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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Basket of goodies

Posted: 30 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

Pull up a chair and grab a packet of groundnuts – there's so much to watch this Chinese New Year.

BETWEEN countdown concerts and blockbusters, there are many exciting TV programmes lined up for this Lunar New Year. Here's a rundown of what to watch:

First day

OneRepublic In Moscow

(iConcerts HD, HyppTV Ch 603, 2pm)

This "Front Row Centre Series" displays Grammy-nominated OneRepublic's boundless energy as they offer rousing performances of their biggest hits. From Apologize and Say (All I Need) to Stop And Stare and Mercy, the band perfectly blends pop and rock in these tracks off of their debut CD, Dreaming Out Loud.

House Of Fury

(ntv7, Astro Ch 107 / HyppTV Ch 107, 3.32pm)

Former secret agent Teddy Yu is a chiropractor who thought he left his past behind him. He teaches his two kids martial arts, but his past soon catches up with him when a rogue agent demands to know the whereabouts of Dragon, another agent. Together with his children, Yu must work to stop this rogue agent. Starring Stephen Fung, Gillian Chung, Anthony Wong and Daniel Wu.


(Wah Lai Toi, Astro Ch 311 & Zhi Zun HD, Astro Ch 310, 8pm)

Mercenary team leader Asian Hawk is on his final mission where he has to recover 12 bronze statue heads of the Chinese Zodiac from Old Summer Palace. Hawk, assisted by a Chinese student and a Parisian lady, will stop at nothing to collect the missing artifacts which were looted by foreigners in the 1800s. The cast includes Jackie Chan, Kwon Sang-woo, Liao Fan, Yao Xing Tong, Zhang Lan Xin and Laura Weissbecker.

Spring Chorus

(ntv7, 8.30pm)

The homegrown ntv7 Chinese New Year production revolves around the life of an elderly man who is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. His five children then unite to help their ailing father recall his memories using music therapy. The two-hour telemovie blends comedy, music, drama, love and family ties in a compelling storyline. Cast includes Leslie Chai, Debbie Goh, Ong Ai Leng, Kyo Chen and Adrian Tan.

Let The Bullets Fly

(TV2, Astro Ch 102 / HyppTV Ch 102, 10pm)

Set in warlord-infested China in 1919, the film tells the tale of a bandit who poses as the governor of a small town. Soon, he finds himself at odds with a local mobster who is obviously bent on protecting his turf. A violent series of mind games – both complex and deadly – ensues between the two crooks, sometimes with hilarious results. Stars Jiang Wen, Chow Yun-Fat, Carina Lau, Ge You, Chen Kun and Zhou Yun.

The Sorcerer And The White Snake

(TV3, Astro Ch 103 / HyppTV Ch 103, 10pm)

A naive young herbalist falls in love with a thousand-year-old White Snake disguised as a woman, but a sorcerer discovers her true identity and battles to save the man's soul. Mayhem ensues in this epic battle of supernatural powers. Action director Ching Siu-Tung helms this fantasy film based on a Chinese legend. Cast includes Jet Li, Huang Sheng Yi, Raymond Lam, Charlene Choi and Wen Zhang.

Wu Xia

(8TV, Astro Ch 708 / HyppTV Ch 108, 10pm)

Liu Jin-xi (Donnie Yen), a village craftsman, has his quiet life irreversibly shattered when two notorious gangsters arrive at the local store. Having single-handedly defeated the troublesome duo, Liu comes under investigation by a detective who is convinced that the shy hero has been trained in martial arts by one of the region's most vicious clans. In the process, he inadvertently draws the attention of the Chinese underworld. This Peter Chan flick also stars Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tang Wei.

Our Idiot Brother

(Sundance Channel HD, Astro Ch 438, 11.30pm)

While Ned Rochlin may be that sibling who hasn't gotten his life together yet (having been incarcerated and then kicked off his farm by his ex-girlfriend), he is still somehow perennially upbeat. Rochlin's sisters Liz, Miranda and Natalie may consider him the "idiot brother", but when he moves into their homes (and lives!), they come to realise that Ned really isn't such an idiot after all. Stars Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer.

Second day

Back To The Streets S2

(Asian Food Channel, Astro Ch 703, 12.00pm)

Watching chef Malcolm Goh mark his students' papers is not Malaysian radio DJ Tham Zher Peen's idea of a good time, so she entices him away from work with promises of a delicious Chinese New Year feast! They head to Restoran Lee Hong Kee – with Goh dressed as the god of fortune! – and enjoy a meal of poon choi and lap mei fan. Goh enjoys the rice dish the most, and so he decides to use it as his inspiration for the dish of the week.

Once Upon A Time

(Wah Lai Toi, Astro Ch 311 / Zhi Zun HD, Astro Ch 310, 1.30pm)

Six thousand years ago, when the Emperor was the sole ruler of the kingdom, many poor people were unhappy as they were bullied by the rich. One day, a rebellious group attacks the palace to overthrow the Emperor. The devoted Prime Minister, Lord Turtle, pushes the Emperor, Eunuch Tok and Yu-Fa into a forbidden room to protect them. They are whisked off to the future … to the year 2013! Hilarious encounters ensue as the three of them try to find a way back to their era. This Malaysian-made movie stars Jack Lim, Gan Mei Yan, Vivian Tok, Jeff Chin and Royce Tan.

TVB 46th Anniversary Gala

(Wah Lai Toi & Zhi Zun HD, 4pm)

This star-studded gala may very well be the biggest party that TVB has ever hosted! Veteran artists Liza Wang, Eric Tsang, Carol Cheng and Nat Chan, together with other stars like Wayne Lai, Kenneth Ma, Linda Chung, Raymond Lam, Myolie Wu, Moses Chan and more make an appearance! The two-and-a-half-hour show features dance and acrobatic performances, a magic show, a soccer segment as well as musical collaborations.

The Medallion

(TV2, Astro Ch 102 / HyppTV Ch 102, 10pm)

A Hong Kong detective, who suffers from a fatal accident, gets a new lease on life thanks to a mysterious medallion. Little does he know that it has also given him superhuman powers and immortality! First, he must protect this medallion from falling into the clutches of the wrong people. The cast includes Jackie Chan, Lee Evans, Claire Forlani, Julian Sands and Christy Chung.

Sally Is Ultimately Yours Concert 2012

(Wah Lai Toi & Zhi Zun HD, 10pm)

Semi-retired Cantopop diva Sally Yeh made her glorious comeback to the stage in September 2012 with a series of concerts at the Hong Kong Coliseum, where she was a fixture back in the 1990s. With Sally's heartfelt love songs and groovy dance numbers, the highly anticipated concerts brought back many memories for her fans.

The Conmen in Vegas

(SCM Legend SEA, HyppTV Ch 226, 10pm)

King, the king of gamblers, along with his buddy Skinny Dragon and Dragon's cousin, Smarty, swindle a huge amount of money from the wicked Big Eye Man's underground casino. Somehow, before they can enjoy the money, Man's gang shows up unexpectedly and takes the trio off to meet with senior government officials. They are then enlisted to capture a conman in Las Vegas! Andy Lau, Alex Man and Kelly Lin star in this Wong Jing film.


(AEC, Astro Ch 301, 10.30pm)

The young Gao lives in a unique neighborhood located on the rooftop of a row of buildings. It may be considered a slum by many, but for Gao, it is a home filled with much warmth. Gao works in a traditional medicine hall with two other friends. They often get into fights with Hong, the notorious neighbourhood bully. A love story unfolds when they save Xin, a famous actress, but the vengeful bully could spoil things for them. Stars Jay Chou (pic), Eric Tsang, Xu Fan, Li Xin'ai, Alan Ko and Wang Xueqi.

Blessing in disguise

Posted: 01 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

Running around and 'fighting' in action dramas has helped Chi McBride open up a new career path.

American actor Chi (pronounced "shy") McBride lost 28kg over the past five years partly because he took on a string of action-heavy TV roles. Best known as the imposing high school principal in TV drama Boston Public (2000 to 2004), he played a detective in action series Human Target (2010) and Golden Boy (2013).

Now, the 52-year-old joins the fourth and latest season of hit series Hawaii Five-0 as SWAT captain Lou Grover, a role that requires plenty of running around, gun shoot-outs and fist fights.

Speaking over the telephone recently from his home in Los Angeles, he says: "I've dropped 62lbs (28kg) in the last five years and that's amazing. I did it to stay alive. I was 48 years old and my doctors asked me, 'Didn't you have enough pizza?'

"So I decided I was going to change the way I live my life. Then I got to do action roles and that has just been so great."

This has opened a whole new career path for him. "Doing action lengthens your career a bit. Action is something that people haven't normally seen me do, I'm really grateful for it," he says.

McBride, who is married with three sons aged six to 33, started out in music, releasing a single in 1989, He's The Champ, which spoofed the marriage between boxer Mike Tyson and his then-wife actress Robin Givens. He also released an album as part of R&B group Covert but it failed to take off.

He then turned to acting at age 30, doing a guest role in hit TV series The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air (1992) and a supporting bit in the movie Revenge Of The Nerds III: The Next Generation (1992).

He has since acted in more than 30 films and 28 TV series, including the film Mercury Rising (1998) starring Bruce Willis and TV dramas Pushing Daisies (2007 to 2009) and The Nine (2006 to 2007).

But it was his part as school principal Steven Harper in Boston Public, about a fictional public high school, that earned him a nomination for Individual Achievement In Drama at the Television Critics Association Awards in 2001.

While he enjoyed all his roles, he says there are none that he wishes could have lasted longer. "I'm not really sentimental like that. If you don't understand the concept that things end, you are going to be doing a lot of drinking. You know what I mean?"

Were you a fan of the original Hawaii Five-O series that aired from 1968 to 1980?

Yes, absolutely. I grew up watching it and loved it. I was working on other shows when the new Hawaii Five-0 came out, so I didn't have a chance to watch it. But after I was approached about joining it, I watched the older episodes on DVD. They were full of action, and very interesting and exciting.

What was it like being the new guy on an established show?

I love working with the cast. I've known (actor) Scott Caan for many years and he's really fun to be around. Alex O'Loughlin and Scott and I also have a lot in common, and we'll smoke cigars and tell stories. I play golf with a lot of the production guys. And getting to shoot in Hawaii, that's been a blessing because there're so many things to do, whether it's golf or hiking or whatever. It's a balance of vocational life and private life as well.

Your character Lou Grover was featured on the original Hawaii Five-O and was played by Scott Brady. Did you feel any burden in keeping old and new fans of the show happy?

Not really, because oftentimes when you start worrying about things like that, you end up doing a caricature of a performance. All I can do is use whatever small talent I have and depend on the writing – and it's been really great. My job is to interpret what they write down on the page and I don't let anything else creep into my head.

Hawaii Five-0 features a multi-ethnic cast that includes Asian-American stars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. Do you think the film and TV industry is more welcoming of diversity these days?

That depends on your definition of diversity. I think Hollywood is a business that cares only about one colour: green. If you can make money, they don't care what colour you are.

I never approached my job from the standpoint of my race because I've always had a lot of confidence in what I'm able to do as an actor, so I've never dealt with the diversity issue. Anyway, diversity is more than just a bunch of people who look different. If you put people who look different in the same place, all you have is a Benetton ad which is great if you want to sell a lot of sweaters. But diversity is much deeper than how people look or what their races are.

You have three sons in real life but in Hawaii Five-0, your character is the father of a little girl. Have you ever wished for a daughter?

I've been busting out Y chromosomes since 1980 and I'm glad I don't have any daughters because I have enough grey hairs as it is. The problem would be that she'd try to wrap me around her little finger and I'd pretty much let her, and it would just be a mess.

Bruce Willis told me that the first time somebody came over to take his daughter out on a date, he was sitting on the porch, cleaning his gun and he asked the guy, 'Hey kid, did you see Die Hard?' The kid goes 'Yeah' and he's like 'Alright then' and lets him walk away. I'm so glad I don't have to deal with that kind of business.

You started out in music before going into acting. Would you ever consider going back into music?

Hell, no. My record didn't go gold nor platinum – my record went plastic. I actually don't know anyone other than my family who even owns the record. I don't even have a copy of it.

If you work in the movie or TV business, your movie or TV show can be a hit or a flop, but you are still going to get paid. But you can make an album for a record company and if it is never coming out, then at the end of the day, they'll hand you a bill saying you owe them US$100,000. So, no thanks.

How would you like to be remembered?

I don't think about stuff like this because in 100 years, nothing will matter. But if I'm going to be remembered, I hope it's by the people who truly love and care for me. To be remembered for what kind of man I've been to my wife and what kind of father I've been to my children – that's what really matters. Everything else is bulls***.

I know plenty of people whom everyone loves and sends them fan mail, but their kids hate them. I'd rather have it the other way around. — The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Hawaii Five-0 Season 4 airs every Monday at 10pm on AXN (Astro Ch 701/HD Ch 721).

Watch Moss grow

Posted: 28 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

IT'S a good kind of "too busy" right now for actress Elisabeth Moss. At the Sundance Film Festival for the world premieres of two films, Alex Ross Perry's Listen Up Philip and Charlie McDowell's The One I Love, she also has been making awards-season rounds for AMC's Mad Men as well as the miniseries Top Of The Lake, for which she recently won a Golden Globe.

Adding to her hectic schedule is the final-season production of Mad Men, in which Moss plays Peggy Olson, a meek secretary transformed into a self-possessed advertising executive. On the weekend of the Globes, she squeezed in an interview before getting the manicure that would become infamous when she cheekily flipped off the "mani-cam" of one network's red carpet coverage.

Having so many projects percolating at once could presumably leave her a little confused at times regarding just what she's supposed to be talking about.

"It was a little discombobulating, but it just takes a second," she said, noting how on consecutive days she went to events for Top Of The Lake, Mad Men, this interview for her two Sundance films, then the Globes for Top Of The Lake and back to work on Mad Men.

"It is funny. You do have to stop for a minute, 'What is this about?' Just watch, I'll end up telling you a bunch of Peggy stuff."

Both roles at Sundance capture the shifting mix of steely determination and soft vulnerability that is something of Moss' stock in trade. In Listen Up Philip, Moss plays Ashley, a New York City photographer who breaks up with her novelist boyfriend, Philip, played by Jason Schwartzman. The film's unusual structure, with a literary narration read by Eric Bogosian, finds Ashley leaving the story for a spell but then reemerging as the focus of an emotional storyline all her own.

At first, writer-director Perry was looking for a more outwardly comedic actress for the part to play off Schwarztman's deadpan timing, but when the idea of Moss came up, he realised, "That's going to make for a more interesting film. It's not who can spar comedically with Jason; it's who can run laps around Philip. And she's it."

Perry added that though he didn't immediately see Moss in the part, he quickly came around to it.

"Just seeing her in a New York movie in Brooklyn wearing shorts and being kind of fun and bitchy, it became really exciting to me," he said. "That's an easy role to assume requires no acting, 'Oh, she's just playing a normal person.' But it's quite the opposite. She found so much to create within that character."

For The One I Love, Moss plays one half of a couple, alongside costar Mark Duplass, who are sent on a weekend retreat by their therapist. The story features something of a spoiler-able twist everyone seems to be likening to Charlie Kaufman for its cerebral absurdity. It can make talking about the film tricky, and Moss recalled a conversation she had with director Charlie McDowell about just that.

"For eight years I have not talked about Mad Men," she said, referring to the closely guarded secrecy of the show. "I asked Charlie how to talk about the movie and he said, 'Maybe say this and this,' and I was like, 'I got this.' I know how to talk about something without talking about it.

"What attracted me to the movie was the relationship aspects of it," she added. "The concept behind the quote-unquote twist is the idea of who you present in a relationship, how you project one person in the beginning and then kind of shift to something else, maybe more who you really are. And then what's considered the ideal woman from a man's point of view and what he really wants his girlfriend to be like."

Even with the film's more secretly fantastic elements, Moss kept the performance grounded in something believable and real.

"She just feels like a real person to me," said McDowell. "And I really discovered this after working with her; she's just the most present actor I've ever seen. She really dedicates herself to what she's doing in the most naturalistic way. There's never a moment that feels phony or false to me."

With her various projects, Moss has shown it won't take much for her to shake off Peggy Olson once Mad Men is done. For any fans of the show hoping that Moss might accidentally spill some tidbit about the ultimate fate of her character, she is perhaps not the one to ask.

"I actually don't any have idea. A couple of pieces here and there, but I don't know how we're going to get there," she said. "The bigger ideas I don't even know."

What comes after Mad Men for Moss remains to be decided.

"I'm just starting to look seriously," she said. "For me, I'm now available in a way I haven't been for eight years. I'm looking forward to the idea that when I'm done in June, I don't have to find something for the next few months. If I don't find something right away, that's OK. But just watch, I don't get anything ever again and I'm like, 'I wish I was back on Mad Men.'" — Los Angeles Times/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services


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