Posted: 22 Dec 2011 04:20 PM PST
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The season finale of ''American Horror Story'' really killed it in more ways than one.
Wednesday's Season One swan song drew 3.22 million total viewers - a high for the series, which premiered Oct. 5. It was also cable's top-rated program among the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic, drawing 2.19 viewers in that demo.
While impressive, the performance doesn't mark a dramatic improvement over ''AHS'''s maiden episode. The series' maiden episode drew 3.2 million total viewers, with 2 million in the demo.
Overall, the season has averaged 4.4 million total viewers when Live+7 data is factored in. When video-on-demand and online views are added, the Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk series is averaging 8.6 million total viewers, going by data from the first five weeks.
''American Horror Story'' has yielded the highest-rated first season in FX history, besting ''Justified'' by 29 percent in total viewers and Murphy and Falchuk's earlier FX offering, ''Nip/Tuck,'' by 50 percent in the adults 18-49 demo.Full content generated by Get Full RSS.
Posted: 23 Dec 2011 12:04 AM PST
Hokkien immigrants from China make Malaya their Home.
WE have our fair share of locally produced Mandarin and Cantonese drama series, but what about a Hokkien drama series?
Forget about the Taiwanese Min Nan dramas that are ruling the local TV channels now. Here we are talking about a made-in-Malaysia Hokkien drama series with a storyline that's close to our hearts.
After four years of entertaining the local Hokkien population, Astro's Hokkien channel Hua Hee Dai (Channel 333) is ready to roll out its first Hokkien drama series.
Home, hailed by Astro as the first Hokkien drama series in the South-East Asia, traces back to the late 1930s, when Hokkiens from Kinmen (a part of Fujian Province, China) arrived on Penang island and braved the hardships and cultural differences to start their new lives there.
Expect to see Hua Hee Dai personalities like Jentzen Lim and Allysa Law flexing their acting muscles opposite well-known local artistes like Yeo Yann Yann and Steve Yap.
While we can't wait to see that, we are curious how newcomers Kevin Soo and Kay Kwok hold their own against the seasoned performers as the leads in the series.
For starters, the dialect itself proved to be quite a challenge, even for a Hokkien like Kwok, who explained: "The script is written in Chinese so we had to translate it into Hokkien before we memorised it."
Soo, who is a Hakka, relied on a vocal coach to perfect his delivery of the dialect.
"The Kinmenese dialect is different from the Hokkien we speak here. And with the 1930s backdrop, we had to be careful not to use modern expressions like 'ok' and 'yay'," he said.
The former model said he was cast in Home because his personality fits the role like a glove.
"The directors told me that I'm Boon Leong in real life," he said, referring to his character who is an honest and innocent man.
Even though he's almost playing himself, the pressure of being a first-time lead was enough to make the 28-year-old sweat – and faint.
"I was shooting the last scene – the 10th in the day – at around 11am and I suddenly got dizzy and had to take a break," he recalled.
His first starring role proved to be physically challenging, requiring him to complete more than 370 scenes within four months and do up to 12 scenes a day sometimes.
"As a beginner, everything is new to me. I had to do a lot of preparation and it took me two weeks to get used to working on the set," he revealed.
He admitted that his performance was not up to par at first, recalling that one of the directors, Chew Huat Yeow, was so frustrated that he snapped two pens in two on the spot.
Soo recalled: "I was very down and I started doubting my own ability, but I kept telling myself that I could do it."
His co-star attested to his nervousness on the set, with Kwok, 25, describing him as "very tense" at the beginning.
"When we're shooting our first scene together, he could barely eat and his hands were shaking so badly. He ended up doing 20 takes. I thought the four-month shooting will be extended to six months (laughs)!" she quipped.
Meanwhile, Kwok, who launched her showbiz career when she won the third season of Project Superstar Malaysia back in 2008, got to do things that she normally would not have the chance to do.
"I play a girl who is totally different from myself. She is daring and does crazy things like jumping into the sea, using a gun or breaking the car window," she said.
Many wondered whether the gentle-looking Kwok could pull it off. The singer-turned-actress admitted that she was "very scared deep down".
"I had to scold other characters in the series. The director told me to just do it with all my might. My whole body went numb after that," she said.
Another greater challenge came in portraying the intense emotions one felt during the Japanese occupation of Malaya.
"I'd never done this before and was worried that I couldn't do it well," she said.
For this, she turned to No Regrets, a Cantonese World War II drama series that won Best Drama Series at last year's TVB Anniversary Awards in Hong Kong. It also helped that much of the filming took place in real settings, such as a jungle or the seaside, rather than in the studio.
This sense of authenticity came with a price though, with many among the cast and crew getting bitten by leeches as well as vicious mosquitoes of which the bite marks last for months.
Apart from getting their hands dirty – literally – the stars had to deal with action scenes, which were abundant in the series.
"Sometimes I felt like I was filming an action flick!" said Kwok with a laugh. "I had to use a hammer, a stick, a gun and a glass bottle, which could be quite dangerous."
Real explosives were used in some scenes, according to her.
"We rehearsed many times prior to shooting these scenes and the director made sure that we wet our backs before each explosion scene (to avoid being scorched). However, the impact (of the explosion) was so great that I felt my back dried instantly after each explosion!" she said.
Despite being cautious, the petite lass still injured herself at times.
"One of my co-stars accidentally hit my head with his knee in a scene. According to those who were present, my face immediately turned pale and I could hear ringing in my ears.
"The pain was back a week later when we filmed a scene in which Kevin held me close to his chest as he ran. My head kept bumping against his shoulder!
"Now, whenever I am tired, I feel the pain," she said.
With its premise, Home sounds like a tearjerker loaded with emotional scenes. Unlike Taiwanese Min Nan series that dwell on heartbreaks and drama, Home is fast-paced and action-packed. For one, the story spans from the late 1930s to the 50s in just 32 episodes.
"At the beginning of shooting, the directors told us to forget everything we know about Hokkien drama series," said Kwok.
Soo echoed: "There're plenty of action compared to the usual Min Nan fare. Moreover, it showcases the different types of Hokkien spoken by the Chinese in various parts of Malaysia."
However, what sets Home apart is its subject matter that will most likely strike a chord with the local viewers, said Astro's vice president of Chinese Customer Business Choo Chi Han.
He offered: "We are talking about a truly Malaysian story that is produced in Malaysia and for Malaysians. It's about what happened when the first migrants came here. We believe many people would be very interested to know that."
Home is only the start of more Hokkien drama series from the channel, said Choo, adding that they are "developing some new Hua Hee angles" for the coming year.
"Even though there're quite a lot of Hokkiens here, there're not many relevant Hokkien entertainment around. And Malaysian Hokkiens are different from Hokkiens from say, Taiwan (the biggest exporter of the Hokkien entertainment shows).
"It's Astro's philosophy, as a multi-channel TV operator, to try out new things. We did and have been pretty successful," he said, referring to the channel's hugely popular shows like Hua Hee Together, Hua Hee Karaoke, Hua Hee Makan and the latest sitcom Hua Hee Everyday.
"From how we put things together to how we come up with our own productions, the channel is designed to be locally relevant. Four years after we launched Hua Hee Dai, we are becoming kind of an expert in Hokkien offerings.
"One of the biggest satisfactions is when Hokkien elders thank us and say, 'If not for you guys, my grandchildren may not be speaking Hokkien anymore.' " he said.
Home premieres on Astro Hua Hee Dai (Channel 333) today and is aired weekdays at 9.30pm. Fans can meet the cast of Home in Batu Pahat in Johor, Klang and Bukit Mertajam in Penang, from tomorrow till Monday. For more info, log on to www.astro.com.my/huaheedai or www.facebook.com/huaheedai.Full content generated by Get Full RSS.
Posted: 23 Dec 2011 12:09 AM PST
The Year Of The Dragon is fast approaching and it is time to ring out the old and bring in the new.
TO celebrate the exciting Year Of The Dragon, local Chinese radio station 988 is continuing its tradition of Chinese New Year album releases (since 2009) with its latest DVD titled 988 Fei Long Zai Tian Guo Xin Nian (988 Soaring Into The Great Year Of The Dragon, pic) through cross-media collaboration with Chinese women's magazine Feminine Magazine. The DVD is presented by Panasonic ECONAVI Air Conditioner and distributed along with the magazine.
In eastern philosophy, the dragon, which the only mythological creature in the Chinese zodiac, is said to be the deliverer of good fortune, vitality and a master of authority. 988 believes 2012 is a transformational year which promotes many possibilities for good fortune.
The 988 CNY DVD contains the music videos of two Chinese New Year songs, one in Mandarin and the other in Cantonese – Fei Long Zai Tian Guo Xin Nian and Long Nin Yau Hei (Blessed Year Of Dragon) – featuring 15 of the station's deejays: Biao Ming, Xiao Ma, Yin Yin, Nick, Hui Min, Luke, Ji Yi, Cheryl, KK, May, Sam, Anson, Yi Hui, Kean and Xiang Juin.
On top of that, Malaysia's renowned feng shui master Jane Hor gives out tips for the new year. Good luck in wealth, health, romance, studies, business as well as astrological advice on how to avoid bad luck are now conveniently available on this DVD so you can always rewatch anything you happen to miss out on.
Subsequent to the release of the DVD, 988 deejays will begin a nationwide promo tour next month.
Then, for the first time ever, 988 will be organising a Chinese New Year Eve Countdown Show at the famous Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur to usher in the lunar new year with the public.
While many are cynical about the outlook for 2012, the radio station believes in making your own opportunities in the midst of difficulties. And there is always an opportunity for everyone, big or small, to make a difference in their lives.
In the soaring spirit of the dragon, 988 aspires to initiate and create a great 2012.
To start the ball rolling, it is organising a tribute gala reunion dinner to commend the contributions of outstanding NGOs and corporations in the country.
Hoping to start a chain reaction to promote goodness and social responsibility, the reunion dinner will be held on Feb 3.
For more information, stay tuned to 988, operated by The Star, or visit 988.com.my.Full content generated by Get Full RSS.
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