SINGAPORE - Television A-listers from both 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, Joanne Tseng as well as familiar local names like Elvin Ng and Zoe Tay, is the broadcaster's most extensive collaboration with a Taiwanese team to date.
Aside from using actors from both 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 both Golden Bell Awards for her writing work on Boys Can Fly (2014) and Wayward Kenting (2007) and Golden Horse Award for Best Original Screenplay on 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 in Andaz, 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 on Monday (Aug 19) for Toggle It First customers, with five episodes for each storyline released every Monday. From Aug 26, the show will be available for 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 said that the new format of parallel plotlines allows for each story to be enjoyed on its own merits, but that following both plots will enhance the audience's 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 makeup 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 makeup on.'"
Also at the event was Ian Fang, who plays a cocky 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 another 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 that 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 that she had not seen Fang in awhile and that 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, Mondays to Fridays from Monday (Aug 26).
It debuts on Toggle on Monday (Aug 19) for Toggle It First customers, with five episodes for each storyline released every Monday. Episodes will be available from Aug 26 onwards for non-subscribers.