TM Chapter 78

Chapter 78: Star Manager (2)

TL: emptycube / ED: Isleidir


 

My hand reflexively stretched out. Im Seoyoung’s round forehead hit my palm instead and bounced off. Then, before I even had time to catch her, she fell onto the floor.

Im Seoyoung’s face was scrunched up as though she was so sad she could die.

I inwardly clicked my tongue as I gave her my hand.

“Why bully your perfectly fine forehead? Do you want to go to the emergency instead of the studio?”

“Nooooo. Eung.”

She faltered as she got up. It seemed she still wanted to be on the show. As though she barely managed to contain her tears, she bit her lips and sniffed her nose.

She waited so much for this opportunity, but it seemed like pessimistic thoughts flooded her mind now that the opportunity was in front of her. Creating an obsession that she had to do well and an uneasiness of what if she didn’t. As well as the fear that she might disappoint her colleagues who believed in her.

“Stop digging yourself into a hole and think about it calmly. Just because others call you the ‘girl breadwinner, girl breadwinner{1}’, do you really think you are one? The chief or the other girls, they won’t be disappointed that you couldn’t get more screen time. Instead, they’ll probably freak out if they knew that you were thinking this way.”

I said it as gently as I could since it seemed her mind had turned into mush.

“You think you’re a genius who sweeps through all the entertainment shows you going on? Just think of it as throwing your hat into the ring of public network entertainment shows. Also, let’s be honest. Do you think the one to cause an incident will be you or me today?”

Im Seoyoung looked up at me with wet eyes and asked,

“Oppa, how are you so okay? You’re not even a celebrity. Aren’t you scared about your first recording?”

“Do I look okay?”

“Yup. Completely okay.”

“I’m not. I’ll be honest, only half my brain’s been working since yesterday. I’m regretting that I didn’t take a cheongsimhwan{2}.”

After saying this while sighing, Im Seoyoung replied with smiling eyes,

“To be honest, I secretly took a cheongsimhwan.”

“You ate one by yourself? If you have good stuff like that, then you should share.”

“I thought you were fine!”

Im Seoyoung lightly tapped my arm.

“Wait, I have one more. I brought another just in case.”

Then she really did take out a cheongsimhwan from her bag. I laughed in surprise, but she unwrapped then handed it to me. I didn’t reject and swallowed it down.

“Thanks. Let’s do this somehow with the help of the medicine.”

“Umm, oppa, just, just in case…”

“Yeah, say it.”

“Could you say that today will go well just once? Hmm? You said it would go well and Songha’s drama went well and so did the incident with Taehee unni’s song. I easily believe in stuff like that. I want to grab the tail of the lucky snak-“

“Okay, today will go well.”

Although I didn’t see the future and because I didn’t, I couldn’t be certain, but I still said it.

Tears dangling on her eyelashes, Im Seoyoung smiled broadly.

“Hey, if you smile after crying-“{3}

I stopped what I was saying. Hmm, it wasn’t proper to say that to a fully-grown woman.

“Can you tell I cried?”

“Yeah.”

“Euah, what do I do? I can’t let them notice. What should I say?”

“Let’s say you hit your head on the door while practicing your talents.”

“What’s that?! That makes me seem like a dummy!”

“What’s new about that? You’re the one who said that you were a stupid dummy.”

When I said this while smiling, Im Seoyoung rattled on about something while slapping my arm. Although it wasn’t like the pressure had completely disappeared, fortunately, it looked like her tears had gone away.

Really. I didn’t think I could ever get used to comforting someone when they were crying.

Just as I thought this, the tips of my fingers touched thin strands of hair. I jolted to my senses. It seemed the habit I had around the quadruplets arose as my hand was on Im Seoyoung’s head.

“Ah, sorry. I thought of my brother’s kids.”

“What? What about it? Why are you sorry? I’m fine?”

“Women don’t like their head being pet.”

“No, I like it.”

Then she lowered her head slightly. Her eyes had, at some point, curved into crescent moons.

I placed my hand on her head once again.

Maybe it was the effect of the cheongsimhwan or because of animal therapy, but my heart relaxed gently.

 

As soon as we left the waiting room, we encountered Kim Hyunjo and the other girls. It seemed they had enough of waiting and had come to get us.

Without a trace of having been digging herself into a hole, Im Seoyoung, mixing amidst the girls, lied naturally that she had hit her head on the door and cried because it hurt so much. Though, it didn’t seem like anyone believed her.

‘Will she be okay?’ Kim Hyunjo mouthed to me.

I silently nodded.

Then, not long after, we all stepped onto the studio set.

*

10:35 a.m. A spacious VIP dressing room.

Producer Yoon, who gave a gaunt, rigid impression, and Writer Park, who was experienced in the public network entertainment scene as a main writer for ten years, both of them were flipping through each cue card as they explained the rules.

“Also, Im Seoyoung of Neptune apparently went on a few entertainment shows. So when you pass the conversation over to them, it’ll be good to pass it over to her to prevent any trouble…”

“If they can’t receive the conversation properly when I pass it to them a few times, then I’m not going to talk to them,”

Said one of the MCs, Park Taepyeong, a comedian who debuted with IBC and was known for his irritable character. Hong Sukwoo, the other MC, who debuted as an anchor and had been leisurely eating an energy bar, replied,

“They said they are rookies. Hyung, are you going to step and kill them before they can even grow?”

“I’m saying if they can’t when I pass the conversation to them, if! When the cast is so large, are we going to teach those who can’t even follow up on a conversation? Is this a school? If they can’t even do that, then tell them to go on a cultural program and just read the script!”

“Haa, this is why all our juniors find it hard to approach you.”

“I care about those who do well!”

Writer Park, who had been listening to their conversation, smiled as she cut in,

“Okay, okay. Glossing over the celebrities, please pay attention to the managers. They are just normal people.”

Producer Yoon lowered his head as he requested,

“That’s right. Although we did pick those who should be good on air, you know it too. If we place normal people in front of a camera, no matter how great of a talker they are, they can’t show their full ability. If seniors don’t save them, our broadcast will flop.”

“Tell doctors to save them. Well, are there any decent people?”

At Park Taepyeong’s reply, Producer Yoon licked his lips.

“Lee Hyunjong’s manager has a sense for it since he’s been on air a few times. Jang Noksu’s manager was someone who used to be an aspiring comedian. Also, Neptune’s manager has a few stories about Lee Songha so we’re keeping an eye on him as well.”

“Haa, we see celebrities on air all the time. If we want to beat out other network’s Lunar New Year’s specials, then there needs to be a gem amongst the managers.”

Park Taepyeong clicked his tongue as he flipped through the managers’ profiles.

Hong Sukwoo smiled as he added,

“We’ll look for one. A gem.”

 

10:55 a.m. 10 minutes before the recording.

The lights poured onto the set like the scorching summer sun.

In the middle were seats for the two MCs, and stands fanned out from either side. On one side were gorgeous celebrities and on the other sat managers with name tags on their chests.

A young, female producer explained in front of the clearly nervous managers,

“Since we’re not a live show, you can speak with ease. As you all have mics on, the audio will pick up everything you say so no going off on tangents. Also, the writers are going to be continuously writing instructions so constantly watch them through the corner of your eye.”

“Yes, understood! I’ll do my best!”

Jang Noksu’s manager, Kim Dongho, shouted in a loud voice.

“Just do as you did in the prior interviews, Chief Kim.”

“Don’t worry. The beef set will be mine and Noksu’s.”

His expression was different from any other manager. The tenser other managers looked, the more composed his expression became. That was obvious since he was confident he would be stand out the most among them.

As soon as the producer stepped off the set, the managers began to talk with people next to them. Sitting at the end, Kim Dongho was cursing the producer who had guided them as he glanced to the person next to him.

Neptune’s manager. Jung Sunwoo.

He wasn’t the type of person Kim Dongho liked.

First, he was taller than him, and on top of that, he looked quite distinguished because he was from a big company. Also, he looked very much at ease as he sat with his legs crossed and was waving to Neptune on the other side.

Why was this person so carefree? Was he a team leader?

Inwardly complaining, Kim Dongho started a conversation.

“Excuse me, hello. You’re sitting next to me so I hope you can provide good reactions.”

‘Although I’m not going to.’ He swallowed this thought.

“Ah, yes. Please take care of me.”

Jung Sunwoo greeted him. Kim Dongho frowned subtly. Although he didn’t look like he would be disliked by the viewers, he still wasn’t likable. However, after listening to his voice, the scales tipped more towards being ‘likable’.

“Why did you come on the show? If it’s Neptune, ah, is it to help the rookies grow?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Ah, you must be going through a lot, being assigned to rookies. I was cast before this program was proposed. I used to be an aspiring comedian. Though, I’m a manager because I wasn’t lucky. My dream is still to become a broadcaster.”

“Then you must not be worried about today’s recording.”

“It’s a program meant for me.”

Trying his best not to sound arrogant, Kim Dongho continued to speak,

“Also, as someone who’s worked in this industry for 6 years, what is there to be nervous of? Other people should have also been working for a few years now so I don’t know why they are so nervous. Don’t you think so?”

“I’m not very experienced. I ate a cheongsimhwan before I came.”

“Ah, really? You don’t look inexperienced. How long have you been working?”

“4 months.”

Kim Dongho blinked.

“No, not as Neptune’s manager, in total.”

“Yes. It has been 4 months since I’ve started working.”

“… Ah.”

Kim Dongho ridiculed himself for having been wary of him.

He was only for display.

*

11 a.m. They began.

The studio, which had been bustling with dozens of staff and involved parties, became silent. The faces of the celebrities in front of me and the managers around me changed. I could even feel a prickling sense of tension.

The two MCs, who would appear whenever you turned on the TV, skillfully progressed with the opening.

Fortunately, Neptune didn’t look very nervous. Even Im Seoyoung, although she was still a little stiff in the shoulders, she was much better than before. It seemed the MCs looked at them favorably as Neptune’s introduction was longer than others.

The problem was this side. The managers.

The phrase ‘general crisis’ was meant for situations like this. Every time an MC talked to them, there would be silence for a few seconds. Also, over half of them would stutter or say some nonsense. I felt that the producers would have a stomach full of frustration when they went to edit it later.

There was only so many times the MCs could gloss over it with jokes, Park Taepyeong looked like he was about to throw the cue cards at us a few times now. Even the faces of the producers and writers were becoming gloomy.

Although it wasn’t nice to say it was thanks to them, seeing the managers messing up made my heart more steadfast. Should I say it was learning from others’ faults? My parents and relatives would be watching this, maybe my entire family would gather to watch this, so I couldn’t show myself acting like them.

I thought my self-introduction went well since Kim Hyunjo’s expression was good when I looked at him from the side.

After the introductions of the cast and a light talk about their private lives ended, the MCs placed a toy-like object on top of each manager’s table. It was semi-circular and was barely big enough to fit on a person’s hand. On top of it were grooves for fingers.

I thought I saw something like this somewhere.

The MCs mischievously said,

“Now, managers, put your hands on top of those devices!”

“Those viewing the broadcast probably know this, but these are portable lie detectors.”

Lie detectors?

“From now on, we need only the truth to come from managers’ mouths. But because the relationship between a manager and celebrity could be unhealthy or maybe because they are aware of their company CEO, they might unconsciously lie.”

“That’s why we prepared this. Since the device will shock you if you lie, you will have no choice, and I emphasize this because it’s important, you will have no choice but to tell the truth!”

Murmurs erupted around me.

I carefully placed my hand on top of the lie detector.

Maybe it was because I had so many things that could be considered secret, but this small device felt like a bomb to me.

The truth, huh?

What would the MCs ask me? There wasn’t anything that could be considered a lie in the lines I prepared beforehand. Also, even if it was a lie detector, it wouldn’t be as precise as those that appear in dramas since it seemed like they were doing this as a joke.

Well… There wouldn’t be any trouble, right?

 


{1} Refers to younger members being the breadwinner of their household (or in this case, Neptune).

{2} Pills that relax one’s heart. Sort of like anxiety pills.

{3} ‘If you laugh after crying, you’ll grow a horn on your butt.’

 

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