Tuesday, September 21, 2010

HOT Stuff (NST Life & Times)

HOT hosts (from left) Terrence Dass, Stephen Chiang, Raja Yasmin and Zamil Idris

Radio Televisyen Malaysia’s only English talk show Hello On Two (HOT) turns five this year. Its hosts tell DENNIS CHUA their journey this far.

AHMAD Zamil Idris is best known as a finalist in the first season of Malaysian Idol.

He finished seventh in the popular reality talent show on 8TV in 2004 and delivered a praiseworthy rendition of Andrea Bocelli’s hit song, The Prayer.

The grand nephew of legendary film star Haji Mahadi is a recognisable face on “breakfast” television show Hello On Two (HOT).

He shares the hour beginning 7.30am, Mondays to Thursdays on TV2, with his co-hosts Terrence Dass, Raja Yasmin Raja Zaini, Stephen Chiang and Annie Joseph.

The five-year-old HOT, co-produced by Rafidah Kamaludin and Noriza Salleh, is RTM’s only English language talk show.

Screened daily in its first three years, HOT moved to TV1 in 2008 before returning to TV2 the following year.

Zamil, who hails from Seremban, says: “We were on air daily from 9am to 10am for a year, but time and programming constraints soon gave us a five-day TV week. Beginning this year, we broadcast four days a week at 7.30am, making us rise earlier than usual.”

An accounting graduate from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia, Zamil, 32, was active in theatre during his schooldays in Sekolah Sri Inai, Hulu Klang.

He won his first singing contest at the university and subsequently worked in a bank, before auditioning for Malaysian Idol.

He says: “It was there that I met Terrence.”

After the reality talent show, Zamil acted with its judge Roslan Aziz in a television advertisement for Plus and starred in the comedy Sadiq And Co and Tunku — The Musical.

“I invited my Tunku co-star Doreen Tang to become a HOT host and she was with us for three years, beginning 2007,” he says.

Terrence, 29, of Georgetown, Penang, is with Zamil the show’s original co-host.
“Zamil and I shared the first year with Carol Lee and Sherry Ibrahim. We were later joined by Annie, Fareezal Razalli, Stephen, Angelene Chong, Doreen and Yasmin.”

The show’s “live wire”, Terrence studied in Penang Free School with Stephen, and has a law degree from the University of London.

Television work is “in his blood” — his cousin Alvin Anthons used to host Let’s Talk.

A DJ and emcee prior to HOT, Terrence made it to the top 120 of Malaysian Idol and the finals of Malaysia’s Top Host.

“For a year now, Stephen, Annie and I have also been hosting Selamat Pagi Malaysia on TV1,” he says. “It’s great to host an English as well as a Bahasa Malaysia talk show as it makes us reach all layers of viewers.”

Kuala Lumpur-born Stephen, 29, is also a law graduate and emcee.

The businessman joined HOT as a reporter two years ago and became its co-host last year. He has also hosted travel magazine Klik Klik Asia, where he visited China, Egypt and Turkey.

Raja Yasmin, 26, of Kuala Lumpur spent four years as a production assistant in TV3 and also hosted children’s programme Voice Out.

A broadcasting graduate from the Malaysian Institute of Integrated Media, she is the sister of musician Raja Farouk.

“I joined HOT after a successful audition last year. Prior to this, I was a freelance host,” she explains.

Zamil says HOT, which comes with the tagline “You’re Hot” and occasionally “Hot, Your Morning Shot”, follows the footsteps of Moving On Two which was a weekly talk show in the 1990s.

“It’s a talk show with an informal setting. The guests have a relaxing, friendly chat with the hosts, on comfy sofas surrounded by a colourful set,” he says.

Terrence says: “Since this year, our set has been round with panels where the guests make an easy entry.”

Stephen says each of the co-hosts goes on the beat to report on “hot and happening” events around the country, four or five days earlier.

“Our beats have catchy names. I handle HOT Pets, Zamil does HOT Food and HOT Travel, Yasmin does HOT Health and HOT Info, and Terrence does HOT Wheels,” he says.

Terrence says: “In our early years, we had a This Day In History segment. Too bad it’s no longer around now.”

The most memorable interview for Raja Yasmin happened a year ago, when she interviewed a hospitalised Zamil.

She says: “Zamil underwent LASIK corrective eye surgery in a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur, and he told me about the process.”

“We showed viewers how such surgery is relatively speedy and painless,” Zamil added.

Zamil’s other memorable interviews include one with John Gray, the best-selling American author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, and last year’s MTV Awards in Genting Highlands.

“I’ve also interviewed fellow Malaysian Idol contestants such as Jaclyn Victor and Dina Nadzir.”

Raja Yasmin’s mother, clinical psychologist Dr Zaitun Sulaiman, has also been interviewed by the HOT crew. “However, I wasn’t on air then,” she says.

Terrence is delighted to have interviewed Bollywood stars Bipasha Basu and John Abraham at the International Indian Film Awards in Genting Highlands. He says: “They are the real HOT!”

Terrence says the talk show’s regular guests include criminologist Kamal Effendi Hashim, clinical psychologist Paul Jambunathan, and neurologist Dr George Lee.

“They are experts in their respective disciplines who think out of the box and converse well with callers,” he says, adding that they learnt a lot from the trio.

Zamil says they also have regular phone-in viewers who speak their minds on various issues.

“There’s Rama from Seri Kembangan, Tom of Kuala Lumpur, Jude Chang of Malacca and two Lingams from Malacca and Kuala Lumpur. We’ve grown to love their honest opinions,” he says.

As singers, Zamil and Terrence have performed Hari Raya songs on air during the festive season.

Zamil says: “And for a while, we had our very own in-house band HOT Fingers.”
While the live show has “sailed smoothly” most of the time, several bloopers have taken place, and given them a good laugh.

“In its first year, a table leg broke on air. Thank God nobody was hurt,” Zamil recollects.

While speaking up is encouraged on air, the hosts make sure the guests do not ‘ruffle feathers’.

Terrence says: “To handle them, we keep as neutral as possible.”
How has the show changed their lives?

Stephen says: “We’ve learnt a lot about our country and become acquainted with brilliant guests whose knowledge enriches our lives.”

Adds Zamil: “We’ve also become close pals on and off the set. For example, we all attended the wedding of Yasmin last year and we’ve kept in touch with our ex-hosts who pay occasional visits.”

Read more: Showbiz: HOT stuff http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/Showbiz_HOTstuff/Article#ixzz11M3uRAkL