Entertainment Spotlight

  • Catching Up: Santana, Taj Mahal and a déjà vu ‘Blue Christmas’

    Posted by Ben Fong-Torres

    By Ben Fong-Torres It’s short shrift time. I have a life that’s ripe (and slightly wrinkled) for blogs and tweeting; for facebooking and updating. I’m just no good at it. My last column here on AsianConnections was about the memorial in late July for my sister Shirley. My last posting on the authors’ site, Redroom, was about a radio promo tour I did (20 stops, all on the phone...

Arts & Entertainment Articles

  • NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams airs story on The Masked Marauders

    Posted by:

    April 6, 2013

    Last night's television show Rock Center with Brian Williams aired a story about the 'super album' The Masked Marauders. 

    The story included a clip from the movie Almost Famous of actor Terry Chen playing Ben Fong-Torres, former senior editor of Rolling Stone magazine, and author, Emmy award-winning broadcaster, and long-time columnist here.

    News anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams has had a curiousity since childhood about a 1969 music album he bought called the The Masked Marauders - a record album touting that it was an album of music recorded in secret by a super group with the likes of John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan.

    Now, after more than four decades of the album's original release, the television network news anchor with his own show got the chance to look under the mask of the infamous album.

    He talked with The Masked Marauder's prankster Greil Marcus, today a noted author, music critic and journalist who was at the time of the hoax the record reviews editor for Rolling Stone magazine. Marcus wrote a review of the album under the pseudonym T.M. Christian in collaboration with another Rolling Stone record reviewer Bruce Miroff. 

    Greil Marcus confirmed the truth to Brian Williams, that yes, the 1969 album was indeed a fake. There was no super group formed to record in secrecy. 

    Despite disclosures years ago that it was a fake, the album has continued in the anals of rock history with a life of its own. In 2003, Rhino Records remastered the album and released a numbered edition of 2,000 copies of it .

    Brian Williams also interviewed another co-conspirator of the album, Langdon Winner, another former writer and contributing editor for Rolling Stone. Winner sat at a piano to play some of the music he and Marcus concocted, and had hired a Berkeley, Callifornia band called the Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band to play for the fake album. Both Bruce Miroff and Langdon Winner earned Phds...

  • In Memoriam: Roger Ebert 1942-2013 American journalist, Film critic and Asian American Cinema Champion

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    1942-2013 Roger Ebert Champion of Asian American Film Photo: RogerEbert.com

    Roger Ebert 1942-2013 Photo: RogerEbert.comRoger Ebert lost his battle with cancer today. He will be greatly missed. Most famous for his film criticism, he was the first movie critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

    Since 1967, and up to just two days ago he wrote a column for the Chicago Sun-Times.

    He authored twenty books, and co-hosted several long-running syndicated television shows including Siskel and Ebert at the Movies. 

    I will remember Roger Ebert not only for his reviews and commentary, but also for his advocacy of Asian American cinema.

    I thank Roger Ebert for his outspoken support and standing up (literally) for a film called Better Luck Tomorrow.

    When Ebert stood on his theater seat and yelled back at an audience member who was chastising the film's director Justin Lin and his cast on stage for making an "empty and amoral" film, it was a watershed moment in Asian American cinema.

    Mind you, this was at the third screening of Lin's film Better Luck Tomorrow at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival where alot is at stake. Filmmakers are hoping that distribution deals are made. 

    A video posted on Youtube captured the moment. (click here for the full story with the Youtube video). The audience member said, "You know how to make a movie. But why with the talent up there and yourself make a film as so empty and amoral for Asian Americans and Americans?"

    Then Roger Ebert gets up and says "What I find very condescending and disturbing about your statement is nobody would say to a bunch of white filmmakers, "How could you do this to your people?!" (applause from the crowd) Then Ebert continues, "Yes, film has the right to be about these people and Asian American characters have the right to be whoever the hell they want to be. They do not have to represent their people."

    And as America's influential dean of film critics sat back down in his seat, he had just put Better Luck Tomorrow on the map. 

    Better Luck Tomorrow Directed by Justin Lin, MTV...

  • TV Drama writer Thomas Wong receives Writers Guild Honor

    Posted by:

    April 5, 2013

    Hollywood

    Thomas Wong is the recipient of the Writers Guild of America, West's 2013 Writer Access Project (WAP) honor. The Writers Guild will showcase Wong's work in drama to industry decision-makers.

    Wong joins nine other honorees who were selected for outstanding talent in the areas of drama and comedy.

    The winners were selected from the results of judges scores who read written entries and judged on a blind submission basis.

    Writers Guild members with extensive showrunning and writer-producer experience served as judges, including award-winning screenwriter, producer and director Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal and screenwriter of The Princess Diaries.

    A reading of selections of the honorees' original pilots will be held this month to industry representatives.

    Photo credit: Michael Jones, WGA.org  2013 WAP Honorees, Standing (L-R): Thomas Wong, Michael DiGaetano, Dawn Comer Jefferson, Joey Manderino, Joseph Neustein, Leslie Valdes. Seated (L-R): Sherry Carnes, Geetika Lizardi, Lena Waithe, Margaux Froley Wong's bio states that he always dreamed of becoming a television writer, but, "as the first-born son in a traditional Chinese family, such fanciful notions were downright un-American." Wong earned a degree in English at Williams College, then attended NYU School of Law, "like any good child shouldering the weight of his family’s expectations would."

    After several years immersed in labor and employment, divorce, immigration, and criminal defense, Thomas gave up law for a stint selling luxury real estate to Manhattan's rich and famous before finally moving to Los Angeles to pursue his childhood dream.

    2013 WRITER ACCESS PROJECT HONOREES DRAMA (L-R) Leslie Valdes, Dawn Comer Jefferson, Margaux Froley, Sherry Carnes, Thomas Wong, Geetika Lizardi Photo credit: Michael Jones, WGA.orgIn 2009, Thomas won a place in the ABC | Disney Television Writing Fellowship. In 2012, he was selected from more than 300 applicants...

  • GIRL RISING - in Select Regal Theaters April 19-26 Frieda Pinto, Priyanka Chopra, Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Selena Gomez, and others narrate

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    GIRL RISING to screen nationwide in select Regal Cinemas April 19-26, 2013 Photo credit: GIRL RISING

    Sokha is one of nine girls featured in GIRL RISING. She was a Cambodian child of the dump, orphaned and forced to pick through garbage to survive. Through a series of miracles she finds her way to a school and has risen to become a star student with a promising future. Photo credit: GIRL RISING

    April 19-26, 2013 GIRL RISING is screening nationwide in selected Regal Cinemas.

    “No one is more vulnerable than an uneducated girl, and this film is a wake-up call to the world that it’s time to educate girls,” actress Freida Pinto said in a statement to India-Times.com. “Right now, 66 million girls are not in school, and 14 million girls under 18 will be married this year — that’s 38,000 girls married today, and 13 girls married in the last 30 seconds."

    Freida Pinto joined other actresses Priyanka Chopra, Anne Hathaway, Alicia Keys, Meryl Streep, Selena Gomez, Kerry Washington, Salma Hayek, and Cate Blanchett to narrate GIRL RISING which recently premiered in Los Angeles and screened at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

    Sometimes it only takes a single person to start a revolution. This time, its a documentary film. GIRL RISING is the centerpiece of a campaign for girls' education. The film's message: "Educate Girls and you will change the world." A simple notion, yes, but in reality - not so simple.

    Millions of girls in developing countries face barriers to education that boys do not encounter. The film's campaign reports that 66 million school-age girls are not in school, 496 million girls over age 15 cannot read or write, and there are 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary school worldwide.

    They grow up in extreme poverty, they are subject to early and arranged marriages, they are child-slaves, they are victims of war, gender violence and discrimination, and much more.  

    The film is directed by Academy Award nominee director Richard E. Robbins, with a team of filmmakers to tell the stories of 9 girls from 9 countries, written by 9 writers,...