A starring role in the upcoming serial drama The Legend of Ba Qing was supposed to signal Fan Bingbing’s reemergence into the Chinese limelight after running afoul of the authorities for tax evasion last year. But Zhejiang Talent Television & Film, a production company overseeing the show, announced last week it would re-shoot the series to delete the star entirely.
The re-shoot will cost some 60 million RMB (about 8.5 million USD), and will also erase Fan’s costar in the series, Chinese actor Gavin Gao, who was arrested in Australia in March 2018 on allegations of sexual assault. He was granted bail but must remain in Australia for his trial, which is scheduled for later this month.
The studio did not say who would replace Fan and Gao, only that it would recreate scenes with “key actors.” The Legend of Ba Qing, a sweeping historical saga set during China’s Qin dynasty, finished shooting all the way back in 2017, and was given the green light for an April 2018 release. But that was canceled after Gao’s arrest in March.
Fan’s tax evasion scandal then erupted in May, and in June she disappeared completely. In October, she and her business entities were fined roughly 883 million RMB (129 million USD). It wasn’t until April 2019 that she finally reappeared, attending an iQIYI event in Beijing.
For Fan, being erased from the show is another setback after recently vanishing from Louis Vuitton’s social media posts. LV, which has worked with Fan since 2012, published advertising photos in late September in which Fan appeared as a brand spokesperson. But only a day later, after a flurry of negative social media comments, the images had disappeared from Louis Vuitton’s Weibo and Instagram feeds.
Fan appears to still be involved in Jessica Chastain-led spy thriller 355, but as to whether that movie will make it to screens in the lucrative China market still seems far from certain.
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