News @ AsiaOne

Next Top Model takes a tumble

The show's premiere, which was planned for Nov 9, will be delayed till Nov 25 because of monetary problems. -myp
Joy Fang

Mon, Oct 29, 2012
my paper

IT WAS touted as a show that would boost the Asian modelling industry, but the much-hyped reality-TV series, Asia's Next Top Model, has hit a snag.

The show's premiere, which was planned for Nov 9, will be delayed till Nov 25, because the production company behind it has run into monetary problems, sources said.

Rumours surfaced about a week ago that the Singapore- based company, Ice-TV, had not paid up to two months' wages, as well as other expenses, due to more than 30 crew members.

My Paper understands that at least six crew members have filed claims with the Small Claims Tribunals in the Subordinate Courts.

The show's former public-relations firm, Word Of Mouth Communications, filed a writ of summons through its lawyers last Tuesday for five months of default payments amounting to some $30,000.

Its managing director, Mr Jansen Siak, said he recently received an e-mail message from Ice-TV managing director David Searl. In it, Mr Searl said Ice-TV was unable to continue to use the PR firm's services "due to budget constraints".

Crew members whom My Paper spoke to said they were told that a problem with sponsor funds caused the situation.

Post-production was halted on Oct 1, after the team refused to work until they were paid.

My Paper understands that work resumed last Monday, with a new crew from Fox International Channels - the parent company of the show's channel, StarWorld.

Among those who filed claims was producer Michelle Chua, 31. She sought $3,400 in unpaid wages and expenses in her claim made early this month. Mr Searl was ordered to pay up by Nov 22.

Ms Chua said: "What frustrated us was that updates about payment were not forthcoming. We easily worked 12 to 16 hours a day, and this went on for 30 days, without a single break."

No word has been received on when payment will be made and the crew members are seeking legal advice on their options.

Ms Marilyn Tan, 36, a director of the show, said: "We want to hold production companies accountable and this needs to be known."

She said that Ice-TV owes her some $5,000 but she has yet to file a claim.

The show, which is the Asian version of America's Next Top Model, was launched here by American supermodel Tyra Banks in August. It features 14 women from countries such as Singapore, Nepal, Vietnam, Malaysia, India and South Korea.

Hosted by Nadya Hutagalung, it features Singaporean fashion director Daniel Boey, Shanghai-based fashion photographer Todd Anthony Tyler and Australian TV personality Joey Mead King as judges.

Fly Entertainment, which manages Hutagalung and Boey, did not want to say if the pair had been paid. A spokesman said that the company is "not at liberty to comment" due to a non-disclosure agreement. Fox was unable to respond by press time.

Repeated calls to Mr Searl and co-executive producer and Ice-TV's head of productions, Ms Serena Lau, went unanswered.

Ms Tan said: "We came on board because we believe in the brand of the show. And it's going to be a great show.

"But we don't want to be taken advantage of."

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