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Steven Chow's 'voice' for sale online
(Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2005-07-28 14:15

Fans of Steven Chow, the famous Hong Kong movie star, can now buy his "voice" on the Internet, said Shanghai Daily.

The catch is that the voice is not actually Chow's but that of his Mandarin dubbing artist.

Writer/director/actor Stephen Chow (R) poses with Sony Pictures Classics Co-President Michael Barker (L) at the premiere after party for 'Kung Fu Hustle' at Oceana March 31, 2005 in New York City. Chow's action comedy kicked up a storm when it opened in the United States last weekend, but left delighted film critics battling to describe it. [AFP]

Shi Banyu, the artist who has dubbed for Chow, has put his "voice" for charity auction at eBay Eachnet.com, with a bottom price of 1 yuan (12 US cents) since July 21. The auction, running through the end of July, will have a limited number of bid winners.

Chow, the 43-year-old top box-office draw in Asia, is known for comedies, such as "Shaolin Soccer" and "Kungfu Hustle." And many of his fans can even recite some of the lines from his movies.

However, almost all of Chow's dialogues in films shown on the mainland have been dubbed by Shi, a Taiwan native, because of the actor's poor Mandarin pronunciation.

Shi Banyu, a professional DJ in Taiwan, dubbed for Steven Chow in his acclaimed comic movies sine 1980s. [baidu]
That means mainland movie fans have come to identify Shi's voice as that of Chow on-screen.

"I want to give people the opportunity to be closer to their favorite star with my voice and it is most important to me that my voice can bring people happiness," Shi told the Shanghai Morning Post.

The deal will be done in two ways:

One, Shi will call a person designated by the bid winners, and surprise him or her by speaking as Chow.

Else, Shi will record the voice for the buyers as per their requirements.

Both the spoken and recorded lines will not be longer than two minutes, Shi wrote on the online statement.

Bid winners are authorized to use Shi's voice as cell phone ring tones, door bell sound or in any other ways they like so long as it is within legal range.

The whole process of either the recording or the telephone call will be video-recorded to ensure authenticity, Shi said, who added that half of the auction profits would be donated to Beijing Special Education School to set up a charity foundation.

So far, more than 140 buyers have taken part in the bid for the voice at ebay.com.cn, the first such auction of its kind on eBay Eachnet.com, with the highest bid price hitting 1,825 yuan yesterday.

However, some legal experts wonder whether the online auction infringes on Chow's rights.

Yue Cheng, a local lawyer, said that whether the auction was legal depends on whether Shi shared the rights for the movies, whose dialogues he will speak.

Chow learnt about the auction from his company - Xinghui Movie Co - two days ago. The company told Shanghai Morning Post that Shi had not informed Chow about selling his voice and he was not authorized to do so since he did not share the rights for Chow's movies.

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