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W H A T ' S   N E W
May 2005

Scan and Review the Highlights From the Various Categories Listed Below
  Business News Christianity News Community News Diversity News Entertainment News  
  Film News Health News Literature News Music News Politics News  
  R.I.P. Technology News Television News Theater & Dance News Tsunami News  
     
     
 

EDITORIALS
DIVERSITY AWARENESS IN "GREY ANATOMY":
In a April 2005 episode of Grey's Anatomy -
Sandra Oh enters the room, where a white doctor sits with a patient. Patient tries to speak to Oh in a Chinese dialect.

  • White Doctor: "I wouldn't have called you, but I can't get a hold of the translator. Can you just ask her what's wrong?"
  • Oh: "No.
  • White Doctor: "Why not?"
  • Oh: "Because I grew up in Beverly Hills. The only Chinese I know is from Mr. Chow's menu. Besides, I'm Korean."

RACIAL DISCRIMINATION SUIT @ BILLBOARD
. . according to the filing in New York State Supreme Court, a Billboard official prepared a chart titled "Editorial Staff Demographics" and listed each employee by name, title and race - "caucasian," "african-american" or "asian or pacific islander."

The chart was accompanied by an E-mail raising concerns about the friendship of two minority employees and whether it could lead to a lawsuit against the company.

. . "Maybe I am reading too much into this, but I saw Carla and Samantha going to lunch together today. ... Samantha and Carla's budding friendship might not turn into anything that would result in a lawsuit, but I feel it's good to be aware of it and to just keep an eye on it. Better safe than sorry."

LAN SAMANTHA CHANG
"Sometimes I wonder if I would have become a writer if I had been raised in a larger, more diverse community ... My childhood in Appleton [WI] prepared me for writing -- for observing and recording -- because I grew up feeling like an outsider ... I can not remember a time when I was not conscious of being different from the majority of people around me."

"... I studied our reflections. No one seeing the two of us would fail to recognize that we belonged together. And why was that? I wondered-was it only our round faces, our dusky skin? Or was it written, indelibly, in our faces and our bodies, that we were not and would never be women who expected or felt that they deserved to be loved the most?"

WORDS OF BONO
"I'm not sure if it's Catholic guilt or what, but I genuinely believe that second only to personal redemption, the most important thing in the Scriptures 2,103 passages in all refers to taking care of the world's poor." "Each generation has to ask itself what it wants to be remembered for. Previous generations have ushered in civil rights in America, gotten rid of apartheid in South Africa and brought down the Iron Curtain.

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APA & MEDIA NEWS

KAZUO ISHIGURO'S "NEVER LET ME GO"
Never Let Me Go is the sixth novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, who won the Booker Prize in 1989 for his chilling rendition of a bootlickingly devoted but morally blank English butler, The Remains of the Day. It's a thoughtful, crafty, and finally very disquieting look at the effects of dehumanization on any group that's subject to it.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

U.S. SUCCESS FOR ASIAN ACTS
Record companies are grooming a growing number of multilingual Asian pop artists for global stardom. Some acts are trying to build a following across Asia, and especially in China. But the dream for most is to break into the U.S. and other Western markets though there hasn't been much to differentiate Asian artists from their non-Asian pop competitors, aside from ethnicity.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

ANDY LAU SUPPORTING NEW FILMMAKERS
Hong Kong actor Andy Lau will invest more than HK$25mil of his own money in six movies in a bid to promote new Asian talent. Focus Films, part of Lau's Focus Group entertainment company, said the Chinese-language movies will be produced by young filmmakers from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore. Each movie will be shot in its director's home market using local cast and production.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

SANDRA OH IN "GREY'S ANATOMY"
Now that "Sex and the City" is off the air and ''ER'' is on its last legs, ABC has concocted a drama that tries to be a little bit of both: on "Grey's Anatomy," alluring young interns compete to become surgeons -- ''Sex and the City Hospital'' - with Sandra Oh.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

STEPHEN CHOW MEETS BUDDHA IN THE SKY
Previous generations of Hong Kong action heroes have flown through the air with the aid of hidden wires and trampolines. But now, Hong Kong filmmakers and directors (such as Stephen Chow in "Kung Fu Hustle") are following Hollywood into the digital age, using computer technology to manipulate images and make the feats of their protagonists seem even more otherworldly and astonishing. "Chow is becoming the Charlie Chaplin of Hong Kong," said Geoffrey Wong, a Hong Kong film critic, describing Chow's enormous appeal. "Chow likes to portray grass-roots characters that speak for most of the people in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

YELLOW HORROR IS GREEN IN HOLLYWOOD
Asian horror films have resonated with American audiences because they want more than the cookie-cutter films offered to them by U.S. studios.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

YO-YO MA @ HARVARD
Harvard University and the Rhode Island School of Design have just announced an unusual new partnership with Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project, an organization devoted to multicultural exploration of music linked to the countries of the historic trade route connecting Europe with Asia.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

JACKIE CHAN SELLS MORE THAN FILMS
Jackie Chan is going retail. The international action star has joined the merchandising game, selling clothes, food, health and even furniture in China.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

YI DING IN JEFFREY KRAMER'S "SMILE"
In the film "Smile," an elderly man who had been born with a deformity offered Kramer the use of his small, dimly lighted house. It became the residence of Lin (played by Yi Ding, who as a child was featured in "The Joy Luck Club") and her father, Daniel (Luoyong Wang, who starred on Broadway in "Miss Saigon").
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

WONG KAR-WAI'S "EROS"
The only real reason to catch "Eros" is to see Wong Kar-Wai's beautiful opening piece, "The Hand," the story of the intersecting fortunes of a young tailor and a stunning courtesan. "The Hand" is set, like Wong's exquisite "In the Mood for Love," in the Hong Kong of the 1960s and seems to capture a moment when ancient traditions found themselves suddenly steeped in modernism. "What motivated me to do this film was Michelangelo Antonioni, who had been the guiding light for me and filmmakers of my generation," said Kar Wai, creator of the sci-fi romance "2046" and arthouse favourite "In the Mood for Love."
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

FALL OF SAIGON'S 30TH ANNIVERSARY REFLECTED @ VIFF
War trauma marks the hearts and minds of even those born after the war, especially if that war was Vietnam. This year (2005) marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, and many of the films in the Vietnamese International Film Festival are infused with a sense of wistfulness and of melancholy.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

MARGARET CHO'S PERSONAL SIDE
Margaret Cho bears little resemblance to the woman whose preelection vitriol spurred Bush supporters to deluge her with hate mail. She is soft-spoken and contemplative who talks about the comforts of marriage (she wed L.A. artist Al Ridenour in 2003) and her desire to have kids.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

KOBE TO KATHAK
Inspired by the Laker star (Kobe Bryant), Anjani Ambegaokar's Kathak Dance of India (a traditional Indian troupe) incorporates basketball into a new work.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

ASIA IN SAN GABRIEL
The main drag through the San Gabriel Valley offers so many variations on Chinese, Taiwanese and other Eastern cuisines that it's like taking a trip to Asia without the plane.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

FAN YANG'S "SOAP AND WATER"
Fan Yang's new show is a multimedia, high-tech, laser-and-light exploration into the vastly scientific world of soap and water.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

YEAR OF YAO
"The Year of the Yao" documentary plays like a feature-length version of one of those MTV "Diary" episodes that follows the National Basketball Association's first Chinese player from his selection as the No. 1 draft pick in 2002 through his rookie season.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

CALL FOR INTERNMENT MEMORIALS
One of California's most powerful Republican House members is clashing with the Bush administration, which opposes his proposal to authorize $38 million in federal funds to preserve the camps where Japanese Americans were interned during World War II.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

SPIT WILL TELL WHAT AILS YOU - SAYS DR. WONG
Unlike the rest of us, David Wong enjoys talking about spit. He likes to speak of its texture, color, scent and sociology. Spend a few hours with him and one learns that saliva is the lubricant that makes food and language possible and that at certain Greek weddings, celebrants spit on the bride and groom for good luck.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

IRIS CHANG - ONE FINAL VICTIM OF NANKING MASSACRE
Those who knew Iris Chang used to worry about how she could cope with the gloom of her chosen work. Maybe Iris's problem was that she cared for the dead but failed to take care of herself.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

WWII'S "PHILIPPINE LIST"
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.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

IMMIGRATION POLICIES AFFECTING APA COMMUNITIES
Recent changes in American immigration law have resulted in a significant shift in migration from Asia, according to the authors of a new book entitled "Probationary Americans: Contemporary Immigration Policies and the Shaping of Asian American Communities."
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

JEFF HO / LORDS OF DOGTOWN
The film's producers spoke with Jeff on numoerous occasions, but he ultimatly could not commit to it because he did not want to sign his life rights for use in the film. Read a review of the film by clicking HERE.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

SINBAD W/JET, KEANU AND ZHANG
Two of China's most popular film stars, Jet Li and Zhang Ziyi, will set sail with Keanu Reeves in an updated Sinbad movie. The film's maker, Rob Cohen, is hoping the three stars will play Sinbad's crew in what will be the eighth movie voyage for the mythical sailor.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

FILM REVIEW: RICE RHAPSODY
A family comedy "Chinglish" movie that deserved its praise and a wide theatrical release! I cannot say enough about this film, but let me start off by stating that this film has everything that a good "offbeat" family movie should have: A wonderful cast, intriguing storyline, colorful and insightful characters, and a touching story the underlines the entire main plot.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

NIELSEN LAUNCH NEW TV RATING SYSTEM
Nielsen Media Research was set to launch a controversial new television rating system. Strong evidence suggested that the new system could undercount African Americans and Hispanics, as well as younger viewers and in doing so, severely penalize networks like FOX and UPN that tailor their content to these audiences.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

L.A.'S "LITTLE TOKYO"
The Exclusion Acts of 1882 and 1892 did not apply to the Japanese. Those who migrated to the West, primarily to California, came to work on farms that blanketed the Central Valley. Once in Los Angeles, the new arrivals temporarily leased small parcels of land earmarked for future real estate development (Little Tokyo). They cultivated the tiny plots called "truck farms" and produced fruit and vegetables in abundance. They joined with Chinese growers to establish City Market, a wholesale produce exchange in 1909 and a similar flower market in 1914. Both are still thriving.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

MIKE SHINODA'S SIDE PROJECT ("FORT MINOR")
Linkin Park's multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist Mike Shinoda is releasing his side project Fort Minor. Shinoda, the producer and beat-maker behind Jay-Z's and Linkin Park's "Collision Course," sees Fort Minor as an extension of who he is as a musician, producer and visual artist.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

BARRIE OSBORNE GOES BOLLYWOOD
Legendary Hollywood filmmaker Barrie M. Osborne, who produced the blockbusters "Lord of the Rings", "Matrix" and "Face Off" will make a debut in Bollywood, India's formulaic Hindi film industry by joining hands with well-known producer-director Shekhar Kapur, a Mumbai native, to produce "Pani" (Water), a movie aimed at Indian and international audiences.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

YOUNG AMERICANS TAKE CHINESE LANGUAGE CHALLENGE
Studying geometry can be taxing for a 10-year-old. But Dr. Zhang's class at Maryland's Potomoac Elementary School of young American students are not merely learning all the angles, they are doing it in Chinese. They are part of a growing number of U.S. schools that teach Chinese -- a hot language thanks to China's surging economy and growing world clout.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

'LOST'S" STEVEN MAEDA'S FUTURE
Writer/producer Steven Maeda has signed a two-year deal with Touchstone Television, which will bring him on as co-exec prod of ABC's Lost next season. The deal also calls for Maeda to develop original projects for the studio.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

PROTEST OF "THE JERSEY GUYS"
New Jersey 101.5 FM's afternoon drive-time show, "The Jersey Guys," with hosts Craig Carton and Ray Rossi is facing protests from Asian-American groups angered by its lampooned of Edison's Asian-American population and the Korean-American candidate in the township's Democratic primary, Jun Choi during their efforts to win the election by tapping into the township's burgeoning Asian- American population.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

NAPALC REPORT STATES APA COMMUNITIES ARE UNDERREPRESENTED
Asian Pacific Americans in Prime Time: Lights, Camera and Little Action - a pioneer study by NAPALC (w/Asian Law Caucus & APA Legal Center) on the representation of Asian Pacific Americans on television reveals a dearth of quality roles for APAs in prime time programming. The percentage of regular APA characters on prime time television amounts to less than half of the actual APA population in the United States. APA regular characters are often absent from programs set in cities with high APA populations, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, or severely under-represented in places like Hawaii and New York City.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

APA COMMUNITIES ARE ANTI-SOCIAL
A dearth of quality prime time television roles for Asian-American actors is fuelling the image of an asexual, isolated community obsessed with professional status, according to a study. Lending a twist to the usual complaints by minority groups of negative stereotyping, the report highlighted the fact that the tiny number of regular Asian American characters in TV dramas uniformly hold high status jobs, often in medicine or law enforcement.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

TAKUO MIYAGISHIMA WINS OSCAR
At the 2005 Oscars, actress Scarlett Johansson presented an Oscar to one of the most notable design engineers in the motion picture industry: Takuo Miyagishima. When Miyagishima's name was announced, it wasn't lost in translation. His achievements and successful career translate into any language as being truly inspirational.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

JAPANESE AMERICAN SOLDIERS LIBERATE DACHAU
Most people don't know that 4,500 Japanese-American men served in a special, experimental U.S. Army regiment during World War II, far less that a unit of that regiment liberated the Dachau death camp in southern Germany. But playwright/actor Lane Nishikawa knew all about it, since three of his uncles served in that regiment, including one who helped liberate Dachau that inspired Nishikawa to write a play about a lifetime friendship between a Jewish survivor of Dachau and a member of the 552nd Artillery Unit of the 442nd Nisei Regimental Combat Team who liberated him.
Click Here to Read More>>>>>

 
Kent Nagano


Kent Nagano’s artistic vision brought to life a musical-dramatic commemoration of a shameful episode that was a difficult subject to cover and not an easy project to bring to reality – “Manzanar: An American Story.” The sold-out multicultural audience at UCLA’s Royce Hall experienced a program that does what great music presentations are supposed to do – make one think and/or rethink one’s views/convictions on important issues. In this case, it was to not forget the unconscionable lapse of democracy that happened at Manzanar and at other WWII internment (concentration) camps – ever.

Nagano’s presence, known as one of America’s most daring and forward-looking conductor – along with being recognized as one of the best in the world - galvanized the various creative elements into this new oratorio-like work about the tragic experience of Japanese American citizens being interned during WWII. Despite the many compromises that occurred during the creation of this piece of music - Nagano incorporated the talents Naomi Sekiya, David Benoit, Jean-Pascal Beintus and American Youth Symphony (artists that don’t normally fill halls the size of Royce Hall) to perform with earnest and passion.

 
 
American Youth Symphony (ucla live)

Nagano guided the well-intentioned American Youth Symphony’s enthusiastic musicians in their efforts to somewhat overcome their inexperience in effectively communicating this musical journey that began with Ives' "Unanswered Question," followed by a reading of Plato's "The Apology of Socrates" and bits of Beethoven's opera "Fidelio" (the introduction to Act 2 and the "Leonore" No. 3 Overture). Ives is quiet, mystical, questing. Socrates, as reported by Plato, was rational as he faced death on charges of corrupting youth and defying religion. His sentencing, Don Franzen wrote in a program note, "stands as perhaps history's most emblematic case of democracy gone wrong." Beethoven’s “Fidelio” highlights the “human ideal” and Florestan’s unjust imprisonment and victorious release of a political prisoner. These selections provided a historical perspective that Democracy, its uses and misuses, is not a new story and not without relevance to world events today.

 
Woodwind Section (UCLA Live)
 

During the second half, Naomi Sekiya’s musical contributions were intense, dramatic, masterfully colored, and uncompromising in its portrayal of post-camp life. Sekiya included sledgehammer-strong percussive attacks and bold abstract orchestral effects, which included use of a "sho," a traditional Japanese reed instrument. Jean-Pascal Beintus’ contributions brought a lighter touch for the various vignettes of camp life. David Benoit’s jazz trio (piano, bass & drums) interjected with pop music of the era with varying effectiveness – sometimes complimentary, sometimes providing unnecessary intrusions. Near the end, the Santa Monica Chamber and Manzanar Youth Choirs’ sang a forgettable “Song of Manzanar” while Elza van den Heever sang a siren call of hope and warning.

Philip Kan Gotanda’s text brought an overview of the Japanese American experience throughout the 20th century that provided a proper historical understanding of the inappropriate imprisonment at Manzanar from 1942 to 1945 that highlights the hysteria that surrounds any type of racial profiling. To Nagano’s credit, it was presented in a sophisticated and relatively apolitical manner.

Senator Inouye and Martin Sheen’s narration brought an inspiring dignity to the words that struck closer to home emanating from Inouye’s experiences with the internment camp – along with his position in politics, along with Mr. Sheen’s status of portraying a U.S. president on a popular and acclaim television program while recognizing his long-standing reputation as being an advocate for civil rights.

The acting of the text was workman-like and at time passionate. John Cho’s solo readings during the first half were unable to effectively fully communicate, just like the musicians, the many deep emotions that exist within the retelling of the Japanese American experience of the 20th century in the United States - and in a wider perspective the experiences of racism faced by all Asian/Asian Pacific Americans throughout history.

 
 
Kristi Yamaguichi

After intermission, the four actors were better able to convey the life and issues related to the time spent at Manzanar – difficult considering that the amplification wasn’t adequate. Pat Suzuki’s great energy contrasted sharply to Kristi Yamaguchi’s (of figure-skating fame) “best of intentions” reading – though some people in the audience were attracted to the “innocence” (i.e. a strong dependence on pure emotion, as opposed to actual “acting”). Sab Shimono read his lines in a very deliberate fashion, seemingly in search for a deeper meaning while John Cho (during the second half of the program) read his lines in earnest.

The program provided a brief overview and insights of Manzanar – an internment camp in Central California’s Owens Valley where 11,000 Californians and U.S. Japanese American citizens were imprisoned within a square mile by barbed wire between 1942 and 1945. This occurred as the result of President Roosevelt’s “Executive Order 9066” that allowed the Army to round up American residents of Japanese descent and forcibly relocate them in concentration camps around the country. Many lost their houses, farms, possessions and none was ever charged with seditious activities.

It is a miracle that this oratorio survived, considering that this work of music (originally proposed by Kevin Star – California’s state librarian and well-known historian) was intended to be a grand project along the lines of a symphony to be funded by the state of California, staged by visionary director Robert Wilson (supposedly the funding was to be in the millions) and performed at the world’s prestigious festivals. Private financing resulted in the original musical theater work being transformed into this 55 minute orchestral score written by various composers, two narrators, four actors, a solo soprano, a children’s choir, a women chorus and a jazz trio.

One might be surprised at the celebratory nature of the program prompted by this factor being a prerequisite of Hawaii Senator K. Inouye before he would participate. As Nagano discovered, Manzanar left a record of the internees not just surviving – but their ability to bring beauty and art into their lives to honor the raw natural loveliness of the surroundings.

“Manzanar'' speaks with the power of well-intentioned convictions of many people that is especially noteworthy for any artist – especially a prominent American artist of Asian descent. Hopefully this musical-dramatic commemoration will have the opportunity to refine its presentation, clearly define its unique musical character and incorporate creative elements that provide the ability to explore deeper into the emotional turmoil embedded with the internment camps. Kent Nagano deserves a great deal of credit of making this presentation a reality.

It is hope that audiences receive what Maestro Kent Nagano stated it “is a commemoration, but also a warning… Its message is universal, telling of the fragility of human rights in times of fear and war, and remind[s] us to be vigilant if liberty is [to] be enlarged, and freedom preserved.”

“Manzanar'' speaks with the power of well-intentioned convictions of many people that is especially noteworthy for any artist – especially a prominent American artist of Asian descent.

Hopefully this musical-dramatic commemoration will have the opportunity to refine its presentation, clearly define its unique musical character and incorporate creative elements that provide the ability to explore deeper into the emotional turmoil embedded with the internment camps. Kent Nagano deserves a great deal of credit of making this presentation a reality.

   

It is hope that audiences receive, remember and embrace what Maestro Kent Nagano had stated in the past that it “is a commemoration, but also a warning… Its message is universal, telling of the fragility of human rights in times of fear and war, and remind[s] us to be vigilant if liberty is [to] be enlarged, and freedom preserved.”

This message is important because, as stated by Nagano, "One of the things that became very clear to me even as a child," he (Nagano) explained, "is that, like so many historic events, it's subject to so many different interpretations. There's no single simple story of what happened, and the times were obviously extremely complicated — like they are today — and any number of interpretations or revisions can come out of it."

“Manzanar – An American Story” states that Japanese Americans (along with the other Asian/Asian Pacific American communities, other ethnic minorities and the general public) can state together the words that “We are the foreigner become the American” and the oft-stated stanza of “My Country. My Home. My Land.”

 

 
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