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Jack Neo Produces English TV Drama Series For Okto

23 Feb

SINGAPORE : Singapore filmmaker Jack Neo has produced his first English TV drama serial “Happily Ever After”, which will air on MediaCorp’s okto channel from Sunday.

He is better known for his Mandarin blockbuster movie “I Not Stupid” and top-grossing local film “Money No Enough”. And now, Jack Neo – whose 11 movies have grossed S$33 million to date – is crossing over to English TV drama.

He said: “It is my dream that I want to do drama. This is just the right timing. I wanted to do it because (for) some stories if you make it too short, like a movie, you will not be able to tell the whole story.”

“Happily Ever After” is based on real-life issues that confront married couples – from divorce to miscarriage and infidelity – and it was an intense ride for everyone involved.

MediaCorp artiste Ng Hui, who is the lead actress in “Happily Ever After”, said: “The emotional journey that the characters go through is a lot more intense, and it felt a lot more real. It is also because of the execution of the whole production – because of how the director wanted us to play out the characters – it felt very real.

“A lot of times we were trying to get a grip of ourselves as well, and there were times when I remember making comments to the scriptwriter, ‘Look, if I do not get married next time, I will definitely remember you because of this!'”

Jack Neo said: “Husband and wife after getting married, after 10 or 20 years, a lot of things you just take for granted, you cannot see anymore. You may ask yourself – last time, during ‘pak tor’ (dating), he or she likes to do some things for you and you feel touched, but now this is no more. What is happening? Is it because the love is gone?”

The eight-episode drama was filmed in 42 days and according to Jack Neo, it was shot on a budget of less than S$100,000 per episode, a challenge for the veteran filmmaker who is used to million-dollar movie budgets.

Unlike most English drama series, “Happily Ever After” will be shown non-stop for eight days, with a cliffhanger after every episode. And as directors tell Channel NewsAsia, it was shot in a stylistic, movie format.

The series will be shown on okto from March 1-8 at 9pm. This is the channel’s 13th original production since it was launched in October last year. – CNA/ms

Channel News Asia

Love Really Matters

23 Jan

SINGAPORE: Barely half a year after the release “Money No Enough 2”, comes another film by Jack Neo – together with director Gilbert Chan – exploring topical issues flavoured with a dollop of Singaporean humour.

“Love Matters” explores the lives of three guys: 52-year-old Tan Bo Seng (Henry Thia) who leads a routine life and seeks to revive the passion with his wife Jia Li (Yeo Yann Yann). There is the playboy Jeremy (Jack Lim) who proudly proclaims his motto for love as “Never to commit”. Lastly, there is Benny (Alex Leong) who has a huge crush on his classmate’s girlfriend Jennifer (Natalli) who typifies the Y-generation going through puppy love.

“The topic of love is not something that is openly discussed in the Asian society, but it does not mean that people don’t ponder about it or see it,” says Neo.

The subject of sex seems to be considered a taboo in Asian cultures, and perhaps it can be seen by the NC-16 rating, a first for Neo’s films, that has been slapped on by the Media Development Authority (MDA).

“I was surprised to hear that the movie had been rated as NC-16,” says Neo who insists that “Love Matters” does not carry any sex or nudity scenes.

Like all his films which probe, and urge for reflection, what Neo wanted to portray with his latest film was the power of love.

At the risk of sounding clich
, “Love Matters” provides an entertaining look of love in a straight-laced society.

The movie which was filmed entirely in Kulua Lumpur, Malaysia, is about the happiness that is intrinsically tied to the notion of love that has the ability to heal and connect humans, shares Neo.

And on his blog, Neo mentions a quote that rings true in his latest movie, “Those who are not in love yearn for love; those who are loved don’t know how to love; and those who are in love for too long no longer feel the love.”

The lead stars of the film, funnyman with his trademark deadpan expression Henry Thia and Yeo Yan Yan, star of Royston Tan’s “881” were also engaged in a friendly banter about the distinct differences of “Western love” and “Asian love”.

“Western love is all about the speech. To them, saying ‘I Love You’ seems to be at the tip of their tongues, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I hear an Asian stuttering it,” jokes Yeo.

Indeed, Asians are more inclined to display small acts of affection.

For one, Yeo – who is currently single – admits that she is an easy target for simple acts of love. After all, actions speak louder than words!

“You can buy me just one stalk of flower on a random day, and I would be over the moon!” Yeo exclaims.

And more often than not, underlying these simple acts is how practical love is in nature, a distinct characteristic of ‘Asian love’.

Both Neo and Thia recounted personal incidents where they had been gently rebuked by their wives for “wasting” money on flowers during Valentine’s Day.

“I have since learned my lesson, and every time a special occasion rolls around, I know that the most fool-proof gift to my wife would be a red packet!” jokes Thia.

Laughter aside, Thia describes his long relationship with his wife, “Honest communication and being able to give whole-heartedly, without expecting anything in return are the keys (to a successful marriage). Of course, if (the act) is reciprocated, it is a bonus!”

Acting together as an on-screen couple came easy for Yeo and Thia, despite the former being the same age as Thia’s daughter in real life!

“Being a couple on screen was so natural, to the extent that it was scary!” exclaims Yeo.

And the telepathy and connection they had were obvious. Both of them were wearing the same colour shade (pink!) – which the duo maintained that they had decided on individually and it was just all a coincidence!

“Love Matters” is now in theatres.

Channel News Asia

GB Bersemangat Terbit, Dan Edar Filem

6 Jan

Menjangkakan tahun ini memberi cabaran lebih getir kepada filem tempatan

MENUTUP tirai tahun 2008, Grand Brilliance Sdn Bhd (GB) yang kini dikenali sebagai Primeworks Studios Sdn Bhd, terus melangkah ke hadapan memasuki tahun 2009 sebagai syarikat penerbitan filem yang menjadi tonggak industri perfileman tanah air kita.

Ini terbukti dengan kejayaan kutipan “box-office” filem terbitan, edaran dan usahasama GB sepanjang tahun 2008.

Berdasarkan laporan Perbadanan Kemajuan Filem Nasional (Finas) kutipan filem yang ditayangkan pada sepanjang tahun 2008, sejumlah 26 judul filem tempatan sudah dan sedang ditayangkan di seluruh pawagam tanah air.

Daripada jumlah itu, sebanyak 14 judul filem adalah hasil edaran, terbitan dan usaha sama GB dengan rakan-rakan syarikat penerbitan.

Pengurus Besar Filem Dan Drama, Primeworks Sdn Bhd, Ahmad Puad Onah berkata, jumlah keseluruhan kutipan kasar filem tempatan pada tahun 2008 adalah sebanyak RM38.884 juta (setakat 23 Disember).

Katanya, daripada jumlah itu, sebanyak RM29.214 juta adalah hasil kutipan filem daripada GB.

“Ini bermakna filem-filem yang melalui “sentuhan” GB mencatatkan 77 peratus daripada jumlah keseluruhan kutipan.

“Pada tahun 2008, GB juga mengadakan usaha sama dengan syarikat Singapura, Jack Neo Film, bagi menerbit dan mengedarkan filem seperti Money No Enough 2 yang berjaya mengutip sebanyak RM4.62 juta di Malaysia dan kira-kira RM11.52 juta di Singapura dan sebuah lagi filem dengan usaha sama syarikat Indonesia Love dengan kutipan RM250,000 di Malaysia Rupiah 7.9 billion kutipan di Indonesia,’ katanya.

Menurutnya, selain itu, GB berjaya menayangkan pelbagai filem luar negara antaranya Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Amerika Syarikat dan United Kingdom untuk sajian penonton di Malaysia.

“Bagi memastikan kejayaan ini diteruskan, GB membuka tirai tahun 2009 dengan tayangan filem komedi Sifu & Tongga arahan Prof. Madya A. Razak Mohaideen dengan lakonan Saiful Apek, Nabil, Erra Fazira, Piee dan Fauziah Gous.

“Flem ini bakal menggegar pawagam seluruh Malaysia mulai Januari 2009. Ini diteruskan dengan barisan filem menarik antaranya Rasukan Ablasa, Janin, Talentime, Bohsia, Pisau Cukur dan banyak lagi,’ jelasnya.

Ahmad Puad berkata, dalam keadaan negara dijangka menghadapi kelembapan ekonomi tahun depan, GB tidak putus semangat untuk terus menyajikan filem kepada penonton sebagai hiburan dan santapan rohani.

GB berharap agar industri perfileman tanah air akan terus mendapat sokongan daripada semua pihak, terutama rakan-rakan media serta para penggemar filem.

Berita Harian

Singapore Movie Script Makes A Leap At Golden Horse Film Festival

9 Dec

SINGAPORE: The script of a Singapore-made thriller about bloggers competing for popularity on the Internet has caught the attention of judges at the Golden Horse Film and TV Co-production Conference held in Taipei recently.

“Blog Stories” by director Jack Neo’s company Neo Studios, won an award for one of the top three scripts short-listed at the Conference as well as NT$200,000 (S$9,000).

The only submission from Singapore that secured a place in the finals, “Blog Stories” competed against 24 other movie scripts sent in from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The accomplishment by Neo Studios has reaffirmed their consistent efforts to develop a pool of commercially savvy script writers and movie directors.

Since the company began its efforts to identify talent earlier this year, more than 50 aspiring movie directors and script writers have submitted their works for evaluation.

“I am delighted. This proves that Singaporeans possess creative talent comparable with the best in the region. I am very grateful that our regional colleagues have given us this recognition,” said Jack Neo, Chairman of Neo Studios.

Slated to be released in mid 2009, the thriller will chronicle the lives of Asian young bloggers who in the quest for cyber popularity, become reckless in their competition to outdo each other by publishing ‘ghost stories’ online. Strange things begin to happen in real life when the bloggers get carried away by unbridled ego and pride.

“Blog Stories is an interesting script that involves co-production and creative talent from more than one country,” said Ms Peggy Chiao, Chair of the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival. “We are pleased to see a high quality script submission from Singapore.”

Moving forward, Neo says his company is “in the process of finalising various production partners” and hopes that this particular production “will travel beyond Singapore”.

– CNA/jk

Channel News Asia

MediaCorp's Channel 8 Celebrates 45 Years Of Quality Entertainment

24 Nov

SINGAPORE: MediaCorp’s Channel 8 celebrated 45 years of Chinese entertainment in Singapore with the biggest reunion of stars on Sunday evening.

Awards such as the Most Memorable TV Host and the Most Classic Variety Show Character were given out to honour those whose names have become synonymous with Channel 8.

The former award went to TV veteran Zhang Wei, while the latter award was given to ‘Liang Po Po’, a character played by actor-director Jack Neo.

Chua Foo Yong received the Most Memorable News Anchor award and actress Chen Li Ping accepted the award for the Most Classic Drama Character for her unforgettable role as dedicated teacher ‘Ai Yoyo’.

Viewers also caught clips of old variety shows and drama serials in the three-hour programme.

– CNA/so

Channel News Asia

Jack Neo's New Film Looks At Matters Of The Heart

21 Nov

SINGAPORE: There’s no stopping Jack Neo. The film maker is back with his 13th feature film titled “Love Matters” which is set to hit theatres across Singapore during the Lunar New Year period next year.

Co-directed by Gilbert Chan, the movie, previously titled “Republic of Happiness”, revolves around the marriages and relationships of three men.

Starring good friend and actor Henry Thia, who has worked with Neo on the “Money No Enough” and “I Not Stupid” series, Malaysian actress, Yeo Yann Yann, and Malaysian radio presenter Jack Lim, “Love Matters” takes a sensitive look at love, happiness and issues concerning matters of the heart in contemporary Asian society.

Like all Jack Neo films, “Love Matters” promises a good deal of humour and entertainment. You can get a sneak peek of this movie in a handphone-off trailer which hits cinemas on 27 November.

The trailer will be played in Mandarin with English, Chinese and Malay subtitles. Neo first produced a handphone-off trailer for “Money No Enough 2” this year.

Host, writer and director Neo started his TV career in 1980 and has become one of the most successful local celebrities. His previous movies, “Money No Enough” and “I Not Stupid” have struck an emotional chord in Singaporeans.

– CNA/il

Channel News Asia

Money Enough, So Breakthrough "Money No Enough 2" Created

31 Jul

SINGAPORE : A decade ago, with not that much money, Jack Neo went from a TV funny man who dressed up as an old lady, to create Singapore’s top grossing local film, “Money No Enough”.

As other film successes followed, the Cultural Medallion award winner is a film-maker who may just strike it rich again with the sequel “Money No Enough 2” despite little change to his movie making formula.

The winning formula is due in part to his two long time buddies, Mark Lee and Henry Thia, who along with Neo play the role of brothers facing different financial struggles in contemporary Singapore.

Meeting the funny men, it seemed clear that it couldn’t have been too difficult for the three, who seem like brothers in real life, to get into character!

As they teased and took digs at each other, I couldn’t help but feel at times that I was just a mere spectator at a larger than life family gathering.

Getting serious, Neo revealed that their latest project together was upsized with a S$1.5 million budget, his largest movie budget ever.

This allowed Neo to experiment more freely with special effects in the movie but rest assured that what drew the crowds, the ordinary Singaporean’s heart and struggles, remains core in the movie.

While there will be a good dose of laughter, just like life, there will also be some tears although it is totally unintentional says the film-maker/actor.

“Actually, I have never especially tried to make people cry,” said Neo, “Whenever I film a movie, I always use my heart to understand what’s going on. In real life, there are a lot of these (moving) issues (that are explored in the movie).”

What is different in “Money No Enough 2” besides a bigger budget, is Neo’s commitment to making new grounds once again.

For starters, the movie touches on several sensitive topics but survives the censorship board unscathed.

In terms of stars, look out for a guest appearance by Member of Parliament, Michael Palmer, TV actress Vivian Lai and half of the singing Ming Zhu Sisters, Zhu Ling Ling, all starring in their first big screen roles.

It’s a gutsy move by Neo, who is feeling the pressure of having to live up to the previous instalment’s performance at the box-offices.

“Of course (there’s stress),” said Neo almost immediately when the question of stress popped up.

“When the first instalment was released, people weren’t prepared for the socio-commentary that was being thrown their way. So whatever was shown, they would’ve been happy.

“But now, with the second instalment, people start having expectations. The biggest challenge would be for people to go in with an open mind” offered Neo.

Trying to lighten the stress, Lee showed his mathematical acumen by adding that the inevitable stress also comes from trying to match dollar to dollar, the previous S$5.8 million performance.

“Let’s analyse it this way, if the box office sales this time round are also S$5.8 million, it would mean that fewer people are coming to watch the movie. In the past, movie tickets cost S$5.50 or S$6.50. Tickets nowadays cost S$9.50, S$10!”

Although scheduled for release on July 31, there’s already been a huge volume of pre-sales, meaning Neo and the cast of “Money No Enough 2” are well on their way to breaking their own record… without too much stress.

– CNA/os

Channel News Asia

"Money No Enough 2" Features More Computer-Generated Scenes

28 Jul

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s all-time highest-grossing local movie “Money No Enough” is back. This time, it focuses on issues other than money.

“Money No Enough 2”, directed by Jack Neo, premiered on Monday at Golden Village, VivoCity. The film stars Jack Neo, Mark Lee, Henry Thia as three brothers.

There are extensive computer-generated scenes, including the upcoming Formula One race and a dig at Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantries.

Jack Neo hopes the use of computer graphics will not only encourage the local film industry to use high-tech production techniques, but also add more dimension to the story and increase its appeal to a global audience.

Jack Neo said: “Our future (J-Team) productions will hopefully be moving in that direction. The rest of the world is updated with CG (computer graphics), so it is unavoidable.

“But we are not using CG for the sake of using it. We hope to make the film more interesting and add value to it.”

– CNA/ir

Channel News Asia

For Jack Neo, Money Is Finally Enough

2 May

SINGAPORE – Ten years ago, “money no enough”. Now, for Jack Neo, Singapore also “no enough”.

That’s because the 2005 Cultural Medallion winner and Singapore’s most commercially successful director has his sights set on conquering the region and perhaps the world.

“My films can travel well. In fact, come this June, I Not Stupid is opening in theatres all across China. Not just television, but cinemas! And Ah Long Pte Ltd is officially the highest-grossing Singapore film in Malaysia, making over RM4.3 million ($1.8 million),” said the 48-year-old multi-hyphenate, who has been lauded as Singapore’s hardest-working actor-director-scriptwriter.

Speaking to Today on Tuesday at the 10th anniversary celebration of Money No Enough, which has just been re-released in cinemas, the man who Raintree Pictures’ managing director Daniel Yun said “helped define a Singapore film and, indirectly, the Singapore film industry” shared that it was all about heart.

“Making films with heart sets us apart from the foreign films and I believe that I know how to make films that will do well abroad,” Neo said.

Quite remarkably, Money No Enough is still Singapore’s biggest box-office hit, in terms of local films, with an unsurpassed $5.8 million. Neo’s box-office successes over the last decade have not only proven that made-in-Singapore films can be commercially viable, but also that he is a film-maker with his ear close to the ground and a heart that relates to the typical Singaporean.

Which is why he feels that it’s time to embark on the next phase: To find Singapore’s next generation of directors and scriptwriters and strengthen the talent pool in our growing film industry.

Called Jack Neo’s Movie Director and Scriptwriter Search, this Media Development Authority (MDA) supported programme is looking to select 12 aspiring film-makers who will undergo a six-month apprenticeship course, work-shopping with some of the industry’s best movie directors and scriptwriters.

The big prize at the end of it all? A chance to direct a movie with Jack Neo.

Seems like a lot on a plate for an immensely busy man who has made 11 films in the last 10 years. He will be releasing yet another, Money No Enough 2, this August.

Said Philip Wu, managing director of Neo Studios: “Jack is passionate about sharing his experience with a new generation of movie directors and scriptwriters. Our industry needs to harness as much talent as possible to grow to the next level.

“This is especially important since Neo Studios has established a $10-million Raffles China Media fund with support from various partners and the MDA. We hope to find more local creative talent to work with us to address new market opportunities in China and the region.”

Looks like now, money is definitely enough. –

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