Sun, Jul 20, 2003 - Page 18 News List

Making his fortune

'Maurice' is a tarot card reader to the stars, who has made a name for himself on TV, here and in China

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Well-known TV anchor Chang Ya-chin (張雅琴) is on set and sits at a counter decorated with mystical symbols, asking Maurice (whose surname is Chen but he prefers his stage name), "so what do you see happening in the next Taipei mayoral election?" Maurice picks one card from a dozen cards spread out on the table and takes a look. Within seconds he's pontificating.

"Well, this is a tough one. The card refers to waiting, and uncertainty. This means Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has not decided what he's doing. And the DPP camp is also waiting to see what his next move is ... "

The next question is: "Can you analyze these four people? Lien Chan (連戰), James Soong (宋楚瑜), Chen Shu-bian (陳水扁) and Ma Ying-jeou. What are the forecasts for their political careers ??"

Tarot card reading used to make waves in publishing and TV media about five years ago when it was introduced to Taiwan. But horoscopes, Chinese divination and the Eight Diagrams are still the major tools of fortune-telling in popular culture today. Now, 30-something Maurice -- who is seen as a bit of a wizard in celebrity circles in both China and Taiwan -- is about to change all that.

Asia Plus (東風衛視) -- a satellite TV channel in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China that broadcasts Chang's Inside Copy (新聞千里眼) -- is not the only program that features Maurice's tarot reading. Tao's Show (陶子娛樂秀) has also opened a slightly longer tarot-card reading section. Also, celebrity entertainment host Taotze (陶子), often asks Maurice about Asian entertainment gossip, such as what's going on with Faye Wong's (王菲) on-and-off romance with maverick singer/actor Nicolas Tse (謝霆鋒).

Fortune-telling programs have become popular on Taiwan's cable channels. They usually follow a talk-show-like format, with two hosts chatting to one or two fortune tellers. Such shows cost little to produce and most of this money goes to the "experts."

On Eastern TV channel (東森電視), there are two popular fortune-telling shows. Lucky Strike(開運鑑定團), airs five days a week and Match Wonderland (友好星樂園) goes out once a week. The former has a rating of 1.12 percent, a success for cable TV programs. The popularity of fortune telling has also got Asia Plus interested in producing similar programs.

"Indeed, fortune telling is now a hot topic among audiences. And now we are planning a new fortune-telling show for Maurice," said Joshua Shao (卲正祥), a producer at Asia Plus.

"He's so good at it, like he's got a gift. He can sense something normal people can't," said Akai Wu (吳翔凱), an agent based in Beijing who represents The Wedding Banquet's (喜宴) Winston Chao (趙文瑄). Apart from Wu and Chao, Maurice has been a consultant for other well-known artists, including pop divas A-mei (張惠妹) and Yentzi Sun (孫燕姿) and and Na-ying (那英).

"It's magical when you see him reading for others. He can sense the person's magnetic field within a few seconds. And from one single card, you can probably read many different things. But Maurice can see something totally related to that person," Wu said.

"One time, a girl came to him asking about her boyfriend," Wu said. "But Maurice read that it was a love triangle. The girl finally admitted that she was the third party," Wu said.

Winston Chao, the actor best-known for his role as Sun Yat-sen in The Soong Sisters, has now shifted his career focus to China.

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