Sharon Au spills beans on offending Andy Lau's manager & media war between SPH & Mediacorp

So much tea.

Joshua Lee | December 02, 2020, 12:33 PM

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Sharon Au is back with some tea.

The 45-year-old former actress and host had lots to share on Channel 8 talk show "Hear U Out" which was aired recently.

Though she hasn't been acting for a long time, it's evident that Au still has that easy chemistry with the camera and Quan Yifeng.

She readily gave a self introduction in three languages — Japanese, French, and Spanish, and even performed an impromptu flamenco dance for the camera.

But the juicier bits of the episode were when Au spilled the beans on her rookie days in showbiz and how she emerged as the big winner

Au entered showbiz at the age of 20.

She was talent-spotted by Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS) producer Man Shu Sum while playing the lead role in the English remake of a Hong Kong musical "I Have A Date With Spring".

"Maybe I did a great job with the dancing," Au joked. "He went backstage after the show and asked if I wanted to sign on with the company."

Man told Au that TCS had a new show which she could host — "Entertainment Beat".

Au let on that she messed up her hosting gig multiple times when she was just a rookie. Once, when interviewing Anita Mui, Au was so starstruck that she forgot her questions and had to depend on her co-host Ji Ji to jump in.

Another hilarious faux pas: When interviewing Andy Lau, who was then an anti-smoking ambassador, Au's first question was: Do you smoke?

"I thought I was being humorous...His manager immediately banged the table, stood up and then he told us to stop and asked for the next interviewer."

Despite committing so many mistakes, Au is grateful for the many chances that TCS gave her, including getting her to host a live show with veteran actor Chen Shucheng.

Her job was to open numbered boxes — an arguably easy task.

"They would shout 'Box 2!' and I would open Box 21 because I mistook the numbers due to nervousness."

Thankfully Chen was able to help salvage the situation. "I forgot how he did it. He probably laughed it off," said Au.

While she made many mistakes, she never gave up, Au said to Quan. Man also drilled into her the importance of building a rapport with her viewers.

As a rookie host, Au had poor rapport with the audience, especially when compared to her fellow "City Beat" hosts Bryan Wong and Kym Ng.

"For example, Kym Ng talks as if she's sharing something with you. But when I talked to people, I came across as preachy. I had the air of a top student talking to people."

The media war between SPH MediaWorks and Mediacorp

Au also got the chance to tell her experience of the media war between SPH and Mediacorp.

In 2000, SPH MediaWorks was set up to compete with Mediacorp. SPH MediaWorks operated Channel U and Channel i.

As big-time artistes like Kym Ng, Bryan Wong, Darren Lim, Wang Yuqing and Guo Liang moved from Mediacorp to SPH MediaWorks, Mediacorp tried its best to keep its stable of stars by offering them anything they wanted — from custom-made dramas, talk shows to movies and even music albums.

Au and her follow artistes agreed to move over the Channel U so when Mediacorp asked for her terms during her contract renewal, she gleefully asked for a university scholarship — never fully expecting that the company would fully accede to her request.

Spoiler alert: Mediacorp's CEO agreed to the scholarship within 24 hours.  However, the company requested that she stay back for a period of time to help "fight the war".

Because Au ultimately didn't leave for Channel U, it was seen as a betrayal of her fellow hosts like Kym Ng and Bryan Wong. Many in the entertainment circle labelled her a traitor. The rumours persisted even after SPH MediaWorks merged with Mediacorp in 2004.

In 2005, armed with her scholarship, Au took off for the School of International Liberal Studies at Waseda University to study — but not before winning the Star Awards' Best Variety Show Host for four consecutive years from 2001 to 2004.

Regretting decision to study

Studying overseas — in a foreign language no less — was not easy. Au said that she regretted her decision after her first week in Japan because she had overestimated her Japanese-speaking ability.

So she contacted her manager with a plan:

"I asked if it was possible to do pretend to conduct a survey and say that viewers were sad and wanted Sharon Au back because they missed her TV programmes. I asked if she could use that to bring me back home — under the pretense that the company 'forced' me to suspend my studies and forced me to return because the viewers demanded it."

And her manager's response?

"She just told me to keep dreaming and hung up."

You can watch Part 1 of the episode on YouTube and Parts 1 and 2 on MeWatch. The show is in Mandarin with English subtitles.

Top images via Hear U Out and Sharon Au/Instagram

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