Entertainment Spotlight

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

    Posted by Ben Fong-Torres

    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...

Backstage Pass Articles

  • Congratulations to Asian American International Film Festival '12 Award Winners

    Posted by Lia Chang

    The Asian American International Film Festival handed out the 2012 Awards for feature and short films before the closing night screening of Michael Kang’s Knots, at the Clearview Chelsea Cinemas in New York on August 5, 2012. The awards ceremony was emceed by spoken word artist Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai.

    Knots director Michael Kang and writer and star Kimberly-Rose Wolter at the 35th Asian American International Film Festival Closing night screening of Knots, at the Clearview Chelsea Cinema in New York on August 5, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

    This year, the Asian American International Film Festival, presented by Asian Cinevision (ACV), featured 50 New York premieres-narrative and documentary features, and shorts-of all genres from The Philippines, Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea, UK, Canada and across the Asian Diaspora.

    Presenter Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, a spoken word artist, presents the AAIFF Audience Choice Award for Narrative Feature to Lily Mariye for Model Minority at the Clearview Chelsea Cinemas in New York on August 5, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

    Audience Choice Awards:

    Lily Mariye’s Model Minority (photo courtesy of Nice Girl Films)

    The Audience Choice Award for Narrative Feature was presented to Lily Mariye, an actor, screenwriter and director, whose impressive debut feature MODEL MINORITY, follows the story of L.A. teenagers trying to navigate the treacherous world of peer pressure, drug dealers, juvenile hall and dysfunctional families.

    Delon De Metz, Nichole Bloom, Lily Mariye and Chris Tashima at the 35th Asian American International Film Festival screening of Model Minority, at the Clearview Chelsea Cinemas in New York on August 4, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

    The film stars Nichole Bloom as Kayla, an underprivileged Japanese American girl with a drug addict mom (Jessica Tuck) and an alcoholic dad (Chris Tashima), who endangers her promising future as an artist when she becomes involved with a drug dealer (Delon De Metz). Laura Innes, Helen...

  • Sept. 7 - Oct. 21: George Takei, Lea Salonga, Telly Leung and Paolo Montalban star in the World Premiere of Allegiance – A New American Musical at The Old Globe, San Diego

    Posted by Lia Chang

    (from left) George Takei, Lea Salonga and Telly Leung lead the cast in the World Premiere of Allegiance - A New American Musical

    San Diego, CA

    WORLD PREMIERE -

     Allegiance - A New American Musical headlines an all-star cast lead by George Takei, Lea Salonga, Telly Leung and Paola Montalban September 7 - October 21, 2012 (Opening Night: Wednesday, September 19) on the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage, Old Globe Theatre Center, Contrad Prebys Theatre Center, San Diego, California 

     Television and film icon George Takei, Tony Award-winning actress Lea Salonga, Telly Leung and Paolo Montalban lead the cast in the world premiere of Allegiance – A New American Musical, a story of family, love and patriotism set during the Japanese American internment of World War II.

    George Takei will play Sam Kimura, a former internee who revisits the ghosts of his past, and Ojii-san, the grandfather and pillar of strength of the Kimura family. 

    Meeting George Takei and hearing his personal story inspired Allegiance creators Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione to bring the story of the Japanese American internment to the stage.

    Best known for portraying Mr. Sulu in the “Star Trek” series, Takei’s acting career has spanned more than five decades with more than 40 feature films and hundreds of television roles to his credit.

    Takei and his family, along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans, were unjustly incarcerated behind the barbed-wire enclosures of United States internment camps at the outbreak of World War II. Takei spent part of his childhood at Camp Rohwer in Arkansas and at Camp Tule Lake in Northern California. 

    On the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, a meeting with a young journalist forces WWII veteran Sam Kimura to remember his family’s relocation from their California farm to the Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming.

    Directed by Stafford Arima, with music and lyrics by Jay Kuo and book by Marc Acito, Kuo and Lorenzo Thione, the production features choreography by Andrew Palermo and music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations by Lynne Shankel. 

    Tickets are currently available...

  • Aug. 4: AAIFF’12: Richard Wong & H.P. Mendoza’s Yes, We’re Open, starring Lynn Chen, Parry Shen, Sheetal Sheth, & Kerry McCrohan, screens at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas

    Posted by Lia Chang

    Richard Wong and writer H.P. Mendoza, the award-winning team that brought you the infectious, quirky coming-of-age tale Colma: The Musical, return to the Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF’12) with their fourth collaboration, Yes, We’re Open, a raunchy sex comedy starring Lynn Chen (Saving Face), Parry Shen (Better Luck Tomorrow), Sheetal Sheth (Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World) and Kerry McCrohan, which screens at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas, 260 W. 23rd St, in New York, on August 4, 2012 at 7pm. Click here for tickets.

    Sheetal Sheth, Parry Shen, Lynn Chen and Kerry McCrohan in Richard Wong and H.P. Mendoza’s Yes, We’re Open

    Set in the San Francisco Bay Area, Yes, We’re Open follows Luke (Parry Shen) and Sylvia (Lynn Chen) who think of themselves as a modern couple – always in the know and open to new experiences. Enter Elena (Sheetal Sheth) and Ronald (Kerry McCrohan)a provocative polyamorous couple that challenge Luke and Sylvia’s status in their circle of friends and with each other. With temptation right around the corner, Luke and Sylvia must figure out where they really stand on love, sex, and honesty. Yes, We’re Open takes an intimate look at the unconventional world of San Francisco relationships, where promiscuity and fidelity aren’t always mutually exclusive.The film also features Tasi Alabastro, Dave Boyle (Surrogate Valentine), H.P. Mendoza (Fruit Fly: The Musical), and Theresa Navarro (Option 3).

    Yes, We’re Open was directed by Richard Wong, written by H.P. Mendoza, and produced by Theresa Navarro and Richard Wong. The film premieres the work of first time director of photography Seng Chen and features the skills of Hong Kong Studio-reared production and costume designer Wing Shan “Irene” Chan. Yes, We’re Open was scored by Digital Crafts Night, including the catchy theme song, “All of Our Friends Are Getting Married,” written by H.P. Mendoza and performed by film stars Lynn Chen and Parry...

  • Aug. 5: AAIFF’12: Knots, written by and starring Kimberly-Rose Wolter, Illeana Douglas, Sung Kang, Mia Riverton, Janel Parrish and Cathy Foy, and directed by Michael Kang, screens at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas

    Posted by Lia Chang

    Island Film Group’s independent feature film Knots, directed by Michael Kang (The Motel and West 32nd) and written by and starring Kimberly-Rose Wolter, will close the 35th Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF’12) on August 5, 2012 at 7pm, at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas, 260 West 23rd Street in New York. Knots, a charming “UN-romantic comedy”, is a witty take on the lives and loves of a family of Honolulu wedding planners, and was filmed on location in Hawaii. Click here to purchase tickets forKnots.

    The film also features Illeana Douglas (Cape Fear, “Entourage”), Sung Kang (The Fast & The Furious, Better Luck Tomorrow), Mia Riverton (Red Doors), Janel Parrish (Bratz: The Movie, “Pretty Little Liars”), and Cathy Foy (Battleship, “Lost”, “Hawaii 5-0”).

    In Knots, Kimberly-Rose Wolter tells the story of thrice divorced matriarch Miriam (Illeana Douglas), with one daughter born from each husband. What ensues is a recipe for comical family strife as the daughters finally reach the breaking point of addressing feelings repressed thanks to mom’s poor choices in men.

    Cathy Foy-Mahi and Kimberly-Rose Wolter in Knots. Photo courtesy of Island Film Group/Knots Production

    When eldest daughter Lily (Kimberly Rose-Wolter) rejects her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, she decides to return home to Hawaii for family support. It turns out the family is having troubles of their own – their wedding planning business is being run into the ground by Lily’s two half-sisters Twinny (Mia Riverton) and Hoku (Janel Parrish). It’s left to Lily to get things on the right track. If things couldn’t get worse, Lily’s ex-boyfriend Kai (Sung Kang) enters the picture, as does a surprise reveal that makes reconciliation no easy matter.

    Kimberly-Rose Wolter and Sung Kang in Knots. Photo courtesy of Island Film Group/Knots Production

    Knots features an original score by renowned ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro and showcases songs by such...

  • Aug. 4: AAIFF’12: Lily Mariye’s Model Minority, starring Jessica Tuck, Nichole Bloom, Chris Tashima, Helen Slater, Laura Innes and Takayo Fisher, screens at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas

    Posted by Lia Chang

    Nice Girl Films presents Model Minority, the debut feature of actor and now award-winning screenwriter and director, Lily Mariye, which will have its East Coast premiere on Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 4:45p.m. at the 35th Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF’12), at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas, 260 West 23rd Street in New York.Model Minority was written, directed and co-produced by Lily Mariye (best known for her role as Nurse Lily Jarvik on the hit TV show, ER, for 15 seasons, and her award-winning short film The Shangri-la Cafe). The film stars Jessica Tuck (“True Blood)”, Laura Innes (“The Event,” “Awake)”, and Helen Slater (The Lying Game, City Slickers).

    Lily Mariye’s Model Minority (photo courtesy of Nice Girl Films)

    Model Minority is the story of Kayla Tanaka (Nichole Bloom), an underprivileged Japanese-American 16-year old, who endangers her promising future as an aspiring artist when she becomes involved with a drug dealer. The film includes Takayo Fischer (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End), Chris Tashima (Academy Award winner/Live Action Short film in 2001), and music by three-time Grammy nominee, saxophonist Boney James. The film recently garnered three awards at its World Premiere at the 2012 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival: Special Jury Outstanding Director, Breakthrough Performance by a New Actor for Nichole Bloom, and Outstanding Cinematography.

    Lily Mariye’s Model Minority (photo courtesy of Nice Girl Films)

    As an actress Ms. Mariye has guest starred in over 25 television shows and numerous national commercials. Her film credits include Extraordinary Measures, with Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser, Hancock, American Pie: Band Camp, The Doctor (directed by DWW alumna Randa Haines), The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, The Shadow, and The New Age.

    Lily Mariye

    Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ms. Mariye attended UCLA and graduated with a BA in Theatre Arts. She performed in many...