5.31.2007

heads up: 4th annual 72 hour film shootout

Mark your calendars... The AAFilmLab presents the 4th Annual 72 Hour Film Shootout, going down June 22-25, 2007. This is another great way to support Asian American cinema. The Shootout is a nationwide competition where filmmaking teams have 72 hours to write, shoot, edit and produce short digital films up to five minutes on a common theme. It's an exciting, frenetic opportunity to tell a story while testing your capacity to create a film under the gun. The rules state that at least one key production member and a lead actor from each team must be of Asian descent. So start getting your teams together. For all the rules and registratiom information, go here. It's going be crazy and fun.

new rice daddies podcast

Check it out. The guys over at Rice Daddies, an Asian American parenting blog (and one of my favorite sites), have started a new podcast. Listen to the inaugural edition, featuring Poppa Large, Instant Yang, Henri and Daddy in a Strange Land, here. The first episode covers race, identity, parenting... and everybody's favorite Stanford student imposter, Azia Kim!

crime watch

The latest news in illegal activity...

This week in Phoenix, a man who tricked an 85-year-old doctor into letting him inside her home, then robbed, struck, and tied her to a chair, pleaded guilty to the crime: Man Pleads Guilty To Home Invasion. The victim in the case, Dr. Pearl Tang, is the widow of Ninth Circuit Judge Thomas Tang. She was also the first Asian American woman to practice medicine in Arizona. Robert Medeiros faces 14 years in prison when he is sentenced next month... and he deserves every minute of it.

Police have issues an arrest warrant for Youn Bum Lee, a Hyundai executive who left for (= ran away to) Korea after a motorcyclist hit his disabled SUV and was killed nearly a year and a half ago: O.C. freeway fatality an international case. Orange County prosecutors last month charged Lee in absentia with three felonies in the death of the motorcyclist: gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated; driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with injury; and hit-and-run with injury or death.

Last week in Los Angeles, two men were shot and killed last week at a popular Koreatown barbecue restaurant in what police describe as a murder suicide: Man kills Koreatown restaurateur in his eatery, then shoots himself. The victims were identified as Sae-Kyoon Na and Hyo-Jin Lim, the owner of Suhrabal Restaurant. I have eaten at this restaurant before and enjoyed the food there. According to police, the killings were the result of a "domestic triangle" involving the gunman, his victim and the gunman's wife: Domestic triangle suspected in Koreatown killings. I hope this does not affect the quality of this establishment's food.

And in Denver... 43-year-old Chih Hsien Wu was arrested in connection with the theft of more than 1,300 women's undergarments over an eight-month period: Man Accused Of Stealing 1,300 Women's Undergarments. Police say Wu stole women's underwear from apartment complex common laundry rooms. They must have found a gigantic pile of underwear at this guy's house. Moral of the story: do not leave your laundry unattended—underwear thieves are lurking.

carol lam was on the justice department's hit list

At least two years before she was fired, U.S. Attorney Carol Lam of San Diego was the subject of "frequent conversation" inside the Justice Department, where her lack of gun and immigration prosecutions and tendency to try her own cases were considered "unusual," according to Monica Goodling, the Justice Department's former White House liaison: Lam targeted well ahead of ouster, Goodling says. I haven't been following this case very closely, but Goodling testified before the House Judiciary Committee last week about her role in the firings of Lam and several other U.S. attorneys, which some lawmakers believe were politically motivated. Looks like they had their sights set on Lam for a long time.

depression, suicide and asian americans

Here's an interesting article on dealing with suicides and mental health issues on University of California campuses: Suicides a symptom of larger UC crisis. The story opens with the case of Jennifer Tse, a 20-year-old sophomore who committed suicide at UC Davis in January. She was one of at least nine students who committed suicide at UC Davis during the last three academic years. And of course, the article mentions Seung-Hui Cho and the massacre/suicide at Virginia Tech. Basically, campus mental health services are underfunded and ill-equipped to handle the problems and disorders that walk through their door.

On a similar note, NPR's Tell Me More recently discussed the disturbingly high rate of suicide among Asian American women, featuring views from Aruna Jha of the Asian American Suicide Prevention Initiative and researcher Eliza Noh: Confronting Suicide: Asian-American Women

5.30.2007

the return of asianave

Remember AsianAvenue? Back before Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, and all the other social networking sites, there was AsianAvenue, where Asians came to make friends and test the waters of online community, with lots of young people who wRoTE liKe tHiS. It was simple, rudimentary, and sometimes annoying as hell, but at the height of its popularity, it was the place to be. Well, AsianAvenue was recently reborn and relaunched as the new-and-improved AsianAve.com, aiming to reconnect everybody all over again. I've partnered up with AsianAve for a little promotion—the "What Makes You Angry?" contest, currently over at my AsianAve page. You can win prizes and stuff. I think you can only enter if you're a member... so sign up, meet some people, be my friend. My user name is "angryasianman." (At the moment, I've only got like 9 friends.)

allen lee is free

Last week, prosecutors in Illinois dropped charges against Allen Lee, the Cary-Grove High School senior who was arrested for writing a violent essay for a class assignment last month: High school essay writer in the clear. He had been charged with two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct after his teacher, alarmed by his essay's disturbing content, reported him to administrators, who contacted the police. It's worth mentioning that this was about a week after the Virginia Tech shooting... and Allen happens to be Asian. You think that set off a few red flags? Granted, during this creative writing assignment, Lee chose to write about blood, sex, booze, shooting—all sorts of pleasant stuff. But he made no specific threats against anything or anyone, and other students apparently wrote things just as disturbing. But Allen is the Asian kid. Profiled! Anyway, the charges have been dropped, and Allen graduated last weekend.

On a related note, this article poses an interesting question, presenting a round up of these issues in the last month since the shooting: Are Asian Males Unwilling Targets of Virginia Tech Fallout?

triple amputee graduates from med school

As a child, Kellie Lim was afflicted by devastating bacterial infection that destroys limbs, leaving her a triple amputee at age 8, and facing a lifetime prosthetics, wheelchairs, rehabilitation, and generally difficult living. This week, she will graduate from UCLA's medical school: Dream defies loss of limbs. I'm normally not a big fan of "look-what-the-disabled-person-can-do" stories... but damn, give this woman some props. Her chosen specialty is pediatrics.

justin lin is hitting the road


The Orange County register has a pretty good profile on director Justin Lin and the stuff he's been up to lately—namely, getting the word out about his latest film, the Bruce Lee-centric mockumentary Finishing the Game: Back to his roots. The movie is a true labor of love—he's returning to his indie beginnings, hitting the road to spread the news and catch a little word-of-mouth support for the film. Not quite his humble BLT beginnings, but it's still generally pretty hard for an indie film to get a fair shake, without the massive marketing budget of a studio film. So it's really all about getting the community behind it. That means you! Be on the lookout, because Finishing the Game is coming. Check out the Finishing the Game MySpace page (including video clips) here.

yul kwon at asia society in new york

If you're in New York, here's a cool event tomorrow night that you might be interested in: Shattering the Stereotypes: The Asian American Male Identity. What better guy to address this topic than everyone's favorite reality TV star Yul Kwon, winner of Survivor: Cook Islands. He'll be joined by pop culture columnist Jeff Yang, talking about how stereotypes serve as barriers to the professional and personal lives of Asian Americans. You know the drill. Tomorrow night, May 31 at the Asia Society and Museum in New York. For more information and ticket info, go here.

hate crime in new zealand

Earlier this month in New Zealand, two self-professed "white supremacists" were jailed for a racially-motivated attack on a group of Asian teenagers: 'White supremacists' jailed for Nelson attack. 28-year-old Harry Shannon Dennis McCormack was sentenced to twelve months in prison, while 20-year-old Daniel Bryan Kitto got eight months. This was a hate crime, straight up. The two men had racially taunted and abused the three Asian high school students, before brutally attacking them outside a store, punching and kicking them in the face. During sentencing, McCormack apparently read a written apology to the three victims. Touching, but I'm not impressed. That's racist!

asian american christians on college campuses

Here's an interesting San Francisco Chronicle article from last week about growing evangelical Christian groups at UC Berkeley (this is not really breaking news)... which are heavily dominated by Asian American students (not really breaking news either): Evangelicals build flock on campus. I'm pretty sure that this is a trend that is mirrored in Christian groups on many college campuses all over the country, though it's particularly significant at Cal, which now has the highest Asian American attendance in the nation at 43 percent. There's a recent similar article here: Asian Americans Fast Becoming Dominant Face of Elite Campus Evangelicals

5.28.2007

the return of rambo


This Asian dude's about to get killed...by John Rambo!

Footage from Sylvester Stallone's upcoming return to the Rambo franchise surfaced on the internet recently, and it's waaaay freaking ridiculous: Gruesome 'Rambo' Trailer Slays on Internet. If you recall, early reports said the story would find Rambo back in Asia, this time protecting the region's Karen people against the sadistic Burmese military. Judging from the new trailer, it looks like pretty much everything we were dreading. Take a look here: First official JOHN RAMBO (Rambo 4) teaser trailer. Basically, it's just Stallone (in bad hair extensions) killing a lot of Asians dudes, every which way. I'm no fan of the real Burmese junta or the bloody, insane stuff they've done... but this is just exploitation. In this three-and-a-half minute clip, we see Rambo chopping a guy's head off, machine gunning a dude at point-blank, ripping out a guy's throat (he was about to rape a white woman), stabbing, shooting, arrowing, burning, exploding and killing kiling killing—lots and lots of faceless, disposable Asian men. It's like Rambo II all over again. Welcome back, John Rambo.

the other stanford imposter

So by now you've all heard about Azia Kim, the girl who posed as a Stanford freshman for nearly a year—living in the dorms, attending classes, and doing all the normal things a Stanford student does—while never actually being a student, fooling everyone along the way. To con everyone for nearly an entire school year, you have to admit she must have been pretty clever and resourceful... but ultimately, the whole thing is just really sad.

Anyway, just on the heels of this discovery, a second imposter at Stanford was uncovered last week. Elizabeth Okazaki has apparently been hanging around the physics department for years, attending seminars, using offices and locker space: Imposter II? Four years in Varian. Yes, she's Asian American. According to students, she claims to be a visiting scholar in the humanities, "looking to provide an interdisciplinary perspective on string theory," yet she is not a student, has no official connection with anyone in the physics department, and appears to have very little knowledge of physics itself. She's just... there. She has basically assumed a permanent presence in the physics lab building, and while they've been aware of her some time, the administration seems to have turned a blind eye to her. It's pretty weird. More here: Second impostor found at Stanford. You know, for all the hard work and creativity that goes into maintaining a fake Stanford student life, you might simply be better off channeling that energy into being an real college student elsewhere.

What's going on here? Do we have a new Asian stereotype in the works? Given recent events, it's not very good publicity for Asian American college students. I'm sure we've already got people suspiciously looking at Asian men like possible loner psycho mass killers. Now we've got Asian female students who just might not be students at all. Great. Be ready to whip out your student ID.

5.27.2007

memories of tomorrow fundraiser screening in little tokyo


This week in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo, there's a special screening of Yukihiko Tsutsumi's critically-acclaimed Memories of Tomorrow, a special fundraising event for the Ahzheimer's Association of Southern California and the Little Tokyo Service Center, hosted by Academy Award-nominated star Ken Watanabe. Wednesday, May 30th at the Aratani/Japan America Theatre. The ticket price is pretty steep, but it's for a good cause. For more information about the screening and VIP reception, go here.

5.25.2007

sao feng, the jolly yellow peril pirate


Well, the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie opens in theaters today (technically, last night) and it's sure to make a boatload of money (har har). Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End apparently takes the story into Asia, where Captain Jack Sparrow and his mates encounter Singapore pirate Captai Sao Feng, played by Chow Yun-Fat. Now, when I first heard they were taking the franchise into the "Orient," I was dreading the usual stereotypical imagery that would probably follow, but at the same time kind of excited that we might get to see Chow Yun-Fat sink his teeth into a really fun role. Based on what I've been reading here and there, it's pretty much everything I was dreading... From the Boston Globe:
Chow Yun-Fat shows up as the sneering Singapore pirate lord Sao Feng, but Verbinski is never sure what to do with the character and the movie drifts close to yellow-peril cliche when he lusts after Elizabeth.
Scary, marauding Asian pirate lusting after pretty white girl. Did it really have to go there? And according to this snippet from Ain't-It-Cool News:
3. Chow Yun-Fat makes a great sleazy pirate. I wish he was in the movie more. And maybe a little less rape-y there at the end.
I'm actually okay with sleazy, but "rape-y"? Great. Not what I wanted to hear. And I definitely don't want to see Chow Yun-Fat getting all Bride-of-Fu-Manchu with Keira Knightley. Yellow peril, indeed. Here's another good one from the Village Voice:
Ah, but I have forgotten Captain Sao Feng! Luxuriating in the hysterical chinoiserie of his exotic Singapore lair, this outrageous Oriental (played by Chow Yun-Fat) has been wedged into the Pirates panoply in order to exude colorful slant-eyed menace, enable the destiny of a white woman, then die. Impaled by one of the many large wood splinters incessantly flung about the narrative, Sao Feng bestows a totem of Super Piratehood to Miss Swann. Off she goes to join a reunion of the Super Pirates and fend off the snooty imperialists of the Dutch East India Company.
This SPOILER HEAVY other review from Ain't-It-Cool pretty much gives away the whole movie, including what happens to Sao Feng (DO NOT READ IT IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS). Looks like I won't be rushing out to the movie theater this weekend.

Speaking of Chow Yun Fat, here he is telling the world what we already knew—Hollywood doesn't have good leading roles for Asian men: Chow Yun-Fat wants to take the lead in U.S. films. And speaking of leading roles for Asian men—Asian American men, that is—here's a Washington Post article on Jeff Adachi's documentary The Slanted Screen, airing on PBS this month: 'Slanted Screen' Rues The Absence Of Asians

the fake stanford student

Just heard this crazy story about girl who attended Stanford University, living in the dorms and attending classes for nearly a year... only she was never actually a Stanford student: IMPOSTER CAUGHT. Azia Kim, an 18-year-old from Orange County, was never actually accepted or enrolled at Stanford, yet did everything your average freshman might do—moved into the dorms during New Student Orientation, bought textbooks, "studied" for exams—pretty much fooling everyone. I don't know how you live in a dorm and foold everyone for that long without a key or university ID, but this crafty girl somehow managed, going as far as sneaking into her room through the window. The ruse went on for eight months, until Monday night, when University staff finally caught on to what was happening. More here: Impostor discovered at Stanford.

You have to wonder what drove her to such lengths. The Stanford article speculates that she felt pressure from overbearing parents to attend Stanford—regardless of whether she was admitted. Lying and deception aside, I gotta say I'm actually kind of impressed. This girl really wanted to go to Stanford. Hell of a con. Makes you think twice about campus safety, doesn't it?

5.24.2007

brian dennehy as kublai khan


I think I mentioned this a while back, when it was first announced... Former Lost star Ian Somerhalder stars in the upcoming Hallmark Channel movie Marco Polo, about the 13th century Venetian who traveled the Silk Road through Asia: 'Lost' star travels east in 'Marco Polo'. A world premiere Hallmark Original Movie Event! Yay, big deal. They'll probably show him "discovering" pasta, learning how awesome the Orient is, and falling in love with an Asian girl or two along the way. Yawn.

Oh yeah, B.D. Wong plays Polo's "faithful servant-cum-companion" Pedro(?), who accompanies him throughout his travels. Glad they managed to stick an Asian in this story somewhere, albeit as March Polo's sidekick... But wait! Here's the big kicker. Kublai Khan, Mongol conqueror of the East, is played by none other than Brian Dennehy. Yeah, the bad guy sheriff in the first Rambo. NICE. I was just thinking that it had been a while since I saw a really good example of a white dude playing an Asian guy. Hollywood, you never let us down. Bring on the yellowface!

introducing dawen wang

Someone recently informed me about a cool dude named Dawen Wang, a Chicago-based singer, songwriter, and producer of highly original "socio-conscious neo-soul funk music." Intrigued, I headed on over to his MySpace page, listened to some tracks, and indeed found that his music is pretty damn cool. Good stuff, nice tunes, with lyrics that actually have something to say. I'm diggin' the smooth grooves. If you like it too, maybe you can help him out... Turns out Dawen is currently a finalist in an online radio music contest—Avante-Garde 2007, sponsored by Starbucks and WXRT Radio in Chicago. The finalists, hand-picked by Chicago's top music critics, are vying for the chance for their music to air on 93XRT. So check out the contest here, take a listen, and if you like what you hear, vote for Dawen.

special treatment for sf asian cops?

Saw this over in SFist... There was a big scandal a couple of years back, when members of the San Francisco Police Department participated in producing a series of racist, sexist skits for the Bayview Station's 2005 Christmas party. The videos were made public, and a whole bunch of officers were punished were punished for their role. In the latest twist, a $20 million lawsuit accuses Police Chief Heather Fong of giving special treatment to Asian officers who played prominent roles in the video: SFPD Video Scandal: No Punishment For Asian Cops. Twenty-four officers were suspended, but none of the Asian American cops were? Hmmmm... A group of officers are now suing the city and Chief Fong for racial discrimination. It does pretty fishy, doesn't it? As much as I'd like to stick up for the Asian folks, if the rest of the cops who took part in this idiotic video got in trouble, they ought to man up face the consequences just like everyone else. (Thanks, Steve)

who will be mr. hyphen?

Another reminder... Next month, Hyphen presents the crowning of Mr. Hyphen 2007, a pagaent of worthy and excellent Asian American men. Six men will battle it out for the title with their style, attitude, talent and dedication to the community. The winner takes home a prize donation to the nonprofit he represents. This year's contestants are:

Tingwei Lin, East Bay Asian Local Dev, Corp.
Luke Patterson, Great Leap
Anthem Salgado, Babae
Jeffrey Sichaleune, Midwest Asian American Student Union
Jason Woo, California Dragonboat Association
Billy Yeh, My Sister's House

That's an awesome list of dudes. The festivities will emceed by comedienne Ali Wong, with judging duties by Robert Bernardo of the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance, Chi-hui Yang of the Center for Asian American Media, and Krizia Mae Sapida, Miss San Francisco 2007. It all goes down Saturday, June 9th at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. Make your plans, get your tickets, and find more information here.

UPDATE: Oh yes, the Hyphen blog has been running profiles of these upstanding gentlemen all week ("Six Days of Mr. Hyphen").

5.23.2007

learn from lo pan

We consider actor James Hong a genuine Hollywood veteran badass around here. With a career spanning over fifty years in the business, you can honestly say the guy has been in the trenches and back—for better or for worse. You could learn a thing or two from this guy. So... I'm told that he's offering a free acting seminar in Los Angeles this weekend. For the last two years, Mr. Hong and his daughter April have been teaching acting classes in Hollywood. This time, they're reaching out to the Chinatown community and surrounding areas with this free seminar on acting, to anyone and everyone who is willing. He'll be talking about how to present yourself in front of an audience, and how to get into show business. With special guest, casting director Joyce Tse. Saturday, May 26th at Castelar Elementary School Auditorium. All ages welcome. For more information, and to RSVP, go here.

kenneth eng arrested for harrassment

Holy crap. I knew it was only a matter of time before Kenneth Eng got arrested (or got his ass beat) for one reason or another... I just didn't know it would be for threatening to kill a mother, daughter, and their dog: 'Hate' columnist Eng arrested in N.Y. for alleged harassment. The details:
'Hate' columnist Eng arrested in N.Y. for alleged harassment

(05-23) 12:44 PDT NEW YORK CITY -- Kenneth Eng, the author of a controversial AsianWeek column that described reasons to "hate" black people, is being held in a New York jail without bail on assault and harassment charges.

Eng, 23, was arrested on suspicion of threatening to kill his Queens neighbors and one of their pets. He was arraigned May 11 on charges of attempted assault, menacing, possession of a weapon and harassment.

Eng allegedly approached the mother and daughter as they stood in their driveway with their pet and said, "If your dog bites me, I will kill you and your family." He then called the mother fat and lazy and swung a hammer at her and the dog, according to the Queens district attorney's office.

Eng used to be a regular contributor to San Francisco-based AsianWeek, writing from New York. He was fired in February after public outcry over his racist and discriminating columns. In his writings, Eng called himself an "Asian supremacist" and listed reasons to hate black people as well as Asians and whites.

Eng's attorney has asked that he undergo a mental examination. He is scheduled to return to court in Queens on June 13.
A hammer, dude? Seriously? You've got to be kidding me. Is anyone one there surprised about this? Get this guy off the streets. Have fun in prison, you crazy idiot dragon freak.

UPDATE: Gawker has posted Kenneth's totally awesome resume and book proposal. Impressive. Now he can add "Threatened a dog with a hammer" under Notable Attributes.

no sleep 'til shanghai and other stuff on dvd


Calling all Jin fans... Todd Angkasuwan's No Sleep 'Til Shanghai is out on DVD this week. It's a documentary that follows Jin's eight-city tour of Asia in the fall of 2004. It's an interesting look at hip hop and its fans from a global perspective, seen through the eyes of Jin visiting the so-called "motherland." You can get it at the usual online retailers like Amazon.com. For more information about the film go here. Check out Todd Angkasuwan's MySpace page here (there's apparently a DVD release party on Wednesday in Phoneix, AZ). And view the teaser trailer here.

Some other notable titles out on DVD this week... Letters From Iwo Jima, Clint Eastwood's World War II epic told from the Japanese perspective of the Iwo Jima conflict; Afro Samurai, the totally insane Spike TV animated series based on Takashi Okazaki's manga, directed by Fuminori Kizaki, featuring the voice of Samuel L. Jackson and music by The RZA; Kitchen Confidential, the short-lived Fox comedy that featured John Cho in the regular cast (but obviously not important enough to include on the cover art); You Only Live Twice, the James Bond flick where 007 is surgically altered (yellowface!) to go undercover as a Japanese guy; Epic Movie, starring Kal Penn in a godawful-looking spoof of big-budget blockbusters; and I've already mentioned several times how much I love Desmond Nakano's internment camp baseball drama American Pastime.

And finally, I just found that The Grace Lee Project DVD is now available for home video purchase through Women Make Movies. It's a clever, charming documentary about the filmmaker's personal search for Grace Lee—one of the most common names in Asian America—and the women who break the typical mold. I love this film, and I plan on buying a copy. Highly recommended viewing. And if you're name is also Grace Lee, well, it's like required viewing.

nine students--all asians--expelled in duke cheating scandal

I got like fifty people emailing me this story last night... Apparently all of the students expelled in a recent cheating scandal at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business were from Asian countries, while other students were punished less severely, according to their attorney: Duke cheating case hit Asian students. Now, I don't have much sympathy for cheaters, but something does sound fishy here.

Last month, 34 business school graduate students were convicted of cheating on an exam and other assignments. Nine were expelled, and 15 were suspended for a year and given a failing grade in the class, while the others received failing grades. The nine expelled students were all from Asian countries. Many of them confessed instead of fighting the charges because of different cultural norms in their countries, where often "a confession or an admission of guilt can be a way to apologize." They now face losing their student visas and leaving the country if their appeals fail. More here: Cheating case hit Asians hardest

weak-ass sentence for hate crime assault


You probably recall the Queens hate crime last summer where Kevin Brown and Paul Heavey assaulted a group of Asian men, screaming racial slurs at them and telling them to "get out our neighborhood." This week, Heavey was sentenced to five years probation and community service: NO PRISON FOR QUEENS BIAS BEATER. What kind of weak-ass punishment is that? This was a hate crime. Brown and Heavey specifically targeted these men because they were Asian, going out of their way to chase them down. Calling someone a "stupid gook," rear-ending their car, and beating the crap out of them makes that pretty clear. But I guess that doesn't warrant jail time: Student Sentenced in Hate-Crime Attack. That's a load of crap.

Brown, the son of a retired detective, pleaded guilty to the bias crime and another assault back in March, and was sentenced to 3 1/2 years. He admitted beating Reynold Liang in the head and chest with a metal steering wheel lock. But I guess Heavey, who merely used his racial hatred to punch and kick his victims, will just have to think long and hard about his crime during those 75 hours of community service. And of course, adding insult is his lame-ass apology—required by his sentence—to his victims and the "entire Asian American community." The fact that the guy gave a mandatory apology doesn't change a damn thing. (Fallout Central has a interesting take on the "apology" and the coverage of the sentencing.) It's pretty apparent what was in Heavey's heart on the night of August 12th. That's racist!

apolo anton ohno wins dancing with the stars

Last night, speed skating Olympic medalist Apolo Anton Ohno was crowned the winner of ABC's Dancing with the Stars: Oh, yes! Ohno takes 'Dancing' title. He and his partner Julianne Hough beat out former 'N Sync star Joey Fat One. Personally, I was rooting for a threepeat from superfox Cheryl Burke and her partner Steve Sanders, but they were eliminated a few weeks back. Yes, I admit it. I watched some of the show.

teddy zee is calling for your help

As I've mentioned many times now, the 2007 AZN Asian Excellence Awards air next week, May 28th on AZN Television. The show will be preceded by a one-hour special airing tomorrow night, May 24th, on E! The special is kind of a big deal because it gives national exposure to the Awards, which, frankly, nobody really knows about. Teddy Zee, producer extraordinaire, wants you to watch the show, tell your friends to watch the show, and tell E!, Comcast and your local cable operator that you're going to watch the show:
I am calling on you to help get the word out. E! will air a one hour special on the AXAs on May 24. E! has national reach and is measured by Neilsen ratings. If E!'s ratings see a bump, it will provide a strong argument to Comcast to continue to not only support The Asian Excellence Awards, but also to more aggressively support AZN is providing a voice for Asian Americans.

I truly believe that we are at that make or break moment in time. Please help make a difference. Each of you has a strong credible voice with great reach. Please use that voice to get out the "vote."

People can watch the show, email E!, email Comcast or call their local cable operators and say how important it is to carry programs like the Asian Excellence Awards.

Now is the time before it is too late. The sky is falling...

Thanks for your continued support.

Teddy
Now I'll admit, the Awards weren't perfect. But Teddy makes a good case for its potential impact, in terms of the future of Asian American television programming. Here's an article he recently wrote for TV Week regarding the growing diversity on television: Diverse Voices: Diversity on TV: That's What Audiences Want

the new chinese dude in the nba

Here's an article on the NBA's newest import from China, possible top pick 7-foot Yi Jianlian: Two days with Yi Jianlian, the lottery's mystery man. Unfortunately, it's only a snippet of the article, with the rest only available to subscribers. If anyone out there has the full article, forward it along to me and I'll see what I can do. [UPDATE: Never mind. A quick Google search reveals the full text of the article re-posted here.] Because I know people are dying to know more about this guy. For now, there are some questions about his age: How Old is Yi Jianlian? And here's a photo him on the red carpet at the recent Pirates of the Caribbean premiere. The guy looks like a star already.

controversy over chinese sculptor and mlk memorial

Back in February, it was announced that master sculptor Lei Yixin of China had been chosen to carve the image of Martin Luther King Jr. for a memorial to be built on the National Mall in Washington DC—a tremendous honor and responsibility. However, there has apparently been some controversy and dissatisfaction over the fact that artist was chosen from outside the African American community: King sculptor meets stony resistance.

One detractor set up a website to protest the selection of a "Chinese guy" to sculpt King's image. And of course Jesse Jackson has gotten involved: Jackson Pushes for Black Inclusion in MLK Memorial, Project President Makes Big Promise As Another Million Rolls In

5.21.2007

movie trailer screen cap madness

Well, with Spider-Man 3 and Shrek 3 making a bajillion dollars at the box office, I guess the summer movie season is upon us. Here's a look at some Asian folks who have popped up in recent movie trailers...


That's Chow Yun Fat looking extra mean and badass as Captain Sao Feng in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Probably the next movie in line to make a bajillion dollars.


Here we have Ken Jeong getting an eyeful as the doctor delivering Katherine Heigl's baby in the comedy Knocked Up.


Maggie Q, looking pretty and villanous in in the trailer for Live Free or Die Hard.


This one's a doozy. That's Rob Schneider playing some kind of weird Asian rabbi in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Now, as much as we don't want to admit it, Schneider is actually Asian American. His mother is Filipino, and he was a presenter last week at the Asian Excellence Awards. But here, he is clearly made to look more Asian. So, does it count as yellowface if Rob Schneider is doing the yellowfacing?


That's super-gigantic Chinese basketball player Sun Ming Ming kicking Chris Tucker's ass in the trailer for Rush Hour 3. This movie looks baaad. There's a short video clip of the scene here.


Veteran actor James Hong in the ping pong comedy Balls of Fury. This one looks like a disaster, a crazy diarrhea explosion of cinmeatic Asian kitsch. It also features a bunch of Asian folks like Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Jason Scott Lee, and Masi Oka. Maggie Q's in this one too. I am not looking forward to this movie.


Caught a brief glimpse of T.V. Carpio in the trailer for Across the Universe, a musical featuring songs by the Beatles.


Here we've got Francois Chau (Dr. Martin Candle on Lost) holding Christian Bale captive in a Vietnamese POW camp in the drama Rescue Dawn, directed by Werner Herzog.


Finally, we've got Apu in the The Simpsons Movie. (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)

last chance to see journey from the fall in southern california

News flash from the Journey team... Attention Orange County! This Thursday, May 24th is your last opportunity to see Ham Tran's Vietnamese American epic Journey From The Fall in Southern California theaters. After that, it's
gone. So until then, you can see it right now at two locations:

Edwards Westminster 10
6721 Westminster Blvd.

Regal Garden Grove, CA
9741 Chapman Avenue

The OC has been kind to Journey From The Fall, doing impressive box office numbers despite an extremely limited release. Not bad for an ambitious little indie film. But I'm sure some of you out there still haven't check it out. Maybe you've been kind of busy with school, work, whatever. Maybe you passed up Journey to instead see Ninja Turtles or Wild Hogs or something. No matter. You've got only a few days now to see it on the big screen. For the rest of you out there, the film is playing city-by-city. It's a great movie that deserves some attention, so check it out. To learn more about the movie, go here and here.

battlestar grace


Here's an article on actress Grace Park, star of Battlestar Galactica, co-host (and nominee) of the 2007 AZN Asian Excellence Awards, and soon to be seen in Michael Kang's West 32nd: Battlestar's Grace Park: From Warrior to Cylon to Asian Excellence Award Nominee. (Not to be confused with golfer Grace Park.) To be honest, the article isn't very insightful, but it's mainly my excuse to post a BSG photo of gorgeous Grace.

cnn readers on being asian american

For APA Heritage Month, CNN put a call out asking readers for their perspectives on the Asian American experience, reflecting the diverse perspectives respresented in our community. Here's a selection of the emails they received: Your e-mails: Defining the Asian-American experience. Some pretty interesting responses in there, with many expressing frustration over the lack acceptance and perpetual "foreigner" status of Asian Americans, while others are a little more optimistic.

mike honda takes on japan

Last week, the New York Times profiled Congressman Mike Honda and his efforts to push HR 121, a bipartisan resolution calling on th Japanese government to formally acknowledge and apologize for its role in the coercion of women into sex slavery during World War II: A Congressman Faces Foes in Japan as He Seeks an Apology. He comments on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent visit to the White House, and his carefully calculated "apology" for Japans history with comfort women, which President Bush inexplicably "accepted." The apology, says Honda, was not Mr. Bush's to accept. No kidding.

the fbi is looking for chinese spies

A bit of a follow-up to the news that Chi Mak, an electronics engineer, was guilty earlier this month of conspiring to export U.S. defense technology secrets to China... Dr. George Koo, a Chinese American professional in Silicon Valley, offers a commentary on the details of the case: Warning to Chinese Americans: FBI Still Obsessed With Chinese-American 'Spies'. It appears that any Chinese American could fall under the suspicion of the FBI as a potential spy...

hop sing was a sucka

Asians on TV! Lots of them! Here's another one of these articles on the growing, significant number of Asians on prime time television in high profile roles, citing the usual recent examples like Sandra Oh on Grey's Anatomy and Masi Oka on Heroes: Asia Major. There's a quote in there from everybody's favorite Asian American media activist Guy Aoki, who's been around long enough to see big changes. While there's still a long way to go, you've got to admit we've seen a great deal of the progress of the last couple of years. Like Margaret Cho recently joked, "It used to be that you might find one Asian guy on a show, if we were lucky. Now sometimes there's actually two!" (Okay, it was a lot funnier when she said it.)

stride gum is bad for asian dude's business

Check out this short spot for Stride Gum, featuring an old Asian store owner rockin' a combover and some seriously sweet gold chains: Stride Gum Arcade Commercial. Not sure what kind of ridiculous accent that is. I don't know if I'm an idiot, or my hearing is going, but it literally took me three viewings to realize he was saying, "See! Bad for business!" (Thanks, Karen)

UPDATE: Turns out the Asian dude in the commercial is part of a series.

5.20.2007

american pastime on dvd this tuesday

The Los Angeles Times has an article on Desmond Nakano's American Pastime, a movie about Japanese American baseball leagues in the internment camps during World War II: Barracks and baseball for Japanese Americans in 'Pastime'. The movie had a short theatrical run in Los Angeles last week, and will be released on DVD this Tuesday, May 22nd. I've already talked about it enough. Head on over to Blockbuster, put it in your Netflix queue, or buy it at Amazon.com, because it's a quality movie that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.

"aggressive" asian student faces deportation

According to this Bangkok newspaper, a Thai graduate student at Illinois State University who argued about the American constitutional right to own a gun may be deported from the United States later this month after being expelled from university: US move to deport 'aggressive' Thai. Rithichai Yibcharoenporn was expelled from ISU for misbehaviour and his "aggressive manner" towards the campus administration. Police say campus staff were concerned after he made an inquiry last month about his constitutional rights to buy a gun (just three days after the Virginia Tech shooting incident), because the comments were made during a required writing exam and because of his previous claims of having been treated unfairly at the university. Add that up with the fact with the fact that this guy here is Asian, and I'm thinking the administration saw a potential dangerous threat. (They're saying the timing is coincidental.) It's likely now that Rithichai is headed back to Thailand.

forever 21 is taking over your mall

Here's a New York Times story on the ubiquitous, rapidly growing Forever 21 clothing chain: Faster Fashion, Cheaper Chic. Don and Jin Chang, the founders and owners of the chain, opened their first store on Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles in the mid-1980s. The small shop, aimed primarily at schoolgirls, proved successful enough that the Changs were able to add new stores on an average of every six months. Now you can probably find a Forever 21 store at your local mall, wherever you are. Next step: world domination. The article neglects to mention that the chain has had a history of alleged sweatshop abuses, and has been the target of a boycott or two...

5.18.2007

ancient chinese ancestry secrets

I don't know why Salon.com's advice column keeps getting letters from people with Asian-themed questions, but here's another one from last week: My husband has Chinese ancestry but his son wants to keep it secret. To quote the good reader who sent this one in, "This is so messed up on so many levels." Indeed. But mainly, I'm disturbed with the letter-writer's fascination with this new factoid about her husband's genealogy—like it makes it a difference. Ooooooh. Who knows what "Chinese ancestry" really means—the woman could be making a big deal out of something that traces so far back, it's pretty much insignificant by most measures. And what's with the compelling need to tell her step-granddaughter? Get a clue, lady. Mind your own freaking business.

slant 7: bold asian american images

This is for Houston! Big shout out to Melissa Hung, editor-in-chief of Hyphen, and curator of Slant 7: Bold Asian American Images, happening this weekend at the Aurora Picture Show in Houston. It's a two-day showcase of the best in Asian American cinema, featuring an eclectic mix of films that explore a wide range of topics and genres. Saturday's program is themed around family and children, while Sunday's program mixes some of Slant's greatest hits—audience favorites from past festivals (in celebration of the upcoming Best of Slant DVD compilation)—along with some new ones. The basic info:
Slant: Bold Asian American Images
Program 1: Children, Young & Grown
Saturday, May 19, at 8pm
Aurora Picture Show, 800 Aurora Street, 713.868.2101, www.aurorapictureshow.org
General Admission: $6 and Free with All Access Pass

Slant: Bold Asian American Images
Program 2: Best of Slant & More!
Sunday, May 20, 3pm
Aurora Picture Show, 800 Aurora Street, 713.868.2101, www.aurorapictureshow.org
General Admission: $6 and Free with All Access Pass
Some of my favorite pieces playing this year are Tze Chun's Windowbreaker, Kimi Takesue's The Summer of the Serpent, Lead Role: Father by PJ Raval, Wes Kim's Profiles in Science, and Doan La's Dragon of Love. See them all this weekend, May 19-20 at the Aurora Picture Show. For more information, go here.

making friday night plans

Short notice, but here's some cool stuff happening tonight... my pal Kristina Wong's one-woman show Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next lands in Los Angeles this weekend for a homecoming show. Just two shows and 132 seats total. May 18-19 at the 2100 Square Feet Theater in Los Angeles, presented as part of TeAdaWorks 2007. It's zany, it's sharp, it's irreverent, and it's thought-provoking. Kristina is one-of-a-kind, and you're gonna love her. For more information, visit Kristina's website. The show goes to New York next month.

In New York, ALTRA Magazine presents Fay Ann Lee's Falling for Grace, a film screening charity event benefiting Asian Programs at the American Cancer Society. Tonight—Friday, May 18th at NYU Cantor Film Center. For more information about the event, go here. To learn more about Falling for Grace, go here. Oh, I should add that ALTRA just launched its spring issue (with James Kyson Lee of Heroes on the cover) and I'm told there's an interview with me in there somewhere...

But if Falling for Grace doesn't sound like your kind of thing, Asian Cinevision presents a special screening of Julia Kwan's Eve and the Fire Horse. Tonight, May 18th at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It's a beautiful, fantastic, haunting film that I highly recommend checking out. For more information about the screening, go here.

Also in New York, there's a way cool art show happening right now, Joy Ride, part of the Seventh Annual Bicycle Film Festival, and presented by our friends at Theme Magazine. An art show inspired by the bicycle, featuring works by a truckload of really cool artists. Running now through May 21st at 33 West 17th Street. For more information, go here. Or view the pretty flyer here.

5.17.2007

another crappy commercial

Check out this commercial for Glaceau Vitamin Water, featuring David Ortiz and Brian Urlacher playing badminton against two Asian players named Yang and Lau: vitaminwater badminton commercial. And guess what? The commercial makes the Asian guys—supposedly the best in the sport—look weak, inept, timid, cowering and "psychologically broken" by their two hulking non-Asian opponents. Ortiz hits the shuttlecock so hard it literally penetrates Lau's leg. Yeah, subtle. It's ridiculous and offensive, and it's no coincidence. The Asian male takes another hit, ridiculed on television for the sake of selling a few more bottles of crappy ass vitamin water.

Remember Glaceau's racist company phone greeting from a few months back? Follow the link and listen to it here. Again, jokes at the expense of Asians. What's with the mockery? That's strike two, Glaceau. That's racist!

UPDATE: Here's a story on Howard Bach and Bob Malaythong, two real U.S. badminton stars: Bach and Malaythong up against the odds. The two are training for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

UPDATE 2: Whoa. Donald informs me that Howard Bach and Bob Malaythong are the two Asians guys in the commercial! The #1 U.S. pairs team. So why the hell did they have to call them "Yang" and "Lau"? Is it because those names sound more traditionally "Asian" to the average American TV watcher?

2007 azn asian excellence award winners



I'm still gathering and jotting down my thoughts on the 2007 AZN Asian Excellence Awards, which happened last night in Los Angeles—a mix of fun, strange, cool and not-so-cool. For now, here's a list of the evening's winners:

Outstanding Film
Letters From Iwo Jima

Outstanding Actor - Film
Kal Penn / The Namesake

Outstanding Actress - Film
Rinko Kikuchi / Babel

Outstanding Actor - Television
Masi Oka / Heroes

Outstanding Actress - Television
Parminder Nagra / ER

Outstanding Supporting Actress - Film
Maggie Q / Mission: Impossible 3

Outstanding Supporting Actor - Film
Dustin Nguyen / Little Fish

Outstanding Supporting Actor - Television
Rex Lee / Entourage

Outstanding Supporting Actress - Television
Mindy Kaling - The Office

Outstanding Comedy Performance
Margaret Cho

Favorite Reality Star
Yul Kwon / Survivor: Cook Islands

Outstanding Independent Film
Journey from the Fall

Lifetime Achievement Award
Chow Yun-Fat, actor

Pioneer Award
Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa, restaurateur

Visionary Award
Vivienne Tam, fashion designer

There you have it, a list of this year's most excellent Asians. More to come, as soon as I get around to it... but first I have to watch last night's Lost. You can catch the broadcast of this year's Asian Excellence Awards, May 28th on AZN TV, preceded by a one-hour behind-the-scenes, red carpet special on E! airing May 24th.

why was I not informed about bruce lee?

"Do I not look like a person who would benefit from the knowledge that Bruce Lee actually asks people to kick him in the face?" This "opinion" piece in the latest edition of The Onion is friggin' hiLARious: Why Was I Not Informed About Bruce Lee?. Ah, kids these days. You have so much to learn.

the return of the yellow peril


Oh hell no. According to the Hollywood Reporter, there's apparently another film in the works based on everybody's favorite Asian criminal mastermind Fu Manchu, to be shot in Hong Kong and China: The Return Of Dr. "Fu Manchu". Whaaat? Does this movie really need to be made? According to Anant Singh, the plan is to "reinvent Fu Manchu as an anti-hero who fits in with a more socially conscious world and that addresses the very complex multipolar world we all live in today." What the hell does that mean? I'm highly doubtful of this idea. Wasn't the whole point of Sax Rohmer's original character to exploit racist, xenophobic fears and the "yellow peril" stereotype? If you turn that original concept on its head, is it still really Fu Manchu? I'm not trying to defend the integrity of this character—it's racist to the core, and I definitely don't want to see another Fu Manchu flick made. I'm just saying there's only so much re-invention you can do until it's no longer Fu Manchu. If you're gonna do the Fu, you should just go for it and make it as racist as frickin' possible. Why pretend?

My other question: who will play the titular role? In the past, Fu Manchu has notoriously been played by actors like Warner Oland, Boris Karloff, Peter Sellers and Christopher Lee—all white guys rocking the yellowface. So, will they get another white dude to play him? In a twisted way, it would seem appropriate. Brace yourselves.

evil couple kept housekeepers as slaves

This is pretty damn appalling... Federal prosecutors charged Varsha Mahender Sabhnani and Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, a wealthy Long Island couple this with keeping two Indonesian domestic workers as virtual prisoners in their home for more than five years under conditions they called "modern-day slavery," beating one severely and paying them very little: Couple Held Two Servants Captive for Years, U.S. Says. The two women, identified in court papers as "Samirah" and "Nona," were forced by the Sabhnanis to work long hours, given little food, forced to sleep on mats on the floor, kept hidden when company came, threatened with violence, and in Samirah's case, frequently beaten by Mrs. Sabhnani. Mrs. Sabhnani was also charged in the papers with having cut Samirah with a knife, burned her with cigarettes and subjected her to a series of tortures, in one instance forcing her to eat many hot chili peppers. It's absolutely insane and disgusting. The worst part is, this kind of thing probably happens a lot more than people truly know. More here: LI housekeepers held as slaves, tortured. That's just evil.

the increasingly important asian vote

Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton has apparently been hard at work trying to grab the "ethnic vote," appearing at an event yesterday to tout her support among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders: Clinton pushes hard to lock up Asian support. At a small Washington DC gathering, Clinton named Rep. Doris Matsui of Sacramento as her national Asian American voter outreach campaign chairwoman, and was backed by a roster of Asian and Pacific Islander business and community leaders. If you read the article, it's a pretty substantial list. I guess the battle for the increasingly important Asian vote is on...

sneaky chinese spies among us

Last week in Santa Ana, CA, jurors convicted engineer Chi Mak of conspiring to export U.S. defense technology secrets to China, including data on an electronic propulsion system that could make submarines virtually undetectable: Engineer guilty of trying to leak U.S. military secrets. Mak was also found guilty of being an unregistered foreign agent, attempting to violate export control laws and making false statements to the FBI. He now faces up to 35 years in prison when he is sentenced September 10.

The government accused Mak of taking thousands of pages of documents from his defense contractor employer and giving them to his brother, who passed them along to Chinese authorities over a number of years. While Mak acknowledged during the trial that he copied classified documents and kept copies in his office, he maintained he didn't realize at the time that making the copies was illegal. His defense team still believes he's innocent. Regardless of if he's guilty or innocent, a spy or just stupid, you know that this conviction is going to fuel the racist rhetoric of some kind of idiot out there. Sneaky Chinese spies among us, they'll say! Shut the hell up, I say.

aspiring actor killed in gang stabbing

21-year-old Jimmy Khounchanh, an aspiring actor, died last week after being stabbed outside a movie theater in Covina, CA: Aspiring actor fatally stabbed. According to the story, his girlfriend escaped the scene amidst a hail of bullets, avoiding injury while her car was hit by half a dozen rounds. The attack appears to have been the result of "angry looks" exchaned inside the theater. That's got to be the stupidest reason to stab someone. Ever. Police are now searching for "about 10 male Asians dressed in what was believed to be gang attire." Ironically Khounchanh's two recent roles as an actor were small parts in Gridiron Gang and Freedom Writers—movies with themes of overcoming gang violence.

5.16.2007

my blueberry nights trailer


A short trailer for Wong Kar Wai's first English-language feature My Blueberry Nights has popped up here. It features Norah Jones in her feature film debut, alongside all these hopelessly unattractive people—Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman. I'm not sure what to make of it, and the early reviews from Cannes seem to indicate it's good but nothing extraordinary... but hell, it's Wong Kar Wai. I'll watch it.

depression, suicide and asian american women

As we all know, there has been quite a bit of scrutiny on the topic of mental health issues in the Asian American community over the last several weeks. CNN has an article on the alarmingly high suicide rate among Asian American women: Push to achieve tied to suicide in Asian-American women. And tonight on CNN, Elizabeth Cohen examines depression in Asian American women and the cultural stigma against getting help on Paula Zahn Now, 8:00pm ET.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Asian American women ages 15-24 have the highest suicide rate of women in any race or ethnic group in that age group. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Asian American women in that age range. That is an astounding, sobering statistic. While there are no easy answers, the article suggests that it has a lot to do with the tremendous family pressure and cultural expectation to be the perfect daughter/student/citizen. I can believe it. And it's not just your family or Asian culture doing the pushing—it's the society at large, reinforcing the ridculous "model minority" standard, amidst all the other crap we have to deal with.

I also wonder what kind of research has been done regarding depression and suicide among Asian American men... I'm thinking the Virginia Tech shooting tragedy has shone a spotlight in that direction as well.

2007 azn excellence awards tonight


The 2007 AZN Asian Excellence Awards are happening tonight at UCLA's Royce Hall. Co-hosted by Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, they're boasting that this is going to be a star-studded, red-carpet event celebrating "significant Asian and Asian American achievements in entertainment, the arts and other disciplines that have had a profound impact on American culture." I've already mentioned the nominees, who include Margaret Cho, Roger Fan, Sharon Leal, Rex Lee, Parminder Nagra, Dustin Nguyen, Masi Oka, Kal Penn, Russell Peters, Dat Phan, Maggie Q, Will Yun Lee, among many others. My only question about the awards: who actually determines who wins?

According to the press release I received the other day, the show's presenters include Apl.de.Ap of Black Eyed Peas, Megan Abrigo, Moon Bloodgood, Sarah Bronson, Adam Carolla(!), John Cho, Elisha Cuthbert, Antoine Fuqua, Kenny G, Carrie Ann Inaba, Michelle Krusiec, Yul Kwon, Jason Scott Lee, Bai Ling (ugh), Sanjaya Malakar, Leyla Milani, Lou Diamond Phillips, Rob Schneider, Elisabeth Rohm, Geoffrey Rush, Lauren Shiohama, George Takei, Quentin Tarantino and Tamlyn Tomita. I'm sorry, but what the hell is Adam Carolla going to be doing there? Has he come to make amends for mocking last year's awards on his radio show? I hope the audience boos that assclown.

And man, I guess they weren't kidding about Kenny G.

The show will also feature appearances by Jin, Sunkrish Bala, Karin Anna Cheung, Justice Ming Chin, Justin Chon, Alexandra Chun, Toby Dawson, FREQUNCY 5, Janina Gavankar, Josie Ho + Conroy Chan, Ryan Hoyle, Johnny Hsu, Mimosa Iwamatsu, Grace Junot, Archie Kao, Ravi Kapoor, Christel Khalil, Hans Kim, Paul Kim, Chil Kong, Denyce Lawton, Brooke Lee, Michelle Lee, Reggie Lee, Dana Leong, Emily Liu, Daniel Lue, Camille Mana, Minae Noji, Joy Osmanski, Harold Perrineau, Lindsay Price, Milan Q, Lela Rechon, DJ Shy, James Sun, AJ Tabaldo, Brian Tee, Rich Ting, Suzanne Whang, Louise Wu, Kaila Yu, Eugenia Yuan, Yungmac, and more apparently to be announced. I'm not even sure who a bunch of these people are, and in what capacity they'll be appearing, but it looks like they're trying to load it up with as many "names" as they can.

The show airs May 28th on AZN TV. I'm planning on braving Westwood traffic and attending the show tonight. I'll be taking a few notes, so hopefully I'll have some coverage of the event here tomorrow.

more extras needed for ping pong playa

If you're in Southern California and free this Saturday, here's another opportunity to be an extra in Jessica Yu's sports comedy Ping Pong Playa. Got this email with a few details:
From: extraplayas@gmail.com
Subject: Extras Needed (again) for Filmmaker Jessica Yu

Hey everyone!

You are being contacted again since you expressed interest in participating as an extra in Jessica Yu's film last month.

If you are free next Saturday, May 19, 2007, here is your second chance!!!! Location: MONTEREY PARK (beginning at the intersection of Garvey/Alhambra Rd). Time: 10:00 a.m. Watch a real parade in Monterey Park! We need help for a few hours.

It should be a lot of fun! If you're interested, please reply to this e-mail, or email Joan Huang at casting@cherryskyfilms.com and cc: me. Hope you can get involved!

Get your friends, family members, and their friends involved too!!

Additional detailed information will follow next week. Thanks for your consideration.

Looking forward to your response, and I apologize for any duplicate notices.

Karen Gee
I mentioned this movie last month when they were looking for extras for a crowd scene. It stars Jimmy Tsai, Roger Fan and Smith Cho, among others. The movie's IMDb page has been updated here.

filipino veterans equity shirts by archipelago

Archipelago, the apparel company responsible for the awesome "ROCK THE ASIAN VOTE" t-shirt I wear every election day (now only available as a women's tee), has a cool new design to fundraise for Filipino Veterans Equity: "It's About Time." As you know, this year, with the Democratic takeover of Congress, there's renewed hope that aging Filipino veterans will finally receive the benefits that were promised to them for their service during World War II. Archipelago, a Filipino American-owned company, is hoping to help support the veterans' cause with this new shirt, pledging to donate proceeds to an organization working to push the bill through Congress. It's a cool shirt, and will no doubt help raise awareness about this important cause. You can buy it here. Wear it proudly, and spread the word.

crappy movie alert

I'm always intrigued when an email pops shows up in my in-box with the subject line "crappy movie alert." N., an actress, tells us about a new movie starring Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker and Chris Evans called Kings X:

So I just got called in to audition for this new indie movie with Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker and Chris Evans called Kings X (a.k.a. The Nightwatch).

I'm actually going to call the casting director tomorrow and cancel my audition after reviewing the sides. So I can't give you the entire plot of the film but after reading my sides and a couple of other sides, I know that a part of it does take place in Koreatown, with lo and behold korean sex slaves and korean guys as the baddies.

There's also a part of dialogue where Reeves' character greets the korean guys with 'konichiwa.' The Korean guys in turn tell him that phrase is Japanese and insulting to Koreans but Reeves says that he can't tell the difference. Then Reeves' character responds "It means you got eyes like apostrophes, dress white, talk black and drive Jew. So how'm I supposed to know what kind of zipperhead-dog-munching dinks you are if you don't."

Sounds Oscar-worthy doesn't it? Well, you can check out the rest of the sides on Showfax. It's pretty discouraging to be an asian actress these days...
Indeed, it sounds awesome. Keep an eye on this one, folks. I can't what kind of racist Hollywood nonsense ends up on the screen. That's racist! (Thanks N.)

yau-man don't need no stinkin' truck

Here's an article on Yau-Man Chan, this season's fan-favorite Survivor: Fiji contestant who came oh-so-close to winning that $1 million prize, but losing it in an ill-fated deal with an untrustworthy competitor: 'Survivor' loss no cause for bitterness. How close did he come to winning? During Sunday's cast reunion finale, host Jeff Probst asked the jurors if they would've voted for Yau in the final three, had Dreamz not reneged on his deal. Based on a show of hands, Yau would've taken home the million. Yau-Man admits, "I made a very expensive mistake." But he bears no hard feelings. And he remains one of the most respected players in the game. Very cool guy.

How cool is Yau-Man Chan? Check out this website: truckforyau.com

uci dispands lambda phi epsilon

Last week at UC Irvine, the university officially disbanded its chapter of the Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity nearly two years after the death of a pledge, Kenny Luong, who was hurt in a hazing ritual football game: UCI dissolves fraternity involved in hazing case. Luong's parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against UCI and the national and local chapters of Lambda Phi Epsilon, an Asian American fraternity.

we do, too: apis and the marriage equality debate

Being Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, there's a ton of stuff going on... Hard to keep track! This week, the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles presents a panel of experts to discuss the historical, political, religious and legal implications of the debate on equal marriage rights for lesbians and gay men, featuring award-winning author/activist Helen Zia; Reverend Mark M. Nakagawa, senior minister of Centenary United Methodist Church in Little Tokyo; actor James Sie; attorney Karin Wang of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center; with welcoming remarks from Sulu himself, George Takei, Chair Emeritus of the JANM Board of Trustees. Thursday, May 17, 2007 7:00pm at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy. For more information about the event, download this PDF. Should be a very interesting discussion.

angry asian speller

Kunal Sah, a 13-year-old eighth-grader in Green River, Utah, is an angry speller: He knows how to spell a-n-g-r-y. Ah, a kid after my own heart. His family was torn apart last year when his parents were sent back to India last year after being denied political asylum. He apparently cried every day after his parents left, but when spelling bee season started Kunal got angry, spelling words, kicking ass... and winning. He's one of three students from Utah who will be going to Washington at the end of this month for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

5.15.2007

goodbye, gilmore girls


Tonight, we said goodbye to one of TV's most beloved shows, one of the few network shows to feature an Asian American cast member... For the last seven seasons, Keiko Agena played Lane Kim on Gilmore Girls. And tonight was the series finale. I can't say I ever actually watched an entire single episode, but when keeping count of all the Asians on TV these last few years, it was always good to know you could rely on "that Asian girl on Gilmore Girls." No more. But thanks, Keiko.

vc filmfest 2007: wrap-up


Well, last week VC Filmfest 2007 went out with a bang with its Closing Night screening of Charlie Nguyen's The Rebel, which was pretty badass awesome. An ambitious film with a shoestring budget, shot on location in Vietnam, it's a period action flick that kicks some serious ass. Good film, lots of fun. And Dustin Nguyen is the best I've seen him in pretty much anything, as the movie's villain.

The festival also announced the winners of this year's awards, presenting the Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Feature to The Rebel, and Special Jury Prize to Juwan Chung's Baby, a gritty indie gangster flick that delivers a solid story and great performances. The festival jury also presented for the first time acting prizes to noteworthy performances, giving Best Actor to Esai Morales in American Fusion, Best Actress to Meredith Scott Lynn in Finishing the Game (she's great in every scene she's in), and Outstanding Newcomer to David Huynh in Baby (the guy's got a bright future ahead of him).

In the documentary feature category, the Grand Jury Prize was awarded to Linda Hattendorf's The Cats of Mirikitani, and the Special Jury Prize to Lisette Marie Flannery Na Kamalei: Men of Hula. In the shorts category, the Golden Reel Jury Prize for Best Short went to Ruby Yang's amazing (but extremely depressing) documentary The Blood of Yingzhou District, and the Linda Mabalot New Directors/New Visions Award was presented to Tad Nakamura's Pilgrimage. The Audience Award for Narrative Feature went to Frank Lin's romantic comedy American Fusion, and the Audience Award for Nonfiction Feature went to Socheata Poeuv's New Year Baby—though I'm not sure many people heard these two being announced over the hubbub of the party. That's a lot of awards. I recommend seeking out any and all of these films to watch in the future...

UPDATE: Super-extensive VC coverage in the latest edition of Asia Pacific Arts, including video content from the Finishing the Game red carpet, capsule reviews and more. Great stuff, as always.

entertainment news and stuff

Bits of media/entertainment news...

Cannes to open with Wong Kar-wai's My Blueberry Nights: The 60th Cannes Film Festival will open this week with Wong Kar-wai's first English-language project, My Blueberry Nights, starring Norah Jones making her big screen debut. The film will play in competition.

Michael Kang, Director: Gothamist briefly interviewed Mike a few weeks back, just after the world premiere of his latest film West 32nd at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Kim Yun-jin Reveals How She Made It in Hollywood: Lost star Yunjin Kim has written a memoir provisionally titled Hollywood Story, about her struggle and triumph as an actress in Hollywood.

TV Squad interviews James Kyson Lee of Heroes: During the course of this first season, his character Ando has grown quite a bit, from sidekick to full-fledged protagonist (albeit without powers... yet). Hopefully they'll keep giving him interesting things to do.

TV Squad interviews Sulu, er ... George Takei of Heroes: The headline pretty much speaks for itself. This show is a sci-fi/comic book geek's delight. I'm really looking forward to seeing these last two episodes of the season...

Sandra Oh's doing just fine: A profile on the climbing career of Grey's Anatomy star Sandra Oh, a long way from her roots in Canada.

The Kumars at Number 42 ... Sunset Boulevard: Producers of the hit British sitcom The Kumars at Number 42 are in talks to remake the show for American audiences. The show, which ended its seven-series run last year, is about a British Indian family who invite and interview stars in their home. Not sure how the show will translate on U.S. television, but crazier things have happened.

Witherspoon developing 'Bridge': Reese Witherspoon's production company is developing Under the Bridge, a film based on the true story of a brutal high school murder, the 1997 killing of Reena Virk in British Columbia, and the ensuing investigation and prosecution. Virk, the daughter of Indian immigrants, was violently assaulted and killed by a gang of eight teenagers.

'Step Up 2' Will Begin Filming This Summer: I know you've all been eagerly awaiting this one. No, seriously. Did anyone actually see the first Step Up? The sequel reportedly will be directed by John Chu. According to IMDb, his sole previous directorial credit is The Secret of the Magic Gourd. I missed that one too.

5.14.2007

asian americans and hepatitis b

Another article on the "silent killer" hepatitis B, a disease that affects a disproportionate number of Asians, putting them at greater risk of developing liver cancer and cirrhosis: Asians losing race with hepatitis. The story mentions Chi Mui, who became San Gabriel's first Asian American mayor in March 2006, only to die of liver cancer after about a month in the position, at 53. He had hepatitis B. The HBV-related death rate among Asian Americans is seven times greater than the rate among American whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is a serious, pressing problem for our community, and the biggest challenge is awareness. For more information about Asian Americans and hepatitis B awareness, vaccination, screening and treatment, go here.

graduate research study on asian american men

Another grad student who needs some help... Richie Wong is a 3rd-year graduate student in Clinical Psychology at Alliant International University in San Francisco, looking for Asian American men ages 18 and older to participate in a study about Asian American men's perceptions and beliefs about themselves and others (seems like there are a lot of these studies going on recently). Allow you have to do is fill out an online survey (it takes about 10-15 minutes to complete). Participation is voluntary, and responses will be kept completely anonymous. For your time and effort, you'll be entered into a drawing to win a $50 gift certificate for Amazon.com. If you're interested in participating and/or would like more information, go here. So all you Asian American men out there, help the guy out with his research.

gq editor and "asian whores"

Got a few emails last week telling me to check out the latest issue of GQ, page 28, for an article by the magazine's editor-in-chief. Not having a subscription, I filed it away to check it out the next time I went to the supermarket... Well, according to Page Six, GQ editor Jim Nelson uses the phrase "Asian whore" twice:
ON the heels of Don Imus, GQ editor Jim Nelson is drawing fire over his letter to readers in the May issue, where he uses the phrase "Asian whores" twice. In discussing the hit DVD "The Secret," which preaches the power of positive thinking, Nelson's letter coaxes, "visualize what you want (an Alfa Romeo? Leather pants? An Asian whore?), think positively, and 'the universe will . . . make it happen for you.'" Janice Lee, deputy executive director of the Asian American Journalists Association, told Page Six, "It is appalling that an editor would find it acceptable to use such racist and sexist language. That GQ is considered a 'men's magazine' is not an excuse." A spokesperson for the Asian American Justice Association told Page Six, "The use of the term 'Asian whore' was unnecessary. To racialize the term 'whore' is completely irrelevant in this context. It's disturbing." Nelson ends his letter with a "thumbs up" to any reader whose wishes are met. "If it's an Asian whore, congrats. But please don't make a DVD about it." Nelson told Page Six, "I think if you read you'll see I'm skewering a Western attitude that one ought to find noxious. The notion that Westerners can have and exploit whatever they want."
I don't buy this guy's excuse for a minute. The fact of the matter is, he used "Asian whore" because he thought it sounded funnier that just "whore" or some other racialized whore. That's racist!

sentenced home and the cats of mirikitani


Just wanted to make sure everyone knew about two great documentaries currently airing this month on PBS... Sentenced Home follows three young Cambodian Americans through the deportation process. Raised in inner city Seattle, they pay a harsh price for mistakes they made as teenagers. Under strict anti-terrorism legislation enacted in 1996, even minor convictions can result in automatic deportation. For these three young men, it means losing against an unblinking legal system, uprooting their lives in the United States, and struggling to start anew in Cambodia. For more information about the film, go here. It premieres on May 15th.

Fresh off the festival circuit, The Cats of Mirikitani is an intriguing portrait of eighty-year-old Jimmy Mirikitani, who survived the trauma of internment camps, Hiroshima and homelessness by creating art on the streets of New York City. The film follows director Linda Hattendorf's unlikely friendship with the prolific, eccentric artist when she invites Jimmy to live with her after the toxic collapse of the World Trade Center. It's a fascinating look at an amazing life. To learn more about the film, go here.

For broadcast dates and times for both films, check your local listings.

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