Entertainment Ind.

Posts filed under Entertainment Ind.

Interview in this week’s 東周刊 East Weekly (20080422)

Filed in Entertainment Ind., PressTags: ,

Just over a week ago, Ken Leung, an editor from Eastweek 東周刊, along with three other associates, came to my home and interviewed me for the magazine. That interview was published today in this week's issue. Unfortunately, Eastweek is not available online so you'll only be able to see the interview if you can buy the magazine.

Article in today’s 蘋果日報 Apple Daily (20080404)

Filed in Entertainment Ind., Press, TVB (H.K.) 香港無線電視, WorkTags:

For those of you interested, there is an article in today's 蘋果日報 Apple Daily about my decision to leave TVB. The interview is called 「係一個唔開心嘅甘草」
河國榮把掹發哥闖荷李活
, written by Kitty Tai who interviewed me over the phone last night. It is a very good write up.

Note (6 April 2008)

If the article's URL doesn't work, try loading the entertainment section first and choosing the article from the popup menu.

The Untold Story

Filed in Dragonball (2008), Durango, Mx (2008), Entertainment Ind., General, Life, Travel, WorkTags: , , , ,

A little over a year ago, I ran into 發哥 and was subsequently given a photograph of myself taken by this amazing man. It was in fact a chance encounter. 發哥 had not planned it, nor had I, but the encounter happened, and just as he was about to leave, it suddenly occurred to 發哥 to ask me if I'd teach English. If it was anyone else, I'd have immediately replied no, but this was 發哥 and I instead answered yes.

Perhaps it was pre-destined that 發哥 would not be able to contact me multiple times in his earnest attempt to deliver the photo to me. Perhaps this repeated failure to locate me kept me on his mind, so much so that when he needed an English coach to help him with his dubbing work on the new The Children of Huang Shi movie, he thought of me and tried to contact me yet once again. For the first time in 4 months, I was able to answer the phone and we spoke.

I had never heard of the dialect coach vocation, and yet, I had now become one. I was uniquely qualified. Twenty years of acting in a second language gave me unique insight into the challenges faced by someone like 發哥 working in Hollywood. Twenty years of acting gave me great understanding of the work of an actor, and twenty years of rarely speaking English while watching Hollywood-produced television and movies had eradicated all but a pinch of my Australian accent. Being fluent in Cantonese was also going to be invaluable, more so in the interpersonal relationship than in the act of teaching itself because 發哥's conversational English is quite good.

At the end of May, I began working with 發哥; almost on a daily basis; in preparation for the movie dubbing. When we arrived at the dubbing studio for the first day of dubbing, the director didn't recognise me and asked who I was. 發哥's assistant replied that I was his dialog coach, and that I was Australian. Whoa! The director's face sagged almost all the way to the floor. He was incredulous and concerned. Who would want an Australian dialect coach??? He was not happy, but his entire demeanour changed over the next few hours of dubbing and by lunch time, he was very pleased. 發哥's work was impressive and dubbing was proceeding smoothly.

It was coincidentally at this very same time that I was contemplating going to London to audition for the Musical Theatre degree at the University of London, but it was also a time when my singing voice was completely shut down as a consequence of overuse in the "They’re Playing Our Song (2007)" musical. Other factors beyond my control also conspired to stop me going to London, and so it was that I remained in Hong Kong and began working with 發哥 instead.

After dubbing had been completed, 發哥 requested that we work together weekly, and our long term working relationship began.

November came, and I was asked by TVB to renew my contract which was due to expire in January of 2008. For two years, I had contemplated my future and the only future I could see if I remained at TVB was that of a saddened unfulfilled elderly Caucasian actor still performing the bread crumb roles that occasionally fell my way. Over the previous months, 發哥 had repeatedly hinted that he would like me to work with him on location in his future Hollywood projects. Nothing was guaranteed, but it was a possibility none the less.

Twenty-one years ago, I took a gamble and bought a one-way air ticket to Hong Kong to follow my dreams. My life has been incredible. I met and married my wonderful wife. I have an incredible loving family, both human and canine, and I have made some wonderful friends over the years. I've had an unimaginable acting career with TVB and am recognised and thought well of by numerous people both in Hong Kong and overseas. I have no regrets, only gratitude. Now however, I felt that it time to once again buy a one-way ticket, this time away from TVB to destinations unknown, and I therefore submitted to TVB a letter of intent not to renew my contract.

It was the first week of December, and I was working with 發哥 in his home. Not more than fifteen minutes into our session, 發哥 informed me that he had accepted a role in the new Dragonball movie, and that we would be leaving for Mexico within the first week of January. I was in complete shock! This was totally unexpected and it was going to take some time to get used to the idea. I knew that 發哥 was considering one or two projects but I had no idea that we would be leaving so soon, and that we would be going away for so long; three months!

The future is not ours to plan, only to prepare for. We were scheduled to leave Hong Kong on January 1 but my contract with TVB was not due to finish until January 6. I could logically leave without consequence because I was not obliged to film any more episodes at TVB. I had fulfilled my contract obligations for the year. However, things could always become sticky if TVB wanted to make a point so it would not be prudent to leave before my contract expired. I wanted to leave with absolutely no strings attached and no concerns. I wanted complete freedom to move on in my life. Who could have guessed that because of continued negotiations with the movie's producers, our date of departure was pushed back to January 9! Perfect timing and none of it was my doing. Some things are meant to be.

So it is that I find myself sitting in a hotel room in Durango Mexico, working for one of the Hong Kong masters of acting, and well and truly taking the first steps of the next stage of my life.

Going away?

Filed in Entertainment Ind., General, Health, Travel, WorkTags: ,

I might be going overseas for three months. I'm waiting for confirmation. I hope it happens but it's out of my control. The departure date though, if confirmed, is January 1 which doesn't give me much time to prepare. It's not the packing that I'm concerned with. It's making sure that everything at home is in working order, that our pet supplies are sufficient and that we have enough medicine for them, that our computers and my MacBook Pro are running well, that I have all the computer programs that I might need while away, that my camera and lenses are in great condition, that the rest of our family know how to do the things that I'm normally responsible for like changing the water filter, that… You get the idea.

One of the things that I had to do in preparation for this trip was get inoculations. Surprisingly, the Hong Kong government has a great service for people planning to travel. The Travel Health Service keeps current information about diseases in various parts of the world, and can supply travelers with the medicine and inoculations they might need for that particular trip. You need to make an appointment, but it's quick and easy. My appointment was yesterday and when I arrived at the Kowloon office, I was surprised to find it very quiet. Apparently, most people either don't know about the service or they balk at the basic consultation fee of HK$310.

The doctor asked me about where I was going, explained the diseases currently in effect for that region and then prescribed the medicine for me. All up, I received tablets for one disease and inoculations for three others; I have two sore shoulders today! They also gave me a booklet with a record of the inoculations I received. The total cost was just HK$780; very reasonable.

Let's see if any of you can guess where I might be going. The tablets were for Malaria. The inoculations were for Tetanus, Typhoid Fever and Hepatitis A. Two other diseases that might exist in my target region but for which no inoculations exist are Cholera and Dengue Fever.

I'll reveal the secret destination if and when it's confirmed ;-)

Thank you 周潤發先生

Filed in Entertainment Ind., General, MiscellaneousTags: , ,

In January of this year, I was incredibly fortunate to encounter 周潤發先生 Mr Chow Yun Fat near our home. I wrote about it in my "A surprise encounter" article.

發哥 called me twice after that encounter to arrange delivery of the photograph he had taken while with me at the time. The first time he called, I was watching a movie at APM and my phone was turned off. I was very disappointed. The second time he called, I was in rehearsals for "They’re Playing Our Song (2007)" and again, my phone was turned off. I was irritated and frustrated that I had once again missed his call. This time, 發哥 left a message to say that he had dropped the photograph off at a store in our village. I picked the photograph up the next day.

發哥 is obviously very careful with his photographs. The photograph was hand exposed in a dark room, and then framed in Central using high quality materials. The whole package; photo and frame; is very nice.

發哥 has my phone number. I don't have his phone number. I don't feel that I have the qualifications to ask for it. It has as a result been impossible to contact 發哥 and thank him for the photograph. I therefore wish to do so here.

發哥,你照的照片非常靚,對我非常特別。萬分多謝你。有緣再見。

I tried to scan the photograph but the protective plastic disperses the light from the scanner producing a very blurry picture. In the end, I had to photograph the photograph. Here then is the photograph that 發哥 took of me and five of our kids sometime in January.

Gregory and kids by Mr Chow Yun Fat

攝影:周潤發先生,二零零七年一月
Photo taken by Mr Chow Yun Fat, January 2007.

The kids seen here in the picture are Charlie (just in front of me), Joey (in front of Charlie), Samson (sitting down) and Rachel (only her tail is visible).

A surprise encounter

Filed in Entertainment Ind., General, MiscellaneousTags: ,

It was just after the new year, early in January.

I was taking five of our kids for a walk up our favourite hill. We turned around the corner at the round-about near our home and began walking toward the bus stop where the trail up the hill begins. Half way to the bus stop, one of the kids needed to relieve himself. I bent down, wrapped his bi-product in newspaper and stood back up ready to continue down the road.

I was suddenly aware of someone standing on the sidewalk just before the bus stop. He stood motionless, dressed in dark sport clothes, both hands in pants pockets, a pastel blue flat soft hat on his head, standing with one leg vertical and the other slightly leaning outward. He was motionless, and he was watching me, intensely.

I sometimes have a vivid imagination and it began to work at this moment. I had no idea who the man was. He was too far away to recognise. He stood directly in the middle of the sidewalk and his demeanour looked menacing. I wondered if perhaps he was displeased that my kids and I were taking up the whole of the sidewalk. I didn't want trouble so I decided that if necessary, I would direct the kids to the road and walk around him when we reached him.

We kept walking. He remained motionless. We kept walking. He remained motionless.

We were almost there. I was getting ready to direct the kids to the road, making sure that there were no cars approaching, when the man suddenly outstretched his hand toward me, offering to take my hand in his, a handshake. I looked closer. He was smiling at me. I looked closer. I wasn't sure. It was near impossible to believe that I was seeing who I thought I was seeing. I looked closer. It was him. It was him!

We shook hands. He wasn't even the slightest bit nervous of the kids. We talked for ten to fifteen minutes. He asked me a few questions and asked for my phone number. Suddenly, he opened the boot of his car and took out a camera. We crossed the road and he very quickly took two photographs of the kids and me (you can view one of them here). We talked a little more. A few people across the road recognised him and called to him. He replied with the politeness and respect that he is famous for. We talked a little more and he left.

The kids and I continued our journey up the hill. I was in a dream state. I felt like I was floating. It was so hard to believe that I had actually met and talked to this man. It was so surreal!

Yesterday morning, the first day of the new Chinese lunar year, my wife and I were at the theatre watching "Night At The Museum". When I watch movies, I always set my phone to Silent. Even if it rings, I will not be aware of it. I'll then check the phone for missed calls and messages after the movie has finished. This time was no different. After the movie, I checked my phone and noted that there was one missed Unknown call and one message. I rang the message centre and listened to the message. It was him!

He had called to wish me a happy Chinese new year, and to arrange a meeting to give me a copy of the photograph he had taken. He'll call again, probably after the Chinese New Year holiday. It's going to be an anxious week for me. I usually turn my phone off during "They’re Playing Our Song (2007)" rehearsals but I'm going to have to leave it on for a few days in case he calls. I don't know nor need to know his number so I'll just have to wait for him to call me.

We all have our idols, people we admire and look up to. Some people admire Stephen Hawking. Some people admire Li Ka Shing. Others admire movie stars and celebrities. I have no idols, but rather a few select people for whom I hold high regard and esteem. I don't respect people without integrity. I don't respect people who don't respect others. I don't respect people simply because they have money. I respect people who have talent. I respect people who worked hard to get to where they are today. I respect people who have earned my respect. He is one of those people.

He is 周潤發 Chow Yun Fat   ;-)

Working hard to impress the girls

Filed in Digital Hunter, Entertainment Ind., Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the Day, WorkTags: ,

It will be a busy week with "They're Playing Our Song" rehearsals every day, TVB dubbing tonight, TVB filming on Tuesday night and Wednesday night, and a special appearance at the Mongrel Adogtion function at the City University on Friday.

But the weekend was a break and a welcome one.

Sunday morning, noting the wonderful weather and hearing the sounds of the local white wagtails (just one pair) which I have not yet been able to photograph, I grabbed my camera and went outside. As I left our gate, I noticed the flicker of a bird on a nearby flowering bush. As I walked over, the bird saw me and left but the sunlight was perfect and the bird or other birds were sure to return if I sat still. So for the next hour and a half, I knelt as steadily as I could in front of the flowering bush. Nothing came!

Then in the afternoon as I was returning from grocery shopping with my wife, we passed the same bush and I immediately noticed a sunbird in the bush. I was a little concerned at first because there appeared to be a yellow lump on its back. It was either injured or it had some flowery object stuck to it. I had my camera and asked my wife who doesn't like waiting without a definite deadline to continue home on her own; just a few steps away.

I've been trying to get decent photographs of the local sunbirds (again, just one pair) for more than a year. They're extremely difficult to photograph because they're very small; around two inches long; and they never stay in one place for longer than one or two seconds; extremely hard to photograph.

This time in spite of the now far-from-ideal sunlight, I was lucky and managed to come home with a few very nice photographs; not perfect but good enough until next time. As I was photographing the sunbird in the bush, I soon realised that he was courting a nearby female and that the yellow object on his back was a special feather reserved specifically to show off to any attractive girls that he became interested in. The feather is normally hidden beneath his other back feathers which is why I've never seen it before.

So without further ado, here are a selection of the photographs I came home with. Note: all of the images have been cropped. Time issues and location didn't allow me to get the positioning I would have preferred in each photograph.

Male Sunbird on Fence

Fork-tailed Sunbird (male) 叉尾太陽鳥

(Aethopyga christinae)

Date: 4 February 2006, Location: Clear Water Bay

The male sunbird is a very colourful bird. Personally, I believe Hong Kong's sunbird is related to America's humming bird. They're very similar in size and shape.

If you look closely at the middle of his back, you will see the bright yellow of his courting feather.

For a 750x500 version, click here.

For yet another photo of this sunbird, click here.

Female Sunbird

The girl that he was courting. For just three seconds, she flew over to a flower less than 4 feet away. I was able to get two photographs of her in that time. One was blurred. One was near perfect making me one very happy photographer.

For a 750x500 version, click here.

Male Sunbird Courting

The male sunbird in his courting pose, showing as many colours as possible including the special yellow feather in his back, the red in his chest and two deep blue stripes down each side of his chest. It takes a lot to impress the girl.

Selling cookies today at Whampoa Gardens

Filed in Entertainment Ind., Events

I'll be with other people from TVB just outside Esprit in Whampoa Hung Hom selling cookies for the 「愛心曲奇暖萬家」 charity from 3:00 to 4:00pm.

Esprit is at:
黃埔新天地的「時尚坊」G24-26
Shop G24-26 at Fashion World in the Wonderful Worlds of Whampoa.

So if any of you have time today (Saturday) and would like to chat and hopefully buy some cookies ;-)  please come along.