Khamis, 17 Oktober 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

‘Pretty Little Liars’ stars to be interviewed on Facebook


Fans will get a chance to pose questions to the four lead actresses.

The girls of ABC Family's hit series Pretty Little Liars have never sat down together for a live interview - until now. You know, unless they're lying about that too. Facebook will bring Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale and Shay Mitchell together for the first time ever live via a Facebook Live event on Monday, a spokesperson for the social site confirmed with TheWrap.

"After the summer finale, we know fans have a lot of questions and this is a great way to spark conversation," Danielle Mullin, vice president, Marketing, ABC Family told TheWrap. "We already have nearly 12 million Pretty Little Liars' fans on Facebook and hope this event will encourage even more viewers to join."

There are more than 15 million PLL fan connections on Facebook. Rachel Smith of Good Morning America will moderate the hour-long conversation, which will be streamed live over Ustream Oct 21 at 5pm ET/2pm PT (Oct 22 at 5am Malaysia time).

The young stars will answer fan-submitted questions, discuss the show's upcoming Halloween special and chat about being part of one of the most social shows on TV. Also during the interview, Ravenswood star Tyler Blackburn will debut an exclusive clip from the Pretty Little Liars spin-off's upcoming premiere.

Monday's event will be the first Facebook Live in the US since May, when Star Trek director JJ Abrams and actor George Takei interacted with fans. – Reuters

Ariana Grande's great affair


Sweet disposition? Check. Girl-next-door image? Check. Triple threat? Check, check and check! Say hello to new It girl Ariana Grande.

WHEN you look at photos of Ariana Grande, you'd think the 20-year-old singer-actress was a good girl in school – the sort who scored good grades and never got into trouble. But that couldn't be further from the truth.

"I was the sort of student who got into trouble for the wrong reasons," Grande reveals during a video conference from London recently.

To further prove her point, she relates a story: "I had low sugar level. Actually, I still have low sugar level. I have to eat every few hours to keep myself alive and functioning. But back in school one time, I told a teacher I had to eat an apple in class cos my sugar level was low.

"I told her, 'I'd die if you don't let me eat this apple.' And she was like, 'There's no eating in class'. And I was like, 'I'm literally going to pass out in T-minus 30 seconds. Can I have this apple?' And she was like, 'That's against the honour code.'

"Ok, I don't get the honour code. I mean, how is wearing my shirt tucked in going to help me understand Maths or Physics? Can you just let me wear my Juicy sweater, please? Anyway, I was trying to eat the apple and she took it away from me and I fainted in class and she was like, 'You are doing that for attention'."

Drama, much?

Grande doesn't have to worry about all these problems any more. If she wants attention, she can just reach out to more than 10 million fans who follow her on Twitter.

Grande's first studio album, Yours Truly, debuted on top of Billboard's album chart.

Grande's first studio album, Yours Truly, debuted on top of Billboard's album chart.

And to keep her sugar level at optimum level, she has a troupe of publicists attending to her every need.

Grande is Nickelodeon's It girl and the music industry's next big thing.

She currently stars in Sam & Cat, a spinoff from two series, iCarly and Victorious. Initially, Sam & Cat was supposed to feature 20 episodes for its first season, but overwhelming response has made Nickelodeon order another 20 episodes.

Grande's first studio album, Yours Truly, which was released last month, debuted at No 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.

An amazing achievement, true, but that shouldn't come as a surprise. The young lady is talented; Her voice has been likened to Mariah Carey's, a comparison that thrills Grande.

"It's a massive compliment," she says of the comparison to Carey. "She's the greatest singer in the world, like literally, the Guinness Book Of Records."

Born Ariana Grande-Butera in Florida, United States, the singer-actress got her break when she starred in the musical 13 on Broadway. She moved from stage to television when she was cast as Cat Valentine in Nickelodoen's Victorious.

Like a true over-achiever, Grande says both her singing and acting career are of equal importance to her, though she does admit one comes to her more naturally than the other.

"Well, singing comes more naturally to me. Music is like a form of self expression, whereas acting is more of a challenge," she says, but quickly adds, "But I do like to challenge myself. I feel like I get to put on another hat when I'm acting, I get to become someone else for awhile. It's fun!"

Fun for Grande is working more than 15 hours a day. She gets to the set of Sam & Cat at 6am and works right up to 8pm. And then, she has dinner in the car while being ferried to the studio for her recording sessions (a Christmas EP is on the way and she's targeting to release her second album early next year).

She knows she has to strike while the iron is hot. At the moment, showbiz is in need of a young role model since Miley is busy twerking and Bieber is getting into all sorts of trouble.

Grande, with her sweet disposition and girl-next-door image, is the perfect candidate and she is using that to her advantage.

"If I wanna do what I am doing right now, then I have to set a good example for my fans, but at the same time, I would never pretend to be something I am not. If I didn't feel like I was role model material, I don't think I'd be doing a kids' show," Grande says matter-of-factly.

While Sam & Cat appeals to her younger fans, Grande has tailored her album to capture older listeners. With Babyface as producer, Yours Truly sounds more 1990s R&B than bubblegum pop.

The album also features duets with Mika, Big Sean, Mac Miller and The Wanted's Nathan Sykes (whom Grande is dating at the moment).

"I'd love to work with some dope female artistes on my next album, since I've done a lot of collaborations with amazing boy singers," she says.

And she has one name on her wish list. "I'd love to work with Imogen Heap. I'd probably pass out and die if she'd agree to sing with me."

If that ever happens, Heap should just hand the drama queen an apple; that should help with her sugar levels.

Sam & Cat airs at 4.30pm from Mondays to Thursdays on Nickelodeon (Astro Ch 612).

Chin Han sees a different world


Singaporean actor Chin Han navigates the nerve-racking audition process and the typecasting as an Asian actor in Hollywood.

Whenever he gets a script that calls for an "accent", Los Angeles-based Singaporean actor Chin Han's antenna goes up. "The first question from me is always 'Are you talking about a British accent or an American accent?'

"And obviously, that's not what they want. They want some kind of pidgin or broken English and I'm not attracted to that stuff," he says.

It is a pitfall of being an Asian actor in the West that he has learnt to navigate by steering clear of stereotypes. He would also not hesitate to speak up if he thought that there were elements which exoticised Asia in a production.

He was back in Singapore recently to promote the HBO Asia original series Serangoon Road.

The 10-episode series is about the mystery cases handled by a small detective agency and is set against the backdrop of Singapore in the turbulent 1960s.

He plays Kay Song, the ambitious grandson of the head of a secret society. The cast also include China-born actress Joan Chen, Australian actor Don Hany and Singaporean stars Alaric Tay and Pamelyn Chee.

It is a set-up that sounds ripe for some rampant exoticising, but the actor, whose full name is Ng Chin Han, demurs.

Dressed casually in a brown jacket over a white shirt and jeans, the 43-year-old says: "If I felt there was an element of exoticism, I would bring it up, whether in terms of design or music, even the font for the titles of the show. And HBO Asia was very open to these ideas and collaborative in this respect."

He was drawn to the project in the first place because it sounded different. "It's not often that you get Asian noir and after reading the script, I thought it had echoes of Chinatown (1974) and L.A. Confidential (1997) and I thought it would be fun to try something new and different," he adds, naming two well-known noir classics.

The other attraction was the fact that he would be so close to home. Shooting was largely done at Infinite Studios' facility in Batam, Indonesia, as well as in iconic locations around Singapore such as Raffles Hotel.

He nonchalantly paraphrases from poet T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land: "At the end of all our exploration, we come back to where we started and see the place for the first time."

It has been six years since he landed his breakthrough supporting role in filmmaker Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight (2008) and since then, "it's been... robust", he says with a laugh.

Scary process: Even though he has starred in movies and TV shows like The Dark Knight, 2012, Arrow and the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Chin Han still worries big time before an audition. 'It is nerve-racking and I still get butterflies in my stomach every time before I go,' the actor says.

Scary process: Even though he has starred in movies and TV shows like The Dark Knight, 2012, Arrow and the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Chin Han still worries big time before an audition. 'It is nerve-racking and I still get butterflies in my stomach every time before I go,' the actor says.

When opportunity came knocking, he packed his life into two suitcases and left for Los Angeles. Parts for the big and small screens followed, including turns in disaster epic 2012 (2009), arthouse flick Restless (2011), TV series superhero hit Arrow (2012-present) and military thriller Last Resort (2012-2013).

Not too shabby for someone who once acted in the widely derided Masters Of The Sea (1994), Singapore's first English-language drama series.

He says matter-of-factly: "I'm now in a nice position where there are director offers for things that come up."

It sounds cushy, but he throws in a caveat: "When you get director offers, it's based on something someone has seen you in, so they want that performance. As gratifying as it is, it's more than likely you're going to have a role that perhaps you've done before."

That is why he relishes the bane of almost every actor – the audition process. "It is nerve-racking and I still get butterflies in my stomach every time before I go. But when you get it, there is a satisfaction from it because you know you're right for it."

While the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier marks his second appearance in a superhero movie after The Dark Knight, he says they are different movies.

"The Dark Knight was more a crime movie than a superhero movie. Captain America is more true to its comic origins and doing it was a lot of fun. I got to do some action and it was a fun way to spend one spring."

Work-wise, things seem to have fallen into place, and he has also settled comfortably into a life he has made for himself in Hollywood.

Home is a condominium in Beverly Hills with a view of Hollywood Hills and is filled with movie memorabilia.

There are posters of films that he has done and souvenirs that an actor gets at the end of each production: After filming The Dark Knight, he received a wind-up toy box which a joker leaps out of and a joker card with his face on it.

Glamorous parties and red-carpet events are attended "for the fun of it", rather than to source for work.

He says: "I have never known a person who has gotten a job from a party, myself included. I enjoy the alcohol, door gifts and company, of course."

While he would hang out with other actors, writers and producers, Los Angeles holds out attractions for him beyond show business. "To me, LA is about the hikes I can go on, the canyons, the beach I can go to and that's how I spend my days when I'm not working on a project."

Or he might zip around in his "modest" BMW 3-series and listen to audio books he has stocked up as well as NPR (formerly National Public Radio).

In the last two years, though, he reckons he has been in Los Angeles for only about six months. Work has taken him all over the world and he would try to rest wherever he is at.

In New York, he would go for shows and check out the museums. In Vancouver, he headed to Whistler to learn to ski. He marvels: "I never thought I would be doing it at the age of 43, but it was just very fun to do on my weekends off."

When he has more time, he likes to go on what he calls "sojourns". He has gone camping in the middle of the desert for a storytellers' festival in Joshua Tree and also cave-diving in Angels Camp in California.

What he does not appear to do is fixate on where his next job is coming from.

He is matter of fact about the competition. "The challenge of being in Hollywood is that the pool of talent is so deep and, on top of everything else, you have a constant influx of actors from overseas."

He points to Hong Kong's Daniel Wu, Taiwan-based Wang Leehom and South Korea's Lee Byung-hun, and adds: "You're all working for the same goal, looking for that role, that star turn like Ken Watanabe's in The Last Samurai (2003), so it is very competitive." – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

>  Serangoon Road airs every Sunday at 9pm on HBO (Astro Ch 411 / 431).


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