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6 May

HK trio Grasshopper reveals the secret to how it’s still going strong after 24 years in showbiz
By Kwok Kar Peng
May 06, 2009

THEY are in their 40s and not exactly great lookers.

ENERGETIC: A stunt that was performed during one of Grasshopper’s high-energy concerts, although it is not for sure that it will be performed here.

But the members of Hong Kong’s iconic dance trio Grasshopper still attract fans and have sold seven consecutive concerts in their home base alone earlier this year.

What explains their appeal after 24 years in showbiz, even with young gorgeous-looking singers bursting on to the scene like popcorn?

A 20-minute phone interview with Remus Choy Yat Kit provided the answer. He was flamboyant and witty.

The appeal of Grasshopper seems to be a fixation with looking good and improving their dance moves.

Remus unabashedly peppered the interview with the Cantonese phrase ‘oi lang’, meaning vanity, a term more comfortably used on weight-conscious and dolled-up women.

But, ‘Grasshopper has always been very ‘oi lang’ and so we will be taking along all our ‘lang sam’ (beautiful costumes) over,’ he cooed, of the group’s concert here on Saturday.

Each of them – Remus, his brother Calvin Choy Yat Chi and their childhood friend, Edmond So Chi Wai – will take along ‘four or five outfits’ for the concert. They come with a hefty price tag.

Accordingly to Remus, the outfits alone cost more than HK$400,000 ($76,500), with fabric sourced from Japan, England and Italy.

FLAMBOYANT: (From far left) Edmond So, Calvin Choy and Remus Choy will take along ‘four or five outfits’ for the concert. PICTURES: HYPE RECORDS

‘Wah, the designs of the outfits are really fantastic! Grasshopper has never been short of extravagant outfits and all of them are top fashion,’ he bragged. ‘The colours will dazzle you so much your eyeballs will burst.’

He wasn’t able to tell me which is his favourite outfit though, claiming every single piece is so beautiful that he loves them all.

Then he added with pride: ‘And I’ll be sure to take along my 4.5-inch heels too!’

He will be slipping into a pair of cream-coloured and sequined heels in a segment to salute Grasshopper’s mentor, the late songstress Anita Mui.

And he won’t just be strutting around in them, he’ll be dancing and jumping.

His high-heeled antics have wowed female singers like Joey Yung and Denise Ho, whom, he claimed, were awestruck when they attended their first Grasshopper concert in Hong Kong.

Remus sounded excited as he recalled their reaction: ‘They told me how amazing I was and that I looked like I was roller-blading in them.’

He claimed he could handle the pain and insisted that men can wear heels just like girls.

Then, sounding almost miffed when I asked if he was worried of literally breaking a leg or spraining his ankle, he said: ‘Grasshopper has 24 years of performing experience. How is it possible that a pair of heels can pose a problem?’

Ironically, Remus, Calvin and Edmond’s background in singing and dancing couldn’t really be more humble.

In an interview with Stephen Chan on the Hong Kong talkshow Be My Guest earlier this year, they admitted they had no formal training in singing.

Dancing lessons came from Remus and Calvin’s mum, a dance enthusiast who taught her sons the tango and the cha-cha-cha.

Remus said: ‘She scattered powder on the floor and we’d do the twist. Then I’d teach Edmond; you have no idea how much time I spent teaching him.’

All the effort has paid off. Edmond jokingly added on the popular talkshow that he now dances even better than before.

The father of two girls said: ‘When I was in my 30s, I worried whether I’ll still be able to dance a decade later. But now when I’m practising my dance routine for the concert, I feel like I’m still in my 20s.’

Remus has the group’s strict diet and exercise regime to thank for that, and he swears by it.

He spends three hours every morning working out different muscle groups in the gym. Then he’s off jogging for more than an hour in the afternoon.

He’s also strictly off sugar, salt, oily food and junk snacks, and he doesn’t eat carbohydrates after 6pm.

‘We are very ‘oi lang’, so we want to wear smaller-sized clothes,’ he said.

Doesn’t he crave potato chips?

Thankfully, no.

The man has been a health freak for years and doesn’t even hanker after ‘tong shui’ (desserts), seemingly a must-have for the typical Hong Konger.

And he came up with anecdote that left this reporter swearing off chips for a while.

‘When my friends offer me potato chips, I take one from them and light it up. The chip will burn immediately and I’ll show them the copious amount of oil dripping from it.

‘Eat less of them and you’ll be fitter.’

The call for a healthier lifestyle has been extended to supporters going to their concert this Saturday.

Remus has called on his fans to start working out and building up their stamina or he says they won’t be able to keep up with the hyperactive group.

Also, he reminded them, all concert-goers should come dressed in red because the colour symbolises celebration, good luck, popularity and ‘is a very beautiful colour too’.

Fans can meet Grasshopper at an autograph session at Jurong Point Centrestage at 7pm on Friday.


WHAT: Grasshopper Right Now in Concert 2009

WHERE: Singapore Indoor Stadium

WHEN: 9 May, 2009, 8pm

TICKETS: $148, $128, $98, $68 available from Sistic at 6348 5555 and

WIN TICKETS: Here’s your chance to dance off your worries with Grasshopper live on stage. The New Paper and Hype Records are giving away five pairs of tickets to the concert. Each ticket is worth $128.

Call our contest line at 1900-9140801 and answer this simple question: Grasshopper will pay tribute to its mentor in the concert. Who’s this mentor?

1. Roman Tam

2. Leslie Cheung

3. Anita Mui

The contest closes tonight at 11:59pm. Each call costs 20 cents. Winners will be notified via phone.


The NewPaper

Marriage 'Finished': Berlusconi

6 May

ROME – ITALY’S Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in a television broadcast on Tuesday evening that his marriage to Veronica Lario was ‘finished or about to finish’.

‘It displeases me that a matter that is finished or about to finish is made so public by the newspapers when it should remain a private affair,’ Mr Berlusconi said in an interview with Rai Uno.

‘Frankly, I was not expecting this storm,’ he said, adding that in the past the media ‘have published false stories’ and made ‘personal attacks based on slander’.

The billionaire leader reiterated calls for his estranged wife Veronica Lario ‘to say that she was wrong’ to accuse him of ‘cavorting with minors’ – in reference to him attending the 18th birthday party of a friend’s daughter.

Ms Lario has also clashed with her husband over his choice of inexperienced but attractive female election candidates.

On Tuesday Italian Catholic daily Avvenire reprimanded Mr Berlusconi after his well-known penchant for glamourous young women triggered the start of divorce proceedings.

In an editorial, the newspaper said the 72-year-old had a ‘self-declared weakness for actresses in the bloom of youth’ and called on the three-time prime minister to mend his ways.

News reports also circulated on Tuesday that Mr Berlusconi and Ms Lario, a former actress 20 years his junior, had chosen the lawyers who will represent them in divorce proceedings.

Speculation over whether she will seek damages from her husband, whose family’s fortune is estimated at 6.5 billion euros (S$12.8 billion), filled the pages of Italy’s press.

Mr Berlusconi reportedly fell for Ms Lario when she bared her breasts during a performance of a play, ‘The Magnificent Cuckold’, in Milan in 1980. — AFP

Straits Times

Baring BABE Makes Them GAPE

3 May

Baring BABE makes them GAPE
Bride-to-be Michelle wows on set of new TV series
By Jeanmarie Tan
May 03, 2009

IT’S a scene many of her hunky male co-stars were eagerly awaiting.


Actress Michelle Chia is no stranger to posing in barely-there swimsuits for print shoots, including the latest cover of Shape magazine.

But on this rare occasion, the boys were treated to the lithe beauty – donning a string bikini of her own – in the flesh.

In the new Channel 5 series Polo Boys, Michelle plays a serious-minded university professor-turned-water polo coach of a team of eight players, including Adrian Pang and Nat Ho.

It is scheduled to open on 21 Jul at 8pm.

Her character is fully clothed in gym gear over the six weeks of filming.

But in one brief minute of the show, she appears wearing a two-piece while confronting an arrogant rival coach (Timothy Nga), with her boys standing behind her.

There was much buzz over the poolside scene as it’s the first time the 32-year-old was wearing so little on the set.

Michelle has filmed other bikini scenes for the Channel 5 drama Lifeline and several Channel 8 shows, but was usually ‘alone’ in them.

BOYS & BABE: (From left) Hansen Lee, Julian Low, Nat Ho, Kiwi Lim, Michelle, Eddie Tioh and Paul Foster.

She told The New Paper: ‘I’m definitely more self-conscious this time because the guys are all so fit and athletic.

‘I’m totally comfortable with photo shoots because it’s in a studio and there are the makeup artists, stylists and photographers, so no worries at all.

‘But it’s different… and a bit weird for TV. It’s outside with many more fully-dressed people around, so you attract a different kind of attention.

‘And I’m the only girl (in the scene)!’

For someone who’s known to have one of the sexiest figures in showbiz, Michelle was surprisingly ill at ease when it came to baring her bod.


The minute she removed her T-shirt to reveal the bikini, all eyes were fixed on her.

Wolf whistles and teasing followed, with shouts of ‘Where’s my camera?’ and ‘Come on, take it off!’.

She bashfully declined to pose for individual pictures in her bikini.

She also kept her bathrobe on any chance she got, removing it only when it was time for the takes.

And during rehearsals, she tied the bathrobe around her waist, amid gusty winds and a slight drizzle.

When asked why she appeared so awkward, Michelle said: ‘Shy mah! It’s kinda cold too.

‘So how do I look? I’m very critical of myself… You must choose the best picture okay!’

Michelle – who’s getting married to actor Shaun Chen next weekend – revealed she was initially ‘worried’ about the role because of a different kind of exposure.

She said: ‘Because I’ve been preparing for the wedding, people are always like ‘Keep yourself fair!’, being a bride and everything.

‘But I’m a lot more tan already, so no choice lah!

‘I’ve been tan for the longest time so I know how I look like (when I’m tan) and I don’t mind.

‘But I’ve been fair and my skin’s been good for the past four years, so it was very ke xi (Mandarin for a pity).’

She claims Shaun prefers her to be fairer – and with straighter, smoother hair.

‘He’s a traditional man. Just last night, he was like, ‘Oh baby, ni hen hei leh (Mandarin for you’re very dark).’

Michelle is thankful she hasn’t come out sunburnt because the production crew would follow her with an umbrella and show her to the shade whenever possible.

But the 1.64m bride-to-be insists there wasn’t any special preparation for the scene because she had no time to exercise regularly due to her ongoing wedding preparations.

She said Shaun is ‘fine’ with the bikini scene because he knows she’s a water baby – but joked that he might change his mind after they’re husband and wife.

There was no doubt his future missus was getting a lot of attention from the men because of her hot bod.

Best medicine

Kiwi Lim, who plays one of the polo players, said: ‘I wasn’t in a good mood this morning, but after she (took the robe off)… it was (like getting) medicine straightaway.’

He added: ‘As I was walking right behind her (for the scene), I had to look at her legs (to follow her stride)… I tried not to (sneak glances at her butt), but I actually did, haha!’

When Michelle walked by him, Adrian even hooted cheekily at her: ‘Look at that! Crunches huh? You’ve got more abs than me man, what the hell!’

He then said to us: ‘So far it’s been us guys doing any kind of shedding, but what’s in it for us? So after some gentle persuasion, the writers deigned to accede to popular demand.

‘I’m glad I was here for the scene, because I’m not even involved in it.’

Adrian admitted that although he and Michelle go ‘a long way back’, this is by far the skimpiest he’s seen her in.

And what’s his verdict? He quipped: ‘Shaun’s one lucky bastard.’

8 things about her wedding

1 The 11 May banquet dinner will be held at the Ritz Carlton. There’ll be an autumn theme, a dark colour scheme and a live band.

–LOVEBIRDS: Shaun Chen and Michelle.

2 Celebrity hair guru Addy Lee is in charge of Michelle’s hair, makeup and jewellery.

3 The alcohol is sponsored by Carlsberg (she’s their spokesman), and the invitations by The Card Room.

4 MediaCorp artistes Zhang Yaodong and Zzen Zhang are Shaun’s best men, but Michelle’s bridesmaids comprise her own friends and not her celebrity colleagues.

5 Michelle spent the last two weekends preparing mystery handmade wedding favours for her 1,000 guests. She hinted: ‘All I can say is it’s something very special that’s from my family – sort of. It’s something that I love and must have every day.’

6 Michelle will be wearing four ‘very feminine’ wedding gowns – one for day, three for night – specially designed for her by The Wedding Present.

7 Her day dress is white, has lots of French lace and will make her ‘look like a mermaid’.

8 It will be followed by a cream-coloured ‘princessy’ gown with handsewn Swarovski crystals, a deep blue ‘flowy’ garment and lastly, a surprise outfit in a ‘different colour and different style’. She joked: ‘I’ll come in a bikini!’


The NewPaper

Singapore Idol Registration Opens May 1

30 Apr

SINGAPORE : If you want to be the next Hady Mirza or Taufik Batisah, here’s your chance.

“Singapore Idol” is back and online registration which opens May 1 at will run till June 6. The singing competition is open to Singapore citizens or permanent residents between the ages of 16 and 30.

Auditions will be held on June 6 at The Cathay from 8am to 6pm.

The third season of “Singapore Idol” is scheduled to premier on MediaCorp’s Channel 5 on August 9, after the telecast of this year’s National Day Parade.

The previous season of “Singapore Idol” was held three years ago and winner Hady Mirza went on to clinch the Asian Idol crown in 2007.

– CNA/il

Channel News Asia

Rui En Is The Hot Teacher Terence Cao Never Had

28 Apr

SINGAPORE: If there is one reason why you should catch MediaCorp Channel 8’s new drama My School Daze, Terence Cao will tell you it’s because Rui En is the hot, sassy teacher you never had. Or at least, he’s never had.

“I wish I had teachers like Rui En back in school,” Terence cheekily told during a recent press conference promoting the new drama. “If I had female teachers like her, then I’d actually turn up for classes῅ because I’d enjoy looking at her.”

The 42-year-old actor had earlier revealed that he used to dodge Chinese language lessons to avoid having to hand in homework, as Mother Tongue was his weakest subject and submitting one Chinese composition a year was an achievement in itself.

Still, he reckons if Rui En was his Chinese teacher then, he might have been able to pass his Chinese ‘O’ level exam.

If it’s any comfort at all, Terence is now more than fulfilling his boyhood fantasies of gawking at a hot teacher by ‘dating’ Rui En.

In the all-new family drama starting Wednesday, Terence plays Tan Xiangfeng, a freelance DJ, model and travel writer. He falls head-over-heels in love with sassy Secondary school teacher Zhang Luoyun (Rui En), popular with students for her innovative methods of teaching, but runs into trouble with her career later in the show.

On the other end of the spectrum, Chen Han Wei is the teacher you wish you’ll never have. He plays Tan Xiangchun, a stuffy, traditional Chinese teacher who fails to command the respect and interest of his students.

The 40-year-old, who won the Best Actor Award for his role in “The Golden Path” at Sunday’s Star Awards said – somewhat woefully – that although it had been his childhood ambition to become a teacher, this role is anything but what he had in mind of himself as ‘Mr Chen’.

“I cannot relate to this character at all because I’m a very modern man – my character in this show is very ‘ah-pek’, you know…”

The drama centres on school life in Singapore, revolving around students, teachers and parents. It also features Ann Kok, Cynthia Koh, Darren Lim, Chen Tian Wen and Lin Mei Jiao.

My School Daze premieres Wednesday, April 29, 9pm on Channel 8.

– CNA/yb

Channel News Asia

Korean Star Joo Ji-Hoon Arrested On Drug Charges

27 Apr

SEOUL : Popular South Korean model and actor Joo Ji-hoon has been arrested on drug charges and could stand trial, police said Sunday.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Joo, best known for his roles in the drama “Goong” and movie “The Naked Kitchen”, is charged with two counts of taking drugs in March 2008 at drug parties with fellow entertainers.

Arrest warrants for actress Yoon Sul Hui, 28, and model Yeh Hak Young, 26, have also been issued. The two are accused of smuggling drugs from Japan since August 2007, according to police.

The two were reportedly paid 100 million won to smuggle recreational drugs such as ecstasy and ketamine from Japan on three occasions. The drugs were hidden in their underwear, brought into the country and sold in clubs or taken by the traffickers. Joo has admitted to receiving drugs from the pair.

“It is the first case that has been discovered in which entertainers smuggled in drugs from a foreign country for their own use,” a police officer was quoted as saying.

– CNA/il

Channel News Asia

Nude Hiking Banned

27 Apr

APPENZELL (Switzerland) – VOTERS in the heart of the Swiss Alps on Sunday passed legislation banning naked hiking after dozens of mostly German nudists started rambling through their picturesque region.

By a show of hands citizens of the tiny canton (state) of Appenzell Inner Rhodes voted overwhelmingly at their traditional open-air annual assembly to impose a 200 Swiss franc (S$263) fine on violators.

Only a scattering of people on Sunday opposed the ban on the back-to-nature activity that took off last autumn when naked hikers – primarily Germans – started showing up in eastern Switzerland.

The cantonal government recommended the ban after citizens objected to encountering walkers wearing nothing but hiking boots and socks.

‘The reactions of the population have shown that such appearances over a large area are perceived as thoroughly disturbing and irritating,’ the government said in a statement.

A similar legal move is expected in neighbouring Appenzell Outer Rhodes with legislation being prepared against ‘this shameless behaviour’. German Web sites promoting the activity describe it as ‘a special experience of nature, free and healthy’ and said nude walking in the Alps has roots in antiquity.

The verdant Appenzell region has been regarded as a favourite, with trails the nudists regarded as off the beaten path.

The German sites also promote walks in France and in regions of Germany, where public nudity has roots going back to the 18th century through a movement that has come to be called ‘Free Body Culture’. Nudism in more conservative areas of Switzerland is less common.

A similar legal move is expected in neighbouring Appenzell Outer Rhodes. The nationalist Swiss People’s Party has advised the cantonal parliament it is preparing legislation against ‘this shameless behaviour.’ — AP

Straits Times

Sheen's Twins 'Doing Great'

24 Apr

LOS ANGELES – AMERICAN actor Charlie Sheen says his newborn twin sons are ‘doing great’ after being born prematurely said reports on Friday.

A reported heart problem suffered by one of boys was a normal occurrence in premature babies he said, and was no cause for concern.

Sheen’s sons, Max and Bob, with third wife Brooke Mueller Sheen were born seven weeks premature in March.

Max remained in hospital for more than three weeks because he was underweight and was allowed home only two weeks ago. — REUTERS

Straits Times

Indian Police Clear "Slumdog" Child Star's Father

23 Apr

MUMBAI : After a thorough investigation, Indian police said there is no substantial evidence incriminating the father of Rubina Ali, one of the child stars from the Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire”, of trying to sell his daughter.

Police opened an investigation following a complaint from Rubina’s mum, Khurshid Begum, after a sting operation by News of the World alleged her father, Rafiq Qureshi, tried to sell her for 200,000 pounds.

However officers said they have found no concrete evidence to back the claims of the British tabloid.

“So far there is no evidence of any offence, hence there is no registration of complaint and no arrest,” said senior police officer Nishar Tamboli told Reuters.

Rahim Sheik, the police officer leading the probe, said television footage of the incident obtained by Mumbai police also did not incriminate Rafiq. Nevertheless, investigations are still ongoing.

In an attempt to expose Rafiq’s ill-intentions, News of the World had undercover reporters pose as representatives of a wealthy family in Dubai interested in adopting Rubina. The sting operation by quickly made headlines in India.

Rafiq has vehemently denied claims by News of the World that he intends to sell his daughter, and is now accusing the tabloid of luring him to a fancy Mumbai hotel and pretending to be someone who genuinely wanted to help the young star.

Rubina, who plays the young version of the film’s heroine Latika, lives with her father and stepmother in one of the slums in the suburbs of the financial hub.

The filmmakers of “Slumdog Millionaire” have come under fire and have been criticised for failing to share the wealth generated from the film with the millions of slum dwellers in Mumbai. Others have slammed them for exploiting two of the child stars, Rubina and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, who live in these very slums.

“Slumdog Millionaire”, propelled by its success at the Oscars and other prestigious awards ceremonies, has raked in more than US$300 million worldwide to date.

– CNA/ap

Channel News Asia

Howard Defends Movie

22 Apr

LOS ANGELES – DIRECTOR Ron Howard on Tuesday defended his film adaptation of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ author Dan Brown’s ‘Angels & Demons’ from criticism that it smears the Roman Catholic Church, heightening an ongoing battle over fictional depictions of the Vatican.

Howard, who also directed the 2006 movie adaptation of ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ posted a blog at The Huffington Post website saying that neither he nor his new movie ‘Angels & Demons,’ which debuts in May and stars Tom Hanks, are anti-Catholic.

‘And let me be a little controversial: I believe Catholics, including most in the hierarchy of the Church, will enjoy the movie for what it is: an exciting mystery, set in the awe-inspiring beauty of Rome,’ Howard wrote.

Howard’s post came in response to an opinion piece in the New York Daily News by Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, last week. Mr Donahue accused Brown and Howard of ‘smearing the Catholic Church with fabulously bogus tales.’

Last year, the Catholic Church refused to let ‘Angels & Demons’ be filmed in churches in Rome because of the Vatican’s outrage over ‘The Da Vinci Code.’

Howard’s drama ‘Frost/Nixon’ was nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards this year, but lost to ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ His other films include ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ which won the best picture Oscar and best directing Oscar for 2001, as well as 1995’s ‘Apollo 13.’

Brown this week announced that his follow-up novel to ‘The Da Vinci Code’ will be released in September and is titled ‘The Lost Symbol’. — REUTERS

Straits Times