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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Mean business: 'Million Dollar Listing' heads to New York

Posted: 07 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Reality TV series Million Dollar Listing New York puts the 'real' in real estate.

Behind their carefully pressed suits, neatly combed pompadours and flashing white grin, the real estate world and its brokers are a gritty, cut-throat bunch – or at least that's what it seems in the pilot of Million Dollar Listing New York.

A spin-off of the successful Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles (spanning six seasons and counting), the reality TV series captures the day-to-day life of three property agents – Fredrik Eklund, Michael Lorber and Ryan Serhant in New York – each boasting a long list of high-profile, upscale clientele.

In a scene in the pilot, Eklund enters a restaurant and "bumps" into Serhant who is meeting a client. Immediately, the claws are out, with both brokers engaging in a balancing act of discrediting their opponent's capabilities and upholding their own in front of the client.

At one point, Serhant lets slip Eklund's former career path – an adult film actor – bringing the conversation to an awkward pause.

"I was a starving actor and a good friend of mine suggested I try real estate. I started at one of the worst times in real estate, but New York City is one of the only cities in the world where the market will always survive a financial crisis," Serhant shared with Star2 in an e-mail interview on his foray into real estate some time during the 2008 global financial crisis.

He recalled the moment he closed his first deal: "I was renting apartments when I first started and when I got my first commission, it was only a few hundred dollars but it lit a fire in me and motivated me to do more."

The 29-year-old has definitely come a long way since then, stating he had once closed a deal worth nearly US$1bil (RM3.25bil).

After the encouragement of a CEO in his real estate firm, Serhant auditioned for Million Dollar Listing New York and needless to say, booked the job.

He believes the show stands out from the other spin-offs (a Miami edition was just announced) because the stakes are much higher: "It is the most competitive market in the world. There are hundreds of thousands of brokers and agents competing for one listing on a small island that is only 22 sq mi (57 sq km)."

As a result, there's no shortage of drama and tension much like the aforementioned tug of war involving Serhant and Eklund (and a buyer in between) at the restaurant.

"We have a very competitive relationship but we respect each other as businessmen. I guess you can call it a love/hate relationship.

"Fredrik likes to play dirty and I do not. He is not really fun to be around and I have to watch my back sure," Serhant spoke of his co-star.

Meanwhile, he admitted to not knowing Lorber very well but described him as a "good guy, but he is also very competitive."

The show highlights other realities of the job which sometimes involves going beyond his field of expertise including ... marriage counselling? (In an upcoming episode, Serhant has a hard time finding an apartment for a picky couple.)

"I find myself in many different scenarios in this job. At the end of the day, my main priority is to nourish my relationships and I will do whatever I have to do to achieve that."

Though his real estate career has progressed in leaps and bounds, the once "starving actor" is still determined to break into showbiz. Serhant will be starring in an upcoming film, While We're Young, opposite Ben Stiller, Amanda Seyfried and Naomi Watts.

"I can't talk about the role right now but I can say that working with (director) Noah Baumbach and his amazing cast was truly a dream come true," he shared.

Asked about the ideal abode for this property agent, Serhant responded: "My dream home would be an architecturally significant penthouse apartment, modern in design, over 5,000 sq ft (465 sqm) and located on Central Park in New York City."

Million Dollar Listing New York premieres tonight at 9pm on Life Inspired (Astro Ch 728).

K-Pop Culture: Alien woes, new heartthrob alert and more

Posted: 07 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

What's happening in the world of K-Pop and K-Drama.

A new Indonesian TV drama called Kau Yang Berasal Dari Bintang is allegedly a plagiarised version of Korean hit My Love From The Star, which stars Kim Soo-hyun.

SBS TV reportedly said that it had not given the legal publication rights to the Indonesian drama, which is being aired on the Indonesian television network RCTI.

The drama gained a lot of attention for having an extremely similar plotline and characters as its Korean counterpart, famed for portraying the love between a female movie star and a handsome alien who came to earth 400 years ago.

Heartthrob alert

Ji Chang-wook

The K-realm has a new heartbreaker and his name is Ji Chang-wook (pic). Last seen in Empress Ki with Ha Ji-Won, the Korean actor is laying the groundwork for widening his presence in Asia, benchmarking the hallyu-star formula already demonstrated by Kim Soo-hyun and Lee Min-ho.

Ji's popularity has been rising on the back of his role on Empress Ki, which drew up a stunning 28.7% viewer rating in the 51st and final episode at the end of April.

In the second half of this year, Ji will be visiting 10 Asian countries, including China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Indonesia as part of the drama's overseas promotions.

Previously, Ji's international activities were largely kept to Japan, where he starred in musicals The Three Musketeers and The Days.

lee jong-suk

Doctor on diet

If you think actor Lee Jong-suk (pic) is too skinny for his own good, think again: the I Can Hear Your Voice star made a decision to shed even more weight to add to the authenticity of his North Korean scenes in SBS TV's new drama, Doctor Stranger.

"I know I am pretty skinny, but I still tried to lose extra weight for the part until my face got all bony," Lee said. The recently premiered Doctor Stranger is set in a famous hospital, and has Lee playing a genius chest surgeon who flees from North Korea, where he was brought to after being kidnapped as a child.

Choi Si-won of K-pop boyband Super Junior

Tops on Twitter

Choi Si-won (pic right), a member of the K-pop group Super Junior, recently broke the record for having the most number of Twitter followers among Korean celebrities; as of May 1 Choi had over four million followers, bypassing the likes of Psy, Big Bang's G-Dragon and Miss A's Bae Suzy.

Choi is known to write daily status updates on Twitter and often shares a variety of photos of him posing with A-list celebrities such as movie director Steven Spielberg, designer Karl Lagerfeld and actor Jackie Chan.

Following closely behind in the Twitter numbers is another member from the group, Donghae, who reportedly has 3.9 million followers.

Kim Jae-joong

Military duty

Fans of JYJ member and actor Kim Jae-joong (pic above) will be sad to see him go – the K-pop star recently admitted that the MBC TV show Triangle would most likely be his last show before military enlistment. His break from the industry will possibly stretch till 2017.

In Triangle, Kim co-stars with Z:EA's Im Si-wan to play long-lost brothers separated as children by unfortunate circumstances. Kim's character Heo Young-dal takes to the streets as a petty thug while his younger sibling Yoon Yang-ha, played by Im, is adopted into a chaebol household to be groomed as the heir to a casino empire.

Their ill-fated paths converge on casino territory where both, unaware of their blood ties, fall for dealer Oh Jung-hee, played by actress Baek Jin-hee, in what promises to become a high-stakes, soap-operatic love triangle. – The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

Move over, Hollywood: Today's TV stars are so much more in vogue

Posted: 07 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

These days, television is the on-screen catwalk that really matters.

Fashion has moved with the times, and Hollywood glamour is getting left behind. Television is the on-screen catwalk that really matters. The pomp and bombast of silver-screen style – Scarlett O'Hara's Gone With The Wind ballgown, Ursula Andress's belted Bond-girl bikini – feel as overblown as a 1990s mobile phone. Saturday nights are spent on the sofa, watching a character wearing the same sweater she wore last week.

The new generation of screen goddesses aren't goddesses at all, but real women. It is probably significant that almost all the small-screen style icons who matter are in complicated, multi-episode programmes, rather than in one-off dramas.

Their lives have ups and downs and contradictions. They have talents; they have faults. They have love lives in which the narrative loops well beyond "fall in love, negotiate adorable/dramatic mishap, get married, the end" – and their wardrobes reflect this.

The world didn't fall in love with Sarah Lund's Faroe Islands jumper in (the hit Danish TV series) The Killing the first time she wore it. Only when it became a recurring theme – a part of the character – did it develop a cult following.

Clothes maketh the woman: Sofie Grabol who plays Sarah Lund in the Danish version of The Killing explains that the jumper best describes her character. 'It tells of a person who doesn¿t use her sexuality - that¿s a big point. Lund¿s so sure of herself, she doesn¿t have to wear a suit.¿

Sofie Grabol who plays Sarah Lund in the Danish version of The Killing explains that the jumper best describes her character. The video below is a fan-made parody of just how much Sarah loves the jumper...

As the actor who plays her, Sofie Grabol, explained, the jumper is "perfect because it tells so many stories. It tells of a person who doesn't use her sexuality – that's a big point. Lund's so sure of herself, she doesn't have to wear a suit."

In less than two decades, the fashion industry has been transformed beyond all recognition by new technology. Fifteen years ago, designer catwalk shows were open only to a couple of hundred people, and all images were kept under tight central control.

Now, by contrast, shows are livestreamed with the aim of reaching a global audience immediately. (Burberry, with its Tweetwalk, made it a point of pride that the looks debuted on Twitter a few seconds before they appeared on the catwalk; those watching on their laptops had the news before the front row did.)

The price-tag hierarchy of fashion has also been upended by the phenomenon of the designer-to-high-street collaboration. H&M has taken the mass appetite for fashion and used it to persuade Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Martin Margiela and Isabel Marant to dance to its tune. Designers are now expected to serve the new, informed fashion consumer.

Any online retailer finding that, say, "jumpsuit" is becoming a popular search term is now in the habit of telling designers that they need to make more jumpsuits.

Hollywood style has displayed a fatal reluctance to move with the times. It is striking how often "old-school glamour" is referenced in descriptions of red-carpet dressing.

Today, we like our icons a little more real. The style crush on Carrie Mathison in Homeland, played by Claire Danes, or on Stella Gibson in The Fall, played by Gillian Anderson, has quite a bit in common with our running obsession with the wardrobes of Michelle Obama and the Duchess of Cambridge. (Note, for instance, how the duchess "recycling" a dress for a second outing is a news story that gets more hits, these days, than her wearing a new one.)

Small-screen style icons capture our imagination because clothes are part of character. These wardrobes are about a sense of self, not about adhering to trends. Real style is intimate, psychological and complex - just like good TV. – Guardian News & Media

The Guardian writers choose their small-screen crush

Carrie Mathison, Homeland

American Vogue loves to put serene, beautiful actresses on its cover; crotchety-faced, nervous-wreck federal agents, not so much. Interesting, then, that when Annie Leibovitz photographed Claire Danes last summer, it was not the sunshine-blond, movie-star-and-mum version of Danes who gazed out from the newsstands, but Carrie Mathison, her Homeland character.

Her gaberdine and leather Burberry trench was tightly buttoned, the collar turned up incongruously against the August weather; her hands were thrust into the pockets, her gaze cool and level.

In one of the pictures inside, Danes was in a surveillance van, wearing a knee-length Victoria Beckham sheath dress accessorised with bulky headphones and trademark crossed-arm pose.

Claire Danes in Homeland is all about pantsuits and shoulder bags.

Similarly, when Danes starred in a fashion shoot for the New York Times's magazine, she was wearing Comme des Garcons and Valentino, but still recognisably Carrie, with that shiny, natural hair, posing against the backdrop of Tel Aviv.

Carrie wears trouser suits, macs, shoulder bags: A commuter-train uniform chosen for its practicality and anonymity. The level of repeat in her wardrobe has a heartening reality. She wears the same pieces again and again and again, as a working woman in her position would. She looks fantastically sexy in black leather jacket and grey cotton marl T-shirt.

She has a grey trouser suit that does nothing for her, and looks as if the real Carrie might have bought it on a distracted shopping spree – a marvellous, ego-less touch from the wardrobe designer. She is not using fashion to armour herself against the world, as many of us do, and there is a lack of artifice that lends her an emotional vulnerability. The dark colours and lack of artistry leave the spotlight on her face, which is marvellous: the suspicious, twitchy eyes, the epic crying, the manic, toothy smiles. – Jess Cartner-Morley

Peggy Olson, Mad Men

Peggy Olson's (Elizabeth Moss), wardrobe has become less fussy, more focused.

Peggy Olson, Mad Men

At first it almost hurts to look at Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) – and not in the good way it hurt (and still does) to look at Don and Joan. A tight ponytail and tiny, fearful fringe topped off a motley collection of overly fussy blouses tucked unflatteringly into frumpy skirts in pukesome shades of green and beige.

Everything screamed social and sexual immaturity and vulnerability, which, of course, attracted the disgusting Pete Campbell to her as blood attracts sharks. This in turn led to an interlude of secret maternity wear, followed by secret baby and secret adoption.

A girl grows up fast under these conditions, and since then Peggy's wardrobe has – like the woman herself – become less fussy, more focused, more put-together. Ponytail and separates have gone out, a bob and dresses have come in.

But it is still clearly armour. Necks are high, patterns sober, hemlines sensible, at least for the 1960s. – Lucy Mangan

Jane Tennison, Prime Suspect

What I most love about DCI Jane Tennison's clothes is that she doesn't really give a damn about them. Yes, she looks chic and stylish in her simple blouses and plain tailoring (it's hard to make Helen Mirren look bad, in all honesty), but her image is largely unimportant to her.

Jane Tennison, Prime Suspect

Even in simple blouses and plain tailoring, Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) looks chic.

Sometimes we see Tennison stir after a late night of heavy drinking and obsessing over evidence, having slept in her crumpled workwear. And even when she's on top of her game, nothing is overdone; every last detail feels authentic. Her shoes are always sensible courts, never dominatrix heels. She goes for soft tailoring, not power suits with sharp angles and jumbo shoulder pads.

Her shirts look stylish, but generic and robust enough to deal with the odd yolk stain at post-briefing fry-ups with the lads from the station. Nothing is perfect, everything is functional, ticking all the right boxes, while her attention remains firmly on the job at hand. The sheer ordinariness of her wardrobe is exactly what makes DCI Tennison's such an unforgettable look. – Sali Hughes

House Of Cards

Claire Underwood

Claire Underwood, House Of Cards

Say what you like about Claire Underwood, the blond, terrifying one played by Robin Wright in House Of Cards: her wardrobe is cold, hard perfection. As one half of a Washington DC power couple, Underwood knows that perception is everything, and dresses accordingly.

At work, she is pristine in form-fitting shift dresses, crisp shirts, mannish trousers, tailored overcoats and expensive accessories: Louboutins, perhaps, or an Yves Saint Laurent tote.

By night, at the Capitol Hill galas where she publicly swaps longing looks and urbane witticisms with her husband, she binds herself into chic, corseted gowns and strapless cocktail dresses. Whatever the occasion, her palette is as controlled as her small talk: black, navy, charcoal, pewter, cream, white. Every outfit shows off her tanned, gym-toned biceps and lithe, bare legs (hosiery is for wimps). – Hannah Marriott

Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) loves power blouses.

Stella Gibson, The Fall

I always suspected that power blouses were unwearable by mortals like me, who live in the same world as bra straps, spaghetti bolognese and an ironing deficit. Watching Gillian Anderson coolly cut a swath through BBC crime drama The Fall in a succession of the glorious things left me wholly convinced.

Those silken, cream-coloured blouses were part of that stillness, yet they almost revealed her flesh; a hint of woman in a man's world.

These are blouses that make a subtle joke about their own femininity; associated with Tory wives who pretend to be ladylike while actually wearing the trousers, or royal women who have to look pretty for the camera while commanding with a will of steel.

In fact, a plain silk blouse is one of the sexiest things you can put on, if you're not really meant to be wearing clothes that make people look at you. I dread to think how much you have to spend on one that sits right on the body like Gibson's, effortless and breezy as expensive milk. – Sophie Heawood

Related story:

Bring on the wow: Say hello to fashion-conscious TV characters


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