Fri, Jul 20, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Pop Stop

Compiled by Noah Buchan  /  Staff reporter

The Chairman ... of a sweatshop movie set.

Photo courtesy of PHANTCI

How does one turn around matrimonial money squabbles, jealousy and internal family conflicts? Divorce, if you are Cecilia Cheung (張柏芝) and Nicholas Tse (謝霆鋒). Since the couple ended their marriage last month, their relationship has improved, leading to speculation that the former couple might be reuniting.

Following comments by Tse’s mother, Deborah Lee (狄波拉), a few weeks back that the pair had reunited, the Apple Daily this week reported that Cheung has taken to calling Tse “husband” (老公).

The gossip rag alleges that Cheung spoke those words to Tse when he turned up at the hospital where their son is being treated for fever, and suspects that the two will eventually get back together.

Whereas Cheung and Tse are stepping back into the limelight as a possible couple, “multi-talented” singer, actor, producer, director, writer, restaurateur and, increasingly, enfant terrible, Jay Chou (周杰倫) continues to keep his relationship with teenybopper Hannah Quinlivan (昆淩) hush-hush.

Or at least as much as that’s possible.

Eagle-eyed Netizens spotted the pair on Sunday at Kaohsiung’s Rueifeng Night Market (瑞豐夜市), according to the Apple Daily. Quinlivan, attempting to disguise herself under a hat and facemask, trailed a few paces behind Chou, who was similarly disguised, and singer/producer Will Liu.

When the paparazzi asked if they were together, Liu, for his part, feigned ignorance and said, “I don’t know.” But this is the age of digital cameras and Netizens had already posted pictures of the threesome on the Internet.

Chou, however, has bigger concerns than avoiding the paparazzi, according to our sister paper the Liberty Times. The Chairman (周董), as he’s also known, has received flak from the public over the past week for the filming of Rooftop (天台), the tentatively titled movie that he acts in, writes and directs.

Problems began when the film crew allegedly cordoned off a section of Tainan’s Hu Tou Pi Scenic Area (虎頭埤風景區), where some of the film is being shot, and refused to allow the paying public inside. Then, there were rumors that the crew vandalized the park’s garbage bins and railings.

Liu, the movie’s producer, rebutted the allegations and stated that park officials have yet to complain or get in touch.

But damage to the park and visitor annoyance might be the least of Chou’s worries. According to the Liberty Times and United Daily News, the movie’s extras are being paid what basically amounts to sweatshop wages.

The kerfuffle began when a company contracted to find extras posted ads offering to pay them NT$500 a day for 10 hours work. That’s right, you calculated it properly: NT$50 per hour — less than half the legally mandated minimum wage of NT$103. When contacted by the media, an employee with the company contracted to hire the extras said that paying them such a low rate was standard industry practice — a sentiment echoed by Liu.

“It’s definitely legal. The [salary] offered is the going rate,” Liu said. He added that the daily wage was in fact NT$800, but NT$300 was deducted due to other fees. Still, that’s only NT$80 an hour, adding fuel to the fire that fans are getting shafted.

“It’s only because it’s a Jay Chou film that people give a damn,” Liu said.

That might be true, but it doesn’t lessen the likelihood that labor officials will now start scrutinizing the way in which extras are paid in Taiwan’s movie industry.

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