Actress age flap jumps from the web to print

Another week, another pointless showbiz scandal: Liu Yifei, this year's darling of period TV serials, has been accused of faking her age. The allegations stem from a brief scene in the 1992 television series A Beijinger in New York, in which an extra who bears a remarkable resemblance to Ms. Liu appears in the background of a party. The extra appears to be around 15 years old, while Ms. Liu was born in 1987. Or was she?

Not a question of earth-shaking importance, we admit. Rather, it is the ease with which the rumor leapt from an online BBS into the printed media that interests us.

Most articles introduced it with a vague reference: "an article appeared on a forum of a well-known domestic website from a poster who had watched A Beijinger in New York recently..." The more shameless papers printed posts from other BBS members, drawing an indignant response from Ms. Liu's mother: "I have no need to declare to everyone the state of her development. Liu Yifei is doing just fine, is all I'll tell you."

Perhaps it was because the story broke on a weekend that none of the papers contacted the school in Wuhan that Ms. Liu attended before moving to the United States (one paper has since obtained a class photo). Or perhaps they were merely acting out a selfless concern for the welfare of television viewers across the country.

Did they learn nothing from the flap over the S.H.E. sex-change rumor last fall?

Links and Sources:
Still from A Beijinger in New York (suspect on right), "then and now" photos
Class photo alongside teachers' quotes [in Chinese]

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