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W H A T ' S   N E W
March 2005

Scan and Review the Highlights From the Various Categories Listed Below
  Anime/Cartoon News Christianity News News Community News Diversity News Entertainment Business News  
  Film News History News Fashion News Independent Film News Literature News  
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Editorials        
 
     
 

EDITORIALS
ANNA MAY WONG VS. ANNA MAY WHITE
Wong's youthful ambition and screen appeal got her farther than anyone else of her race. But her race, or rather Hollywood's and America's fear of giving Chinese and other non-whites the same chance as European Americans, kept her from reaching the Golden Mountaintop. We can be startled and impressed by the success she, alone, attained. And still we ask: Who knows what Anna May Wong could have been allowed to achieve if she had been Anna May White?

ANNA MAY WONG - A STAR
In the quarter-century of Hollywood feature films before 1940, only two non-white actors had been regularly cast in starring roles. One, Sessue Hayakawa from Japan, was a stalwart heartthrob in the late teens. The other was all-American: born in California, a native English speaker, and with a sensual, intelligent allure that even the studio bosses could not ignore. She was Anna May Wong, whose centenary we celebrate this month.

GROWING UP WITH PREJUDICE
"Kill that Jap!" That's what the crowd chanted (in the 1940s). Focus, focus, he (Wat Misaka) told himself. Don't let them get into your head. Block them out. Focus. Just play through it. Focus. Just block them out. And play . . . . Somehow, he did. " We grew up with prejudice. That's just how it was." Wat Misaka (person who broke the color barrier in professional basketball in 1947).

MULTIRACIAL TV ADS
In the idyllic world of TV commercials, Americans increasingly are living together side by side, regardless of race. The diverse images reflect a trend that has been quietly growing in the advertising industry for years: Racially mixed scenarios -- families, friendships, neighborhoods and party scenes -- are often used as a hip backdrop to sell products.

HOT 97'S RACISM
The music swelled, sounding the familiar first notes of the vintage charity hit "We Are the World." Then the lyrics kicked in a torrent of bad taste, ethnic slurs and cruel insults about the killer south Asia tsunami. The parody, aired during morning drive time on New York radio's WQHT-FM, lasted three short minutes. Nearly three long weeks later, the self-proclaimed "premier hip-hop station in America" is still reeling: One of its morning co-hosts was fired, the show's producer was dumped, and five other employees remain suspended with one host embattled (Miss Info).

ELECTIONS STILL THE PROVINCE OF WHITE VOTERS
"California is headed into unchartered waters - the most diverse population in American history, voting rates lower than those in the rest of the nation and disproportionately low rates of voting," PPIC President David Lyon wrote, summarizing the findings of authors S. Karthick Ramakrishnan and Mark Baldassare.

TEACHERS AT THE INTERNMENT CAMPS
"They gave to us the link to the America we knew: the sense that not all Americans were racist, not all of them saw us as a threat but saw the potential we had as individuals," said Glenn Kumekawa, a retired Rhode Island professor who was sent to Topaz camp in Utah at age 14 after winning his San Francisco grammar school's American Citizenship Award.

DAY OF REMEMBRANCE
In the days following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the FBI rounded up thousands of Japanese immigrants who were detained without charges. Then, on February 19, 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, forcing 120,000 Japanese Americans into concentration camps. The Commission on the Wartime Relocation and Incarceration of Civilians concluded that the World War II concentration camps for Japanese Americans were a result of "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership."

WORDS OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS (DIED: FEB 21, 1895)
"What was possible for me is possible for you. Don't think because you are colored you can't accomplish anything. Strive earnestly to add to your knowledge. So long as you remain in ignorance so long will you fail to command the respect of your fellowmen."

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ASIAN & MASCULINE (PHOTO EXHIBITION)
In Asian & Masculine, one goal is to open some eyes to better appreciate and recognize Asian male beauty, wiping out typical stereotypes.
Read More>>>>>

PHILIPPINES' SCHINDLER
Thanks to Steven Spielberg, the whole world knows about Oskar Schindler and his "List" which saved the lives of 1200 German Jews in World War II. But few know about the Philippine List compiled by the Frieder brothers which saved a similar number of German and Austrian Jews in 1939, but it was a proud moment in Philippine history.
Read More>>>>>

KOREAN AMERICAN WOMEN IN SPORTS
Korean women, who have progressed from the traditional roles of being good wives and mothers to excelling as musicians, doctors, lawyers and stock brokers - have taken over the sports world.
Read More>>>>>

TV STATIONS FOR ENGLISH-SPEAKING ASIANS
In just the past few months, no fewer than six 24-hour television channels aimed at English-speaking Asians in the U.S. have launched or been announced -- including three from that 2,000-pound gorilla of youth culture, MTV. The others include AZN TV/I-Channel's StirTV, ImaginAsian TV and American Desi.
Read More>>>>>

ROBOT STORIES COMBINE TECHNOLOGY & HEART
Mending futuristic technology and the human heart, Pak's storytelling (as seen in his "Robot Stories") resembles the science-fiction novels he read throughout his youth in Dallas.
Read More>>>>>

HIROKAZU KORE-ENDA'S "NOBODY KNOWS"
A magician of the cinema, Hirokazu Kore-Eda brings a human touch, a literary sensibility and documentary experience to bear in his fiction films that include "Mabarosi," "Distance" and the exquisite celestial fantasy, "After Life" - including his latest "Nobody Knows."
Read More>>>>>

HARUKI MURAKAMI'S "KAFKA ON THE SHORE"
The weird, stately urgency of Murakami's novels - such as "Kafka on the Shore" - comes from their preoccupation with such internal problems; you can imagine each as a drama acted out within a single psyche.
Read More>>>>>

WWII AA SOLDIERS
The U.S. Army's 442d Regimental Combat Team (RCT), comprised of about 4,500 Japanese-Americans- the unit received more than 18,000 individual decorations and seven Presidential Unit Citations. More than 20,000 Chinese Americans served in the armed forces, many as integrated members of Army units.
Read More>>>>>

FATE OF LONDON'S CHINATOWN
London's Chinatown, the busiest and best-known Chinese district in Europe, is a centre of cultural identity for Britain's 247,000 ethnic Chinese, of whom 60,000 live in the capital. Locals up in arms over a real estate development they fear will wreck the district's unique character.
Read More>>>>>

OANH NGUYEN'S "CHANCE THEATER"
Nguyen would also like to tell stories from the community he grew up in, but he says he hasn't found anything compelling yet. "I have to say, 'Get me a script that you truly believe in,' " Nguyen says. "I'm definitely interested."
Read More>>>>>

POWER RANGERS MORPHED AGAIN
East is East and West is West, wrote Rudyard Kipling, and never the twain shall meet. But he hadn't imagined producer Haim Saban, who in 1993 transformed a Japanese adventure serial called "Kyoryuu Sentai Zyuranger" ("Dinosaur Task Force Beast Rangers") into "The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," a cross-cultural hybrid that reinforced by the plastic legions unleashed by giant toymaker Bandai created a true Asian-inflected American phenomenon.
Read More>>>>>

COMMUNITY SAVES KOREAN STUDIES DEPARTMENT
Three years ago, the Center for Korean Studies at the University of Washington was losing a professor to retirement that would have spelled the end for Korean Studies, once the largest program in the country. In an unusual and ambitious collaboration, the local Korean-American community (one of the largest in the U.S.) stepped in and raised the money to create an endowment to fund a professor's position forever.
Read More>>>>>

B.D. WONG'S DIRECTORIAL DEBUT
Social Grace marks B.D. Wong's directorial debut. The independent film, shot in New York City, is a romantic comedy about the cultural complications that occur when an Asian-American woman realizes her Cinderella fantasy by dating one of Manhattan's most eligible blue-blood bachelors.
Read More>>>>>

LOU DIAMOND PHILLIPS DIVORCED
Actor Lou Diamond Phillips has another failed marriage on his hands. His wife, former makeup artist Kelly Phillips, has filed a petition for divorce at Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Read More>>>>>

GRAMMYS CELEBRATE HAWAIIAN MUSIC
"In our culture the elders, the kupuna, hold a special place," said Robert Cazimero, who with his brother, Roland, is nominated in the first-time category of Hawaiian music for their album "Some Call It Aloha Don't Tell." "This is for them. I always feel thousands of them standing behind me."
Read More>>>>>

ABC'S "LOST" - ODD PATH TO DIVERSITY
"Nobody wants tokenism, and that's one of the reasons I'm so proud of this show," Daniel Dae Kim said. "It shows America and television executives and movie producers that you don't have to have a lily-white cast of twentysomethings to have a successful project. The story lines speak to America regardless of color and can even be enhanced by mixtures of race and gender."
Read More>>>>>

NASCAR & DIVERSITY
NASCAR is committed to making its sport - on and off the racetrack - look more like America. No other issue is more important for NASCAR to succeed and to grow.
Read More>>>>>

REMAKES OF ASIAN FILMS
If there's a trend to be found in recent cinema, it's the decidedly Eastern persuasion of more than a few American movies. "The Grudge," "The Ring," and "Shall We Dance?" were all based on Japanese originals, and together they pulled in nearly $300 million domestically.
Read More>>>>>

OGATA AS HIROHITO
Japanese actor Issey Ogata knew he was taking on more than just a film role when he agreed to play the late Emperor Hirohito in Alexander Sokurov's portrayal of the man once revered as a god as he surrenders to the Allies.
Read More>>>>>

SWEAT SHOPS - MANHATTAN STYLE
The crime occurred on the sixth floor of a brick-and-stone building sandwiched between a sausage factory and a parking garage. There, five years ago, behind grimy windows, Chinese women slaved for 11 hours a day, stitching garments for a subcontractor hired by Donna Karan International.
Read More>>>>>

VICTIMIZATION OF ASIAN MALES
The literature on Asian males' experience in the United States has emphasized their victimization. The trouble, however, is that their status changes with differences in context. In one set of circumstances, they may be victims. In another, they may be victimizers.
Read More>>>>>

LEO & MARTY IN INFERNAL AFFAIRS
Leonardo DiCaprio is about to start working on his third film with Scorsese, a remake of the Hong Kong hit Infernal Affairs, called The Departed. They're already thinking about a fourth go-round, reteaming with The Aviator writer John Logan on a remake of Akira Kurosawa's Drunken Angel.
Read More>>>>>

JACKIE CHAN SELLS B.H. HOUSE
Jackie Chan has put his Beverly Hills home on the market at $6.7 million. Chan, a businessman as well as a film star and director, plans to make his base in China, where he manufactures motorcycles and cars and owns high-rise buildings, restaurants and a growing number of stores similar to the Sharper Image, said Curtis F. Wong, a longtime friend of Chan's.
Read More>>>>>

MC BEER BONG - HIP-HOP FLICK
I was not expecting it to be funny nor was I expecting the music to be any good. However, I was pleasantly surprised that it was funny and the music was as good as anything out there. The Asians in this movie were finally portrayed as real people, not Bruce Lee caricatures. Very refreshing!
Read More>>>>>

THOMAS & STEPHEN CHENG - CD BOOTLEGGERS
By mid-December of last year (2004), the agents concluded they had enough for a case. Thomas and Stephen Cheng, along with three associates, were arrested and charged with illegally importing and distributing in excess of 100,000 bootleg CDs.
Read More>>>>>

SANDRA OH IN "SMELLS LIKE BUTTER"
Korean production company LJ Film's "Smells Like Butter" will star 34-year-old ethnic Korean actress Sandra Oh and be directed by Korean American director Grace Lee. German film great Wim Enders will co-produce the project.
Read More>>>>>

IMAGINASIAN TV
While ImaginAsian TV has cool graphics, a clean Web site, a small movie theater in New York and a radio show in San Francisco (KSQQ 96.1 FM), it's still decidedly, affectionately, low-budget -- a nascent channel trying to find itself.
Read More>>>>>

KEANU REEVES & CONSTANTINE
In "Constantine," Keanu Reeves plays a kind of INS agent on the border between this mortal coil and the eternal hereafter.
Read More>>>>>

ANIME'S CREATIVE FUTURE & BATTLES
But Hayao Miyazaki's latest success (Howl's Moving Castle) comes at a testing time for Japanese anime, an art form he has done so much to drag from the artistic ghetto into the mainstream. While the rest of the world fetes anime's global cool, some (Miyazaki, Katsuhiro Otomo, Toshiro Suzuki, Mamoru Oshii) in Japan are wondering if it has peaked creatively.
Read More>>>>>

TOMMY CHONG'S DAY IN COURT
The court case and prison experience might one day yield comedy gold for Chong, but you won't see him venting about it in public any time soon.
Read More>>>>>

MIDORI IN CONCERT
Once thought in some circles mechanical, Midori has clearly developed as an artist. She has added emotion, agitation and passion to her technical arsenal. But her interpretive fervor can come across as that of a prisoner trying to break free of her instrument. One listens and watches with fascination.
Read More>>>>>

ENTREPENEUR WANTS ROYALTIES ON CANTO-POP SONGS
Nicolas Chai, a former waiter and karaoke bar manager, has secured the North American rights to the most popular Cantonese pop songs and videos. Chai is demanding royalties of $20,000 or more per year from 300 karaoke bars from Queens, N.Y., to Alhambra.
Read More>>>>>

OMG - CULTURE IN L.A.?!?
Boosters of the Los Angeles arts scene have long nurtured a dream: that our city's familiar icons film reels, surfboards, palm trees will be replaced by classier ones.
Read More>>>>>

RACISM IN SANTA CLARITA
Robin Williams-Nohara (resident of Santa Clarita) says her three sons have been harassed and beaten by white teenagers. She is African American and works as an infant-care specialist in West Los Angeles and her Japanese American husband, Seiji Nohara, is a customer service representative for United Airlines.
Read More>>>>>

BRIDE AND PREJUDICE
As "Bend It Like Beckham," her last film, demonstrated, co-writer (with Paul Mayeda Berges) and director Chadha has a knack for situations that blend cultures. Here she not only mixes Western and Indian characters, she marries the sensibilities of English language independent cinema with the agreeable conventions of India's Bollywood musicals.
Read More>>>>>

SAVING FACE (PRODUCED BY TEDDY ZEE)
It is hard to believe that there can be anything new in the world to say about love, but first time director Alice Wu may have done it in the charming romantic comedy Saving Face - that features the talents of Michelle Krusiec, Joan Chen and Lynne Chen.
Read More>>>>>

YAO MING'S RESTAURANT
Yao Ming is a big fan of his mother's cooking and everyone will be able to try it out at the restaurant that Yao's parents (Yao Zhiyuan and Fang Feng Di) has opened their $1.5 million venture that combines Chinese food with a sports bar - Yao Restaurant and Bar on the west side of Houston - about three miles away from Houston's thriving Chinatown.
Read More>>>>>

BERTHA BAY-SA PAN'S "FACE
Face, the extraordinary film debut by director Bertha Bay-Sa Pan may be the Asian American version of an early Spike Lee film that confronts the challenges of interracial relationships.
Read More>>>>>


 
 
This young Asian American fashion director was chosen by the Bush White House to be one of the inaugural clothing designers for Barbara Bush, one of the twin daughters of President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush. Derek Lam, a 3rd generation native of San Francisco who traces his heritage to a family of silk importers from China (his grandfather owned and operated a wedding-dress factory that was located just North of San Francisco's Chinatown) and work experience to Hong Kong and Manhattan, designed the inaugural attire (It is a pale blue cashmere trench coat that topped a lemon grass silk and chiffon blouse and a wool skirt) that Ms. Bush wore to the second term swearing-in ceremonies of her father on January 20, 2005 at the United States Capitol.

Derek Lam's designs reflect his vision for the American woman's clothes: it is classic American fashion that is wearable, unpretentious and resolutely modern with a devotion to beauty. His elegant, refined and sensual clothes are designed for women to feel uniquely individual, unabashedly feminine with a lot of intelligent savvy. His previous eollections has received rave reviews in countless publications including Women's Wear Daily, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Nylon Magazine, Fashion Wire Daily, Style.com, ELLE etc.

Derek Lam, in fact, began his career in fashion after graduating from Parson's School of Design in 1990. Immediately after graduation, his talent attracted the attention of Long Island native and cashmere fashion expert Michael Kors who hired him to be a Michael Kors Collection Designer. After four years of work at Michael Kors, Mr. Lam moved to Hong Kong to work for one of the largest direct retail brands in Asia (G2000, the harbor city's answer to Banana Republic). Following his Hong Kong experience, he returned to New York to work again with Michael Kors. This time he became the Vice President of Design for the KORS line. Finally, after 12 years of extensive in 2002, Derek Lam together with his business partner Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann, established the Derek Lam Company.

Who Wears Derek's Clothes: First Daughter Barbara Bush, Angelina Jolie, Hillary Swank, Kyra Sedgwick, Elizabeth Rohm, Oprah Winfrey, Alicia Keys.

In 2004, he won the third annual Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award that recognizes new New York fashion designers and he was a nominee for the Council of Fashion Designer of America's Perry Ellis-Swarovski award for emerging design talent. In 2005, he was nominated for Swarovski's Perry Ellis Award for Ready-to-Wear, a prestigious prize given to new designers by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. He has also received a Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) nomination for best new talent in ready-to-wear under his belt


 
 
Rachel Factor is a J.A.P. - which might be offensive to Asians or to Jews who may recognize the shorthand for "Jewish American Princess. Performers often lampoon their own heritage, and that is precisely what Ms. Factor, a Japanese-American and unreligious Christian who converted to Orthodox Judaism, is doing.

She's stated that "If you break down the words of the title, it represents where I've come in my life, in terms of my self-image. The meaning of the words are very beautiful. I'm Japanese and Jewish and American - just as American as anyone else who was born here. I don't consider myself a princess, but I consider myself worthy for the first time in my life."

Rachel, who was born Christine Horii in Hawaii, share her story of being a Radio City Music Rockette to Israel where where she now lives with her husband and two children. Her performances are to sold-out synagogues, community centers and Jewish high schools to exclusively female audiences - as her strict faith demands.

Her adherence to a religion that prohibits her from performing on Saturdays or singing in front of men outside her family and requiring her to forgo leotards for long skirts and modest hair coverings - she has achieved greater success. At her performances, the mostly Orthodox women who come to the show by the hundreds are lured by Ms. Factor's story, the all-female religious environment and the chance to peer into the MTV and Hollywood dance worlds otherwise closed to them. She states that her story of giving singing in front of men on Broadway and sacrificing the glamorous aspects of life for a seemingly restrictive lifestyle in a joyous fashion has been inspiring to people who are on a spiritual path.

Rachel grew up in Honolulu where she received a prestigious prep-school education, but felt ashamed of her Asian looks. Her show opens with a re-enactment of her childhood efforts to create creases in her eyelids with tape and eyelash glue. At 18, she left for Los Angeles to pursue a dance career and quickly found professional gigs, including work as a backup dancer for Jody Watley and Belinda Carlisle, a stint as a Rockette, and jobs in the choruses of the Broadway productions of Shogun and Miss Saigon - which is seen within her program.

Despite the ignorant comments she often encountered, like what country are you from? No, where are you really from?, she embraced her culture and set out to date Asian men. But she met and fell in love with Todd Factor, a television commercial producer, who told her it was important that his wife be Jewish. Her reaction, as she recalls in her show: Well, if it makes a lot of sense then that you would be dating me! At first, Ms. Factor balked at the idea of converting but decided to explore the option after talking to her mother. Rachel discovered that she agreed with Jewish beliefs and enjoyed the rituals that inspired additional research. She converted to Conservative Judaism after a prominent Orthodox rabbi performed the circumcision on their first son, Ariel Jun, in 2002 after deciding that Orthodoxy was most compatible with their spiritual goals. Upon her second conversion and according to Orthodox precepts, she changed her name to Rachel. After her conversion, the family moved to Israel, where Mr. Factor could study at a yeshiva for the newly Orthodox.

In Jerusalem, Ms. Factor performed a program that included a monologue about her Orthodox conversion that resulted in female audiences that started with groups of 40+ to sold-out concerts at local theaters that had a strong appeal to American expatriate Orthodox women who felt validated by the story of a glamorous dancer who had chosen to join their community. Despite her appeal, she reports that some ultra-Orthodox believers have criticized her show as inappropriate. Many Orthodox outreach organization hope that the message that "It's important for people to see that you can be Orthodox and still use your talents in a powerful way."

 
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