Sunday 25 August 2013

Singaporean idle: Is Ken Lim addicted to judging?

Congratulations to Farisha Ishak on winning The Final 1.

I had expected Shaun Jansen to win, simply because he’s a guy and the winners of four previous singing competitions on Channel 5 were all guys.

Hold on, you say. Four? But there were only three seasons of Singapore Idol.

The winners were Taufik Batisah, Hady Mirza and a third guy whose name I had to look up. (It’s Sezairi Sezali.)

So what’s this fourth competition I’m talking about?

Remember something called Live The Dream? Probably not, since the ratings for the 2007 Singapore Idol knock-off were so horrifying low that a former MediaCorp colleague working on the show called it Live The Nightmare.

Anyway, the winner was also a guy. I do remember his name because it sounds like the team manager who just quit the Johor Darul Takzim football team but it’s actually the name of a handbag – Fendi.

But Farisha isn’t the first woman to win a Channel 5 talent contest in the Idol era.

In 2010, singer Jill-Marie Thomas won the MediaCorp knock-off of America’s Got Talent called One Very Fleeting Moment Of Glory. (Okay, I added a couple of words to the name of the show.)

So why so many knock-offs? There were also Channel U’s Project SuperStar and Campus SuperStar.

It all started with the unexpectedly huge success of the first Singapore Idol in 2004. Imitation was the next logical step for MediaCorp.

Idol was so big that as the executive producer of the Channel 5 sitcom Living With Lydia at the time, I wrote an episode about Singapore Idol to ride on its popularity.

In the episode, the title character played by Lydia Sum (may she rest in peace) wants to get on Idol and sort of kidnaps Idol judge Dick Lee who gets amnesia after he is knocked unconscious by her. It may or may not be based on a true story.

Sample dialogue from the episode:

Sum: “Dick! You’re awake. Now you can hear me sing.”

Lee: “Who’s Dick?”

Sum: “You’re Dick.”

Lee: “I’m Dick?”

You get the idea.

The episode also includes a brief scene with Idol host Gurmit Singh and the other judges, Florence Lian and Douglas Oliverio, discussing Lee’s disappearance.

Hold on, you say. There were four judges on that first season of Singapore Idol – Lee, Lian, Oliverio and Ken Lim.

Where was Lim?

All four judges were asked to appear, but Lim was the only one who said no.

My guess is that since he wasn’t an actor or a comedian, the Hype Records honcho didn’t want to jeopardise his credibility as a judge by appearing in my rinky-dink sitcom.

Living With Lydia has long since ended, but Lim was back on Channel 5 as a judge on The Final 1, for which he also received a “created by” credit.

Maybe he started believing the hype that he’s “Singapore’s Simon Cowell”. I just hope Lim isn’t also having a baby with a friend's wife.

The other two judges in The Final 1 were Kit Chan and Taufik, who once appeared with his Idol co-finalist Sylvester Sim in ads selling Triumph BeeDees underwear for girls.

I didn’t make that up.

In early 2005, if you had spent at least $80 worth of Triumph products including a BeeDees bra-and-brief set or swimwear, you would’ve stood a chance to meet Taufik and Sim on Valentine’s Day.

As part of the promo, 200 BeeDees cami-and-shorts sets autographed by Taufik and Sim were also auctioned off for charity.

That didn’t jeopardise Taufik’s credibility as a judge at all.

As for Ken Lim, he has now been a judge six times – three times on Singapore Idol, once each on Asian Idol (which Hady won in 2007), Live The Nightmare and The Final 1.

Somewhere, Dick Lee, who has been a judge four times (three times on Idol and once on Live The Nightmare), must be shaking his head and saying: “Aiyoh, even I have better things to do.”

I’m getting concerned.

I think we need to have an intervention for Lim. The man could be addicted to reality TV singing competition judging.

I wonder if there’s a Judge-aholics Anonymous support group he can join.

Could it be that Lim was so desperate for a fix after going cold turkey for six years since Live The Dream, he created The Final 1 just so that he can be a judge again?

I’m not sure if he has hit rock bottom yet, but please let The Final 1 be his final one.

- Published in The New Paper, 25 August 2013

UPDATE: The Final 1 returned for a second season in 2015. So far, that was the final one.