Saturday, December 22nd, 2007
On Friday, December 14th — in a report that was picked up by other media outlets and countless blogs — British tabloid The Mirror alleged “porn star” Shu Qi was involved in a tryst at a London restaurant with Hugh Grant and film director John Duigan. According to the report, Grant and Shu Qi were kissing passionately while Duigan caressed Shu Qi’s thigh. Supposedly, Shu Qi was in London looking for career opportunities.
For the record, Shu Qi spoke to the Chinese media this week and flatly denied the allegations. In a Xinhua Newsnet article, Shu Qi said: “I haven’t been to England in around five years. I have never even met Hugh Grant. I think his acting is OK but I don’t have any ‘feel’ (attraction) for him.”
A spokesperson for Shu Qi’s management told the Chinese media that the reports were wildly inaccurate and that Shu Qi was in Hong Kong and Taiwan during the days that she was allegedly in London. The spokesperson also stated that Shu Qi’s management is looking into taking legal action.
Since Shu Qi was photographed in Hong Kong on December 13th attending the “Shiny Night” charity event at the Conrad Hotel, her strong denials appeared more credible than the British tabloid report. As it turns out, The Mirror issued a retraction on Friday declaring that they have “learnt that Shu Qi was not the woman in the restaurant with Hugh Grant and John Duigan.” The tabloid went on to state that they were “happy to correct [their] mistake and apologise for the error.”
Here is The Mirror’s full retraction:
On December 17, in a story on page 15 under the headline “Shu’s that girl”, we printed a picture of Shu Qi, an ex-porn star, and said that she was the woman who had been snogged by Hugh Grant whilst his friend, John Duigan, caressed her thigh in a restaurant (as we reported on 14 December). We have since learnt that Shu Qi was not the woman in the restaurant with Hugh Grant and John Duigan. We are happy to correct our mistake and apologise for the error.
Happy correction notwithstanding, if I were Shu Qi, I would still be out for blood. I’d be asking my lawyers if I still had any kind of case against The Mirror. Even if the initial report was true, referring to Shu Qi as a “porn star” was egregious. I may have more liberal sensibilities than most but I wouldn’t characterize what Shu Qi did at the beginning of career as “porn”. Next time you go to a Chinese video store, wander into the Japanese porn section (don’t worry, no one in the store will care) and check out some of the video covers. Now those videos are porn. Shu Qi’s early work isn’t even remotely in the same vicinity. Besides, Shu Qi’s body of work in the past ten years has been substantial enough that calling her a “porn star” is like calling two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank an “action star” because her first lead role was in THE NEXT KARATE KID. For Pete’s sake, Shu Qi was in a Hou Hsiao-Hsien film — that’s as far away from porn as you can possibly get!
Unfortunately, I think Shu Qi got caught in the line of fire between the British tabloids and Hugh Grant. The report was more about taking Hugh Grant down a peg or two than slighting Shu Qi. Though it’s patently unfair, this sort of thing happens in the entertainment circle. Be that as it may, she was still 6,000 miles away from Hugh Grant and that restaurant so, if I were her, I’d be looking to get more than that flimsy retraction and weak apology.
Now, something more appropriate to the season …
Earlier this month, during my search on iTunes for Miriam Yeung’s version of 每當變幻時 (”When Changes Occur”), I was fed an ad for the “Twelve Girls of Christmas” album by Twelve Girls Band. Since the holiday season was approaching and the whole album only cost $9.99 to download, I decided to buy it and give a listen to the musical phenomenon I’ve been reading about since 2002 or 2003.
Going in, all I knew about Twelve Girls Band was that their schtick was hot babe musicians playing modern music using traditional Chinese instruments like the erhu and the pipa and that they famously covered Coldplay’s “Clocks” for one of their albums. As I appreciate both Chinese culture and hot babes, I had always intended to give them a listen but just never got around to doing it. Until now.
What did I think of the album? In the words of Larry David: “… pretty good, prett-ay, prett-ay, prett-ay good”. It was cool to hear a Chinese spin on traditional carols like “Joy To The World” and “Silent Night” as well as modern Christmas tunes like “Jingle Bells”, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” and “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. An aside, it’s hard to believe that “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is a Mariah Carey original. It feels like a cover version of a 1950s, 1960s Christmas song but it was actually an original creation for Mariah Carey’s 1994 Christmas album.
While traditional Chinese instruments are featured by Twelve Girls Band, they play somewhat modern compositions so, if you are a strict Catonian when it comes to Chinese traditional music, then “Twelve Girls of Christmas”might not be for you. Instead, old-schoolers may want to try looking for an album called “Chung King Christmas” by the Oriental Echo Ensemble. It also features traditional Chinese instruments but has a more conventional sound than Twelve Girls Band. Unfortunately, the album appears to be out of print. I heard it back in the early-1990s at my friend Jürg’s house. Jürg’s father owned a bookstore so he had access to all sorts of albums. Hence, “Chung King Christmas” was playing while Jürg and I wasted part of our Christmas holiday with Sega Genesis games like Golden Axe. I was going to make a copy of it but those were the days before Pentium computers and CD burners so I never got around to borrowing the CD and recording it on cassette tape. Why didn’t I just buy it from the bookstore that Jürg’s father owned? Well, it was an expensive import and it wasn’t like I was of independent means back then. My Mom was giving me rides to Jürg’s house.
Getting back from that trip down memory lane … Any opinions on Twelve Girls Band? Are they a cool spin on traditional Chinese music or a cheesy commercial gimmick? Any Twelve Girls Band fans out there? Is there anything else by the girls that I should try as the Leung treasury allows? Any Japanese fans out there who knows what “Koibito Ga Santa Claus” and “Shiroi Koibito Tachi” means?
… and with that flurry of questions, Happy Christmas and Merry Holidays! I intend to spend part of it watching DIE HARD — my reigning favourite Christmas movie. To me, nothing brings out the toasty warm feelings of the yuletide season like John McClane decorating Karl’s brother Tony with a holiday motif or the touching moment at the end when Al overcomes his psychological problems and saves McClane by blowing Karl away.
Have a safe and joyful holiday everybody! Yippy-ki-yay!
Image credits: Metro.co.uk (Shu Qi story screen grab), Ming Pao (Shu Qi at the Shiny Night charity gala), Domo Records (Twelve Girls of Christmas album cover) RCA Victor (Chung King Christmas album cover), Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation (DIE HARD screen grab)