Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Actress Anne Coto loves breastfeeding

The Jakarta Post | Tue, 04/28/2009 11:43 AM | People


JAKARTA: Most actresses might skip the recommended first few months of breastfeeding their baby but actress Anne Junita Coto feels doubly proud of breastfeeding her little one.

“When you have a baby you can put aside anything, even yourself, for the baby,” said the 34-year-old woman.

Occupied with the nursing of her son, the actress admitted she has less time with her husband in bed.

“Sometimes when we’re ready [to make love] my son cries and I have to check on him,” she said.
Anne married American Mark Hanusz in June 25, 2005 and now the couple has a one-and-a-half-month-old baby, Julian Avanindra Coto Hanusz.

The woman, who was born in Pontianak in West Kalimantan on June 29, 1974, said she expected to breastfeed her son until he was two years old, as recommended by doctors, but she was having a little difficulty.

“My son is getting bigger and his primary teeth are coming through now so it makes me a little uncomfortable,” Anne said, adding that she will gradually reduce the breastfeeding.

“I don’t have the heart to see him crying for milk, but I have to,” said the woman who just finished filming her new movie Daddy versus My Boyfriend.

Anne began her career when she won the Miss Indonesia Friendship competition in 1995 and then moved to Jakarta in 1997 to pursue her acting career. — JP

How real is reality TV?

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Sat, 04/25/2009 1:34 PM | Entertainment

Waiting for the drama: Reality show hosts Panda (left) and Mandala on the set of TransTV top rated program Termehek-mehek. Courtesy of TransTVWaiting for the drama: Reality show hosts Panda (left) and Mandala on the set of TransTV top rated program Termehek-mehek. Courtesy of TransTV

When life becomes boring, people turn to the drama of movies and soap operas. When these dramas become soaked in pathos, we stoop to the last resort:The reality show.

A huge number of reality TV programs have been flooding our screens recently, claiming to provide us with real footage of stories and events.

Covering a wide range of genres, from elimination game shows, dating competitions, makeover projects and talk shows, these programs have attracted millions of viewers.

With the lure of an hour of fame, reality TV shows coax an inexhaustible string of participants willing to do anything from revealing personal stories, to eating bizarre animals to walking on fire in the jungle.

Reality TV contestants are sometimes criticized as "B grade" celebrities who occupy an absurd form of fame.

Despite the name, perhaps "reality" TV still uses the age old recipe of entertainment: conflict and dramas.

Even with these old-school elements, reality shows surpass the ratings of prime time soap operas.

Take Termehek-mehek, a program on TransTV where hosts - Panda and Mandala - help participants find their missing loved-ones.

The latest AGB Nielsen rating for March 2009 put Termehek-mehek on the top of the list of 100 programs from all stations nationwide.

After success with Termehek-mehek, the station now produces other reality programs such as Orang Ketiga (The Third Person), Happy Family: Me vs Mom, Makin Gaya (Get Stylish), Realigi, First Love, and Jika Aku Menjadi (If I were).

The 2009 Panasonic Awards confirmed that TransTV is dominating the ratings war with its long list of reality programs.

Termehek-mehek, which started in May 2008, was awarded the most popular reality show, while the presenter of Happy Family: Me vs Mom, Ruben Onsu, was awarded the most popular reality show presenter.

But how real is TV reality show?

Termehek-mehek executive producer Herny Mulyani said the popularity of reality shows was a response to the fact that many TV programs had been accused of being overtly unrealistic.

"We are trying to create something the audience can relate to as well as be entertained by," she explained.

Reality TV shows plots were also more authentic and engaging than scripted dramas, said Herny.

"An affair would be much more interesting if it was real rather than scripted.

"People will feel the emotion if, for example, they watch people fighting for real or if they see our crews being beaten."

Despite the "real" aspect of on screen conflict, film crews often try to provoke emotional responses from their participants before the cameras start rolling.

"We talk to people about their problems. Sometimes we ask people related to the participants to work with us also," she explained.

Herny said crew members filmed real negotiations that usually involved conflict, but did not air the footage without the consent of the people involved.

"At the end of the filming, we will persuade them to allow us to use the footage.

"Sometimes we succeed, other times we have to abandon the shots altogether."

Some also give their consent conditionally, requesting the footage be shown only once or with blurred faces, street signs or license plate numbers.

The TransTV production department head, Roan Y. Anprira, said all stories were based on true events, but the production crews employed "certain measures to achieve their desired effect".

Anprira denied claims that some episodes were too good to be true, where for example, very complicated problems were solved in very short periods of time.

"People don't know how many failures we have been through during our production. We only air successful projects, but we also have lots of unresolved stories," he said.

However, he admitted that if crew members failed to locate certain people needed, relatives and friends would take their place.

Social psychologist from Yogyakarta's Gajah Mada University, Helly Soetjipto, doubted programs dubbed "reality" actually presented the facts.

"If these programs are real, it might help people improve their self esteem. But if these programs are fake, then TV stations have provided false knowledge about how to deal with life's problems," Soetjipto said. "The thing is, this kind of knowledge will be imitated in real life."

Andi Christianto, the executive producer of Shandiego Creative Media - a production house that produces reality shows for SCTV - said people misunderstood the term "reality show".

For him, nothing is real in any program titled "show", even when coupled with the term "reality".

"Reality shows exploit real stories that we get from the audience. They can't be as real. There are always some modifications. Even a documentary needs editing," said the man who produced Cinta Lama Bersemi Kembali (Old Love blooms), Pacar Pertama (First Love), Backstreet, Cinta Lokasi, Mak Comblang (Matchmaker), Cinta Monyet (Puppy Love), and (Hesitate).

Filming could even be repeated several times due to the poor acting skills of the cast.

"To be honest there is no filming that isn't directed or that is not noticed by the people who are filmed," he said.

Although the production cost of a reality program could be as low as half of the production cost of a scripted program, filming people without their permission, said Christianto, was risky and unethical.

"It's trapping people. Who would dare losing million of dollar being sued?"

A set-up reality is not only related to risk of losing money, but also to time.

Therefore, events on screen are manipulated through editing and other post-production techniques.

"If we follow the event in real time, we would never meet the deadline. The filming takes about two hours and the editing take at least three days."

In light of this, would you still watch reality TV?

Perhaps, as we are driven by our thirst for real drama, reality TV won't cut it anymore.

Or perhaps we will always thrive on the humiliation and conflict of others.

Either way, we seem to have turned a blind eye to "reality".

Why people like reality shows

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Sat, 04/25/2009 1:33 PM | Entertainment

Some cry. Others laugh out loud. The rest frown in shock. Welcome to reality TV.

Sinetron TV soap-operas are no longer the only high rating shows around, reality shows have stolen the limelight.

The latest survey by AGB Nielsen Media Research, found that the majority of Indonesian teenagers prefer watching reality TV shows above any other programs.

Lisa, an 18-year-old college student, said she watched reality shows almost every week.

"The first time I watched Termehek-Mehek (a reality show on Trans TV) I was hooked and wanted to watch it every week," Lisa said. "This is more than a soap-opera because it's real," she said.

The survey found that young people aged between 10 and 19 years preferred watching reality shows over more traditional programs such as music, comedy, or game shows.

Termehek-Mehek, the survey found, is the most popular reality show for teenagers in the country. The program helps people track down friends, relatives, and past lovers they have lost contact with over the years, and is renowned for its unpredictable outcomes.

But do people watch reality shows for precious insight?

According to Helly Soetjipto, a social psychologist from Yogyakarta's Gajah Mada University, people use reality shows to compare their own life situations against those in the programs.

Watching reality shows, he said, makes people feel better about their own un-filmed lives.

"As reality shows feature the lives of ordinary people instead of professional actors, they encourage the viewer to see that other people suffer the same problems as themselves," said Soetjipto.

"These scenes compliment the commonalities of our lives."

With the potential to turn participants into national celebrities, at least for a short period, TV stations have started to produce and buy more reality programs. Trans TV and SCTV currently produce a large range of these shows.

While SCTV relies on production houses for the supply of their reality programs, Trans TV is the only station that has in-house production.

SCTV's public relations manager, Budi Darmawan, said many TV stations are seeking alternatives to scripted programs such as news, music and soap-operas.

Budi denied the booming of reality shows was related to the ongoing economic crisis which has forced TV stations to reduce their production costs. "It's just the right trend at the right time," he said.

Andi Christianto, the executive producer of Shandiego Creative Media, admitted the production costs of reality shows were much lower than scripted programs.

"The production cost *of a reality show* is about half *of a scripted program*. As reality shows aim to portray real situations, we're not expected to produce high quality pictures and we don't need to rent expensive cameras or use expensive actors," he said.

Herny Mulyani, the executive producer of several reality shows on Trans TV including Termehek-mehek, said the rising popularity of reality shows is part of this trend.

These programs, she said, have evolved over the last decade.

"Back in 2002, the trend was gossip shows. Many stations had five to six gossip shows," she said. "Reality shows today are a progression of this trend. People are fed up with exaggerated soap-operas."

- Matheos Viktor Messakh

Veronica `Panda' Felicia Kumala: Making it personal

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Sat, 04/25/2009 1:33 PM | People

Courtesy of Veronica Felicia KumalaCourtesy of Veronica Felicia Kumala

Everything happens for a reason, and Veronica Felicia Kumala believes this.

The host of TransTV's popular reality show Termehek-mehek said she was not enthusiastic when a friend asked her to help with the program's pilot project.

"I didn't know what the project was all about, and the name of the program was also weird," said the 26-year-old, popularly known as Panda - initially a sobriquet from two of her high school friends who thought she looked like a chubby bear.

She had already forgotten about the two-episode pilot project she did when she was called for an interview by TransTV, which had bought the program from production house PT Triwarasana.

"I was doing something else and didn't even remember it," she said.

The latest survey by AGB Nielsen Media Research, found the majority of Indonesian teenagers prefer watching reality TV shows more than any other programs.

The survey found Termehek-mehek - which helps people track down friends, relatives and past lovers they have lost contact with over the years - is the most popular reality show for teenagers in the country.

The program is renowned for its unpredictable outcomes.

In the show, which began in May 2008 and is still running, Veronica is partnered with Mandala Shoji. But it took 13 episodes before they got the chemistry right.

"We had a very difficult time because we come from different backgrounds. Mandala is an actor, while I'm a radio host," said Veronica, who has been a DJ at Prambors radio station since 2002.

Her three years of experience as a host for RCTI's Katakan Cinta helped her deal with the problem.

"Now we even understand each other's body language," she said.

Despite Termehek-mehek's popularity, she is aware that many people still misunderstand the reality show.

"The stories are real, but we call it reality drama because it involves the process of dramatization for the sake for broadcasting," she explained.

Being a host, she gets deeply involved in the cases and at times, the emotion gets to her.

Once, when filming at Pondok Ranji train station for a twins episode, she lost control.

"I used all the abusive language I knew when facing thugs in a scene, because they were acting outrageously. I didn't realize it was during filming," she said.

But she never feels bad about meddling in people's privacy for the show.

"It depends on how we look at these stories. As long as we do it with a good intention, I will never feel sorry, especially when a target does not show any regret," she said.

"Many also dislike Oprah Winfrey. But as long as I did not take someone's life or make them lose their job, I will do it. The risk is part of my job."

Being in the show also makes her feel grateful that she can learn from other people's experience without having to go through it herself.

"We really put ourselves in other people shoes, and that's why sometimes we are overwhelmed with emotion."

The show has also opened her eyes to people's many problems, but she said that if her boyfriend cheated on her, as has happened to many of the participants in the show, she would simply leave.

"I will never look for the man who left me without any notice. There are many good things to do than look for someone who has left," she said.

"The first thing that comes to my mind when I heard about this kind of story is, *babe, there are many good men in the world, so forget him and move on,'" she said.

"But unfortunately people are different. Some can do very well when their partners leave them, while some have a very bad situation."

Despite her popularity, she prefers to be called an artist rather than a celebrity.

"Everybody can be a celebrity, even a killer; but to have the skill of speaking in public and dealing with people on the screen is an art," she said.

Some have even encouraged her to act in soap operas, but the woman who finished her mass communication study from the London School of Public Relations in 2006 said she would like to have her own TV talk show like her idol Oprah Winfrey.

"I never say never to any offer to act in a soap opera, but my dream is to have my own talk show. I like to listen to people but I still have to improve my skills," said Veronica, whose undergraduate thesis was on viewers' responses to the Super Deal 2 Million Quiz show.

She also has a dream to build a center to help youths improve their self-confidence.

"When I was in high school, I had a problem with self-confidence. I was 160 centimeters tall but weighed 65 kilograms. My friends called me names like *Panda', *a calf like Flintstone's cudgel', or *VW bumper'.

"You could never imagine what I tried doing to lose weight, until I was rushed to hospital at midnight because I took too much medicine," said Veronica, who now hosts an early morning radio program aired in eight big cities, called Panda Berkokok (Panda Crows).

Being a talk show host and setting up a youth center are not the only things on her agenda. She plans to pursue a postgraduate course in business or become a presenter at the Voice of America (VOA).

One thing for sure, she never has any regrets in her life.

She was rejected by the University of Indonesia in 2001, which prompted her to study at the London School of Public Relations. And if she was not jobless for a while after graduating, she might never have taken a TV presenter course at the Indonesian-British School of Communication.

"This background made a friend encourage me to apply for a presenter job at Prambors, which later gave me the opportunity to host Katakan Cinta and later on Termehek-mehek," she said.

And her show's popularity, despite the presence of many other reality shows, did not make her feel higher than others.

"The higher you stand, the more you get the wind," she said.