March 20, 2010

Analysis of TVB’s ‘Parties’ and ‘Cliques’: Real-life Beyond the Realm of Conscience?


Translation: llwy12@

The recent scandal over TVB GM Stephen Chan’s arrest for alleged corruption has so far played out like one of the station’s own dramas. Though Stephen Chan and 4 others have now been released on bail awaiting further investigation, there does not seem to be an end in sight to the ongoing saga, with one person after another ‘spilling the beans’ on the inner workings and disarray at TVB. Of course, the ‘biggest’ news so far has been the rumors that Stephen Chan was ‘turned in’ to the ICAC by none other than his employer TVB due to his ‘falling out of favor’ with top management. As for TVB being overrun by ‘parties’ and ‘cliques’, this is a well-known ‘secret’ by almost everyone in the industry. Virginia Lok, Catherine Tsang, Tommy Leung, and Stephen Chan are the ‘head’ of the executive team and have the power to control and promote artists. If Stephen Chan loses all power due to the scandal, then the competition of the ‘4 parties’ will be greatly affected, resulting in only 3 parties remaining (Virginia Lok, Catherine Tsang, Tommy Leung). Out of the 3, it has been rumored that Mona Fong’s ‘favorite’ Virginia Lok would likely prevail and the group of young artists under her would become the ‘face’ of TVB in the future.

With the commotion surrounding Stephen Chan’s case now, the developments and the way things are playing out in the media rival that of the inner palace conflicts and struggles in TVB’s highly-rated hit from last year Beyond the Realm of Conscience -- except that the real-life events are even more dramatic and interesting.

Part 1: The 4 Parties

The Chan Party – Leader: Stephen Chan

Stephen Chan: TVB’s General Manager, used to be a DJ. Prior to being arrested, he did the ‘voiceovers’ for various TVB variety and specialty shows and simultaneously hosted the interview show Be My Guest. Since becoming GM, Stephen’s presence has been quite strong and his flamboyance has attracted many to him. It is rumored that Stephen ‘loves’ promoting the artists that others [managers] don’t want – the greatest example is Fala Chan, whom he single-handedly pushed to the “Best Supporting Actress” position. TV Queen Sheren Tang, who is known for constantly going against Virginia Lok, is also highly favored by Stephen. In addition, Patrick Tang, Amigo Chui, etc. – also his favorites – were able to win many awards at the 2007 TVB Anniversary Awards ceremony, though there was a lot of backlash afterwards.

Favorite Male Artists – Amigo Chui, Sammul Chan, Patrick Tang, Wong Hei, etc.

Favorite Female Artists – Sheren Tang, Fala Chan, Tavia Yeung, etc.

The Lok Party – Leader: Virginia Lok

Virginia Lok: TVB’s Production and Resources Manager, with primary jurisdiction over all matters related to TVB’s artists; also one of the “official” representatives and spokesperson for the artists. The “Lok” Party consists primarily of the newer generation ‘siu sangs’ and ‘fa-dans’. With her position, it can be said that the fate of ALL TVB artists is in her hands. Virginia Lok has made quite a few new artists popular through promotion – Kevin Cheng is the biggest example of this. Back in the days, Kevin Cheng had been in the industry for a long time, but was never able to become popular until he officially became Virginia Lok’s “god-son” – after that, he started getting lead roles in series after series (most of them grand productions), which paved the way for his ‘TV King’ award in 2006.

Favorite Male Artists – Kevin Cheng, Moses Chan, Raymond Lam, Ron Ng, Bosco Wong, etc.

Favorite Female Artists – Charmaine Sheh, Myolie Wu, Linda Chung, Kate Tsui, etc.

The Tsang Party – Leader: Catherine Tsang

Catherine Tsang: TVB’s Production Department Head (Series); was once a broadcaster at RTHK; affectionately nicknamed “Jen Jie” by the artists. Catherine started with TVB in 1974 and has been credited with launching the careers of HK’s biggest stars such as Chow Yun Fat, Andy Lau, Tony Leung, etc. She has gone through both the ‘Run Run Shaw era’ as well as the ‘Mona Fong era’ and has remained strongly standing to this day. The Tsang Party consists almost entirely of the most skilled and talented artists (in terms of acting) in TVB, however because Catherine’s focus has always been on directing behind the scenes, coupled with much of the power being in Virginia Lok’s hands, so her artists are never heavily promoted.

Favorite Male Artists: Bobby AuYeung, Steven Ma, Wayne Lai, etc.

Favorite Female Artists: Ada Choi, Maggie Cheung, Shirley Yeung, etc.

The Leung Party – Leader: Tommy Leung

Tommy Leung: TVB Producer; Head of Series Production. Started with TVB in 1973 and is considered an ‘elder’-type figure [started with the company from the beginning]. His specialty includes grand commercial productions. 2001 was the “Year of Leung’s Party”, as the ‘siu sangs’ and ‘fa dans’ under him at that time – Louis Koo, Gallen Lo, Jessica Hsuan, Flora Chan, etc. – were all “high ratings guarantees”. After strong competition with Tsang’s Party for many years, Leung’s Party had already lost some of it’s steam – then, when Virginia Lok came to power in 2003, his Party had to battle with hers as well. Currently, almost all of Leung’s artists have left TVB.

Favorite Male Artists: Gallen Lo, Roger Kwok, Louis Koo, etc.

Favorite Female Artists: Sonjia Kwok, Jessica Hsuan, Flora Chan, etc.

HOLY CARROTS! Why is this more interesting than their dramas....

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