with Yvonne Lai
This year's Academy Awards have proven that bigger isn't necessarily better - not by a long shot. Indie film The Hurt Locker bested budget-bloated Avatar in five of the seven categories in which they went head to head, which included a best director win for Kathryn Bigelow over ex-husband James Cameron, and best picture.
Given such a refreshing example of 'less is more' - not to mention the economic times we're stagger- ing through - we are surprised HBO didn't rethink its bullet-spray marketing strategy for The Pacific (right; HBO, Saturdays at 9pm, with a two-hour premiere this week), or at least change the tagline, 'The Most Expensive HBO Miniseries Ever'. Where have we heard that before ... oh, right; that accolade was previously held by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hank's other second world war US army miniseries, Band of Brothers (reruns on HBO), which weighed in at a measly US$125 million in 2004.
If the HBO people think non-stop in-channel promotion about the US$200-million production budget is going to expedite a preview (beyond these measly words, of course), they are sadly mistaken. Sending television columnists a screening copy of the first episode, however, would have helped immensely. As of deadline for the Channel Hop column this week, we have yet to see the official The Pacific screener, so we can't tell if it's worth an amount of money that could have fed a small Asian nation for a year; but we can certainly tell you about programmes that are closer to home and less costly.
You could do worse than spend an hour Among the Great Apes with Michelle Yeoh (National Geographic Channel; tonight at 8pm), as the Malaysian-Chinese action heroine returns to her home country to visit her adopted orangutan, Sen, and highlight the work done by the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and its partners.
Cheerful and chatty with humans and apes alike, Yeoh chooses an upbeat narrative while plunging into the experience of wildlife monitoring, tree planting and the rescue and mothering of orphaned apes; true to form, she does all the stunts herself. Her star is hard to resist and so are the witty faces of Asia's only indigenous ape.
As Yeoh says of a full-grown male she catches sight of in the wild, 'He has such a manly face; what a beautiful, beautiful guy.'
Move over Chow Yun-fat, the lady has found a new leading man.
Speaking of stars, highlights of the fourth annual Asian Film Awards were first aired on Tuesday, on ATV World, the day after the event. Those of us who missed them can catch coverage of the red carpet reception and awards ceremony on Star World, on Friday at 11pm and Saturday at 11pm, respectively. For Lorna Tee, a member of the show's steering committee, the biggest excitement was 'having Amitabh Bachchan, the biggest movie star on Earth, over to receive a lifetime achievement award'.
Lastly, tonight, The Pearl Report (TVB Pearl; Sundays at 8pm) tracks a growing, and arguably necessary, trend towards measuring the carbon in our populous city.
'Three years ago, there were no carbon auditors in Hong Kong,' the feature's producer, Renato Reyes, says. 'And suddenly we have over 300.'
Among the enterprises his team of auditors profiles are the French International School, Cathay Pacific Airways and KPMG's Hong Kong offices; it also shows one lucky household how to use an online carbon calculator.