Chinese actress Fan Bingbing left then-management company Huayi Brothers in 2007 to set up Fan Bingbing Studio. Apart from building a team to manage all her projects, the company has also produced dramas in which the multi-hyphenate stars in.
The Empress of China is one such production – one that boasts a budget of over RMB300 million (S$64 million), making it the most expensive TV series in Chinese history. Its story revolves around Wu Zetian, the only female Chinese emperor in history.
The show enjoyed immense popularity since its pilot episode but was suddenly pulled off air without prior warning. Its broadcaster, Hunan TV, cited technical problems for the sudden halt in broadcast but it is widely believed that there are other reasons involved.
Insiders have claimed that the 82-episode series was forced off air for its excessive skin exposure from its female cast. From palace maids to concubines, the outfits are said to have exposed too much of their chests. As such, the post-production team is said to be scrambling to find a way to rectify the problem as the drama wrapped filming in August.
Another possibility raised is that regulations set by the SAPPRFT (State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China) have gotten in the way of its broadcast. It is understood that period dramas may not exceed 15% of all primetime content airing at any time.
Fan Bingbing posted an ambiguous declaration on her microblog after The Empress of China was pulled, stating, “He who wears the crown has to bear its weight!”
The Empress of China is slated to return to the small screens on January 1.