Since assuming his role as TVB Creative Director in January, Wong Cho Lam (王祖藍) is burdened with the task of increasing employee morale, handling the expectations of the executive team in regards to a system overhaul, and dealing with criticism from viewers. It definitely is a much harder task than his previous successful artiste career in China.
Not Motivated by Money
Revealing why he decided to join TVB’s managerial ranks instead of building his own more lucrative artiste career in China, Cho Lam said his “relationship with TVB isn’t about money.” Pointing out that “gaining management experience” is more valuable than money as it is an encounter he may never come across in his “entire life as an artiste,” Cho Lam decided to rise to the challenge.
Since the competition in the China market is fierce, is Cho Lam not afraid that he will be forgotten with less appearances in Mainland variety shows? He said, “I hope to maintain my relationships with all the Chinese television channels to give TVB and my colleagues a chance.”
Eager to Bring Ideas to Life
The past few months has seen TVB release more different genres of variety shows than the past decade. Since Cho Lam’s return, TVB released Have a Big Laugh <開心大綜藝>, Mama’s Day <日日媽媽聲>, Dub of War <好聲好氣>, Case Unclosed <死因有可疑>, and Top Sales <識貨>. The ratings performance and reviews of these new variety shows varied.
Cho Lam wants TVB staff to not be afraid to try new ideas, even if the ratings performance is not ideal. Citing that the ratings for Case Unclosed was poor since it was an experiment, Cho Lam felt that trying new concepts is an important step towards improvement.
“We need to increase the morale within the team and give them chances. If they are able to produce an idea, then there should be a chance to bring it to life. This is the balance that we need to find between the company, market, and employee morale,” Cho Lam enthused.
“Once we’ve determined a model that works, then I won’t have to monitor it so closely. During Dub of War, I visited filming once or twice. For Top Sales, I visited once and could already tell that everything was going to be okay. I should be letting go and trust my colleagues to handle things, as not everything needs my involvement. If everything needs my approval, then the process would be very slow.”
Seniority is Not Important
Quantity over quality seems to be TVB’s working model in the past years. Unfortunately, it has resulted in low employee morale and engagement. Even Liza Wang (汪明荃), who is one of the most respected artistes at TVB, has made many attempts to publicly advocate for her colleagues and that they should be paid more and given more opportunities.
When deciding on the cast and crew to work on variety shows, Cho Lam does not care about seniority. “Before my return to TVB, many people told me that there isn’t enough work.” From Dub of War to Top Sales, Cho Lam has specifically arranged for many second and third tier artistes to participate to be more inclusive so everyone is able to have work.
Acknowledging that “knowing people’s strengths is also a form of respect,” Cho Lam hopes the extra visibility in variety shows will give more spotlight for supporting artistes to shine. “I hope to find a spot to give them that respect. Each variety show can only feature about 10 to 20 artistes, but it’s worth a try.”
Due to the sheer number of company employees and safety precautions taken during the pandemic, Cho Lam can only take the opportunity during celebratory dinners to hear suggestions from colleagues. “I also started off as an artiste, so I am very concerned over their needs. At the end of the day, the company is still a business and it’s hard to have that balance. We can only see what we can change in the policies, or how we can change our communication or attitude to make artistes feel more comfortable.”
Dealing With Harsh Feedback
Given TVB’s declining ratings and inability to engage viewers, netizens have been especially harsh in their reactions. After so many years in the industry, Cho Lam is used to inflammatory reactions online. He joked his Christian faith made him a very forgiving person. “If I get upset over these things, then I wouldn’t be able to stay here.”
Cho Lam pointed out “the most important thing is to not disappoint my colleagues and fellow artistes. This was a factor I considered before taking on this job. Especially in the Information Age, everyone needs and takes that opportunity to vent their frustrations online.”
Admitting there are still many areas of improvement, Cho Lam sincerely asked viewers for a little more time and for the media to be a little less critical.
This article is written by Kiki for JayneStars.com.