Fri, Oct 24, 2008 - Page 14 News List

[POP STOP]

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

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his week has seen the emergence of a genuinely self-made celebrity in the shape of Huang Chao-kang (黃照岡), a 16-year old trickster whose most recent exploit of taking former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for a ride has given him the type of media coverage that aspiring stars could only dream of.

The saga’s latest installment, which started with Chen’s visit to Huang’s house on Sept. 14, has developed into a publicity disaster for the nation’s beleaguered former leader. Chen, who is under investigation, along with family members and associates, for corruption, reportedly sought Huang’s fortune-telling skills.

Huang, who adopted the professional name Huang Chi (黃琪), had set himself up as a tarot card reader and medium of 10-years’ experience and boasted of a dual master’s degree from the UK. As it turned out, the vivacious and articulate youngster, who has indulged his game of impersonation before, only recently graduated from high school.

In a previous exploit, Huang wrangled himself a job as an assistant executive manager of a creative arts management company for a few months, and obtained celebrities’ personal details by impersonating senior management from several media outlets.

Local media have been delighting in the similarities of Huang’s career to that of con artist Frank Abagnale, who was portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the Steven Spielberg film Catch Me If You Can (2002).

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) earlier this month claimed, in allegations that have been denied, that Huang reduced Chen to tears when he drew the “death” card during his reading for the ex-president. (Chen admits to visiting Huang but denies he had a reading.)

In other news, Jay Chou (周杰倫) again confirmed his position as the king — or the Chairman, indeed — of the Chinese-language pop music world with Capricorn (魔杰座), his latest album, which has put virtually every other wannabe star in his or her place. Even the members of girl group S.H.E, which has recently dominated the charts, could only look on aghast as Capricorn blew them out of the water with massive sales.

On the cover of the deluxe package, Chou is portrayed as a character from a sword-and-sorcery fantasy game, but the figure-hugging black leather suit he wears has given rise to comparisons to a similar outfit donned by ex-girlfriend Jolin Tsai (蔡依林) for her album Special Agent J (特務J).

Another musical success story has been created by boy band F4, which has had a very profitable run in Japan. A series of seven concerts in Tokyo and Osaka earned the band NT$300 million in ticket sales and merchandising, making this the most profitable concert tour by a Taiwanese band in Japan.

In the run-up to the Golden Bell Awards (金鐘獎) next Friday, a Yahoo Kimo survey found Ethan Ruan (阮經天) and Chen Chiao-en (陳喬恩), both stars of the super-successful television soap Fated to Love You (命中注定我愛你), topped respondents’ lists of this year’s television idols.

Ruan beat his closest rival, F4 singer Jerry Yan (言承旭), by 14,669 votes to 8,994. Chen’s lead over her rivals was even greater, winning 29,458 votes compared to singer-actress Ariel Lin (林依晨) who garnered 8,902 and Rainie Yang (楊丞琳) who notched up 4,377.

Fans are up in arms that Ruan and Chen have yet to transfer their onscreen chemistry to real life, and according to the Apple Daily (蘋果日報), Set-TV (三立) has had to quell rumors that the pair might attend the Golden Bell Ceremony with partners of their own choice.

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