Fri, Jun 09, 2006 - Page 14 News List

Pop Stop

Compiled by Ho Yi  /  STAFF REPORTER

How an international megastar, Zhang Ziyi (章子怡) is riding a crest of Chinese fever in Hollywood and has easily scored two movie deals with big-name producer Harvey Weinstein, with another in the offing. Two confirmed projects will see Zhang play a young woman passing herself off as a man in the well-know Chinese story Hua Mulan (花木蘭) and team up with George Clooney in a remake of Japanese master Akira Kurosawa's 1954 classic Seven Samurai.

Exactly why an American actor has been picked to play the leading samurai role, producer Weinstein didn't say. Casting non-Western actors for all the leading roles would, of course, be asking too much from Hollywood.

Taiwan's pride and joy Ang Lee (李安) is ready to shoot his next project Lust Caution (色戒) based on Eileen Chang's (張愛玲) novel of the same title in September and will return to Taiwan next week for auditions. It was said that more than 30 veteran actors and teen-idols have signed up for the coveted honor of appearing in the movie.

Ang Lee's brother Khan Lee (李崗), who is in charge of the first round of auditions, said the world-famous director was inclined to find a local actress to play the leading role of the female spy Wang Jia-zhi (王佳芝). But most of the young actresses in the first round only have experience in TV soap operas and aren't cut out for the big screen, Khan Lee said.

According to Khan Lee, Big S (S) stands out above the rest and may meet Ang Lee for a second round of auditions. Having just returned from Cannes on the back of local horror flick Silk (詭絲), Big S may stand a chance of becoming the next big-name Asian star.

The leading lady in Hong Kong director John Woo's (吳宇森) Battle of the Red Cliff (赤壁之戰), local supermodel Lin Chi-ling (林志玲) was in Xian (西安), China, last week to attend the extravagant banquet thrown by Longines as the watch brand's celebrity spokeswoman. After paying taxes of some NT$5 million this year, the wealthy lady whined that forking out such a large wedge of cash hurt a little and said she would consider buying expensive watches from now and claim them as tax deductible.

Other local catwalk queens contributed their fair share to the national treasury. Shatina Chen (陳思璇), Tsai Shu-zhen (蔡淑臻), Hung Hsiao-lei (洪曉蕾) and Lin Chia-chi (林嘉綺) were the top-paid beauties having been taxed over NT$1 million each for the last fiscal year. When asked how they kept their tax liabilities so low compared to their ultra-high earnings, the business-savvy ladies said running studios, buying insurance, making investments and donations are good ways to claw back money from the taxman.

Mando-pop queen Jolin Tsai (蔡依林), on the other hand, has lost out on a lucrative deal with Motorola after the mobile-phone maker ditched her.

Spotted by local paparazzi using a mobile phone made by Sharp a couple of months ago, Tsai's treacherous misconduct pissed Motorola off, and prompted the company to sign up members of the four-piece pop/rap outfit Nan Quan Mama (南拳媽媽) as its new spokesmen.

Tsai suffered another slap in the face last week, this time by Bvlgari. As the brand's celebrity guest at a party, Tsai expressed her keen interest in the brand's luxuries and tried to squeeze two free pieces of jewelry out of the Russian fashion house instead of the one promised by the fashion empire. Bvlgari stuck to its guns and assured the greedy star that one piece of jewelry was more than enough to pay for her brief appearance at the show.

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