'The Chinese Film Industry Needs Wendi Deng'

2013-06-14
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Media mogul Rupert Murdoch(L) and his wife Wendi Deng (C) pose on the red carpet as they arrive for the opening ceremony of the 14th Shanghai International Film Festival in Shanghai, China, June 11, 2011.
Imaginechina

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Chinese-born Wendi Deng have announced they will be ending their 14-year marriage after an irretrievable breakdown in their relationship. Deng hit the media spotlight in July 2011 with her spirited defense of Murdoch during a cream pie attack at a parliamentary committee hearing in London. But as Hollywood film critic Zuo Minlin explains, Deng is now a well-known player in the movie industry in her own right, making her producer debut with the 2011 film, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan:

Ever since 2005, Hollywood has been awash with rumors that Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng were going to get divorced. The issue that concerns everyone here in Hollywood is what share of Murdoch's assets will Wendi Deng get?

Wendi Deng's marriage to her first husband lasted two years and nine months, which was long enough ... for there to be no doubts at all about her eligibility for a green card, which would enable her to become a permanent resident of the United States. There was a lot of conjecture about this in the international media at the time ...

[But] she worked hard to get to the U.S. from China, including taking English lessons and then getting accepted as a student at California State University, Northridge, before moving on to study at Yale, before meeting Murdoch while she was an intern in Hong Kong.

I interviewed [Murdoch and Deng] a number of times on the red carpet at the Golden Globe awards, and Murdoch would always say, "Come talk to my wife; she speaks Chinese. You should interview her." Then he would stand by and watch his wife's performance.

I got the impression that Murdoch got huge satisfaction out of "training" Wendi Deng in this way.

The flashpoint came in 2006, when Murdoch was being interviewed by the American media, and he revealed that he would be passing control of his global media empire onto the children he had with his former wife, but that his daughters with Wendi would have no share in it.

After this report came out, Wendi had a fight with Murdoch, and even left their home and went on a trip after that, which covered up the source of the discord between them.

Wendi Deng has huge vision when it comes to Sino-U.S. movie productions, and she often travels between the two countries. The Chinese movie industry really needs a middle-man like her right now.

In this area, no one is better connected, more famous, or more experienced and talented than Wendi Deng. She has already successfully brokered a number of joint movie productions, and who knows whether she will move back to China to live in the future.

Reported by Xiao Rong for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.