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Exhibit A: The Singapore Museum

2 Dec

SINGAPORE – In these difficult times, it’s been a veritable Nightmare at the Museum in some parts of the world.

Two weeks ago, some museums in Rome were shut down during a one-day strike by employees who feared job cuts.

In Los Angeles, the spotlight is currently on the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which is in deep financial trouble.

Here, however, museums seem to be in the mood to party.

The National Heritage Board’s (NHB) annual Explore! Singapore, which ends on Sunday, has roped in celebrities like the Dim Sum Dollies and Mark Lee to spice up the campaign’s more than 80 events spread over 27 museums. It’s a great way to end a year of achievements that includes the opening of two new museums (Peranakan Museum and SAM 8Q) and the successful launch of the National Museum’s (hopefully) annual Night Festival.

But despite a laudable 2008, Singapore’s museums are anxiously bracing for next year. With the financial year running until end of March 2009, museum folk are adopting a wait-and-see attitude.

According to those TODAY spoke to, there has so far been no official news of corporate sponsors backing out of exhibitions. And none have been cancelled so far. While they expect a headcount freeze, no lay-offs are in the works (most have a lean ‘n’ mean staff anyway).

That said, there have been small signs.

Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) director Kenson Kwok, 58, cited how a certain generous donor had pledged S$30,000 this year. Last year, the same generous donor had donated S$50,000.

And while they’ve raised “enough money” for the museum’s next two major exhibitions, he foresees it will be difficult to get more for subsequent events.

Channel News Asia

MediaCorp's "Okto" Aims To Provide Interactive Experience

18 Oct

SINGAPORE: Singapore TV viewers who plan to kick back in front of the tube on Sunday are in for a treat.

MediaCorp’s “okto” will air starting Sunday on free-to-air TV, Channel 30. It will also be available on cable television, Channel 8.

Watching television programmes can be a family affair, but with “okto”, it can also be an interactive one.

Through various shows and platforms like “OctoLive”, a live television show, viewers have many opportunities to join the fun.

Viewers can also send their own video clips to the okto website. The clips will be shown on “oktobite”, a daily programme created by viewers.

Another segment is called “octoriginal”, which airs locally-produced shows like “My Classmate Dad”, starring Mark Lee.

“Okto” will air from 9am to midnight daily, offering 105 hours of programming each week. The channel’s unique line-up of shows will cater to both the young and old.

Vice-president for Programming and Promotions at Okto, Vasantham and Creative Services, Daisy Irani, said: “Behind all that varied mix, there is a very clear thought about the demographics, which is going to be the slow seamless transition all the way from morning until 12 o’clock in the night.”

On what to expect throughout the day, children can log onto

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Local Celebrities, Ex-Offenders To Perform In Yellow Ribbon Concert

4 Sep

SINGAPORE: Prison inmates and ex-offenders will take to the stage this Saturday, alongside local celebrities like Dick Lee, Tan Kheng Hua and Mark Lee for the annual Yellow Ribbon Concert.

Taiwanese singer Emil Chau will also be joining them.

The event’s message to the public is to give prisoners and ex-convicts a second chance.

Besides showcasing their talents, the performers will also share their life testimonies.

Some 6,000 people are expected to attend the concert.

Members of the public can get tickets for the concert from AXS booths or log onto the Yellow Ribbon website at

Channel News Asia

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

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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

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"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

Mark Lee And Jeff Wang Prove They Dare!

27 Jun

SINGAPORE: Amid passport problems, complicated train routes and obvious language barriers, the award winning reality show, ‘Say It If You Dare’, is returning to Channel 8, bigger and better, for its fourth season.

Fronted by funny men Mark Lee and Jeff Wang, who now share a well-honed chemistry, the show travels to a further part of the globe this time round.

Europe is the destination – with picturesque Holland, Italy, Spain, France and Germany being featured in the upcoming 14 episodes.

Like in previous seasons, the pair armed with only a basic understanding of the various countries’ languages, provide many moments of hilarity as they get their tongues twisted and lost in translation, while trying to fit in with the locals.

According to Jeff, whom got to catch up with recently, said the pair embarrassingly gave the locals many ‘showers of (saliva) blessings’ as they were not used to making the guttural sounds that are a characteristic of the European languages.

If you think that overcoming the language barrier is not difficult enough, the hosts are also given a variety of tasks to contend with. This ranges from buying a house in Holland (as in this week’s episode) and even bull fighting in Spain, where Mark took a tumble in his attempt to be a convincing matador.

“Different countries and different cities have different stories and different environments῅”said Jeff, who added that with the show constantly exploring new territories, this season, will definitely make as a good, if not better, watch for viewers!

Catch ‘Say it if you dare 4’ every Wednesday, 8pm, on Channel 8. -CNA/os

Channel News Asia

Jack Neo's Latest Movie Deals With Illegal Moneylending Business

30 Jan

Tired of Hollywood films? Well, here’s a Singapore-made movie you can sit up to. MediaCorp Raintree Pictures will be premiering a comedy about the illegal moneylending business.

Jack Neo’s latest film, ‘Ah Long Pte Ltd’, is a light-hearted black comedy about the moneylending business and the triad world.

Mark Lee plays Fann Wong’s husband, who tries to turn her moneylending business into one that’s legal and free of violence.

But far from trivialising the subject of illegal moneylending, director Jack Neo has a serious message for his audience.

He said: “At the end of the day, all these people get their punishment. Along the way, these people dreamt that they can actually change the business model. They try to use another method to deal with the debtor.

“You are going to see a very funny way of dealing with debtors, you are going to see a lot of new ideas from our scriptwriter,” Neo added.

‘Ah Long Pte Ltd’ is the seventh collaboration between MediaCorp Raintree Pictures and Jack Neo.

This long-working relationship has given producers the assurance that a sensitive topic like illegal moneylending business will be well-directed.

Daniel Yun, Executive Producer of ‘Ah Long Pte Ltd’, said: “Jack has a way of making every subject matter a family entertainment. This is no exception. And the most important thing is, at the end of the story, there’s redemption and that makes it very good family entertainment.”

‘Ah Long Pte Ltd’ will debut in Singapore cinemas on 7 February and in Malaysia on 13 March. – CNA/vm

Channel News Asia

Singapore Celebrity, Jimmy Nah, Dead At 40

4 Jan

SINGAPORE: He shot to fame in the 1980s in a Channel 8 series “Friends Next Door”, playing a character who was perennially on sick leave – one so popular with comedy fans that it became his stage-name: MC King.

More recently, the 40-year-old actor and host took to the big screen in several Jack Neo hits such as “Home Run” and “I Do, I Do”, and had just completed a new Channel 8 drama “Taste of Love”, due to debut on Jan 22.

Friends and family saw nothing amiss with Mr Jimmy Nah – who, in a blog entry on New Year’s Eve, wished for good health and the renewal of his MediaCorp contract come Feb 29 – so, his sudden death on Friday shocked everyone.

According to artiste manager, Ms Teo Lian Huay, Mr Nah had accompanied his mother to a doctor’s clinic in the morning, and had seemed all right then.

But later, back home, she found him gasping for air in his room and he was rushed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. He was pronounced dead at about 1pm.

The cause of death had yet to be established as of press time: The police said he had no prior medical history and foul play was not suspected. Other reports say he was given the all-clear in a recent medical check-up.

Friends rushed to the hospital on hearing the news, including actors Huang Shinan, Rayson Tan and Carol Lin.

Mr Huang, who owns an events company, told TODAY he was shocked because he had been on the phone with Mr Nah the night before, and nothing had seemed amiss.

“He was always so full of zeal, always on the lookout for opportunities,” he said, adding that he had never heard Mr Nah complain of tiredness even after a hard day’s filming.

“He was a source of motivation and would encourage me whenever I had problems in my business.”

Ms Teo said Mr Nah’s mother called him a filial child and was the elder of two sons.

Besides acting, Mr Nah was a part-time radio deejay and an events host. Fans also remember him from the Comedy Night shows in the 1990s, which he hosted with Mr Neo and Mr Mark Lee.

News of Mr Nah’s death spread quickly, with fans flooding online forums with their condolences and bewilderment that he died so young.

Cleaner Ms Ang Hua, 59, told TODAY: “I have been watching him on television since the day he entered the industry and I really liked him. He was entertaining and funny.”

Film-maker Mr Neo wrote on his blog: “I still cannot believe he has left … I wish what I am writing now is just a script or a bad dream, and that all this never happened.”

Himself an avid blogger, Mr Nah posted photos that he took of fellow celebrities, and almost every entry ended with a short video-clip of the day’s events. His last post was on Dec 31, in which he listed his wishes for the new year.

Said Mr Huang: “We had plans to work together again, but now he is gone. Life is so unpredictable.”

Channel News Asia

The Best In Chinese TV Drama Honoured At Star Awards 2007

16 Dec

SINGAPORE: The honours roll is out on the best and most popular in local television Chinese drama production.

The annual Star Awards was screened live on Channel 8 on Sunday evening. Cop show “Metamorphosis” was named the Best Drama Serial.

The award for Best Supporting Actress went to May Phua for her role in “Mars vs Venus”, while Darren Lim was named Best Supporting Actor for his performance in “Kinship”.

Lim was out of the country and a representative accepted the award on his behalf from Korean TV heartthrob Kim Jeong Hoon.

The Best Newcomer award went to Pornsak, who received his award from Taiwanese pop group, 5566.

Channel U’s news anchor Tung Soo Hua was named Best News and Current Affairs Presenter for the fourth time.

In the closely-watched Best Variety Show Host category, comedian Mark Lee pipped four other veterans to clinch the honour.

Yvonne Lim was crowned Best Actress for the first time for her performance in “Metamorphosis”, while Zheng Ge Ping was named Best Actor for his role in “Like Father, Like Daughter”.

This is also Zheng’s first win in this category.

The third series of “Say It If You Dare” won the Best Variety Programme award and last year’s Star Awards 2006 was the Best Variety Special.

MediaCorp celebrates 25 years of TV drama production this year and, for the first time, the Star Awards were handed out in two separate shows.

The 25th Drama Anniversary Show was held last Sunday, December 9.

Variety show host Sharon Au, who is studying in Japan on a MediaCorp scholarship, made a surprise appearance to co-host the second instalment of this year’s Star Awards with Guo Liang and Quan Yifeng.

– CNA/so

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