Mirror Magazine
8th July 2001
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The people behind the voices

Three years young, and the heat's still on. Esther Williams and Randi Goonetilleke find out what makes the waves so hot

Playing music, cracking jokes and light-hearted chatter - is that what it takes to be a DJ? The personalities behind those voices reveal that there is much more to it. Situated on the 35th floor of the World Trade Centre, with the most fabulous view, SUN FM seems filled with enthusiastic, eager young people. Bodies moving to the beat, uniquely tinted hair, ears pierced at various points, anyone who walks in feels the pulse and rhythm in the air.

"It is not just about playing music. You have to be well-informed on all subjects such as general knowledge, sports, politics, etc., to be able to educate and entertain the audience," says Jason Bond, Programme Manager of SUN FM. Having been in broadcasting for almost three years, he says that a presenter is a host who cannot really please everybody but will try his/her utmost to please the majority. 

Speaking of the third anniversary celebration of SUN FM, Jason says that although theirs is a young station which tries to play new music, it is targeted more towards a mature audience. Waking people up with good music, jokes, international news updates, 'starting a day off right' is what Breakfast Drive is all about, says Jason. He figures that if they supply the right ingredients for this morning programme, people are less likely to switch to other channels. Whatever it takes to put a smile on the listener's face is his task.

TJ (Warren Jansen) hosts the show Office Blocks between 10.00 a.m. and 2.00 p.m. on weekdays. As the name implies, the programme seeks to build a family of office goers, focusing on office-oriented content. And those who can listen to music during office hours, look forward to Office Blocks. Through this, TJ conveys to his listeners important news they need to know in the shortest possible time. 

With 2 1/2 years experience at SUN FM, TJ says that he gathers together stories, weird facts, jokes, while keeping in mind that others besides office goers listen to the programme. His target audience, the majority of whom are educated listeners, range from employees of the Department of Railways to those at Cathay Pacific. He maintains a database of statistics of audience preferences through e-mail, fax and call-ins and spends a lot of time preparing/researching for his programme. 

A recent recruit from the Gateway International School is Ocean Summers who does the Early Shift (12.00 midnight to 6.00 a.m.) four times a week. According to Ocean, his programme caters to students studying late at night, employees on late night shifts in hotels, hospitals, etc., a mixed age group. Besides music, he attempts to provide tips on studying which he may have obtained from listeners themselves. Yuwanthaka, a part time DJ handles the programme thrice a week. 

Most of the DJs at SUN FM are in their early 20s like Keiko (20) of Gateway School, a Sri Lankan who was brought up in Zambia. Middle of the Road, her programme, which is broadcast between 2.00 p.m. and 5.00 p.m. on weekdays, mainly features loud rock music, jokes, facts, quizzes and relevant news items. She knows if her audience is not satisfied if she doesn't receive any calls, she smiles.

Priscilla who DJs Sundrive says that there are many friendly people out there who are either driving back after school or work. It is for this lot that she plays music through requests received by e-mail, fax and phone.

Jan, The Saint who is the Assistant Manager and the Music Controller for SUN FM handles the 'Weekend Eve', a 'warming up to party' programme on 'Fridays (4.00-8.00 p.m.) and Club Hopping', again for the partying crowd on Saturdays. Born into a family of musicians, he says, "I have music in me and that is how I came into broadcasting." Having DJ'd in night clubs for five years, he came into SUN FM in the early days. From his experience at night clubs, he plays a variety of music to suit varied moods. He loves what he does, although it is hard work. He says that his entire experience as a DJ has been a learning experience from his interaction with his listeners and thinks teamwork is an essential element in its success.

RJ introduces 'hip hop' music to the island's youth. This basically is rap music, popular among the 12-25 age group that is played during a programme called Groove Train. RJ who loves being in a radio station says that all he says comes from his heart and he is happy with the response he receives.

Diren, better known as 'The Dawn' is responsible for 'Late Night Love' (on Mondays), Spirited which features Latin music (on Tuesdays) and Underground (on Wednesdays) among others. The relatively new music that he plays is selected by him to please his audience, which is his most important task, he says.

Through their promotions, they deal with social issues concerning youth - drugs, alcoholism and smoking. 

"We believe that local artists are extremely talented," says Jason, "and so we always prefer to sponsor musical events featuring local stars." What makes SUN FM different from other radio stations they think is the relationship they have built with the audience. They seem to enjoy 'meeting up' with people and would rather not be any place else.

DJs are an integral part of a radio station - they can make or break an organisation says TJ. Although they sometimes find it a strain to be bright and cheerful all the time, they do not let it affect their programme. They do make many friends and therefore find the job extremely satisfying.

What does the future hold for DJs? The commercial radio industry is pretty young at the moment in Sri Lanka says TJ. People need to recognise the full potential of the Radio medium. Although SUN FM plays mostly music right now, he thinks that it should progress to much more than that. 

Would they be satisfied in the long run with such a career in broadcasting? The role of a DJ should progress into hosting of talk shows, radio documentaries and magazine programmes, featuring experts and analysts of different fields, says TJ. At present, resources are restricted, in addition to media and cultural constraints. But progress could be made. He hopes that SUN FM will get there someday, when commercial radio reaches its full potential.


Not quite scientific

By Norm(an) De Plume
"Ayya, tell me something that I can make for the science exhibition," said my cousin about a month ago. Being the obliging sort, I came up with several good ideas (and I do say so myself!) which were promptly rejected - an ant farm (too gross) and a model of the solar system (too much hard work) being examples. After dithering about what to make until a couple of days before the event, he decided on a model of a fairground attraction, which I hear went well. 

But not all exhibits work that smoothly. An exhibition held while I was still in school a couple of years ago had some interesting stories behind it. Prominent among them are tales of deception, which I suppose are now okay to be made public. 

Well, for one, the guys from the Science section decided to make a windmill that would pump water up from a lower elevation. It looked quite impressive, except for a minor flaw - it didn't work. With perfect timing, it was discovered the night before the opening. We, not being part of the team sympathized with them, but couldn't really help - we had enough troubles of our own. 

But come the next day, lo and behold, the contraption was running smoothly, and the team received lots of credit for some fine engineering. But, as we found out later, the 'engineering' was of a different kind. As it was far too late to fix the machine, they had spent the night before digging and passing a hose under -ground from the water-sprout of the windmill to the nearest tap. The tap itself was hidden from view by a pile of desks. A team member hid behind the desks, peering through the gaps, and turned the tap on and off based on whether the windmill was turning or not. 

This was one of the cleverer deceptions. 

Others include a smudged -up photo of Venus filling in for Pluto in the Planetarium project and the incident of the malfunctioning home-made refrigerator. In the latter, pre-cooled drinks were put in the 'fridge' to create the illusion that it actually cooled them. Certainly, a good idea, but a better one was to follow. They actually sold the drinks, and made a sizeable profit too. 

Meeting deadlines, frustration etc. are part and parcel of such endeavours. One night, we took a break and strolled around to see how the others were doing. Soon we stumbled across one of our friends in tears and literally banging his head against a wall. He had been in charge of building life-sized models of humans, and whenever he put the head on, the whole thing just keeled over, and this had happened several times. Luckily, one of the guys noticed that the cement-clay mixture he was using was not quite correct, and my friend's head - and the wall- were saved. But the banging did have an effect as later, he was quite distraught at having to destroy the models. In fact the guys from another section had to perform the 'burials'. 

So the next time you visit an exhibition, look closely. Even the most innocuous exhibit may have an epic behind it.

Comments? Write to:
Norm(an) de Plume 
No. 8, Hunupitiya Cross Road 
Colombo 2 
Email: norman_deplume@hotmail.com


Top spot for Artificial Intelligence

Another Steven Spielberg movie, another top-grossing blockbuster: Ho-hum. 

The man responsible for such landmark hits as Jaws, E.T., and Raiders of the Lost Ark hasn't had a movie in theatres since 1998's Saving Private Ryan, but if the weekend box-office estimates are any kind of yardstick, moviegoers haven't forgotten his name quite yet. Studio figures released last week have Spielberg's A.I.- Artificial Intelligence on track to rack up slightly more than $30 million, placing it a cool $10 million ahead of its nearest competitor. 

The sci-fi drama about a robotic lad's quest to become a real boy, a project Spielberg wrote and directed after developing its story for several years with the late Stanley Kubrick, debuted in 3,242 venues and claimed approximately $9,300 per site. The numbers aren't staggering, but they stack up reasonably well alongside the debut of Ryan the World War II drama took in $30.5 million on 779 fewer screens which posted an eventual gross of $216 million. 

Playing second fiddle to A.I.'s Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law were Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, stars of The Fast and the Furious. After blowing the doors off of theatres in the US with a shockingly strong $40 million opening, Furious saw its earnings cut in half, finishing weekend two with estimated Friday-Sunday ticket sales of $20 million. That falls right in line with the summer-long trend of huge openings followed by sharp second-weekend declines. 

The third place finisher, Eddie Murphy's Dr. Dolittle 2, bucked the trend by following up its $25 million debut with a second-weekend haul of approximately $15.4 million, dropping just 38 percent. But Paramount's Tomb Raider, despite passing the $100 million mark, continued to sink like a stone, dropping another 50 percent one weekend after falling 58 percent from its record-setting $47.7 million opening. With just $9.8 million this weekend, Raider's fast fade almost certainly has Paramount casting hopeful eyes on Robert De Niro's The Score. 

Baby Boy thrives, Crazy/Beautiful and Pootie Tang DOA

Three other films opened in the US, but only one of them appears likely to still be in first-run theatres by mid-month. Sony's Baby Boy, John Singleton's revisitation of the territory he explored 10 years ago in Boyz N the Hood, opened in 1,533 theatres and logged an estimated $8.6 million over the weekend. The drama opened two days ahead of the rest of the week's new releases, and grossed just over $3 million on Wednesday and Thursday, placing its total take to date in the neighborhood of $11.7 million. 

Boy's numbers were good enough for a fifth-place finish, edging it ahead of holdovers Atlantis: The Lost Empire ($7.8 million; $58 million cume) and Shrek ($7.1 million; $227 million cume). Crazy/Beautiful, Buena Vista's bid to get a slice of $90 million action drummed up by Paramount's similarly interracial Save the Last Dance earlier this year, demonstrated yet again that teen romance only sells tickets in January and Kirsten Dunst only sells tickets in a short skirt and pom-poms. Despite surprisingly positive reviews from many national critics, Crazy limped to a No. 8 finish with an estimated $4.5 million take. 

But by far the worst showing of the week was the rotten egg laid by Pootie Tang. Notwithstanding its catchy title and ultra-hip vibe, the superhero comedy landed at No. 12 with first-weekend earnings of just $1.5 million. Those would be excellent numbers if it had played in 50 venues; alas, the irreverent satire opened in 712 theatres and will probably still be playing in fewer than 350 by this time next week. 
The Top 10 films for June 29-July1, 2001: 1. A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, $30.1 million 2. The Fast and the Furious, $20.2 million 3. Dr. Dolittle 2, $15.4 million 4. Tomb Raider, $9.8 million 5. Baby Boy, $8.6 million 6. Atlantis: The Lost Empire, $7.8 million 7. Shrek, $7.1 million 8. Crazy/Beautiful, $4.5 million 9. Pearl Harbor, $4.4 million 10. Swordfish, $4 million


Hollywood's boytoys

Statistically, one out of every four women chooses a younger man for a mate but in Hollywood, it seems every golden-years gal is dating a guy young enough to be her son. The latest legendary lady with a fresh-faced fella is Joan Collins, 68. The Dynasty diva recently stepped out in New York with her brand-new beau, stage manager Percy Gibson, 35. And while society's traditionalists might question such a May-December romance, relationship experts say, "Why not?" "I think older women like Joan with younger men is fine," says noted Beverly Hills psychiatrist Carole Lieberman. "It shows these women are self-confident and not afraid to choose what they want. "And it's not as though mature women like Joan aren't physically attractive!" 

A young guy is nothing new for Collins. She has enjoyed the company of youthful lovers for a long time. Her last boytoy (or, if you prefer, toyboy), antiques dealer Robin Hurlstone, is a full 24 years her junior! "Joan likes them young," says one pal. "She doesn't see herself growing old gracefully because she doesn't see herself as growing old. "She still exudes sex appeal." According to insiders, Collins' siren call is so strong that even after four marriages and three children, her latest boyfriend, Gibson, left his wife and New York home just to be with her! 

He's so in love with the British-born actress, sources say, he can't wait to set up a home with her. "Percy's crazy about Joan," says one insider. "The huge age gap doesn't seem to faze him." And according to Lieberman, the age difference shouldn't really surprise anyone. "I think society has had a double standard," says the doctor, "because we've come to accept older men and younger women, mostly because we've seen so many older actors paired in movies and on TV with much younger women. "If a woman of 68 still wants adventure in her life, she shouldn't feel ashamed about going out and getting it!" 

Following are some other leading ladies who have found happiness with younger men. 
Cher, 54, and Rob Camilletti, 36
Moonstruck Cher is back with her bagel boytoy Camilletti! The one-named diva has been romancing her former beau, whom she dated from 1987 to 1989 and again in 1993. "Cher has always had a place in her heart for Rob," says a source. "She always goes back to him. He's the only man for her, especially when he satisfies her with fabulous afternoon lovemaking sessions!"
Courteney Cox, 36, and David Arquette, 29 The marriage between the Friends beauty and the phone company pitchman hasn't been all smooth sailing since they walked down the aisle in 1999. Arquette has a party-boy reputation that nearly sunk their relationship. But the brunette beauty just plunked down more than $10 million on an ultra-modern beachfront party palace she hopes will keep her hubby home. "The place will be a great hangout for David and his friends," says a pal. "And that way, Courteney can keep an eye on him!"
Francesca Annis, 56, and Ralph Fiennes, 38 Fiennes, the dashing star of the five-hankie weeper The English Patient, met his older lady love in 1994, when she played his mother in the Shakespearean play Hamlet. Shortly after, he split from his wife, ER star Alex Kingston, and Annis left her longtime lover, photographer Patrick Wiseman, father of her three children. "Francesca loves Ralph, and he loves her," says English Patient producer Saul Zaentz. "That's the key."
Raquel Welch, 60, and Richie Palmer, 46 After three failed rides on the marriage-go-round, ravishing Welch wasn't even interested in dating pizzaman Palmer. But Palmer sent her flowers every day until she agreed to go out with him! And she was still wary of their attraction. "I was thinking: 'You are in middle age now, Raquel. You mustn't lose your head'." Luckily, all her misgivings disappeared by the time she and Palmer said 'I do' in 1999. "We're looking forward to a happy and exciting life together," she says today.
Madonna, 42, and Guy Ritchie, 32

The Material Girl is so crazy about her British boytoy director Ritchie that she let him direct her last video, What it Feels Like for a Girl. The controversial clip was banned by MTV and VH1.

But that hasn't cooled Madonna's passion for her Guy - the father of her baby son Rocco - whom she married in Scotland last December. Ritchie, best known for his gangster movies Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and Snatch, is planning to have his wife star in his next film.

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