updated 3 Nov 2012, 11:06
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Thu, Nov 01, 2012
The Straits Times
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Asia's Next Top Model: Producers 'behind on payments'
by Yip Wai Yee

SINGAPORE - The producers of Asia's Next Top Model, the Asian franchise of the popular American reality show headed by Tyra Banks, are behind on payments.

So say at least one judge of the show, a public relations agency and more than 35 production crew members. They claim that ice-TV, the company behind Asia's Next Top Model, owes them payment for their work.

Public relations firm Word Of Mouth Communications, which had handled public relations services for the show, issued a writ of summons to ice-TV early last week.

According to its managing director, Mr Jansen Siak, outstanding payments owed are "in excess of $30,000".

Meanwhile, at least five production crew members, ranging from a production coordinator to a photographer to a producer, have gone to the Small Claims Tribunal with their cases.

Claims can be lodged at the tribunal for amounts not exceeding $10,000.

Fashion director Daniel Boey, 47, who is one of five judges on the show, declined to reveal the amount he is owed.

He said: "I have received a bit of payment, but that was only in the beginning. As for the rest, I believe my agent Fly Entertainment will handle things for me."

When The Straits Times contacted ice-TV managing director David Searl to clarify the situation, he said via e-mail: "Everyone associated with the show will be paid."

He did not indicate a specific date for payment.

He also issued a statement saying that Asia's Next Top Model is "currently in post-production" and will air late next month on cable and free-to-air broadcasters around Asia.

In Singapore, the show is meant to air on Nov 25 on Star World, a channel that comes under the Fox International Channels network.

Like the original American TV series, Asia's Next Top Model features a competition that pits aspiring fashion models against one another in various challenges, including photo shoots and runway shows.

Mr Mike Wiluan, 35, who owns Infinite Frameworks, the studio where post-production is being done, said "the show is in the last leg of post-production".

He added: "I don't think I can comment on anything else."

However, some crew members of Asia's Next Top Model have already stopped work on the show.

Story producer A.D. Chan, 38, who is in charge of crafting the story for the show, said she is owed two months' salary amounting to "more than $10,000".

She was supposed to continue working on post-production for the show, but has stopped doing so since Sept 28 because of the non-payments.

She said: "The other producers and I have been chasing David with lots of e-mail, but the replies are what we call 'nothing e-mail'. They are always very vague and provide no concrete answer as to when they will pay us our outstanding salaries.

"Unless they settle the outstanding payments, it's no money, no talk."

Pre-production for the show began in April, while actual filming started in late June for around 20 days. Post-production started in early July.

Ms Michelle Chua, 31, a producer of the show, is among the crew members who have lodged a claim at the Small Claims Tribunal. She said she is owed $3,411, which is "half a month's pay, plus other expenses for items like transportation and meals".

Last Monday, an assistant registrar of the court ordered Mr Searl to pay up by the 30-day deadline of Nov 22.

Ms Chua is "not confident" that she will get her money back, despite the court order.

Some of the staff who are owed more than $10,000 each by ice-TV - which has offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai - have indicated to The Straits Times that they are currently considering "other forms of legal action".

Word Of Mouth's Mr Siak, 39, said: "Our contract with ice-TV was for six months, but they paid us only for the first month, from early April to early May. We did try to chase them, but up till now, they have still not paid us."

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