Sunday 9 May 2010

I am not Adrian Pang

Years ago, I was in a video store in Parkway Parade. The young shop assistant asked if she could help me. I said no thanks, I was only browsing.

At this point, most shop assistants would usually leave me alone, but this girl just kept staring at me quietly.

Did she suspect me of being a shoplifter? I didn't think so because she had a strange bemused look on her face.

Was she admiring my radiant handsomeness? Yes, I believed that was it.

Finally, she said: "I've seen you before."

Unlikely, since that was the first time I had been in the shop.

"You were on TV or something, right?" she asked.

Yes, years earlier, I was on a TV show called Live On 5 as a movie reviewer with Gurmit Singh, but she looked too young to have seen it. So I just smiled and shook my head.

Then she disappeared while I continued checking out the DVDs.

Moments later, she reappeared holding a copy of the Forever Fever VCD in front of my face. She pointed to the movie's lead actor, Adrian Pang, on the cover and declared triumphantly: "This is you!"

I didn't know who should be more insulted, me or Adrian. But since Adrian wasn't there...

"No!" I said adamantly, feeling my radiant handsomeness fading away.

"Don't bluff. It's you!" she insisted, tapping on the VCD cover as if the proof was right before my eyes.

I soon fled the shop, leaving the shop assistant unconvinced that I wasn't the star of Forever Fever.

I bring up this incident because Adrian was in the news last week for being perhaps too happy about finally leaving MediaCorp.

As he wrote on his Facebook page on April 28: "i've officially got THREE MORE DAYS as a Media-Corpse!!! counting down the minutes til i'm FREEEEEE!!! gonna celebrate by getting shitface drunk" and so on.

As a former MediaCorp employee myself, I say party on, dude.

I first met Adrian when we were both working for TVWorks, which became Channel i, which became defunct.

He played Russell Koh on the extremely short-lived TVWorks programme The Big Buffet. The character was so popular that after The Big Buffet was cancelled, Russell joined the sitcom Ah Girl, which I had created without him. Adrian won his first Asian TV Award for the role in 2002.

I later worked with Adrian for the first time when I got him to host the series finale special of PCK Pte Ltd. Then I became the executive producer of the second season of Maggie & Me, which starred Adrian and Fiona Xie.

He is usually the best thing in any show he's in, even in those Channel 8 dramas that he so loathed to do because of the language problem.

I once bumped into him in the MediaCorp canteen and tried in vain to convince him that being in the hit Chinese-language series Portrait Of Home was good for him because it exposed him a wider audience. Even my children loved the show and they don't usually watch Channel 8 programmes.

But he hated it, hated it, hated it. And he openly brooded about it, making sure everyone at MediaCorp knew how much he hated it, hated it, hated it.

The reason MediaCorps kept forcing him to do Chinese-language shows was that it didn't have enough English-language programmes to put him in to justify his salary.

Which was partly why Adrian seemed to be in every recent Channel 5 drama series, but even starring in Red Thread, Polo Boys and The Pupil one after the other wasn't enough.

Channel 8 cranks out two hours of new local drama every weeknight year-round whereas Channel 5, well, doesn’t.

Pierre Png is another MediaCorp actor who struggles with the Chinese language in Channel 8 dramas, but is less openly bitter about it.

Gurmit Singh is under less pressure to do Channel 8 programmes because, well, he isn't Chinese - his role as Phua Chu Kang notwithstanding. But even Gurmit has been roped in to co-host the New City Beat with Adrian recently.

Another issue for Adrian is that his true love is the theatre. TV is just for paying the bills and for his kids' future education. His new theatre company, Pangdemonium! Productions, will be staging The Full Monty musical next month.

But it's a testament to his incredible talent that even when he was doing something he didn't really care about, he got nominated for a Star Award - three times.

So I could do worse than being mistaken for Adrian Pang. Most of the time, I'm just mistaken for being sleepy.

- Published in The New Paper, 9 May 2010

Hi dude,

Adrian pang here. I only just got alerted to the piece you wrote “I am Not Adrian Pang”, and I thought it was HILARIOUS!!!

Also wanted to say thanks for the kind wishes – Pangdemonium is up and running and causing, well pangdemonium. I’ve never been happier.

Hope all’s going great with you....and that you are no longer being mistaken for me...

Take care,