The details surrounding the Justin Lee (李宗瑞) photo sex scandal continue to unravel, which has Taiwan’s entertainment world on edge. As of press time, Lee, a socialite and son of a prominent businessman, remains in hiding amid allegations that he drugged and raped a woman and also secretly filmed his bedroom trysts with a number of models and actresses.
The scandal has predictably caused a media feeding frenzy, and the first casualties have included Lee’s father, Lee Yueh-tsang (李岳蒼) who got sacked from his position as director of Yuanta Financial Holdings (元大金融控股公司) as a result of all the bad press.
Then there’s model Maggie Wu (吳亞馨), who was discovered to be a former girlfriend of Lee’s and is allegedly one of the subjects of his sex tapes circulating the Internet. Last weekend, Wu dramatically canceled a press conference at the last minute, leaving her agency to explain to reporters that she had been overwhelmed by the media attention.
And the circus has started to spread. Entertainers, many of them star-wanna-bes, have been emerging out of the woodwork to distance themselves from Lee, barring the odd case of Joyce Lai (賴慕禎), who claimed to be Lee’s current girlfriend. That caught the attention of Taipei investigators, who went to her home in Tainan to question her, only to find out that she was a wanted drug dealer who had been ducking a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence she received in 2009. (She finally reported to prison several days after her meeting with the police.) It turns out that while on the lam, Lai had been pursuing an entertainment career and had appeared on a number of variety shows in recent years under the name Sun Ming (孫明).
One up-and-coming entertainer that has been trying to dodge the spotlight is Shawn Chien (簡翔棋), a Channel V VJ who goes by the stage name Hsiao Ma (小馬). He has been tagged by the media as one of Lee’s close nightclub cohorts, as well as a “middleman” who introduced a number of actresses to Lee. Hsiao Ma, who has denied the allegations, was also set to hold a press conference but canceled at the last minute, telling reporters at a recent TV taping that the matter was no longer open for discussion.
All the attention placed on Lee and B-list riff-raff has annoyed TV variety show host Hsu Nai-lin (徐乃麟). The crusty middle-aged entertainer lamented on a TV appearance that people who claim to be in “show business” but haven’t done anything of substance (such as Joyce Lai) are giving the industry a bad name. Hsu also decried the police investigation as “detestable” for not having done enough to protect entertainers’ rights to privacy.
In other news, a new battle is brewing over Saturday night TV variety show ratings. Chu Ko Liang’s (豬哥亮) Wan Xiu Zhu Wang (萬秀豬王), which premiered last weekend, beat out Hu Gua’s (胡瓜) SuperStar (明日之星), which has long held the top spot.
The win has been bittersweet for the 65-year-old Chu, who went into hiding in southern Taiwan after amassing huge gambling debts in the 1990s and made a comeback just several years ago. Days before his new show aired last weekend, Chu revealed that he has been estranged from his daughter, singer Jeannie Hsieh (謝金燕), for a decade.
This prompted criticism that the announcement was a ploy to gain sympathy and boost ratings for the new show.
Chu tearfully denied the accusation, and told reporters that once he clears his debts (which he says will take another year), he intends to buy an apartment for his wife and children.
Meanwhile, Hua Gua put on a brave face over getting bumped to second place. “It doesn’t matter who wins or loses, the programs are all about long-term endurance, not just the ratings for one episode,” he said.