LOS ANGELES – Sharon Stone's "karma" comment is having an instant effect on her movie-star status in China.
The 50-year-old actress suggested last week that the devastating May 12 earthquake in China could have been the result of bad karma over the government's treatment of Tibet. That prompted the founder of one of China's biggest cinema chains to say his company would not show her films in his theaters, according to a story in The Hollywood Reporter.
"I'm not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else," Stone said Thursday during a Cannes Film Festival red-carpet interview with Hong Kong's Cable Entertainment News. "And then this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and then I thought, is that karma? When you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?"
Ng See-Yuen, founder of the UME Cineplex chain and the chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, called Stone's comments "inappropriate," adding that actors should not bring personal politics to comments about a natural disaster that has left 5 million Chinese homeless, according to the Reporter.
UME has branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, China's biggest urban movie markets.
During the brief interview, which has also surfaced on YouTube, Stone also said she cried when she received a letter from the Tibetan Foundation asking her to help quake victims.
"They wanted to go and be helpful, and that made me cry," she said. "It was a big lesson to me that sometimes you have to learn to put your head down and be of service even to people who aren't nice to you."
Stone's words created a swell of anger on the Internet, including at least one Chinese Web site devoted solely to disparaging her comments.
"To Sharon Stone's comment, it's unlikely that we will respond," said a woman who answered the phone at the Foreign Ministry in Beijing. She refused to give her name or position.
After-hours phone calls and email to a representative for Stone were not immediately returned Tuesday night.
According to the Web-based database imdb.com, Stone has at least four movies coming up between now and 2010, including "Streets of Blood," "Five Dollars a Day" and "The Year of Getting to Know Us."