Maggie Cheung Offered 7 Times Her Salary
TVB’s leading artists continue to leave the company. Following Bowie Lam (林保怡) and Charmaine Sheh (佘詩曼), Maggie Cheung (張可頤), who worked for TVB for 17 years, also decided not to renew her contract since it expired in December 2011. It was understood that TVB offered to pay nearly double her original salary in order to retain Maggie for 3 more years; however, TVB placed many restrictions on filming in mainland. At the same time, Ricky Wong’s (王維基) City Telecom offered Maggie 7 times her old TVB salary, at the price of $140,000 HKD per episode and custom-tailored roles. With the difference in the contract terms, Maggie decided to leave TVB and sign with City Telecom.
Currently filming in Hengdian for new mainland drama, Female Phase <女相>, Maggie was originally slated to film Big Eunuch <大太監> for TVB at this time, starring oppose TV King, Wayne Lai (黎耀祥) once again. In August last year, TVB executives, Virginia Lok (樂易玲) and Chan Fai Kwong (陳輝光), discussed contract renewal terms with Maggie. They offered to increase her wages from $10,000 to $30,000 HKD per episode. TVB also made it clear that she will be the female lead of Big Eunuch and Producer Lee Tim Shing’s (李添勝) upcoming Legend of Empress Lu <呂后傳>, in which the role was a tailor-made for Maggie.
An insider revealed, “Maggie was a bit uncertain. At this time, several mainland production companies offered her roles, while Ricky Wong’s City Telecom asked her to work for them. In terms of money, TVB cannot be compared to their rivals. The mainland series were confirmed to be broadcast on Hunan TV station, the highest rating station in China. Maggie considered her options for a lengthy amount of time. She heard that Producer Lee Tim Shing will retire after filming Detective Columbus <神探哥侖布> and will not produce Legend of Empress Lu. Since TVB intended to sign Maggie for 3 years, there will not be a chance for her to renegotiate her fees in that period. Otherwise, Maggie will not be assigned to film any ‘big productions.’ Thus, Maggie did not wish to be bound by TVB’s terms.”
After Maggie decided not to renew her TVB contract and instead filmed mainland series, Female Phase, the company implemented an emergency cast change and asked Michelle Yim (米雪) to take on the role of Empress Dowager Cixi in Big Eununch instead.
Felix Wong in Discussions With City Telecom
Recently, Felix Wong (黃日華) had an exchange with Ricky Wong of City Telecom on his Weibo blog, in which Felix indicated his interest to discuss partnership opportunities. Ricky quickly replied that he would fly to Yunnan, China to dicuss with Felix. On the other hand, Felix replied that he understood Ricky was a busy businessman, thus Felix offered to seek out Ricky when he returned to Hong Kong.
Joe Ma, Kenix Kwok, Frankie Lam, and Bernice Liu Confirmed Signing With City Telecom
Earlier, Ricky Wong’s City Telecom announced that they invested $600 million HKD to recruit talent for their newly established free television broadcasting operation. Numerous TVB artists were highly sought after by TVB. Joe Ma (馬德鐘), Kenix Kwok (郭可盈), Frankie Lam (林文龍), and Bernice Liu (廖碧兒), and Janet Chow (周家怡) confirmed they had signed with City Telecom. Allegedly, Amy Kwok (郭藹明) was also tempted by the money City Telecom offered. In addition, City Telecom were also interested in signing veteran actors such as Elliot Ngok (岳華), David Chiang (姜大偉), and Yuen Wah (元華).
Offering double the amount TVB paid, City Telecom successfully recruited 31 scriptwriters, 20 producers and directors, and nearly 500 experienced production staff members. Golden script editors, Cheung Wah Biu (張華標) and Chu Keung Kei (朱鏡棋) have also accepted City Telecom’s offer. It was expected that City Telecom will start filming series in March. The first two productions will be modern dramas, which will likely be broadcast in Hong Kong in September.
Excerpt from Next Magazine # 1140
Jayne: Ricky Wong seems to have endless pockets in offering to pay artists and production staff such hefty wages! Let’s see what will be their first drama productions, which will start work in March.