Keeping up with the stars in H-town
Monthly entertainment column
By Ninette Cheng
Northwest Asian Weekly
March was a month of highs and lows for Asian celebrities. Yao Ming, Ichiro Suziki, and Freida Pinto flexed their star power. Michelle Kwan attempted a comeback, Bai Ling released a new film, and Lisa Ling’s sister, Laura Ling, ran into some trouble. Things aren’t looking so good for Joe Jonas, who has not seemed to learn from Miley Cyrus’ embarrassing debacle.
A tower of bling
Yao Ming has topped Forbes China’s 2009 Chinese celebrity rankings for the sixth year in a row. The 7-feet-6-inch basketball star is unstoppable; he rakes in the most media exposure and a $50 million (USD) salary, the highest of any celebrity in the ranking. Coming in after Yao is Ziyi Zhang. Zhang is the only non-athelete in the top five. She is followed by fellow-NBA star Yi Jianlan, Olympic diver Guo Jingjing, and track and field star Liu Xiang. Will Yao be able to hold onto his title for one more year? We’ll see next March.
Out of the park!
Ichiro Suziki made sure that the Japanese made its mark in sports in March by leading Team Japan to a World Baseball Championship title over South Korea. The eight-time all-star and Seattle Mariner helped his team beat South Korea, 5–3, as fans rushed to the field to celebrate for more than an hour.
Once an unknown actress and model, Frieda Pinto has solidified her place in Bollywood history by earning the title of the top earner in Bollywood. Telegraph, a British daily, has reported that Pinto has earned 2 million pounds. The actress has also claimed a place internationally; she will be appearing in an upcoming Woody Allen film, and she will have a heavier role in Julian Schnabel’s film, “Miral,” which is about a woman who creates an orphanage in Jerusalem in 1984, the year the state of Israel was created.
Two Asian American figure skaters are looking ahead to next year’s Vancouver 2010 Olympics.
Despite not having competed in three years, Michelle Kwan is contemplating a return to the ice in time for the 2010 Olympic Games. She recently served as one of three hosts during NBC’s coverage of the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships. The 28-year-old two-time Olympic medalist says it’s a challenge, but she is curious to see how fit she can get. Her competition will be Sasha Cohen, another retired Olympian contemplating a return, and Caroline Zhang, a 15-year-old Chinese American who is currently the highest ranked American female figure skater. Kwan’s dream of a gold medal is considered a long shot, but we’d love to see her compete!
Bai Ling is preparing for her latest release, “Crank: High Voltage,” in theaters on April 17. The sequel, about a hit man after a Chinese mobster who has stolen his nearly indestructible heart, is the first studio to premier exclusive information and a movie poster on Twitter.
Hoping for a safe passage home
While these stars are sitting on top, the same could not be said for Lisa Ling and her family. The North Korean government has admitted that Lisa’s sister Laura Ling and Euna Lee have been detained for “illegally intruding.” The Americans were headed to Yanji, a Chinese city, when they were stopped by a gang of North Korean soldiers, the South Korean newspapers report. Best of luck to the two reporters!
We also saw a near repeat of the Miley Cyrus debacle when a photo of fellow teen heartthrob Joe Jonas making a slanty-eyes motion surfaced. There is debate as to when this photo was actually taken, but so far, unlike the Cyrus incident, there has been little reaction. Let’s hope this is the last of the mocking-Asians trend in Hollywood! ♦
Don’t forget to check back next month to see how Bai Ling’s new film does, how Lisa Ling’s family fares, and what other mishaps occur in Hollywood.
Ninette Cheng can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.