Foreigner TV talents in Taiwan vs. Japan

So he gets a job with a Taiwanese cable TV company! That’s one of the funniest things I’ve read in quite some while.

The last show said they were going down to Spring Scream for a segment there in early April…

Dave Spector is THE MAN. I met him when I was in Japan on vacation in 1995. It was by chance, actually. I had recognized him from numerous television appearances, adverts and a few films (yup, he’s even in a GOdzilla movie). Totally cool cat. Much more honest and certianly not a kow tower like other TV gaijin celebs like Ken Deracott and Kent Gilbert (you can spot them on a few shows rerun on Taiwan cable - what’s with Taiwan running Japanese shows that are almost 10 years old?).

Opportunities for Gaijin/waigoren in Taiwan are fewer than in Japan. Taiwanese are still clannish, for the most part, and there are tighter controls over TV and their talent brokers are basically glorified gangsters (like Jacky Wu and that ancient lady “Swallow” Cheng) with entertainment “families.” Taiwan entertainment is in such a dire situation that most of its stars actively seek work in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan (all pay better and offer good work). Examples:

Vivian Hsu - singer, actress, model, foremer softcore queen (Hong Kong and Japan)
Hsu Chi - actress, former softcore queen (Hong Kong - with almost no looking back)
Jimmy Lin and Nicky Wu - former teen celebs who sing and act (Hong Kong, and now China)
Rene Liu - drop dead beautiful pianist, singer, actress and spokesperson (works here but actively seeks work in China and Hong Kong for dough. Even did work in America and England.)
Jaquiline Wu Chien-lien - actress (went to Hong Kong and now reaps profits in China)
Ang Lee - director (America)
Kevin Chu Yen-ping - director (Hong Kong and Singapore)
Anya Wu - actress (Hong Kong)
Takeshi Kaneshiro (AKA Chin Chen-wu) - half-Japanese/Taiwanese actor and singer. Refuses to work for Taiwanese employers anymore unless it’s for commercials. Renounced option for Taiwanese citizenship and considers himself Japanese. (Hong Kong and Japan)

These are but a few locals who sought higher ground working anywhere but here (Save Rene Liu - who still works here, but will work just about anywhere).

Outside of the proverbial waigoren Steppin’ Fetchit “Jeff,” or whatever his name is, and that pale imitation of “Nipponjin yo! Koko wa hen!” (“Japan! That’s Odd!”) where token foreigners give opinions on silly topics - and those horribel Hokklo dialect commercials covering medicinal quakery - there are little oportunities. The differences between the Taiwanese foreigner pannel show and the one in Japan is that in Japan it’s a bit like the Jerry Springer show and the foreigners are blunt and straightforward. No kowtowing of this “I’m a guest so I should be polite” b. s. (For the record I am NOT a “guest” here. “Guests” don’t pay taxes. I pay taxes here, so I’m NOBODY’S guest. I’m a resident. Thank goodness too I wouldnt’ want to be indebted to the local zeitgeist, adn certainly NOT a citizen!) like the local show. The topics also cover everything from daily concerns like the environment, to risque stuff like adult movies in society. Most Taiwanese fear foreigners with opinions that do not reflect their own, so they give a Steppin’ Fetchit version that is viewer-friendly.

Gospeed to those who want to become a Dave Spector here. It’s neigh impossible and not really worth it. There was an article in the Taipei Times where foreign “talent” had few kind words about their expereinces doing adverts here.

That’s my Two $NT

Ciao,

Joe Thanks

Thanks Joe Thanks. You been around. What do you do here?

THE MONEY QUOTE: “Opportunities on TV for foreigners in Taiwan are fewer than in Japan. Taiwanese are still clannish, for the most part, and there are tighter controls over TV and their talent brokers are basically glorified gangsters (like Jacky Wu and that ancient lady “Swallow” Cheng) with entertainment “families.” Taiwan entertainment is in such a dire situation that most of its stars actively seek work in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan (all pay better and offer good work).”

YES: do you know there is a rule by the GIO that foreginers cannot appear on camera, face time, for more than 40 mintues per one hour show. Yes. That’s why Jeff Locker on those cooking shows, does not appear on camera all the time. by law, he cannot. Yeh, taiwan.

I survive! That’s the important thing. My job is: professional survivor.

How I do that is a legal form of prostitution (which should be totally legal in all of its forms, anyway): I sell my time (and sometimes, I think; my sanity) to people who sit down and talk to me and I help them form logical, grammatically decent sentences, as well as assisting them in training their minds to articulate their ideas into my mother tongue. I’m not a teacher. I’m simply a guide. I guide people on their way to mastering my mother tongue. I do this to survive, but I’m not proud of it (even though I give 100% in hopes that the people paying me are happy).

Thanks for illucidating me about the time limit thing. Can you give me some online sources for reference? I belive you, but I’d like to research it and be able to present the evidence to others. I like powder for my cannon when I am in situations where I need back-up, so to speak.

I’ve given up on Taiwanese TV though. It’s the worst I’ve seen on the big blue marble. I mean, Korea was mostly bad, but here it’s always bad. I can’t think of a single show produced in Taiwan that I can stomach. Oh - those two cat puppets who host the call-in show for kids on YO-yo TV. I can stomach that. I would watch the movie channels showing Hong Kong films - but I prefer 'em in Cantonese, so I stock up when I go to Hong Kong (around three times a year, though I wish I could vacation there more, like 9 times a year). Ironically, for most Taiwanese films (old and new) I have to stock up in Hong Kong as well (thankfully most have English subs) since they rarely show 'em on TV at decent hours these days. I only watch NHK, and until this bloody stupid war wraps: CNN. During normal times when despots aren’t invading countries run by fellow despots, I only watch NHK.

Ciao,

Joe

Of course many entertainers seek out other places to work around Asia instead of staying in Taiwan. There are only 22-23 million people here!

Should a successful local entertainer in the USA stay only in their state?
A European in their own country only?

Muffin, I was about to say the same thing. Japan has over 100 million people, all of whom are TV junkies to the core. Taiwan has only a fifth of that.

But If you want to go deeper, I’d say this boils down to a much deeper difference between Japan and China. Japanese TV and other entertainment venues are set up much like all other Japanese institutions – a great adoptive family. If you follow the protocol to the letter, and never question the hierarchy or your place in it, you’re in like flynn and a good time is had by all. (Not being ethnically Japanese, that means your place is going to be permanently pretty low on the totem pole, but as long as you’re cool with that, I insist, a good time is still had by all.)

Taiwanese TV and other entertainment venues are are set up much like all other Chinese institutions – a small, clannish, nepotistic, closed family that’s mistrustful of, and competitive with, anyone outside, and expolitative of anyone inside.

No brainer: If you were Kaneshiro Takeshi, which system would you prefer to work within? (BTW, I’ve known quite a few half-Japanese people, and the vast majority of them identify more strongly with their Japanese side.)

Anyhow, Japan and Taiwan are postmodern countries where everyone is rich and not much more history is going to happen. These days if I wanted to be a foreign talent, mainland China is where it’s at! I know a dude who got paid a good pile of renminbi to trundle around Yunnan province each week, say hi and crack jokes with local yokels in various towns, and hook up with his hot young pixie of a co-host (offscreen). This was a few years ago, when we were in college together. I hear he’s back there doing something similar nowadays. Granted he’s an immensely charismatic and funny person. He’s got a personality to give Jerry Seinfeld a run for his money. So it’s not like just an exotic face and fluency in the local language can carry you. You definitely need a stage presence that makes people feel entertained. That and a system that lets you in, keeps you happy, and doesn’t expolit you.

what is his name?

W DAVE WROTE:" I know a dude who got paid a good pile of renminbi to trundle around Yunnan province each week, say hi and crack jokes with local yokels in various towns, and hook up with his hot young pixie of a co-host (offscreen). This was a few years ago, when we were in college together. I hear he’s back there doing something similar nowadays. Granted he’s an immensely charismatic and funny person. He’s got a personality to give Jerry Seinfeld a run for his money.

Pete Nestor. He may have gone by his Chinese name on the air: Nie4 Hong2jun4. He’s a wiry guy, about 173cm, with short but crazy, unwashed looking brown hair. Do you know him?

I could apply that quote to the theater troupes in Chicago or the Emo music scene on Long Island or Popo.

How about, “TV in Taiwan just sucks more than from where I come from”?

[quote=“Muffin”]Of course many entertainers seek out other places to work around Asia instead of staying in Taiwan. There are only 22-23 million people here!

Should a successful local entertainer in the USA stay only in their state?
A European in their own country only?[/quote]

[quote=“Muffin”]Of course many entertainers seek out other places to work around Asia instead of staying in Taiwan. There are only 22-23 million people here!

Should a successful local entertainer in the USA stay only in their state?
A European in their own country only?[/quote]

American entertainers only venture into foreign markets when their careers at home are no longer so lucretive. This was very true in the sixties and seventies and eighties, especially when they went to Europe. Some built their careers there (Dean Reed, Clint Eastwood, Tomas Milian, Gordon Mitchell) and some finished them there (Lionel Stander, Frank Wolff, Dean Reed). Asia was considered third-tier. AN example: Richard Keil was one of the foreigners they’d get to work ehre in the seventies. Richard “JAWS” Keil, adn Chris “My bigger brother Robert is a star” Mitchum: guys with few opportunities in America or even better-paying Japan, so they headed to Taiwan. Furthermore, hat’s why B-movie regulars/A-movie has-beens like Troy Donahue were given A-listing in Japanese films of the eighties. Nobody would make the leap. It’s slowly changing, like Omar Epps in Takeshi Kitano’s BROTHER, but then again Epps is considered a high-B player in the industry. Ironically the foreign market is now almost nill since everybody buys into the Hollywood machine.

South Korea doesn’t have that much more of a population than Taiwan but their actors make due at home and branch out occasionally, yet make a nice living there. It’s ALL about attention span.

The fact is, in Taiwann: the locals piss all over the local talent. They view it with an inferiority complex. Ask Hou Hsiao-hsien or Tsai Ming-liang or Kevin Chu about how they rely on foreign financing for their films. Ask the local celbs: there’s no money ehre and local’s attention span is nill. Celebrities have short life spans here because the locals have ephamistic ants in their pants (I prefer to say “bats in the bellfry”).

I don’t fault them for seeking lucretive work elsewhere, but I use it to point out how shitty the local market is. In Hong Kong, with FEWER people, celebs have a longer lifespan.

You’re adding two cents that are a bit narrow and misguided and read into my post way off its course.

Travel, observe and learn dear: it’s the spice of life. Also, read my posts with a more open mind. You assumed I attacked folks who worked overseas than here. No, I posted the REALITY that for locals a long career is not easy, let alone foreigners.

Practice them readin’ skills, babe. :sunglasses:

Ciao,

Joe

I could apply that quote to the theater troupes in Chicago or the Emo music scene on Long Island or Popo.

How about, “TV in Taiwan just sucks more than from where I come from”?[/quote]

Yes, there are cliques, but OPPORTUNITIES exist for all, juxtaposed to here. dont’ give me the bogus “size” argument. It’a all about cliques here.

No, Taiwan TV SUCKS, period. Travel, dear. it opens the mind and exposes you to a greater realm of experience.

Decent foreign TV:
America (barely)
Japan
Hong Kong
England
Australia
Holland
Germany
Mexico
Canada
Singapore
Malaysia

Worst:
Taiwan
Phillipines

Almost the worst:
South Korea
Thailand
Egypt
South Africa

Try to become an entertainer here as a local. UNLIKE AMERICA - where there are a MYRIAD of opportunities, there are but three here:

  1. Sleep your way to the top
  2. Be rich and pay your way in (ASOS: “Da S” and “Shiao S,” for example)
  3. Be part of the one of the 6 entertainment “Families.”

In America 1 and 2 are true, and there exists something like 3, but there is: make it on your own, like the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago (formed by actors who wanted quality work and a place to do it - so they formed their own outfit), filmmakers like Kevin Smith (ugh) and Robert Rodriegez (ugh) who made their own damn movies and they were decent enough people fought for 'em to get major distribution - and htis goes for coutnless musicians too.

That’s the thing, here: there are almost no opportunities for someone to work their way to the top. Only the most gimmicky and obscure can find 15 minutes here (and die poor) like the “Kinmen King.”

There’s a reason you see the same 15 people on TV here, and it’s not because everybody loves 'em (they don’t have much choice).

I’d suggest adding salt before you further have to taste your foot you plant in your mouth on this thread.

Peace,

Joe

You, too.

I did not even mention or imply anything about American entertainers (has beens, B-list, etc) venturing into forgein markets. I said STATES. As in United States of America.
America alone is a huge market.
Most entertainers start out local. I was asking, should they stay local?

Taiwan is local.
China is the huge market for Mandarin speakers.
Should Taiwanese entertainers stay local?

South Koreahas double the population of Taiwan.

As for How the Taiwanese treat their entertainers or the local scene, I have no idea or could care less. Not my cup of tea.

Man, that sounds like the standard line from any local music or acting scene I was part of back in the States.

You’re right. I added my two cents on a small part of your post. Not the whole thing. I find your knowledge and opinions of the scene interesting and informative. Thanks.

[quote]Travel, dear. it opens the mind and exposes you to a greater realm of experience.

Decent foreign TV:
America (barely)
Japan
Hong Kong
England
Australia
Holland
Germany
Mexico
Canada
Singapore
Malaysia

Worst:
Taiwan
Phillipines

Almost the worst:
South Korea
Thailand
Egypt
South Africa [/quote]

Travel to watch TV?

[quote=“Muffin”][quote]

Travel to watch TV?[/quote][/quote]

If you spend enough time in a country, it’s part of it. Climbing some go foresaken mountain isn’t travel either, yet variety is. Seeing the sites, getting to know as many people as you can and seeing how they live (i. e. understanding past and present historical and popular culture) is part of it.

You can tell a lot about a people from their popular culture (i. e. TV) and in Taiwan, my personal interactions with locals and observation of their popular culture informs me that they are people who have no identity but a desire to find one, so they copy from here and there. They run from their (majority) ethnic heritage (China/Chinese) yet embrace it for convenience (i. e. the historical Chinese soaps produced locally - and not including imported Mianland and Hong Kong productions). Anything particularly deep has no chance of a market (hense variety and music shows and the same, generic soaps running day after day) and they love gossip (in amgazines on tv and in front of the teacher during class). I have experienced a bored island majority who don’t know how to entertain themselves nor do they really appreciate art (be it their own or imported). They like Hollywood wrapped convenience, but not when it comes to tv programs. The ysimply like lowest-common-denomenator crap.

You’d never see an OZ here, or something akin to a Taiga Drama like NHK offers.

PTS provides hope, though. They cover local music from artists who don’t have distribution, they play short films by local filmmakers as well as some older, popular films. They show foreign performance art, documentaries on local artists (a MAJOR rarity), and they even produce cutting-edge drama. I believe they produced the first Taiwanese drama dealing with homosexuality in a (by Taiwanese standards) matrue manner: CRYSTAL BOYS.

Of course, almost NOBODY watches it, and outside of Taipei you need cable to be able to watch it.

When I am offered a choice between NHK World or PTS I go for NHK (I can understand it, unlike most of PTS, and it is just a better channel: more variety). Without NHK I’d probably watch it more.

Let’s be honest, outside of seeing the same boring mountains and overrated beaches and temples - there’s little to do in Taiwan. Live here long enough and you’re stuck with the 'net and TV: even in Taipei (one of the dullest “major” cities I’ve lived in).

2 more $NT.

Ciao,

Joe

Joe

Don’t sell your self short. The last post was more than NT$2 worth of information.
If a local pop-culture is your way of investigating and integrating, and it works for you, great.

While I neither climb mountains nor explore temples, I don’t knock the people who do find it interesting.

As for the beaches here, if they were surfable, I enjoyed them.

I’ve had fun in Taipei. Maybe my fun is not your fun. So be it. I enjoy different things in different proprotions than you. I was asking, not knocking.

Thanks for the info and keep up the good posting.

I haven’t seen or heard anything of that Jeff fellow these last few months. Last year, he seemed to be one of the hottest properties in Taiwan. Most of the ladies knew who he was and gushed at the mere mention of his name. But then he suddenly disappeared from the radar screen. Is it just that I haven’t been doing my channel-surfing at the right times, or has he really fallen out of favour and been consigned to the dustbin of ex-celebrity? If so, I wonder why?

Jeff Locker? He’s doing the DJ thing at ICRT now. Has been for at least a few months. I met him once, way back when he was a guest on a cooking show where I was one of the cameraman.

Laugh here:

icrt.com.tw/djs/jeff.htm

Oh boy. this guy used to slagforeigners and read what he’s got up there. I’ve nothing against homosexuals, but what I will comment on might be taken the wrong way:

I’ve never seensuch an obvious queen since Liberace tickled the “ivories” on American TV specials as a kid.

Please alert Paul Lind’s corpse: Taiwan found his replacement.

Did I blink and hallucinate or didn’t Jeff use to VeeJay the Billboard top ten on Channel V a few years ago? Channel V has sucked hard in the last few years -getting rid of my heavenly Angel, Angela Chan, and Seattle bad boy David Wu?

Anyway, LOCAL celebs have a short shelf life here (hense unending over saturation on TV, net, print and on radio of 'em), so foreigners will have even briefer careers (save, “Father/uncle Jerry” - but then again I haven’t seen him in a year or so).

ICRT is so bad! It’s like “what if” and RickDees ran the ONLY foreign radio station in town. I forget the term broadcasters use for such pablum, bu there is a phrase for the “Hi there/ Hey Now” Hank from that Garry Shandling HBO show thing.

Taiwanese like their food (read: hokklo cuisine) bland, as with their radio and TV!

I dunno how much longer I’ll be posting since I’m off to grad school back in the U. . . A.

Good luck everyone!

Ciao,

Joe Thanks

[quote=“Joe Thanks”]
Oh boy. this guy used to slagforeigners and read what he’s got up there. I’ve nothing against homosexuals, but what I will comment on might be taken the wrong way:

I’ve never seensuch an obvious queen since Liberace tickled the “ivories” on American TV specials as a kid.

Please alert Paul Lind’s corpse: Taiwan found his replacement.[/quote]

Is he still trying to project he’s straight? He doesn’t seem to be trying very hard anymore from his bio (Will & Grace, Haggie’s sundaes?), although I remember cracking up when he was interviewed a few years ago on a TV “documentary” about why so many foreigners like local women. (Someone likened his interview to a blind man describing the sunset.)

He seems to have had a lot of shelf life compared to most Taiwan foreign celebs. If he’s the first Liberace you’ve seen at ICRT, you must not have been here too long.

Not all foreign celebs have a short life here – Doris of Studio Classroom fame and Father Jerry have been at it forever. (Neither of which, I believe, are married. Hmm…).

Have I not been getting out or has Chocolate dropped off the celebrity radar?