Monday, March 24th, 2008
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 he 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 …
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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 the 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 …
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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: Sina.com (Isabella Leong), RichardLi.com (Richard Li), File Photo (Grace Ip)