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HBO Asia Sets Slate of Original Shows

HBO Asia, the pan-regional unit of pay-TV giant HBO, has unveiled three new original shows that will go to air in 2018. It also announced continuations of its “Teenage Psychic” series, and further two instalments in its collection of Chinese-language martial arts TV movies.

The announcements were made on Thursday, at Singapore’s Fullerton Hotel, just across the bay from the ongoing Asia TV Forum and Singapore Media Festival events.

The new shows are “Folklore,” a 6-part horror anthology that takes place across multiple Asian territories; “Grisse,” an 8-hour drama series set in 18th century Dutch East Indies; and “Miss Sherlock,” 8-part Japanese-language drama series, made as a joint venture with Hulu Japan.

“Miss Sherlock,” now in post-production, stars Yuko Takeguchi in the title role and is a modern interpretation of the classic Sherlock Holmes tales, solving bizarre and extraordinary cases. Shihori Kanjiya plays Dr Wato Tachibana, a reinterpretation of Holmes’ sidekick, Doctor Watson.

The series will air from April 2018, simultaneously on Hulu in Japan, and HBO’s streaming platform, HBO GO, and HBO on Demand.

“HBO has based much of its success on original shows, so it is great that we are doing something in our little way in Asia,” said Jonathan Spink, CEO of HBO Asia.

The expanded slate are the first new products unveiled since the appointment of Jessica Kam as head of original production. A former film and TV producer, Kam joined HBO some eight months ago.

“Our strategy is to expand into new genres and new countries of production, we don’t believe just in having writers sitting in Singapore. Instead, we can become more local and more authentic,” said Kam.

“We believe that different genres are better told in different places. For example, horror is very well told in South East Asia, China is very good at martial arts, Taiwan specializes in coming-of-age stories. Japan is pretty good at most things, especially suspense.”

“Folklore” involves well-known Singapore auteur Eric Khoo as showrunner. Episodes are created by Malaysia’s Ho Yuhang, Indonesia’s Joko Anwar (season 1 of HBO Asia’s “Halfworlds”), Korea’s Lee Sang-woo, Japan’s Takumi Saitoh, and Thailand’s Pen-ek Ratanaruang.

Showrunner on “Grisse” is Singapore- and Indonesia-based producer Mike Wiluan, who has previously been involved in HBO Asia’s “Dead Mine” and “Serangoon Road.” “I’ve always admired the Western genre, especially Sergio Leone, who changed around all the tropes and made it much more exciting,” said Wiluan.”Indonesia has such a rich history, including a colonial period, which has not fully been exploited on screen.” The series is to be shot in English. Wiluan is expected to direct the first episode, with Australia’s Tony Tilse (“Underbelly”) directing most of the others.

Having aired two of a potential ten stories in the martial arts movie collection, HBO has green-lighted “Master of the Crane Fist: Wong Yan-lam,” and “Master of the Nine Dragon Fist: Wong Ching-ho” as the third and fourth films. “White Crane Fist” is directed by Guo Jian-yong. “Nine Dragon Fist” is directed by Si Xiao-dong.

“Teenage Psychic” involves a woman born with the ability to see spirits and learning to user her powers to help others. It was named best mini-series at the Golden Bell Awards. Season two reteams actress Kuo Shu Yau with Taiwanese writer-director Chen Ho-yu.

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