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Korean all-star New Dimension Tour hits Chicago and L.A., Ken Watanabe is nominated for an Oscar, Japan's Twilight Samurai is nominated for Best Foreign Film, the New York Times calls attention to actor Leonardo Nam, "The Missing Chink" enrages viewers and more in this issue’s News Bites.
First-ever K-Pop tour in the U.S. hits Chicago and Los Angeles
Already expected to be the leading Asian tour ever to come to America, the New Dimension Tour will be hitting the states twice, performing in Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA. AM Entertainment, the Korean American production group, SYN.NRG Productions, and JC ROK Entertainment are promoting the tour as a full-blown, star-studded celebration of the Bi-Centennial Anniversary of Korean Immigration to the U.S. Some of the biggest names in Korean pop music (K-pop) will be performing, all with a fan base that would rival that of such artists as N’Sync and Jennifer Lopez. Among the artists scheduled to appear are Park Jin Young, Seven and Lexy from yg, whee sung, Bi, as well as a few surprise guest artists.
The New Dimension Tour proceeds will be going to such charitable organizations as the Lion’s Club, a community service organization with chapters all around the world. The tour, geared mostly towards teenagers, college students, and young adults, will be held at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago on January 30, 2004 and at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in Los Angeles on February 6, 2004.
Find more information about the tour at www.amentertainment.net
The Last Samurai’s Ken Watanabe continues to earn kudos
Ken Watanabe will get another chance to earn recognition for his role in The Last Samurai when the 76th Annual Academy Awards takes place on February 29, 2004. Already having earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor, Watanabe was nominated in the same category for this year’s Oscar. Watanabe made a name for himself when he got his first big break into Hollywood with The Last Samurai, his fourth film released in 2003 and the fifteenth movie he has appeared in. Although beat out by fellow contender Tim Robbins for his role in Mystic River, Watanabe was privileged to be nominated alongside such film veterans as Alec Baldwin (The Cooler), Albert Finney (Big Fish), William H. Macy (Seabiscuit), and Peter Sarsgaard (Shattered Glass). Watanabe will again face competition from Robbins and Baldwin for the Oscar, along with Benicio Del Toro (21 Grams) and Djimon Hounsou (In America). Surprisingly, co-actor Tom Cruise, though nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama, was not nominated for an Academy Award. Watanabe holds one of four nominations for The Last Samurai, with the others in the technical categories: Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, and Best Sound Mixing.
Japan earns yet another Academy Award nomination
Japan has earned its 11th Academy Award nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film category this year with The Twilight Samurai. Other films nominated in this category include The Barbarian Invasions (Canada), Evil (Sweden), Twin Sisters (Netherlands), and Zelary (Czech Republic). Directed by Yoji Yamada, The Twilight Samurai is set in nineteenth-century Japan and reveals the story of a widowed samurai taking care of his mother and two daughters. When he defends a young woman from an attack by her drunken ex-husband, his life changes and he begins to once again pursue his traditional samurai lifestyle.
Among Japan’s ten previous nominations were Dodes’ka-Den (1971), Portrait of Chieko (1967), and Kwaidan (1965). Prior to the creation of the Foreign Language Film category in 1956, Japan also received three Special/Honorary Awards for Samurai, The Legend of Musashi (1955), Gate of Hell (1954), and Rashomon (1951).
Link to the The Twilight Samurai's official site:
http://www.shochiku.co.jp/kakushiken/index.html (Japanese only)
The Perfect Score is a big break for "scene-stealer" Leonardo Nam
The Perfect Score was released on January 30, 2004, featuring Korean American actor, Leonardo Nam, as one of the six leads. The Paramount Pictures release is about a group of six high school students who decide to steal the answers to the S.A.T.’s in an attempt to prevent themselves from being defined by the test. Similar to the formulaic token characters in The Breakfast Club, the “typical” students in The Perfect Score include the star basketball player and the class brainiac. Nam, who has appeared in Hacks and Nobody’s Perfect, takes on the role of Roy the stoner, who only joins in on the scam after overhearing the other students' conversation. The New York Times review of the film calls Nam “a newcomer and natural scene-stealer.”
Nam was born in Argentina, and moved to Sydney, Australia when he was six. After studying architecture at the University of New South Wales, he decided to take up acting and moved to New York City where he was involved in several theater productions. Nam is currently working on the feature film, The Debate Club.
New proposed Asian American Network announced
Asian American television takes a big step with the announcement of the proposed August 2004 launch of ImaginAsian TV, the first national, 24-hour Asian American television network. The channel will feature films, dramatic series, variety/game shows, children’s programs, news, animated features, documentaries, short films, and sports. The announcement was made on January 14 by Michael Hong, CEO of ImaginAsian Entertainment, Inc. The company is a newly formed multi-media entertainment company headquartered in New York City whose mission is to provide “cross-platform entertainment targeting the more than 14 million Asian-Americans residing in the U.S.,” with the television network being its first project.
Blatant Use of “Chink” Enrages Viewers
What was originally supposed to be an ironic commentary ended up backfiring for producers of the United Kingdom’s Channel 4. The channel aired a short documentary series about Chinese culture, commenting on the lack of Chinese actors and sports stars in the UK. What enraged viewers was the title of the program, “The Missing Chink.” Although Channel 4 claims that the title was supposed to be “an ironic comment on the fact that the Chinese have been overlooked in Britain,” many viewers saw it as blatantly racist. Over one hundred people called in complaints to the network after the program’s first segment aired. A spokeswoman for the channel said, “The title and the content aims to highlight lack of public awareness in a light hearted way.” The show is hosted by two Chinese British comedians, and features appearances by former Chinese Detective David Yip, Pink Panther star Burt Kwouk and England rugby hero Rory Underwood.
“Last Comic Standing” Winner Breaks Into the Entertainment World
NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” winner Dat Phan has been keeping busy since his big win in August 2003. In February, he will make a guest appearance on “The West Wing,” playing a North Vietnamese soldier and he'll also be making his big screen debut in May in the film Cellular, starring Kim Basinger and William H. Macy. Phan is currently headlining his own tour through July, making appearances in Tahoe, Atlantic City, and a number of universities.
Born an only child in Saigon, Vietnam in 1975, Phan and his mother emigrated to the U.S. when he was very young. He grew up in San Diego and later moved to Los Angeles, where he was forced to live out of his car due to financial hardships. Though he was still living off the streets and eating only bread and water when he entered the “Last Comic Standing” competition, he was able to beat out such favorites as Ralphie May, Rich Vos, Cory Kahaney, and Tess Drake. Phan currently resides in West Hollywood.
Dat Phan Official Website:
Indian Classical Music Artists to perform in Southern California
The Music Circle, an organization dedicated to bringing Indian classical music and dance to Southern California, will be presenting a concert featuring Mala Ganguly, Ramesh Kumar, and Iqbal Hussain on February 7, 2004 in the Herrick Chapel at Occidental College. Ganguly performs regularly across the continent, and has been noted for her expertise in a range of instruments, including bhajans, geets, ghazals, thumris, and guwalis. Kumar is a famous tabla player who followed in the footsteps of her father and teacher, Pandit Bansi Lal. Hussain worked at the Music College of Dacca University for 25 years as a lecturer, composer, and violinist until he decided to tour as a performer.
Tickets will be sold at the door starting at 7:30pm. Cost is $5 for Music Circle members and students with ID, $25 for non-members. Find more information at www.musiccircle.org.
Contribution by Minnie Chi
Miramax and Sony sees potential in Korea’s new war epic, Taegukgi
Executives from Miramax and Sony have recently visited Seoul to check out the world premiere of local blockbuster, Taegukgi, a step towards steering the Korean War epic to American shores. Taegukgi (which means the Korean flag) is set during the 1950-53 Korean War and portrays the crisscrossing fates of two brothers forced to fight in the war. The film is the most expensive ever made in South Korea, with a budget of 15 billion won ($12.8 million). The director is Kang Je-gyu, whose film Shiri started the era of big-budget, high grossing movies in 1999. Taegukgi stars two of the country’s biggest heartthrobs as the brothers, Jang Dong-gun (Friend) and Won Bin. Both are leading figures in the "Korean Wave" of South Korean pop culture. The film was released locally on Thursday, Jan. 29.
Steel Co. reps Korea’s Cinema Service
An international film consultancy headed by Gordon Steel, the Steel Co., based in Los Angeles, is arranged to represent the film interests of Korea's Cinema Service on a worldwide basis. The company is currently working to arrange international and domestic distribution for Cinema Service’s Silmido, the biggest box office hit in Korean history.
A producer, distributor and financier headed by president Michael Kim, Cinema Service handled the Korean release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as Terminator 3. Other Korean productions include My Sassy Girl, which is in development at DreamWorks for an English-language remake.
The Steel Co. has worked in Korea since 1990, started with Samsung then went on to represent CJ Entertainment (an original equity investor in DreamWorks) before moving to Cinema Service.
The Steel Co. is also working to arrange distribution for Pony Canyon's Bayside Shakedown 2, Japan's biggest grossing live-action film ever. Both Silmido and Bayside Shakedown 2 will screen at the upcoming American Film Market (www.afma.com/afm/).
East West Players celebrates its 38th Anniversary
East West Players is celebrating its 38th Anniversary Season with a gala event at the Hilton Universal City (Hollywood) on Monday, April 26, 2004 at the Hilton Universal City, 555 Universal City Drive, Universal City, CA 91608. The celebration will include an Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner and Silent Auction, an award-winning event that salutes artists who have raised the visibility of the Asian Pacific American community through theater, film and television. Proceeds from the evening will go to East West Players educational and artistic programs.
Past Visionary Award honorees have included actresses Nancy Kwan, Lea Salonga and Lucy Liu, actor Jet Li, comedienne Margaret Cho, director John Woo and playwright David Henry Hwang. Corporations such as the Walt Disney Company and AT&T, and philanthropic organizations such as The James Irvine Foundation and The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation have also been recognized as major supporters of Asian Pacific American performing arts. Other awards presented that evening will include the Made in America award that recognizes a playwright who has made a significant contribution to Asian American theatre and the Rae Creevey Award, named in honor of an Emmy Award-winning founder of East West Players recognizing commitment and volunteer service to EWP.
This year’s event honorary co-chairs include Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry and Gareth C.C. Chang, Managing Partner, GC3 and Associates International. The leaders of the 38th Anniversary Visionary Awards Gala committee are East West Players Board of Directors Chair Lynn Fukuhara Arthurs, Co-President Wendy Fujihara Anderson and Legal Counsel Daniel M. Mayeda.
For more information on East West Players 38th Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner and Silent Auction please contact General Manager Trent Steelman at (213) 625-7000 x19 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
East West Players presents a free performance of “Asian Pacific Tales” on March 6
East West Players will present a free performance of its Theater for Youth program “Asian Pacific Tales” at the East West Players David Henry Hwang Theater on Saturday, March 6, 2004 at 2 pm thanks to support from Mervyn’s/Target Stores and the Friends of East West Players. The public performance is one of more than 30 shows being presented in venues throughout Los Angeles County including schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Alhambra School District and Torrance Unified School District.
“Asian Pacific Tales” blends Eastern and Western theatrical techniques with folk tales designed to encourage children to discover other people and understand the diversity of Asian Pacific Islander cultures. Dramatized folk tales are interspersed with song, dance, rhythm and percussion from various regions of the Pacific. The program reaches about 20,000 children and families each year via in-school arts education, school performances and local festivals.
This year’s 45-minute show is directed by Robert Shinso (director of Lodestone Theatre Ensemble’s “When Tigers Smoked Long Pipes”) and includes the Japanese Kyogen folk tale Cinch Bugs, an adaptation of the Chinese legend of The Monkey King, and The Rich Man and the Poor Man based on a Philipino folk tale.
The East West Players David Henry Hwang Theater is located at 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. To make a reservation for the free performance call the Box Office at (213) 625-7000 x20. For more information on East West Players Theatre for Youth: “Asian Pacific Tales,” contact Marilyn Tokuda at email@example.com or (213) 625-7000 x15.
Date Posted: 2/6/2004