Gong Li's off to Shanghai

Ah, the lush period drama. Is there anything finer in the gallery of cinematic efforts that have that scent of “please give me an Oscar?” about them? The Weinstein Company – or rather the blokes behind it – know all too well that a well-turned period piece can make Oscar voters drool.

But we’re sure they just want to make a good film, so they’ve hired Miami Vice’s Gong Li to star in Shanghai, which is set just before the attack on Pearl Harbour.

And to make sure he snatches the lead, The Weinstein Company is dangling shiny objects in front of John Cusack. If he signs, he’ll play an American who returns to a corrupt, Japanese-occupied Shanghai to discover that his best friend has been murdered. He investigates the death, but stumbles upon a big government secret and also falls in love with Li.

To help him make the decision, the Weinsteins have lined up Mikael Hafstrom, who Cusack worked with on 1408 and a script by Hossein Amini, writer of such period standouts as The Wings Of The Dove and The Four Feathers (okay, they’d probably be better off keeping that one quiet). They’ll shoot in China early next year.

So the Weinsteins want Gong Li to co-star? What, Joan Cusack decided to sit this one out?