The behind-the-scenes genre has been popular in Hollywood recently. APA takes a look at how Asian Americans are playing around with the format and adding a unique perspective, through works such as Justin Lin's Finishing the Game and David Henry Hwang's Yellow Face.
A failed attempt at emulating Brad Pitt's smooth moves in order to impress a girl inspired actor Chris Dinh and director Ryan Kim to co-write a short film called Pulling a Legend -- showing us that there can be hope after humiliation.
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A musical breaks through, an Echo returns, and a secret gets out. All this and more in the latest edition of News Bites.
Colma -- Alive and Kicking
In a time when so-called independent films rise to the top via big stars or a trendy festival in the mountains of Utah, Colma: The Musical managed to rake in $8403 at the box office playing on just one screen over three days at the Embarcadero Theater in San Francisco. The little musical that could has garnered praise from critics and audiences alike since it started playing at smaller festivals a few years ago. First-time director Richard Wong crafts an unexpectedly charming film with only about $15,000. The quirky script written by H.P. Mendoza (who also plays the character of Rodel) shamelessly blends the pains of growing up in a small town, the hope for a better future, and a catchy score full of surprises. It remains to be seen if Colma: The Musical will survive openings in Los Angeles and New York or be buried underneath the lackluster fare of summer movies. Something tells me that Colma has too much heart to drop dead just yet. --Catherine Manabat
Three stars (out of 100)
Entertainment Weekly proclaimed their adoration for some of television's best characters -- three of who happen to be Asian American -- in their June 29-July 6 special summer double issue. "The EW 100," features 100 entertainment staples that the magazine is holding dear to its heart, with Entourage's Rex Lee and Heroes' George Takei and Masi Oka feeling the love as they sit high on the list. Lee's charactern (adorable struggling assistant Lloyd to Jeremy Priven's super-agent Ari Gold) shares the 34-36 spot with two other favorite onscreen office aides, Marc (played by Michael Urie) from Ugly Betty and 30 Rock's Kenneth (Jack McBrayer). In a roundtable discussion revolving around the topic of "the help," Lee alludes to the slim parts Asians have in Hollywood saying, "I feel like I've played a lot of subservient roles -- I don't know if that's because I'm Asian, or what. I hope not..."
Collectively holding the number 44 spot, Heroes stars George Takei and Masi Oka may not feel their characters are as low on the food chain as Lee's Lloyd seeing as they do portray, well, superheroes on the hit NBC drama. EW deems 70 year-old Takei a trailblazer for Asian American actors and feel that Oka's Hiro is just hot. As the two actors (who play father-son onscreen) continue to make geeks cool for America, both have great plans for the future. Oka hopes to eventually direct and Takei wants equal rights for gay and lesbians -- and an Oscar. But really, who needs that gold statuette when you've got EW's heart? --Janice Jann
An Echo returns
Flags of Our Fathers star Jesse Bradford has signed for the lead role in Hollywood's first ever remake of a Filipino film, the 2004 hit horror flick Sigaw. Entitled The Echo, it will be directed by Yam Laranas, the original director and co-writer, and produced by Vertigo Entertainment, which also brought us such popular remakes of Asian thrillers as The Grudge, The Ring, and the Oscar-winning The Departed. Bradford will play a young waiter who moves into an old apartment complex and overhears the increasingly violent beatings of a young woman by her husband living down the hall. Of the original cast, only Iza Calzado, who played the battered wife, was invited to return for the remake, but Calzado declined. Mr. Bradford seems of late to be a favorite of Vertigo's productions, as he will also be starring in their remake of the Asian romantic comedy My Sassy Girl before The Echo's slated opening in 2008. --JoJo Yang
On the lot: Shalini Kantayya
Reality-show mastermind Mark Burnett's latest offering, On the Lot, is faring modestly in the ratings, drawing in only around 3 million viewers a week. However, Indian American freelance director, Shalini Kantayya, seems to be doing much better with the competition. She is one of the top six remaining contestants in the running for a one million dollar development deal at Dreamworks. Shalini has been producing solid shorts but it may be her sassy attitude that is keeping her -- and the show -- on the air. --Janice Jann
Secret gets out
Secret Asian Man by Tak Tyoshima brings new life to newspaper comics page. It's the first time an Asian American leading character has appeared in a nationally syndicated comic strip. United Feature Syndicate is a division of United Media, the information and entertainment company that develops and markets 150 comic strips and editorial features worldwide, including Peanuts, Dilbert, Get Fuzzy, and Pearls Before Swine. Tyoshima is a second generation Japanese American who grew up in New York's TriBeCa, whose multicultural atmosphere planted in him a humorous, intelligent perspective for unresolved issues of race, orientation, gender. Based roughly on himself, Tyoshima's character Osamu "SAM" Takahashi is a struggling comic strip artist who dreams of big-time success. SAM slithers through culturally prickly areas with humor and wit and remains optimistic. --Haining Ren
Judges Impressed by Stolen Moves
America's Got Talent but unsurprisingly, the talentless are being rewarded as well. Kashif, an awkward but earnest 23 year old Pakastani boy from Skokie, IL, auditioned for the reality show in Chicago, wanting to show the world his passion for the "Bollywood music-like dancing." The judges -- Sharon Osborne, David Hasselhoff, and Piers Morgan -- clearly had no idea what they were in for and collectively stared stunned as Kashif performed some rhythmic arm moves and botched hip swiveling to Lucky Ali's "Ek Pal Ka Jeena." In a classic moment of feigned political correctness, the judges decided that what they don't understand must be brilliant. "It really was so different!" the Hoff stupidly praised. "You're the most extraordinary dancer I've ever seen in my life!" congratulated Piers Morgan. Really, Piers Morgan? It makes me sad when people are such excessively liberal compliment whores. How can we ever trust Piers Morgan ever again? Some YouTube research showed that Kashif, while claiming to have "special moves," was just doing a amateur-ish impression of Hrithik Roshan's dance from 2000's Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai. Compare the two links to understand why everything is just much better when a see-through black mesh shirt is involved. --Ada Tseng
Chinatown 90210 makes its debut
Playing weekends now through July 8th at the Luna Playhouse in Glendale, Chinatown Correspondent is a dramatic comedy about a Chinese American reporter who starts his own newspaper in 1968 San Francisco Chinatown. He struggles to keep it going before stumbling onto more than just a story while reporting on a murder. Directed by Peter Kuo and written by Mark Jue, the play is the inaugural production of the Chinatown 90210 Theatre Company, started by a trio of LA based, self-proclaimed angry Asian girls. Carin Chea, Cindy Sakumoto, and Pamela Woo profess a commitment to breaking away from stereotypes and providing an honest portrayal of the American experience through performance art. --JoJo Yang
...and more experimental theater in L.A.
Bobby and Colleen Tani Nakamoto present Falling into the Sky, an eclectic, hybrid music and dance performance showing twice on July 7 at the David Henry Hwang Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. The shows will also mark the debut of their independent arts organization, The Hearing Place, which takes a spoken word, music, and sonic approach to elucidating personal experiences and life stories before a group audience. Native to LA and the Bay Area, Bobby and Tani Nakamoto are multidisciplinary artists with backgrounds in community-based psychology and spirituality who also offer "Breath and Bone" community workshops that promise an engaging experience for participants. Directed by W. Kamau Bell and Jessica Wolf, Falling into the Sky is designed for the theater-goer sick of talk and craving physicality, movement, and spoken word for an experience that should be out of this world. --JoJo Yang
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Date Posted: 6/29/2007