Mon, Jul 20, 2009 - Page 13 News List

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Hong Kong comedian Stephen Chow (周星馳) has salvaged a US$1.5 million romance that was to feature Edison Chen (陳冠希), the Chinese-Canadian actor-singer whose career was sidelined by a sex scandal last year.

Chow’s production company Star Overseas partnered with Columbia Pictures’ Asia division and China’s J.A. Media to make Jump, the story of a village girl who dreams of becoming a dancer, with Chen in a leading role as the girl’s romantic interest.

But when photos of Chen having sex with several Hong Kong female stars surfaced on the Internet last year, the production company decided to reshoot the scenes involving Chen with another actor, fearing the scandal would prompt Chinese censors to block the film.

The new version of the movie, with Chinese actor Leon Jay Williams (立威廉) replacing Chen, has cleared censors, according to a notice posted on the Web site of the state-run distributor China Film Group.

The romance — written by Chow and directed by Hong Kong’s Stephen Fung (馮德倫) — is tentatively scheduled for release in China and Hong Kong in early November.

In a separate sex scandal, three men have been arrested on suspicion of trying to blackmail Germany’s richest woman with footage of her steamy encounters with a con man known as the Swiss Gigolo, prosecutors said on Friday.

BMW heiress Susanne Klatten “received a letter in mid-June demanding US$1.1 million and a BMW vehicle, and threatening to sell an intimate video of her encounter with Swiss Gigolo Helg Sgarbi to the Italian press if she refused to pay,” spokesman Thomas Steinkraus-Koch said.

Upon receiving the letter, Klatten placed an advertisement in a local newspaper saying she was prepared to pay up and giving a contact number.

“They contacted her by phone and we could then identify them ... They were arrested at the ‘cash handover,’” Steinkraus-Koch said.

The new blackmail attempt comes just months after Sgarbi secretly filmed compromising footage of his affair with Klatten and tried to hoodwink the married mother-of-three out of more than US$479 million.

According to Forbes magazine’s latest list of billionaires, she is the world’s 35th richest person, with a net worth of around US$10 billion.

British singer Amy Winehouse was divorced from her estranged husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, in London on Thursday after two years of marriage, her spokesman said.

The 25-year-old won five Grammy awards off the back of her debut album Back to Black and the hit single Rehab, but has since been engaged in a well-documented struggle with drugs.

Fielder-Civil’s spokesman said in January that the 27-year-old had begun divorce proceedings against Winehouse “on the grounds of Amy’s adultery.”

The pair were granted a divorce at a brief hearing at the High Court in London, which neither party attended.

The couple married in Miami in May 2007 but have had a tempestuous relationship, while Fielder-Civil spent much of last year behind bars for a vicious attack on a pub landlord and a subsequent attempt to cover it up.

Her parents said in a television interview last month that their daughter was “in denial” about her addiction but had been recovering over the past few months while on the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.

“For the last six months there’s been a remarkable recovery,” said her father, Mitch Winehouse, saying she was on a drug replacement program although still drinking heavily.

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