Unhappy About Being Coldly Treated, Steven Ma Angrily Dumps TVB
The trend of TVB Siu Sangs Actors and Fadans “absconding” TVB has been persisting of late. Recently, even Steven Ma (馬浚偉) was rumored to have resigned and had stopped working for TVB.
It was known that the spark of outrage started from Steven’s dissatisfaction about being coldly treated, despite raking in an impressively high rating of 40 points for the finale of his drama, The Life and Times of A Sentinel《紫禁驚雷》.
Another leading factor which led to his alleged resignation was TVB’s lack of consideration by turning down his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of starring in a Mainland grand production with a sordid cast, which could have enabled his venture into the Mainland market and brought his career to greater heights.
This caused Steven to feel dismayed and enraged enough to request TVB Production and Resource Director Virginia Lok (樂易玲) for a early release from his contract. It was known that the agitated Steven even confided bitterly in his good friend, “I am truly disheartened this time ’round!”
The trend of TVB Siu Sangs Actors and Fadans breaking away from TVB has been like a revolving door, “fleeing away” one after another.
Following the evacuation of “Stephen Chan camp” member Wong Hei (王喜) and other actors and actresses like Charmaine Sheh (佘詩曼), Bowie Lam (林保怡), Yoyo Mung (蒙嘉慧), Bernice Liu (廖碧兒) and etc from TVB, the latest to leave was none other than another rumored “Stephen Chan camp” member, Steven Ma.
However, there were rumors that Steven’s departure from TVB was in a fit of anger and was committed due to his falling out with the boss of the TVB Artistry Department, Virginia Lok, who allegedly has always been engaged in a power struggle with Stephen Chan (陳志雲).
Steven, whose contract with TVB would only end next June, requested Virginia Lok for an early release from his contract last month, thereby officially cutting his 18 year employee ties with TVB.
Ever since joining TVB, Steven Ma’s performance has been nothing short of exceptional, specializing in periodic dramas, taking up hosting work and even singing the theme songs of his dramas, totally slogging his guts out for TVB, without any complaint.
However, despite the superb rating of “The Life and Times of A Sentinel”, not a single celebratory dinner was thrown by TVB. That was officially the last straw for Steven who was still upset over the previous forfeited opportunity to “dig for gold” in the Mainland. It came as no wonder then that he finally hardened his heart and requested for a early termination of his contract from TVB.
Poured out one’s bitter sufferings: I am truly disheartened
Yesterday, while filming new drama, Lucky Father《當 旺爸爸》, in TVB City which was situated at Tseung Kwan O, Steven Ma carried a somber expression, looking like he was feeling down.
In the early years, Steven had already joined TVB and only “sold” himself to TVB in the form of a management contract in the year 2006, officially becoming their “biological son”. After which, Steven was mostly assigned to act in periodic dramas and was nominated in the running for TV King every year but had failed to clinch the award each time. It was thus inevitable for even an undeterred man like Steven to feel acidulous.
Apart from being unable to fulfill his dream of becoming TV King, Steven Ma has yet to have the opportunity to film a Mainland drama. Whereas his fellow acting peers like Ron Ng (吳卓羲), Bosco Wong (黃宗澤), Roger Kwok (郭晉安) and etc had the chance, one after another, to head up to the Mainland to “dig for gold” (earn the Renminbi filming fees).
It was known that a few months ago, Steven’s big break came when he was approached by Tsui Siu-Ming (徐小明) to shoot a fifty episodes ancient periodic Mainland drama, Legend of the Yuan Empire Founder《建元風雲》, together with a star-studded cast consisting of Hu Jun (胡軍), Ray Lui (呂良偉), Charmaine Sheh and etc.
Although Steven was scheduled to be a second line actor in “Yuan Empire Founder”, his scenes in there were not insignificant at all.
Furthermore, being able to participate in a CNTV (China Network Television) production was also considered to be a rare golden opportunity to any actor in the industry and especially to Steven as it would meant a threefold increase in his filming remuneration to a sum of 1.8 million RMB.
However, unexpectedly, his hopes went up in smoke when they turned down the offer for him. Upon learning about this, it was known that Steven flew into a rage and thus became the motivating factor behind the determination of an early contract dismissal.
On the other hand, Steven’s recently-concluded TVB drama, “The Life and Times of A Sentinel”, hit a record high rating of 40 points [2.55 million viewers] when they broadcasted their finale early this month. This placed “Sentinel” on par with the equally highly rated TVB drama, Lives of Omission《潛行狙擊》.
Although both TVB dramas achieved remarkable ratings, their fates were as different as night and day, “Lives” was thrown a lavish and huge scale celebratory event which received massive press coverage whereas “Sentinel” was not thrown any, in comparison. It thus came as no surprise why Steven felt utterly disappointed and looked listless on the filming set of “Lucky Father”.
This devastating treatment had, no doubt, added onto his anguish over the recent rejection of the lucrative Mainland drama offer as last month, Steven allegedly took Virginia Lok by surprise when he requested for an early release from his contract, in a bid to resign as soon as possible.
According to sources, the senior management staff of TVB were severely taken aback by Steven’s request and actions as they felt that it was no laughing matter for TVB to lose such an invaluable first line actor like Steven. In a bid to make amendments and hopefully succeed in making Steven change his mind, they immediately contacted the “Yuan Empire Founder” drama team to arrange for Steven’s participation once again.
Although Steven might ultimately fulfill his wish and clinch a role in the Mainland grand production, it could be seen that Steven’s determination to terminate his contract was still ongoing as he had even revealed to his friend that he was thoroughly disheartened and apathetic this time ’round.
Termination of contract: Wait till things are clarified before discussing
Yesterday, the reporter asked Steven for clarifications on rumors that he was terminating his contract with TVB. Upon being asked over the phone, Steven’s tone sounded evasive, “I thank everyone very much for their concern lah, I did discuss with the company over some problems, the process is quite complicated, I am a little uncomfortable over some matters but it’s not convenient for me to go into details.”
With regards to rumors that he had fallen out with Virginia Lok over the turning down of the Mainland drama, Steven responded, “In any case, Hillman [Steven’s manager from the TVB Artistry Department] told me that the higher authorities said no, I am rather unhappy but they are still in the midst of handling this matter.”
Any particular person who is amongst the “higher authorities” then? Steven laughed and replied, “I really don’t know about this lah.” (Reporter: What are their reasons given to you for being unable to accept the Mainland drama?) “Company policies, I don’t know why, but they said it has to be premiered in Hong Kong first. They also said this applies to every artiste in TVB.”
When it was mentioned that “Sentinel” had no celebratory event despite raking in an impressive rating during their finale, Steven responded, “It was the company’s decision. I also wanted to celebrate it or maybe arrangements were not able to be coordinated hence there wasn’t a single form of celebration at all. Actually, after so many years, I’m already used to it.”
During a previous interview, Steven hinted of intentions to leave TVB so was he planning to leave TVB now? Steven did not rule out the possibility and replied, “My contract with TVB would be up next June. I will probably decide about it later lah. However, I must admit that I have a lot of pressing issues on my mind. I will have to wait till things are clarified before addressing everyone.”
From Steven’s previous reply, he sounded extremely disappointed with TVB, so was he? In reply to this, Steven responded, “I really love TVB. I have plenty of feelings for it. However, the company involved in too much matters, too many people, matters in the future will be decided in the future.”
Regarding rumors that Steven had requested for an early termination of his contact, Virginia Lok responded over the phone yesterday, “Really?! Wait till I seek an understanding about this matter. He (Steven) still has quite a period of time before his contract with us officially expires.”
What about rumors that Steven was displeased about how “The Life and Times of A Sentinel” was coldly treated? Virginia Lok responded, “It is not my responsibility to decide whether to celebrate or not, it is the responsibilities of the production department and the external affairs department.” (Reporter: What about the turning down of the Mainland drama?) “This information source isn’t accurate, we already helped him to accept the Mainland drama and he will be filming it next month.”
Steven Ma gives a forewarning about his startling resignation
Steven Ma also left a message on Weibo, sighing away, “Passionate as the summer heat, he rushed, only to be coldly treated and proudly appearing like the pine. Raising his head high when receiving insults from a bully who is throwing his weight about, how much longer can he withstand it?”, which clearly depicted his dissatisfaction on being coldly treated.
Despite raking in a phenomenal rating during the broadcast of the final episode of his drama, “The Life and Times of A Sentinel”, on 26 August 2011, TVB did not hold any form of celebration before, during or after the broadcast of the finale.
Crestfallen, Steven and the producer of “Sentinel”, “Uncle Choi” Leung Choi-Yuen (梁材遠) have been playing a “single darting competition” over Weibo for a few consecutive days, hinting of their displeasure.
Singlehandedly release hidden arrows all over
On the broadcasting day of the finale, Uncle Choi wrote a message on Weibo, “In “The Life and Times of A Sentinel”, while Nip Dor-Po [Steven Ma’s character in the show] was on the stage and undergoing the test to be an imperial bodyguard, there were hidden arrows from all sorts of places, expectedly, direct and public arrows, hidden arrows, poison arrows, sadistic arrows, arrows of malicious pursuit and arrows of unwillingness and reluctance. In the end, the archer who released these arrows would eventually disappeared. If you shoot someone today, someone will, in turn, shoot you the next day.”
Soon after Uncle Choi posted up this message on Weibo, Steven replied to him, “Haha Uncle Choi, it’s hard to safeguard against so many arrows! However, being Changshan’s Zhao Zi Long, I have a gall that can never be beaten down!” Steven later followed up with another message, “In a messed up reign with such an evil rampage on the loose, sticking by one’s principles and defending the right path till the very last breath, whether it is capable of being accomplished…I still firmly believe that good will always triumph over evil!”
On 30 August 2011, after learning that their drama, “Sentinel” has raked in an impressively high rating, Uncle Choi wrote to Steven over Weibo, “Buy and drink coffee (to celebrate) on your own.” Steven mocked in reply, “Can I drink soft drinks (to celebrate) instead?”
The next day, Uncle Choi uploaded a computer graphic of opening champagne, implying to celebrate on his own to quench his own “thirst”. Actually, last month after Steven allegedly requested for a early release from his contract, he had already hinted signs of it over Weibo, “A game. Not necessary to continue playing. If it’s worth staying then stay. If it’s time to go then go.”
Looking back in history: Four-time recipient of “My Favorite Male Television Character” award
Next month would mark the 40 year old Steven’s 18th year in the industry. Steven, who came from a singing background, turned tracks to venture into an acting career to make a name for himself.
Back in 2000, he starred in TVB classic drama, Return Of The Cuckoo《十月初五的月光》, and scored one of the main leading role as Szeto Lai-Shun, tugging at the audience’s heart strings together with Charmaine Sheh (佘詩曼), Chilam Cheung (張智霖) and Michael Tong (唐文龍). Their love triangle relationship even managed to take Hong Kong by storm, making their series the highest rated drama of the year.
In 2001, Steven clinched the “My Most Favorite Male Television Character” with his portrayal as horse trainer Kam Yuen in TVB drama, On The Track Or Off《勇往直前》, thus securing his position as one of the lead actors in TVB.
After which, Steven won the “My Most Favorite Male Character” award three consecutive times in a row, in the year 2002 with Where The Legend Begins《洛神》, in the year 2003 with Perish In The Name of Love《帝女花》and in the year 2006 with Safe Guards《鐵 血保鏢》. However, despite his tremendous luck with the “My Most Favorite Male Television Character” award, Steven did not have any affinity with the Best Actor Award all these years.
Steven had in fact slogged his well-diversified talents out for TVB for the past 18 years, achieving a high rating of 40 points for “The Life and Times of A Sentinel”, singing the theme song to it and hosting programs for TVB due to his eloquence and gift of the gab, even winning recognition for gathering high ratings for his cooking variety show, Apprentice Chef《大廚出馬》.
Steven Ma self-depreciates himself as a mommy’s boy; wants a sense of security from the company
Recently, there were rumors that Steven Ma was planning to leave his “biological home” for greener pastures. On 15 September 2011, when Steven was at a commercial radio station, he accepted a phone interview. Steven didn’t went overboard and left some leeway, “I did discuss with the company. I urge everyone to give me and TVB some time.” He even self-depreciated himself as a mommy’s boy who needs his company to give him more sense of security.
When it was mentioned that the recently-concluded “The Life and Times of A Sentinel” had received commendable ratings, Steven expressed that the producer did consider celebrating it with all the cast and crew but everyone was too busy to squeeze any time out of their hectic schedule, “I’m already very happy to see that the drama achieved such a good rating. I would already be more than satisfied even if the company only treated me to cake as a form of celebration.”
Asked whether it was true that he couldn’t get along well with Virginia Lok, Steven responded, “We don’t see each other often. We usually talk about work when we meet.”
About rumors that TVB rejected the Mainland drama for him, Steven remarked that that said drama would be starting filming next month, “I will have a share in acting the drama.” (Reporter: Will you be reluctant and unwilling to leave TVB?) “Yes, I’m a mommy’s boy in terms of work.”
Michael Tse ridicules Steven Ma for being like a kid who snatches for toys
While attending a crime-prevention activity, actor Michael Tse (謝天華) was asked about his opinions on Raymond Lam‘s (林峰) public declaration of having the confidence to fight for the TV King award with him. In reply to this, Michael felt that any actor who participated in the running for TV King would feel confident.
Other than that, there were rumors that Steven was malcontented about his TVB drama, “The Life and Times of A Sentinel”, not receiving any much-deserved accentuation and celebration despite the high rating during their finale. Asked whether Michael would call Steven up to console and ask him not to be so petty, Michael responded, “It shouldn’t be in a way such that it’s like kids fighting and snatching over toys and saying that their parents advocate favoritism.”
Source: Apple Daily, Oriental Daily, iHKtv
This article was translated by Ah K, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com.