George Takei reacts to gay Sulu news: “I think it’s really unfortunate…”

George Takei on Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry: “He was a strong supporter of LGBT equality,” recalls Takei, now 79. “But he said he has been pushing the envelope and walking a very tight rope — and if he pushed too hard, the show would not be on the air.” 

The Hollwyood Reporter (by Seth Abramovitch):

Star Trek has lived long and prospered for studio home Paramount, spawning six TV series and 13 feature films. True to its title, the latest big-screen outing, Star Trek Beyond, has gone where none have gone before: Star John Cho — who assumes the Sulu mantle for the third time in the reboots — has told Australia’s Herald Sun that the character is revealed to be gay.

The idea came from Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the new films and penned the Beyond screenplay, and director Justin Lin, both of whom wanted to pay homage to Takei’s legacy as both a sci-fi icon and beloved LGBT activist.

And so a scene was written into the new film, very matter-of-fact, in which Sulu is pictured with a male spouse raising their infant child. Pegg and Lin assumed, reasonably, that Takei would be overjoyed at the development — a manifestation of that conversation with Roddenberry in his swimming pool so many years ago.

Except Takei wasn’t overjoyed. He had never asked for Sulu to be gay. In fact, he’d much prefer that he stay straight. “I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”

Takei explains that Roddenberry was exhaustive in conceiving his Star Trek characters. (The name Sulu, for example, was based on the Sulu Sea off the coast of the Philippines, so as to render his Asian nationality indeterminate.) And Roddenberry had always envisioned Sulu as heterosexual.

Proving that is not so simple a matter, however. Sulu never had an onscreen love interest duringStar Trek‘s initial three-season run. He did mention a daughter, Demora, who appeared in 1994’s Star Trek Generations, the seventh film in the series (she was played by Jacqueline Kim).

But the only reference to how Demora was conceived appears in a secondary canonical source: the 1995 Star Trek novel The Captain’s Daughter. “It was, to put it crudely, a one-night stand with a glamazon,” Takei explains. “A very athletic, powerful and stunningly gorgeous woman. That’s Demora’s mother.”

Takei first learned of Sulu’s recent same-sex leanings last year, when Cho called him to reveal the big news. Takei tried to convince him to make a new character gay instead. “I told him, ‘Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted.’” (Takei had enough negative experiences inside the Hollywood closet, he says, and strongly feels a character who came of age in the 23rd century would never find his way inside one.)

His timeline logic, however, is enough to befuddle even the most diehard of Trek enthusiasts, as the rebooted trilogy takes place before the action of the original series. In other words, assuming canon orthodoxy, this storyline suggest Sulu would have had to have first been gay and married, only to then go into the closet years later.

Not long after Cho’s bombshell call came another, this one from Lin, again informing him that Sulu was indeed to be gay in Star Trek Beyond. Takei remained steadfastly opposed to the decision.

I said, ‘This movie is going to be coming out on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 50th anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision it was carried us through half a century. Honor him and create a new character. I urged them. He left me feeling that that was going to happen,” Takei says.

After that, all was quiet from Beyond until a few months ago, when Takei received an email from Pegg “praising me for my advocacy for the LGBT movement and for my pride in Star Trek,” he says. “And I thought to myself, ‘How wonderful! It’s a fan letter from Simon Pegg. Justin had talked to him!’” Takei was certain the creative team had rethought their decision to make Sulu gay.

That is until one month ago, when he received an email from Cho informing him that the actor was about to embark on an international media tour for Beyond. Cho said it was bound to come out that his character was gay, and “what should he do?” A disappointed Takei told Cho to go about his promotional duties, but that he was “not going to change” his mind on the matter.

I really tried to work with these people when at long last the issue of gay equality was going to be addressed,” Takei says. “I thought after that conversation with Justin that was going to happen. Months later, when I got that email from Simon Pegg, I was kind of confused. He thinks I’m a great guy? Wonderful. But what was the point of that letter? I interpreted that as my words having been heard.”

Takei for his part is hoping to take Sulu in new directions as well, potentially on CBS’ upcomingStar Trek series, slated to premiere in January and co-run by Alex Kurtzman and Bryan Fuller, who is openly gay.

 

Sulu will be married and gay in ‘Star Trek Beyond’

NBC News:

Star Trek Beyond,” the latest of the “Star Trek” movies, will show Hikaru Sulu with a husband and a daughter, according to a report by Australia-based Herald Sun newspaper.

John Cho, who plays Sulu in the rebooted “Star Trek” movies, told the newspaper that that the decision to reveal Sulu as gay was made by film writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin.

I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one’s personal orientations,” he told the newspaper.

He also told the Herald Sun that the decision was a nod to George Takei, who played Sulu in the original 1966 “Star Trek” television series. Takei and his now-husband, Brad Altman, have been together for 29 years.

Sulu will be the first LGBTQ main character in the franchise, which is known for breaking boundaries. The original TV series famously featured American television’s first interracial on-screen kiss in 1968, only a year after anti-miscegenation laws were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

9 Asian American coming-of-age movies that aren’t The Joy Luck Club

the-name-sake

Reappropriate:

Last week, Colorlines published a list of 9 coming-of-age movies starring (and focusing on) people of color. While I usually enjoy most articles that Colorlines puts out, I was frankly a little disappointed in the Asian American representation in the list: our sole entry was Wayne Wang’s adaptation of the Joy Luck Club, also the second oldest (behind Boys ‘N Tha Hood) on the list.

Don’t get me twisted: I appreciate the effort to include Asian Americans on this list of POC coming-of-age films, and Joy Luck Club deserves respect as one of the first, and most mainstream, of Asian American films. But, Joy Luck Club is also more than 22 years old, ambiguous in its navigation of the line between exploration and exoticization of Chinese history, culture and tropes, and highly controversial within the community with regard to its portrayal of Asian and Asian American men. And, I say that as a fan who grew up on Joy Luck Club.

Asian American film has flourished in the last 22 years since the release of the Joy Luck Club film adaptation; there are so many more films in this genre than Wayne Wang’s (clearly important) familial and feminist epic.

Here are 9 Asian American coming-of-age films (in no particular order) that aren’t the Joy Luck Club. How many have you seen?

 

1. The Debut (2001)

Directed and co-written by Gene Cajayon, and starring Dante Basco (“Rufio! Rufio! Rufio!”), The Debut explores the relationship between young Filipino American aspiring artist, Ben Mercado, and his immigrant father Roland (Tirso Cruz III); the conflict threatens to ruin sister Rose’s (Bernadette Balagtas) eighteenth birthday party.

 

2. The Namesake (2006)

Starring actor turned Obama staffer Kal PennThe Namesake explores questions of identity and family between immigrant parents Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli (Irrfan Khan and Tabu), and their American-born children including older son, Gogol (Penn), whose rejection of his name symbolizes his attempts to disconnect from his Indian American history and heritage.

Based on a novel by Jhumpa Lahiri and directed by Mira Nair, this film is easily the best in Kal Penn’s filmography, and worth renting.

 

3. Better Luck Tomorrow (2002)

The first film acquired by MTV Films, Better Luck Tomorrow was a debut movie for director Justin Lin (who was recently tapped to direct Star Trek 3) and also first introduced the world to the character of Han (played by Sung Kang), whom many speculate is the same Han to appear in the Fast And Furious franchise.

The film focuses on Ben Manibag (Parry Shen), a typical high-achieving Asian American high school student whose small acts of rebellion in the form of petty theft escalate out of control to murder.

 

4. The Motel (2006)

Directed by Michael Kang and starring Sung Kang with young actor Jeffrey Chayau, the film explores adolescence and sexuality through the eyes of 13-year-old Ernest Chin (Chayau), whose life is turned upside down when he meets and befriends the motel’s newest guest, the jaded and angry Sam Kim (Kang).

 

5. The People I’ve Slept With (2009)

This film is loosely a coming-of-age story, since it is an exploration of a woman’s shifting relationship with her sexuality and her femininity. Asian American films that explore questions of sexuality are a distinct sub-genre within Asian American film, and inclusion of The People I’ve Slept With is in some ways a placeholder for this entire category of movie; others of note include Charlotte Sometimes (by Eric Byler) and Yes, We’re OpenThe People I’ve Slept With is a comedy directed by Quentin Lee and starring Karina Anna Cheung as young Angela Yang, who enjoys sex but discovers she is pregnant and so must revisit her sexual partners to figure out who the father is.

 

6. Saving Face (2004)

In this film written and directed by Alice Wu, Wilhelmina struggles to reestablish a relationship with her 48-year-old mother Hwei-Lan Gao (Joan Chen), after Hwei-Lan is kicked out of her father’s house for being pregnant out-of-wedlock; over the course of the film, both Wil and her mother struggle with Wil’s closeted homosexuality and her budding romance with the daughter of one of Hwei-Lan’s friends, Vivian (Lynn Chen). Both Wil and Hwei-Lan grapple with their place in Flushing’s Chinese American community, while still trying to “save face”.

 

7. Catfish in Black Bean Sauce (1999)

Written, produced, directed by and starring Chi Muoi LoCatfish in Black Bean Sauce focuses on the identities of a Vietnamese American brother and sister who are adopted by an African American family in the South, and the resulting familial and interracial tensions. Those who are interested in films positioned at the intersection of Asian and Black interrelationships might also be interested in checking out Mississippi Marsala, which tells the story of star-crossed lovers Mina (Sarita Choudhury) and Demetrius (an incredibly young Denzel Washington).

Below is a clip from Catfish in Black Bean Sauce, because the trailer on YouTube is of such poor quality, it’s practically unwatchable.

 

8. Ocean of Pearls (2008)

Co-written by and directed by Sarab Singh Neelam, the film focuses on the story of Dr. Amrit Singh (Omid Abtahi), a young Sikh Canadian surgeon who moves to Detroit from Toronto. The move, which forces Amrit to leave behind his family and his Indian Canadian girlfriend, prompts him to face deeply personal questions regarding racism and assimilation, his Sikh heritage, as well as the unfairness of the American medical system.

 

9. Strawberry Fields (1997)

A low-budget independent film co-written and directed by Rea Tajiri, the film stars Suzy Nakamura as Irene Kawai, a young teenager growing up in the midst of anti-war protests in the 1970’s. Haunted by the sudden death of her sister, Irene discovers a picture of her grandfather growing up in a Japanese American internment camp, and embarks on a  road trip to Arizona to find the spot at Poston War Relocation Camp where the photo was taken. Sadly, the trailer for Strawberry Fields doesn’t exist on YouTube.

strawberry-fields

 

Doug Jung co-writing “Star Trek 3” with Simon Pegg

The Hollywood Reporter:

Star Trek 3 has found a new set of writers.  Doug Jung,   the co-creator of television cop drama Dark Blue, and Simon Pegg, the geek-friendly actor who already plays Scotty in the Star Trek franchise, are co-writing the new installment of Paramount and Skydance’s sci-fi adventure franchise.

A search was necessitated when Roberto Orci, who was writing and slated to direct the sequel, departed the project. Justin Lin is now on board to direct. Paramount and Skydance are still hoping to make their July, 2016 release date.

In addition to Dark Blue, Jung has written for TV shows Banshee and Big Love.

 

“Fast & Furious 6” helmer Justin Lin to direct “Star Trek 3”

Justin Lin Directing Star Trek 3

Variety:

Justin Lin is boarding the USS Enterprise and will direct the third installment in Paramount Pictures’ “Star Trek” franchise.

The hiring of Lin came two weeks after Roberto Orci backed away from the directing gig.

Orci had been hired for the helming job after J.J. Abrams had to exit the sequel due to his commitment to direct Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Abrams directed the first two “Star Trek” reboots in 2009 and 2013.

David Ellison’s Skydance Prods. is producing along with Orci and Abrams. Paramount has not yet set a release date for “Star Trek 3″ but speculation has emerged that the studio will release the film in 2016 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the launch of the original “Star Trek” series on TV.

Patrick McKay and John D. Payne worked on the most recent draft of the script.

Lin directed the third, fourth, fifth and sixth installments of the “Fast and Furious” franchise.

Last year’s “Star Trek Into Darkness” grossed $467 million worldwide, including $229 million domestically.

Link

Fall network TV shows star more Asian Americans

 

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Asian Fortune News:

 

The number of Asian American actors on network television shows will increase this fall season. John Cho will star in ABC’s comedy “Selfie,” which is described as a modern version of “My Fair Lady.” On CBS, Kal Penn will appear in “Battle Creek,” a show about detectives working in a small town, and Maggie Q was cast in a new thriller entitled “Stalker.”

A new comedy show based on chef Eddie Huang’s memoir will be on ABC and is the first sitcom in two decades that focuses on an Asian American family. “Fresh Off The Boat” will star Randall Park and Constance Wu and features the culture shock 12-year-old Eddie experiences after moving to Orlando from D.C.’s Chinatown. In addition, CBS picked up “Scorpion,” which will be directed by Justin Lin, who is known for the “Fast and Furious” franchise.

 

Check out this link:

Fall network TV shows star more Asian Americans

Link

Justin Lin to direct drama pilot “Scorpion”

CBS has given a pilot order to Scorpion, a drama from Nick Santora, Justin Lin, Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci. The project, which had a put pilot commitment, was written by Breakout Kings co-creator Santora and will be directed by Fast & Furious’ Lin, with CBS TV Studios producing. It centers on an eccentric genius and his international network of super-geniuses who form the last line of defense against the complex threats of the modern age.

Scorpion was inspired by the true story of Walter O’Brien (hacker name “Scorpion”), CEO of global think tank Scorpion Computer Services. A man with one of the world’s highest documented IQs (1 in 1.5B people), O’Brien became a real-life Professor X and recruited and trained other geniuses from around the world to work together to save lives and solve problems from casino security to Military Drone warfare. Executive producing Scorpion are Santora, Lin, O’Brien, K/O Paper Products’ Kurtzman, Orci and Heather Kadin and SB Prods.’ Scooter Braun, with SB’s Danny Rose and Danielle Woodrow of Lin’s Perfect Storm Entertainment co-exec producing, and SB’s Scott Manson and Perfect Storm’s Troy Craig Poon producing.

This is a second pilot order this season for CBS TV Studios-based K/O, along with terrorism drama Identity at the CW.

Check out this link:

Justin Lin to direct drama pilot “Scorpion”

Link

Justin Lin to direct remake of Jet Li’s “The Shaolin Temple”

Film Business Asia: 

Justin Lin to direct Shaolin Temple remake

 

Justin Lin has signed on to direct Beijing Enlight Pictures Co Ltd’s 3-D remake of The Shaolin Temple , the film that launched the career of Jet Li.

The news was first reported online by China’s Sina this morning. It has since been confirmed on the Weibo microblog accounts of Beijing Enlight Media Co Ltd and its CEO Wang Changtian.

Wang unveiled the project in Aug 2012, announcing a production partnership with the Shaolin Temple. The script has since been approved by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT).

In October, Wang wrote on Weibo that an unnamed director has been chosen for the project and that pre-production is expected to take two years.

Lin is currently attached to direct the next film in the Bourne franchise, currently set for release in Aug 2015. He is also serving as the executive producer on Fast & Furious 7The Shaolin Temple remake will be his first Chinese-language film.

Check out this link:

Justin Lin to direct remake of Jet Li’s “The Shaolin Temple”

Link

A-pop! Top 10 stories of 2013 : The best, and the best of the worst, of last year’s Asian pop media moments

With 2014 underway, it’s the perfect time to take a moment and reflect on 2013’s biggest hits and misses in pop culture. It’s been an interesting year, which saw Asian Americans breaking ground in new ways in pop media, as well as some spectacularly offensive moments from celebrities and teenagers alike. Let’s look back!

10. Kristen Kish of “Top Chef”

If you’re a reality show fanatic, then you may remember that chef Kristen Kish won this year’s season of the competitive cooking reality show “Top Chef.” Kish, who is a Korean American adoptee, was the first Asian American female winner on the show. Kish’s prize included $125,000, and she spent a portion of it on a trip to Korea to discover and connect with her homeland for the first time.

Kish’s run on “Top Chef” took place in Seattle, which featured episodes in numerous well-known restaurants in the Emerald City, making her tenure on the show and subsequent win more memorable for local viewers (and this column’s readers).

9. “Life of Pi” at the Academy Awards

Although the 2014 award season is just around the corner, I’d like to return to this past season and call out director Ang Lee’s win during the 85th Academy Awards earlier this year. Lee, who is Taiwanese American, took home an Oscar for Best Director for the adventure drama film “The Life of Pi.” Lee is also known for his directorial efforts on “Brokeback Mountain” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

In addition to Lee’s Oscar award, “The Life of Pi” was nominated for a total of 11 awards, and took home more Academy Awards than any other film nominated for 2013. The film also starred Indian actors Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, and Adil Hussain.

8. Katy Perry goes geisha

During this year’s American Music Awards, mega pop star Katy Perry performed her hit single “Unconditionally” live against a geisha-inspired backdrop, which included Perry and her backup dancers sporting kimonos, oil-paper umbrellas, and pale make-up.

Perry’s use of Oriental imagery was annoying because it continued to perpetuate the stereotype that Asian women make for submissive, docile, and doting lovers. The worst part is that Perry doesn’t seem to understand what is offensive about her use of these images. She saw the performance as an homage to Japanese culture. How typical.

Unfortunately, music award shows are hotbeds for offensive racial images and slurs. I don’t think this is a trend that will go away in 2014, but can we at least hope that some celebrities will have more awareness about these things?

7.  Clichés on “Dads”

Several media outlets and blogs reported on the blatant, racist humor found in the FOX sitcom “Dads.” The freshman sitcom, which features Asian American actresses Brenda Song and Vanessa Lachey as leads, generated controversy when the show’s pilot showcased Song appearing in a skimpy “Sailor Moon” outfit as a joke.

Although the controversy first came to light in September, the show survived its initial negative response, and has since been picked up for a full season. I’ve actually watched a few episodes of “Dads,” and I don’t find it funny or original at all. I’m surprised it has made it as far as it has. Still, 2014 has just begun — it’ll be interesting to see whether this show survives past its first season or not.

6. Hayao Miyazaki’s imminent retirement

Famed Japanese Academy Award-winning director and animator Hayao Miyazaki made waves in 2013 when he announced his imminent plans for retirement. Miyazaki, who has become synonymous with the Japanese anime industry, is revered for his acclaimed animated films, such as “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Princess Mononoke,” and “Spirited Away.”

Miyazaki cited his need to rest among primary reasons for his retirement, as well as a desire to pursue other projects outside of animation. Though his retirement is not yet official, Miyazaki’s latest film “The Wind Rises” will see a limited U.S. release in early 2014, so his work is not disappearing from us quite yet!

5. Roger Ebert’s death

The world bid adieu to famed film critic and journalist Roger Ebert in April 2013, who passed away after an 11-year battle with cancer. Ebert is revered in Asian American cinema circles for his public defense of the indie film “Better Luck Tomorrow” at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002. “Better Luck Tomorrow” was director Justin Lin’s debut film, and is considered a cult classic in independent Asian American film. Ebert’s public defense put the movie on the radar of major studios, and also widened the distribution of Asian American films to new audiences.

Ebert was a true supporter and friend to Asian American filmmakers, actors, and audiences alike, as he understood the importance for multifaceted representations of minorities in American media. Roger Ebert, you will be dearly missed.

4. Chinese food goes viral

One of the most popular YouTube videos in 2013 was the inane music video for “Chinese Food,” a pop song performed by unknown teenager Alison Gold. The video observes Gold craving and singing about Chinese food, which is illustrated through fellow teens dressed as geishas, cliché Oriental music, and an adult man in a panda suit. You know, just the usual hallmarks of Chinese cuisine and culture.

Apparently, mimicking geishas was a trendy choice in offensive Oriental imagery this year. I don’t think anybody actually enjoyed this song, but it was one of those ridiculous car wrecks that nobody could avert their eyes from, giving the song its unpredicted popularity. The song even charted on the Billboard Hot 100, and spawned a prequel music video that explains the origins of Gold’s love for Chinese food. Don’t watch it. Seriously.

3. Miss America: Nina Davuluri

America finally saw its first Asian American queen during the 2014 Miss America pageant when Indian American Nina Davuluri took home the title during this year’s competition. But despite the fact that Davuluri was born in America, detractors lambasted the pageant organization for awarding the crown to someone who allegedly wasn’t American, simply based on her race and skin color.

Davuluri brushed the negative commentary aside, however, and refocused the conversation on her then-future plans for her reign. Haters aside, Davuluri’s crowning is monumental because it’s not every day you get to see an Asian woman take home the crown in a mainstream beauty pageant. No matter your stance on beauty pageants, I think we can agree that representation in all facets of mass media is important.

2. Reflecting on the “Fast and the Furious” franchise

This year saw both happy and sad news from the “Fast and the Furious” movie franchise. The sixth installment — titled “Fast & Furious 6” — is the most popular installment to date, and opened this past May amid much fan anticipation. “Fast & Furious 6” was also the third highest-grossing film worldwide in 2013.

Director Justin Lin was one of the franchise’s most prolific directors, having directed four installments of the films, including the recent sixth one. In 2013, Lin announced that he would no longer direct the films due to the demanding and overlapping production schedules of the sixth and seventh films. Director James Wan took over for the seventh film.

More recently, lead actor Paul Walker’s unexpected and tragic death sent the franchise’s future into question.

The seventh installment, which had been on a holiday break at the time of Walker’s death, was delayed for a few weeks to allow filmmakers to rework the script. The seventh film is currently slated for release in spring 2015.

1. High drama in hi-tech: Google gets scandalous

There was a point in 2013 where you couldn’t consume news online without catching a glimpse of the unfolding scandal out of Silicon Valley. In the midst of Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s divorce from former wife Anne Wojcicki, a rumor erupted that the power couple split when Brin began a new relationship with Google Glass marketing manager Amanda Rosenberg. Rosenberg is of Asian descent.

The scandal made such waves that celebrity magazine “People” even made it one of its cover stories, and published a photo of an Asian girl, who was mistakenly identified as Rosenberg. Their gaffe caused uproar in the media, which was made especially ironic given that magazine editors and interns could have, well, Googled and fact checked the photo to verify that it was actually one of Rosenberg.

Still, all the commotion from this high-profile love triangle makes this my top pop culture story for 2013. The tech industry never fails to surprise!

Check out this link:

A-pop! Top 10 stories of 2013 : The best, and the best of the worst, of last year’s Asian pop media moments

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‘Fast & Furious’ Releases A Tribute Video to Paul Walker

Universal Studios has released a touching montage video for Paul Walker filled with scenes and clips of the Fast & Furious actor who died this past weekend in an unfortunate car accident.

A coinciding message from the family was released with the video:

Paul Walker’s family appreciates the outpouring of love and goodwill from his many fans and friends. They have asked, in lieu of flowers or other gifts, that donations please be made to Paul’s charity Reach Out Worldwide (ROWW). Donations can easily be made through their website at http://www.ROWW.org/.

Production for Fast & Furious 7 has indefinitely been put on hold.