A monthly column about all things Asian in popular culture
By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
2012 must be a lucky year because the future is looking bright for Asians, as many seize or continue to work on new opportunities in all the aspects of the entertainment industry.
Asians in reality and animated television
Fans of Bravo’s cooking reality show “Top Chef” were dismayed to see Korean American chef and contestant Beverly Kim get eliminated last month. On her final episode, Kim lost the challenge with a halibut dish that evidently did not please the judges enough to let her pass onto the next round.
But hope lives on! Kim will return to the show and go head-to-head with a fellow contestant in a webisode challenge — the winner of the challenge will return to the main competition. Good luck, Kim! I’m also keeping my fingers crossed for fellow Asian chefs Edward Lee and Paul Qui, who are still in the running for the Top Chef title.
In the world of television, animated shows from Asian American sitcom writers may soon be coming to a television set or computer near you. Best-known for his writing on the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation,” Chinese American screenwriter Alan Yang is working on an animated show with Greg Daniels, the multitalented veteran comedy writer, producer, and director best-known for creating the animated comedy “King of the Hill” as well as co-producing “The Simpsons.” The new show is reportedly about a group of 20-something males living in Los Angeles.
Fellow NBC sitcom writer Indian American Mindy Kaling is also working alongside Daniels to create another animated show. Kaling is known for her writing on the sitcom “The Office” and for her role as supporting character Kelly Kapoor on the show. Kaling’s show will focus on a high school girls’ volleyball team with one of the characters voiced by Kaling herself.
Although both shows are very much in the incubation stage, here’s to hoping both will make it to the air. If either show airs, it will find a home among NBC’s coveted primetime slots.
Latest music happenings from Asia to the U.S.
December was a big month for Japanese singing sensation and songwriter Koda Kumi, who recently announced her pregnancy. Her announcement came amid rumors that she was marrying Kenji03, vocalist and guitarist for Japanese rock band BACK-ON. In order to prevent rumors from exploding, Kumi made an official announcement on her website, explaining that the news was initially withheld from the public because she had yet to reach a stable period of her pregnancy. It’s happy news that Kumi is pregnant, but it annoys me how open rumors forced her to announce it before she was ready. Such is the life of a celebrity, though. Incidentally, Kumi and Kenji03 married in late December.
The men of the all-Asian hip hop group Far East Movement have been hard at work producing new songs. A music video was recently released for their latest single “Jello.” Fans can expect a full album release later in 2012.
Interesting highs and lows for Asians in the movie biz
Actor Keanu Reeves, who is of Chinese and Hawaiian descent, is prepping to start work on his directorial debut for “Man of Tai Chi,” an action-drama film set in Beijing. The film follows the spiritual journey of a young martial artist. Reeves will also co-star in the movie. I feel like this movie has the potential to be kind of interesting! Or really lame. Only time will tell — the movie releases in 2013.
Due to casting, script, and budget issues, Warner Brothers has temporarily halted the American live-action remake of “Akira.” Thank goodness. The movie was in talks to have the likes of actors Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund, and Helena Bonham Carter in lead roles for the film — all non-Asian actors for characters that actually are Asian! For the sake of all the Akira fans out there, let’s hope this cessation ends up being permanent.
And finally, a word for Vietnamese actor Don Duong, who unfortunately passed away due to recent heart failure and a brain hemorrhage. Popularly known for his work in the Vietnam War epic film “We Were Soldiers” as well as the drama film “Three Seasons,” Duong left Vietnam in 2003 after being labeled a traitor by the country for his portrayals in films (including “We Were Soldiers”) that the communist media found treasonous. Although Duong managed to find acting work after immigrating to the United States, he never had a chance to return to Vietnam before he died.
May he rest in peace. (end)
Vivian Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.