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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Hamm-er time: There's much in store for Jon Hamm

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The Mad Men star is ready to embrace new challenges after the series ends.

Mad Men star Jon Hamm is going to be out of a regular job when the acclaimed TV drama comes to an end at the end of Season Seven – and he is fine with that.

"All good things come to an end," the 43-year-old actor says in a telephone interview. "Other shows sort of fade away or peter out, but the good shows end.

"And you know, I don't want to be on a show that overstays its welcome."

Already, interest in the much talked-about show appears to be waning. When it was broadcast recently in the United States, the show's seventh and final season had the lowest ratings for a season premiere since Season Two's 2008 opener.

The buzz surrounding the show appears to have diminished somewhat, in the light of fierce competition from several other top-notch TV dramas such as Homeland and Breaking Bad, which ended its run last year.

In any case, Hamm is convinced that his show will not be ending on a poor note. How good programmes end, he says, is just as crucial as how they began.

"I feel like we've laid the proper groundwork and prepared the show to end, and that's part of every storytelling experience – it's the beginning, middle and the end, and this is just as important as those other two.

"Our show is ending at the right time. I mean, we've watched Breaking Bad, True Detective and 30 Rock – we've watched those shows that for one reason or another had endings put on them.

"I think they've all been successful in their final act, and I hope ours is as well."

While Mad Men, which follows the life of Hamm's sexy and charismatic but also chauvinistic advertising executive character Don Draper, has never been a ratings magnet, it has attracted accolades.

Since its debut in 2007, the 1960s-era show has won four Emmys for Best Drama Series four years in a row (from 2008 to 2011) and two Golden Globes in the same category in 2008 and 2009.

In its final season – which has been split into two parts, with the second half airing next year – Draper is at his lowest point yet: angry and unemployed, and far from the sleek, super-cool cat that he once was in the advertising world.

"It was a big deal for Don to be fired and I think that's a bit of a wake-up call," says the actor. "But I think the one pattern that we've established with Draper is that he tends to rise to challenges ... That's a bit of a hint as to what we can expect in the final episodes."

As calm as Hamm sounds in this interview, he confesses that when the time comes to film the final episode, he will "be a mess, honestly".

"This show has taken up a decade of my life and it's been a great decade. I've met a lot of people whom I think will be friends for the rest of my life. I've had a lot of amazing experiences and I've gotten to go to awards shows and experience these things you never think will happen when you start being an actor.

"It's been an emotional roller-coaster ride, so when it's time to get off, I'm going to be like, I don't want to get off, man."

Earnestly, he adds: "I'm going to be an absolute disaster. There will be tears, there will probably be fistfights and hair-pulling and every expression of emotion that you can imagine. It will be Biblical in its emotion."

Jon Hamm (right) with the president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA Stephen Cannon at the recent New York International Auto Show in New York City. Could Hamm be considering a future as an auto show model? You buy a car from him, wouldn't you? – EPA

That said, he is prepared to face the future without the regular pay cheque of a TV series and without certainty that he would land a role as critically beloved as Draper.

"I'm aware that I'm going to be unemployed very soon. I don't know what the future holds – it's a brave new world out there," says Hamm. "But I don't feel pressure to have to surpass Mad Men. I don't feel like acting is a competition in that way. I mean, as actors, we are kind of beholden to the scripts that we get.

"Hopefully, I'll be fortunate enough to work with a writer, film-maker or TV creator who is as creative and talented as Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. I owe 100% of my success and career to that guy and I recognise all of that."

Hamm is not kidding when he says he "owes" his career to Weiner. Mad Men launched Hamm into stardom and earned him critical acclaim, giving him a Golden Globe award for Best Actor (Drama) in 2008, and nominations in the same category at the Emmys for every year that the show has been broadcast so far.

Since then, he has also played memorable parts on 30 Rock and comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live, as well as the hit movie Bridesmaids (2011) as Kristen Wiig's cocky sex partner.

Mad Men also turned him into a heart-throb – something he finds fascinating. "If you could see me right now in my sweat pants and how my dog is staring at me and wondering when she's going to be fed, you'll know how silly I find the sex symbol thing," says Hamm, whose partner for the last 17 years is 44-year-old actress-director Jennifer Westfelt (Friends With Kids, 2012).

"I don't know anyone who approaches that title or status with anything but a bemused kind of curiosity." – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Mad Men airs every Tuesday at 11pm on FX HD (Astro Ch 726).

Top Gear Korea: A thrilling ride for Kim Jin-pyo

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Top Gear Korea host Kim Jin-pyo loves hearing female guests scream.

South Korean rapper-turned-TV host Kim Jin-pyo, 36, loves the thrill of racing in fast cars on motoring show Top Gear Korea.

What also gets him excited is hearing the screams of female guests such as sexy South Korean actress Clara and K-pop girl group Nine Muses.

"I am happy to be with female guests. I get more excited when they scream. To be honest, Clara and Nine Muses weren't very good at driving but their presence was big enough to honour our programme," he says in an e-mail interview.

But he is no sexist decrying bad women drivers. "There are male drivers who drive more poorly than average women," he says.

In fact, in his five seasons of hosting Top Gear Korea, he is most impressed by the driving skills of actress Kim Ok-bin.

"Kim Ok-bin recorded quite a fast lap-time among female guests. She had confidence while driving and this was a feature I couldn't find in other guests."

Kim Jin-pyo, Danny Ahn of K-pop supergroup G.O.D. and singer-actor Alex are the hosts on the fifth season of the South Korean version of popular British motoring programme Top Gear.

The trio are also joined by celebrity guests, including hip-hop artiste Tiger JK and comedians Kim Won-hyo and Kim Ji-min, who take the wheel on the show.

Each week, viewers are kept on the edge of their seats with electrifying car stunts and races.

Kim Jin-pyo, a daredevil who hosted all past four seasons, is back for more action despite having experienced many heartstopping moments.

One particularly dramatic race on Season Four even made it to international news outlets such as CNN, BBC and Time magazine: a gripping race between a Corvette and a low-flying helicopter ended with the chopper crashing to the ground.

Kim, who was driving the Corvette, says: "When I saw the helicopter crash, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Thank God that no one was hurt and the footage could be aired.

"I felt God really helped us at that moment because at the spot where the helicopter crashed, there were about 50 crew members, but debris fell only where there was no one. It was too amazing to be just a coincidence."

While Kim, who started racing in 2006, acknowledges the dangers of the sport, he says he is still in love with the adrenaline-pumping activity. His favourite car is the Porsche 997 GT3.

The former member of South Korean duo Panic and rapper group Novasonic says: "I have been in many accidents but none of as dangerous as the accidents I got into while shooting Top Gear. However, if you stick to the safety rules, it will keep you safe from many threatening accidents."

Kim, who is married to actress Yoon Joo-ryun and is the father of a seven-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter, adds: "The beauty of racing can't be explained in words. You've got to experience it.

"To some people, it's just a mere competition against others, but it is a battle with myself. When you win against yourself, you can stand proudly on the podium. You get to experience the ecstasy and sense of accomplishment." – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Top Gear Korea Season Five airs every Sunday at 10pm on Kix HD (Astro Ch 729).


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