ABC, Viola Davis & Lisa Takeuchi Cullen take on "Ohana"

A new hour long drama titled, “Ohana” based on Kiana Davenport’s novel Shark Dialogues is in development for ABC. The series will follow the story of four hapa women who reunite after their grandmother passes away and leaves them the family plantation.

Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, a former Times writer will write the adaptation. Cullen told the Hollywood Reporter “This is a story we’re passionate about telling from the point of view of native Hawaiians – Pacific Islanders, people of Asian descent and people of hapa heritage.”

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The four main characters in Ohana will be of different mixed ethnicities including half white, half Japanese, half Filipino and half black. According to the Hollywood Reporter, “their unexpected shared inheritance will force them to overcome years of jealousies, misunderstandings, resentments and secrets.”  

Viola Davis and her husband Julius Tennon’s JuVee Productions will be teaming up with ABC on the upcoming series.

 Chrisa Hickey [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Chrisa Hickey [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

From Crazy Rich Asians to Lazy Rich Asians

Emmy winning writer Jessica Gao is developing a single camera comedy for ABC, which she titled “Lazy Rich Asians” after being inspired by the blockbuster film, “Crazy Rich Asians”.

The currently untitled sitcom will tell the story of Janet Zhao, a first-generation Chinese American woman who becomes the sole inheritor of her grandmother’s fortunes and according to the Hollywood Reporter, “finds herself the unwilling new matriarch of the family she’s spent her life trying to keep at arm’s length.”

Jessica Gao will not only pen the sitcom, but will also executive produce the new comedy. Gao has written for Silicon Valley, Take My Wife and Rick and Morty. This past weekend, Gao received an Emmy for the Rick and Morty episode, “Pickle Rick.”

 

KELSEY MERRITT FIRST FILIPINA AT VICTORIA'S SECRET FASHION SHOW

Kelsey Merritt will be the first Filipina model to walk the runway at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show happening later this year. 21 year old Merritt is no stranger to posing for Victoria’s Secret. This past May she booked her first shoot with the popular lingerie company for their active wear line.

 from @kelseymerritt Instagram

from @kelseymerritt Instagram

Merritt, who was born in the Philippines and graduated last year from Ateneo De Manila University with a BA in Communications juggled going to college in the Philippines and modeling around the world for several years. Upon receiving her degree last Summer, on May 2017 she posted on her Instagram account:

“God knows how hard it was to constantly fly back and forth New York and London while still in school. I had to miss classes, but still make sure that I was on top of everything. At the same time, I had no right to complain I was having a hard time because I was blessed with work. I was living my dream! People often ask me how I managed to do it, and all I say is that as long as you have your priorities straight and manage your time well, then it really can be done.” 

Kelsey Merritt’s other modeling credits include projects with Maybelline, Uniqlo, Kashieca, Palmolive and Vera Wang’s White Bridal Collection.

 @KelseyMerritt Instagram

@KelseyMerritt Instagram

Although Merritt will be the first Filipina model to walk the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show runway, Janine Tugonon became the first Filipino to be featured in a Victoria’s Secret promotional material when she appeared in the VS Pink Line. However, Tugonon did not make the cut to appear in the 2016 fashion show.

NAOMI OSAKA BEATS SERENA WILLIAMS AND BECOMES 1ST JAPANESE PLAYER TO WIN THE GRAND SLAM

 By Carine06 from UK (Naomi Osaka) [CC BY-SA 2.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Carine06 from UK (Naomi Osaka) [CC BY-SA 2.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

20 year old Tennis player Naomi Osaka made history this weekend when she beat her idol, Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open. Osaka's win makes her the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles tournament. 

But the tournament was also overshadowed by much controversy. During the match, 23 time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams received a code violation when umpire, Carlos Ramos, claimed that Williams was receiving hand signals from her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. Williams argued with Ramos, denying the accusation and stated that her coach was only giving her a thumbs up for doing a good job, adding, "I don't cheat to win. I'd rather lose." After the game however, William's coach did admit in a television interview that he was coaching Serena but added, "I don't think she looked at me" and "everybody does it." 

Williams received another violation when she smashed her racquet after losing her serve. She went back to Ramos, still disappointed at the previous call and stated, "I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter and I stand for what's right for her. I have never cheated." As the match continued, Williams continued to speak to Ramos and eventually calling him a thief and a liar. Upon doing so, Williams received a third violation for verbal abuse and was penalized a game. 

All the while, Osaka maintained her concentration and determination to win the tournament by jumping around, facing the wall and looking at her racquet. After her 6-2, 6-4 win, she stated, "I didn't know what was going on, I was just trying to focus. Since it was my first grand Slam final, I didn't want to get overwhelmed... I didn't really hear anything I had my back turned." 


The awards ceremony was a bittersweet moment for all and the most awkward for Osaka. Loud boos were heard from the crowd and you can see Osaka crying as she pulls her hat down to cover her face. Williams consoles Osaka by putting her arm around her. When Serena receives the microphone, she tells the crowd to stop booing. "She played well and this is her first Grand Slam...let's make this the best moment we can, we'll get through it. Let's give everyone credit where credit's due. Let's not boo anymore...Let's stay positive. Congratulations, Naomi. No more booing! Let's not boo anymore." During Osaka's moment, she tells the crowd, "I know everyone was cheering for her (Serena Williams) and I am sorry it has to end like this. It was always my dream to play Serena in the U.S. Open finals so I'm really glad I was able to do that."  

This isn't the first time Osaka beat Williams. Earlier this year, Naomi beat Serena at the Miami Masters, 6-3, 6-2. Naomi Osaka who was born in Osaka, Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian father moved to the United States when she was just 3 years old. Growing up, Serena Williams was her idol and disclosed that she even did a report on Serena when she was in the third grade. After her win, she said, "When I step onto the court, I feel like a different person, right? I'm not a Serena fan. I'm just a tennis player playing another tennis player...when I hugged her at the net, I felt like a little kid again."

 

 

JOY LUCK CLUB SEQUEL - 25 YEARS LATER

During the 25th Anniversary screening of “The Joy Luck Club” at the AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) last week, it was announced that a sequel may be in the future for the successful Amy Tan penned novel turned film.

Producer Ronald Bass told Entertainment Tonight that there is a script for both a TV series and a film sequel being circulated around Hollywood right now. Bass states, “both the series or sequel, if they happen, will be the same cast 25 years later…in other words, the mothers are now grandmothers. The daughters are no mothers and they each have a millennial daughter of their own. So, now it would be a three generation…what’s that like in mother-daughter relations? Today’s world versus first, second generations and immigrants.”

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After the recent successes of "Crazy Rich Asians" and "To All the Boys I've Loved Before", Hollywood has increased their interested in producing more projects starring APAs or telling the Asian and APA story; including ABC developing a new drama titled, "Ohana" which follows the lives of 4 hapa women, and Netflix's productions of "Wu Assasins," which will star Byron Mann, Mark Dacoscos and JuJu Chan, "Tigertail" - an upcoming drama directed and written by Alan Yang and starring John Cho, Christine Ko, Hayden Szeto and Tzi Ma, as well as "Always Be My Maybe" starring Ally Wong, Randall Park, Daniel Day Kim, and Keanu Reeves. 

ANOTHER CRAZY RICH WEEKEND FOR "CRAZY RICH ASIANS"

"Crazy Rich Asians" had another crazy rich weekend and is showing no signs of slowing down in theaters. The film topped the box office in the second week of release, and brought in an estimated $25 million dollars, just 6% shy from it’s opening week totals. The film has already generated over $75 million in North America and $85 million worldwide.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, "Crazy Rich Asians" “has opened better than any other comedy this year and any rom-com since 2015’s Trainwreck.” The film is also the first Hollywood movie in 25 years that includes an all Asian cast (since 1993’s “The Joy Luck Club” based on Amy Tan’s novel of the same name). With all the success, it’s no surprise that a sequel based on Kevin Kwan’s second book, “China Rich Girlfriend” is already in the works.

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"Crazy Rich Asians" is based on the Kevin Kwan novel by the same name, the romantic comedy follows Asian American professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) who travel to Singapore for Nick’s best friend’s wedding. Unbeknownst to Rachel, Nick comes from an extremely wealthy family and is also considered one of the country’s most eligible bachelors. Rachel is thrust into their crazy rich world complete with lies, jealousy and deceit all while trying to navigate her own life, finding her true self and where she fits in.

With very few eye-popping and buzzworthy films slated to be released this Labor Day weekend (Operation Finale, Kin), film critics are predicting that "Crazy Rich Asians" will most likely top the box office for a third weekend in a row.

 

GUINNESS WORLD RECORD FOR MAKING SLIME

 If you’re looking for a unique, family friendly and fun way to spend your 4th of July weekend in Southern California, then how about celebrating Community Friendship Day on Sunday July 1st at Carson Park? This year, in addition to the very popular annual event, you have the opportunity to be a part of the Guinness World Record.  The Filipino American Chamber of Commerce South Bay Los Angeles Area (FACC-SLAA) and the City of Carson will attempt to hold a Guinness World Records title for the most people making slime simultaneously. (You do not have to a resident of Carson to take part in this project).  For more information, you can call 310-830-4925 and to register or be a part of this event, you can sign up at any Carson Park.  Since the beginning, FACC-SLAA has been Carson’s partner and organizer for the Friendship Day event. This year, Community Friendship Day will occur on Sunday July 1st from 11am to 3pm at Caron Park which is located on 21411 Orrick Avenue, Carson, CA 90745. 

If you’re looking for a unique, family friendly and fun way to spend your 4th of July weekend in Southern California, then how about celebrating Community Friendship Day on Sunday July 1st at Carson Park? This year, in addition to the very popular annual event, you have the opportunity to be a part of the Guinness World Record.

The Filipino American Chamber of Commerce South Bay Los Angeles Area (FACC-SLAA) and the City of Carson will attempt to hold a Guinness World Records title for the most people making slime simultaneously. (You do not have to a resident of Carson to take part in this project).

For more information, you can call 310-830-4925 and to register or be a part of this event, you can sign up at any Carson Park.

Since the beginning, FACC-SLAA has been Carson’s partner and organizer for the Friendship Day event. This year, Community Friendship Day will occur on Sunday July 1st from 11am to 3pm at Caron Park which is located on 21411 Orrick Avenue, Carson, CA 90745. 

World Premiere of "Diwa" at 21st Dances with Films

The award winning short, “Diwa” will make a world premiere at the 21st Dances with Films screening on Saturday, June 9th at 5pm, at the historic TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood. Dances with Films is an annual Academy Awards qualifying festival.

Diwa POSTER (Foam Core).jpg

Filipina actress and filmmaker Aina Dumlao stars in the award winning short film, Diwa which centers around a young undocumented immigrant by the same name. Diwa comes to America in search of a better life and to help her family in the Philippines, the most popular way, sending money back home.

As is most often the case, life isn’t always greener on the other side and Diwa faces the harsh reality of living in America as an immigrant who becomes exploited by her employer and then falls victim to a broken immigration system.

 Aina Dumlao as Diwa

Aina Dumlao as Diwa

Aina Dumlao and her business partner (Undercurrent Films) and husband, Bru Muller both share directing, writing and producing credits for this beautifully told film. Dumlao was initially inspired to write Diwa by her uncle who spent over 3 decades as an overseas worker and barely saw his own family. When his wife passes away from cancer, he is out at sea, working to pay for their mounting medical bills. Aina hopes that Diwa” will “give voice to the hopes, dreams and struggles of the millions of undocumented immigrants who come to America, desperate to carve out better lives for themselves and their loved ones.”

Aina Dumlao is compelling as Diwa. In the first three minutes of the film, without any dialogue, she transports you into Diwa’s heavily burdened life which is full of frustration, internal and external struggles and exhaustion. The cinematography beautifully captures the spirit of the film and the music was absolutely moving.

"Diwa" also stars Leslie Thurston, Maria Pallas, Seli M. Rose, Shaw Jones, Jeremy Andorfer-Lopez and Eddie Martinez.

You can show your support by attending the screening. For more information, you can head to www.mynameisdiwa.com

Check out my personal thoughts on the film here

Here's a look at the trailer:

Identity LA 2018 - ISA, Mike Shinoda, Jay Park, Cassey Ho, Jon M. Chu

For the past 3 years ISA (International Secret Agents) has hosted Identity LA to celebrate and commemorate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (formerly known as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month) and this year was another success for the team.

Presented by Los Angeles Councilmember David Ryu, the city of Los Angeles, Pacific Bridge Arts Foundation and ISA (founded by Wong Fu Productions and Far East Movement), the event showcased vendors from the AAPI community showcasing their unique products, a vast array of food trucks curated by Roy Choi which included The Boba Truck, BB Kyu, Belly Bombz, Chinese Laundry, Pho King Awesome, and Seoul Sausage as well as serving a platform for local artists to showcase their work.

The performances at Identity LA 2018 was definitely the high point of the festival which featured Asian and Asian American Pacific Islander artists. Filipina rapper Ruby Ibarra shined with her expressive and sharp-witted lyrics that touched upon her ethnicity and female empowerment. She wowed the crowd with her high energy performance and her effortless skills in rapping seamlessly from English to Filipino dialects. Ibarra also took the time to stress the significance of the festival stating, “I think it’s definitely important for us to have spaces like this, that allow a platform for artists such as myself to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.” 

Other notable performances included Hotel Garuda, North Carolina rapper G Yamazawa, The Kinjaz, DJ Zo, and The Flavr Blue. Multi-platinum Korean American rapper, singer, and dancer Jay Park got the crowd dancing and singing along to his hits, and also invited Korean singer-songwriter Hoody to share the stage with him.  Hoody, who is signed under Park’s record label, AOMG showed off her sexy and sultry vocal skills during her own solo set right before Jay Park hit the stage.

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One of the highlights of Identity LA was headliner Mike Shinoda’s performance. Shinoda, who performed earlier in the day at KROQ’s Weenie Roast, sang familiar Linkin Park tunes and took a moment to give a touching tribute to his former band mate and close friend Chester Bennington. Shinoda also surprised the crowd by bringing along a couple of guests to share the stage with him, including fellow band member Joe Hahn for their song “Castle Rock” and Japanese singer Taka of ONE OK ROCK to sing Shinoda’s Fort Minor hit single, “Where’d You Go”.

Identity LA 2018 also took the time to recognize AAPIs who have made huge contributions in the community. This year’s honorees were the Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement ,a non-profit organization whose mission is to “cultivate healthy, long-lasting and vibrant Asian and Pacific Islander communities through grassroots organizing.” Activist, artist and the creator of “The Pussyhat Project” Kristah Suh received the Activism award. The Digital Pioneer award was presented to fitness entrepreneur Cassey Ho, founder and creator of oGorgeous and Blogilates. Grammy winner and member of "The Stereotypes" Jonathan Yip was honored with the Musical Pioneer award and Director Jon M. Chu was presented with the Arts & Entertainment honor. Chu’s film directing credits include Now You See Me 2, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, and the upcoming and highly anticipated film, Crazy Rich Asians. During his acceptance speech, Jon M. Chu did not hesitate to invite the audience to show their support and watch Crazy Rich Asians when it hits theaters in August.

Identity LA 2018 was a free and public event sponsored by Comcast | NBC Universal and Private Internet Access.

See below for a recap of this year’s Identity LA and a special performance of “In the End” by Mike Shinoda and fans at the end of the video.

"Searching" Trailer starring John Cho

The trailer for the John Cho starring film, "Searching" has just been released.

The movie which also stars Debra Messing, Joseph Lee, and Michelle La follows Cho’s character, David Kim, whose 16 year old daughter goes missing. After 37 hours with not a single lead, David decides to takes matters in his own hands and searches the one place no one has searched and where everyone’s secrets are kept today; his daughter’s laptop.  

During the film’s Sundance screening, “Searching” received the Audience Award and was also picked up by Sony Pictures.

The film is expected to be released on August 3rd, 2018.