By ZHUO MICANG
LINYI (China Daily Show) — Motown was last night demanding answers after beloved soul legend Stevie Wonder was apparently attacked by government thugs while filming in Shandong province.
Wonder, 61, was in town to shoot a Mike Tyson-style cameo in 21 and Over, a low-budget Hollywood co-production similar to The Hangover that filmmakers describe as a “hilarious comedy.”
In a break during rehearsals, the Grammy-Award winning artist reportedly went for a stroll in nearby woods, accompanied by his guide dog Ray.
The ambush occurred close to Dongshigu, the tiny village where blind petitioner Cheng Guangchen is being unlawfully detained and which authorities have turned into a no-go zone, where even foreign diplomats and reporters have been turned back, threatened and attacked.
Producers and security guards rushed to the scene, only to find that “nothing had happened.” Friends now fear the blind singing legend may be lost in China’s complex extra-legal system.
“If Stevie is tangled up in China’s still-developing legal bureaucracy, it could take months – even years – to release him,” his agent Robert Norman told China Daily Show. “Or just ten minutes and a simple phone call.”
The Songs in the Key of Life star is currently under house arrest and being denied access to a piano, Norman added.
The film’s producers, Relativity Media, have suggested Wonder’s arrest could help promote human rights values in Linyi, as well as providing much-needed publicity for the film.
Officials, however, deny the filmmakers’ version of events.
“Stevie wandered over to see if Chen was interested in collaborating on a new charity recording, tentatively entitled ‘Ebony and Jade,’” said a Ministry of Culture spokesman. “There was no beating, just some rowdy celebrating.”
The spokesman added there is absolutely no chance of Wonder and Chen being confused with one another.
“One is a visually impaired, popular public figure living in a remote, gated community that’s surrounded by security guards,” said the official. “And the other is Stevie Wonder.”
Follow this and other leading China news at @chinadailyshow on Twitter