• Jackie Chan's latest movie The Foreigner shows off his acting skills

    Posted by Suzanne Kai

    Jackie Chan's latest movie The Foreigner shows off his acting skills
    Hollywood October 11, 2017 Finally! After 56 years, 200+ films and bringing humor and entertainment to audiences around the world, Jackie Chan, one of the world's most prolific action stars and filmmakers was presented an honorary Oscar at the 8th annual Governors Awards in Hollywood. Tom Hanks, Michelle Yeoh and Chris Tucker all former co-stars in movies with Jackie co-presented the...

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  • Heeeere’s Johnny! Hanging out with Mr. Depp by Ben Fong-Torres

    Posted by Ben Fong-Torres

    I strolled onto the stage at U.C. Berkeley’s Wheeler Auditorium after the screening of The Rum Diary, faced about 700 people and said, “Hello, I’m Johnny Depp.”

    It was like being a Beatle. They knew full well who I am not, but unleashed a blend of screams and squeals, along with laughter. They could afford to be good-natured, because they knew that the real Johnny Depp was in the house.

    The Rum Diary is his latest film, and it’s based on an early novel (circa 1960) by his late buddy Hunter S. Thompson. Depp, who portrayed Dr. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas had planned to produce The Rum Diary with him, but Hunter took his own life in 2005. Depp made it a personal mission to get this film completed.

    Now, he was in Berkeley. He’d chosen to screen the film for students rather than the usual mix of media and radio contest winners. Cal offered tickets to film, English and journalism majors. Apparently, the great majority of students in those fields are female and Depp devotees.

    Anyway, the publicists for the film asked me to moderate the Q&A with Johnny, and, of course, I agreed. We’d never met, but we have several bonds, and he told me of a few more. There’s Hunter, of course, from Rolling Stone days in the 70’s and beyond. And there are the Doors. I wrote a book in 2006 that was meant to be partnered with a documentary. The book beat the film by about four years, but the documentary featured narration by…Johnny Depp.

    Backstage, he told me that he was a fan of my book on Gram Parsons, Hickory Wind, and knew that Keith Richards (his dear old dad in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) had wanted to produce a film about Parsons.

    On stage, once the screams died down, he, along with Bruce Robinson, The Rum Diary's writer and director, fielded a couple of questions from me, and then we invited students to take over the questioning. Most of them were good, but several coeds who’d lined up at the two microphones were there just to...

  • Photos: Backstage with the Cast of Chinglish and David Henry Hwang at the Longacre Theatre

    Posted by Lia Chang


    Playwright David Henry Hwang in front of the Longacre Theatre in New York, where his new comedy Chinglish is currently in previews. Photo by Lia Chang

    Tony Award-winning and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) is clad in a cozy salt and pepper turtleneck and black jeans when I meet up with him backstage at the Longacre Theatre after the Saturday matinee of CHINGLISH, his sexy, stylish and hilarious new play, currently in previews and set to open on October 27th.

    Chinglish leading lady Jennifer Lim chats with playwright David Henry Hwang in her dressing room at the Longacre Theatre in New York on October 22, 2011. Photo by Lia Chang

    The show comes to Broadway following its critically acclaimed world premiere production at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago this summer, which ran from June 18th through July 31st.

    Ken Smith, playwright David Henry Hwang, Stephen Pucci and Joanna C. Lee Photo by Lia Chang

    My backstage pass included photographing the cast in their dressing rooms, courtesy of cultural advisors Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith.

    The poster for David Henry Hwang's Chinglish Photo by Lia Chang

    Jennifer Lim, Angela Lin, Christine Lin, Stephen Pucci, Johnny Wu and Larry Lei Zhang who appeared in the production at the Goodman, are joined by Gary Wilmes, star of the recent acclaimed Gatz. OBIE Award winner Leigh Silverman, who directed Lisa Kron’s Well on Broadway and won a 2011 OBIE for directing both Go Back To Where You Are and In The Wake, directs the Broadway production.

    David Henry Hwang's Chinglish at the Longacre Theatre in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

    Hwang’s new comedy CHINGLISHis about the challenges of doing business in a culture whose language—and ways of communicating—are worlds apart from our own. An American businessman arrives in a bustling Chinese province looking to score a lucrative contact for his family’s sign-making firm. He soon finds that the complexities of such a venture...

  • In the kitchen and on the radio in 120 cities. by Ben Fong-Torres

    Posted by Ben Fong-Torres

    I just flew in from Canada and a few dozen other cities, and boy, are my ears tired. Let me explain: It was a radio tour, as it’s called, for my new book, Eagles: Taking It to the Limit. The publisher, Running Press, set up 20 stops – mostly morning shows from coast to coast – from 5 to 8:20 a.m. – all from my phone at home.

                By 6:30, half way through, my left ear was feeling it. Before then, I’d also gone through a couple of technical glitches. My cordless phone ran out of juice, and I had to run (quietly) from my office to the kitchen upstairs. And my recorder malfunctioned.

    But it was still better than going to 20 bookstores in 20 cities. The Canada call – from Astral Radio – reached 83 stations in 40-something cities. And the last stop was with Premiere Networks, which itself services 60 stations with show prep material. That’s 120 stations in all

                I met a wide range of broadcasters, from DJs in smaller towns like Lima, Ohio to news talk anchors in Atlanta and St. Louis, to Philadelphia radio legend John DeBella and rock artist turned morning jock Greg Kihn, himself an author. He knows all about th is 4 a.m. wakeup routine. Only he does it five days a week. One a book is plenty enough for me.

                The only flake-out was a station in Norfolk, Nebraska, scheduled near the end. My poor left ear was most grateful for the cancellation.

                The Eagles book is one of two I have out right now. University of California Press just published an expanded and updated version of my 1994 memoirs, The Rice Room. No radio tour, thank god. But on Friday, Oct. 28, I’m doing an event in Oakland, in Chinatown, where the story begins. $30 for a multi-course dinner, plus Sherry Hu of CBS5 interviewing me, plus videos and songs. For info, try Mary Geong at (510) 654-4417 or write her at


    AsianConnections columnist Ben Fong-Torres is a true Renaissance man. The former Rolling Stone writer and editor is...

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