You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Rupert Murdoch Divorce: How Wendi Deng Went Hollywood

Spouse dabbled in film production, art website

Taking her husband by the elbow, Wendi Deng Murdoch gently nudged Rupert Murdoch toward photographers at this year’s Oscars. It was the end of the red carpet, and the News Corp. chairman and CEO was anxious to get to his seat. But Wendi Murdoch, who towers over Rupert Murdoch even without the stilettos she was wearing, deftly ushered him toward the cameras, one of the many examples of the small, quiet influence she has wielded over the media mogul who is 38 years her senior at age 82.

SEE ALSO: Rupert Murdoch Files for Divorce

Wendi Murdoch, who married the News Corp. topper in 1999 after emigrating from China at age 19, has more recently broken away from her husband to return to her interest in entertainment. She got her media start at former News Corp. subsidiary Star TV, but quit her post with the conglom before marrying Rupert Murdoch.

After starting out in TV, she turned to features in 2011 with “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” adapted from Lisa See’s 2005  novel of the same name, with Florence Sloan, the wife of former MGM chief Harry Sloan, and appeared on talk shows like “Charlie Rose” to promote the project.

Fox Searchlight, a unit of News Corp.’s movie studio 20th Century Fox, distributed the historical drama about 19th century China. The film didn’t earn the most stellar reviews (Variety said it played “like a bewildering apologia”), and it grossed just over $11 million worldwide. News of the film was dwarfed by the British hacking scandal which broke around the same time and has enveloped News Corp. for the better part of the last two years. A video showing Wendi Murdoch jumping up to protect her husband from having a pie thrown at him during his testimony in Parliament about the scandal went viral in 2011.

Wendi Murdoch and Sloan paired up to produce a second film, “Journey of a Thousand Miles,” based on the memoir by pianist Lang Lang. A New York Times profile of the Murdochs last year said that the pair was “close” to a deal with Sony to release the picture, but it’s unclear whether that deal ever closed. Reps for Columbia, Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics say those divisions have no current plans to distribute the project.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in economics from Cal State Northridge, Wendi Murdoch went to the Yale School of Management for an MBA. She has served as an adviser to the Chinese operations of former News Corp. subsidiary MySpace and is an investor in the art sales startup Art.sy.

On Twitter and elsewhere, Rupert Murdoch has been outspoken in his criticisms of the administration, but there are indications that his wife is more moderate. While she gave to Republicans and to the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and John McCain, more recently, she contributed $2,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 2009, and $2,500 to the reelection campaign of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in 2012, according to Federal Election Commission records. Both Murdochs gave to Bob Kerrey’s bid for a Senate seat in Nebraska last year.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • 'Cheer Up, Mr. Lee' to be

    Korean Comedy 'Cheer Up, Mr. Lee' to be Remade in French

    Currently on-release South Korean comedy drama, “Cheer Up, Mr. Lee” is to be remade in French. “Mr. Lee” is the story of a mentally-challenged man who learns that he has a sick daughter, and embarks on a voyage of discovery with his new family member. A remake deal was struck between Yong Film, part of [...]

  • The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos

    Korea: 'The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos’ Rules Chuseok Holiday Box Office

    Local films dominated cinemagoing in South Korea over the 4-day Chuseok holiday weekend, traditionally one of the year’s busiest periods. The winner was “The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos.” Opening on Wednesday, the CJ Entertainment release earned $20.2 million from 1.97 million admissions over five days. A film adaptation of CJ E&M’s 2014 hit TV [...]

  • Disco

    New Europe Sells Toronto and San Sebastian Film 'Disco' to Several Territories (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jan Naszewski’s New Europe Film Sales has signed several distribution deals on “Disco,” which had its world premiere in Toronto Film Festival’s Discovery section and makes its European premiere in San Sebastian’s New Directors competition. The film has been picked up by Palace for Australia and New Zealand, Artcam for Czech Republic and Slovakia, Kino [...]

  • "Jade Dynasty" in front at the

    China Box Office: 'Jade Dynasty' in Front Ahead of Mixed Competition

    With “Jade Dynasty” out front, Chinese action and Asian animation films led the way at the China box office over the past weekend, while the few American titles in play have failed to attract many moviegoers. Chinese action fantasy “Jade Dynasty” led the weekend box office in its debut with $38.1 million, figures from consultancy [...]

  • The Painted Bird

    Venice Competition Film 'The Painted Bird' Is Czech Entry in Oscar Race

    Václav Marhoul’s “The Painted Bird,” which world premiered at the Venice Film Festival in the main competition and also played at the Toronto Film Festival in Special Presentations, has been selected as the Czech Republic’s entry for the 92nd Academy Awards in the international feature film category. The pic follows the journey of an unnamed [...]

  • Pakistan Picks Freshman Effort 'Laal Kabootar'

    Pakistan Picks Freshman Effort 'Laal Kabootar' as Its Oscar Entry

    Pakistan’s Academy Selection Committee has chosen “Laal Kabootar” as its candidate for the Oscars’ international feature film category. Directed by first-time helmer Kamal Khan, the gangland thriller set in Karachi’s underbelly follows the events that transpire when a woman in search of her husband’s killer is thrown together with a cab driver and petty criminal [...]

  • Atlantis

    Toronto Film Review: 'Atlantis'

    “It took you 10 years to cleanse this region of Soviet propaganda and myths,” says one character to another in “Atlantis,” going on to suggest that the devastation now left behind may never be “cleansed” at all. A strikingly bleak vision of a near future in which Ukraine has won its war with Russia but [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content