New York, July 17 (UNB) - When Wu Ke-xi was looking for a frightening plotline for her latest film, she didn't need to look further than her own industry.
The Taiwanese actress and screenwriter's latest movie, "Nina Wu," is the story of an actress who, in pursuit of a role that will lead to stardom, is abused and psychologically scarred by a man in power.
Wu found herself closely following the #MeToo movement in Hollywood, and decided to write something for women affected by sexual assaults in the entertainment industry. Directed by Midi Z, it was selected to show at the Cannes Film Festival.
"After 2017, after the year the Harvey Weinstein stuff occurred, I read a lot of documents and interviews. I was so purely curious about what happened," said Wu. She said she has been threatened in her career, but never sexually assaulted. "It's still a humiliating experience," she said.
"So I felt really connected to those women."
Asia is having its own #MeToo moment, with its homegrown entertainment industries grappling with many of the issues that have upended entertainment careers in the United States and beyond.
Earlier this year, the K-pop scene was shaken when two male stars were accused of sexual misconduct in South Korea. Solo singer Jung Joon-young faced allegations he secretly filmed himself having sex with women and shared the footage on a mobile messenger app; he apologized to the victims. And Seungri, the youngest member of the quintet Big Bang, was accused of trying to steer sex services to business investors. He denied the charges and retired from the group.
Last year, in India, Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta came forward with details of a 2008 complaint she filed against actor Nana Parekar for alleged sexual harassment, which he denied. A flood of stories of sexual harassment and assault followed on social media from Indian actresses and writers.
Indian actor, singer and filmmaker Farhan Akhtar, a United Nations "He For She" ambassador with his own "Men Against Rape and Discrimination" initiative, says there is unease in the industry.
"Fear runs down the spine of everyone, thinking that, 'Oh my God, maybe I've done something in the past that might come back to bite me,'" he said.
He encourages other women to come forward and speak out.
"Nobody can do it for her. Nobody can out her story and put her in a position that maybe she doesn't want to be in," he said. "But when she does, then it's important that people rally around her so that she feels she's done the right thing. And through her, through that conversation, and through her words she will hopefully inspire, motivate many more people to come out. And that's the way the system will be cleaned."
Screenwriter Zhou Xiaoxuan did speak out. She became a central figure in China's #MeToo movement after an essay she wrote privately, claiming she was sexually assaulted by a TV star, went public on the social media platform Sina Weibo last summer. A prominent television host, Zhu Jun, sued her for defamation and Zhou followed with her own suit, for infringing on her personal rights. Women's rights advocates in China are following the case.
Zhou says the movement has only reached so far in China, affecting mostly a group of high-profile, well-connected men.
"They were frightened by the #MeToo trend and they stopped. But most people in this society, they've never heard of #MeToo," she said.
"I've actually been lucky because Zhu Jun is well-known," Zhou said. "It's extremely difficult for women who have been assaulted by their friends, colleagues or partners to seek legal recourse."
Japanese TV journalist Shiori Ito said she experienced months of trolling and shaming after she revealed in May 2017 that she had been raped. That was before the #MeToo movement got under way in the United States.
"I'm very grateful to all the other women that have spoken up because I felt very lonely," she said. She said she has felt a change in Japan and in her own family "who were really against me speaking up, and then they started saying, 'You know what, maybe she's right.'"
An emotional television interview with South Korean prosecutor Seo Ji-hyun in January 2018, in which she said she had been assaulted eight years earlier, is credited with starting the #MeToo movement there. Seo has since won a court case for abuse of power against her alleged assaulter. She said that watching women reveal their stories in Hollywood helped give her the courage to speak publicly. Supporters marched in the streets with candles and #WithYou banners.
"I told myself that, 'Yes, this was not my fault and that I should not be ashamed at all,'" she said.
In Pakistan, dancer, theatre director and activist Sheema Kermani is campaigning against sexual abuse, trying to make the movement there more than a moment.
"When actresses, big actresses, started calling out big names of actors for sexual harassment, I think it gave Pakistani women and women in media . the courage to speak out," she said.
In Thailand, model and TV personality Cindy Sirinya Bishop launched the "Don't Tell Me How To Dress" campaign after receiving a wave of support for a "social media rant" — her response to an article advising women not to wear sexy clothes for the Thai New Year in order to avoid sexual assault.
"It all started when that clip that I posted went viral overnight with the support of many, many women all over Thailand, chiming in, commenting, sharing and saying 'Yes, this is exactly what we feel.' Why are we always the ones that have to cover up, or why, when we are harassed or assaulted, is it somehow our fault?" she said.
Bishop also created an exhibition displaying clothing worn by sexual-assault victims. "We have university student outfits to toddler's clothing to sweatpants and T-shirts," she said.
She says her movement would have happened regardless of the stories arriving from America. But she adds: "In some way, the #MeToo movement has collectively empowered women without our knowing it, all over the world."
New York, Jul 16 (AP/UNB) — Jennifer Lopez kept her word to fans who were disappointed when a power outage in New York City v forced her to postpone her concert over the weekend.
Lopez returned to the stage Monday at Madison Square Garden, saying she was going to celebrate "no matter what." She called it an "amazing night."
Lopez's show was cut short on Saturday night when problems at a substation left parts of Manhattan without electricity. The Garden, Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts were all evacuated.
The power outage came on the anniversary of the 1977 New York City outage that left most of the city without power.
Philadelphia, Jul 16 (AP/UNB) — Lawyers for Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill will ask an appeals court Tuesday to overturn a 2008 drug and gun conviction that's kept the Philadelphia rapper on probation for a decade.
The city judge who oversees the case and sent him to prison in 2017 on a parole violation has a grudge against the performer, the lawyers said, and city prosecutors agree.
Prosecutors under District Attorney Larry Krasner have filed a motion supporting his bid to toss the conviction and be retried under a new judge.
Mill, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, has become a symbol for criminal justice reform after Judge Genece Brinkley sentenced him in 2017 to two to four years in prison for minor probation violations. He spent about four months in prison before a court ordered him released last year.
Defense lawyers hope to persuade the state Superior Court that Williams' conviction be thrown out based on alleged credibility issues with the now-retired police officer who was the key witness against him at the nonjury trial. The officer said the then-19-year-old Williams pointed a gun at him during the arrest outside his southwest Philadelphia home. Williams has denied pointing a gun at police.
Williams has frequently tangled with the judge over terms of his parole, especially over reporting requirements and travel rules that he says conflicts with his music career. Brinkley, after a 2015 hearing that included testimony from Williams' then-girlfriend, Nicki Minaj, said she "has done nothing but try to help the defendant."
Williams is a fixture at NBA games in Philadelphia and has the support of many high-profile celebrities and athletes. He appeared in last month's season finale of Saturday Night Live, performing beside DJ Khaled, John Legend, SZA and other artists in a tribute to slain rapper Nipsey Hussle.
New York, Jul 16 (AP/UNB) — Baz Luhrmann's Elvis Presley biopic has found its King.
After a competitive casting contest, 27-year-old actor Austin Butler has been cast as Presley. Ansel Elgort, Harry Styles and Miles Teller all reportedly tested for the role ultimately won by Butler, who last year appeared in the Denzel Washington Broadway revival of "The Iceman Cometh."
Luhrmann says in a statement that through "a journey of extensive screen testing and music and performance workshops, I knew unequivocally that I had found someone who could embody the spirit of one of the world's most iconic musical figures."
Production is to begin early next year on the Luhrmann-directed film. Tom Hanks co-stars as Presley's manager Colonel Tom Parker.
Butler also has a role in Quentin Tarantino's upcoming "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood."
Los Angeles, Jul 16 (AP/UNB) — An Australian model was sentenced Monday in Los Angeles to community service and probation for slapping a flight attendant and going on an obscene tirade during a flight, with a federal judge saying he believed she was deeply remorseful and did not deserve fines or prison time.
U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney sentenced Adau Mornyang to three years of probation and 100 hours of community service.
Prosecutors had sought a month in jail for Mornyang. But Carney said he believed she was truly sorry after she tearfully read a statement in court saying she is now receiving treatment for anxiety and depression brought on by childhood trauma, instead of self-medicating like she did at the time of the flight.
"I've learned to deal with my emotions and trauma in a proper way," Mornyang said as she stood crying with her arm around her lawyer, her usually long hair cropped to a short flattop.
The incident, she said, has "pushed me to have proper medical treatment."
She talked about the humiliation of hearing the recording of herself during the trial.
"I'll do what it takes to prove to the world that I am not that woman," Mornyang said, and asked the court for "forgiveness, kindness and mercy."
The 25-year-old, a native of South Sudan who migrated to Australia as a refugee at age 10, was convicted of felony interference with a flight crew and misdemeanor assault. She was acquitted of a third count of assaulting an air marshal.
Mornyang was nine hours into a Jan. 21 flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles and had apparently been drinking wine excessively when she began "yelling obscenities and racial slurs and flailing her arms," prosecutors said in their sentencing memorandum.
Her fellow passengers complained to the crew. But she only lashed out more when flight attendants attempted to calm her, and she slapped one of them. Several air marshals had to come out from undercover to help deal with her, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said in court Monday that Mornyang's statement of remorse said little about the passengers and crew whose flight she made so difficult.
But Carney welcomed the statement, and he said before sentencing that "I do believe she's remorseful and that she's committed to getting treatment to make sure this never happens again."
Carney said he had often sentenced terrorists, murderers and drug dealers, and that "those people need to be in custody," but not people like Mornyang.
"The trial process was punishment in and of itself," Carney said.
He added that her financial circumstances made the fine that would usually come with this crime untenable.
Mornyang is also required to submit to drug tests and receive mental health counseling throughout her three-year term.
She appeared relieved as the hearing ended. She did not talk to reporters outside court.
"I want you to have a wonderful life," the judge said after handing down his sentence. "I hope I never see you again."