Sun, Apr 01, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Punishment for TVBS may scuttle biopic on Chiang


The decision by the National Communications Commission to rebuke and fine local cable news station TVBS has had unexpected repercussions, with the future of a Hollywood docudrama depicting the life and times of dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) now looking uncertain.

The hush-hush project, jointly financed by TVBS, US-based Fox Atomic and a number of undisclosed financiers, was set to start filming this summer in Guangzhou Province, southern China.

However, the production has been thrown into disarray, with US-based partners of the under-fire broadcaster unnerved by the bad publicity the station received over a recent hoax gangster video.

Taipei Times sources discovered that the project was in the advanced stages of planning, with James Cameron penciled in as director and a stellar cast lined up.

Cameron was said to have been attracted to what he reportedly called an "epic of titanic proportions, worthy of my vision" and the script, apparently vetted by former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰), had attracted the interest of Tinseltown's finest.

Patrick Stewart, of Star Trek and X-Men fame, has already been cast in the lead role, with Shanghai-born actress Joan Chen (陳沖) set to star as Chiang's wife, Soong Mayling (宋美齡).

The Taipei Times has learned that Chinese superstar Gong Li (鞏俐) was to play Madame Chiang until she learned that the script required extensive nude scenes.

Japan's Ken Watanabe was to play Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), with Bob Hoskins lined up for the role of T.V. Soong (宋子文), Madame Chiang's brother-in-law and the Generalissimo's long-time financial henchman, and David Hasselhoff as US secretary of state John Foster Dulles.

A TVBS insider, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Taipei Times that "the management is seriously concerned about the project's future, and it may die unless the government is willing to step in and help out financially."

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