Emperor Entertainment Group has begun legal action against 19-year-old starlet Isabella Leong, who is in dispute with the group over her contract.
And although nothing as scandalous as the Edison Chen nude photographs debacle, big money and influence are once again entering the picture.
According to a writ filed by EEG with the High Court Friday, Leong who appears in Universal’s “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” has told EEG she will no longer be bound by her longterm contracts with the group.
EEG is seeking damages for breach of contract and is seeking an injunction preventing her working for any other company.
Leong recently has been romantically linked to Richard Li Kar-tzai, the 41-year-old billionaire who controls PCCW. It is being speculated that he is willing to buy her out of her contract with EEG. Paparazzi sources also report Leong has been hunting for an apartment in Los Angeles’ Bel-Air.
Significantly different to western talent agencies, Asian talent management groups invest heavily in their proteges’ education and training, and subsequently act more like employers than simple representatives.
Leong, whose career high point was her starring role in Pang Ho-cheung’s Berlin competition drama “Isabella” two years ago, has been under contract since age 12 with EEG, which is also related to the Emperor Motion Pictures company.
According to the EEG writ, she entered further contracts in 2003 and 2006, and endorsed them again after turning 18.
Relations between EEG and the starlet have not always run smoothly. In October 2006, she was reportedly suspended by EEG for bad behavior.