By Brooks Barnes @ New York Times
LOS ANGELES – Months and months (and months) of lead-up to the Oscars create a fairly boring party scene in the days before the big event. You see the same 100 people at everything.
Vaseline smiles and champagne toasts abound, but inner monologues involve a lot of “please, oh please, not her again.” Before you know it you’re stuck chit-chatting with somebody from “The Help” for the 500th time.
So when a fresh face pops up on the circuit it creates a stir, if not a complete feeding frenzy. That helps explain why Li Bingbing has been cutting a swath through Hollywood’s fancier fetes this week.
Ms. Li is a megastar in China, where she has 12.4 million followers on Weibo.com, that country’s version of Twitter. Movie audiences in the United States will get a chance to see her in September in “Resident Evil: Retribution.” She had a supporting role in “The Forbidden Kingdom” (2008) and was front and center in last summer’s “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.”
“Snow Flower” flopped, taking in about $1.3 million in the United States, but it did leave Ms. Li with a very important friend: Wendi Murdoch. Ms. Murdoch, the wife of the News Corporation chieftain Rupert Murdoch, was a producer of “Snow Flower.” (A unit of her husband’s company, Fox Searchlight, released the picture.)
It also got Ms. Li a ticket to the Oscars. Invited by Searchlight, she arrived in Hollywood on Wednesday with a schedule that included a Women in Film cocktail party and United Talent Agency and Creative Artists Agency events. On Saturday Ms. Li will be a presenter at the Independent Spirit Awards.
“I’m happy to see the United States and China cooperating more and more with movies,” Ms. Li said, perhaps referring to last week’s agreement by China to allow Hollywood to show more films there. “The entertainment industry in China is developing very fast. I hope there can be a bridge for actors to work in both places.”
Who was Ms. Li most looking forward to meeting on the circuit this week? “The brilliant woman Meryl Streep,” she said. “Who else?”