American Born Chinese coming to Disney+ in 2023

Posted by Suzanne Kai - on Sunday, 14 August 2022

American Born Chinese coming to Disney+ in 2023
"American Born Chinese", an exciting, groundbreaking series is slated to premiere in 2023. The Disney+ series was introduced to the Asian American Journalists Association's National Convention this summer. The convention was attended by more than 1,500 journalists from all over the world.  The Disney+ series is based on Gene Luen Yang's award-winning graphic novel. The main character, Jin Wang, played by actor Ben Wang, navigates supernatural action-comedy adventures between his...

Like a Rolling Stone

S.F Chinese New Year Parade: The View from the Broadcast Tent

Posted by Ben Fong-Torres on Monday, 22 February 2010

An R rating for the Chinese New Year Parade broadcast? Thats what raced through my mind when we saw the topless dancer on the Forbidden City float. Ben reminisces this week, as he gets ready to co-host live telecast of the largest Chinese New Year Parade in the western hemisphere.

An R rating for the Chinese New Year Parade broadcast? That is what raced through my mind when we saw the topless dancer on the Forbidden City float.

She was partly hidden by fellow dancers holding feathered fans, and when she turned around, she cupped her hands around what needed to be cupped, so she showed no more than, say, Janet Jackson or any Real Housewife.

Still, it was the Chinese New Year Parade, a beloved tradition and the most-watched parade on the West Coast, next to the Rose Parade. Performers, whether on floats or on the streets, are not supposed to show up naked.

They are also not supposed to do a lot of other things they have done, but surprises are part of the deal, and one of the reasons I look forward to it every year.

It has been a full lunar cycle, of 12 years, plus change, for me. This is my 14th year describing the parade.

I have had three co-hosts, three Emmys (all won with Julie Haener, who has been co-anchor since 2001), four directors (including Jim Haman, now the executive producer and producer), at least a half-dozen writers, and more rain, politicians and firecrackers than I can count.

It all began with a phone call in late 1996. KTVU was making a change with the...

A Parade for the Tiger (No, Not THAT Tiger!)

Posted by Ben Fong-Torres on Sunday, 28 February 2010

Our very own Ben Fong-Torres ushers in the Year of the Tiger as he co-hosts the largest Chinese New Year Parade in the western hemisphere.

It was a near-perfect parade, and that was the problem. I'm writing, of course, about the San Francisco Chinese New Year Year Parade, which roared and firecrackered its way through a mile and a half of city streets and about 500,000 spectators on February 27.

Once again, I got to co-anchor the telecast on KTVU, which was covering the two-hour parade for the 23rd year. It was my 14th time around, and my tenth with news anchor Julie Haener. Most years, if memory serves, we've fallen behind on time, for one reason or another, and hurried to end on time. At least once, we went a half-hour over.

This time, the parade went so smoothly, one contingent after another, with barely a lag, that Julie and I rarely heard the director telling us to stall for time while he waited for the next group to get into the TV zone.

Thus, the problem such as it was. I had prepared a dozen or so fillers, things to talk about for just those dead moments. Not just the trivia about Chinese new year rituals and customs, or why red is a big color, or why those 12 particular animals popular the lunar zodiac. It was more topical stuff, and, in some cases, personal things. I did wedge in a couple of the obligatory shout-outs to family, and especially to the youngest: grand-nieces Maggie and Stella Pavao; grand-nephew Haden Berlinsky. Also, the annual relaying of my...

FINDING JAKE LEE by Ben Fong-Torres

Posted by benfongtorres on Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A tale of lost and found Chinese American Art

One of the more amazing stories regarding the acquisition of artwork is being told right now in a modest exhibit at the Chinese Historical Society of America’s museum in Chinatown, San Francisco.

It is a fascinating, full-circle story of an exhilarating triumph at an auction house, and it began with an e-mail. Sue Lee, the executive director of CHSA, was at the office on a weekend last February. Soon it’d be St. Valentine’s Day, Presidents Day and the Year of the Tiger. She decided to check the museum’s general mailbox when she saw a note alerting CHSA to an auction, the next Tuesday, for eleven vivid watercolor paintings created some 50 years ago for the fabled Kan’s Restaurant on Grant Avenue. 

The artist  was Jake Lee, who’d been commissioned by Johnny Kan, whose elegant restaurant catered to Hollywood stars as well as tourists. Kan prided himself on presenting real Chinese cuisine (no chop suey for him), and published one of the first important Chinese cookbooks, Eight Immortal Flavors, with a foreword by James Beard and a cover illustration by, who else, Jake Lee).

Sue Lee (no relation, by the way), had seen postcard versions of some of the paintings, which depicted Chinese people of the mid- to late 19th Century – sans stereotypes. A commercial artist by trade, Lee painted Chinese immigrants arriving in San Francisco during the Gold Rush of 1849, working on the railroad, digging wine caves and...

Joining Our Community to Raise Funds for Relief Efforts in Japan

Posted by benfongtorres on Sunday, 20 March 2011

Whole Lotta Phone Calls Goin’ On by Ben Fong-Torres

In the Facebook box that asks “What’s on your mind?” I announced, the other day, “I'm supposed to be writing a book, but went & moderated a panel for the Broadcast Legends – including Hall of Famer Jon Miller. Fun. Tomorrow — Friday -- 5 to 7 pm -- I'm working the phones for KNTV (Ch. 3)'s fundraiser for the victims of the Japan earthquake. If you can, tune in, call in and ask for me. I'll do Elvis, Dino, 

Dylan for you. Anything to get a few more dollars for the relief effort.”

As always, I got lots of supportive comments, of which my favorite was this, from author Susanne Pari: “This is all good, Ben, but I know writing avoidance tactics when I see them.”

Then Larry LeBlanc chipped in: “Yeah, we writers are like that.”

Yes, we are. But the earthquake relief fund was well worth falling behind a few pages. When I showed up at the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Northern California’s building, where the phone bank had been set up, the tote board showed about $77,000 donated since 7 a.m.

It was now almost 5, and, as I took my seat, alongside TV journalists James Hattori and Wendy Tokuda, and playwright Philip Kan Gotanda and his wife, director Diane Takei (she directs plays; not her husband), and JCCNC board member Rumi Okabe, the phones went silent. It was 5 o’clock; the station hadn’t plugged the fundraiser; people were still at work or on the road.


For Every Drop of Rain That Falls, a Flower Grows

Posted by Ben Fong-Torres on Monday, 05 April 2010

Renaissance man Ben Fong-Torres remembers Loni Ding, filmmaker & activist, & Barry, his late brother.

Loni Ding got a wonderful sendoff the other day in San Francisco. It was a brilliant, beautiful day, perfect for a celebration of a beloved pioneer filmmaker and community activist.

An old calendar of mine tells me that I had dinner one evening in 1968 with Loni. That would be when I was doing a little work for East-West, the bilingual weekly in Chinatown, and Loni, a native of the neighborhood, worked with youth groups, many of whom were looked on with suspicion by the establishment.

The next thing I knew, I was at Rolling Stone, and she was making documentaries, always with an eye on people she thought were under- or misrepresented in American media. Her documentaries included Nisei Soldier and The Color of Honor: The Japanese-American Soldier in World War II.

Since no one can make a living doing documentaries, Loni was also a pioneer teacher in the Ethnic Studies department at U.C. Berkeley. She was also a vital part of the creation of NAATA, now known as the Center for Asian American Media. She produced the Ancestors in the Americas series, broadcast on PBS in 1996 and followed by Chinese in the Frontier West.

In short, she was something.

And a packed room at the Green Street Mortuary in North Beach – actually, the crowd spilled into the aisles and outside the chapel – let her know it. Judge Julie Tang presided, and a parade of family and friends extolled...

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