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Mingpao Weekly 1700  June 9, 2001

Anita Mui complained that I showed favoritism towards Leslie Cheung

by Florence Chan

We always wanted to develop overseas market for our artists, besides Hong Kong, so to bring their career to another peak, and to recruit more overseas fans, hoping to bring HK entertain culture to Chinese audience all over the world, to bring them happiness and soothing their 

In the 80s, TV soap operas of Hong Kong started to be welcomed  by overseas audience.  Many artists went to have shows in Singapore, Malaysia and many other places.  The venues for performance were usually comparatively small, mostly in night clubs, so production was usually quite simple, most of the shows would only use tape for music or local bands.  Besides the South East Asia market, I also tried to open up markets for our artists to Europe, America, Canada, Australia and etc.

At that time, as there wasn't too many chance to perform overseas, so every time when the bands or dancers heard that there would be overseas performance, they all enthusiastically applied for it, that included all people (singers, bands, working stall and etc.), they would not care about the salary, only hoping they had a chance for overseas traveling.. It was entirely different from now.  As of today, almost all bands or dancers and staff working at backstage have traveled over half of the world already, working overseas is not a fresh idea for them anymore.  If not too many shows, they would even refuse to go or they would make  many requests.  Comparing with those old days, really a tremendous difference.

A pair of "fighting lovers"

In those days, the markets for Chinese were not too big.  Most of the audience were working in restaurants,  they could only come after work, so the show  mostly had to start after 11:30 p.m.  At that time our production was already considered as on bigger scale, as we would bring our own bands, technicians for stage lighting, acoustic and etc. But singers had to be responsible for their own hair setting and make-up .

At the very beginning, we had arranged Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui to have overseas performance together.  They were a pair of "fighting lovers".  But whenever there were expected things happened suddenly, they would help each other to overcome the problems.  Once when they were performing in a theatre in England, the set-up time was very short, the acoustics at the venue was very poor too.  Leslie Cheung always demanded very high standard, and he had his rehearsal first, but he could not accept all these, so he put down his microphone and returned to backstage without saying anything.  After Ah Mui finished rehearsal, we went backstage together to coax Leslie , Ah Mui told him: [Acoustics have just been adjusted, now not too bad, can be accepted.]  Under the persuasion of all, he finally agreed to continue rehearsal and to perform that night.

Another time, they went to perform in a night club in Malaysia, some audience were drunk and made a lot of noises.  They also wanted to sing in duet with Ah Mui on stage.  Leslie immediately went to help her and helped her to finish the performance of that night.  They 2 could be regarded as the best partners.

About 10 years ago, we went to Australia, and that was our happiest trip.  This was the first time that Chinese singers could perform at Sydney Entertainment Centre (Now many HK artists sing perform at that venue).  That place looks like HK Coliseum, and can hold an audience of 15,000 people.  In the past only American singers (of considerable popularity) could perform there, even local (Australian) signers, not too many held performance there.  Since not too much opportunity to go to Australia, so many applied to go, regardless of salary, only hoping to take part, just like joining a free tour.  Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui were the leading singers, other singers included Lui Fong, Grasshoppers, Law Ming Chu.  Lai Siu Tin was responsible for the backstage, Lai Hok Bun was the leader of the band and other working staff, Chan Chi Keung was the guest of backstage (just went to have fun, joined the crowd)....and etc.  We were arranged to stay in the Regent Hotel in Sydney.  Besides performing and rehearsal, everyday we went everywhere for  sightseeing, dining trying the local delicacy.  Everyone  was so happy and all tried their best to enjoy the food and having fun during their free time. 

Once when we went to perform in France, Ah Mui and other working staff were playing hide-and-seek in the garden of the hotel, she suddenly disappeared.  We all thought she returned to her room, so all stopped playing.  But we could not find her in her room, so we went back to the garden to look for her.  Aiya, she suddenly felt sick, fainted among grasses, fortunately we went to look for her and discovered her there.

Restaurants used the opportunity

When we performing in Europe, many organizers would arrange our whole group to dine in the restaurants of some sponsors.  Those restaurant owners would use this opportunity to tell the media beforehand  what day and what time those artists would appear (some even worse mentioning that there  would be performance), they tried to attract guests.  After the artists appeared, they would use all sorts of excuses to ask the artists to sing on stage.  We had such experience in France.  They hoped our singers to accept their souvenir on stage.  We insisted to accept it off the stage.  But they insisted and started to play the music.  Fortunately we were well prepared, once the music started, Lai Siu Tin would go onto the stage, and conducting the band to stop (very funny way), also he would gladly accept the souvenirs on behalf of the singers.  At the same time, our singers already retreated to the entrance of the restaurant, and waved to show gratitude and left immediately. Though most of the time the organizers had to promise to keep our requested condition before we went to eat in those places, but this often happened in Europe and America, because to have shows in those countries, the organizers relied a lot on sponsors.

Actually to arrange a whole group to Europe, only the plane tickets  and hotels were already very expensive.  The venue normally could not hold too many audience, and the tickets could not be sold too high either.

Ah Mui liked to fight for righteousness

I remember during that European trip, the organizer tried for the first time, in order to reduce the cost, and I wished to take care of artists easier, (take as an example, in HK, artists stay in Regent Hotel, the rest of the staff stay at the one next to it, New World Harbor Hotel), after arrival, Ah Mui's habit of fighting for righteousness showed again, she insisted staying in the same hotel with all staff.  The hotel rooms had been paid already, because of her, the organizer spent more instead of saving more.  Also it was agreed by me before hand, and  my intention was for the better benefit of the artists.  When the whole thing could not be justified, Ah Mui felt unhappy with me and gave me trouble for everything after that.  So I had to ask  David to take care of her temporarily, and I took care of Leslie Cheung alone, just to avoid further conflict.  After we returned Hong Kong, I heard Ah Mui complained that I showed favoritism towards Leslie, and neglected her.  Actually I loved  them both.    But, I had to admit that I failed this time, in order to consider the whole situation, I could not make everyone happy.  Ah Mui of today is more mature, and also as a manager of 2 singers (Denise Ho and Samuel Pang), she will understand my way of handling things at that time.

Two groups of Tai Gor fight

Another time when Leslie Cheung had his performance in the States, it was said two groups of Tai Gor (triads) were fighting, we almost got dragged into trouble.  The local organizer was very warm at first, but after our arrival, he only appeared for 2 or 3 times.  The reason was that he was afraid people would come to look for him for trouble, and in order not to frighten us, he tried not to contact us.  During the performance, we sat with him to watch the show.  Who knows, after we arrived at Canada, we were told, during the day of the show, the organizer was afraid that his opponent would come to make trouble (actually he got news about that), so there were people on guard outside and inside the theatre, also many weapons were placed inside the theatre.  They never mentioned this to us beforehand, because they were afraid that we would all run away if we knew.  Really can't imagine how Leslie Cheung would sing among  bullets, guess such scenes would only appear in films?!

《明報周刊》    第1700期    2001年6月9日
  

梅艷芳怪我偏心張國榮

除香港外,一直都希望能為旗下藝人開拓海外市場,令他們的演藝事業更上一層樓,吸納更多海外歌迷,亦希望能把香港的文化娛樂帶給世界各地的華人觀眾,為他們帶來歡樂,以解思鄉之情。

八十年代,因香港的電視劇開始在海外地區受歡迎,很多藝人都會往新加坡、馬來西亞等地登台,演出場地通常比較小,多半是夜總會,所以製作上亦比較簡單,大部份會用伴奏帶或當地樂隊。除了東南亞市場外,我開始嘗試安排旗下藝人往歐洲、美加、澳洲等地演出。

回想當年很少有機會到外地演出,每當樂隊及舞蹈藝員等收到將會有出外演出消息後,均非常踴躍報名參加,所有人(包括歌手、樂隊、工作人員等)都會不計較酬勞,抱著能一起出外遊埠的心態。與現在出埠工作是兩碼子的事;現在因大部份樂隊、舞蹈藝員及其他幕後工作人員,都已踏遍半個地球,對出外工作已缺乏新鮮感,如場數少的話,更會拒接或諸多要求,與從前比較,真是有天淵之別。

一對歡喜冤家

以前外地華人市場不是很大,觀眾多半是做餐廳的,因要等他們收工後才能來看表演,所以演出時間大多數是在晚上十一時半後才能開始。那時我們的製作已經算是比較有規模了,因為會帶同香港一直合作慣的樂隊、燈光、音響技師等,頭髮化妝便由歌手自己一手包辦。

最早期我們曾安排張國榮與梅艷芳一起往海外登台,他們是一對歡喜冤家,但如有突發事件,能互相執生、化險為夷。有次到英國一間theatre演出,由於set-up時間很短,演出場地之音響效果亦很差,張國榮一向要求高,先綵排的他,一下子很難接受,更一聲不響放下咪便返回後台,待阿梅綵排完後,我們一起回後台又勸又哄,阿梅亦幫口說:「音響剛剛已調好了,現在效果也不太差,可以接受的。」最後集眾人之「口才」令他答應繼續綵排及當晚演出。

  另一次在馬來西亞一夜總會,當阿梅演出時,台下有位觀眾喝醉酒不停喧嘩,更鬧著要上台與阿梅合唱,Leslie立即走到台前幫她擋駕及替她完成當晚演出,兩人可說是最佳拍檔。

  十多年前有次去澳洲是最好玩的,該次是華人歌手第一次能踏足Sydney Entertainment Centre的舞台上做演唱會(現在很多香港藝人仍然在這場地演出),這個場地有點像香港的紅館,能容納一萬人左右,以往只有美國的歌星能有這份量在這媯n台,就算本土(澳洲)歌手亦少之又少。因為很少有機會往澳洲登台,故此很多人報名,不計較酬勞,只求能一起參與,好像參加免費旅行團般。該次演出是由張國榮及梅艷芳擔大旗,其他演出嘉賓還有呂方、草蜢、羅明珠,負責幕後的黎小田、黎學斌領導的大樂隊及其他工作人員,更有幕後嘉賓陳自強(只是去玩,大家湊熱鬧而已)......等。當地主辦商安排我們入住悉尼的麗晶酒店,除演出及綵排外,每天都到各名勝地點觀光遊覽,品嘗當地美食,大家都能在公餘時間盡情喫喝玩樂,很是開心。

  有次在法國演出,阿梅跟團友們在酒店的花園玩捉迷藏,突然失蹤了,大家以為她已回房,只好各散東西,我們在房間塈鉹ㄗ鴞o,便再回花園仔細找,原來她身體突感不適,暈倒在草叢中,幸好我們及時發現找回她。

餐館利用機會

當年到歐洲演出,很多主辦商都會安排整團人在其中一些贊助商的餐館喫飯,那些餐館很多時便會利用機會,預先發廣告說某日某時有這些藝人出現(離譜一些的還會說在唱歌),以此招徠客人捧場,待藝人來到餐館後,便會找藉口要求藝人上台唱歌。在法國便有過這樣的經歷,希望請歌手上台接受他們餐館送的紀念品。我們堅持在台下接受,他們便硬找主持人上台宣布並起音樂,幸好我們早有準備,他們一起音樂,黎小田便即上台,指揮音樂停下來(還做得搞笑的),更很高興地代歌手接受他們的紀念品,另一邊歌手已退到門口,揮手表示感激便即離去。雖然很多時與主辦商都事前約法三章才去喫飯,但這些事以前在歐美都常發生,因在這些地方做show,很多時都得靠贊助商。

其實要安排整團人前往歐洲,單是機票及酒店住宿亦所費不菲,演出場地不能容納太多觀眾,而當地的票價又不可以太高。

阿梅好打不平

  記得這次歐洲之旅,主辦商更是首次嘗試,為了減輕主辦商的成本,我又希望藝人能住好一點,故此便同意安排將藝人及工作人員分開住在兩間酒店,實際上也很方便照應、照顧(打個比喻,就好像在香港,藝人住在麗晶酒店,其他工作人員住在旁邊的新世界酒店),但到達後,阿梅好打不平的習慣又發作了,她堅持所有人都住宿於同一間酒店,兩間酒店的房錢已經付過,這樣一搞,主辦商更因小失大了,何況事前他已徵詢過我的同意,我的出發點也是為藝人好。因為事情得不到平反,阿梅便賭氣地事事與我為難,我只好請David暫時代為好好照顧她,我只照顧張國榮,免得雙方都難下台。回港後聞說阿梅怨我偏心,只管理Leslie,忽略了她,其實我兩個都疼,哪會偏心。不過,這次我算是失敗了,為了顧全大局,不能做到一團和氣!今天的阿梅成熟了,又是兩位歌手(何韻詩、彭敬慈)的經理人,她一定理解我當時的處事方法。

兩幫大哥爭鬥

另一次與張國榮在美國登台,聽說那邊有兩幫大哥在爭鬥,差點殃及池魚,當地的主辦商本來很熱情,但我們到達後只見他出現過兩、三次,原來他是擔心有人來找麻煩,把我們嚇壞了,便很少和我們接觸。演出時,我還和他坐著一起看show;誰知道,到了加拿大後,我們才聽到在美國表演那天,因為主辦商恐防對頭人來搗亂(其實事前他已收到消息),所以戲院內外全都有很多人把守,還放了很多武器在戲院內。他們事先都沒有跟我們提及,是怕我們知道後會全部跑掉了。真不敢想像在槍林彈雨中張國榮會怎樣唱歌,這些橋段,只會在電影中才出現吧?!

文:陳淑芬