Chapter 49: When I woke up, the world was… (5)
“What do you mean…”
Although it was the director who asked, everyone had the same expression.
An expression asking, ‘What nonsense are you saying?’
CEO Baek Hansung leaned against the sofa and leisurely clasped his hands together.
“Team Leader Park, you said the public’s opinion is currently divided, right?”
“Ah, yes. Although there are still more who are criticizing us, luckily, Neptune gained the image of a skilled idol group, and because Songha is so pretty, the number of people protecting
her is steadily increasing.”
After she answered, the team 3 leader added in with dry lips,
“There are a lot of people who are being quiet, saying that they’ll talk after seeing her act. Fortunately, if there was only bad public criticism, then she may have had to quit the drama. Since TVL wouldn’t keep Songha in that situation.”
“That’s that, but since both the criticizing side and protecting side are quite equal, there’s no hint the
controversy will die down soon. Since both sides are taking turns adding fuel to the fire,”
Added Kim Hyunjo. CEO Baek Hansung asked again,
“The first broadcast is in January, and the script reading is?”
“In four days, on the 24th.”
I answered this time. Since it was a day I was impatiently waiting for since I wrote it in my schedule, the answer came out immediately.
CEO Baek Hansung’s gaze momentarily fell on me before turning away.
“Good. Then let’s raise the stakes. Let’s see how high they go.”
“Get in contact with TVL and ask them about making a behind-the-scenes team… A team that keeps the
behind-the-scenes camera rolling during the script reading, poster photo shoot, the actual filming, then creates and releases teasers one after another… No, I’ll make a personal visit to TVL.”
The director cut in with a sour expression.
“A behind-the-scenes or teaser, at most, they’ll be 30-60 seconds. You probably won’t be able to tell if she’s good at acting with that? We won’t be able to put the controversy to rest like that…”
“People will continue to watch if they can’t tell. Since they are curious.”
CEO Baek Hansung’s eyes narrowed.
“Controversy is interest, and if we can drag this interest properly until January… I think the ratings for the first broadcast won’t lose to public networks. Also, if the project is good, then it’ll ride the flow from
I looked at CEO Baek Hansung with unblinking eyes.
I thought the same thing as well.
Yesterday, when Lee Songha’s name first started to rise in the rankings.
Cable channels were less accessible compared to public networks. Unlike public network dramas that are guaranteed at least 3% viewership ratings with no promotions, it was considered a success if cable dramas hit 3% viewership ratings after constantly promoting the drama a month before.
Dramas, that failed to become a hot topic but were good quality, hovered at around 1% and would only be acknowledged by those who watched them.
However, the situation would change if it could become a hot topic.
Since, as long as it became a hot topic and the content possessed sufficient mass appeal and quality, people would watch it regardless of whether it was on cable or not. As proof of this, there were dramas that surpassed 10%, which was considered to be a limit of cable channels, after becoming a craze on the internet and heated topics in forums and community sites.
That was why, since there already was a controversy, I thought that if we looked at this positively, this controversy, this hot topic, could become the driving force in making people anticipate and wait for Cat Guardian Ghost.
However, I didn’t tell others, who were worried, my thoughts.
It was because there were two reasons that made me think this.
One was that I continuously confirmed Lee Songha’s remarkable acting skills and concentration while we read the script together for the past few weeks. The other reason was that I knew
that there was a very, very high chance that the project, Cat Guardian Ghost,
would become a hit.
That was why I thought that if I told people, who weren’t aware of this, my thoughts, they would say I was optimistic like LJ did.
How was it that this person could make decisions like this just by looking at her audition tape?
“If we do that and things go bad, the backlash will be quite big.”
Yeah, that is a normal reaction.
When the director began to talk, even Team Leader Park said with a worried face,
“Isn’t the risk… too high? Of course, if we can continue to drag this controversy like you say, the
viewership rating for the first broadcast may outdo the ones from public networks, but everyone will be watching with the intention of dissecting Lee Songha’s acting.”
The director, team 3 leader, and Kim Hyunjo all nodded their heads in agreement.
Team Leader Park continued,
“On top of that, people who were swearing at her will be prepared in front of their TVs to look for any faults in her acting with the attitude of ‘Let’s see how good you really are’. If Songha makes even a small mistake, they’ll create a fuss and claim, ‘I knew it!’”
The team 3 leader joined in immediately,
“This will be a huge pressure on Songha as well. Although she’s better than I thought, there are times when even veterans can’t display their full abilities under pressure. Moreover, this is
her first project. If she makes the slightest mistake…”
“That’s why we need to do well. And the actress needs to act well.”
CEO Baek Hansung looked at me again and said,
“And the manager needs to take proper care.”
The meeting continued for some time.
Other people, including the director, once again voiced their concerns, but in the end, it was decided that CEO Baek Hansung would be personally going to TVL and meeting with CEO Kim Pansuk, Director Shin Taekyun, and their director.
Team Leader Park rubbed her face with her hands.
“Maintain the balance of the controversy while dragging it until January… My shoulders are heavy. It’ll be a delicate situation until the drama’s first broadcast.”
“If it looks like it’ll die down, let me know.”
CEO Baek Hansung laughed in a low
voice and said,
“I’ll do an interview.”
“’If she was someone who wasn’t good at acting, I wouldn’t have even gotten her to audition.’ Or ‘If I
were to add her to a drama, do you think TVL’s my limit?’ How do they sound? I think it will heat things up if I throw it out there.”
Everyone listened to him with frightened expressions before realizing it was a joke at the end.
Team Leader Park relaxed her shoulders and grinned,
“Things will heat up for sure. The company will be burned black. I’ll do what I can so you don’t have to do an interview.”
“Okay, then work hard, everyone.”
Since it looked like the meeting was wrapping up, I picked up my laptop that was lying on the table. Then I got up to follow Kim Hyunjo out.
“If you’re not busy, I’d like to talk to you for a bit,”
CEO Baek Hansung said suddenly.
When I looked around, unsure whether he was talking to me, I saw that everyone was staring at me.
Even the CEO.
“I have one more thing I want to ask you.”
I replied first before sitting back down. Everyone left one after another with an expression that looked like they were so curious they could die. Finally, Kim Hyunjo pointed his thumb downwards as if gesturing me to meet him downstairs before leaving.
The only ones remaining in the CEO’s office was CEO Baek Hansung and me. A silence hung in the air.
What is this?
What does he want to ask me?
Is it about the drama? Or about Lee Songha?
Just when I was thinking of various situations in order to give a perfect reply no matter the question, a question I didn’t think of was asked.
“How did you know about Sung Dowon?”
“Didn’t you refuse because you knew?”
My mind blanked momentarily before turning at full speed.
I knew that Sung Dowon only looked normal on the outside, but was very problematic inside. Well, it had already been a while since that day. I did think that W&U already knew about it since they said that W&U dropped him before Pure Star and Sung Dowon started to accuse one another in the future I saw.
“I’m not sure what you mean.”
I feigned ignorance and lied.
If I acted like I knew, then it would become a headache if he started to ask me how I knew.
When I looked at him as casually as I could, CEO Baek Hansung revealed a subtle expression.
“A coincidence, huh…”
He tapped his long finger on the sofa’s armrest again.
It wasn’t like I was being interrogated, but I felt suffocated.
Fortunately, I was able to keep a calm expression like now because my first month at work was so spectacular, and above all, my mentality grew multiple times stronger after getting my foresight ability.
CEO Baek Hansung broke the silence as he nodded his head.
“I heard that you were the one who brought this drama.”
“I thought it was a good drama and requested Team Leader Park for it.”
“What should I give you if this really is a success… If there’s something you need, let me know then. I need to keep those with good luck next to me.”
He grinned as he said,
“Then, go own your way.”
“Yes. I’ll take my leave.”
While I was picking up my laptop again, I heard CEO Baek Hansung’s voice again,
“Ah. Also, about Lee Songha. Continue to stay by her.”
Stay by her?
“It’s rare for actors and actresses to endure the pressure, stress, and responsibility from acting like it’s nothing. So the majority try to depend on something. It can be drugs or alcohol… or even people.”
My expression stiffened without realizing.
CEO Baek Hansung said in serious expression,
“Make her depend on you. So she doesn’t turn to something else.”
The moment I left the CEO’s office, I called Lee Songha.
I felt like I could only ease the strange churning in my stomach by calling her.
-Yes, this is Lee Songha’s phone! Please wait a mom-
When we told them to prevent Lee Songha from using the internet, it seemed they took her phone away as well.
When I cut Im Seoyoung’s familiar voice off, the other side of the phone became quiet.
“Hello? Can you hear me?”
-Ah, I can hear you… Is this Sunwoo oppa? Did you call on your cell phone?
“Seoyoung, it’s been more than a month since we’ve met, but you still don’t know my voice?”
-No, I know. I do… The contact is…
“Don’t tell me my phone number isn’t saved on Songha’s phone?”
I felt that would be a different type of shock.
-No, it’s saved… Anyways, I’ll pass the phone to her!
What was that?
Her reaction was strange, but before I could get curious, I heard Lee Songha’s voice.
-Oppa. Are you at work?
Her voice sounded normal.
“Yeah. What are you doing?”
“You’re eating breakfast now?”
-No. I had breakfast a while ago…
“Ah, then lunch?”
-No. We are planning on ordering pizza for lunch later.
“… Did you perhaps read articles on the internet?”
-No. Unni took away my phone. I just got it back now.
That was a relief. So she wasn’t eating due to stress.
I sighed silently so she couldn’t hear and said,
“Once we hang up, give it back. Your mood will spoil if you read what they are saying on the internet.”
-I’m fin- I don’t care. You told me not to care.
The moment I heard her unhesitant reply, my lips curved upwards without realizing.
Her pleasant voice continued, accompanied by a crunching sound,
-I felt strange because I was cast so easily, but I finally feel that it’s real. I wish time will pass quickly so we can start filming. But…
Lee Songha paused for a moment before asking,
-Are we going to read the script today?
“We will. I’ll go as soon as I’m done here.”
Like usual, I replied with a smile.