2008 asian excellence awards nominees announced

At a press conference held yesterday in Los Angeles, Dancing with the Stars' Carrie Ann Inaba and MADtv's Bobby Lee announced the nominees for the 2008 JCPenney Asian Excellence Awards. Yes, that thing is still around. Back for its third year, the televised awards show honors "the outstanding achievements of Asians and Asian Americans in film, television, music, and the performing arts."

Here's the full list of awards categories and nominees:
Finishing the Game - Director, Justin Lin
Lust, Caution - Director, Ang Lee
Rush Hour 3 - Director, Brett Ratner
War - Director, Philip G. Atwell

Naveen Andrews - The Brave One
Jackie Chan - Rush Hour 3
Chow Yun-Fat - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Tony Leung - Lust, Caution
Jet Li - War
Lee-Hom Wang - Lust, Caution

Devon Aoki - War
Joan Chen - Lust, Caution
Vanessa Hudgens - High School Musical 2
Sharon Leal - This Christmas
Maggie Q - Balls of Fury
Tang Wei - Lust, Caution

Naveen Andrews - Lost
Daniel Dae Kim - Lost
Masi Oka - Heroes
Sendhil Ramamurthy - Heroes
B.D. Wong - Law & Order, SVU

Yunjin Kim - Lost
Lucy Liu - Cashmere Mafia
Parminder Nagra - ER
Sandra Oh - Grey's Anatomy
Lindsay Price - Lipstick Jungle
Navi Rawat - Numb3rs

Moon Bloodgood - Journeyman
Michaela Conlin - Bones
Janina Gavankar - The L Word
Mindy Kaling - The Office
Michelle Krusiec - Dirty Sexy Money
Sonja Sohn - The Wire

James Kyson Lee - Heroes
Rex Lee - Entourage
Will Yun Lee - Bionic Woman
Ken Leung - Lost
Kal Penn - House M.D.
James Saito - Eli Stone

Fans will also have the opportunity to vote for their favorites online at http://www.asianexcellenceawards.com in the following categories:

Cheryl Burke - Dancing with the Stars
Julie Chen - Big Brother
Mark Dacascos - Iron Chef America: "The Chairman"
Padma Lakshmi - Top Chef
Tila Tequila - A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila
Vern Yip - Deserving Spaces
Carrie Ann Inaba - Dance Wars: Bruno Vs. Carrie Ann
Kimora Lee Simmons - Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane

Ronald & Christina - The Amazing Race
Yau-Man Chan - Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites
Victorya Hong - Project Runway
Hung Hyunh - Top Chef
JabbaWockeeZ - America's Best Dance Crew
Kaba Modern - America's Best Dance Crew
Ramiele Malubay - American Idol
Nicole Niestemski - Your Mama Don't Dance
Jonathan Silva - Your Mama Don't Dance

Voting is underway and runs through April 16. The winners will be announced during the telecast.
Once again, as I've noted in previous years, I certainly like the idea of an Asian American awards show, but the way they've put it together here is... well, kind of lame. I think it's great to celebrate the achievements of the Asian American culture/arts/entertainment community--we, like other groups, deserve our own excuse to get dressed up, gather up all the "stars" and have a big, televised party to pat each other on the back.

But sometimes I have to wonder about the rationale that goes into picking these categories and nominees, and how ridiculous of a stretch they can sometimes be. I mean come on... Rush Hour 3 for Outstanding Film? War? No. Hell no. You've absolutely got to be kidding me. And dude, Naveen Andrews, for Outstanding Film Actor in The Brave One? As much as I like him as an actor, and I even sort of like that movie, he's in it literally for about the first five minutes. I don't even want to talk about the kind of random nominees they put together for Outstanding Film Actress.

It's not all bad. The names rounding out most of the TV categories are all pretty solid. Hell, the fact that you can actually name 5-6 actors to place in each category is a big deal. There's no way these categories could've existed as they are even ten years ago. We've got a long way to go, but there have been vast strides in Asian American representation on television. That certainly counts for something. (Anything that includes Balls of Fury on its list of outstanding anything loses huge points in my book.)

Anyway, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bobby Lee will co-host the show, which will be taped at UCLA's Royce Hall next month. Comedian Russell Peters will serve as backstage host. The televised version of the Asian Excellence Awards will premiere on E! on May 1. In addition, beginning May 7 and throughout the month of May, the show will be available on Comcast On Demand. Yay, I guess.

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