Wednesday, February 2, 2011

January's Most Newsworthy: Selina Jen

Flavour of the Month is not the right term this time, but one person has dominated Chinese entertainment headlines over the month just passed. When Selina Jen (任家萱, pinyin: Rèn Jiāxuān) of one of Taiwan's most popular groups, S.H.E, sustained shocking burns in an on-set accident, it was arguably the biggest entertainment story in China of 2010. The accident happened on October 22, while Selina was filming an episode of the TV series, I Have a Date With Spring, in Shanghai. Selina and her co-star, mainland actor Yu Haoming, were filming a scene where they had to run from a burning building. But the scene went awry when explosions were set off at the wrong time, engulfing the two stars in flames.

Both Selina and Yu received third-degree burns, Selina to 53 percent of her body. Selina was hospitalised for over 90 days, much of it in intensive care, and underwent surgery and skin grafts. It has been the darkest of times for the 29 year old singer with the gentle nature; however last month she and her fans began to receive some good news. On January 17 she made her first public appearance, alongside her two other S.H.E bandmates. Already hugely popular, the 29 year old singer would have won over even more fans with the courage she displayed facing the media. In an emotional speech she showed bravery and determination, vowing that she would return to the group. She was finally released from hospital on 19 January, though spare a thought for Yu who remains hospitalised.

Initially after the accident there was a public silence from the television makers and the production company, Hunan TV, despite criticism over the lack of safety measures for actors. Hunan TV denied rumours that the pyrotechnics staff were at fault, instead blaming faulty equipment. The series director, Chen Ming-chang, issued an apology on his blog (incurring more criticism for not fronting the media directly). Then in a second apology Chen accepted the blame for not overseeing the filming properly. Meanwhile Selina's record company, HIM International Music, was in negotiations with Hunan TV over compensation. The good news continued for Selina when it was just announced that Hunan TV have agreed to a compensation package that includes all her medical and rehabilitation expenses, and a payment equivalent to one year's earnings. The production company also issued an apology.

In more good news, some companies provided a show of support to Selina last month by expressing their intentions to have her endorse their products. HIM International Music announced that five companies had invited Selina to endorse products ranging from clothes to fruit juice to skin care products. The singer had earlier admitted to fearing that with minor burns to her face it might be difficult to relaunch her career again. Although those around her have been emphasising that her recovery will be slow and challenging, the positive news over the last few weeks has made the outlook much more optimistic than in the gloomy months after the accident.

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