After a 7 year hiatus, sequel to <<War and Beauty>> planned for 2012
Saturday, August 6, 2011 Hong Kong
Source: TVB Channel
(Original Source: Mingpao Weekly, Issue #2230)
Translation: llwy12@ http://asianfanatics.net
TVB’s palace drama <<War and Beauty>> was tremendously successful back when it was released in 2004 -- not only did the series sweep most of the major awards at the Anniversary Awards ceremony back then, it was also a runaway success in other Asian regions as well. In fact, in Mainland China as well as other countries, the ratings for the series even exceeded popular Korean drama <<Jewel in the Palace>>. Recently, TVB re-broadcast <<War and Beauty>> in the midnight timeslot in HK and the ratings continued to dominate, with discussions and attention paid to the series almost to the level of the new series currently being broadcast during the ‘golden’ timeslots!
Fans of the series may be happy to hear that after 7 years, TVB is currently planning a sequel to the popular hit series, with filming set to begin next year. Even though one of the female leads Gigi Lai will not be able to participate in the series due to her retirement from the entertainment industry, the other original leads such as Sheren Tang, Charmaine Sheh, Moses Chan, Kenny Wong, etc. may possibly get the chance to participate. In addition, actress Ada Choi – who missed the opportunity to participate in the series back in 2004 – may get the chance to ‘battle’ with Sheren and Charmaine in the sequel. The strong cast alone already makes the sequel one of the most anticipated series of 2012!
Currently, TVB’s production department is already making preparations for the various drama series that will commence filming next year. Out of all the ‘plans’ for series next year, the one that has garnered the most attention is ‘golden producer’ Chik Kei Yee and scriptwriter Chow Yuk Ming’s sequel <<War and Beauty 2>>. When the original <<War and Beauty>> aired back in 2004, it took the entire region by storm, with the ladies from the series ‘battling’ both on-screen and off. In the series, the constant infighting of the 4 main female characters in the imperial palace – Concubine Yu (Sheren Tang), Yuk Ying (Gigi Lai), Yi Sun (Charmaine Sheh), On Sin (Maggie Cheung) – plus the cleverly written dialogue, kept audiences glued to their TV sets, tuning in night after night to watch. Also, the production of the series at the time was taken much more seriously than many of the similar-themed series of recent years (i.e. 2009’s <<Beyond the Realm of Conscience>>), with the entire cast and crew filming on location in Beijing, China as well as Hengdian. Another indication of the series’ tremendous popularity back then was in the intense ‘battle’ for TV Queen that played out off screen, which dominated entertainment news headlines. Even though Gigi Lai ended up winning the TV Queen award, the other ladies didn’t exactly ‘lose’ when it came to momentum and support for their respective performances.
Producer Chik Kei Yee hopes the original cast can participate
When asked about the plan to film a sequel to <<War and Beauty>>, the original series’ producer Chik Kei Yee confirmed it: “At the moment, we are only in very preliminary discussions -- we don’t even have any content for the sequel yet, so the artists who will be participating have not been confirmed. Of course, we hope to have the original cast participate if at all possible, but for now, we are going to establish the start date for filming first, then figure out the artists’ schedules. The current plan is to start filming the 40 episode series in February 2012.” Asked whether the decision to film a sequel was due to the recent re-airing of the series in the midnight timeslot exceeding expectations, producer Chik responded: “Probably not! Actually, after the series finished airing in 2004, there were talks of a sequel, but we didn’t move forward with it because 1) the storyline from the original was already pushed to the endpoint and there wasn’t much opportunity for further development, and 2) we didn’t want to do a sequel just for the sake of doing one. Not too long ago, Catherine Tsang [TVB’s head of drama series production] approached me and we talked about the possibility of filming a sequel now – after much discussion, we decided that this would be the best time for a sequel, as many of the artists from the original series have matured in their acting and so getting them together again would have good results.”
So with the intention of having the original cast collaborate, does that mean that Sheren, Charmaine, and Moses will participate in the sequel? “Everyone knows with that ‘class’ of artists, trying to coordinate their schedules will be a huge headache, but of course I hope to have the original cast as much as possible.” (But with Gigi Lai retired, will Ada Choi be added to the cast, since she missed the opportunity to participate in the original series?) “Ada is a great actress – we did approach her and hope that she will be able to participate. In addition to the strength of the cast, we are also planning to film on location again – the application process for those locations takes a lot of time…just like when we applied for permission to film in the real Forbidden City last time, it was a cumbersome process.”
Even though Gigi Lai has married and retired from the industry in the 7 years since the original series was filmed, both Sheren and Charmaine are still active and for the past 2 years, have been ‘battling’ for TV Queen at the annual Anniversary Awards ceremony. If actress Ada Choi – who is known for her solid acting – joins the cast, then it will truly be a ‘battle of the TV Queens’ -- that in itself will be enough to attract a massive audience!
Charmaine Sheh: It is a very beautiful memory
In reality, back when <<War and Beauty>> aired in 2004, most of the attention was placed on the characters of Yuk Ying and Concubine Yu – it was widely believed that the ‘battle’ for TV Queen was primarily between Gigi and Sheren. However, during the recent re-airing of the series, Charmaine’s character Yi Sun seems to have gained in popularity, as many netizens specifically praised Charmaine’s performance as having depth and handling the emotional scenes well.
Charmaine admits that she looks forward to being able to film a sequel as well, however the biggest obstacle at this moment is her schedule: “Recently, when the series was re-broadcast, I did hear about the various discussions online. When I think back to that time [filming WAB], the memory is definitely a fond one. Back then, I never thought about getting an award – all I knew was that I really, really, really liked the character of Yi Sin, so definitely thankful to producer Chik for giving me the opportunity to play that role. Actually, <<War and Beauty>> was my first collaboration with producer Chik and his team – I’m very happy that afterwards, I had many more opportunities to work with him (and his team). If the sequel does happen, then it will be a very beautiful memory, so I definitely hope that I will get the chance to participate. Currently, I am scheduled to film a Mainland series in February, so it would be in conflict with the filming for the sequel – right now, we are trying to negotiate to see if there is any possibility of delaying the Mainland series, but it will take some time to discuss. If I am able to participate in the sequel, I am really looking forward to the type of character that producer Chik will have me play – after all, several years have passed and things have changed. It should be good though!”
Sheren Tang: producer Chik would ‘fan the fire’ to push competitive spirit
In addition to the challenges with Charmaine’s schedule, an obstacle also exists with Sheren’s schedule, as the February start date conflicts with a movie project for Sheren. She expressed: “I’ve already committed to filming a movie during that time and the arrangements were already made way in advance. But it’s still early, so I’m hoping that we will be able to come up with a way to accommodate. <<War and Beauty>> was definitely a ‘classic’ – a series that the HK people can be proud of – so of course I would love to participate in the sequel. Not only in HK, but in the greater Chinese region as well, it is quite popular and well-received, so this is a great opportunity. Many people thought that I had a lot of experience acting in Qing Dynasty imperial palace series, but in reality, <<War and Beauty>> was my very first Qing era imperial palace series – the fact that people have this type of misconception shows how memorable the series was for the audiences, which is definitely attributed to producer Chik’s efforts.”
Towards the rumors that Ada Choi may join the cast for the sequel, Sheren excitedly stated: “I never had the chance to work with Ada on a series before. We’ve only collaborated on a few evangelical events [both are Christians] in the past, so it will be a good opportunity for us to ‘test’ our acting skills against each other. In most series, there are usually 2 male leads and 2 female leads, but in <<War and Beauty>>, there were 4 females who had almost the same amount of screentime – plus producer Chik was good at encouraging people and telling each person how good their acting was during filming – this ‘fanning the fire’ type method really helped to push the competitive spirit and helped to motivate us. I remember back then, my character was constantly at odds with Rebecca Chan’s Empress character and so sometimes when we were driven by that competitive spirit, we would work extra hard to ‘battle’ with each other – offscreen though, we were all good friends and so we had a happy and fun time filming together.”
Ada Choi regrets missing the opportunity to participate in the original series
It was rumored that Ada Choi was given the opportunity to participate in the original <<War and Beauty>> back in 2004, but it didn’t work out. Currently taking care of her newborn daughter, Ada replied via her manager: “I remember back then, producer Chik approached me about filming a series related to ghosts and the supernatural – since I’m a Christian, that type of genre wasn’t appropriate for me, so I declined the opportunity. Later on, producer Chik ended up changing the script completely and it became <<War and Beauty>>…he had approached me again about filming the new script, but unfortunately my schedule could not accommodate due to a prior commit for a Mainland series. Afterwards, I heard that the series had good word of mouth and felt that it was too bad I missed the opportunity, especially since it would have been great to work with so many good actors and actresses. But as the saying goes, ‘you win some and you lose some’ – if I hadn’t participated in that Mainland series that year, I would not have met my husband Max and would not have such a cute daughter now….fate definitely had a hand in it. Now with the sequel, I definitely hope to be able to participate, especially since I’ve worked with producer Chik and screen writer Chow Yuk Ming many times and we work well together. Also, the characters that they create usually have a lot of depth and are challenging to portray, so it’s definitely something to look forward to. Anyways, the filming doesn’t start until next year, so we’ll see!”