Mediacorp denies barring Michelle Chong from playing 'The Noose' characters

21 June 2013 / 3 years 4 months ago

When The New Paper contacted MediaCorp, it denied that it was going to stop issuing licences for Chong to play the characters.Ms Serene Choo, vice-president of Channel 5’s branding and promotions, said in a statement: “The characters played by Michelle Chong from The Noose have never been disallowed, or decommissioned by MediaCorp.“As shown in the recent TV advertisement, these characters will always be given due consideration as and when commercial interests arise. To bring a fresh and current perspective to Singapore Day 2013, the event will feature popular characters from the latest season of The Noose, which does not have characters played by Michelle Chong.‘Responding to the statement, Chong said she was relieved and thankful for MediaCorp’s decision. As to whether this was all a result of miscommunication or a change of mind due to public pressure, both parties declined to comment.But Chong said she was shocked by the reaction to her tweet and how much Barbarella, Leticia and Lulu resonated with the public.On The Noose, Barbarella is a Sarong Party Girl obsessed with Caucasian men, Leticia is a Filipino maid who goes the extra mile to carry her employer’s son’s bags, and Lulu is a KTV hostess and weather girl who speaks with a Chinese accent.Chong has appeared as her, characters at road shows, dinner-and-dances, and in TV and print advertisement campaigns for condominium development Jewel@Buangkok and mouthwash Listerine .For the condominium TV commercials, Chong plays all three characters. She said: “I’m grateful for all the support even though it’s been a year since I left. I’m really touched."“I’ve been asking MediaCorp if I could do a Barbarella mockumentary and they declined it last time as they said that a The Noose movie was in the works. But I may try again. I have no regrets tweeting what I did because it’s good that I have answers now. I think it was something that everyone wanted to know.‘The pain that she felt was akin to losing her “babies‘. And fans were up in arms about the loss of their favourite television characters. Michelle Chong had tweeted on Friday that she was no longer allowed to play her beloved characters in The Noose ‘“ Barbarella, Leticia and Lulu.Some fans were outraged after reading her tweet and went online to vent, with some threatening to boycott the Channel 5 satirical skit series. Chong left the show when she quit MediaCorp in April last year.The Noose is in its sixth season. Some netizens even went as far as slamming the Government, People’s Action Party and Media Development Authority for trying to “clamp, down on Chong’s characters who are known for being politically incorrect‘.Chong admitted to being alarmed when she read all the backlash that her tweet had created, especially since it had nothing to do with the parties being criticised. Chong, 36, had tweeted on Friday: “So what’s this I hear about MediaCorp’s higher management banning me from playing Barbarella from now on?“They are not gonna sell character licences to anyone to use my characters any more, so no more Barbs, Leticia, Lulu etc anywhere.‘ The actress-director told The New Paper yesterday: “These characters are very close to my heart. They are like my children.“I couldn’t imagine not playing them any more.‘ Though she is no longer on The Noose, Chong still plays the characters in advertisements and public appearances. She said that each time she appears as the characters, MediaCorp receives a “considerable amount‘ from its cut of what she makes, but declined to give exact figures.“But I don’t mind this because they are the ones who gave me this platform and creative freedom to flesh out these characters in the first place,‘ she said. Then, on Friday, her manager received a call and an e-mail from MediaCorp informing her that the booking for Chong to appear as Barbarella at the upcoming Singapore Day 2013 in, Australia had been cancelled.Singapore Day, an event that engages overseas Singaporeans and their families with Singapore-inspired food and entertainment, is organised by the Overseas Singaporean Unit under the Prime Minister’s Office. It is held in cities with a significant community of overseas Singaporeans.Chong was a big hit at Singapore Day last year in New York, in the US, and received the new booking a month ago. She said MediaCorp had also informed her manager that it was going to stop issuing licences for her characters. The reason given: It had decided to feature the current cast of The Noose for Singapore Day 2013 instead.That was when she tweeted her unhappiness and sparked the online backlash. But it seems that Chong may have jumped the gun, because MediaCorp has clarified that Barbarella, Leticia and Lulu will not be facing the noose anytime soon.

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