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Friday, November 21, 2008

Jacky tones down - just a little

By Charlene Chua / The New Paper

YES, he has grown up and he will tone down, but veteran Taiwanese talkshow host Jacky Wu said that he will never completely give up his in-your-face, sleazy image. After all, it is the 47-year-old's quick wit and crude jokes that have earned him his immense popularity.

At the recent 43rd Golden Bell Awards, Jacky finally picked up an accolade for Best Show Host - an award that has eluded him for 12 years. After getting the award, Jacky said that he will tone down his shows so that they will be more suitable for family viewing.

But in a phone interview from Taiwan yesterday, Jacky insisted in Mandarin: 'Everyone knows my style. It can never change. Maybe I will tone down a little.' He added that what he had said at the awards ceremony in Taiwan was 'largely a joke'.

And what about recent reports on how he plans to focus more on family-friendly fare and that he will keep an eye on his language on prime-time television?

More careful now

The chatty host explained: 'I will be more careful now as I want my shows to be entertainment that the whole family can enjoy. 'But I will still keep the content very vibrant in my shows as my main goal is still to entertain.'

It is hard to imagine Jacky being anything other than no-holds-barred. The singer, actor and host has developed quite the reputation for hosting shows that border on being crass. On one of his shows, Guess Guess Guess, there is a segment where a bevy of girls are paraded on stage and guests have to guess who has the fairest skin or the biggest breasts. That is when he usually interjects with comments about their body parts, resulting in his co-hosts sometimes chiding him: 'How can you say that?'

But will a toned-down Jacky go down well with fans? His manager, Mr Xiao Jiang believes Jacky won't lose his fans. He told The New Paper: 'Jacky has always felt that he has a responsibility towards his audience. It's his goal to provide educational entertainment to his fans. His fans will still love his shows.'

Jacky, who is a father of four, also claims he is selling more than just sleaze. He believes the reason for his faithful following is because he also imparts knowledge and information in his shows, not just bawdy jokes. 'I have always prided myself on being very knowledgeable. I always try to educate my audience whenever I can. (The rude jokes are) just part of my hosting style.'

But has this risque style been detrimental to his career?

One Singaporean fan of Jacky's said she believes he was never given an award for more than 10 years because of his poor image. Ms Nicole Chin, a 34-year-old businesswoman, said: 'Jacky's show can get quite lewd sometimes. It's entertaining but some segments can be quite demeaning to women.'

So was Jacky surprised that he won? He said: 'I have just been doing my job. I don't wake up every day and think, 'Will I win an award?' I was very surprised and very happy.'

His family and friends were so excited over his win that they held a big party. Jacky said: 'My daughters, especially the ones living in Seattle, almost cried. Emotions were high. They are all very happy for me.'

And in true spontaneous Jacky style, he even did a series of push-ups on stage a la Jack Palance when he won the award. He said with a laugh: 'I wanted to thank everyone who helped me win the award. And for some reason, doing push-ups at the time seemed like a very good way of thanking them.'

Jacky's wacky style will continue in his new show, Azio Superstar, which he co-hosts with fellow Taiwanese Patty Hou. It is now showing on weekdays at 8pm on Asia Plus (SingTel mio TV Ch 72). Jacky, whose previous co-hosts included Ah-ya, Rainie Yang and S.H.E's Hebe Tian and Selina Ren, said: 'Expect lots of fun and exciting content. I'm as wacky as Patty is demure, so I think we make a very good combination.'

He says that the reason why they have good chemistry onstage is because she used to date his close friend, Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou. 'We can talk a lot about the secrets that we share so it's very good,' he said.

When told that Azio Superstar was being shown on Singapore TV, Jacky said: 'My fans from Singapore are very special to me as Singapore is like my second home. 'Years back before I became popular, I had come to Singapore for a show. And I was so touched because the fans made me feel like a superstar.'

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