One of the first and most obvious and also truly cringeworthy example of Asia aping a program from overseas was Singapore Idol, a truly appalling production where the three judges- Ken Lim, Florence Lam and Dick Lee- tried desperately to be cloneheads of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and some gay guy as, one can only guess that no one in the city wanted to play Randy Jackson.
The Cowell clonehead- the Lim bloke- was the worst to stomach- I even had to cancel a dinner at Sammy’s after watching this farce- as he scowled- or sCowelled- and made ridiculously loopy and rude comments about each contestant, but without the scripted wit given to Simple Simon in those early days of American Idol.
When some reporter from the Straits Time asked for my thoughts, I let loose which led to the broadcaster and producer of the show- MediaCorp- banning any music videos sent to them by our Singapore office until I was coerced to send the female judge who worked for the geniuses behind the show, a groveling letter of apology while Singaporean La La haters wrote in letters to the editor tearing me to shreds.
Being obviously fake letters, I shrugged them off and went off with the gorgeously Amazonian Lithuanian living with me at the time to Sammy’s where we used our fingers, made balls outta the best damn curries in the world along with various sambals, stuffed them into our mouths, and returned to the hotel so bloated and content, sex was not even an option.
I digress as I still wonder why Asia cannot produce even ONE original television series, something which hurtled into my mind as I watched the wretched Asia’s Next Model, a frame by frame copy of America’s Next Model.
Like owning a McDonald’s franchise, perhaps the licensing agreement means not veering from the original version, though watching someone play-act at being Tyra Banks, cloneheads making up the judging panel, the casting where someone plays the bitch and there are the scripted cat fights, the blood, sweat and tears and those Singaporean la la accents are just soooo hard to take.
Why top American production houses like Fremantle and Mark Burnett Productions that have set up offices in Singapore can get away with airing this mediocre crap is mind boggling.
Someone somewhere must be being fed an awful lot of bollocks just like when PolyGram stupidly owned 50% of MTV Asia.
This was during the early days of the music channel’s launch in Asia when it was run outta Singapore by Peter Jamieson and, after he got the sack for being stupidly naive, Frank Brown took over in a very ugly bit of politicking to try and put Humpty Dumpty together.
However, the damage had been done through all the “insider trading” that had gone on prior to the launch which saw the partners- Viacom and PolyGram- over-paying for a production house, equipment and satellite dishes- someone made MILLIONS outta this “pre-production” work- while the programing content was as “cool” as what the city’s creative talent were capable of producing- which, historically- has never ever been much.
Why television channels keep going to the same well for content is baffling though, perhaps not really, as what happens in Singapore stays in Singapore- the last frontier for fat cat expats to enjoy that colonial lifestyle with a Sarong Party Girl on the side.
For a city that prides itself on Singaporean Pride, it’s still a fawning mess to the white man’s private club where “creativity” does not exist and deals are made over beers at any bar down Boat Quay.
It’s also why all these Singaporean productions for television are as cutting edge as rubbing two satay sticks together.
To its credit, though the series Supermodel Me hosted by model Lisa S- and she does a very good job of it- is a blatant rip-off of America’s Next Top Model though one Karen Seah is credited with “creating” the show- of PUHLEEZE- the production values are in another league altogether and all credit to Refinery Media for this.
The bottom line is that all these television channels that have sprung- and most in Singapore- are desperate for content- Asia-specific content- as how many times can one watch rerun after rerun.
Having said this, the Asia-specific content is a very tepid rehash of everything that has come before and which anyone with a teeny weeny ounce of creativity and knowledge of production knows what a Singaporean production looks and sounds like- always a heavy dose of the la las.
These shows might go down well in Singapore and Malaysia, but do NOT travel anywhere else- and for which, I point my middle finger straight at many of those running television channels in a sloppy manner and not deserving of their gigs.
It also makes me wonder how and why those who barely know Asia and Asian audiences and with squat experience in any of the creative fields can green light daft ideas.
THAT Hewlett Packard-sponsored “reality” series- HP Space- comes to mind though, gawd knows, I try to block it out.
HP Space which crashed and burnt and mysteriously, disappeared from screens when the cast were revealed, look at all those cooking and travel productions out of Swingabore- and Malaysia- that make sponsors look bad- but with many also based in Singapore, they’re probably part of the same fat cat expat club- and, worst of all, ignoring Asian creative talent and, simply, Asia-based talent not willing to join those fawning groupies with blank CVs who will even attend the opening of an envelope and kiss ass just for the sake of “belonging.”
There needs to be some immediate changes to this situation and refusing to accept cons and mediocrity if this region is to be seen as a leader in television production without limping along and even lagging behind the region’s crippled music “industry.”
As they say in Swingabore, Enough la.