Wow, we're excited to announce our Second Anniversary show in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month: A one-hour conversation with Albert Kim, a writer and co-producer for the hit CW network action series "Nikita" starring Maggie Q!
We'll be speaking with Albert on TUESDAY, MAY 10 at 7 pm Pacific Time (10 PM ET). Just register with visualizAsian (it's free) and you'll get the information to dial in to our conference line, or listen on our live webcast. If you've already registered for visualizAsian calls in the past, you'll automatically receive the dial-in information via email. Remember, you can always submit questions to our visualizAsian guests in advance and during the livecast.You missed our show with Albert Kim! But for a limited time you can still register to hear the archived replay MP3 of the conversation.
You may not recognize the name, but if you watch "Nikita" or have watched "Leverage" in the past, you've seen him in the front credits.
Here's Albert's bio:
Albert Kim is a TV writer, producer, and award-winning journalist. Before his stint the staff of "Nikita," Kim spent three seasons on the hit TNT show "Leverage," and has also written episodes of FXâ€™s "Dirt." But his roots aren't in television scriptwriting.
Astro Boy," the new American computer-animated version of the Japanese comic and cartoon that launched the revolution we now call anime, opens today.
I'm more than a little nervous about seeing the movie, since it may not resemble the Japanese cartoon I grew up with, and because Hollywood really screwed up "Speed Racer" when they decided to turn that classic anime into a big live-action spectacle.
(The following text is a re-worked version of a pre-blog Nikkei View column I wrote back in 2003.)
Astro Boy, called "Tetsuwan Atomu" in Japan, was originally introduced in 1952, as a manga, or comic book character, and later turned into an animated television series. Created by the pioneering Japanese comic and anime (animation) artist Osamu Tezuka, his name stands for "The Mighty Atom," an image still vivid in the minds of millions of Japanese who had lived through the end of World War II just seven years before, and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The cartoon character is best-known in the US for the English-dubbed versions of the "Astro Boy" series that first aired in 1963 and then was re-launched with a new series in 1982 and resurrected in a computer-animated film opening today, featuring the voices of Freddie Highmore, Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Bill Nighy and Samuel L. Jackson.
The story line is a spin on Pinocchio and superhero comics, mixed with a dose of Steven Spielberg's film "A.I." (actually "A.I." borrows more than a dose from Astro Boy). When the kindhearted Dr. Boynton's (Professor Tenna in the Japanese original) son is killed in a car accident, he invents an atomic-powered robotic replacement only to discover that there's no way that the android can truly be human. The mechanical boy was born on April 7, 2003 -- the far future -- in the original manga.
When I first found out Jon Gosselin is Asian American, I thought, "Cool!" His kids were an adorable hapa brood, and Kate was a somewhat... shall we say ... difficult partner. A mixed-race family is nothing unfamiliar to many AAPIs (and especially Japanese Americans, who have had the highest out-marriage rate of all AAPI ethnicities for decades).
Erin called it almost the first time she happened to tune in to the show. She pointed out all the ways that Kate showed little emotional intelligence (barking, "What planet are you from, Jon?" in one show), and the ways Jon seemed to be distancing himself from Kate in his body language and expressions.
That's what the first look at "Jon and Kate Plus 8" was like for us.
Now, Jon Gosselin just looks like a fool, not cool. He's being sued by TLC for breach of contract. And his antics may have also cost Kate, soon to be his ex, a chance at her own show with the kids, "Kate Plus 8." He tried preventing crews from filming their kids, so TLC has apparently postponed the new show's Nov. 2 launch, according to TV Guide. Other reports have said the show has been canceled altogether.
What's ironic is that Kate's been coached and appears to be a different person from the hard and harsh wife from the start of the series in 2007. She's been reinventing her brand to a sympathetic character and a warm-hearted mom. Meanwhile Jon's devolved his brand from long-suffering husband and kinda bumbling dad to dumbass playboy twerphead. She might deserve another 15 minutes of fame, but his clock's run out.
I don't know about you, but seeing the darling kid Kylie on her series of TV commercials for Windows 7 makes me smile. Big smile. To me, she's one example of a tectonic shift in American pop culture, which is shaking up mainstream media with more and more Asian Americans.
Note that I said Asian Americans, not Asians. The great thing about Kylie and the new faces of Asian American Pacific Islanders on the small screen is that they have my face, and my voice -- which is to say, they don't have accents and clearly aren't foreigners.
I should add here that I have nothing against recent immigrants and first-generation Asian Americans. They are the rich soil in which our identity is deeply rooted, and whether you're Japanese American, Korean American, Chinese American, Vietnamese American, Cambodian, Indian, Thai, Laotian, Hmong, whatever, we owe the immigrants who endured hardships to leave their country to start new lives in the U.S. a salute of thanks for making it possible for us to be who we are today. We're the sum total of our ethnic cultural values and the freedom and experience of growing up in America.
Anyway, my point: My fellow AAPI bloggers have been pointing out how many Asian Americans are showing up in TV shows in roles where they don't have to act as foreigners, but are allowed to be Americans of Asian heritage. And those heritages don't even have to be part of the plot.
Sure, there are still roles that cast Asian Americans as foreigners.
"Lost" features Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim as Jin-Soo and Sun Hwa Kwon, Koreans who began the show cast as the most foreign of the castaways. Masi Oka's Hiro Nakamura character in "Heroes" is Japanese and he has an accent, but he's still a leading character, and so is Korean American actor James Kyson Lee (whose phonetic pronunciation of Japanese still amazes me) and his character, Ando Masahashi. So their Asian culture is very much part of their narrative.
But look at the list of Asian American actors you can dial in to see this season, whose roles could have been filled by someone of any ethnicity:
Erin and I are taking September off from doing interviews for visualizAsian.com, our series of live conversations with leading Asian American Pacific Islanders. But we're kicking off October with a star: Tamlyn Tomita, whose inspirational career as an actor spans movies, television and the stage, and whose leadership and activism spans the Japanese American and Asian American Pacific Islander communities.
Our conversation with Tamlyn Tomitawill be on Tuesday, October 6 at 6 pm Pacific Time (7 pm MT, 8 pm CT and 9 pm ET) is archived as an MP3 and is available for download for a limited time.
When we thought of starting visualizAsian.com, Tamlyn was the first person we thought of to interview, because of her prominence and passion, and because we'd met her on the set of "Only the Brave," Lane Nishikawa's powerful movie about the Japanese American soldiers of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team.
She was funny, approachable, salty and very real. I have a very vivid memory of her during the filming, taking a break between scenes by sitting in her pickup truck (this was a low-budget production -- no trailers for the stars). She was yelling and screaming and so animated we thought something was wrong. It turned out she's a huge LA Lakers fan, and was listening to the playoff game in progress.
Last year, we saw her again at the Democratic National Convention, when I was one of the emcees at an APIA Vote Gala along with Tomita and Joie Chen, formerly of CNN. She's a passionate, exciting and entertaining public speaker, and I've since seen her on video (just search YouTube) giving lots of speeches and serving as an emcee on many Japanese American and Asian American community events.