Spotlight

  • Robin Williams RIP 1951-2014

    Posted by Suzanne Kai

    Robin Williams RIP 1951-2014
    August 11, 2014 Sad and shocking news about Robin Williams dying today. What a brilliant talent, gone too soon. Here's a shot from our onstage interview at the Mill Valley Film Festival, celebrating his career as an actor as well as a comedian. Thanks, Robin, for all the laughs and your good heart.  - Ben Fong-Torres 

Featured Articles

  • June 1 - 3 - South Asian Film Festival Wash DC Spotlight: Interview with Samrat Chakrabarti, award winning actor and composer

    Posted by: Lia Chang

    This weekend, Samrat Chakrabarti is one of the special guests at the inaugural Washington D.C. South Asian Film Festival (DCSAFF 2012), sponsored by Ceasar Productions, which runs from Friday, June 1st, through Sunday, June 3rd, 2012 at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, Maryland. The Festival brings together a wide variety of films from across South Asia and and includes films in Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Bengali, and Telegu.

    Samrat Chakrabarti Photo by Lia Chang

    Samrat Chakrabarti is featured in Ajay Naidu’s Ashes which screens on Saturday, June 2 at noon, Italo Spinelli’s gritty and disturbing Gangor, and Shome Banerjee’s experimental David Lynchian short Hotel New York 2012, which both screen on Sunday, June 3 at noon. Clickhere to purchase tickets.

    Shyam Benegal (Director of Well Done Abba!, Zubeidaa, Kalyug), Ketan Mehta (Director of Mangal Pandey, Mirch Masala, Maya), Deepti Naval (Memories in March, Firaaq, Shakti), Rajit Kapur (Guzaarish, Well Done Abba!, Zubeidaa), and Raima Sen (Memories in March, The Japanese Wife, Teen Patti) are scheduled to attend.

    The festival kicks off Friday night with an exclusive opening night red carpet gala featuring Shyam Benegal’s classic film Mammo, and continues throughout the weekend closing with Deepti Naval’s directorial debut Do Paise ki Dhoop, Chaar Aane ki Baarish. Highlights of the weekend include a Shyam Bengal retrospective, acting and filmmaking workshops, short films directed by local artists, and the Washington DC premieres of a number of exciting new films. The campus is located just a short shuttle ride from the Shady Grove Metro Station and 40 minutes outside of downtown Washington. For more information check out the website.

    The cast of Ravi Kapoor’s The Five

    Included on Elle Magazine India’s Hot 100 to Watch List alongside Freida Pinto, Ajay Naidu and others, Samrat Chakrabarti has had the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of his labor a lot lately.

    In April, the award...

  • Supporters urging passage of H.R. 5638 "Service Member Anti-Hazing Act" head to Washington with 9000 cards honoring U.S. Army Pvt. Danny Chen

    Posted by: Suzanne Kai

     

    Update May 28, 2012

    May 24, 2012 would have been Private Danny Chen's 20th birthday. 

    After weeks of hazing, physical and mental abuse and racial taunting as documented in his personal diary, U.S. Army Private Danny Chen was found dead of an apparent suicide on October 3, 2011 in Afghanistan. 

    More than 9,000 cards honoring bullying victim Danny Chen have been collected and are on their way to Washington D.C. by supporters of anti-bullying legislation of H.R. 5638, the "Service Member Anti-Hazing Act." The bill has passed the House on Friday, May 25, and now waits for Senate approval. 

     

    Update April 11, 2012

    Army Courts-Martial in Connection with U.S. Private Danny Chen Moved to US

    The U.S. military announced today that the trials of the eight U.S. soldiers implicated in the death of 19 year old U.S. Army Private Danny Chen have been moved to U.S. soil. The trials will be held at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, if senior military officials decide courts-martial are warranted. Fort Bragg's commanders have accepted jurisdiction in the case.

    A miliary investigator has recommended courts-martial for all of the soldiers.

    "We are relieved and pleased," said Elizabeth R. OuYang, president of the New York chapter of civil rights group Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), which has been lobbying the military for a change in jurisdiction to the United States, rather than in Afghanistan.  

    Chen's relatives say he was subjugated to brutal hazing before he apparently committed suicide Oct. 3, 2011. Investigators are reviewing allegations that Chen was subjected to weeks of physical abuse, humilation and racial slurs by members of his unit in Afghanistan before he apparently killed himself.

    A nationwide grass-roots campaign has raised awareness of Private Danny Chen's case. 

    In a separate case, on October 27, 2011 several Marines were ordered to face court-martial on charges they physically abused and humiliated fellow Marine, 21 year old Asian American...

  • Harvard's Prof. Miaki Ishii - Startling discoveries of Earth's inner core

    Posted by: Suzanne Kai

    Harvard Assoc. Prof. Miaki Ishii - Photo Harvard Seismology Group

    May 28 2012

    Harvard Associate Professor Miaki Ishii and her colleagues at Harvard University are studying Earth's inner core, approximately 1,800 miles beneath the surface. The research using seismic data is making waves in the scientific community and beyond.

    New York Times writer Natalie Anger reports. (The New York Times online offers a digital subscription service, you may need to sign up to view this report.) 

  • May 26-June 4: Susan Soon He Stanton’s TAKARAZUKA!!! featuring Jennifer Ikeda, Brooke Ishibashi, Paul Juhn, Glenn Kubota, and Angela Lin kicks off Clubbed Thumb’s 17th annual SUMMERWORKS at Here

    Posted by: Lia Chang

    Clubbed Thumb’s 17th annual SUMMERWORKS season of new plays kicks off with Susan Soon He Stanton’s TAKARAZUKA!!!, directed by Lear deBessonet, about the real-life all-female Japanese theatre troupe from May 26-June 4 at HERE Arts Center, 145 6th Ave in New York.

    Angela Lin

    The cast ofTAKARAZUKA!!!includes Jennifer Ikeda (TOP GIRLS, Manhattan Theater Club; TITUS ANDRONICUS, The Public), Brooke Ishibashi (THE INEXPLICABLE REDEMPTION OF AGENT G, Ma-Yi Theater Company in association with Vampire Cowboys Theater Company), Paul Juhn (“30 Rock”), Glenn Kubota (Pan Asian Rep) and Angela Lin (CHINGLISH). For tickets, priced $18, phone (212) 352-3101 or visitHERE.org. HERE Arts Center is located 145 Sixth Ave at Dominick. Showtime is at 8:30, there is no performance on May 30, 2012.

    Part ghost story, part love story, TAKARAZUKA!!! tracks the career sunset of Yuko, the star of a Japanese theater that stages all-female Western style musical extravaganzas. But when you take away her partner, her fans, and her tux, who will she be?

    SUSAN SOON HE STANTON’s plays include AMERICAN PIG PEN, CYGNUS, FURBALL, THE THINGS ARE AGAINST US, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO JOHN BOY KIHANO?, THE UNDERNEATH, THE ART OF PRESERVATION and others. She is a member of The Public Theater’s Emerging Writer’s Group and Ma-Yi Playwrights Lab. Awards include the 2011 Van Lier Fellowship at The Lark, and The Sloan Foundation feature film development grant. MFA: Yale Playwriting. From Honolulu, Susan lives in New York City. This is Susan’s first NYC production.

    LEAR deBESSONET Original works have been produced by Lincoln Center Theatre, the Old Globe Theatre, the Intiman Theatre, Joe’s Pub, and Performance Space 122. She has worked with writers Marcus Gardley, Naomi Iizuka, Todd Almond, Deborah Stein, and Lucy Thurber. She most recently conceived and directed ODYSSEY at the Old Globe, featuring a cast of nearly 200 performers including local choirs, marching bands, and park rangers.

    Lia...

  • 12th Annual New York Indian Film Festival Nominees

    Posted by: Lia Chang

    The 12th Annual New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF), presented by the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC), which runs from May 23 to 27 at the Tribeca Cinemas in Lower Manhattan, showcases more than 50 features, documentaries, and short films over a span of five days. The festival kicked off with an opening night red carpet screening of Bedabrata Pain’s CHITTAGONG on May 23 at the Paris Theater, followed by a VIP gala dinner at the Essex House Ballroom. Tonight, Rituparno Ghosh’s CHITRANGADA, the centerpiece film will have its world premiere at Tribeca Cinemas. On Sunday, May 27, 2012, Anurag Kashyap’s GANGS OF WASSEYPUR closes the festival at NYU’s Skirball Theater, followed by an awards ceremony and closing night party, sponsored by Wells Fargo.

    “And the nominees for the 12th annual NYIFF are…”BEST FILM AadukalamChitrangadaChittagongGattuShala

    BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM Big in BollywoodInshallah FootballKumareSaving FaceTransgenders: Pakistan’s Open Secret

    BEST SCREENPLAYPooja Desai, Anvita Dutt, Rajesh Narasimhan, Ashish Patil (Mujshe Fraaandship Karoge)Avinash Deshpande (Shala)Rituparno Ghosh (Chitrangada)Vetri Maaran (Aadukalam)Bedabrata Pain, Shonali Bose (Chittagong)

    BEST DIRECTORSujay Dahake (Shala)Rituparno Ghosh (Chitrangada)Vetri Maaran (Aadukalam)Prashant Nair (Delhi in a Day)Bedabrata Pain (Chittagong)

    BEST YOUNG ACTORSihle Dlamini (Lucky)Dilzad Hiwale (Bubble Gum)Dilzad Hiwale (Chittagong)Ashuman Joshi(Shala)Ketaki Mategaonkar (Shala)Mohd Samad (Gattu)

    THE BEST SHORTSAashpordhaBombay SnowDilli DreamsDo PaharSilent Waters

    BEST ACTORManoj Bajpayee (Chittagong)Dhanush (Aadukalam)Ankur Khanna (Abosheshey)Nana Patekar (Shagird)Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Dekh Indian Circus)Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Chittagong)

    BEST ACTRESSJayashree Basavaraj (Lucky)Priyanka Bose (Gangor)Tannishtha Chatterjee (Dekh Indian Circus)Anjali Patil (Delhi in a Day)Lipica Shah (Let’s Be Out, The Sun Is Shining)

    The independent jury who votes for their favorite nominees...

  • Jeremy Lin - Should he stay with the New York Knicks?

    Posted by: Suzanne Kai

    Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin is a restricted free agent this off-season. Should he stay with the New York Knicks? Writers from the Tribune Co., which owns the Los Angeles Times offer their opinions.

  • In Rehearsal with BD Wong at Dixon Place for Live Concert Recording of Herringbone

    Posted by: Lia Chang

    For 30 years, BD Wong has been obsessed with the one-man musical Herringbone, which features a book by Tom Cone, music by Skip Kennon and lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh, and was first produced in New York at Playwright’s Horizons in a memorable 1982 production starring David Rounds.

    BD Wong, star of Herringbone, in rehearsal at Dixon Place in New York on May 20, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

    Wong has headlined four critically-acclaimed productions of the ambitious musical – in which he enacts, sings and dances at least 11 characters – at the Williamstown Theatre Festival (2007), McCarter Theatre (2008), and La Jolla Playhouse (2010), all directed by Tony Award-winner Roger Rees (Nicholas Nickleby, Peter And The Starcatcher). Wong also starred in another earlier production at the American Musical Theatre Festival in 1994.

    Dixon Place is presenting BD Wong’s tour-de-force performance in this difficult-to-perform musical, which is rarely revived.

    BD Wong, star of Herringbone, in rehearsal at Dixon Place in New York on May 20, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

    Wong, best known for his Tony Award winning performance in M. Butterfly and his role in the long running hit series “Law & Order: SVU,” will appear in Herringbone to benefit Dixon Place for two performances only: Monday May 21, and Tuesday May 22, at 7:00pm. The production, which will be recorded live for a future CD release, will be Wong’s first appearance in New York of the material, timed with the 30th anniversary of the original New York production. Dixon Place is at 161A Chrystie St. (between Rivington and Delancey). Tickets and more information are available at dixonplace.org and at 212 219-0736.

    Backstage at Dixon Place in New York with BD Wong, star of Herringbone on May 20, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

    Last night, before the first performance, Wong received notification that he had reached his $35,000 Kickstarter campaign goal, which will help fund the live recording of the CD. Click below to...

  • May 17: Thom Sesma is the keynote speaker for the Library of Congress celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) at the Mary Pickford Theater

    Posted by: Lia Chang

    Thom Sesma. (Photo by Lia Chang)

    On Thursday, May 17, 2012, actor/director Thom Sesma, who just completed a two and half year run as Scar in Disney’s The Lion King Las Vegas, will speak at the Mary Pickford Theater located on the third floor of the Library of Congress James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. at noon. His talk is part of the Library of Congress celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) noon events in May, sponsored by the LC Asian American Association.

    Sesma just participated in the all-star Shinsai: Theaters for Japanbenefit at Cooper Union’s Great Hall in NYC, in memory of the tragic events of March 2011 and in tribute to the heroic recovery efforts of the Japanese people.

    In rehearsal at Lincoln Center for Shinsai: Theaters for Japan, a collaborative benefit by New York’s leading theater companies as a gesture of solidarity with theater communities in Japan devastated by the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami, on March 9, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

    Photos: In Rehearsal with Director Bartlett Sher and the cast of Shinsai: Theaters for JapanPhotos: Highlights of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan (3pm) with Andre Bishop, Mary Beth Hurt, Jennifer Lim, Angela Lin, Philip Kan Gotanda, Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, Richard Thomas, Jay O. Sanders, and more Photos: Highlights of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan (8pm) with Oskar Eustis, Patti LuPone, Lisa Emery, Ann Harada, Paolo Montalban, Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, Henry Stram, Richard Thomas, John Weidman and more

    He is an Asian-American actor, a familiar presence on Broadway and Off-Broadway, in regional theatres, as well as on television. In January 2012, he returned to New York from Las Vegas where he played Scar in Disney’s The Lion King for a two and a half year run at The Mandalay Bay Theatre.

    Thom Sesma (Photo by Lia Chang)

    On Broadway he starred in the Twyla Tharp-Bob Dylan collaboration,The Time They Are A Changin’. Other credits on and off...

  • BD Wong Creates Kickstarter Campaign for his Live Concert Recording of HERRINGBONE, to be performed May 21-22 as a Benefit for Dixon Place

    Posted by: Lia Chang

    For 30 years, BD Wong has been obsessed with the one-man musical Herringbone, which features a book by Tom Cone, music by Skip Kennon and lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh, and was first produced in New York at Playwright’s Horizons in a memorable 1982 production starring David Rounds.

    BD Wong (photo by Lia Chang)

    Wong has headlined four critically-acclaimed productions of the ambitious musical – in which he enacts, sings and dances at least 11 characters – at the Williamstown Theatre Festival (2007), McCarter Theatre (2008), and La Jolla Playhouse (2010), all directed by Tony Award-winner Roger Rees (Nicholas Nickleby, Peter And The Starcatcher). Wong also starred in another earlier production at the American Musical Theatre Festival in 1994.

    Dixon Place is presenting BD Wong’s tour-de-force performance in this difficult-to-perform musical, which is rarely revived.

    BD Wong in Herringbone. Photo by Lia Chang

    Wong, best known for his Tony Award winning performance in M. Butterfly and his role in the long running hit series “Law & Order: SVU,” will appear in Herringboneto benefit Dixon Place for two performances only: Monday May 21, and Tuesday May 22, at 7:00pm. The production, which will be recorded live for a future CD release, will be Wong’s first appearance in New York of the material, timed with the 30th anniversary of the original New York production. Dixon Place is at 161A Chrystie St. (between Rivington and Delancey). Tickets and more information are available at dixonplace.org and at 212 219-0736.

    Wong has also created a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the live recording of the CD. His goal for funding is $35.000, and to date he has received over $11,000 in pledges. This project will only be funded if at least $35,000 is pledged by Tuesday, May 22, 7:00 pm EDT. Click below to see BD Wong’s very personal message.http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/484701422/bd-wong-live-concert-recording-of-the-musical-herrI documented Wong’s...

  • Hearing Voices Everywhere by Ben Fong-Torres

    Posted by: Ben Fong-Torres

    It’s been a while since I’ve written, but I’ve got excuses. For one thing, I was engrossed in The Voice, the singing competition on NBC, because I’m related to one of the singers who made the Elite 8. For another, I’ve been out in public, at the L.A. Times’ Festival of Books at USC, emceeing a sendoff for the president of San Francisco State University (a couple of my jokes even made the local press), and keynoting an Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce dinner, on the eve of Asian Pacific American Heritage month. B.D. Wong, now being seen on the NBC series, Awake, was a late (and great) addition to the program.

    I also cranked out an article for The Hollywood Reporter about Dick Clark, based on a sometimes contentious Rolling Stone interview I did with him in 1973, followed by a fun run, a couple years later, through Las Vegas. And I conducted some interviews for my Little Feat book, with Jimmy Buffett, John Sebastian and others.

    But forget all that. I had a family tie to The Voice?

    Yep. Lindsey Pavao, the most indie of the final bunch of singers, is, if I got it right, a second cousin of my niece Tina’s husband, Matt Pavao. He told me this over brunch at the Foreign Cinema just as the show was whittling the original 48 contestants (a dozen each for celeb “coaches” Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Cee-Lo Green) to eight.

    I’d been watching the show (I prefer it over American Idol), and had noted Lindsey’s name, but never thought there might be a family tie. And I liked her soft, unique voice (others sounded like Adele, or an opera singer, or a generic Rob Thomas or R. Kelly type).

    But Lindsey, who was on Christina’s team, didn’t survive “America’s” vote, which determined the final four. She lost to the operatic guy, who lost to the R. Kelly guy, who probably just edged Juliet Simms, a knockout rocker whose fiery version of “Freebird” coulda, shoulda made her “The Voice.” Simms, I learned after...

Featured Media

You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video.

In the news