"Y-you're planning on making a documentary? Are you crazy?"
General Manager Hwang asked, stunned by General Manager Jo's words.
I also wanted to ask the same thing. From the Documentary Department? The Documentary Department?
Although the boundaries between entertainment and documentary shows have been blurry with infotainment programs, the format and their target audience were still completely different. There was no need to compare their influence and topicality.
An entertainment show format would be better for the direction I wanted.
Putting everyone around him in a state of confusion, General Manager Jo leisurely said,
"I'll be bringing in a producer from the Documentary Department. Not making a documentary."
"Just what-… Are you talking about Yoo Sooyoung?"
General Manager Hwang's expression trembled. Yoo Sooyoung. I quickly searched this name in my mind. It wasn't completely unfamiliar. Where did I hear it? There weren't a lot of people who knew Documentary producers. Looking next to me, it seemed that Chief Lee Taeshin knew who it was. His eyes were bulging.
Clasping his hands behind his back, General Manager Jo nodded.
General Manager Hwang snorted loudly,
"And I was wondering what you were up to. She said she would never do an entertainment show!"
We followed General Manager Jo down the stairs and really ended up in the Documentary Department. Unlike the Entertainment Department, who were in meeting rooms or outside all day, the majority of the Documentary Department employees were in their spots.
Chief Lee Taeshin whispered to me while General Manager Jo went to look for Producer Yoo Sooyoung.
"She was an entertainment producer until three years ago. The one who launched 'Share House'."
My eyes shined.
It was one of the few entertainment shows I had regularly watched.
It was an entertainment show that gathered around ten celebrities in a house and produced episodes that would give sitcoms a run for their money. Although there were a lot of celebrities, they each had their own distinct character thanks to the editing, and the chemistry between members and storytelling were very good.
That was why I had thought the producer was really talented whenever I saw it.
Its popularity was incredible as well. Its ratings hovered around 20%.
It flopped after the main producer was switched out?
"Her career was great even besides that, but she probably dropped out of that show because of her pregnancy."
Ah, so she was pregnant.
"But why is such a talented producer with a great career like her in the Documentary Department now?"
"I don't know either."
He shook his head in regret.
I was about to search on the internet for some more information when General Manager Jo waved at us.
"It seems she's advising right now."
I followed his finger. He pointed to editing rooms clustered at the end of the hallway. People were gathered in one of the rooms. There were three people whose gazes were fixed on the monitor. I tried to figure out who might be Yoo Sooyoung.
General Manager Jo spoke,
"While reading your proposal, I thought it would be good to think of it as a story of growth. While it is important to make it fun like an entertainment show, I think it'll be even better if we also add the emotional aspect of a human documentary. What do you think, Chief Jung?"
"It'll be great if we could kill two birds with one stone. If we are able to move the audience through storytelling, it would feel a much longer lasting impression than some fleeting entertainment fun. It will also be helpful in sculpting the members' images and increasing the public's positive perception of them."
The problem was that it would be extremely cringy if we messed up.
I suddenly looked at the editing room again. A paper was stuck on it.
'Editing Special Human Documentary, 'Neighbor', in Progress.'
General Manager Jo smiled faintly and gave me a thumbs up.
"Out of all the producers I know, she's the best at that."
My mind lingered on those words when he quietly opened the door.
Our greetings were short because they were busy. A woman who was sitting with her legs crossed said,
"Please wait, general manager. Let us finish this part first."
"Okay, okay. Take your time."
Was this woman Producer Yoo Sooyoung?
She looked to be in her mid-thirties. She wore a long, flowing one-piece dress and a cardigan. She spoke quietly and softly. I had imagined a charismatic, bold woman since she was the main producer of an entertainment show bustling with celebrities. I guess that was my preconception.
The clip being edited continued to play on the monitor.
It was a fundraising broadcast. It introduced young children with incurable diseases in difficult situations and received support through an ARS (Automatic Response System). We only saw a part of it, yet Chief Lee Taeshin lowered his gaze. Oh my god. Tears were pooling in his eyes.
As soon as it stopped playing, Producer Yoo Sooyoung raised her hand.
"Can you go back? To the scene with the mother nursing her child."
A male producer quickly played the scene again.
After watching it again, Producer Yoo Sooyoung said,
"Let's remove this whole scene. The mother is unlikeable."
The producer and writer blinked.
Like they heard incorrectly. No, hoping they heard incorrectly.
Producer Yoo Sooyoung seemed to catch her mistake and added,
"She seems unlikeable. Her clothes seem too nice."
"Uh, that brand isn't that expensive."
"It looks expensive. Her purse looks expensive too. Isn't her makeup too thick?"
Her tone was still soft, but something seemed off. It seemed different. The producer and writer were different from Producer Yoo Sooyoung. Should I say it felt like a carnivore acting coy amongst herbivores?
I gradually became more interested in her.
The male producer frowned.
"She didn't want to shabby on TV so she carefully picked out her clothes. She only put on lipstick too. It's not like her clothes and makeup are that important."
"Why wouldn't they? This family receives rice from church because they spend all their money on their child's hospital expenses, but it doesn't look that way on screen. They look like they are fine. Do you think the viewers will want to donate?"
"But we won't have enough footage if we remove this scene."
"Lengthen the scene with the child eating alone in his hospital room. It's okay if scenes like that are long."
"Umm, the general manager said that the nursing scene was good."
The writer abruptly joined in.
"The general manager did?"
"He took a glimpse not too long ago."
Producer Yoo Sooyoung's expression distorted.
Soon, she regained her composure with a smile and stood up.
"Then do that."
"General manager, I don't do entertainment shows."
Producer Yoo Sooyoung said once we explained the situation to her at a codfish soup restaurant.
"I have a child now. I won't live like that again. I'm going to live peacefully in the grasslands than in the bloody jungle. Like a herbivore."
"You do look like a herbivore."
"I am a documentary producer. And, it suits me."
"Okay. I won't pressure you, so just take a look at this proposal since we've already met."
General Manager Jo quietly said as he handed her the proposal.
Producer Yoo Sooyoung glanced at me.
"Isn't this the talk of the town? There are probably tons of producer who want to do this."
"I thought of you as soon as I read it. I thought you'd be the best for it."
"I've already lost my touch…"
Even as she refused, Producer Yoo Sooyoung accepted the proposal. Her eyes quickly scanned through the proposal. Her expression became more anxious every time she turned a page. The speed of her heel tapping below the table quickened.
Producer Yoo Sooyoung asked,
"Then are there three members remaining in Pretty Girls? Or four?"
Chief Lee Taeshin looked at me. He clearly looked nervous.
"There are four members. Jung Jae is one of the members, but we can't get in contact with her. We are looking for her though."
His expression relaxed at my words.
Team Leader Park and Kim Hyunjo suggested that we just go with the three goldfish, but I told them that we would wait a bit longer. To be honest, it wasn't because of Jung Jae or Chief Lee Taeshin.
I was simply concerned that Jung Jae might have an influence on the success of Pretty Girls' single.
Since she was known as 'the Second Lee Songha'.
"If the story is decent, then it might be good to film you searching for her."
She mumbled to herself before asking again,
"The other two are completely out, right?"
"Yes. They already signed with another company."
"As soon as they left. Did they leave on bad terms?"
Seeing Chief Lee Taeshin's expression, Producer Yoo Sooyoung mumbled,
"So it was bad. Then we might be able to get some drama based on their reactions. A pitiful human documentary or an outlandish drama full of MSG. If we want it to be really fun, then we need to get their reacti-, no, think peaceful thoughts. Peaceful thoughts."
Producer Yoo Sooyoung continued to ask us a few questions and mumbled to herself. There were a few enticing ideas in her mumblings, so I took out my phone and took note.
I was initially dumbfounded when General Manager Jo said that he was thinking about a Documentary Producer, but I wanted her the more I saw her.
"I don't know who's going to work on it, but they are lucky. But I really don't do entertainment shows anymore."
Producer Yoo Sooyoung closed the proposal. General Manager Jo received it back.
"I'm suited for documentaries. I think I'm meant to make them."
"It's a shame, but there's nothing we can do if you don't want to."
Producer Yoo Sooyoung looked at the proposal with reluctance before shaking her head. She quickly got up and left the restaurant. Looking at a picture of her child, which was her phone wallpaper, like it was a talisman. While mumbling about peace.
General Manager Jo looked at Chief Lee Taeshin and me and asked,
"What do you think? Of her as the main producer?"
We nodded our heads.
General Manager Jo smiled.
"That's good. Then just wait a little."
The 'little' he mentioned really was short.
I received a call from General Manager Jo before midnight. That everything was settled. He seemed to be in a bar as there were clinking sounds around him. I heard a drunk woman slurring her words in the background
-Documentaries are freaking boring. Sooooooo boring!
Producer Yoo Sooyoung wept.
-General manager, I want to do entertainment shows…!
"Oh my god. IBC is producing Pretty Girls' reality show."
Chattering voices could be heard from NK Entertainment's choreography room instead of music.
The debuting team members crouched around a phone after ending their practice session.
"It's not on cable, but a public network. Wow, all it takes is one shot."
"How could they be so unlucky? They joined us after throwing away the winning lottery ticket."
A member glanced at a corner. Yoon Bora and Park Hyojin, who left Pretty Girls and joined NK's debuting girl group, were packing their things. They looked depressed like they were carrying their own coffins.
Kang Suran, who left earlier than the two, clicked her tongue.
"I can't even sleep from regret. How do you think they feel?"
"How could this happen as soon as they leave? I probably wouldn't be able to live like that."
"There's no way for them to cancel the contract and go back, right?"
"We already shot our profiles; do you think the chief will let them? He'll just swear at them."
Although they sounded like they were sad for their unlucky companions, a few had ridiculing expressions on their faces. Hearing their conversation, Park Hyojin slammed the door shut.
"Hey, look at this."
Yoon Bora bit her lips as she looked at her phone.
"The hell. I searched Pretty Girls and it says that we left the group, but Jae unni is still there?"
"The articles are also saying that there are four members. Isn't the chief too mean? He kept apologizing, saying that there was nothing he could do because we already signed, and acted like he was going cry, but he's going to keep Jae unni, who left before us?"
Seeing the screen, Park Hyojin's face distorted.
"How could he do this? We also suffered just a few days ago."
"That's what I'm saying. It's only unfair to us. Is there really no way to get out of the contract?"
"They said that there was no way unless NK lets us go."
Her voice surged with frustration. Their expressions became even gloomier.
"Should we sue them?"
Yoon Bora suggested as she kicked the floor.
"No, the president and Chief Lee Taeshin. We suffered hardship for years without proper support at that company, but we didn't receive anything in return. Shouldn't we get our share? Like costs of damages or something.."
"Hey, do you want to sue and end your career as a celebrity?"
Park Hyojin said in irritation before flinching.
NK's chief was standing at the bottom of the stairs.
"Hyojin's right so stop with the foolish thoughts and try to think productively. Rather than suing, you need to do an interview."
Yoon Bora's eyes widened.
NK's chief smiled brightly as he said,
"Yeah, you need to act like the victims when the show airs and everyone's attention is on Pretty Girls. If you can gain the public's sympathy by playing the victim card, we can bring their attention to us. You'll be able to debut with a ton of popularity."
"No, why are we playing the victim card?"
Park Hyojin's eyes gleamed like she finally found a path after being lost in the dark.