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Kristi Yamaguchi dances to the top, Bruce Lee jumps to the stage, and My Sassy Girl flops to DVD. All this and more in the latest edition of News Bites.
Kristi Yamaguchi wins Dancing with the Stars
ABC's hit show Dancing with the Stars has come to the end of its fifth season and the winner is Olympian Kristi Yamaguchi. The figure skating gold-medalist was the only contestant in the show this season that consistently scored high points with the judges. For her last performances, Yamaguchi scored perfect 10s straight across. She beat out another fan favorite, Jason Taylor, and an injured Cristian de la Fuente. All three finalists have talked about how the show has helped them with their personal and professional lives -- Cristian believes delaying surgery for something he truly believed in was well worth it and Taylor has begun talks on a film career. Yamaguchi, meanwhile, believes the dancing trophy doesn't quite measure up to her gold medal. --My Thanh Mac
The dragon goes Broadway
Bruce Lee is timeless. As recently as 2007, Justin Lin's satirical indie flick, Finishing the Game, paid homage to this Asian American icon. And now, Bruce Lee's life history is heading for Broadway in a musical set to premiere sometime in 2010-2011 about his rise to fame. Written by Tony award-winner David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly, Yellow Face), the musical Bruce Lee: Journey to the West will be directed by Bartlett Sher, Tony Award nominee for South Pacific. It's a fusion of everything from martial arts, Chinese Opera, modern dance, to pop music, tracing the life of a legend who refuses to be forgotten. --LiAnn Ishizuka
In today's world, movies are easily accessible, from pay-per-view to torrent downloads to AMC Theatres. But one place you won't be able to get your movies from now is Los Angeles's Tartan USA. The theatrical and home video distributor closed down this May, and had for years been popular for its broad selection of Asian films. Remember A Tale of Two Sisters and Lady Vengeance? Yes, those were the once highly-esteemed films of the Asian film industry that adorned the shelves of Tartan before their announced Hollywood remakes. Tartan USA's catalog includes numerous modern classics -- 101 titles in fact. Among these were Tetsuo, Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, and Election. And with all the other corporate moguls, such as Best Buy, concentrating on a slightly different demographic, it may be a little bit harder to find these films. What's to become of these beloved properties? And what distributor is going to step in to keep up what Tartan has left behind? Because if there is a new Asian film distributor lurking around the corner, many are waiting to roam the shelves. --Timothy Natividad
Hollywood remake of My Sassy Girl sassily forgoes theaters for DVD
What happens when Hollywood runs out of creative ideas for film? It cops one from Asia and remakes a horrible one instead. It's probably not that simple, nor that brutal, but case in point is the remake of the cute South Korean romance by Kwak Jae-yong, My Sassy Girl. The 2008 remake stars Elisha Cuthbert, playing the role originated by actress Jeon Ji-Hyun, and Jesse Bradford as the role made famous by Cha Tae-Hyun. The American version is about a Midwestern guy (Bradford) who stumbles upon a drunk but charismatic girl (Cuthbert) in a quirky film about the pangs of love. The good news in all of this? The Hollywood remake is going straight to DVD rather than releasing in theaters. That's a relief for those who enjoyed the popular original made in 2001 and, after watching the train-wreck of a trailer, didn't want to see their local theaters soiled by displaced corniness. Because at least in the Korean version of My Sassy Girl, charm doesn't get mistaken for corny. --LiAnn Ishizuka
The Boat makes waves for Nam Le
Nam Le's The Boat is the first book from the Vietnam-born, Australia-raised writer. The Boat travels from Vietnam to Colombia, Tehran, Japan, New York, Iowa, Australia, and back again. The Boat has impressed numerous critics, including the New York Times, since its release May 13. Le, now 29, left his lawyer job in Australia to attend the Iowa Writer's Workshop. There, he scrapped the 700-page draft of his first novel and began to write short stories. The Boat's opening story "Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice" is semi-autobiographical. The narrator "Nam" is a young writer at the Iowa Writer's Workshop working on his "ethnic story." Other stories take the reader far and away from Nam's personal experience. There's a teenage assassin in Colombia, a young Japanese girl in 1945 Hiroshima, and an aging painter in New York. Le plans to take The Boat on a reading tour throughout June and July. --Lisa Leong
Robert Asprin dies at 61
Filipino American science fiction and fantasy writer Robert Asprin died in his bed Thursday, May 22nd, while allegedly reading a book by Britain's most shoplifted fiction writer, Terry Pratchett. Asprin was one of the pioneers of shared-world fiction, creating and editing the Thieves World series. He is also well known for his MythAdventure series -- registering the quixotic escapades of powerless demon magician Aahz and his inexperienced human assistant Skeeve -- and for his Phule novels in the 1990s. He was 61 when he died. --Ian Shaikh
Hindu group says lay off Love Guru protests
When the first trailer of Mike Myer's Love Guru hit the net, many were offended. Some were offended because the film looked atrocious. Others because it seems to lampoon Hindu culture. Verbal Hindu groups have called for an outright ban of the film. But one US-based Hindu reform organization, Navya Shastra, says these groups are being overly sensitive and seeking a ban would be going too far. Navya Shastra's research director Gautham Rao argues that this type of hypersensitivity goes against traditions of tolerating criticism in the Hindu faith. Instead, he says Hindus should rise above this kind of thinking with open minds. Thankfully, the group stopped short of encouraging people to actually watch the film. Hypersensitivity is one thing, good taste is another. Myer's latest train wreck comes out on June 20th. --William Hong
A day of talent, fun, and awareness
The 3rd Annual Talent 1 Media Film Festival begins May 31st, at the Aratani Japan America Theatre in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo. Taking on -- as per their tradition -- the local and global problem of human trafficking, the overall purpose of the festival is to raise awareness and provide an opportunity to fight such "modern day slavery." The one-day festival will include live music from Slum Peasants and Elements of the Outer Realms, free admission, as well as plenty of chances to learn more about various programs fighting human trafficking. The festival will also include ten original short films. Talent One Media is a non-profit organization created in 2005 by a number of artists in search for the right atmosphere to converge their talents for a worthy cause. --Ian Shaikh
Tre on DVD
Couldn't make it to the film festival? Now you can watch acclaimed Asian American director Eric Byler's latest film Tre on DVD. Tre is a web of interracial and extra-marital love affairs. Moral ambiguity, identity crises, and a "life-changing ten seconds" set off a domino effect of drama for the two couples in the film. It is notable as a hapa movie -- a rarity even in Asian American cinema. The two leads Tre (Daniel Cariaga) and Kakela (Kimberly-Rose Wolter) are both hapa, as is the writer-director Byler. Tre won the Special Jury Award at the 2007 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. It is the "sequel" to Byler's 2002 film Charlotte Sometimes. --Lisa Leong
Date Posted: 5/30/2008