By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
With the leaves changing colors and the temperature outside becoming noticeably cooler, there’s no denying that fall is here. And so are new television shows! And movies! Read on to find out what’s been happening in Hollywood.
New faces on TV: Priyanka Chopra! Plus, Ken Jeong returns!
Indian actress Priyanka Chopra is currently starring in the new ABC drama “Quantico”. Chopra, who hails from India, is a wildly famous Bollywood star and singer. She first shot to fame and launched her showbiz career after winning the Miss World beauty pageant in 2000. Chopra has long been a global celebrity, but American audiences largely do not recognize her face let alone her name—her involvement with “Quantico” aims to change that.
“Quantico” is a thriller television series that follows a FBI recruit (played by Chopra) who is accused of committing a terrorist attack. The show follows a flashback format that tells her side of the story as well as her fellow students at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Chopra is now the first leading Indian actress from India to star in an American television show.
In an interview with People Magazine, Chopra says she was skeptical about being offered a chance to star on an American TV show. “I didn’t want to play a stereotypical role,” she said. “I wanted a great part, and they found me one. [My character on “Quantico” is] like a female Jason Bourne.”
Strangely, despite airing on the same network as “Quantico,” ABC news show “Nightline” mistakenly featured a photo of Indian actress Yukta Mookhey in a promo for an interview with Chopra. Mookhey had been crowned Miss World in 1999; Chopra won the Miss World title in 2000. Twitter users quickly called out “Nightline” for the error, which resulted in the news program apologizing for the misidentification. The promoted “Nightline” interview with Chopra focused on how she has dealt with racial issues in her career among other topics.
How ironic and hilarious. And Chopra had a good humor about the mix-up as well. Her Twitter response to the mistake was a simple “Lol!” followed by a link to a fan’s finding of the gaffe. She later thanked “Nightline” for issuing a correction.
Rest assured that Chopra is just beginning to make her mark on America. “Quantico” has already shown some of the strongest ratings for new television shows this season. Catch “Quantico” on Sundays at 10:00p.m. on ABC.
Meanwhile, “Dr. Ken” has officially made its debut on television! Helmed by funnyman and actor Ken Jeong, “Dr. Ken” is loosely based off of Jeong’s past life as a doctor. Part-workplace and part-family comedy, “Dr. Ken” aims to normalize the Asian American family life. The show also stars Suzy Nakamura, Krista Marie Yu, and Albert Tsai as Jeong’s wife, daughter and son respectively. Margaret Cho will have a guest-starring role as Jeong’s competitive older sister later this season. “Dr. Ken” airs on Fridays at 8:30p.m. on ABC.
Early Halloween scares and white-washing in Hollywood
Just in time for Halloween, M. Night Shyamalan’s latest horror film “The Visit” hit theaters last month. Shyamalan, who is Indian American, is known for his award-winning thriller “The Sixth Sense” as well as a series of horror film flops.
“The Visit” follows two kids who, well, visit their maternal grandparents in rural Pennsylvania for the first time only to discover that the grandparents have some bizarre habits that cause the children to fear for their lives. The movie, which has been positioned as a horror-comedy flick, has received mixed reviews thus far.
I know all of Shyamalan’s movies after “The Sixth Sense” have been controversial (and often panned), but I’m still waiting for his comeback. I haven’t seen “The Visit” yet but I’m eager to—I’ve always loved the trademark twist in Shyamalan’s films. “The Visit” is currently in theaters.
In other non-surprising news, another movie is getting whitewashed. This time: teen-style. Entertainment news source Variety reported that actor Nat Wolff is reportedly in talks to star in a live-action adaptation of “Death Note”—a popular supernatural/thriller manga series by author Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata.
“Death Note” follows a high school student named Light Yagami who discovers “a supernatural notebook that allows him to kill anyone simply by writing the victim’s name.” Light Yagami, a Japanese teenager, will be played by white actor Wolff. Given the rise of Asian American actors in Hollywood, did the producers even try to look for an Asian actor? There’s really no excuse at this point.
“Death Note” was previously adapted as an animated series as well as a series of Japanese live-action films, a stage adaptation, and a drama series that premiered on Japanese television earlier this year. The manga’s success is undeniable, which is probably why Warner Bros. acquired the rights to “Death Note” in 2009.
The American live-action film will be directed by Adam Wingard and produced by Japanese American actor and digital effects artist Masi Oka, who audiences may remember and know from television shows “Heroes” and “Hawaii Five-0” respectively. Production for “Death Note” begins spring 2016. (end)
Vivian Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.