9 things to know about Jessica’s exit from Girls’ GenerationThe Korea Herald/Asia News Network 6:03 pm | Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
SEOUL—Girls’ Generation, one of the most popular K-pop girl bands in Asia, is facing its toughest time since its debut in 2007 after Jessica claimed on Tuesday that she was “forced out” of the group by her agency.
The news first went viral after Jessica, through her Weibo account, accused her label SM Entertainment of unfairly dismissing her from the group without any warning.
The group’s fans refused to believe what Jessica claimed, and some even raised speculations that the account had been hacked.
A few hours later, SM Entertainment confirmed that Jessica would no longer be a part of the band due to the clash of priorities between Jessica’s fashion business and the group’s activities.
The Korea Herald has listed the latest speculations surrounding Jessica’s exit from Girls’ Generation, taken from reports in local entertainment outlet Dispatch.
1. Who is Jessica?
Jessica, whose real name is Jung Jessica Sooyeon, was born in San Francisco, California.
She was discovered by SM Entertainment on the street at age 11, after her family returned to Korea. The Korean-American then signed a management contract with SM and continued on to debut as a member of Girls’ Generation in 2007.
After her debut, the 25-year-old broadened her career, gaining recognition as an all-round entertainer. She is a main vocalist, singer-songwriter, dancer, model, actress and also a fashion designer.
She recently launched her own fashion brand BLANC in August, which is cited as one reason behind the feud between her and SM Entertainment.
Her sister is Krystal, a member of SM idol group f(x).
2. Was Jessica forced out?
SM Entertainment removed her from the group, but it stated that it was Jessica who expressed her wish to leave the band first.
According to sources, Jessica also reportedly told the other members last January that she wanted to get married sometime next year.
After the group wrapped up its concert in July, she allegedly said she could not bear it anymore and wanted to get her life back.
3. Was Jessica willing to continue on as a member of Girls’ Generation?
According to reports and speculation, Jessica allegedly did not seem willing to be a part of Girls’ Generation as she continued to talk about her future plans — marriage, study abroad and fashion business.
In a press statement released Tuesday, SM Entertainment said that early this year, the company and Jessica had come to an agreement that she would continue in the group until its new album was released early next year.
But Jessica appeared too busy with her personal business that she started with her rumored boyfriend Tyler Kwon. After they launched BLANC, Jessica spent most of her time abroad.
4. Who is Tyler Kwon?
Tyler Kwon is also Korean-American, like Jessica. He studied at Michigan University and works in an investment firm.
Jessica allegedly said to other members of Girls’ Generation that she hoped to marry Kwon in October next year in Hong Kong.
5. Did Girls’ Generation oppose Jessica’s business?
Reportedly, the other members in the group supported Jessica’s plans to start her own business. But they thought she would start it after her marriage.
Jessica’s unexpected, rapid launch of the fashion brand surprised the others, but they still supported her even though they had one clear request. That Jessica not put her business before activities with Girls’ Generation.
6. Did SM allow Jessica to open the business?
SM Entertainment was allegedly concerned about Jessica’s plan, worried that she would use the group’s popularity to market her fashion brand. But the company did not have any right to stop her.
7. Why did Jessica suddenly want to stay on the team?
Jessica’s speculated future plans — study abroad, marry and settle in New York — were the main reasons behind her agreement to release one more album with Girls’ Generation and then leave.
However, it is suspected that after returning from an alleged visit to the office of JYJ’s lawyer on Aug. 15, her stance dramatically changed. The lawyer has since denied the meeting took place.
Jessica suddenly turned to the other members and reportedly said she wanted to stay in the group even after her marriage.
8. Is Jessica’s new brand BLANC doing well?
Jessica launched the brand BLANC on Aug. 6. She unveiled sunglasses first, with perfumes, accessories and clothes lined up to be launched soon.
With Jessica’s popularity in Asia, the brand is rapidly broadening its presence on the continent.
She opened one store in Hong Kong and plans to open more in Singapore, Thailand and Shanghai.
9. Any possibility Jessica can rejoin Girls’ Generation?
As long as her business with the brand BLANC flourishes in Asia, it is unlikely that she will return as a member of the group.
The girl who would be KimBy Lea Salonga | Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:34 am | Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
ZAGREB, Croatia— And it has happened again. Twenty-five years after the first worldwide search for Kim in 1989, for the original production of “Miss Saigon,” another one was held to find another young lady to play that same role for the revival of that same show. The list of similarities between the two young ladies is eerie. To start with, they are the same height (5’ 3”) and share the same zodiac sign (Pisces) and a love for video games.
The young lady in the original production is yours truly; the young lady in this new spectacular revival is Eva Noblezada. She is 18, ebullient, articulate, outgoing and intelligent, and currently wowing audiences in the West End as Kim in “Miss Saigon,” playing at the Prince Edward Theatre.
Eva was born in San Diego, California, close to Sea World and the beach. “I would stay with my Lola and Papa for a few days and have adobo and papaya, then head down the street to my Nana and Tata (Mexican grandparents), who made me burritos.”
She and her family moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, when she was around 6. It was here that she was first exposed to musical theater: She got into Northwest School of the Arts, which she attended until she was 17.
It wasn’t the first thing she tried her hand at. “There was a time when I thought I’d be a professional basketball player. Then there was BMX, volleyball, paintball … the list goes on! I dream of being a professional baker, with my own line of desserts and recipes that would knock Betty Crocker off her cane!”
New York casting director Tara Rubin found Eva during the Jimmy Awards, a high-school musical theater competition. (The year that Eva competed, it was held at the Minskoff Theater in New York). She performed “With You” from “Ghost the Musical.” Strangely enough, Tara Rubin was the casting director of that musical. “Tara set up my first audition with Laurence Connor (‘Saigon’ director) and Stephen Brooker (music supervisor), and it all went so fast from there!”
Her final audition was at the Majestic Theater, home of “The Phantom of the Opera,” in the presence of “Miss Saigon” producer Cameron Mackintosh. “I sang ‘I’d Give My Life for You.’ I was shaking, but once I started singing, I let everything go.” When she was done, Cameron called her down to the orchestra section where he was seated, sat her down and asked, “How would you feel about moving to London? We’d like to offer you the role.” She broke down in tears.
Creating her Kim
Once she started working on Kim, she pulled out all the stops with her research and creation of this tragic character. “I did a lot of character analyses on Kim, which I used to color her personality, culture and background. I believe her religion was Caodaism, which is sort of a mixture of beliefs following Jesus Christ, Confucius, Buddha and Victor Hugo. Her favorite color was blue, and [as a child] she took long walks with her father. Little quirks like that helped me get in tune with her and make Kim 100 percent my own.”
There were, of course, the graphic videos on the Vietnam War—interviews with American soldiers who said they didn’t know what they were fighting for, women selling themselves on the streets to feed their children. “This was real life. My uncle works in the Air Force in Afghanistan, in charge of stocking the ammunition department. It wasn’t completely new to me.”
Eva is growing up in a world where war is a devastating reality. “With Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and hostage situations … it’s crazy, it’s heartbreaking. It’s fresh; everyone knows about it.” This, she feels, is what makes “Miss Saigon” totally relatable. “The story is valid pretty much anywhere. It gives the show a punch to the stomach.”
“Miss Saigon” is not just a story of war, however; it is a love story with the Vietnam War as a backdrop. And with love stories come, well, love scenes. “It was a little awkward at first having met Alistair (Brammer, who plays Chris) only once before rehearsals. At one point, I think Laurence started seeing our relationship as more like siblings, which was really odd.”
How did Laurence turn the “siblings” into “lovers”? “Laurence took us into a room, just the three of us, and asked us to ‘discover each other’ aka ‘make out in front of our director.’ We did!” Laurence also had the two speak the lyrics of “Sun and Moon” to each other. “It was very loving, romantic.”
Eva has no plans at this time to attend college, but she is living the college experience with her time in London, what with living on her own for the first time. “My mom was going to stay with me up until opening night, but after two weeks decided to go back home!” Missing her family has been the toughest thing about the move, but she is enjoying her independence. “It’s nice to live in my own home, buy my own clothes and furniture. Living the adult life is fun, but comes with many responsibilities.”
Though she loves London, she is pulled by thoughts of home. “I miss how cold it gets and how green it is. I miss fried chicken and southern biscuits. I miss listening to the same song 1 million times on the way to the mall with my best friend.”
Officially a star
With all the glowing reviews Eva has gotten for playing Kim, she is officially a West End star. She doesn’t see herself that way, though, especially after interesting encounters with other
stars in London. “I’ve met a lot of people whom I looked up to, but then see how vain and self-absorbed they are. They talk about money and it’s all ‘me, me, me, me.’ How can [they] give their all to a craft if they are caught up in that?”
Thankfully, Eva’s main influences in life (her parents and auntie Annette Calud-Staudinger) see to it that her feet remain on the ground. “My parents taught me what real love is. They love me even when I make stupid decisions, and never fail to support whatever I do. My auntie is a second mother, vocal coach, boss and mentor. She spoils me to the moon and back and I love her very much!”
Annette was a member of the Original Broadway Company of “Miss Saigon” in 1991 and got to play the role of Kim as well.
If there is anything that Eva’s “Miss Saigon” experience has given her, it’s inner strength. “I’m more in tune with myself now. I’m not thin or tall. That’s how God created my body. I wanted to be the best Kim, but I compared myself with so many others, which made things difficult for me. I had trouble letting my own Kim break free.”
Thankfully, she has the support of the cast, her family and friends, and has realized that what other people had to say should not have any effect on her performance. “In the end, I found some ground. I couldn’t care less what a**holes have to say about it. We aren’t doing it for them.”
No use bashing her; she doesn’t careBy Allan Policarpio | Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:09 am | Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
Singer-TV host Toni Gonzaga says the constant dose of bashing she gets from netizens no longer gets her goat. When her detractors recently took to social networking sites to voice out
displeasure about Toni being one of the new endorsers of a beauty brand, all she could say to herself was, “It’s nothing new.”
“They’re consistent whether or not I have projects or endorsements,” she said of her bashers, who incessantly tell her that she’s not beautiful enough to pitch for skincare products. “They criticize my physical appearance—from head to toe. I’m used to it.”
The 30-year-old celeb said she understands that dealing with negativity is something she signed up for when she decided to pursue show biz. “I went through worse when I was starting. People would tell me straight that I wasn’t pretty,” she told a group of reporters at a recent press con.
“Yes, there are haters but, to balance things out, there are also a lot of people who love me,” added Toni, who headlines a solo concert, “Celestine,” at SM Mall of Asia Arena tomorrow.
Toni is done wallowing in self-pity. “When I was younger, I wasted so much tears and time harboring pain just because I didn’t get some people’s approval,” Toni said. “I’ve realized that all I had to do was appreciate the things that I did have.”
It helps to have a supportive boyfriend like filmmaker Paul Soriano. Toni related, “He would always tell me, ‘Are we really talking about this? It’s not worth the energy.’”
Chaperone at 30
Asked about marriage plans, Toni said Paul—whom she’s been with for seven years now—had yet to propose. “But I feel that we’ll get there one day. Meanwhile, we can’t even go abroad alone; we need a chaperone, usually my sister Alex. Thirty years old na ako, may bantay pa rin,” Toni quipped, laughing.
Toni, who originally dreamt of becoming a singer, said tomorrow’s concert—unlike previous ones—aims to showcase her musicality. “The repertoire will feature some of my original songs and other tunes that I personally love—not just numbers that are currently popular,” she said.
“We’ll make the songs fit my personality and vocal capability. I want to give the audience not just a show but an experience,” said Toni, who first had a solo concert in 2008 at Aliw Theater. “I’m not as nervous as I was before. I’m better prepared this time.”
Asked why she thought of naming her concert “Celestine”—her real name—the Kapamilya star explained: “Every year a lot of things happen; my world keeps changing, but it never changes me. I’m still the way I am when I started.’”
For this show, Toni is collaborating with concert director Paolo Valenciano, who has so far worked on Sam Concepcion’s and his father Gary’s recent shows. “He’s my personal choice because we’re the same age and we share musical influences,” Toni said, adding that she and Paolo have been doing a lot of research and are open to working with young artists.
Was she worried about filling up a large venue like the Arena? “It’s all up to God. I just have to focus on working hard,” she said.
(Tickets are available at SM Tickets, 470-2222; and DSL Events and Production House, 0918-563781.)
Amazon, Disney close to peace deal—reportAgence France-Presse 3:07 pm | Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
NEW YORK—Amazon is close to an agreement with Disney to end a dispute in which the online retail giant stopped making Disney DVDs available for pre-order, the Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday.
Last week Amazon resumed accepting pre-orders for upcoming Disney DVDs such as “Maleficent” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”, the newspaper said, quoting a source with knowledge of the talks.
Amazon has used the tactic of restricting pre-orders or the availability of an item during several recent trade negotiations with publishers.
In June it temporarily stopped accepting pre-orders for films from Warner Bros.
And Amazon has also limited pre-orders and slowed deliveries in its months-long battle with the American unit of French publishing house Hachette over e-book pricing terms.
Roaring applause for a LegendBy Allan Policarpio | Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:00 am | Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
One of his earliest shows, John Legend recounted, was in a small live-music venue where he played for an audience of three. “Five, if you count the bartenders,” he said on Friday night during his concert at Smart Araneta Coliseum, drawing laughter from the crowd of, this time around, thousands.
As one might expect from a show titled “Intimate. Acoustic. Stripped Down,” the setup was kept to a minimum. Apart from the mock black grand in the middle of the stage, nary a single prop was in sight. There were no fancy lights, either; no billowing smoke, no rains of confetti.
There was no need for all that, anyway. Legend’s voice did all the work, and then some.
To a passage of swaying music from the string quartet, Legend emerged onstage, arms outstretched and looking dapper in a cream-colored blazer.
After a minute or two reveling in the packed crowd’s ardent profession of love, the American R&B/neosoul singer settled at the piano to open the show, tickling the ivories and jerking his feet to “Made to Love.”
His second song, “Tonight (Best You Ever Had),” was a heady bop that had Legend crooning flirtatiously to the sultry beat—airy, whispery notes and sweet falsettos. “I don’t want to brag. Or maybe I do. I’ll be the best you’ve ever had.”
Before proceeding, Legend told the audience about some challenges he faced as a new struggling artist. In 1998, when he was a college student at the University of Pennsylvania, he was introduced to R&B-soul artist Lauryn Hill, who invited him to collaborate with her.
He played the piano for the song “Everything is Everything” in her album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” He related, “It was my first little break; I thought it would lead to bigger ones. But I didn’t get a record deal in 1998— not in 1999, 2000, 2001…”
After graduation, Legend landed in corporate work as a management consultant. At night, he toiled in the studio, recording demos or playing small gigs around New York.
Through a friend, Legend met his would-be mentor, rapper-record producer Kanye West, who featured the budding musician in different songs he was producing for other acts. Legend also became West’s “sidekick,” playing the piano and singing the hooks in the latter’s music.
He did as much for Jay-Z’s “Encore” and Slum Village’s “Selfish.” The crooner in the interlude in Alicia Keys’ “You Don’t Know My Name”? Yup, that’s him.
Finally in 2004 came the record deal, which gave birth to his debut album, “Get Lifted.” Legend said, eliciting another round of chuckles: “I was turned down by a lot of major record labels, including the one I’m signed to now.”
While the overall mood was laid-back and mellow, the show’s pace was actually brisk. Before anyone noticed, he had zipped past fan favorites “Let’s Get Lifted,” “Used to Love U,” “Number One,” the anthemic “Save the Night” and “Maxine.”
A huge chunk of the audience consisted of couples, many of them celebs—Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Guidicelli; Angel Locsin and Luis Manzano; Maja Salvador and Gerald Anderson; Sarah Lahbati and Richard Gutierrez; Bela Padilla and Neil Arce, and Gretchen Ho and Robi Domingo.
What better way to put them in a romantic mood than with these:
From “PDA”: “I see you closing down the restaurant / Let’s sneak and do it when your boss is gone.”
From “Save Room”: “Don’t be afraid of a little bit of pain / Pleasure is on the other side.”
One big regret
Slinky melodies and all, Legend handled ’em with finesse and unflappable poise.
Performing “Green Light” and his cover of Michael Jackson’s “Rock with You,” he urged the crowd to stand up and dance. All the while, he strutted about, busting out a few moves of his own. Intermittently, he broke into vocal improvisations that elicited mad approval.
He barely broke a sweat.
Legend wistfully recalled his childhood, growing up in a Pentecostal church community surrounded by a family passionate about music—his grandfather was the pastor; his grandmother, the church organist; his mother, the choir director. His father sang and played the drums.
Sundays after service, Legend headed straight to his grandma’s. She would cook collard greens, chicken and cornbread, and then teach him how to play gospel piano. She died when he was 10. One big regret, he said, is that his grandmother did not witness his success.
“So now you hear a lot of my grandmother in me,” Legend said, before performing Simon and Garfunkel’s gospel-inflected song, “Bridge over Troubled Water.”
A hush fell over the crowd as he ran his fingers across the piano keys and delivered the elegantly phrased lyrics. His voice didn’t cut; rather, it bloomed as it ascended the scale, then dissolved into a soulful quiver that evoked pain and yearning.
Legend picked up the energy again with “You and I,” “Caught Up,” the slow buildup of the uplifting “So High” and his early hit, “Ordinary People,” which highlighted full and velvety vocal runs. After this suite, he rose to his feet. So did the spectators, who wouldn’t stop clapping and hooting.
His exit fooled no one and merely prompted chants of “More! More!” And after just a few seconds, Legend was back onstage, asking, “Can I sing one more song?” “Yes!” they hollered back, of course.
The opening strains of “All of Me” came on and the fans— who, up until then, had kept themselves composed—rushed to the stage, lugging cameras, to record Legend’s live performance of his first No. 1 song, dedicated to his wife, model Chrissy Teigen.
(“This song is about me telling my wife how much I love her,” he had told the Inquirer in an e-mail interview prior to the concert.)
A rousing sing-along had people draping their arms around their partners.
The show (mounted by Wilbros Live and BoardWorks Media) ended with the rapt crowd giving Legend a standing ovation yet again and roaring applause far more intense than fireworks.