Entertainment Spotlight

Catching Up: Santana, Taj Mahal and a déjà vu ‘Blue Christmas’

Posted by Ben Fong-Torres - on Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Catching Up: Santana, Taj Mahal and a déjà vu ‘Blue Christmas’
By Ben Fong-Torres It’s short shrift time. I have a life that’s ripe (and slightly wrinkled) for blogs and tweeting; for facebooking and updating. I’m just no good at it. My last column here on AsianConnections was about the memorial in late July for my sister Shirley. My last posting on the authors’ site, Redroom, was about a radio promo tour I did (20 stops, all on the phone in my home office) for my Eagles book. On my own home page, the last thing was about hanging with...

Arts & Entertainment

Kenny Endo featured in Spirit of Taiko

Posted by Lia Chang on Tuesday, 09 May 2006

Three generations of taiko drummers featured in gayle yamada's the "Spirit of Taiko" airing on PBS in May.

Taiko drumming began 2,000 years ago in Japan where it became part of religious ceremonies, festivals, and everyday village life. In America, contemporary taiko took root in the late 1960s when Japanese immigrant Seiichi Tanaka founded San Francisco Taiko Dojo and Reverend Masao Kodani founded Kinnara Taiko in Los Angeles.

Spirit of Taiko by director gayle yamada, Steve Dung, Dianne Fukami, and Daniel Morii Schwinn, premieres this May on PBS as part of the Center for Asian American Media's lineup of films for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. (Check local listings.) The one-hour documentary reveals the fascinating origins of this ancient art form in the United States and shows how the succeeding generations in America have put their own imprint on contemporary taiko.

Known as the grandfather of American taiko. Seiichi Tanaka emphasizes discipline, spirituality, hard work, and respect in his approach. Today, his renowned San Francisco Taiko Dojo performs throughout the world. Kinnara Taiko began when a group of Japanese American Buddhists in Los Angeles decided to play taiko for fun after temple ceremonies were over. They began without teachers and without any particular style, but their drumming emphasized religious spirituality and inclusion. Students of both schools eventually founded their own taiko dojos in other parts of the country, many of whom are interviewed in the documentary.

In Spirit of Taiko , we also meet a former student of Tanakas, Kenny Endo, who also spent ten years in Japan studying taiko and Japanese classical music and founded the Taiko Center of the Pacific in Hawaii. Endo represents the second generation of American taiko artists. He also learned from Kinnara Taiko in Los Angeles. We meet Masato Baba, part of Americas third generation of taiko drummers and a student of Kenny Endo. Babas parents...

New Asian Cuisine

Posted by Lia Chang on Tuesday, 09 May 2006

Nobu Matsuhisa, Ming Tsai and Martin Yan are among the celebrity chefs featured in New Asian Cuisine; Fabulous Recipes from Celebrity Chefs , a new cookbook created by Savory Productions and published by the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association.

Travel on a virtual globe-spanning trip to the restaurants of the world's finest Asian chefs through the pages of New Asian Cuisine; Fabulous Recipes from Celebrity Chefs .

American food enthusiasts will recognize names such as Nobu Matsuhisa, Ming Tsai, Wolfgang Puck and Asian Connections very own Martin Yan, but unless you live in Mumbai, you may not know Sanjeev Kapoor, the Indian TV counterpart to Emeril Lagasse as well as Hsiu-Pao Tseng (Taiwan), Carol Selva Rajah (Sydney), Paul Rankin (Ireland), Pauline Loh (Singapore), Wai-Keung Kwong (Hong Kong), An Jung-Hyun (Korea), Didier Corlou (Vietnam), Mari Fujii (Japan), Susur Lee (Canada), members of the Asian Chefs Association among others.

With recipes adapted for the home cook, you can virtually visit all the countries represented by these renowned chefs and taste their culinary creations. Chapters include small plates & salads, soups, fish & seafood, meat & poultry, rice & noodles, vegetables, desserts and Asian cocktails.

Created by Savory Productions and published by the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association, New Asian Cuisine offers innovative approaches and a fresh perspective to preparing Asian cuisine by following the guidelines of the Asian Food Pyramid, an Asian version of the new USDA Western-centered Food Pyramid.

Created with the assistance of Professor Michael Pardus, Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE) at The Culinary Institute of America, the Asian Food Pyramid was developed to promote healthy eating.

Translating the food groups into food choices available in ethnic Asian markets, the Asian Food Pyramid features a diet built on nutrient-rich plant-based foods combined with...

Inside the Balancing Acts of Chinese Acrobat Man Tan Fong

Posted by Lia Chang on Friday, 05 May 2006

Balancing Acts Tells the Remarkable Story of Chinese Acrobat Man Tan Fong

Balancing Acts . a new documentary by director Donna Schatz, chronicles the astonishing life of Man Tan Fong who left his home in 1929 as a teenager in China to train in Hong Kong as an acrobat. After a year of grueling training, he began performing with a Chinese acrobat troupe throughout Europe and eventually formed his own group, the Oriental Brothers. While performing in Copenhagen, Fong met Magda Schweitzer, a Hungarian Orthodox Jewish acrobat, who was performing on the same bill. They fell in love and were married at the start of World War II.

Through archival footage, photos, and interviews, Balancing Acts showcases Man Tan Fongs career and the story of how his wife and two sons were able to survive Nazi-occupied Hungary during WWII. His Chinese citizenship protected them because it gave Magda a Chinese passport, which hid her Jewish identity. Balancing Acts by director Donna Schatz is a story about the sacrifice, love, and perseverance of Man Tan Fong, now in his 90s, and Magda Schweizter, who passed away in 2003.

Balancing Acts premieres on PBS this May as part of the Center for Asian American Media's lineup of films for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. (Check local listings.)

The Center for Asian American Media (formerly known as the National Asian American Telecommunications Association) has a new director. A fond farewell to Eddie Wong and a hearty welcome to Stephen Gong. Gong, 53, joins the Center after working for 18 years at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, most recently as the Deputy Director. He has a degree in English from UC Berkeley and attended graduate school in cinema studies at the University of Southern California. www.asianamericanmedia.org.

Kayo Hatta's Fishbowl premieres on PBS

Posted by Lia Chang on Friday, 05 May 2006

On Tuesday, May 9, 2006, Kayo Hatta's Fishbowl, a decidedly off-kilter look at contemporary American life in Hawaii, premieres on PBS.

(San Francisco)--On Tuesday, May 9, 2006 at 10 PM (check local listings), PBS series Independent Lens co-presents with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) Kayo Hatta's Fishbowl , a short film that offers a decidedly off-kilter look at contemporary American life.

This final film from the late acclaimed Hawaiian filmmaker Kayo Hatta (Picture Bride) was adapted from Lois-Ann Yamanaka's Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers , and set in the sleepy plantation town of Hilo, Hawaii. Fishbowl is about a brooding 11-year-old named Lovey who is trying to be anything but herself. Ridiculed by the popular girls and picked on by her teacher for speaking pidgin English, Lovey escapes into a world of pop fantasy daydreams. Add to the mix an obsession with the Captain and Tennille, her effeminate best friend Jerry, and an eventful Halloween party and one soon realizes that this is anything but a Disney Channel view of modern youth.

Visit the program companion websites:
http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/fishbowl/

The Center for Asian American Media (formerly known as the National Asian American Telecommunications Association) has a new director. A fond farewell to Eddie Wong and a hearty welcome to Stephen Gong. Gong, 53, joins the Center after working for 18 years at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, most recently as the Deputy Director. He has a degree in English from UC Berkeley and attended graduate school in cinema studies at the University of Southern California.

Filipino Pop Band the Sunspots shine in Spotlighting

Posted by Lia Chang on Friday, 05 May 2006

Spotlighting Follows Filipino Pop Band the Sunspots and Their Dreams of Success as Entertainers

Spotlighting , an entertaining and touching tribute to the long career of Filipino Pop Band the Sunspots, airs on
PBS this May as part of the Center for Asian American Media's first rate lineup of films for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. (Check local listings.)

The Sunspots seemed to be well on their way to success in the 1960s. The band was famous in Okinawa, Japan, and Korea as well as in their home country, the Philippines. They had landed a contract with one of the best agencies in America, played in the Latin Quarter in New York City, and were scheduled to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show. Directors Josh Diamond and Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow and Annapolis ) trace the rise of the Sunspots and show how close the band came to worldwide success in this new documentary. The film shows the group in their early days, competing in local talent contests to playing American bases throughout Asia. Their success at the military bases led to a big tour in the U.S., playing in countless cities during the 1950s and 60s. The band even caught the attention of Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson. But the Sunspots never got that "lucky break." Instead, a strike cancelled their appearance on Ed Sullivan and their management decided that instead of going on Johnny Carson, it would be better for them to go on the road as the opening act for Al Hirt and his jazz band. And, of course, the U.S. was hit by the British Invasion the Beatles. We couldve been the Yellow Beatles! exclaim the Sunspots. But instead, they band stayed on the road, playing clubs in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and so on. If we were white, we would be somewhere, says one band member. The Sunspots eventually settled in Las Vegas where they have played in the Omaha Lounge of the Plaza Hotel for ten years, developing a deeply loyal following. Entertain[ing] people is about...