In Singapore, actresses do not introduce themselves as such. They are 'MediaCorp Artists', a loose terminology which often means they are pretty, slim and most likely without much acting talent. Actually, that goes for actors, too. Of course, this is a generality. A few have escaped the stigma and have proved that they can act. Well, sort of. Yet even they still grace the countless slimming adverts featured in local newspapers, trying to explain how they really did manage to lose 2kg, which they really did not need to lose in the first place. Promoting spa, beauty and slimming products has become a second job for many such artists, while the men 'specialise' in hair products, revealing, with as much sincerity as they can muster, how their hair really has grown back - but were they ever balding? The Singaporeans excel in many things - maths and science, for example - but when it comes to acting (and singing), it is another story. Overacting with blank stares (thinking), open mouth (surprise) and furrowed brow (anger) seems to be all the local acting schools (if there are any) manage to teach, while the recent Singapore Idol reinforced what the music industry has long known. It was not so much the lack of talent shown by the aspiring idols that made most people cringe, but the absence of talent and charisma in the 'expert' judges. I might be a little harsh here, but so would you be if the only thing on prime-time television was badly scripted, poorly acted shows. Some may argue that the recent 'media' reorganisation has flushed away some of the less talented artists. Finally realising that media competition in a country of 4 million readers and viewers (counting the children) was not really bearing fruit, the government encouraged a consolidation at the end of last year between local giants Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and MediaCorp. Alas, my free daily Streats, run by SPH, which was the only English-language read in town which focused on 'people' stories, is gone. Meanwhile, SPH's TV unit MediaWorks, which ran the best news show in town, has also bitten the dust. So, from my perspective, some of the better talent did not survive. Interestingly, MediaCorp's Raintree Pictures, the giant's movie arm, is bringing out a new film, One Last Dance, a stylised eastern gangster movie, which it hopes will attract international audiences. Hong Kong actor Francis Ng Chun-yu, of Infernal Affairs 2 fame has been roped in, as has Taiwanese actress Vivian Hsu. Even Hollywood veteran Harvey Keitel appears in a cameo role. But in what must be a commercial move, few MediaCorp artists feature strongly.