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From The Headlines …

An amuse-bouche of a post today before the start of a series of posts previewing the upcoming Hong Kong Film Awards.

Rumours of a relationship between HK starlet Isabella Leong Lok-Si, 19, and 39 year-old Richard Li Tzar-Kai (李澤楷; official site), the son of legendary business magnate Li Ka-Shing has put the dead horse of “Sexy Photos Gate” squarely in the rear view mirror of Hong Kong’s entertainment media. Earlier this month, reports surfaced alleging that Leong and Li have been involved for months and that Li has nobly declared that he will take care of Leong and her family for as long as Isabella Leong and Richard Lihe lives. Reportedly, Michelle Yeoh — Leong’s co-star in the Summer 2008 release THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR — introduced the pair.

Neither Li nor Leong have responded publicly to the rumours but flames have been fanned by news of a contract dispute between Leong and her management company EEG (Emperor Entertainment Group). According to numerous reports, Leong has hired lawyers to help her extricate herself from the long-term contract she signed with EEG. As EEG typically holds all the cards when it comes to contract situations with their talent, observers of the HK entertainment circle speculate that Leong must be emboldened because she has the powerful backing of Li. Indeed, there are rumours that Li is ready to offer EEG HK$10 million for Leong’s contract but Leong’s lawyers believe that the contract can be voided because Leong signed it when she was younger than sixteen — the legal age in Hong Kong for entering into contracts.

To be continued …

* * * * *

Long-term contracts between entertainment companies and their talent is quite common in the HK entertainment circle. Creating an “idol” takes a serious investment so companies protect themselves with long-term contracts in case one of their “idols” becomes unwieldy and wants to leave for greener pastures. For the talent, the trade-off for this modern-day equivalent of indentured servitude is having the benefit of the tremendous star-making resources of a company like EEG on their side. Joey Yung Tso-Yi, for instance, is reportedly in year nine of a fifteen-year contract she signed with EEG in 1999. She won’t become a free agent until she is 34 years-old in 2014.

If a prospect does not turn out to be profitable like Joey Yung, the company can simply terminate the contract and release Grace Yipthe talent. Worse yet, a prospect can end up in a situation like Grace Ip (葉佩雯 aka Yip Pui-Man). Between 1998 and 2000, EEG heavily promoted Ip — giving her roles in high profile projects like GEN-X COPS. Then, the company reportedly discovered that she was dating Eric Kwok Wai-Leung of the band Swing. According to speculation, EEG felt that a relationship would hinder Ip’s ascension to superstardom so the company asked Ip to break things off with Kwok. When Ip refused, she was “frozen”. To add insult to injury, EEG supposedly refused to release Ip from a seven-year contract she signed in 1998. As a result, she was forced to wait until late-2005 before she could sign with another record label. Ip was finally able to release an album, ON MY OWN, in August 2006.

Mommas don’t let your babies grow up to be entertainment circle celebrities, make ‘em doctors and lawyers and such …

* * * * *

And so it begins …

EEG is apparently taking the first steps at rehabilitating the humiliated Gillian Chung Yan-Tung. This weekend, Ming Pao Weekly reported that Chung had a meeting recently with “Hollywood producer” Elliot J. Brown. Supposedly, EEG and Brown are helping Chung plan a career in Hollywood. The news would be somewhat impressive if it was not for the fact that Brown’s accomplishments in Hollywood are less than impressive. As was the case with the “naive and foolish” press event, this “news” has probably done more harm to Chung’s career than good. Reaction on discussion boards is comprised mostly of jokes that Chung is going to star in Western “remakes” of Hong Kong movies with titles like ERECTION and THE MISSION-ARY POSITION.

IMAGE CREDITS: (Isabella Leong), (Richard Li), File Photo (Grace Ip)

8 Responses to “From The Headlines …”

  1. glenn Says:

    I can’t quite explain why, but I think that Isabella Leong could breakthrough in the West. There’s some quality there that makes me think that she is marketable over here — perhaps her performance in Isabella?

    Then again, I could be wrong; I thought Shu Qi was going to be a big star in the West after The Transporter (despite her less than impressive English skills in said film) — boy, was I wrong!

    But I’m glad Shu Qi wasn’t as she never would have done films like Millenium Mambo and Three Times if she had crossed over in further Western action films.

  2. RC Says:

    Surprise, surprise, another rich guy goes for a beautiful actress.

    This is going to sound bad but Isabella wasn’t going to hit it big anyway so she’s better off marrying a rich guy.

  3. MW Says:

    OMG Gil is going to star in Saved By the Bell!

    Too bad, Isabella was about to reach her potential. Those long term contracts sound bad, but does EEG only do them? What about other companies?

  4. Eliza Bennet Says:

    Isabella Leong happens to be the most talented actress among her preers right now (at least in my eyes).

    I hope that she’ll be able to make more films if that’s what she wants.

    Second best would be Fiona Sit - she has a certain something.

  5. ryanuy Says:

    long term contracts are bad… its kinda like selling your soul for money, lots of money.

  6. Will Says:

    Doesn’t TVB sign their Miss HKs to long contracts too? Five years or seven years?

    Isabella is only 19 years old! She’s been around so long it feels like she should be 24 or 25. This begs the question, what could a 19 year old possibly have in common with a 39 year old?

    I knew EEG froze Grace Yip but I didn’t know that they were dicks and kept her from doing anything until 2005. That’s brutal.

  7. sally Says:

    Isabella is still so young!

    Other than EEG, TVB also has long contracts. The longest one they offer is 10 years one to prevent their ‘potential money sources’ from running to another company

    Grace Yip got it hard

  8. dreamsun Says:

    Well, since a contract (albeit a long-term one) is an agreement between 2 parties on an arm’s length transaction (i.e. both parties have had a chance to think through carefully before signing on the dotted line) I hold the opinion that it is only fair for the artiste to fulfill his/her commitment as a price for fame and fortune brought about by the company’s investment of time and money to promote the said artiste. Should he/she seek an early release from the contract, a pre-determined sum of compensation ought to be paid to the company.

    Would you be willing to sign such a long-term contract in exchange for fame & hopefully, fortune? Many young beauties in Asian countries would be willing to give more than signing a contract for sure…. Copyright © 2002-2023 Ross Chen