A Hollywood TV peeve

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I've a peeve with the actors/actresses in Hollywood TV.

If you take note, you'll see lots of coffee in the Hollywood series. The NCIS actors have coffee in their hands every episode. Most of the police in other Hollywood series also drink coffee throughout the series. I drink coffee too; more than my fair share; so what's my peeve?

Watch their cups. Watch the way they hold them. Is there any weight in their cups? Is there any fluid in their cups?

No! And that's my peeve. If the actor can't 'remember' the weight and movement of a cup containing at least half a cup of coffee, at least put water in the cup. It takes away from the realness of the shows which means it takes away from the entertainment value.

Put coffee in the cups people!


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27 Responses to “A Hollywood TV peeve”
  1. sapphire says:

    Mr. Ho, please try to be fair. This kind of similar situation not only happened in Hollywood series. It's also happened in HK's TV series and movies; particularly when the actor/actress using a ceramic cup with saucer. (Ceramic cup is heavy and opaque, so it's not easy for us to find out) But after a sip of coffee or tea, we can tell from their dry lips that they're pretending to drink.
    I don’t mind to see lots of coffee, tea or pop in TV series, but I DO mind alcohol and smokes. These products have a negative impact on kids.

  2. MY says:

    Well everybody will just have to drink milk or orange juice from a clear glass cup from now on. No more pretending. But they'll have to refill the glass cups each time there is an NG!

    Greg, I'm curious what TVB uses to substitute red wine and beer? I'm guessing cranberry juice and ginger ale?

  3. Tonia_ho says:

    I've notice these too... I am a coffee lover too...
    so next time when STARBUCKS or whoever wants to show their cups in the TVs or moives, they should fill them up.

  4. 河國榮 says:


    quite often, the actors at TVB don't have time to sip their drinks. if they did take a sip, the action would be too slow for the director and for the audience. the mere action of swallowing the sip takes more time than you'd imagine. the same goes for eating so many actors avoid eating and drinking during the shot unless they absolutely have enough time to do so.

    but the dry lips is a little too much. they could at least make them wet. another problem that might be related is that it's difficult to know when the cups and liquid within can be trusted. we usually ask the props guy if the cups and liquid are drinkable and trust his response. some actors/actresses still choose not to drink anyway.


    yeah. too many NG's and the actor would be full of liquid. good point. still, in many scenes, the actors are holding the coffee, not drinking it. it's just so obvious that the cups are empty though; wrong weight, wrong angle, etc. the Hollywood actors are getting paid megabucks for their work so couldn't they at least hold their coffee cups as if they contain something?

    at TVB, they use cranberry juice for wine, beer for beer, non-alcoholic wine for champaign and canned coffee for coffee.

  5. firthette says:


    i think my post didnt work last time.... but anyways,
    this is a bit out of topic but i'd just like to say that its so great to hear that familiar aussie accent when watching tvb series. :)

    keep up the great work and look forward to your upcoming projects!
    your chinese is so good! i wish mine was just as good...having come to australia since i was small....

    and you studied at unsw as well..hehe..i'm studying there at the moment......

    my peeve is of tvb series... when i was watching 衝上雲霄 i had to read the chinese subtitles for the english ...and not the chinese...!!! considering i'm almost an abc....!! i had to like rewind the english bits to hear them again.... and to know that there are a lot of tvb artists who know how to speak english fluently...they should have asked them to play those parts....

    but i hadnt noticed the coffee thing...must look out for it next time i watch my fav american series at the moment..grey's anatomy... :)

  6. Kayin says:

    Yeah, I've never really paid much close attention to cups or anything, or the food. The only reason I know that actors don't generally eat anything is because they pointed it out in the Virtues of Harmony special, LOL.

    firthette, I don't think the actors' English was too bad. I thought Michelle Ye's was the hardest to understand because of her American accent. The bit where she was teaching Ron ways to study effectively. Ha ha.

  7. 河國榮 says:

    Firthette, the selfish person that I am, I sometimes enjoy watching the other actors struggle with English dialog. hopefully, it reminds them of how I use to struggle with the Chinese dialog many years ago ;-)

    Kayin, who's Michelle and Ron? do you know their Chinese names?

  8. jayceho says:

    Michelle is Ye Xuan and Ron Ng is Wu Zhuo Xi.
    btw Greg, do actors really smoke ciggs when they are acting in shows or issit a fake one?
    Always been wondering abt tt...

  9. Kayin says:

    In case you're not too good with pinyin, Greg, Michelle is 葉璇 and Ron is 吳卓羲. Ooh, do you know Raymond Lam? 林峯? I think you do. Any scenes with him in 女人唔易做?

    and jayceho, I think actors do smoke really cigarettes. I mean, they look pretty real to me, ha ha. Anyways, I know Michelle had to smoke her in her Wong Jing series, Central (whatever the full name is), so ...

    Aww, Greg! I think you should tutor them, he he. By the way, why, how, when and where did you learn Chinese in the first place? Just out of curiosity. =)

  10. firthette says:

    hi greg,
    thanks for such a fast reply :) hehe.. u have fired me up...

    anyways...maybe i too am a selfish person ;-) but with a lot of the audience being from overseas, and with this audience paying for the tvb series that they get to watch, i expect that the tvb artists (those 1st and 2nd line artists paid more than most hong kongers) should put some effort into learning their dialog. they are getting paid to do their job, and that job is to entertain the audience.....with whom they would have nothing without audience support.... its like with every job... you wouldnt want a starbucks person giving you a latte instead of a cappucino....

    but on another hand... i agree that tvb artists are giving limited time to prepare for a series...and that might be why the above occurs..... is 飛紙仔 really that common? but at least tvb series are popular around the world..... the australian film and tv industry is far worse..... and neighbours is just a little quicker than bold and the beautiful :P i think tvb is quite creative in its storylines.... i havent been interested in an aussie series in ages... last one was water rats...

    about the coffee thing again.. i re-watched a "coffee-cup" scene in grey's anatomy..and you are right..... the cups seem really empty... the grande cup didnt even seem to have a drop of coffee in it while it was being held in the hand and then placed on the table

  11. Elizabeth says:

    So real beer is used as beer. Greg, have you every encountered a silly situation where the actor really got a bit drunk from doing beer scenes over and over? That would be hilarious!

    It's very interesting to learn about these behind the scenes stuff.

  12. sapphire says:



  13. 河國榮 says:


    overall, we do very few retakes at TVB. we don't have the time. therefore, I've only heard of actors getting tipsy (not drunk) on one or two occasions, usually intentionally because they're having a hard time with the work load and need to relax a little even if they're still on the set.


    I haven't seen that at TVB but most studios would use wax 'glass' which is very soft and easy to break. if they need it to break exactly like glass (wax doesn't), they'll use what they call 'sugar glass'.

    I fully believe that if you really through a glass bottle at a television, the television screen would be shattered by the concentrated reenforced structure of the bottle. it's not something I'd try at home ;-)

  14. Diana says:

    WOW. haha that was an interesting observation. next time i watch these shows/movies i gotta check out their cups. xD ;)

  15. Jenniva says:

    I notice that in series sometimes. Empty content. I've email you, reply if you've got the time. Thank you!

  16. MY says:

    On one of the K-100 shows, they were showing some examples of prop food. Common chinese pastries such as pineapple buns, cocktail buns and egg tarts on display for bakery scenes were often inedible plastic/rubber for reasons that they can be used for every scene and not have to worry about going stale. At dinner table scenes, expensive food such as abalone were fake so actors/actresses couldn't NG on purpose to eat more. Whole fish dishes were fake because if one person took a piece off the fish it wouldn't look too good after an NG. Apparently sweet & sour pork was an all time favourite because it was plentiful, no one would notice if a couple of pieces were eaten and they could last all day without changing it's visual presentation. Very interesting indeed! (I really miss K-100. *SIGH*)

  17. sapphire says:

    >>I sometimes enjoy watching the other actors struggle with English dialog. hopefully, it reminds them of how I use to struggle with the Chinese dialog many years ago ;-)>>

    河生,你這種心態好像自己上了岸之後,就站在岸上"隔岸觀火"一樣。(HHOK!) 我都同意"沖上雲宵"扮飛機師的一些男藝員講英文對白時有些生硬不自然,這可能跟他們平時工作和生活中少講英文有關吧。(?)這裡的中文電視最近播"無名天使三D",你在戲中扮"反恐組"教官,很意外地原來你的對白全部講英文,這是我第一次聽你全部講英文,很新奇!講英文對白比起廣東話對白,對你來說應該是 piece of cake 吧?

  18. Kayin says:

    Greg ah Greg, you missed my question. From up there somewhere ^^^: By the way, why, how, when and where did you learn Chinese in the first place? Just out of curiosity. =)

  19. MY says:


    You had an article written on Wed, March 16, 2005 "Mrs Cheung, my friend and tutor".

    In there you wrote "Mrs Cheung was my first tutor after arriving in Hong Kong. In fact, as far as Cantonese goes, she was my only tutor."

    Like Kayin, I'm interested in how you continued learning Chinese including reading and writing. Did you go to classes? Or did you self-learn?

  20. Kayin says:

    Self-learn is hard ... like I'm not managing to learn any Mando at all ... oh but I did understand this lady who just asked me a question when I went yum cha the other day. I was with my Aunty waiting for my Mummy to come back from the bathroom and she asked me if that was my Mum (referring to my Aunty) and yeah. LOL. I had to answer her in English, though.

  21. Kayin says:

    MY, I miss K-100 too!

    Jenniva, didn't realise you were here! Hi! Is this the same Jenniva ... ?

    Sorry, Greg, for posting this other message. LOL ... ooh, maybe you can add a tagboard here, so your fans can "chat" there. Ha ha!

  22. AmyChiew says:

    I do agree with you that a lot of actors and actresses are not very good in handling cups, and also bowls. Especially when they need to drink soup or eat porridge out of a bowl. It is so obvious that they are very very much empty.

    And as for the English speaking part, when they can't speak properly in a full sentence, I do understand because they might not have the opportunity to speak in English all the time. But in some series, they can't even pronounce the English name of the actor properly. I can't recall the movie right now but that English name was seldom used in series. Shouldn't they have changed that name if they found that they can't pronounce it? He is the main actor after all which means that a lot of people needs to call him.

  23. Joyce says:

    Hi Greg! I've been a quiet reader of your's for a while now and I really do think you have great articles. If it wasn't for you who writes articles like these, I'm sure none of us TVB fans would have known anything about the crews. But there's a few things I must ask you is, have you ever seen Jessica Hsuan(宣萱)? How is she in real person? Being able to be in so many series at TVB, which one is most memborable to you? What kind of role would you like to do most?

  24. Meow says:

    Hi Greg! juz to say a Hi~ I got this blog from someone and this is so kool !! haha , enjoyed reading something about behind scenes =) and i juz wonder, y dun they put some water in the cups, water isnt something expensive....? =) look forward to ur next post !

  25. Vivie says:

    Hey Greg! It's my second time at your blog and I decided to post a comment. It's really an interesting observation that you made in this post, and it's so true. And also about food used in movies and series. I did see some scenes where the actor/actress did actually eat the food, like in Virtues of Harmony 2, there was one particular scene which I have no idea why I still remember it, where Cutie Mui ate a bowl of instant noodles. =P

    Also just wanted to say your blog is so cool! It's like getting an insider's view from the entertainment biz, hope to see more of you on TV!


  26. MY says:

    So Greg, are you feeling the pressure of being famous yet? With so many questions and comments directed at you. Or are we not quite there yet? :)

  27. joey says:

    A friend of mine sent me your blog when i was bored just now.After reading all your post from the first post till your last post i really have to say you really deserve the angels for animals title by SPCA.Having ten dogs is really not an easy thing.. Ive got a dog , got it when i was 4 years old..but past away this year when she turn 17 years old n due to old age n illnesses.Now hesitated to get a new dog because it makes my new dog more like a replacement n having a dog ,building that close relationship n having to see them pass away within years before i do is unbearable so till now i havent get a new dog..btw great blog to be shared with public..at least i get an insight of a life of an actor of TVB..Hope to read your updates soon..
    Joey from Malaysia,Asia