Hudson Yang of ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ and Aziz Ansari’s ‘Master of None’ nominated for NAACP Image Awards

NBC:

ABC‘s “Fresh Off the Boat” is loosely inspired by celebrity chef Eddie Huang‘s memoir of the same name and stars Hudson Yang as a young Huang, as well as Randall Park as his father, Louis, and Constance Wu as his mother, Jessica. Wu has been nominated for her role in “Fresh Off the Boat” in both the 2015 Critic’s Choice Television Awards and the Television Critics Association Awards.

On Dec. 1, “Fresh Off the Boat” released an in-character cast video and social media campaign under the hashtag #makeitrightFOTB lobbying for a Golden Globe nomination.

Among the nominees for the 47th annual NAACP Image Awards is “Master of None,” Aziz Ansari‘s Netflix series released earlier this fall. Co-creators Ansari and Alan Yang received a nomination for their writing of “Parents,” the second episode of the series, and Ansari was nominated for Outstanding Director for the same episode.

Kelvin Yu (left) talks with Aziz Ansari (right) in a scene in Netflix’s “Master of None.” 

“Parents” deals with second-generation main characters Dev, portrayed by Ansari, and Brian, portrayed by Kelvin Yu, thanking their first-generation parents for sacrifices made during their parents’ journeys to the United States. The pair take their parents out to dinner where they learn about their parents’ youth and upbringing.

The 47th annual NAACP Image Awards is scheduled to take place on Feb. 5, 2016.

NBA star Jeremy Lin to guest Star on ‘Fresh Off the Boat’

Charlotte Hornets point guard Jeremy Lin is following in Shaq’s footsteps, at least in his acting career. The NBA star has booked a guest-starring role on ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat.

Lin, who plays basketball with the Charlotte Hornets, will play Chau, a worker with Louis (Randall Park) in a factory, who frustrates Louis with his opinions on the movie “Pretty in Pink.”

In the first look photo (above), it appears Chau will appear in a flashback from Louis’ less successful early days.

The series, set in 1995, revolves around 11-year-old, hip-hop-loving Eddie Huang (Hudson Yang) whose family has just moved from Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown to suburban Orlando, Fla., so that the family patriarch Louis (Park) can follow his American dream of opening a Western-themed restaurant.

ABC renewed the sitcom for a second season ahead of its Upfront presentation in May, along with fellow freshman comedies “black-ish” and “Galavant” (starring Karen David).

“Fresh Off the Boat” will return for Season 2 on Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

The New Yorker: “Home Cooking- Funny families on ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ and ‘Black-ish.’ ”

If “Fresh Off the Boat” emphasizes family warmth, it’s complicated by sharp details.

If “Fresh Off the Boat” emphasizes family warmth, it’s complicated by sharp details. (Illustration by David Saracino)

The New Yorker (by Emily Nussbaum): 

Like many pioneering TV series, ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat,” a sitcom about a Taiwanese-American family running a Western-themed chophouse in Orlando, Florida, débuted to impossibly high expectations, hand-wringing, and prickly waves of preëmptive backlash. In an unusual twist, this hazing came from the man whose life the show was based on.

In an essay in New York, Eddie Huang, the celebrity chef, Vice TV host, and author of the memoirFresh Off the Boat,” merrily trash-talked his own collaborators, including a Chinese-American producer, whom he called an “Uncle Chan,” and the showrunner, Nahnatchka Khan, an Iranian-American. “What did you buy my book for?” Huang yelled, frustrated that the show had bowdlerized his story, which included whippings by his father, an immigrant restaurant owner. “Just make A Chinks Life . . . With Free Wonton Soup or Soda.” Thousands of words in, Huang tossed out a few lines of praise, but the impression he left wasn’t great—if he saw his sitcom as a sellout, who were viewers to disagree?

At the heart of this rant was the question of what makes TV bold: Huang wanted something pungent, like an FX anti-hero dramedy, or like the nineties sitcom “Married with Children,” the type of show that would underline (and maybe glamorize) his violent youth, his charismatic dick of a dad, and the roots of Huang’s own flamboyant persona. That desire wasn’t sheerly egotistical: Huang was eager to push back at the cliché of Asian men as passive, genitally cheated nerds (“the eunuch who can count,” as he puts it in the book)—a Long Duk Dong stereotype still visible on shows like CBS’s “2 Broke Girls.” Huang wanted “Fresh Off the Boat” to “go hard,” like his nineties hip-hop heroes. In the process, he was claiming TV’s own bad-boy role, the provocateur who shoves authenticity down the throat of The Man. Think Roseanne; think Louis C.K. and Dave Chappelle.

In reality, of course, the bad-boy provocateur very rarely gets final cut on a network family sitcom—it’s a genre more prone to compromise than a Senate bill. Even the edgiest shows have limits: Al Bundy never hit Peggy, after all. So it’s no surprise that, aesthetically, “Fresh Off the Boat” fits right into ABC’s sweet-tempered slate of comedies, which includes the subtly retrograde “Modern Family,” the wonderful “The Middle,” “The Goldbergs,” “Black-ish”—a smart new show that I’ll get to in a moment—and the unfortunately bland “Cristela.” Like all these shows, “Fresh Off the Boat” is brightly lit, with an A plot and a B plot. The jokes aren’t dirty and nobody gets his butt whipped. The parents—patriotic restaurant-manager dad, Louis (Randall Park), and proudly alienated mom, Jessica (the terrific Constance Wu)—love one another. There’s even a “Wonder Years”-esque voice-over, performed by Huang, and an ensemble of adorable children. It’s a comedy the whole family can watch together—which may be either an insult or a compliment, but is definitely a business plan.

Yet, even in its half-dozen early episodes, those burnt first pancakes of sitcoms, the show has a radical quality, simply because it arrives in a television landscape with few Asian characters, almost none of them protagonists. Khan, the showrunner (who wrote for Seth MacFarlane, and who produced the wicked ABC sitcom “Don’t Trust the B—— in Apartment 23”), is her own sort of provocateur, an expert at slipping rude ideas into polite formats. She uses the Asian-American family to reset TV’s defaults. The characters aren’t the hero’s best friends; they’re not macho cartoons or eye candy, either, as on some cable dramas I could name. This can be an unpleasantly clinical way to talk: it places the critic in the camp of the bean counters, not the gonzo rapscallions. But simply watching people of color having a private conversation, one that’s not primarily about white people, is a huge deal. It changes who the joke is on. “Fresh Off the Boat” is part of a larger movement within television, on shows that include the CW’s “Jane the Virgin” and Fox’s “Empire”—a trend that’s most influential when it creates a hit, not a niche phenomenon.

Reading the book, then watching the show, you get why Huang was frustrated: without a cruel bully for a father, Eddie’s taste for hip-hop feels more superficial—in the book, it’s an abused kid’s catharsis and an identification with black history. But, if the show emphasizes family warmth, that theme is complicated by sharp sociological details: the only black kid in the school calls Eddie a “Chink” and smirks at his hip-hop T-shirt; Jessica grabs every free sample at the supermarket, then gives the employee a hilariously dismissive wave; Louis hires a white host to attract customers (“A nice happy white face, like Bill Pullman,” he explains firmly). There’s no violence, but there are specific immigrant perspectives, shown through multiple lenses.

In one of Khan’s most effective gambits, we see Eddie through his mother’s eyes as often as we see her through his. In the book, Jessica is a brazen, mysterious goad to her son; on the show, she’s a full character, Eddie’s equal in cultural alienation, even if her escape is Stephen King, not the Notorious B.I.G. In one of the most interesting early episodes, mother and son are both drawn to Honey, a trophy wife who lives next door. Eddie sees a hot MILF he can show off to the boys; Jessica sees a kindred spirit who will eat her “stinky tofu” and bond over “Dolores Claiborne”—then pulls away when she realizes that Honey is the town home-wrecker. The show hits every awkward angle of this triangle, including a surreal fantasy sequence in which Eddie, inspired by his hero Ol’ Dirty Bastard, sprays Capri Sun on gyrating video vixens. (His mom intrudes, complaining that he’s wasting juice, while his father offers the women free samples from the restaurant: “Come on, Fly Girls. Try a rib! Tell a friend.”)

In the final scene, at a block party, everyone’s loneliness collides, as Eddie gropes Honey, and Jessica sees her neighbor’s humiliation. Opening her heart to a fellow-outsider, Jessica seizes the karaoke mike to serenade Honey with an awkward, earnest rendition of “I Will Always Love You.” The sequence doesn’t “go hard”; it goes soft, quite deliberately. But somehow it still manages to find strangeness within its sentimentality. “Fresh Off the Boat” is unlikely to dismantle the master’s house. But it opens a door.

ABC’s other new family sitcom, “Black-ish,” created by Kenya Barris and Larry Wilmore (who left to do “The Nightly Show,” on Comedy Central), has had fifteen episodes, giving it more of a chance to grow than “Fresh Off the Boat”—and in that time the series has transformed from hokey formula into one of the goofiest, most reliably enjoyable comedies around. Early on, the show kept aggressively re-stating its thesis: Andre (Dre), a successful adman, is worried that his four kids aren’t black enough. Growing up rich in a white suburb, they don’t remember a time before Obama; Andre Junior is a nerd, not a thug. Andre’s biracial wife, Rainbow, an anesthesiologist, is less concerned about race. Each week, Dre tries to toughen the kids up, terrified that if they don’t get “blacker” he’ll have failed as a father.

The problem with the show, initially, was that Andre himself felt so off-putting—childlike and abrasive, a man-baby in the Homer Simpson mode—that it was hard to buy his marriage or his success, let alone his lessons. Rainbow, played by the fantastic Tracee Ellis Ross, was trapped in the gruesome role of wife-as-mommy, the sighing goody-goody. It’s hard to even remember that version, though, because, once “Black-ish” settled in, it began, like so many smart sitcoms, a quiet reinvention. Andre got more insightful; Rainbow became a glamorous dork with a temper and her own loose-limbed charisma; the kids clicked, too; and Andre’s workplace became a reliably hilarious setting for him to brainstorm about his troubles. It helped that he began to acknowledge his own outsized personality, too, rather than presenting it as interchangeable with authentic urban blackness. “I’m a lot,” Andre says, about his parenting. “If they can get past me, they can get past anything.”

A funny Valentine’s Day episode featured a date night that went downhill—a sitcom chestnut that paid off, miraculously, owing to sharp dialogue and the couple’s great chemistry. Andre and Rainbow sniped over his mispronouncing the word as “Valentimes.” They revisited a childbirth scenario so awkward that the doctor asked her, “You mean he’s actually part of your life? Because plenty of women successfully raise children alone.” They argued over whether or not Andre saw Gene Hackman at a roller rink. (“You think everyone is Gene Hackman!” Rainbow fumes.) In the best tradition of the mainstream sitcom, the show felt both new and familiar, giving the show’s marriage emotional roots.

As these relationships became more organic, “Black-ish” also got looser with its ethnic humor, with plots about Andre competing to be a black Santa Claus (he loses out to a Mexican woman) and microaggressions on a baseball field. When Rainbow notices a gray pubic hair, Andre tells her, “You look distinguished, going all Frederick Douglass down there.” When their daughter dates a French boy, a co-worker of Andre’s says, “I cheated on my husband with a French-Canadian. His Frenchness was so powerful that I forgot he was Canadian.” Andre’s mother tells Rainbow, “You are too hard on the kids. If I didn’t know you were mixed, I’d swear you were Chinese.”

In the show’s most outrageous episode, a ski trip becomes an outlandish parody of Martin Luther King Day. Rainbow throws sardonic air quotes onto “Doctor,” because King had no medical degree; Andre Junior admits that he’s never fully absorbed King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, because “I always kind of zone out when people start to tell me about their dreams.” The jokes overlapped, turning flippant, wild, verging on misfire—an elbow in the ribs of boomer earnestness. In a safe sitcom structure, it was a different kind of risk: inside jokes in an outside voice.

Haters Gonna Hate: An Interview with Constance Wu of “Fresh Off the Boat”

Haters Gonna Hate: An Interview with Fresh Off the Boat's Constance Wu

The Muse:

Constance Wu is living the dream of every up and coming actor—landing the lead on a hit sitcom on a major network with a rapt audience. But Wu’s role as Jessica Huang, Taiwanese mom of three boys on Fresh Off the Boat, is more than just a sweet gig—it’s historical, as FOTB is only the second Asian American-centric sitcom in 20 years after Margaret Cho‘s All-American Girl in 1994. Add to the pot the outspoken opinions of the show’s creator Chef Eddie Huang, who went from bashing the show to supporting it in a matter of days, Wu’s first big break is breaking color lines and studio systems. But the 26-year-old is taking all of it in stride because haters gonna hate, you know?

For your first sitcom, your comedic timing is great without trying too hard. How do you strike that balance with Randall Park, who plays your husband Louis Huang, and the three boys Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler and Ian Chen?

This is only the second comedy I’ve ever done and it didn’t work until I stopped trying to be funny. That’s the trap. Whenever you’re trying to be funny, it becomes cloying and manipulative. My goal with my performance is to be as true as possible.

People think that Jessica’s accent is funny but no one writes jokes about her accent. The humor comes from the writers giving me very funny situations and lines. What makes her so refreshing is that she has an accent and doesn’t know perfect English but she doesn’t think that’s a reason for her not to have a voice and a very loud one at that. That’s what’s interesting and fun about her and playing against Randall and the boys because we’re all just trying to have a good time and tell a specific story.

Speaking of the accent, some felt it was very controversial for you to portray Mrs. Huang with her Taiwanese accent. Why do you think accents in general are so divisive when it reflects actual humans?

Asians have been so rarely represented in mainstream media and historically, especially in the early stages, the accent was used as a humor tool with jokes written about it. But now I would challenge people who say that Jessica’s accent is stereotypical and ask what does that mean? An accent is not a stereotype, it’s just a set of linguistic phonetic changes that happen when your mother tongue has a different set of phonetic constraints than the newer language that you are now speaking. Stereotype enters when that accent is used for the purpose of humor. Of course there are people who are laughing at my character’s accent for very coarse reasons, but we aren’t writing jokes about the accent. It’s an important shift to make.

Recently, a lot of Asians actors want to neutralize their roles on television and say ‘This person is playing a character who happens to be Asian and that has nothing to do with their identity.’

That is a trend that is flying across all minorities, it seems…

My grandfather was an illiterate bamboo farmer and my dad really had to work himself up academically to get a full ride scholarship and a Ph.D in biology in America. He didn’t have a leg up anywhere, he had to work to get that. To even say that that type of journey has nothing to do with my place and opportunities now is dishonorable.

I don’t think that identity is purely determined by race and if a story wants to focus on other things that are important to the narrative, that’s great. But it’s not harmful to say that ethnicity plays an important part in identity and that that part of the story matters. It’s not fodder for humor, it’s just another unique and beautiful element of humanity. Hopefully, we celebrate that. And we’re also a comedy! We want that comedy to be great and warm in our show, which Randall and I both found important.

How’s Fresh Off the Boat been as your first TV experience, between participating in the first Asian American sitcom in 20 years and the tumultuous process creator Eddie Huang had making it?

Eddie and I are new to network television. Before this show I’d done one guest star on Law & Order when I was in college. The network system is established, so being a newbie in this already established constrained situation, we struggled to find our footing. There can be the danger of gratitude becoming complacency which Eddie wasn’t willing to let happen. I think he had to realize which battles he needed to lose in order to win the greater war of representation. Even for myself as an actor, there were certain parts that I was uncomfortable with in terms of lines I was given.

As someone new to television, I wasn’t sure how openly I was allowed to express my opinion. I certainly didn’t want to tread on the toes of people who have more experience than I but I didn’t want to let that inexperience be why my voice and opinion were not valid. Straddling that line was nerve-racking. I didn’t protest too much, instead I found a way within my character work to make it work.

Then last week I emailed our show runner Nahnatchka Khan about a live reading I gave in episode nine or ten. In the first takes, I was trying hard to be clever and improved these funny lines and then on the last take—the scene was with Hudson (Eddie’s character)—for the first time, I actually heard what Hudson said to me, which was ‘You did good mom,’ and I had a genuine response to it. So I emailed Nahnatchka and wrote ‘When I’m doing that series of takes and I’m trying really hard to be clever and funny, and I know that it came off, but if you don’t mind, could we use the last take because I have plenty of times during the series where I’m clever and funny. The last one was the only take in which I actually heard what Hudson was saying to me.’ She emailed me back like, ‘We did use one of your clever takes and we just re-watched it and you’re right. The last take you did was good and it was lovely for a different reason and if that really means something to you, we’ll change it.’

I was stunned because I thought, ‘She’s been doing this forever but this means something to me. So I’m gonna say it with as much respect as possible and if she says ‘No’ at least I tried.’ But she said yes and added ‘Don’t be afraid to ask things like that, I really want to run this with an open door.’ Because Eddie has been so vocal from the beginning—and in the beginning, maybe they didn’t listen to him as much—I think it’s making the system change a bit. People were quick to stigmatize the conflict that Eddie was expressing but that’s just people trying to do better and figuring out how. And of course he’s gonna be sensitive about the show, it’s about his family.

You spoke earlier of stereotypes and a bit of the Tiger Mom trope arises in your portrayal of Jessica Huang when she begins tutoring her three boys after school. Was that something you had to negotiate?

We have real source material in Jessica Huang. I don’t think I should play against a stereotype just to fight the war against stereotypes. Because I’m playing a role that carries the show and a character that has an arc, occasionally elements of Jessica’s personality do fall into a Tiger Mom stereotype. But I’m playing them because they are true to her, not because I am exploiting a stereotype. I’m never doing that. You have to serve the truth of the character and Jessica Huang does what she digs, whether or not it falls into a stereotype.

Chris Rock said that if Tom Hanks does a project, he’s free to fail, but if Denzel Washington does something, he’s representing the entire black race. How are you handling the pressure of being the first Asian American family on network television in 20 years?

I feel that pressure but it’s not something that’s manifesting itself in my work. Sure, there is a burden of representation but the burden shouldn’t be to represent every Asian ever. The burden is to represent an Asian story with as much truth as possible that it touches something in other people and strikes up a curiosity for an experience that is different than your own. Then that gets the ball rolling for others to make individual stories based in truth, intelligence and compassion. My job is not to give you a watered down McDonald’s version of an Asian family so that your next door neighbor thinks, ‘Oh they’re just like me.’ I’m not like freaking out, haters gonna hate, lovers gonna love. People like authenticity and courage, that’s why people like Eddie. Haters will always hate, they’ll see a beautiful flower and be like ‘Ugh, look at that flower!’

Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesdays at 8/7 Central on ABC.

“Fresh Off the Boat” star Constance Wu: I Don’t Need to Represent Every Asian Mom Ever

Constance Wu

TIME Magazine:

ABC’s new sitcom Fresh Off the Boat — the first Asian-American family sitcom in 20 years — is a loose adaptation of the memoir by restaurateur Eddie Huang, who’s profiled in the new issue of TIME. But while the TV show may draw from Huang’s life story, its real star is actress Constance Wu, who plays Huang’s mother, Jessica — and nearly steals the show with her deft comic delivery, according to TIME television critic James Poniewozik.

TIME spoke to Wu about accents, avoiding stereotypes and the importance of Asian-American visibility on television.

TIME: Given how historic the show is, how do you make sure that Jessica is portrayed responsibly and doesn’t become a stereotype?

Constance Wu: Stereotypes are only dangerous when they are used as the butt of the joke, and our writers have taken great care to never write a single joke that is based upon a stereotype. The fact that this is the first show in 20 years that has Asian leads— carrying a story instead of supporting a white person’s story — takes away that burden of stereotypes. What makes a stereotype harmful is when it’s a one-dimensional person.

I think the reason people have been quick to throw the stereotype criticism on us is because there will always be people who are laughing at the wrong thing. Some people are like, “Oh, stereotypical accent!” An accent is an accent. If there were jokes written about the accent, then that would certainly be harmful. But there aren’t jokes written about it. It’s not even talked about. It’s just a fact of life: immigrants have accents. Making the choice to have that is a way of not watering down the character and making it politically correct. It’s choosing authenticity over safety, and I think that’s bold. The people who are going to laugh at the alleged stereotypes are the same people who are going to laugh at their Chinese waiter in the restaurant next door for very coarse, uneducated reasons.

We’re not writing the show to placate the idiots. So to anybody who accuses us of utilizing stereotypes, I would challenge them to point them out when they’re used as humor tools, because they aren’t. And I would challenge people to see if those alleged “stereotypes” are really there, or if they’re just the truth of the actual Jessica Huang, who is a real living and breathing woman in Orlando.

Did you not want to do an accent originally?

No, that was Randall [Park, who plays Huang’s father]. Randall actually wrote an article in which he was like, “If it were up to me, I’d never have to do an accent.” Not only am I okay with doing an accent, I actually think, as an actor, character work is one of the most fun parts. It’s my privilege to be able to play somebody not myself. I’m an actor who creates characters based in voice, movement, emotional quality, speech.

And you worked with accent coaches, right? I know Eddie has taken issue with the accents and the ways they don’t resemble those of his parents.

We had two different dialect coaches. I break my accent work down like a drama student does, in a phonetic and rhythmic way. It’s very apparent that Randall and I are attempting to do the same accent, but we’re doing it differently — like if I tried to do a New York accent and you tried to do a New York accent. There’s no such thing as like carbon-copy accents. And I hear that, that he doesn’t hear his mother’s accent the way I heard it. Nothing’s perfect on its first try. I can see why that’s annoying to him, but it was the network’s effort to at least try to make it as authentic as possible. Maybe he doesn’t think it helped, or maybe he thinks it hurt, but the awareness and the concern to get it right was there.

One of my favorite scenes is when Jessica’s neighbors try and explain the rules of the Daytona 500 to her. The joke isn’t that she doesn’t understand because she’s an immigrant — it’s that the the familiar things we take for granted aren’t any “stranger” than the things that strike us as foreign.

Totally. I don’t think her foreignness is ever the butt of the joke. She’s aware of her difference, yet she doesn’t think that’s any reason for her to not have a voice. It doesn’t elicit shame in her. She doesn’t become a shrinking violet. And instead of that being something that Asians should be embarrassed of, I think that’s something that we should be proud of — the types of characters who know they don’t speak perfect English, who know they have different customs, who don’t think that that’s any reason for them to not have a voice.

That’s what makes Eddie special: he’s not a placater. He doesn’t always say things that are smooth and easygoing. In fact, he rarely does. But he’s not afraid to say them, and he’s actually acutely aware of the fact that that is what makes him special. I think he gets a lot of that from his mom. She’s not afraid to have her voice. She even said to me at dinner, “My sons always told me that I’m too loud and I need to not be so loud. I told them they just have to get used to it because that’s who I am!” That’s something to be admired.

How much time did you spend with her?

I spent a weekend with her and the whole family, including the other kids, in Orlando. Both [of Eddie’s parents] were nice enough to videotape themselves speaking all of our lines. I phonetically studied it ad nauseum, little mannerisms she had. There was one line in the script that she did not like. She kind of made this stinky face after she said it, and you could tell her opinion of that line. The little mannerisms like that were real gems for me to help build my character. And that line actually did not end up making it into the cut. It was a line about the next door neighbor and her very tight pants, so it wasn’t like an Asian line. It was just commentary on fashion, but she didn’t like it.

What would you tell someone who doesn’t understand why the kind of visibility Fresh Off the Boat offers matters?

I wouldn’t say that just visibility is important. I would say visibility as the stars of a show is important. That says that our stories matter. We’re not here to do the taxes of the white person, or to be the chipper best friend to the white person. It’s important to see Asians in those leading roles because it changes what I’m calling the anglo-heteronormative status of TV. [Imagine] that a producer says, “Guy and girl meet-cute at an ice skating rink. They fall in love, but then she has to move away.” If you say that to anyone, including an Asian person, you picture a white person because that’s what’s become normative to us. If it’s “Asian-American meet in a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown,” that’s the only time you picture it. We need to have a picture of Asian Americans. We have a unique experience that has myriad opportunities for storytelling, if other people are willing to tell those stories.

Could you talk about the show’s balance of relatability and specificity?

I think you honor the universality of it by honoring the specificity. There are going to be people who are like, “Wait a second, my family doesn’t do that.” Or, “My Asian supermarket doesn’t do that.” Great! That means we’re actually not doing stereotypes because you’re saying to us that your family doesn’t do that. You can’t please everybody, and you don’t want to, because that’s when things becomes watered-down.

Eddie’s definitely trying to push the show to be more specific. I do think, because it’s network TV and they want to appeal to a broad audience and get their corporate sponsors and all that, they’re seeking a more universal, everybody-is-pleased type of stance. That’s the genesis of the conflict, I think, between Eddie and the network process. I really want to make sure that people understand that I do not stigmatize conflict. I think a lot of people read his [New Yorkmagazine] article and were like, “Ooh, drama on the set!” That should not be seen as bad, or as an indicator of anything remiss. I think it’s actually an indicator of strength and of commitment to excellence.

We shouldn’t be a voice for all Asians. We are such a varied group that there’s no one show that can be like, “This is what Asian America looks like!” But we’re given that burden because we’re so rarely represented. If you see Tina Fey on television, you’re not like, “All white women are like Tina Fey.” Yet people are like, “Oh, Jessica Huang’s not like my mother, but this show is supposed to be about Asians, so shouldn’t she be like my mother?

I understand the burden, because the history of our representation on TV is very sparse. But we’d be doing a disservice to the people who are worried about that by watering it down instead of trying to be specific. Specificity is what makes good storytelling, and good storytelling is what makes money, and making money is then what encourages new producers to invest in different stories about Asians.

In the more immediate, “How is my next-door neighbor going to see me after this show?” I get the anxiety. But we’re trying to be a little more far-sighted in this mission. We were featured at the SAG Awards in a little diversity clip, which is great, but the fact that in order to feature Asian leads in a montage about diversity, they have to show a clip from a show that hadn’t even aired yet? That just goes to show we don’t have Asian leads! We just don’t. Hopefully this will get the ball rolling in terms of other people telling other stories that are completely different and totally unique.

 

‘Fresh Off the Boat’ cast mingles with members of Congress

Washington Post:

Sometimes, when Hollywood and Washington collide, they don’t always know it.

On Wednesday night, the cast of the new ABC family sitcomFresh Off the Boat” sat down with a few members of Congress and others for a dinner at the Source restaurant ahead of a screening of the show’s premiere episode at the Newseum. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) was gabbing with Randall Park and Constance Wu, the actors who play the parents of the Taiwanese household on the show, the first sitcom in 20 years to focus on an Asian-American family.

Talk at their end of the table was about the dearth of Asian American characters on TV and in movies, with Wu joking that her friend calls her every time she sees an Asian American actress onscreen and asks her if she auditioned for the role. Lieu chimed in about a character he loves: “My wife and I love ‘Veep,’” he said, “And there’s an Asian character, he’s great…”

Park cut off the congressman. “That’s me!” he said. The congressman took a closer look at him, then lit up when he connected the actor to the HBO show. “Oh, wow, I didn’t recognize you! You’re so good in that show!” Lieu said.

Park, who also played North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in the controversy-sparking flick “The Interview,” also put to rest any conspiracy theories that the terrorist threat to attack movie theaters that showed the movie was actually a publicity stunt of some kind. “We had no idea,” he said.

Dinner guests also included Reps. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.), writer/producer Nahnatchka Khan, and chef Eddie Huang, whose memoir was the basis for the series.

 

“The Interview” is now streaming on Netflix

Engadget:

As promised, the movie Kim Jong Un preferred you didn’t see is now available if you have a Netflix subscription (and an account in US or Canada). Whether or not watching The Interview is a good idea is still a matter of taste/importance, but at this point it really couldn’t get any easier (at least until it comes to Sony‘s Crackle service for free ad-supported streaming at some point in the future.)

 

James Franco, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen on set of Columbia Pictures' THE INTERVIEW.