×

Zhang demands apology over Bo sex claims

Actress calls allegations 'untrue' and 'ridiculous'

China’s biggest star, Zhang Ziyi, is demanding an apology from the Apple Daily after it published claims she had sex with now purged Communist chief Bo Xilai for $1 million a session, as the scandal surrounding the disgraced Communist chief expands into the showbiz community.

Zhang ignored the allegations when she appeared at the 10th Chinese Film Media Awards last Wednesday. However, she subsequently called the claims “completely untrue” and “extremely ridiculous.”

Without offering a single source, the paper parroted allegations from U.S.-based news website Boxun.com saying Zhang slept with Bo at least 10 times between 2007 and 2011 and negotiated similar deals with other powerful men, including Bo’s friend Xu Ming, a billionaire tycoon being probed for alleged corruption.

“We read this outrageous report in the Apple Daily. It sent stone-cold chills down our spines and has left us with a feeling of deep sadness,” her publicist said in a statement.

Popular on Variety

“Friends have advised us to release a short statement and not take this seriously. The more you argue, the more you will stir things up. It would be better to step aside until people lose interest and the lies disappear. The innocent will always be innocent.”

The case highlights the relatively low social standing of female actors in China. While the film biz has made great strides in recent years, the social status of actors, especially women, remains low.

There is a widely held misconception that the casting couch is the only way to get ahead in the biz in China.

Bo, who was party chief in the giant city of Chongqing and whose populist policies won him many supporters, was purged after his wife Gu Kailai became a suspect in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood last year.

The blogosphere has been buzzing with speculation, much of it on the Weibo microblogs, China’s version of the banned Twitter network, with around 300 million users.

However, reporting in the official media has been confined to occasional and thin official stories released by the Xinhua news agency.

There are strict media controls and any of the official media who break those rules could lose their jobs, their license or even their freedom.

As one media executive put it, “We don’t mention Chongqing. I don’t eat Chongqing hotpot. I won’t even date Chongqing girls.”

The speculation took on fresh impetus at Cannes this year, where Zhang was not present to promote her latest film, the unfortunately titled “Dangerous Liaisons.”

There were reports that she was not allowed to travel because she was part of the Bo investigation.

The fall of Bo, once hotly tipped for a top political spot, has electrified China, particularly as it comes in a year when the world’s second biggest economy preps for a change of leadership in the fall.

Xi Jinping, the senior official who oversaw the loosening of quotas for foreign movies allowed into China, will take over as head of the Communist Party and president.

More Film

  • The Case

    Bac Films Closes Deals on Psychological Thriller 'The Case'

    Bac Films has closed several deals on Bernard Stora’s “The Case,” a psychological thriller set in the South of France starring Niels Arestrup (“At Eternity’s Gate,” “A Prophet”). The film had its market premiere at the UniFrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in Paris, a five-day showcase of French movies wrapping on Jan. 20. Arestrup stars [...]

  • #iamhere

    Gaumont Clinches Deals on French-Korean Romcom '#iamhere' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Gaumont has clinched a raft of deals on Eric Lartigau’s Korea-set romantic comedy #iamhere which had its market premiere at the UniFrance Rendez-Vous with French cinema in Paris. Headlined by Alain Chabat (“Valerian”) and Bae Doona (“Sense8”), the film was penned by Lartigau and Thomas Bidegain (“Sisters Brothers”). Chabat stars as a prominent French chef [...]

  • Mike (WILL SMITH), Marcus (MARTIN LAWRENCE)

    Box Office: 'Bad Boys for Life' Towers Over 'Dolittle,' '1917'

    Universal’s “Dolittle” and “1917” found out what “Bad Boys” will do when they come for you at the box office. Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life,” the third entry in the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence-led series, beat expectations and towered over the competition during the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. “Bad Boys for Life” earned [...]

  • Charlize Theron31st Annual Producers Guild Awards,

    Charlize Theron Says Megyn Kelly's 'Bombshell' Reaction Video Was 'Really Validating'

    Charlize Theron says it was “really emotional” to watch Megyn Kelly’s half-hour response video to “Bombshell,” the Oscar-nominated feature film that depicts the sexual harassment Kelly (as played by Theron) and several other women experienced from Fox News founder Roger Ailes. The video, which Kelly posted to her YouTube Channel on Jan. 9, shows Kelly, [...]

  • (center) George MacKay as Schofield in

    '1917,' 'Succession' Among Top PGA Award Winners

    “1917” continued its string of major awards season wins on Saturday night, earning the Producers Guild of America award for best picture. Coupled with its win for best picture, drama at the Golden Globes, the WWI movie is officially the front runner for Oscar’s top prize. “It’s a film that is a tribute to all [...]

  • Bong Joon Ho, Jane Rosenthal, David

    Netflix Praised by 'The Irishman,' 'Marriage Story' Filmmakers at Producers Guild Panel

    Streaming giant Netflix received strong support from filmmakers behind “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story” at the Producers Guild of America’s nominees panel on Saturday at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Jane Rosenthal, one of “The Irishman” producers, said Netflix embraced the vision that she and Martin Scorsese had for the $170 million film. [...]

  • Gabriel Harel on MyFFF ‘The Night

    Gabriel Harel Discusses Dystopic Parable ‘The Night of the Plastic Bags’

    With his first short film, the animated “Yùl and the Snake,” Gabriel Harel won Europe’s Cartoon d’Or for the continent’s best animated short film, given at the 2016 Cartoon Forum in Toulouse. Now, Harel’s awaited sophomore effort, the animated “The Night of the Plastic Bags,” competes at UniFrance’s MyFrenchFilmFestival, and is available on a swathe [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content