In the past few months, Ricky Wong from new TV channel City Telecom has been aggressively recruiting staff and artistes from TVB, successfully poaching talented actors such John Chiang, Catherine Chau etc. Another revelation of the TV channel war is the allegation that ex-TVB '1st Sister' Charmaine Sheh will be joining (City Telecom) next year to film their first grand production series. Today, William the boss of Charmaine's new agency accepted Mingpao's interview and personally explain the working relationship with Ricky Wong, as well as their plans to recruit more artistes. He also clarified on Charmaine's contract...
April this year, Charmaine ended her 14 years management contract with TVB and continue to their collaboration via per series contract. On the other hand, she concentrates in expanding her career in Mainland China. All along there were rumors that her newly signed agency is under one of Mainland China's most influential production company; Huayi Brothers. Even more rampantly rumoured is that Charmaine's manager Tina is working under Ricky Wong's artistes' management agency as the department head. Hence Charmaine’s identity was presumed to be Ricky Wong's secret weapon...
Upon leaving TVB, Charmaine signed with a company called MediaQuiz Production and Distribution Company Limited. One of the bosses is Mr William Lau. He accepted the interview from Mingpao and shared his background: "I have been involved in the purchasing and distribution of movies for many years. I can be considered among the earliest person who produced and sell Hong Kong series VCD set locally. It was a collaboration with ATV, buying the rights for [I Have a Date with Vampire] to distribute VCD. At that time, no one wanted to distribute VCD of series from free local channel in Hong Kong. But the result turns out to be not bad. Afterward, seeing that [Princess Pearl] is starting to get popular in Mainland China, I purchased the rights for Part 1 and 2; also another collaboration with ATV. Next I purchased Taiwanese drama [Meteor Garden] etc; specializing in acquiring the copyright to distribute TV series. In 2009, I joined the overseas distribution department of Huayi Brothers and left last year to start MediaQuiz with my friends from Hong Kong and Mainland China. We only decided to establish an artist management department this year. I have always enjoyed challenge; therefore the 1st artiste I approached was Charmaine. At that time, the plan is that we will establish artiste management department if we successfully signed her. If not, I'm not likely to establish one. In the end, we successfully signed Charmaine in March this year and we continued to recruit for more artistes."
Frankie Lam joining soon
"At this time, we noticed a phenomenon in Mainland China – last year they produced a total of 15,000 hours of series. However in the first half of 2011, the amount of TV series produced has already reached 16,000 hours. Which means the total production of the first 6 months in 2011 already exceeded the overall total in 2010. This result in artistes filming in series that won't necessary be aired. Therefore we need a platform in Hong Kong to allow the artistes to balance their development. At this time, it was announced that Hong Kong will have 3 free to air TV station. Among them is Ricky Wong, whom vision I agreed with. Hence middle of this year, we jointly invested in an artiste management agency called Red Star (紅星會館). At certain degree, it's an agency responsible to provide artistes for City Telecom. Artistes from MediaQuiz will also collaborate with them. However, the upcoming artistes will be signed through Red Star. Charmaine will not be involved at all as she has already signed a per series contract with TVB. In fact, she is our only artiste that will not appear on Hong Kong channels other than TVB."
Mentioning of Red Star; his collaboration with Ricky Wong, there were rumors that Joe Ma, John Chiang, Sin Lap Ying, Yu Mo Lin, Catherine Chau etc will be signing with them soon. William expressed: "I can only say that people who are passionate in acting will be interested." What about the news that Frankie Lam will be joining them? "We have reached a preliminary agreement with Frankie, only lacking some finetuning. Actually we are in midst of discussion with quite a lot of people. The current artistes we have can only cater to first line series (leading roles), our current goal is to recruit artistes that could cater second line series (supporting). As our contract does not restrict artistes to appear on a single TV station only, it will create a positive influence in the industry."
William also point out that the presence of Ricky Wong gave new hopes to the television industry. "Mr Wong will be leading the production department himself. In the past, there are too many restrictions in Hong Kong series production, filming whatever series that will (guarantee) ratings. In the recent years, more than half of those series are investigative crime series. A good storyline is very important. Whether an artistes can find their route is equally important; of course they also need a little luck. Therefore I agree that if we don't start fostering talents today, we won't have talents in the future. Low pay means people are reluctant to join the industry and resulting in loss of talents. Previously, the industry is lacking the source of investment. Now with new competition, everyone will be paying attention to talents and this will benefit Hong Kong television industry."
Charmaine hopes to film [War and Beauty 2]
William provided a detailed explanation of the collaboration for his companies. Charmaine is currently busy filming [The Legend of Yuan Empire Founder] in Mainland China. Regarding the rumors that she is persuading Joe Ma, Bowie Lam etc to film City Telecom 1st series, she said: "Rumors cannot be trusted. I am unsure of the plans of other artistes but for myself, I would not be (filming for City Telecom). I still have contract with TVB. Previously, the company (MediaQuiz) has not made any announcement and it's difficult for me to explain the complex relationship. Plus, I'm not the kind that likes to explain everything. As long as I know the truth and so does TVB. First of all, I'm away from Hong Kong, second I'll just leave it to the company to clarify the situation and I'll be ok!"
As for the rumors that Charmaine is unable to film [War and Beauty 2] next year, she expressed: "I've always wanted to film [WAB2]. However, before Producer Jonathan Chik invitation, I have already verbally agreed to film another series. Therefore right now I'm pending if they are willing to postpone the filming date. It's not up to me to decide. I'm also very anxious and Jonathan is very considerate about my situation. We can only wait and see."
On the other hand, Mingpao contacted Frankie's wife Kenix Kwok to verify the news. She said: "Yes, Frankie has signed with Ricky Wong new agency. You should ask him for details though. This company has also approached me and offered a very attractive price. However, I will not be filming series anymore as I would like to take care of my child and family. I will only accept advertisement and event jobs. I feel that it's unnecessary to sign management agency, so I declined their goodwill."
Please do not repost the translation elsewhere. Scans credit to ffidd from KuangaiTVB BBS.
p.s. For those who are lazy to read the entire article, here's a summary:
- Charmaine new management agency is MediaQuiz Production and Distribution Company Limited.
- Tina is still Charmaine's manager, though she is working under Red Star.
- Charmaine have a per series filming contract with TVB, which means she only film 1-2 series per year with TVB. They do not handle her contracts (Mainland China, advertisement, events). Under this contract, Charmaine is not allowed to film local production from TV station other than TVB. However, other station can still purchase and air her Mainland China series ;)
- Charmaine want to film WAB2. However, she already verbally agreed to film another series in Mainland China, which is also estimated to start filming in Feb 2012. So, it has to depend on the Mainland China production company whether they are willing to postpone the filming dates.