Mona Fong Expresses Anger Over TVB’s Talent Drain; Wants Steven Ma to Stay

Recently, TVB was in an embattled state, facing the exodus of its production staff and continuing the long-time struggle over royalty provisions with the “Big Four” recording companies, which consisted of EMI, Sony Music, Universal Music, and Warner Music Group.  TVB Vice Chairman, Mona Fong (方逸華), was extremely angry over the state of affairs, ordering top three executives, Norman Leung (梁乃鵬), Lee Bao On (李寶安), and Stephen Chan (陳志雲) to solve the crisis of the talent drain in the artist department, while specifically stating that Steven Ma (馬浚偉) should be retained at the company.

With the Hong Kong government’s approval of operating licenses to three free television stations next year,  a wave of high staff turnover occurred within TVB.  Aside from fadans, siu sungs, and singers expressing their intention to leave the nest, numerous top executives, producers, scriptwriters, and even veteran supporting actors also launched “The Great Escape” [to rival stations]. In charge of TVB, Mona Fong was very dissatisfied with the news reports over the past few days.

Steven Ma Moved to Tears in Front of TVB Management

To avoid further deterioration in the current state of affairs, Mona Fong enlisted the help of TVB’s top three executives, Norman Leung, Lee Bao On, and Stephen Chan to resolve the company’s internal and external issues, while stabilizing staff morale. The first issue to address was the recent high staff turnover, requiring the top three executives to understand the root of employee dissatisfaction and the cause of their intent to leave TVB. Second, did the collective resignation of high-level management validate outside rumors that the salaries were indeed low and the hours were very long? Finally, regarding the problem with the “Big Four” music companies, it was also necessary to retain talent at the company.

Among the three main issues to address, Ms. Fong requested that Steven Ma’s contract be handled first. He was the first artist asking to leave with an unexpired contract. Allegedly, Ms. Fong noticed Steven Ma’s recent performances, including The Life and Times of a Sentinel <紫禁驚雷>, cooking show Apprentice Chef <大廚出馬>, and Book of Words <正識第一>. Considering Steven to be a talented artist, Ms. Fong did not understand why he possessed the intention to leave TVB. Ms. Fong specifically pointed out that she hoped to retain Steven at the company.

There were rumors that Steven Ma was in tears at an earlier dinner between TVB artists and management. It was understood that Steven did not shed tears for himself, but was worried over the future prospects of TVB. Steven confided to Norman Leung regarding the plight of the little-known state of TVB artists. Steven hoped that TVB management will place importance upon the matter, as an increasing number of artists would otherwise leave, resulting in greater losses for TVB.

Although Ms. Fong did not enlist the help of Virginia Lok (樂易玲) in her emergency response plan, Ms. Lok worked with rumored rival, Catherine Tsang (曾勵珍), to initiate meetings with TVB artists and greater understand their feelings.

Steven Ma Groaned Over Inopportune Broadcasting Times

Held in high esteem by Mona Fong, Steven Ma noted that he was unaware of the situation. If the praise were indeed true, Steven indicated that he felt very happy and appreciated Ms. Fong’s praise. Asked why he had cried at an earlier TVB management dinner, Steven  said, “That dinner was between artists and TVB management. These type of dinners occurred on a regular basis. That night, Norman Leung and Li Bao On were present.  I drank a bit of alcohol and we discussed some unhappy issues. I expressed my feelings about the company and hoped TVB can do better.”

Asked what matters made Steven unhappy, he said, “I asked Norman Leung not to broadcast my dramas during inopportune times, such as holiday periods. In fact, it was not much. I just felt emotional and shed tears!”

Since TVB appeared to possess great sincerity in retaining him, will Steven remain at the company? Steven replied, “I am currently filming a series. Stephen Chan did contact me. However, I did not have time [to meet yet]. This situation takes time to resolve.  Give me some time. I need to think carefully about the future!”

Stephen Chan did not return the reporter’s call before the publication deadline. Normally attending church every Sunday, he was not seen yesterday.

Source: Oriental Daily

Jayne: Steven Ma and Wong Hei’s blunt criticism of TVB’s recent inept management over talented artists were not in vain. Their words finally reached TVB management’s ears. Despite this, Steven and Virginia Lok’s relationship is so poor that he will likely not continue to remain at TVB.

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  1. Jayne – I’m in a toss up on whether Steven Ma will leave TVB or not. His relationship with 620 is not good, but to be successful in TVB, you don’t always have to be sided with 620. From the recent publicity, I can see 620 getting less power with artist involvement and perhaps that may change the situation for Steven Ma a little.

    I don’t see an immediate threat for TVB right now, maybe 3 – 5 years later they should a little more concern.

  2. I hope Steven would leave. This contract renewal situation replays itself like the previous one. In 2009, he was going to leave but was persuaded to stay by SC and Catherine Tsang. But what did he get out of it, and where did that get him in his career? Nothing and nowhere!

    Given his current situation, what applies to Wong Hei if he stays, applies to Steven too. He’s damn if he succeeds and damn if not. Either his talents and efforts will be overlooked and questioned.

    So, I want Steven to leave and not face that kind of vitriolic reports and online onslaught from netizens with their caustic remarks.

    Also I don’t trust tvb to watch out for Steven and his career. “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

    Just leave tvb, Steven. You have paid your dues, don’t be taken by tvb playing its loyalty card. SM fans are worried that because of his 有情有意 nature Steven might give in to tvb’s ‘pleading’.

    Steven has stood up numerous times for the ‘little’ people in TVB, esp. his group of martial arts and stuntsmen colleagues.

    “It was understood that Steven did not shed tears for himself, but was worried over the future prospects of TVB. Steven confided to Norman Leung regarding the plight of the little-known state of TVB artists. Steven hoped that TVB management will place importance upon the matter, as an increasing number of artists would otherwise leave, resulting in greater losses for TVB.”

  3. Jayne: Steven Ma and Wong Hei’s blunt criticism of TVB’s recent inept management over talented artists were not in vain. Their words finally reached TVB management’s ears.

    TVB now heeds SM’s and WH’s words only because it is in such deep sht!

    Despite everything Steven loves tvb except for that woman, like Pandamao, I’m not sure weather he’ll or leave.

    1. My 2 cents worth is to get rid of Virginia Lok, she should never have been assigned to handle the artists’ portfolio. She has no people skills, treats artists without respect and plays favorites amoung the staff.

      1. To get someone to replace her is extremely hard. To TVB, she’s even more important than many artists. If TVB has to choose btw her and Steven, I’m sure they’ll choose her. However, it seems that TVB wants both lol.

      2. She maybe a talented woman but she lacks leadership skills. A strong leader should be proactive, sensitive to the workers’ needs and not to bully or ignore them when the workers’ approach her with their problems. She is just not the ideal person for the artists’ portfolio, perhaps she will find her niche in something else.

      3. Sorry, handling artists is not the same as handling other staff. Has to keep their secrets, even handle their relationship, blah blah blah, it’s like a mother! Her relationships are extremely good, she could even put TVB artist in a “Korean-Japan” show. Sorry, TVB don’t dare to lose her, they need her more than many other artists.

        Moreover, she’s a human. She can not love EVERYone? SM said he could not get along with her, is it only her fault? When an employee said he could not get along well with his boss, then it’s his boos’s fault? That’s ridiculous. Everything come from both side. SM even got more credit than many other artists.

      4. I think everything has 2 faces. The natural of person is love and hatred. Lol, only God can love everyone, but I rmb that even God has enemies. So being a human, she has her own favourites, it’s natural.

        And she isn’t the only one who plays favourites in TVB. Stephen Chan also plays his favourites. Catherine Tsang is the same. Tommy Leung is nothing different.

        As an employee, I dun think that boss can understand all of her/his employees. If they understand the requirements of the employees too clear, it might conflict with company’s benefit. So keep the balance. Moreover, I dun think any employee like employer to understand them too well.

  4. I don’t really liked Steven Ma. I guess he deserve more. I think he is getting what he wants. He is an actor. Damn good one. He can act. I bet he will stay but on freelance.

  5. Selfishly, I want Steven to stay because I want to see him paired up with Myolie in a series, paired up again with Charmaine, paired up with Tavia again so they can finally have a happy ending, etc… lol

    Hopefully, they come up with a good arrangement for Steven to stay.

    I do see Virginia Lok’s artist power being distributed to other higher management. It is tvb’s fault for giving her so much solo power in the first place. She’s made a lot of mistakes such as not being able to communicate well with some artists, but I also see why tvb values her. Like it or not, she was able to make a lot of money for tvb and create some new stars.

    1. Could she have made more if she allowed other artist, with more time, the opportunity to take on some ads? She kept her fav from taking everything and at one point, she was draining their energy.

      Sorry AC – i disagree with her making a lot of money for tvb. She’s actually made TVB lose a lot of money. This should be based on long term achievements and not short term returns.

      1. If she didn’t help them make a lot of money, they wouldn’t value her so much.

      2. AC – I believe you have missed my point. I didn’t question whether she was able to make money for a particular artist, I questioned whether her method was at the best interest of the company in the long run.

    1. The game just level up more with bigger boss showing up? heheh 😀

    2. A telling sign is that Mona Fong enlisted the help of TVB three top executives in the emergency exercise but left out 620.

      To me this is a sign that 620’s power is being curtailed. If she is put in charge of the investigation and restoration exercise, she can easily shift the blame to the artistes, market forces etc, saying that none of these was her fault.

      1. You think too easy.

        First, 620 is always HR office director. So she is still in charge with artists.

        Second, her name is mentioned or not, no problem.

        Third, I don’t blv that all are 620’s fault at all. She is the blamed but not sure she is the stone to the machine.

  6. I never knew Steven Ma was so valued in TVB. Good good. NOw that MOna Fong has awaken from her stupor, perhaps there is hope for Bowie, Steven and even Wong Hei.

    1. I don’t think it’s SM’s value himself, TVB just don’t want other artist to follow him and resign!

  7. Funn Lim: I never knew Steven Ma was so valued in TVB.

    Me neither

    Jayne:<i?Their words finally reached TVB management’s ears.

    And here I thought Steven spoke directly into the tvb mgmt’s ears. VL even mocked Steven for shedding tears when expressing his feelings to Norman Leung. So now tvb is finally taking notice after such a long lapse?

    Steven’s said dinner with Norman Leung, VL and Mark Lee and other artistes was in March this year.

    1. Hi Claimine,

      Reading your posts, you seemed like a great fan of Steven.

      I am partial to Steven too.

      Care to share why you like Steven Ma so much? What is it about this actor that impresses you so much…?

      1. Canto: Why I like Steven Ma. Because of “眼缘” (eyes affinity) and idol-fan fate(缘分). I think Steven is good looking and multi-talented. He acts,sings,and writes well. I also appreciate his intelligent and articulated responses during his interviews. He is a public figure I can really admire and look up to as a role model from what I know of him. Also I absolutely enjoy reading his thought-provoking,sometimes profound,writings in his book and blog.

        If you wish to get to know him better goto his fanblog.

        or read the English translation of his prose essays

      2. Canto: I gave you a stock answer to your question. His talents aside, that is only part of the reason why I became such a big fan of Steven. What truly captured my heart is Steven’s 2002 column that he wrote for a Guangzhou Daily. Steven said he started his singing career at a negative point because because of this backfiring slogan: “He is not Lai Ming..he is Steven Ma”. A man who could write with such eloquence and was unafraid to share his vulnerability moved me,as did his fortitude,too, henceforth,making me a staunch SM supporter. Jayne, I hope you don’t mind my taking up space to present my excepted translation of Steven’s essay here.

        1994 When an almost healed wound was suddenly ripped open, the pain and the despondency felt couldn’t be imagined. Although, I knew Ms. MC’s use of “.. resembles Lai Ming…” to present me was not ill-intentioned, nevertheless, when I heard it I was transfixed with terror. My mind went blank. Backstage, I heard the riotous heckling and the male emcee, Uncle Jim (James Wong) saying: “What’s the matter? This singer sings very well. He sings with his heart. Listen to him…….” Uncle Jim’s terse remarks swiftly quieted down the crowd. It was precisely because of this esteemed veteran’s encouraging remarks that I was able to re-assemble whatever shredded confidence still left in me to actually find the courage to walk out onto the stage. Perhaps, unknowingly during the past year I had gotten use to performing amidst boos, for that night, I was able to present an outwardly calm and collected demeanor as I cast aside my trepidation for the moment. I got my wits together, enough to pep talk myself: To be a professional singer, one must be able to perform professionally under any circumstances.

        With that in mind, I grasped the mike, closed my eyes, and sang with all my might and all the emotion I could muster. For the next three minutes, my only thought was to sing this song well, nothing else matter. Not until the last note faded away, and I heard the resounding applause did I ascertain my effort did not go to waste. From booing to warm applause, the time interval was exceedingly short, and its turnabout, incredibly abrupt. Caught up in the swing of mood, emotion welled up inside me. Standing on the stage, vaguely discerning an undulating sea of friendly faces, I was so touched I almost cried. I thought: although the crowd’s booing was tough to bear, but to finally receive their acceptance and approval; did it not make this all the more meaningful? I held back my tears, thanked the audience and went backstage. The smile that was moments ago hanging on my face fell off instantly. No need to look at a mirror, I could feel the numbing of my senses on a face void of emotion. The backstage was crowded with people, but I did not utter a word. I withdrew straight into my shell from the past; a very familiar, very private world…

        Faced with these two options, I felt re-energized. Delirious aside, I wondered at fate’s timely intervention; its timing was impeccable, right on when I was all set to leave entertainment and move on to a different circle. Why pull me back again? Did it mean I should stay? I had already put in three years in this circle, and was fully cognizant of the vagaries of an entertainment career; a gamble if ever there was one. If I stay, does it mean I would have to gamble one more time? Put in another three more years? How many three years could I bet on? Stay or leave? I was torn; indeed the decision was not an easy one to make.

      3. Claimine,
        “I hope you don’t mind my taking up space to present my excepted translation of Steven’s essay”

        No problem in sharing. You are such an eloquent writer!

      4. Very nice… Claimine, thank you for taking your time to translate the article for us to read.

        Yes, I feel the sincerity from him.

        He seems to be very passionate about his craft and affected.

        I just searched wikipedia on him. His life seems a bit sad though. He was born into a middle class or poor family with three sisters, and he was badly affected by his mother’s death to the point of depression at one point in his life.

        I think his birthdate shows he is a Scorpio… perhaps lending to his melancholic streak?

        Because of you I am interested to hear him sing, he must have a nice voice.

  8. I dont think TVB really value Steven Ma. If you look at past history, all the series given to him are all sub standard! He usually play rather annoying outrighteous characters which are no fun at all, especially for younger viewers like myself!
    Only the latest “The Life and Times of a Sentinel” is different. Now that everyone is leaving, then they start “appreciating” him! Big joke!

    If they want to solve the problem, they should first retain their BEST writers & top artist by improving their benefits!

    1. Yeah, now everyone is leaving, they start to treasure them. Even asked Joe Ma to come back??? I don’t see him have any large value when he was in TVB.

      TVB should promote some young artist though. Their “young” male leads now are all 30+. I used to think Most Improved Award would be given to 20+ artist, but recent years, they’re turning old 🙂

      1. “TVB should promote some young artist though. Their “young” male leads now are all 30+.”

        I think so too. I can only see William Chak who’s in his 20s and TVB seems to have intentions of promoting. Matthew Ko and Stephen Huynh have proven that they will be stuck in supporting roles. And besides Mr. HK, whose else does TVB promote these days? They don’t seem to have a decent acting class that churns out actors with potential anymore.

      2. Chriselle, I think besides William Chak, TVB is also promoting Him Law and Vincent Wong?

      3. Lee Tim Sing is giving Benjamin a chance. If he did well in that series, he will have a chance to be promoted.

        Btw, talking about Stephen Huynh, I was surprised to see him play a court physician in Sentinel. Court physician usually played by old guys. I also notice that in Sentinel, a lot of young looking actors have to don a moustache in order to not look younger than the older actors who play a young character. Sentinel actually has a lot of Mr.HK participants in it. Matthew Ko, Benjamin Yuen, Jack Hui, Stephen Huynh, Otto Chan.

      4. Then why in YSSS, they even have to hire a mid-age woman to act high school student :(?

      5. @ Fox

        I didn’t watch YSSS. Who is that mid age woman? I know they use babyface Fred Cheng in one of the small case and I thought the reason was because the younger actors couldn’t do emotional scenes as convincing as the more experienced Fred.

      6. I dunno which eps it is in because I watched the seletive cut version of Miss Koo (to follow the trend, hehe), then I saw a mid-age woman (maybe a klf) wore uniform in the scene of Miss Koo with the student. I laugh so hard.

      7. Why is it that there are many capable of American teenage actors/actresses, but for HK, that’s not the case? Many of the teenagers portraying students in TVB series are mostly in their early to mid 20s.

      8. I don’t think Vincent has the onscreen charisma to lead a series. Although I prefer watching him over Chris Lai and Stephen Wong, he isn’t handsome enough for me to watch him act. Anyone else find him too skinny?

        I use to like Him Law, but my respect for him dropped a bit after the scandal and he hasn’t had any interesting characters to play after D.I.E. Again. I think Him has more potential than Vincent and he has a great body, but only average looks.

        I like William Chak. Hopefully, his acting doesn’t disappoint, but pairing with Oceane for his first major supporting role may bring down his performance a tad bit since she had speak proper Canto and that would affect their chemistry.

        Benjamin use to be cute too, but his acting is really only a black of wood and I’ve seen him as wood ever since. 😛

        Jack Hui has a semi-villain look to me, hehe!


        Haha, I was also taken aback a bit by Stephen Huynh portraying the court physician. But since Kenneth’s character was going to accuse him and Grace for having an affair, I think the producer decided to use a younger actor to make the story more believable? If Grace cheated on the Emperor with an old physician, um, ew?


        Who’s Jackie Wong? I remember there was a child actor called Jacky Wong. Lol, but you’re not referring to him, are you?

    2. “I dont think TVB really value Steven Ma. If you look at past history, all the series given to him are all sub standard! He usually play rather annoying outrighteous characters which are no fun at all, especially for younger viewers like myself!”

      His character in the dog series is fun. So is his character in ‘Better Halves’. The series he’s in are not the big budget hyped up dramas, but, they are mostly good in quality. Definitely not sub standard.

      By saying all the series given to him are all sub standard, you are insulting the producers that value him most such i.e. Leung Chou Yuen and Tsui Yu On. The are the 2 producers that use Steven Ma the most.

      1. Steven’s character is actually the more fun character. He’s the livelier and smarter character. Moses’s character seems funnier because of Moses’s great comedic act. Funn’s assessment was right. Moses has great comic timing and is natural comedy actor.

      2. I hardly can’t rmb anything about Better Halves’s content, other than I rmb Moses thought he loved a guy and tried to “love” SM.

  9. I think TVB is desperate and try to finally look into the problems that they had been avoiding for so many years. Of course they want to retain Steven. If not all the poaching going on, I think Steven should leave TVB. But since TVB starting to “value and appreciate” his talent, I think Steven should stay and see if any good can happen. I mean he still have time until his contract ends next year. I mean many high executive express that they want him to stay, I think he should take this opportunity and ride the wave.

  10. The executive director finally wakes up? Will Mona ever get the Big5 music companies back on TVB as well?

  11. If I were Steven, I would sign a per series contract as to not cut ties w/ TVB but also be able to develop himself in other areas if he chooses.

  12. Wondering when will the Hk reporters surrounded her and throw some questions like. it’s true that you are out from TVB,Mona didn’t trust you anymore, when are you going to resign or the drain of talent mainly is from you cox you don’t have people management skills and play heavy favoritism that cause TVB fallout….hahahaha….you deserved it B…tch 620……

  13. Steven should leave ASAP just look at Samuel another talented artist being treated badly due to favorism towards plastic players.

    Samuel is now being fairly popular in mainland and his acting is great as well.

    1. I dun think Sammul’s case is any similar to SM’s. Sammul refused to sign contract with TVB, SM signed contract with TVB.

      Sammul can be popular now in mainland, partly thank to Yu Zheng and HunanTV. Like I said, wanna quick fame? Say yes to HunanTV. Look at Kevin Cheng now with BBJX.

      And if you use popular in mainland as measure method, the plastic players in your mind are also very popular in mainland :P.

      1. Why isn’t it similar? People leave “hell” because of low salary and being treated badly. Both of them wants to progress further in their careers.

        Samuel rejected a mainland series which paid a 7 figure number to play Relic only to find out that he was only a big klf LOL.

        Im only saying that there is a heaven out there for pure souls now being tortured in hell.

      2. But you think without the basement of TVB, they can have that good price in China? Lol, be fair, without TVB, they can’t be that high price in China. Pure soul? You are daydreamer? If there is a pure soul in the industry, (1) be kicked out; (2) fake pureness.

      3. Yeah have to endure hell first before entering heaven LOL.

        Don’t agree with you that all artists are fake. Alot are fake in their apperance while other are fake in their personality pretending to be nice just like cheater shirley…

      4. All of them are fake in my opinion.

        And they are willing to jump to fire with TVB until they can go, it’s fact. If they are not famous and no invitation or other way to go, they’ll stay with TVB.

      5. By your definition we are all fake and perhaps you are right.

        for instance wouldn’t u leave your current employer if u r treated like garbage or if another firm is offering u twice as much in salary?

      6. Up to the conditions. Maybe the salary in my current company is bad but the bonus is high and the expenses are good and the offered company has high salary but no promotion, no bonus and far from my house, then I’d rather choose the current company.

        Even if I leave my company, I dun think I have to say bad about it before I go. Whatever, it taught me and give me a good basement for me to have better opportunity.

      7. Well u have to remember that most of the artists leaving hell have been stucked there for over 10 years.

        So its only natural for them to my a statement when the contract is due to expire and there is no need to sign a new one.

        Speaking their voice will also make the mtg aware of the dire situation if they care about it and help their fellow artists to perhaps a better condition.

      8. You are asking for my choice :P.

        Everything has 2 faces. They won’t complain of low salary if they aren’t famous enough. It’s like Ruco’s case. Reporters said that he signed a 13 year contract with low salary but he dun complain, because he noe it’s the way for him to gain fame.

      9. Everything has its price my dear. It’s their decision to signed the contract. They play the game, they have to follow the rules. Well, without “hell” here, they would not be as famous as they are now. It’s hell who promoted them to their current position.

        You think artists are angels??? No. Everything has 2 sides, no one forced them to signed the contract, so I don’t like the fact that some artists leave TVB and turn around “telling the truth”, it’s like when TVB is considered no use to them, they will bash it. It’s not a positive attitude to me. When they were willing to take the risk to have fame, they should accept the fact.

      10. “It’s like Ruco’s case. Reporters said that he signed a 13 year contract with low salary but he dun complain, because he noe it’s the way for him to gain fame.”

        I personally believe that his salary may keep changing over the years, depending on his market value later. I recall reading this interview of an artiste(I forgot who..), where he/she said that they may sign a new sub agreement every year to determine salary/other clauses; since artistes market value are very fickle and can rise or fall dramatically.

      11. Yes, but right now he is willing to accept the low pay, just to be promoted ASAP.

  14. From a selfish point of view I would want Steven to stay with TVB as I would miss him if he left. However, he should do what is best for his career and if leaving TVB is better for his future then I would say good luck to him.

    Regarding Virginia, I have to be neutral about her as I know very little about her. However quite a few artists have said wonderful things about her; i.e. how they have helped their careers etc… and yet here I am reading negative comments about her so I don’t really know ….

  15. mona fond has nothing but herself to blame. pay sh*t and get sh*t in return. **** you.

  16. Some numbers. Artist may sign a lowly 8000 per episode, just say, 10 years. Let’s say, 100 episodes, per year, that is 80,000, times 10 years, that is 800,000. Unless, the artist market value increase to 10 times, they really can’t early termination or buy over? I just wonders.

    If TVB is that bad, try out Korea market, they are even something similar, I just hope whatever, they are fighting for, a win-win situation.

    More free TV, is good, anywhere, the real money was not the Free TV market, it is the overseas rights.

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