A&E Rolls Out TV Shows With Southeast Asia in Mind


‘Mom’s Time Out,’ above, and ‘Photo Face-Off’ are among the shows on A&E channels geared toward a Southeast Asian television audience. (Photos courtesy of A&E)

The trio of men found their kids a handful. Hailing from the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, the three had to take care of their kids while their wives went on an all-expenses-paid vacation.

For Manila resident Kenneth, tasks that his wife Emerald made look mundane, like taking their 2-year-old daughter Briley to the dentist, proved a nightmare, while her 24-hour crying fits took a toll on him. His Singaporean and Malaysian counterparts, Christopher and Jason, fared no better. Christopher faced the daunting task of taking his three kids to business meetings and fine-dining restaurants, while Jason had to go through unfamiliar territory, namely a children’s playground.

The three are among the contestants on the Lifetime Channel’s new reality show, “Mom’s Time Out.” Set to premiere on Aug. 28, the show is nothing less than a social experiment that sets out to turn the Asian notion of nuclear families on its head.

“The show takes on a certain structure. The Singaporean contestant Christopher has three kids, Jason from Malaysia has two, while Kenneth has one child,” says Hazel Yap, the marketing and communications director for the Asia Pacific office of the Arts and Entertainment Networks, the parent company of the Lifetime Channel as well as other channels like History, Bio and Crime and Investigation.

“We also try to highlight their diversity by showing them to be from different walks of life. But overall, the show reflects the family values that remained at the core of our programs,” Yap says.

“Mom’s Time Out” is one of a number of new shows that A&E has rolled out for cable viewers throughout Southeast Asia. The History Channel is set to offer up a second season of “Ride and Seek,” an adventure reality show that sees American biker Jaime Dempsey explore Sarawak, the Malaysian side of Borneo, on her bike. Set to premiere on Aug. 18, the show sees Dempsey explore caves used by the Japanese Army in World War II, spar with Malaysian MMA fighter Ann “Athena” Osman, and pay homage to the dead at an Iban tribe longhouse.

“The show is in line with the History Channel’s vision of raising public awareness of their world through entertaining programs,” says A&E Asia Networks marketing and communications manager Geraldine Kong.

“There is a possibility that the show could extend to Indonesia, but we don’t know when just yet,” she adds.

“We will still reach out to Indonesian viewers through our Twitter account, @History_IDN. But for the most part, we are still sounding out the Indonesian market, trying out to find what appeals to the local market and understanding the local countries’ content. This is imperative as Indonesia is our biggest market in the region, as well as its most diverse and complex.”

One upcoming show that does cater specifically to the Indonesian audience is “Photo Face-Off.” Set to premiere on Sept. 23, the show features aspiring Indonesian photographer Willy Lesmana among a field of contestants from around Southeast Asia trying to land a lucrative job to photo celebrities in New York.

“‘Photo Face-Off’ is the biggest local production yet made by the History Channel,” Kong says.

“The photographers will have to face three challenges — speed, theme and extreme — before they can land the contract. They will be pushed to the limits of their resourcefulness and skills by their judge, photographer Justin Mott, just to see if they have what it takes to win.”

Other Southeast Asian-geared shows include “My Mosque,” which centers on a mosque in a Malaysian town and highlights local beliefs, culture and food.

A&E will also feature the original miniseries “Houdini” on the History Channel. Starring Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody, the show takes on the legendary magician’s life and times. Lifetime will also have a film adaptation of the V.C. Andrews classic “Flowers in the Attic” and “Petals in the Wind,” which will premiere on Aug. 12 and Aug. 19 respectively. But regardless of whichever show you opt to watch, it’s not too much to say that you will be spoilt for choice.

Originally published in The Jakarta Globe on July 22, 2014

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