Was 2014 a banner year for Asian on network television?

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NBC News:

On paper, it looked like a rough year for Asian-Pacific Islanders on network television: The Mindy Project was on the verge of cancellation. NBC axed Community, and confirmed the end of Parks and Recreation for 2015. Sandra Oh officially left Grey’s Anatomy. Glee edged closer and closer to the end of its run while slowly pushing its Asian characters out of the credits.

According to an annual report on television diversity released by GLAAD, the number of Asian-Pacific Islanders on network television had been on the rise.

In the 2013-2014 season, 6% of broadcast series regular characters were Asian-Pacific Islander, but in the upcoming year, only 4% of characters will be Asian–the only ethnic group to see a decrease in diversity from the previous year.

Image: Ken Jeong, Danny Pudi
Ken Jeong, left, and Danny Pudi attend the “Community” panel on Day 5 of Comic-Con International.

Aside from the need for more representation despite the real progress we’ve made, I was disappointed that we lost some really great Asian-American representation this past year,Philip Chung, co-founder and blogger at YOMYOMF, said, listing Oh and Community’s Danny Pudi and Ken Jeong as examples.

But while the number of Asian characters appears to be shrinking next season, the quality of roles, Chung points out, has noticeably changed. Asian-Pacific Islanders in 2014 were cast in more prominent roles than the previous year, giving actors like John Cho, Ming-Na Wen, and Nasim Pedrad (who previously made headlines as Saturday Night Live’s first west Asian cast member) opportunities to step beyond smaller supporting and guest appearances on TV.

Image: John Cho
John Cho’s casting in a romantic, male lead on ABC’s “Selfie” was revolutionary. But the show was cancelled after just seven episodes.

The leaps forward in casting choices have not come without their setbacks. After months of anticipation among critics and bloggers about the casting of John Cho, an Asian male, to play the lead in a romantic sitcom, his show Selfie was canceled after just seven episodes.

It’s rare to see an Asian-American male as a lead in a comedy, especially one that has romantic possibilities,” said 8Asians editor Joz Wang, who called Selfie’s cancellation the biggest disappointment for Asian Americans on TV in 2014. “While the show didn’t catch on as quickly as the network would have wanted, many Asian Americans watched the show specifically for John Cho.”

“Getting [a show] about an Asian American family on the air is a frickin’ miracle.”

Even though Cho never received top billing in Selfie, many felt ABC’s choice to cast him as the show’s male romantic lead was long overdue. His elevation to “leading man material” appeared to be the first step in seeing more Asian-Pacific Islanders as true television stars, not just supporting characters.

To date, few Asian actors have ever been cast in lead roles on a network level. The first to break through was Pat Morita, in the 1976 show “Mr. T and Tina” (it was considered a flop, and went off the air after five episodes).

PAT MORITA
Pat Morita led the way for Asian Americans on television. Four decades later, how much has changed?

Today, Lucy Liu plays a prominent character in Elementary, though not the lead, as does Kal Penn in the upcoming CBS drama Battle Creek. Even Hawaii Five-O, which Wang noted has been “great because it’s set in Hawaii and there are many opportunities for Asian-American actors,” stars two Caucasian leads. “All the Asian Americans still play second fiddle in terms of billing,” said Wang.

The last network show to cast an Asian male with top billing was CBS’ Martial Law starring Sammo Hung in 1998. Hung, who spoke little English, had just a few lines in each episode, and was reportedly paid half of what his co-star Arsenio Hall made.

Image: Lucy Liu
Lucy Liu plays Joan Watson on the CBS drama “Elementary.”

Currently, the total number of Asian actors to receive top billing on a network primetime series is one: Mindy Kaling. Since the 2012 premiere of The Mindy Project, Kaling has received praise for being the first woman of color to write and star in her own show since Wanda Sykes in 2003.

But Kaling has come under fire for what some see as her failure to leverage her influence for push for more diversity on network television.

In a letter to Fox, Media Action Network for Asian Americans President Guy Aoki said the show lacked diversity–particularly when it came to romantic interests. “We are concerned that in the course of two seasons, [Kaling’s] character, Dr. Lahiri, has had a ‘white-only’ dating policy involving about a dozen men,” Aoki wrote. “And except for this season’s addition of African American Xosha Roquemore the cast continues to be all white…She’s creating the impression that by surrounding her character with mostly white people and dating only white men that Lahiri’s become more accepted by the white population.”

Kaling defended the show at a SXSW panel early in the year, saying, “I have four series regulars that are women on my show, and no one asks any of the shows I adore — and I won’t name them because they’re my friends — why no leads on their shows are women of color, and I’m the one that gets lobbied about these things.”

Despite any criticism and low ratings, Kaling herself saw a year filled with successes in her own career, from being named a Glamour Woman of the Year to the announcement of her second book, Why Not Me?, which will be released next year. In November, Fox also added six episodes of The Mindy Project, stretching the season from 15 episodes to 21, and fueling speculation that the show will be renewed for a fourth season.

Kaling won’t carry the mantle for Asian network primetime leads alone much longer. She will soon be joined by Korean-American actor Randall Park, who will star in ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat–the first network show to feature an all-Asian American cast since Margaret Cho‘s 1994 series All-American Girl, which was canceled after one season. Following a slate of recurring roles on television (including The Mindy Project), Park will receive top billing when the series premieres in 2015.

Getting a television series on the air is an incredible feat,” Park wrote in a post for KoreAm Journal online in June. “Getting one with no bankable name stars in today’s television climate is damn near impossible. Getting one about an Asian American family on the air is a frickin’ miracle.”

Image: Randall Park
Randall Park plays the father figure in the new ABC comedy “Fresh Off the Boat.”

The series, based on the memoir of celebrity chef Eddie Huang, has received its share of praise and criticism since ABC added it to its mid-season lineup. Park is one of the targets of the early backlash because his character is Taiwanese (not Korean like Park is) and speaks with an accent (which Park does not naturally have).

But in the same KoreAm post, Park acknowledged he raised that same issue himself, but was repeatedly assured he was the right actor for the role.

Hopefully audiences and the network will give it a chance.”

In an ideal world, I would never have to play a character with an accent,” he wrote. “But this is a character based on a real person. So it’s something that I have to honor and try to perfect as the series moves forward.”

Early viewers of the pilot have been defensive of the series, hoping to save it from suffering the same fate as All-American Girl and Selfie. “I thought it was very funny and despite some of the early backlash from people who haven’t yet seen the show,” YOMYOMF’s Chung said. “Hopefully audiences and the network will give it a chance.”

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Extreme vacationing: How to enjoy a trip to Hong Kong in just 12 hours

 

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RocketNews 24:

 

Now, it’s something of an accepted fact that Japanese companies expect their staff to work hard and put in a lot of overtime. Long hours are the norm, and it can be difficult to get time off from work when resources are already stretched thin and doing so could very well mean making your coworkers’ lives harder. The truth is, with the exception of the New Year’s holiday and the obon period in summer, the majority of Japanese workers don’t take time off unless they absolutely have to. So it can be a bit tricky if you want to take an overseas vacation.

But how far would you be willing to go to take a trip abroad? Would you be prepared to take a trip so short that you’re at your destination for just 12 hours? Well, that’s exactly what our reporter Meg from our Japanese sister site did. Read on to find out what it was like to travel to, enjoy, and fly back from a foreign destination in the space of 24 hours, and whether she thought it was worth making the trip!

When you’re planning an ultra-short trip, you of course need to pay careful attention to the flight schedule you choose and how many hours you can spend at your destination as a result. In this case, our reporter Meg planned a one-day trip to Hong Kong where she would be staying for a period of just 12 hours.

This is what her actual itinerary looked like:

09:35  Depart from Narita Airport, Japan

13:20  Arrive in Hong Kong, travel into the city

15:00  Visit Hong Kong’s celebrity cat Brother Cream, then take a walk to the Chungking Mansions

16:00  Visit the famous ‘Myosho Sushi’ shop in Sham Shui Po, nicknamed ‘killer sushi’, and enjoy (as well as be shocked by) the offerings.

20:00  Visit the area around the Avenue of Stars and see the Symphony of Lights show

21:00  Move to Central District and take a break at the retro Bing Sutt-style Starbucks on Duddell Street

23:00  Arrive at the airport early to do some shopping — Hong Kong editions of the Demae Iccho instant noodles in particular

01:00  (Next day) Depart Hong Kong

06:25  Arrive in Narita

See, isn’t it amazing how much you can get done in one day? Now you have no excuse for not imbibing a little foreign culture!

Here are some photos from Meg’s trip:

 

▼Meg arrives at the airport ready to make her one-day trip to Hong Kong!  hongkong (5)

▼This is all she took on our trip. Naturally, you can travel very light when you don’t need to bring a change of clothes! hongkong (3)

 

She had so little baggage, in fact, that it may even have looked suspicious! hongkong (4)

 

▼For this trip, Meg used the advance check-in system, so she only needed to go through the departures gate about an hour before her flight. Plus, she didn’t need to wait in that line at the airline counter!5

▼Ready to board!hongkong (9)

 

▼A short flight later, she arrived in Hong Kong.6

▼To get to the city from the airport, the airport Express is fast and convenient. The train takes you into the city in about 30 minutes. But if you’re going to be in Hong Kong for only one day, make sure you buy the “Same Day Return Ticket”. It costs the same as the single journey (one way) ticket, so if you’re going back to the airport the same day, you only have to pay the price for a one-way trip.hongkong (17)

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▼Meg first headed to Tsim Sha Tsui East to see Brother Cream, the cat who became a Hong Kong celebrity when he disappeared (believed stolen) in July of 2012 and was found again about a month later.  hongkong (11)

▼She unfortunately wasn’t able to see Brother Cream, but she did get to see his partner, Sister Cream.cream-aniki (13)

▼She’s clearly used to the attention by now.cream-aniki (10)

▼And we did get to see pictures of Brother Cream posted at the convenience store where he lives.cream-aniki (8)

▼Near Tsim Sha Tsui Station is the Chungking Mansions building, known as one of the cheapest places to stay in Hong Kong. Weirdly, the area seemed to have a whiff of durian and sweat to it.
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▼Meg was captivated by this giant panda that she saw in a shopping mall near the Chungking Mansions. We can kind of see why!hongkong (12)

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▼And here she is at Myosho Sushi, the legendary shop known as “killer sushi”. The shop Meg went to was the one at 58 Yen Chow Street, Sham Shui Po. mingjiangshousi (19)

▼Yup, the sushi was definitely different to regular Japanese sushi. Here’s what Meg thought may have been squid in a sweet chili sauce. mingjiangshousi (13)

▼Now this one looked more like conventional sushi, most likely sea bream, but when she ate it, in truth, it didn’t really taste like fish. mingjiangshousi (9)

▼Trying the raw prawns was a bit of an adventure …

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▼And this was the fried shishamo smelt — while it’s not the kind of sushi she’s used to seeing, Meg actually thought this was quite good. Myosho Sushi really is in a league of its own!mingjiangshousi (7)

▼How does the sea bream taste, Meg? Well, “a bit like mold and stones, actually…”mingjiangshousi (8)

▼The tea was surprisingly good, though.mingjiangshousi (17)

▼Here are some scenes from around Sham Shui Po Station. It’s an area crowded with people, buildings and shops. hongkong (2)

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▼Meg then moved on to the area near the Avenue of Stars, where you can come face to face with the statue of none other than martial arts legend Bruce Lee and also enjoy the famous million-dollar night view as well. Meg tried to catch the Symphony of Lights show, but unfortunately couldn’t see much because of the clouds. hongkong-1

▼But she did see the handprints belonging to actor Sammo Hung, who is also very famous in Japan. hongkong (6)

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▼Meg then went on to the Central District, where she visited a unique Bing Sutt-style Starbucks, modeled after a traditional Hong Kong coffee-house.hongkong-sutaba (14)

▼The shop has a very retro feel.hongkong-sutaba (11)

▼One of the posters in the shop was advertising their pineapple buns, a popular treat in Hong Kong.hongkong-sutaba (3)

▼Well, of course our girl had to try one! The bun came with an ample serving of butter sandwiched in between.hongkong-sutaba (15)

▼The subway map shows that the areas Meg visited are located relatively close to each other. One of the reasons a one-day Hong Kong trip is feasible is probably that the city is not spread over a very wide area. Also, if you’re a visitor and not familiar with the subway MTR system, we definitely recommend you download the official MTR app. You can easily search routes, fees and exits from the subway map even if you’re not sure of the exact names of stations, so it can save you a lot of time.4

 

All in all, Meg had quite a full day! Let’s break her experience down:

[The costs]

After returning to Japan, Meg calculated the total expense for her trip as follows:

  • Air tickets (including fuel and taxes): 35,730 yen (US$350)
  • Local transport costs in Hong Kong: HK$104.50 ($13.50)
  • All other costs: HK$216.20 ($28)

So, the total amount of money our reporter spent on her one-day trip came to approximately $391.50. Meg remarked that she was actually surprised that she’d spent less than $400 — it felt like she had spent far more, but after going over her expenses several times, she found that it really was that little. We’re certainly impressed, but then of course she didn’t stay overnight in Hong Kong, which meant no accommodation costs, so the only major expenditure in this case was the air tickets, which Meg picked up for a little less than normal after some hunting around.

[The pros]

Here’s what Meg thought were the pros of taking an ultra-short overseas trip:

  • You can travel overseas even if you can’t take time off from work! This has to be the biggest appeal of planning a very short trip, especially for workaholic Japanese. The tight schedule may be a bit tiring, but it’s refreshing to be able to enjoy the sense of freedom that comes from spending vacation time in a foreign country.
  • Even though it’s a very short trip, you can get more done than you might expect. When you think of it as a one-day trip, it may seem very short, but even if you were to spend the night, you can only really fit in between eight and 12 hours of activity in a day anyway. If you look at it that way, the schedule actually doesn’t seem too unreasonable.
  • You can travel very light. You only need what you need for the day, so you’re not weighed down with luggage, and there’s no hassle of packing and unpacking. And you don’t need to wait for your checked-in luggage to come out at the baggage claim, so you can start moving very quickly once you reach your destination.
  • It can be done for a relatively reasonable price. As mentioned above, the trip didn’t turn out as expensive as expected. It’s not like we compared the average price per hour for various trips, but it felt like Meg’s trip in this case wasn’t a bad deal in terms of cost performance.

[The cons]

There were only a few drawbacks to going on such a short trip :

  • You can’t travel too far away from the airport or city you arrived in. If you’re staying in a major city with a good transportation system like Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai or Seoul, you won’t have a problem finding plenty to do visiting various sites in the city, but if you find yourself in a place without many attractions or activities, you won’t have the time to wander away from your original destination in search of something more interesting.
  • You can’t engage in activities that are too time-consuming, such as waiting in line at a popular shop or restaurant or seeing a movie or long show. Sure, you could devote your time to a few select activities, but it tends to be human nature to want to do as many things as possible.

Our reporter’s verdict? Sure, the ideal may be to be able to take a long enough break and spend plenty of time at your travel destination, but seeing as that is often not possible for workers in Japan, if you’re feeling stressed and you need to get away from it all, it could actually be a good idea to take off on a very short trip. In fact, it could be a very good idea! And if you’re really pressed for time, you could even arrive back in Japan early in the morning, take a shower at the airport and go straight to work! How’s that for time management?

So, based on Meg’s recent visit to Hong Kong, we think ultra-short trips are certainly worth considering, provided you plan them out and depending on the schedule and price of air tickets available. But regardless of whether they’re long or short, we hope all your vacations are safe and enjoyable!

 

Check out this link:

Extreme vacationing: How to enjoy a trip to Hong Kong in just 12 hours

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BAM presents “Enter the Dragon + 5 Wing Chun Classics”

Enter The Dragon

In NYC? Head over to BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), the multi-arts center located in Brooklyn known as a center for progressive and avant garde performance, film screenings, and music performances for their series, “Enter the Dragon + 5 Wing Chun Classics,” starting today. Featured will be screenings of Enter The Dragon, The Way of the Dragon, Enter the Fat Dragon, The Prodigal Son, and Invincible Shaolin.

In conjunction with the release of The Grandmaster, Wong Kar-wai’s biopic about Bruce Lee mentor Ip Man, we present a week run of Enter the Dragon in a brand-new restoration. The film screens alongside the greatest cinematic displays of wing chun, the legendary kung fu style Ip passed on to generations of martial artists.

Check out this link:

BAM presents “Enter the Dragon + 5 Wing Chun Classics”

BAM