huifang nabbed the Best Supporting Actress Award. Bryan Wong won Best Variety Show Host, while Kelvin Tan won Most Popular Newcomer.

The top 10 Most Popular Male Artistes were: Christopher Lee, Gurmit Singh, Tay Ping Hui, Vincent Ng, Edmund Chen, Qi Yuwu, Mark Lee, Kelvin Tan, Elvin Ng and Bryan Wong.

As for the women, the top 10 were Kym Ng, Huang Biren, Xiang Yun, Rui En, Michelle Chia, Jeanette Aw, Felicia Chin, Fiona Xie, Quan Yifeng and Jesseca Liu. – TODAY

Channel News Asia

Singaporeans Divided Over Foreign Talents

22 Aug

SINGAPORE: Some are willing to lay out the welcome mat while others want to brandish the “Do Not Enter'”signs.

And between the contrasting responses, it seems there is a clear line to distinguish how and why Singaporeans differ on the issue of immigration.

One camp welcomes a specific category of immigrants – the talented ones.

The other camp worries that a different group – lower down the value chain – will eat into their space and add to competition without lifting the quality.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted immigration as one of three key policies to alleviate Singapore’s lack of population growth and urged Singaporeans to be “big-hearted” in welcoming those born outside Singapore’s shores.

For its recent National Day issue, TODAY did a survey of 201 Singaporeans on, among other things, the issue of migration.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most welcoming toward those who are willing to sink roots here – and not just remain as permanent residents – we reported the average score was 6.02, or slightly above average in the welcome factor.

Going beyond the numbers to examine why Singaporeans felt that way, some trends stand out.

The most common message to emerge across all age groups is that the level of support for immigration depends, by far, on the “quality” and contribution of adopted citizens.

“Only if they are an asset to Singapore,” said a 65-year-old.

Added a 16-year-old: “Not just any foreigners. Only those who are talented or can make a positive difference in our lives or both.”

Both respondents welcomed new citizens with a score of eight.

Many respondents were less keen to embrace “low-end” immigrants. Others raised the fear of more competition in what is “an already stressful rat race”.

“To get any Tom, Dick or Harry to fill up lower-level jobs is totally pointless and damaging to our society,” said financial services consultant Henry Chow, 26.

Likewise, while many Singaporeans may welcome the skilled immigrant citizen, some disapprove of immigration for other purposes.

“It’s not right if foreigners are allowed to take up full citizenship just so the majority race can remain the majority,” said editorial assistant Lim Wei Yi, 26.

One group of respondents felt the focus should be on the value of the Singapore citizenship – and not on the “value” of the immigrant professional.

“If foreigners are accepted based solely on their ability to contribute to the country, that worries me – it dilutes the meaning of being Singaporean. But if the foreigners we accept as citizens truly feel a sense of ownership and belonging here, then it doesn’t matter where they were born or what colour their skin is,” said Mr Kok Tse Wei, 25, who works in the arts industry.

Or as IT and media resources manager Jerry Siah said: “We should welcome foreigners seeking to build a better home on our shores and not just for economic purposes.”

Those who strongly welcome foreigners to take up citizenship see this as a “pledge” and a sign of “loyalty” and “commitment” to Singapore. Those who are more cautious ask whether immigrants treat Singapore as a home or as a stepping stone to earn money.

“Welcoming foreigners would mean that we become unmistakeably rojak (mixed). That’s okay. We just don’t want foreigners who don’t want to be part of the rojak but who simply want to be here to enjoy the good life at genuine stakeholders’ expense,” said project manager Gurmit Singh Kullar, 31.

Many more respondents, though, were more concerned about Singapore’s cultural space. They wanted to expand it – not restrict it – to make it richer, believing that diversity is better.

“This whole ‘this is my country, get the hell out’ mindset is childish,” said 17-year-old Arhshath Kaleni. “Open your doors, don’t build this wall around you.”

Channel News Asia

MediaCorp-RTM Mega-Show To Feature Big Names

14 Apr

SINGAPORE: It’s going to be a duet between two countries, two major broadcasters and two rising stars who were crowned Idols in their home countries.

Singapore’s MediaCorp TV 12’s Suria and Malaysia’s RTM TV1 are organising a mega-show which will feature Singapore Idol Taufik Batisah and his Malaysian counterpart Jaclyn Victor.

Artistes like Suhaimi Yusof and veteran Ramli Sarip as well as regional sensation Siti Nurhaliza will also perform in the show.

The show, titled Muzika Ekstravaganza, will be aired on Suria and RTM TV1 at 8:30pm on 23 April.

Besides the Malays, the show also hopes to reach a non-Malay and younger audience.

So, personalities like Gurmit Singh – who plays the iconic Phua Chu Kang – and four Singapore Idol finalists including Christopher Lee and Jeassea Thyidor will also be on the stage.

Suria’s programming director, Mohamed Ali, said: “I think this is a fantastic opportunity for talents to meet, and when talents meet wonderful things happen. I think this Music Ekstravaganza will be one such platform.”

“We’re certainly hoping for an annual television event and it’s our hope that our partners will host us next year in Malaysia. It is my personal wish that this will become a tradition between Suria and RTM,” he added.

This is not the first time the two stations are collaborating.

Some Singaporeans and Malaysians may remember Rampaisari, the former annual show co-produced by the two broadcasting stations.

It was last held some eight years ago.

Producers promise that Muzika Ekstravaganza will be a much more elaborate and colourful show.

Suhaimi Jais, controller of EagleVision, said: “We’ve decided to import a lot of influence from Morocco, the Mediterranean, Bollywood, Hollywood as well as Singapore and Malaysia, so that we can improvise these elements.”

Rap band Triple Noize will also be meeting their Malaysian counterparts Ruffedge during the two-hour show. – CNA/ir

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