March 20, 2010

Analysis of TVB’s ‘Parties’ and ‘Cliques’: Real-life Beyond the Realm of Conscience? Part 2

Source: Sina News

Translation: llwy12@

Part 2: Competition

Tsang Party vs Leung Party: Won’t Concede to Each Other

Between Catherine Tsang and Tommy Leung, all this time, they refuse to concede to each other. Back in the days, at the height of the “Tsang/Leung Competition”, Catherine forced out Tommy’s wife Siu Siu Ming, which solidified his desire to stand in opposition to Catherine. Subsequently, Siu Siu Ming’s “favorite” – Louis Koo – also left TVB. Not too long after, Catherine also forced out ‘golden’ producer Gary Tang Duk Hei, which resulted in the demise of popular series such as Healing Hands . In this particular battle, the Leung Party was defeated.

Every year’s anniversary gala is the event where the ‘competition’ between all the Parties is the most intense – for years, the Tsang and Leung Parties have battled each other for the awards.

In 2001, the TV King award went to Leung’s party [Louis Koo], however the TV Queen award could not be fairly settled between the parties, so it eventually went to Liza Wang.

In 2002, the Tsang Party sacrificed Ada Choi in order to guarantee that Charmaine Sheh would get into Top 5, so the Leung Party had no choice but to sacrifice Jessica Hsuan, however the results were opposite of what was expected [Flora Chan became TV Queen].

In 2003, with the hit series Square Pegs favored to ‘bag’ the major awards, which would mean a victory for the Leung Party, Catherine Tsang sacrificed Charmaine Sheh and Ada Choi in favor of Maggie Cheung to win the TV Queen award – not only that, but Gigi Lai and Kenix Kwok also became “fish in the pond.”

In 2004, with the overwhelming popularity of the series War and Beauty, it was pretty much a guarantee that the Tsang Party would ‘bag’ all the awards this time, however the audiences would not vote for Charmaine Sheh, causing Sheren Tang and Gigi Lai to be the top 2 contenders for TV Queen. As for Ada Choi, she didn’t even get into the Top 5, so she obviously became the sacrifice that year.

In 2006, the Leung Party’s Drive of Life was poorly received and miserably defeated – in addition, Tommy’s actions of promoting his daughter Toby Leung harmed his years-accumulated image of being fair and just. Another defeat for the Leung Party.

In 2009, the Tsang Party’s Beyond the Realm of Conscience also defeated the Leung Party’s Born Rich.

Lok Party vs Tsang Party: Mutually Restricting

Catherine Tsang is known for reacting swiftly and decisively, therefore, she has made countless enemies throughout the years. In 2003, Virginia Lok “took flight” at TVB, becoming the ‘artists manager’, which undoubtedly put some of the Tsang Party artists in an awkward position; Catherine’s “god-son” Steven Ma was one of those affected and ended up having to ‘reduce his workload’. However, the series that the Tsang party produced were traditionally highly regarded in terms of public praise as well as ratings (series like War and Beauty and Beyond the Realm of Conscience for example).

In the 2004 Anniversary Awards battle, Gigi Lai’s actions of ‘exchanging her contract’ for the TV Queen award stifled the Lok Party’s Charmaine Sheh from rising to the top, so she (Charmaine) had to wait until 2006 to successfully become TV Queen.

Therefore, it can be seen that the struggles between the Tsang Party and Lok Party would rise and fall in succession, oftentimes surrounded by peril.

Chan Party vs Lok Party: Not Accepting of Each Other

The relationship between Stephen Chan and Virginia Lok can be said to one filled with contradiction – primary reason is because the 2 of them refuse to be overruled by each other, which made their competition especially fierce. Virginia Lok’s ‘rule’ for promoting artists is pretty much in line with TVB’s conventional method – “loyalty” is number one and “internal conflict” is frowned upon. Stephen Chan’s method is completely opposite – his approach is “if you are not able to promote them to stardom, I will” – which, in a sense, was a means of “belittling” the opposing Party. Fala Chan is the ultimate example of this, as she was single-handedly ‘promoted’ by Stephen Chan to the position of Best Supporting Actress; it was rumored that Fala’s personality was too ‘open’ – every couple days, she would be ‘in the news’ or ‘out getting attention’ – causing both Catherine Tsang and Virginia Lok to dislike her. So Stephen took Fala under his wing and started promoting her.

Over time, internal conflict escalated between Stephen and Virginia.


Part 3: Possibilities

Will Virginia Lok ‘smile’ until the end? Will the Leung Party and Lok Party collaborate to ‘overcome’ the Tsang Party?

With Stephen Chan’s arrest and the chances of him returning to TVB very slim, the ‘Party politics’ that has played out behind the scenes at TVB for ages will undoubtedly undergo significant changes. Due to Virginia Lok’s advantage of having a group of immensely popular younger generation ‘siu sangs’ and ‘fa-dans’ in her Party, plus the so-called ‘support’ of Mrs. Shaw (Mona Fong) behind the scenes, there is a high possibility that the Lok Party may join forces with the Leung Party to “stifle” the Tsang Party. However, Catherine Tsang has been known to have “Nine Lives” [comes back strong each time she gets beaten down], so this particular “battle” will definitely be very interesting.

The Lok Party: Siu sangs and fa-dans become the ‘pillars’ of TVB

It is rumored that Stephen Chan’s “fall from grace” will ‘elevate’ the status of the various siu sangs and fa-dans in the Lok Party. Virginia Lok’s number one favorite (and god-son) Kevin Cheng, other favorites Bosco Wong, Raymond Lam, Moses Chan, Myolie Wu, Charmaine Sheh, Linda Chung, etc will likely be heavily promoted. Even Kate Tsui – who chose to ‘get close’ to Virginia Lok on her own accord – will probably have a lot of acting jobs coming up. In addition, rumor has it that TVB’s internal production team has received “secret orders” to promote all the above artists – whether through new series or variety shows – so that they can eventually become the ‘pillars’ of TVB. As Mona Fong’s ‘favorite’, there is a huge possibility that Virginia Lok could be ‘smiling’ until the end [come out on top].

The Tsang Party: Rely on true talent and praiseworthy performances to stay on top

Though Catherine Tsang may not be as strong in the competition between the Parties, it cannot be denied that her view of people as well as series is extremely accurate – in addition to the palace-scheming, war-themed hit series War and Beauty and Beyond the Realm of Conscience (which were produced by her Party), part of the success of last year’s award-winning Rosy Business can also be contributed to her, as she was the one who personally picked Wayne Lai to star in the series. Also, she possesses the ‘big card’ that will surely be an advantage to her Party: “Golden Producer” Lee Tim Shing. With the high anticipation for this year’s Rosy Business sequel (produced by Lee), there is almost sure to be a ‘ratings surge’ for the series.

The Leung Party: Continue to “run with the pack”; possibility of joining Lok Party

With veteran artists Jamie Chik, Ray Lui, Kenix Kwok, Gallen Lo, and Anita Yuen returning to TVB last year, the Leung Party seized the opportunity to have their series Born Rich elevated to the status of ‘grand production anniversary series’ alongside the Tsang Party’s Beyond the Realm of Conscience. Unfortunately, the ratings for Born Rich did not even come close to those for Beyond, with Born Rich lagging way behind. From this it can be seen that Tommy Leung’s “golden years” have long since passed and his Party is pretty much in the position of ‘running with the pack’ now. However, because Tommy Leung is enemies with Catherine Tsang, if he is not able to make amends with her, there is a possibility of him joining forces with Virginia Lok to go against Catherine.

Part 4: Conversation

Hong Kong veteran media reporter Huang Si Nong accepted an interview with our paper yesterday. He analyzed Stephen Chan’s “fall from grace” situation as well as the impact on TVB. He states that Stephen Chan being arrested by the ICAC is not necessarily a bad thing – it’s like knocking down a beehive so that it can’t do any more harm. In addition, Huang feels that even though this situation is very damaging to TVB at the moment and ATV may jump on the opportunity, it is his belief that the grand TVB Entertainment Empire that Run Run Shaw created will not be destroyed that easily.

Q = Reporter
A = Huang Si Nong

Q: Have you heard of Stephen Chan’s arrest already? Did you get a chance to look into the details yet?

A: I’ve been in Hong Kong the past few weeks, so I did hear the news. In my observation, the ICAC has never been this ‘high profile’ in terms of arrests – in the past, it was always “invite for coffee” type situation (drink coffee, have a conversation) – plus they are usually very protective of the person they are “inviting” for coffee. This time, it’s directly “arresting,” which shows that ICAC must have some type of confirmed information. Also, there were reports that TVB themselves were the ones who “unveiled” the scandal – if that is true, then the situation is like the real-life version of TVB’s palace wars dramas.

Q: This time, TVB did things very publicly and high profile, which has caused people to speculate that this was planned all along by them and was a result of internal power struggles. What do you think is the primary internal struggle/contradiction within TVB?

A: Internal power struggles within an organization is usually due to people not being able to get along with each other. It’s just like animals will always try to compete and fight with each other. For instance, I own a few rabbits as pets and sometimes when they fight, one usually tries to kill the other one that it perceives as its enemy. Not sure if using this animal analogy makes sense.

Q: Currently, TVB is controlled by Mrs Shaw (Mona Fong) and internally they are separated into 4 ‘parties’ or ‘cliques’. What role do you feel each of them play in TVB?

A: I’m not too familiar with the so-called ‘parties,” but I am familiar with Mr. Run Run Shaw. In terms of the battle between the 4 parties, I’m not too clear.

Q: What do you feel will be the impact of this situation on TVB?

A: It will help eliminate the “cancers.” In a huge organization, if there is someone who utilizes their power [within the organization] to earn outside money, it is a very serious matter. Especially since the creation of the ICAC, they are very strict on this type of stuff. Back when I was a social reporter, we had to interact with many people as part of our jobs and of course with that came financial implications; therefore, we set a policy that we absolutely were not allowed to receive any “red envelopes.” As for Stephen Chan, he’s a public figure and already has high pay, so for him to still take money (if true) is really a shame. One good thing though is that the situation being revealed can serve as a “warning” to others. If someone does this and they are captured, then it is good because it can serve the purpose of eliminating the “cancers” in the organization.

Q: TVB’s biggest competitor ATV has been going through management changes again recently. With Stephen Chan’s situation, is this then the perfect opportunity for ATV to rebound?

A: If I were ATV, I would absolutely seize this opportunity tightly! In a competition, those in the same industry are usually like enemy nations in a war – whenever there is a “weak point”, it should be immediately grabbed up. It’s just like with horseracing – when the opponent starts to slow, you need to take advantage of it and crack the whip to go faster in the hopes of overtaking the competition.

Q: So will ATV take this opportunity to recruit TVB’s resources, thereby causing even greater harm to the network?

A: This can be answered with another rabbit analogy – a rabbit will go in the direction where there is fresh green grass. However, currently, TVB is still an Entertainment Empire – a massive mother ship created by Mr. Run Run Shaw – so it won’t be easily destroyed. This “punch” (the current situation) will perhaps be a heavy blow, but after the air clears, the empire will still remain standing. Also, one last point – ATV’s talent pool can’t compare to TVB’s, as TVB is full of resources.

Wow. That was an eye opening drama, even more intense than Moonlight Resonance. A lot of people dislike Virginia Lok because she promotes favorites over talents, among other things. But I think it'll be a loss to TVB if they decide to fire her, because she's got connections to a lot of people in the industry. If they fire her and she decides to go to ATV, that's not too good for TVB. The only solution I can think of is she suddenly changes and goes for talents instead of favorites but that *hahaha* is not very possible...

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