Television A-listers from Singapore and Taiwan showed up last Friday to launch one of Mediacorp's most ambitious projects yet.
Suspense drama All Is Well, a 40-episode series that features Taiwanese stars Blue Lan, Pets Tseng and Joanne Tseng as well as familiar local names such as Elvin Ng and Zoe Tay, is the broadcaster's most extensive collaboration with a Taiwanese team to date.
Aside from using actors from Taiwan and Singapore, executive producers and directors are also from both Mediacorp and Eightgeman - renowned Taiwanese director and screenwriter Wang Hsiao-ti's production company - in a bid to expand regional tie-ups.
Wang, 66, who has won Golden Bell Awards for her writing work on Boys Can Fly (2013) and Wayward Kenting (2007) and a Golden Horse Award for Best Original Screenplay for Strawman (1987), helms a story weaving together two separate threads - an ATM hacking incident in Taiwan and a murder in Singapore.
At a press conference held at the Andaz hotel in Singapore, Wang says of the project, which took 22 months to produce: "This was not an easy task, we had arguments and difficulties, but we overcame all of that to show audiences our hard work. And time and again, I was touched because the Singapore actors were so good at their performances."
For the first time, Mediacorp will adopt a multi-platform storytelling format on its channels - two episodes will air back to back each day, the first on Channel 8 and the second on Channel U.
The first will follow the Singapore plotline, while the second will follow the Taiwanese one.
It debuts on Toggle today for Toggle It First customers, with five episodes for each storyline released every Monday.
This was not an easy task, we had arguments and difficulties, but we overcame all of that to show audiences our hard work. And time and again, I was touched because the Singapore actors were so good at their performances.
TAIWANESE DIRECTOR AND SCREENWRITER WANG HSIAO-TI, who helmed the All Is Well project which took 22 months to produce
From Aug 26, the show will be available to non-subscribers and also air on TV.
The series will air in Taiwan on Taiwan Television (TTV) every Friday beginning Aug 30.
A Mediacorp spokesman says the new format of parallel plotlines allows for each story to be enjoyed on its own merits, but following both plots will enhance the viewers' experience of the story.
Actor Lan, 40, who plays the second son of a wealthy banking family and appears in the Singapore storyline, says jokingly of the series' appeal: "Our side spent a lot of money, your side also spent a lot of money on this - so please watch it."
Mediacorp declined to reveal the production budget.
Local actress Tay, 51, who plays actor Romeo Tan's mother in the show, reveals that she was asked to remove her make-up to appear old enough to be the 34-year-old actor's mother.
Veteran Taiwanese host Pauline Lan, 53, who plays a washed-up celebrity, chimes in: "I was also told to do the same thing as (Zoe). Then when director Wang saw my pictures, she told me, 'Too old, put some make-up on.'"
Also at the event was Ian Fang, who plays an arrogant rich heir with a wild fashion sense who falls in love with a police officer played by Sheila Sim.
This is his first drama released since he was embroiled in a recent controversy over leaked explicit private chats between him and Mediacorp actress Carrie Wong.
The messages garnered much attention as Wong has a boyfriend, whom she is still seeing, and Fang has long been linked to Mediacorp actress Rebecca Lim.
And Fang's grandmother died in April during the filming of the show.
Asked whether the events affected his mood on set, Fang says on the sidelines: "No, as an actor, we have to be professional and focus on the work, so for me, it was work as usual. But I have to say the cast and crew were very nice to me because they knew I was going through a hard time."
Lim recently mentioned in a magazine interview she had not seen Fang in a while and he had not made an effort "to reach out", leading some to speculate that things between the two have ended.
The actor, who has never said they were dating, adds: "I've been asked if I'm single so many times these past years. Every time, I say yes, I'm still single. I haven't found the one yet. When I do, I'll make sure to tell you all."
• All Is Well airs on Channel 8 at 9pm and Channel U at 10pm, weekdays, from next Monday. It debuts on Toggle today for Toggle It First customers, with five episodes for each storyline released every Monday. Episodes will be available from next Monday for non-subscribers.