Monday, January 31, 2022

SM Entertainment Opens GLOBAL AUDITION for KPOP Stars of Tomorrow


South Korean Pop Music, or K-Pop for short, has come a long way towards becoming something the whole world enjoys. It achieved dominance in its home country through its masterful blend of music, vocals, dance, fashion and marketing. Thanks to a rise of Korean artists gaining English fluency, K-Pop began to expand, first in Asia via regional music channels. With the rise of streaming and then social media, K-Pop blew up globally, with names from Wonder Girls to PSY to BTS entrenching the genre with an international audience. Now, South Korean entertainment labels are taking their search for new K-Pop stars on a worldwide scale.

CNN Philippines reports that South Korean mega-label SM Entertainment made known, over the weekend, their planned audition for aspiring K-Pop talent that will encompass the whole world. A post on their official Twitter page dated January 30 announced the “2022 SM Global Audition KWANGYA,” which will start online registration this Monday, the 31st. This application period will last for most of next month, ending on February 20. Would-be K-Pop stars, wherever they may be, need to be born between the years 2003 and 2011 to be eligible for the audition.

SME’s KWANGYA audition will be divided into two phases. The initial round calls for the applicants to submit photos of themselves along with a video of them performing, whether in song, dance, rap or acting. Those aspirants chosen will go to the second round of audition. It will primarily be done offline with the prospective talents travelling to SME audition sites, although provisions will be made to allow those who cannot come to be evaluated via Zoom video teleconferencing. International K-Pop dreamers are in good hands with SM Entertainment, which counts among its talents familiar names like Super Junior, Girls Generation, Shinee and EXO among many other hit K-Pop groups.

Signing up for SME KWANGYA Global Audition 2022 will be an exciting yet highly challenging venture. It is already well known to international audiences that South Korean talents undergo intense development and regimented lifestyles. International applicants will need to keep that in mind. Further details on the SM Entertainment global audition may be found here.

Interestingly, SME is at this point catching up with other South Korean entertainment companies that have taken their search for new talent worldwide. Back in 2021 YG Entertainment (Blackpink) opened similar auditions to form a new boy group. Big Hit Entertainment (BTS) has done the same, even partnering with Universal Music Group to do so.

Image: SM Entertainment Twitter page

PARAMOUNT Releases FIRST TRAILER for “HALO” Series Premiering in MARCH


At the turn of the millennium, when Microsoft geared up its entry into the home gaming market, they needed killer-app titles for their debut Xbox console. Developer Bungie took up the call, giving Microsoft Xbox and the world “Halo: Combat Evolved” in 2001. That videogame gave birth to a multimedia giant, with books, comics, an animated series and even inroads towards live-action production. A movie project was attempted, but thus far only two web series have been completed. A full live-action series was announced for Showtime, then moved to Paramount+ streaming. After filming began last year, the first trailer was released, revealing its premiere date.

The Verge reports that Paramount+ has put up two previews for their TV series adaptation of Microsoft Xbox game franchise “Halo.” The first was a mere 1-minute teaser, intercutting scenes from a full trailer with a reminder to watch the whole version. Said long trailer would premiere during Halftime at the NFL AFC Championship game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals on January 30. It was then put up on Twitter for social media to enjoy. The “Halo” series adapts into live-action the hit Xbox game franchise, from the start of the story.

The trailer shows the series set in the galaxy during the 26th Century, when humans have spread from Earth across numerous colony planets. On one of these worlds, humanity encounters a highly-advanced theocratic alien alliance called the Covenant. For seemingly random reasons the Covenant declares the existence of mankind as a sin against their religion, and launches a campaign of genocide. Spearheading the UNSC’s desperate resistance against Covenant attacks are the Spartans, genetically augmented super-soldiers wearing powered armor. A Spartan-II, MCPO John-117 (“Master Chief”), makes contact with a buried artifact the Covenant was excavating, then encounters an AI named Cortana that is assigned to him.

“Halo” the series stars Pablo Schreiber (“American Gods”) as Master Chief, Natascha McElhone as Spartan-II program director Dr. Halsey, Yerin Ha as Kwan Ha Boo, Shaban Azmi as Admiral Paragonsky, Rafael Fernandez as Capt. Jacob Keyes, Olive Gray as Miranda Keyes, Bokeem Woodbine, Kate Kennedy, Natasha Kulzac and Bentley Kalu as other Spartans, and Jen Taylor reprising her voice role in the Xbox games as Cortana. Steven Spielberg is among the executive producers for Amblin Television, with writers/show-runners Kyle Killen and Steven Kane. The trailer reveals “Halo” will premiere on Paramount+ streaming this March 24.

Image courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

Friday, January 28, 2022



It may seem hard to believe, but there are still many multinational businesses and brands that are yet to set up shop here in the Philippines. Until lately, one of these big-name brands is IKEA, the Swedish-Dutch conglomerate that specializes in ready-to-assemble furniture, among other household essentials. Their entry into the Philippine market has been one anticipated by those who would know the IKEA name. It also helps that they partnered with SM Prime Holdings in opening their very first store in the country. There was a problem however. They started operations this December last year, during the COVID pandemic.

And as the Philippine Star now has it, the side-effects of the global pandemic have resulted in supply issues that have the IKEA Philippine flagship store in Pasay City suffering stock shortages. IKEA Philippines released a statement this past Thursday, January 27, urging their customers to exercise patience should any items they are looking for are not available. Their supply bottleneck is but a drop in a massive ocean of international supply issues affecting delivery of new stocks, with other big brands like LEGO feeling the pinch. Addressing “availability” challenges even as their stock inventory depletes has been a challenge for IKEA Philippines this year.

The retailer’s statement, posted on Facebook, notes how many businesses are adversely affected like them. “The global transport crisis has led to availability challenges in our stores," announced IKEA Philippines. "We assure you we are doing everything we possibly can to continue to improve the situation." Furthermore, the Philippine store is but one of more than 400 IKEA stores located across 49 countries around the world. The supply problem therefore goes beyond the Philippines too.

With COVID stretching its welcome globally due to having a succession of variants like the current Omicron strain, resultant lockdowns and travel restrictions, particularly in places where IKEA gets its raw materials or stores its stock for distribution must contend with shipping container space and seaports clogged with cargo vessels, not to mention rising costs of freight. Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) lead economist Jun Neri remarks that a continuing increasing in shipping expenses could lead to businesses relying on such freight to raise prices on goods to compensate. Fortunately, said freight costs apparently are slowly decreasing. IKEA Philippines also adds assurances that their stock availability should get better as the days go by.

Image courtesy of IKEA

Wednesday, January 19, 2022



When Warner Bros. Pictures adapted J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” books into film, they cast British child actor Daniel Radcliffe for the title role. The first film released in 2001, and the movie series lasted until 2011. In that decade, audiences and fans saw Radcliffe grow into a solid young star. He was also determined not to be remembered solely as The Boy Who Lived. He got plenty of attention when joining the cast of a theatrical revival for the play “Equus” which ran 2007-09 from West End to Broadway. Radcliffe continues to look for challenging roles. Who would have thought that it would include portraying America’s most famous parody singer-songwriter?

Variety tells us that Daniel Radcliffe has been cast to play Weird Al Yankovic in “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story,” a biopic original film to stream on Roku. Yankovic himself is co-writer for the movie’s story with director Eric Appel, for a production under Funny Or Die and Tango. This is the first original biopic being done for The Roku Channel, an exclusive streaming hub by the digital media player company which was expanded last year when Roku acquired the library of mobile streaming platform Quibi following its 2020 shutdown.

With reputations of being both the most famous boy wizard in film and a guy who got naked with a horse in stage theatre, Radcliffe’s acting credentials make him seem apparently qualified to take on the role of Weird Al. While Yankovic to the general public is a famed musical parodist (turning Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” to “Eat It” for instance), he also had a quirky private life, including multiple celebrity affairs. While appearing in many films, Weird Al’s sole starring/written movie had been 1989’s “UHF,” a box-office bomb and later cult classic. Yankovic claims in a statement that “Weird” on Roku falls 33 years after “UHF,” following his supposed pledge to space his motion picture productions in that period.

In any case, Weird Al Yankovic is happy that Daniel Radcliffe is playing him on “Weird,” claiming that this would overwrite the latter’s fame in “Harry Potter” and “Equus.” Roku Head of Original Scripted Programming Colin Davis is also positive with the prospects of the biopic, both in Yankovic writing his own life story and Radcliffe bringing it to life. This is sincerely the ultimate combination of talent, creativity, and friends, coming together to make something genuinely funny and we could not be prouder to call this film a Roku Original,” says Davis in interview.

“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” is expected to begin production in Los Angeles by February.

Image: New York Times