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...

Arts & Entertainment Articles

  • In Memoriam: Roger Ebert 1942-2013 American journalist, Film critic and Asian American Cinema Champion

    Posted by Suzanne Kai

    1942-2013 Roger Ebert Champion of Asian American Film Photo: RogerEbert.com

    Roger Ebert 1942-2013 Photo: RogerEbert.comRoger Ebert lost his battle with cancer today. He will be greatly missed. Most famous for his film criticism, he was the first movie critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

    Since 1967, and up to just two days ago he wrote a column for the Chicago Sun-Times.

    He authored twenty books, and co-hosted several long-running syndicated television shows including Siskel and Ebert at the Movies. 

    I will remember Roger Ebert not only for his reviews and commentary, but also for his advocacy of Asian American cinema.

    I thank Roger Ebert for his outspoken support and standing up (literally) for a film called Better Luck Tomorrow.

    When Ebert stood on his theater seat and yelled back at an audience member who was chastising the film's director Justin Lin and his cast on stage for making an "empty and amoral" film, it was a watershed moment in Asian American cinema.

    Mind you, this was at the third screening of Lin's film Better Luck Tomorrow at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival where alot is at stake. Filmmakers are hoping that distribution deals are made. 

    A video posted on Youtube captured the moment. (click here for the full story with the Youtube video). The audience member said, "You know how to make a movie. But why with the talent up there and yourself make a film as so empty and amoral for Asian Americans and Americans?"

    Then Roger Ebert gets up and says "What I find very condescending and disturbing about your statement is nobody would say to a bunch of white filmmakers, "How could you do this to your people?!" (applause from the crowd) Then Ebert continues, "Yes, film has the right to be about these people and Asian American characters have the right to be whoever the hell they want to be. They do not have to represent their people."

    And as America's influential dean of film critics sat back down in his seat, he had just put Better Luck Tomorrow on the map. 

    Better Luck Tomorrow Directed by Justin Lin, MTV...

  • TV Drama writer Thomas Wong receives Writers Guild Honor

    Posted by Admin

    April 5, 2013

    Hollywood

    Thomas Wong is the recipient of the Writers Guild of America, West's 2013 Writer Access Project (WAP) honor. The Writers Guild will showcase Wong's work in drama to industry decision-makers.

    Wong joins nine other honorees who were selected for outstanding talent in the areas of drama and comedy.

    The winners were selected from the results of judges scores who read written entries and judged on a blind submission basis.

    Writers Guild members with extensive showrunning and writer-producer experience served as judges, including award-winning screenwriter, producer and director Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal and screenwriter of The Princess Diaries.

    A reading of selections of the honorees' original pilots will be held this month to industry representatives.

    Photo credit: Michael Jones, WGA.org  2013 WAP Honorees, Standing (L-R): Thomas Wong, Michael DiGaetano, Dawn Comer Jefferson, Joey Manderino, Joseph Neustein, Leslie Valdes. Seated (L-R): Sherry Carnes, Geetika Lizardi, Lena Waithe, Margaux Froley Wong's bio states that he always dreamed of becoming a television writer, but, "as the first-born son in a traditional Chinese family, such fanciful notions were downright un-American." Wong earned a degree in English at Williams College, then attended NYU School of Law, "like any good child shouldering the weight of his family’s expectations would."

    After several years immersed in labor and employment, divorce, immigration, and criminal defense, Thomas gave up law for a stint selling luxury real estate to Manhattan's rich and famous before finally moving to Los Angeles to pursue his childhood dream.

    2013 WRITER ACCESS PROJECT HONOREES DRAMA (L-R) Leslie Valdes, Dawn Comer Jefferson, Margaux Froley, Sherry Carnes, Thomas Wong, Geetika Lizardi Photo credit: Michael Jones, WGA.orgIn 2009, Thomas won a place in the ABC | Disney Television Writing Fellowship. In 2012, he was selected from more than 300 applicants...

  • GIRL RISING - in Select Regal Theaters April 19-26 Frieda Pinto, Priyanka Chopra, Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Selena Gomez, and others narrate

    Posted by Suzanne Kai

    GIRL RISING to screen nationwide in select Regal Cinemas April 19-26, 2013 Photo credit: GIRL RISING

    Sokha is one of nine girls featured in GIRL RISING. She was a Cambodian child of the dump, orphaned and forced to pick through garbage to survive. Through a series of miracles she finds her way to a school and has risen to become a star student with a promising future. Photo credit: GIRL RISING

    April 19-26, 2013 GIRL RISING is screening nationwide in selected Regal Cinemas.

    “No one is more vulnerable than an uneducated girl, and this film is a wake-up call to the world that it’s time to educate girls,” actress Freida Pinto said in a statement to India-Times.com. “Right now, 66 million girls are not in school, and 14 million girls under 18 will be married this year — that’s 38,000 girls married today, and 13 girls married in the last 30 seconds."

    Freida Pinto joined other actresses Priyanka Chopra, Anne Hathaway, Alicia Keys, Meryl Streep, Selena Gomez, Kerry Washington, Salma Hayek, and Cate Blanchett to narrate GIRL RISING which recently premiered in Los Angeles and screened at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

    Sometimes it only takes a single person to start a revolution. This time, its a documentary film. GIRL RISING is the centerpiece of a campaign for girls' education. The film's message: "Educate Girls and you will change the world." A simple notion, yes, but in reality - not so simple.

    Millions of girls in developing countries face barriers to education that boys do not encounter. The film's campaign reports that 66 million school-age girls are not in school, 496 million girls over age 15 cannot read or write, and there are 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary school worldwide.

    They grow up in extreme poverty, they are subject to early and arranged marriages, they are child-slaves, they are victims of war, gender violence and discrimination, and much more.  

    The film is directed by Academy Award nominee director Richard E. Robbins, with a team of filmmakers to tell the stories of 9 girls from 9 countries, written by 9 writers,...

  • First Summit on Asian Stereotypes Urges Empowerment to Make Change

    Posted by Suzanne Kai

    Jeff Yang writer of "Tao Jones" column for the Wall Street Journal

    Little Tokyo - Los Angeles

    March 23, 2013

    More than 200 people attended a summit yesterday in Los Angeles, provocatively titled "Beyond the Bad and the Ugly." The meeting was appropriately named as it took aim at the continued use of offensive images, ethnic slurs and stereotypical caricatures of Asian Americans in American media, and its impact on just about every aspect of American culture, politics, education and society.

    AsianConnections.com applauds Jeff Yang, Wall Street Journal Online writer of the "Tao Jones" column for organizing this first summit devoted to the problem, and enlisting public dialogue and empowerment. Yang brought together activisits, bloggers and others to examine the issues and encouraged people to take action against the negative stereotypes and portrayals of Asian Americans in the media. 

    Stereotypical images of Asian Americans in the media have negatively impacted the lives of Asian Americans for more than a century.

    Yang told LA Times writer Anh Do the event is "the culmination of a dream, seeing people not only talking about these issues - but doing something about it," "The point is to empower everyone, telling them, "Change is happening, and it's happening inside - with us." 

    The March 23, 2013 summit officially kicks off Jeff Yang's new book he co-edited with Parry Shen, Keith Chow and Jerry Ma, Shattered: the Asian American Comics Anthology (Secret Identities). SHATTERED’s 2013 tour, will take Yang and his co-editors Parry Shen, Keith Chow and Jerry Ma to select cities and college campuses in the East, West and Midwest (contacts are listed below if you wish to book a SHATTERED tour event). 

    Click here for the story at the LA Times by writer Anh Do. 

    Featured sessions at the "Beyond the Bad and the Ugly" Los Angeles summit March 23, 2013:

    OPENING PLENARY — “IS THIS STEREOTYPE REALLY NECESSARY?”, a fresh, frank, informative (and likely snarky) exploration of Asian images past and present, moderated by...