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March 17, 2010

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Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

Zhou fails to get a laugh over split with partner

SHANGHAI' comedian Zhou Libo has fallen out with long-term mentor and sidekick Guan Dongtian.

The official line is that the two split over artistic differences, but money issues were at the core, according to insiders.

Zhou, 43, has drawn negative feedback over his break-up with Guan, a renowned Peking Opera singer from Shanghai the comic once described as "the brother who gave me asecond chance on stage."

Zhou told reporters that the split was a natural transition as the two had "disagreements over artistic performance." He shied away from the reported money issues, saying television appearances were a key reason for the split.

Both of them told reporters earlier that they had reached an agreement not to do talk shows on TV. Zhou appeared on a local TV during the Spring Festival holiday for the Mr Zhou Live Show spanning a week.

Guan was said to be paid 25,000 yuan (US$3,663) per show for announcing Zhou's so-called Clean Talk. Zhou's stand-up performances, totalling a little more than 100 shows in 2009, earned about 30 million yuan, the Labor Daily reported, citing Wu Xiaoming, a senior official of the Shanghai Media & Entertainment Group.

Zhou said on his microblog: "I was not in a position to teach Guan how to be a big brother."

He also indicated that he had more than repaid the early help he received from Guan.

For his part, Guan has offered few comments, apart from saying that members of the public could work out for themselves what was just.

Zhou shot to fame in the city with his Clean Talk, a comic show spoken in Shanghainese, early last year.

In the past he has given most of the credit for the show's success to Guan, who was art director and introduced him on stage.

Zhou was regarded as a future star when young but was jailed for beating his former father-in-law.

When he was released from prison in 1990, Zhou pursued a business career that proved disastrous. He had to flee to Japan to escape debts.

It was Guan, Zhou said, who had faith in his talent and convinced him to return to the stage.

However, Guan was more conservative, "a strict elder brother."

The split has caused a hive of online activity, and most Netizens have sided with Guan.

Zhou, in the United States on holidays, is due back in Shanghai this weekend for a series of Clean Talk shows. Guan's new Peking Opera, Saint Guan, begins in May.


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