Archives for category: Diversity

The Fairy Princess has a hot second to spare, but she just has to chime in on the latest statement from CBS regarding the non renewal of the contracts of Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kimthe ones in the middle.

The ones ‘selling us’ Hawaii, and the American scene that IS Hawaii.

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Now, the above photo is CBS’s own marketing team – this was how, in the first season, they sold the show to audiences across the country.

Who is in the middle, a position usually reserved for the ‘stars’ of the show?

That’s right, Park and Kim.

The Asian/Americans.

(Ms. Park is a dual citizen of Canada and USA)

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Let’s try this again – and again, TFP reminds you – this is marketing that CBS put out themselves, she is just pulling down the images from the interweb –

Who is featured prominently?

Park and Kim.

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Which is why CBS’s statement about how they ‘tried’ to come to terms with their two Asian/American leads, but could not is, well – bullshit.

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When two reliable series regulars insist on financial equality during the seventh season – you give it to them.

After seven seasons, they have clearly ‘proven’ themselves – as Actors of Color are constantly asked to do, to repeatedly ‘prove’ themselves.

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Television is a medium where Actors of Color are constantly reminded that they should be ‘grateful’ to get the job. Where they are ‘local hires’, even if they were auditioned on another coast. Where they have to arrange their own housing or child care, simply because “they’ do not expect to be treated equally – because they never have been.

Where ‘we’ are all in that vending machine in Toy Story, waiting to be chosen.

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Until we go home with Sid, the toy butcher.

IT IS ENOUGH ALREADY – WE DO NOT HAVE TO BE GRATEFUL TO HAVE TALENT AND TO BE OF VALUE TO A TELEVISION SERIES SET IN A STATE WHERE WE OUTNUMBER THE CAUCASIANS AT OVER 72%!

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(That is Asians, Hapas, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders combined)

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According to Variety, this is what was sent out by CBS

“CBS offered “large and significant salary increases” to keep Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park in the cast of “Hawaii Five-0,” the network said Wednesday after Kim said via Facebook that he was unable to come to a deal with CBS to return to the long-running series.

“Daniel and Grace have been important and valued members of “Hawaii Five-0” for seven seasons,” CBS said in a statement. “We did not want to lose them and tried very hard to keep them with offers for large and significant salary increases. While we could not reach an agreement, we part ways with tremendous respect for their talents on screen, as well as their roles as ambassadors for the show off screen, and with hopes to work with them again in the near future.”

Now – keep in mind – whatever the significant increases – they were still LESS than Scott Caan and Alex O’Loughlin – who are making about $200K an episode. Plus more money on the back end – which is part of a production deal that was worked out when they came to the show in 2009/2010.

Now – this backend deal is ‘interesting’ because according to Variety “The backend stakes that O’Loughlin and Caan commanded reflect the leverage that the two actors brought to the show when it was assembled in the 2009-2010 development cycle.”

Hmmmm, the ‘leverage’?

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TFP thought she would look up this alleged leverage to see if she can make sense of that – because she is confused.

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Battlestar Galactica ran for four seasons, and according to IMDB.com – was rated 8.7 out of a 10 point rating for quality – meaning the cast, storyline and production values. Ms. Park was on that show all four seasons.

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It was the winner of 3 EMMY awards for Production. It won BEST SERIES from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror films in 2007. That same year, 2007  it won awards from AFI, ALMA and was nominated and/or won from a host of other entertainment entities. Including the prestigious Peabody Awards, which it won, in 2006. In 2009, it won the Television Critics Award for Best Show.

LOST – ran for six years, from 2004 -2010, according to IMDB.com. Mr. Kim was on the show all of those seasons.

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LOST won 105 Awards in it’s time and had 375 Nominations.

Mr. Kim however, was not ‘just’ on LOST – he had been a featured actor on many popular television shows – and why would he not, he holds a Master of Fine Arts from New York University in Acting. Just a short perusal of his 72 credits on IMDB.com – including 24, ER, Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayers and an OSCAR winning film called CRASH is enough to make anyone’s head spin. (By the way – when series run, it is counted as one credit, but then it lists the episodes, the number is much greater)

In any other profession – holding a Masters Degree is a guarantee of a higher salary – that there is no parity given in Entertainment is literally why this sh*tshow of an incident has occurred.

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We are still talking leverage, right?

So coming in, Park and Kim were in a good position – award winning television shows that were long running and significant money makers with rabid fan bases. Easy to cast, for sure. Instant recognition, instant boost to a show that was a reboot coming into a television landscape where lots of reboots fail.

They would have been definite yes’s and the Network was lucky to have them. Moving on to the rest of the show…looking at Scott Caan – whose impact is more valued by CBS, so much so he makes 15% more than Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park AND…he gets a backend.

What’s he been up to?

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Mr. Caan has 45 credits on IMDB.com. His ‘biggest’ credits prior to the OCEANS ELEVEN franchise, where he has a smaller ensemble role – not more important than, say, Brad Pitt or George Clooney who are the leads. He is visible but not a lot of screen time. He has been in GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS, VARSITY BLUES, and he was on for two seasons recurring as Scott Lavin in the cable show, ENTOURAGE.

He also has a Dad who is, well, Hollywood Royalty.

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James Caan is a friggin genius actor. He is such a good actor, his son got a backend deal.

TFP assumes that is because everyone knows that talent is definitely passed down, for sure, in show business by simply growing up next to it.

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Alex O’Loughlin is, to TFP‘s surprise – Australian. Oi, Oi, Oi!

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According to IMDB.com, he has 16 credits – but those include parts on television shows that ran for a season – Mary Bryant (Australian TV Mini Series), Three Rivers, Moonlight, and seven episodes of The Shield – that was all prior to Hawaii 5-o, where he has 168 episodes under his belt.

He also was the lead in a film called THE BACKUP PLAN opposite Jennifer Lopez.

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No acting awards for Mr. O’Loughlin in the United States – he has 2 total nominations- 1 win-  in Australia – the Australian Film Institute for Best Lead Actor in Television, and a Logie Award for his work on the miniseries Mary Bryant – and in the United States he won a TV Guide award for Best Bromance with Scott Caan.

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TFP is now confused – because she does not understand where exactly, this alleged ‘leverage’ came from in regards to casting Caan and O’Laughlin – on paper, does not make as much sense as Park and Kim.

Neither had been on long running shows, they had nowhere near the fan base that Park and Kim did. Yes, they had some large film credits under their belts – but does that really not hold parity with someone who has been in Oscar winning films in addition to Award winning television shows?

Does it?

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In truth, neither of them had the depth of experience of Mr. Kim, though Mr. O’Loughlin has what would be a Bachelor’s Degree from NIDA in Australia while Mr. Caan attended Playhouse West – they have training – TFP is not saying that they do not – but Mr. Kim had more experience.

What she is saying is that while IMDB credits do not necessarily quantify talent – what they do is show that there is a history of someone being good to work with, showing up on time, maintaining a long running character – it shows that people can work with you in as much as it also shows what roles you have done. It shows you can handle the job.

To put it frankly – O’Laughlin and Caan did not deserve the initial salary disparity that happened in the first place – they had neither the experience nor the industry acknowledgement to claim ‘backend’ rights.

There was NO LEVERAGE!

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The only thing they had over their fellow series regulars was the Undeniable Whiteness of Being.

They had ‘perceived leverage’ based on almost nothing in Hollywood terms.

This is not to say they are not talented, nor does this demonstrate that they do not perform well on their current show – obviously they do. What it does say, rather clearly is that

  1. CBS does not value their Actors of Color at the same professional rate as their Caucasian actors – and one need only to take a glance at their lineup to substantiate that fact.
  2. Women of Color are paid even LESS than Men of Color
  3. That however ‘substantial’ their raises were – Park and Kim’s offers did not include $200K per episode and part of the backend for a show that they lend authenticity to.
  4. Their Agents – Caan’s and O’Loughlin’s – fought the better fight.

While TFP does not want to throw Kim and Park’s representation under the bus in that initial negotiation seven seasons ago – she does wonder if their being Actors of Color made their Agents less willing to fight for that initial contract that set all this crap up in the first place. Perhaps their Agents did not know what the other two was being offered? Perhaps their Agents were given a offer and told ‘that is all we have’ – still….they should have persisted.

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Hollywood suffers from systemic racism.

It is often the ‘quiet’ kind, where someone is politely told they ‘cannot’ get more money for a role because, well…you know.

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It’s the kind where you cannot get an appointment because you do not look like what the writers are picturing.

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It is the kind where you can be on the show from the very beginning, and they promote other people over you for no apparent reason that has anything to do with charisma, uniqueness, nerve or talent.

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It is the kind where someone can write for you for seven seasons, say you are part of their “Ohana” (family), and then undercut you to the point that you have no choice but to leave, because your sense of self is powerful, and it will not allow you to stay.

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It is that kind of systemic racism.

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Where Actors of Minority statues are often ‘gaslit’ into thinking they are not enough and that they have to change so that the powers that be will ‘allow’ them to continue.

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That is the ‘threat’ – that they will only “allow’ us a sliver of the pie because our success takes away from their ‘intrinsic order of belonging’ – in which, we do not belong.

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It is the kind of racism that could be negated if your fellow cast members who are benefitting from their perceived superiority based on no real data, could stand with you and demand that all of you are treated equally- but they do not.

Maybe those Cast members think that they are better? That they ‘deserve’ more?

Hmmm…why would they think that? 

What is the culture there?

Because it comes from the top, down- for example- TFP knows for a fact that Bryan Fuller, Maurissa Tancharoen Whedon, Stacy Rukeyser, Josh Safran- just to name a few- would never write some BS statement like the below- because they fully adore and respect their casts.

So whence came this nugget, Mr. L?

We should all be just ‘glad to be there’?


Where the kind of racism exists whereby their EP uses words that mean ‘Family’ but then lowballs them? While comparing their roles to those of actors who- yes, also great- however they are ‘recurring’? The ones who make an impact in Guest Stars, yes- but who are not on the posters!!!!

It is THAT KIND OF RACISM- and it is insidious as hell.

SAG/AFTRA has a case against these producers and against this network – if they choose to exercise it. The Actors of Color meant to reflect Hawaii are gone. They have not announced replacements. That is a violation of clause 59.

It is about respect – both for the Actors in question, and the profession in general.

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Again, there was no leverage that TFP can see that would place Scott Caan and Alex O’Loughlin ahead of Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. None.

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Calling out CBS on this – however this was set into motion – the optics are bad, very, very bad.

Let’s not pretend that there was leverage.

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It is ‘too late’ to fix what should have been an automatic “yes” at the first ask – so while we wish them much success, Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim are gone from Hawaii 5.0.

What happens now, CBS?

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TFP will be watching.

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The Fairy Princess got her computer back, after a month – yes a MONTH – in the shop!

She is pretty excited.

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Let’s get to talking about some stuff – first of all – since charity begins at home, TFP would like to bring to your awareness the #Ham4All campaign started by Lin Manuel Miranda. It is for the charity Immigrants We Get the Job Done, and the money raised goes to various charities to support civil rights as well as practical support.

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You can also win tickets to the LA premier of HAMILTON, which include airfare and hotel!

So how would you like to see HAMILTON for $10?

Because that is what it is – a $10 donation. (Click here to get to started)

TFP did the challenge,

(Apologies she cannot seem to size it correctly it looks enormous)

and she ‘tagged’ her friends,

Donna Lynne Champlin (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend),

Telly Leung, (Broadway’s Aladdin):

As well as Jeff Yang (Journalist – CNN, Wall St. Journal, Jose Llana (National Tour – The King and I), and Raymond J. Lee (Broadway’s Groundhog Day).

The videos thus far are super cute and…they are going to lead to a whole lot more support and awareness  – and in case you cannot tell – all these folks are children or grandchildren of immigrants!

So check them out on TWITTER!

Thanks for playing, y’all – WERK!

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Also, this is the opening weekend of BABY DRIVER, which has TFP’s fav pal, Lanny Joons Kim  – make sure you check it out!

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Particularly because recent articles have reaffirmed TFP‘s long standing point – that diversity in casting makes the film have more appeal and thus more…

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for everyone.

Speaking of which – seems like CBS’s Hawaii 5.0 is cleaning house – ethnically that is.

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According to various articles, Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim – series regulars who have been on the show since the pilot, and who have major character arcs and plot lines – have been paid 10-15% less than the two Caucasian leads – Scott Cann and Alex O’Loughlin – and well…

They out.

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CBS would not get on board with equal pay, their cast members Cann and O’Loughlin did not ‘pull a Friends” thing with them – remember, they all held out until they all got the same money? So Park and Kim are no more.

They have gone on and will go on to bigger and better things, but that, as YOMYOMF points out – is not the point. They sold the show on their presence – which to a casual viewer meant that they were enjoying the same paycheck as Scott Caan. 

After all, DDK was coming off a very impressive run of LOST, and Park off of BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA – two of the most famous televisions shows in history -which made them far more bankable than Scott Caan – who has somehow managed to parlay a famous Dad into a career, having really only done notable small parts in ensemble films.

No shade to Scott, but it is what it is. He’s better now than when he started – but did he deserve a bigger paycheck than Daniel Dae Kim or Grace Park?

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Interestingly, Masi Oka also left earlier this year.

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Now YOMYOMF has written an interesting take on what may have happened behind closed doors there, and since they have done such a great job, TFP is going to stay out of that portion. (But yes, it is totally suspicious that all the Asian/American actors have departed the show within a season)

However, since Masi is the one who, long ago, dragged TFP into the now defunct Asian Actors Sub Committee at SAG (where it became a huge sh*t show), she has a point to make, and it is a doozy.

(Remember please, all Masi’s fault TFP even knows this)

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If Hawaii 5.0 and their Producers do not quickly replace these gaping holes in their show with Actors and Actresses of Asian/American or Pacific Islander or both (many people are combinations) – they are in violation of an important clause in the SAG/AFTRA Producers Agreement. Clause 59, page 147.

Back when TFP used to be on the SAG AAPI Committee – this was referred to as “Reflecting the American Scene”, and here is what it means.

When Producers agree to “reflect the American scene”, what is meant is – within the boundaries of the show – where it is set, which professions it reflects – that they will endeavor to look at the ethnic and gender breakdowns inherent in that profession/setting/city, and cast accordingly. Same with disability breakdowns within the profession.

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Here is the actual language from the current SAG/AFTRA Television Contract:

POLICY OF NON-DISCRIMINATION AND DIVERSITY
(a) Policy
(1)
The parties hereto reaffirm their commitment to: a) a
policy of non-discrimination and fair employment in connection with the
engagement and treatment of performers on the basis of sex, race,color,
creed, national origin, age, marital status, disability or sexual orientation,
in accordance with applicable state and federal law; and b) to continue
the active promotion of diversity, as set forth herein, in all categories of
employment covered by this Agreement.
(2)
In accordance with the foregoing policy, the Union
reaffirms its policy of non-discrimination with respect to admission to
membership and rights of membership.
(3)
Producer shall cast performers in accordance with the
policy set forth in Section 59(a)(1) above in all types of roles, having
due regard for the requirements of, and suitability for, the role so that,
for example, the American scene shall be portrayed realistically.
(4)
Consistent with the foregoing, every effort shall be
made to include minorities, women, performers with disabilities (defined
as those covered under the employment provisions of the Americans
with Disabilities Act) and performers aged 40 or over who are protected
under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act in the casting of each
motion picture, thereby creating fair and equal employment opportunity
and eliminating stereotyping in casting.

Now, the language has changed somewhat – very small changed to – “the American scene shall be portrayed realistically“. It has the same meaning. 

It should look like the America in which it is set. Not “Trump’s America”, not “Elitist Educated Coasts America’ – it needs to look like Hawaii. 

The American scene of Hawaii – a land in which the 44th President was born, and which is a state. 

Even if people don’t think so – and if they refuse to believe it their social studies teacher failed them.

In order for a show to be given the greenlight to use SAG/AFTRA Actors, Union Actors – they need to show that their show reflects the America in which the show is set. In this case – Hawaii.

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Now this graph was done in 2013 – four years ago – by California State University. If you combine the Asian population, the mixed race population, and the Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander numbers – you get around….72.2 %.

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That is a big chunk. HUGE chunk. Huge stinking chunk of people that reflect the American scene within Hawaii that are not Caucasian. It is not the Midwest. It is Hawaii.

SAG/AFTRA has a case, should they choose to ‘go for it’, and in this case, they should.

Because if we stand for nothing- what will we fall for?

That Producer’s Agreement was signed when half the series regulars – Park and Kim – were of Asian descent. Because they were of Asian descent, we saw their family members and their love interests, who also happened to be of Asian descent.

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Which increased CBS’s very tentative grip on diversity – according to their very own Glenn Geller -as they are a show pretty much known for series starring white males. 

Two shows that they had that ‘refuted’ those charges, as it were – their two aces, were ELEMENTARY, which stars Lucy Liu, and Hawaii 5.0.

That makes H50’s producers in violation of their original agreement – and SAG/AFTRA should take that opportunity – as we venture into pre-strike territory – to push for replacing Park and Kim with people who are of mixed race, or Asian heritage, or Pacific Islander heritage – or all three.

Because that is the scene in Hawaii. (Truly, the only place where she has felt like everyone is not asking her for an explanation for her face every time she left the hotel).

Which no one who has even a passing glance at the numbers, can dispute.

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TFP really hopes CBS does the ‘right’ thing by Hawaii, and by it’s viewers – who have proved loyal over the years to that show. If they do not…

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Otherwise she hopes that SAG/AFTRA has a bit more to say on these issues – and she thinks they may because running for the LA Local President is Clyde Kusatsu – who she is backing.

Not only is Clyde from Hawaii – he has been a long standing member of SAG, now SAG/AFTRA – he has worked every contract there is, and he has over 293 credits on IMDB, as well as being a solid committee member, repeatedly, through the years.

If anyone knows the importance of representation in the great state of Hawaii, it is Clyde. He is also someone I would want to advocate for a diverse and inclusive filming industry.

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TFP hopes that Clyde will get your backing, because she can see that Producers are getting more parsimonious. 

She does not doubt rich people’s ability to ignore the fact that Union members need benefits including health care and pension, because they want to line their own pockets.

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After all, we are seeing that on a National level.

She has known Clyde for a long time – his dedication and his commitment – being a SAG/AFTRA member has fed his family – and thus while it is a professional commitment, it is also a personal one from someone who, like most of the rest of us – are in the trenches fighting for representation every damn day.

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TFP out.

The Fairy Princess was having some issues about Ni’ihau so many issues it was a subscription.

TFP is kinda tired of her face looking like this:

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She is exhausted by the stupidity – the continued, ongoing stupidity of the Whitewashing issue, the cultural appropriation of it all – it’s MADDENING!

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However one bright light shone in the darkness, and pulled TFP from the depths of despair.

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That was discovering the new video of the song by Will Jay called LEADING MAN.

Take a look and a listen:

TFP thought it was joyful and cheeky. She also thought that being only 20, Will Jay has time and talent on his side – he seems like he is in the fight for the long haul. As he prepares to light the world on fire, TFP thought she would ask him a few questions for your enjoyment.

So sit back and relax and enjoy five minutes with Will Jay.

LEADING MAN

TFP: Will, thanks so much for talking with me. I have a few questions – first, let’s just get this on the table, you are adorable, I am a fan. Let’s dive right in – What is the last movie you saw in the theaters and when and what inspired you to write a song that takes on White washing so pointedly?

WJ: The last movie I actually saw in the theaters was GET OUT! That movie was a huge inspiration for me to actually put this song out and not care if it ruffles some feathers. I’m not sure if it was one event in particular that inspired me to write LEADING MAN.

I wanted to write an anthem for myself as an Asian/American trying to make it in show business because it was something I needed to hear. Seeing all those movies last year getting criticized for whitewashing made me realize that there’s a power in this community. I wanted to do something that would bring us together and at least start a conversation.

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TFP: When you hear that Emma Stone or Tilda Swinton or Matt Damon defending Whitewashing – what does that say to you as an Artist and as an Asian American?

WJ: It’s all just more fuel to the fire. I’m so excited for Leading Man & my future releases because I’ve found a way to combine the Asian-American experience with an artist’s sound & perspective. With my music, I still want to relatable to a wide audience but on a deeper level explore what it means to be Asian-American & not Asian-Asian like Hollywood portrays us.

TFP: What is the one thing you want people to take away with them from your song?

WJ: The main thing I want people to take away from this song would be confidence. Although I’m making a pretty bold statement, I hope everyone after watching that video finds confidence to be unapologetically who they are & not who they think people want them to be.

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TFP: Why is now the time to release this song? Obviously, May is Asian American Pacific Islander Celebration Month, but why now?

WJ:  I think now, more than ever, I’m seeing Asian/Americans coming together and speaking out about these issues. For the first time in my life, I feel a real sense of movement being formed, and as a musician I want to be a part of that.

TFP: Who are your inspirations? Whose career do you admire?

WJ: I’ve been telling people that my music is Frank Sinatra meets Frank Ocean. I’m also very inspired by Elton John, The Beatles, and Bruno Mars. In terms of career, I would say Justin Timberlake; he’s killed it – not only in singing and dancing, but in acting as well. Sara Bareilles, I’ve been a fan of hers for years – I was amazed by WAITRESS, the musical she wrote. I just want to be able to explore all facets of being an entertainer.

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TFP: I have to ask, because I cover a lot of theater – do you have any hopes towards Broadway, or are you strictly pop music?

WJ: I’m definitely focused right now on my own music; but I grew up doing musical theater, so if an opportunity presented itself I would be ecstatic. My dream musical would be JERSEY BOYS. I would also like to try my hand at writing for TV and film.

TFP: What is the easiest way for people to get hold of your music?

WJ: You can go to willjaymusic.com  – it is also on iTunes, Apple music, Spotify – I’ve got a lot of new music in the works, so look for that!

TFP: Where do you see yourself in five years?

WJ: In five years, I’ll have made at least 3 albums. I would love to have toured and played awesome venues all over the country and hopefully the world, as well as be inspired by as many people as possible. The one thing for sure is I’ll always be creating and telling stories with my songs.

TFP: I’m sure you will get there. Congrats on the song, it is super fun, and it means a lot to me personally that you invested your time and talent to highlight this issue. I wish you much success.

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TFP out.

 

 

First, some housekeeping.

Thank you AEA for making TFP part of the #MotivationMonday campaign.

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A sad farewell to the musical, Amelie, which closes on Broadway in two weeks and starred Phillipa Soo.

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However, it is not all doom and gloom, TFP’s fav, Telly Leung is going to go into Aladdin, as Aladdin!

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Now….let’s really clean house!

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The Fairy Princess is kinda pissed.

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Here is why – Tilda, Scarlett, Emma and Matt go into a bar and tell the waitress that they are expecting a fifth, but to please bring spam appetizers and a jug of poi martinis to wash it all down while they wait for Zach McGowan.

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No one has learned a damn thing about Whitewashing except that they are going to continue to do it and they do not give a rat’s ass whether or not Asian/American Pacific Islanders are affected. It is so blatant – they disregard us with a fervor that would only be applicable to Royalty and Serfs in the 1300’s.

Then double it.

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Apparently the need for a white savior is SO GREAT – that even if there was no white savior, they will take the hero of color that actually was, and replace him with a beefcake from New York who has played a pirate.

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Sorry, sorryTFP just remembered she did not clue you in. Let’s start at the very beginning….

In this, Asian American Pacific Islander Celebration Month, (yes in the USA we are all counted under that umbrella term) there has just been an announcement of a new Hollywood picture that will hope to tell the story of an amazing turn of events that actually happened, on a small island in Hawaii. The heroes of the story are Native Hawaiians.

Remember what TFP said – the heroes of the story are Native Hawaiians.

Back in 1941 there was a small island within the chain of Hawaiian island, and it’s name was Ni’ihau. It is the second smallest island in Hawaii.

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At the time in 1941, there were 136 residents on this island, with  most of them being Native Hawaiian and speaking as their first language, Hawaiian.

Everyone is with TFP thus far, right? There are pretty much only Native Hawaiians and they mostly speak Native Hawaiian unless they have to speak to white people.

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So on this island of 136, there were 3 Japanese heritaged people. One was issei (first generation Japanese), and two were nisei (Hawaiian born second generation Japanese). These two Nisei were named the Haradas.

A pilot in the second ‘wave’ of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, crash landed his plane on the island of Ni’ihau. When this pilot crash landed, a Ni’ihau resident, Mr. Hawila Kaleohano had the presence of mind to grab his papers while he was dazed, and he would not give them back. The residents seized the pilot, but allowed him to be imprisoned at the Harada’s house with guards.

(Putting him in the Harada’s house was a bad idea – super bad because they decided to side with the pilot as he was Japanese)

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Eventually the pilot broke free of the guards, and with Mr. Harada’s help, went after Mr. Kaleohano to get his papers back. Mr. Kaleohano saw them coming and escaped, and then rowed in a boat to a larger island to get help.

Oh, and they had a shotgun.

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The pilot and Mr. Harada then tried to look for Mr. Kaleohano by capturing Benehakaka “Ben’ Kanahele and his wife, Ella.

Here is a photo of the Kanaheles.

Adorable.

Reminds TFP of the Chinese in Far North Queensland a bit. (Clothing, hair- similar climate)

Portrait of Benny and Ella Kanahele

They kept Ella captive, and sent Benehakaka out looking for Mr. Kaleohano. “Ben’ knew that Mr. Kaleohano was on the boat, so he pretended to look for him, to give him more time. When he grew concerned about Ella and returned, he and Ella took advantage of the moment and struggled for control of the shotgun that Harada and the pilot were using to take control.

The pilot shot Ben three times – in the groin, stomach, and upper leg. This did not keep Ben down, he picked up the pilot and hurled him into a mountain (as you do) and then his wife bashed the pilot in the head with a rock, and then Ben slit the throat of the pilot with a knife.

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For these deeds, Mr. Benehakaka “Ben” Kanahele was awarded the Medal for Merit, which was at the time, the highest civilian decoration of the United States. Also, The Purple Heart.

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His wife did not get a medal.

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Undoubtedly, this is an amazing story.

One of the things that makes it so amazing is because, of course – Asian vs. Pacific Islander drama. On one side you have the Japanese and on the other side, you have the Native Hawaiians, and this could be, very much so, the first epic war film to cover the invasion of Pearl Harbor from a Native Hawaiian perspective.

Did they do this?

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Instead of using this opportunity to go for Native Hawaiians playing Native Hawaiians – which, lest we forget is how the world was introduced to Auil’i Cravalho – Disney Casting Directors went out and did their jobs for Moana – no, instead of doing that – they decided to make Benehakaka not Native Hawaiian at all.

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They cast this guy as Benehakaka:

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Nope, not Native Hawaiian at all. Not that one should judge a name, but his particular name is Zach McGowan. Which makes him fairly certain to have Irish or Scottish heritage. He has good abs – and one supposes that counts for something – but it does not absolve you of the crime of whitewashing.

Even if you wash the laundry on them.

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Now, the Producer of this film, Ken Petrie said ““there is a weight to be shouldered, and the material requires the utmost care and authenticity.” because the story is based on an actual event.

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Here is what is astounding – they actually cannot fathom why this is offensive!

Nor can they understand that it is totally and completely possible for a person of color to be the primary point of focus in a story in which they participated!

A person of color in the historical record of this friggin’ country cannot be played by another person of color because white people will not allow it.

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There is nothing in the effin’ Emma/Tilda/Scarlett canon that would have happened, if the hubris of white people knew about boundaries. Here is something she told her kid today – just because you want something, does not mean you can take it from someone else.

That’s the truth. You can’t always get what you want. Mick Jagger told all y’all that since the 60’s and you are still thinking that the sun rises and sets upon you – you do not get to rewrite history. Also – it is RECENT history, the man passed in 1962!

If you wanted to produce or write or direct this story, with all the resources you have at your fingertips – great! However, if this story is so compelling you felt you should spend several years of your life putting it together – then tell it the right way.

Cast it the right way.

Based on actual events means you are basing it on real people – when you erase People of Color from their own stories, you do everyone a disservice.

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We have always existed. We have always been there.

Why is this so hard to understand?

Why does this keep happening?

Because the hubris of white people knows no bounds.

Because there are not enough movies being directed, written and produced by Asian/Americans or Pacific Islanders- however, there is GOOK by TFP‘s old buddy, Justin Chon.

Which she encourages you to go and see, because we need the variety of voices otherwise, we disappear.

We disappear because we are repeatedly being allowed to be seen as adjunct to a white hero narrative – and that has to stop.

There is nothing more to say except this – there is young Pop Artist, Will Jay – @willjaymusic .

He croons, he dances, he’s cute as hell, and he is 20.

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He has written an Anti-Whitewashing Anthem, which TFP saw a preview of – it drops on May 12th – and it is adorable. It’s catchy, it’s fun – and most of all – we need songs and perspectives to keep us going through all this whitewashing bullshit that seems never ending.

The title is “Leading Man” – how much more spot on can you be?

Head on over to Twitter and take a listen.

To the Producers, Director, and star of the new film, Ni’ihauTFP fines you 1,000 smacks with the wand. You should have known better.

We told you.

Whitewashed films do crap at the box office.

Asian/American Pacific Islanders – in particular the women – have incredible reach in terms of consumer dollars – when are you going to take your crimes against our humanity seriously?

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TFP out.

 

The Fairy Princess loves Canada, been there several times.

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She has relatives there, she skis (badly), she loves the film industry there – she enjoys the orca whales…and they have the hottest Prime Minister ever.

Justin Trudeau

You gotta just…anyway, take a moment to drool over Justin Trudeau.

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Now, the issue with Canada and it’s Prime Minster being so friggin’ cool, is that we, the people, believe that Canada in general, is much like the man they elected – very ‘woke’ (as the kids say), very much in favor of human rights and dignity. They have a diverse population, national health care that pays for almost everything, and it has wide open spaces that are unreal – all that is true.

The Fairy Princess would consider that most Canadians are like Justin Trudeau – just not all of them. She is now going to tell you about two of the ‘not quite as deserving to be in Trudeau’s Canada as we thought’…

Like the ones who run Calgary Opera.

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Calgary Opera has decided to do SOUTH PACIFIC by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and they decided to cast Mezzo Soprano Megan Latham.

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She is to play the character of Bloody Mary. She is not of Asian descent.

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In the original novel, the island in question (the name is fictional) is off the coast of Vietnam. On Broadway, National Tour, and regionally, in the last decade, that role has been filled by Actresses of Color.

For example, Loretta Ables Sayre who was TONY Nominated for her Broadway Debut in this role in 2007. She is from Hawaii.

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TFP could name a whole slew of Asian American Pacific Islander Actresses that have played this role in the past – Lori Tann Chinn won the Helen Hayes Award for this role at the Arena Stage and played it in the TV film version with Glenn Close.

(photo by Mark Garvin)

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Marlene Sai played the role at Hawaii Opera Theater

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There are many more, but one gets the idea. Yes, there are Actors out there who are both Asian Pacific Islander descent, and able to sing. South Asian is also another way to go, or First Nation – but you get the idea?

Performers of Color. Always.

One must actually grasp and hold on to the idea that Vietnam is an actual place and though the Isle of Tonka is fictional – Vietnam is still a place where people look Asian descended.

Everyone understands this, TFP is not going to pull a map…oh wait, she is…

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TFP is a gal who loves her maps.

Ah, Vietnam, you can see it boarders the countries of Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and is a water trip away from the Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, and Bangladesh. In other words – though fictional – it is based on reality – and in reality, Bloody Mary should look somewhat similar to those peoples. There is a range of course, because in any place where there are ports and ship travel, people cross pollinate – but within the realm of that area of the world.

According to Board Chair of Calgary Opera, Michael Brown:

“Calgary Opera has been searching for a person of ethnic background to fulfill the role, and will soon be casting an appropriate Bloody Mary,” says Brown in the statement.Every effort is being made to present this socially important production of South Pacific, and we intend to do the production justice in all aspects.

Whilst that may happen, (but likely will not as the only person of Asian descent they find acceptable is a soprano), emails from the original director of the piece, Mark Bellamy demonstrate that when he, the Director of the piece, objected to a Caucasian being cast as a native of a Vietnamese island, he was sent this in an email by Interim Artistic Director, Taras Kullish:

I know you’re not going to like that decision, however I feel we did our due diligence in trying to find an Asian person to sing the role, however none of the options were vocally appropriate. For the opera world, the quality of voice is of utmost importance.”

Did Kullish just say there are no Asian or Asian descended Opera Singers that were acceptable to sing in Calgary?

That a Canadian mezzo soprano cannot be found?

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The Fairy Princess is not amused.

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What was not said was – ‘We have offered it to this person, this person, this person who are all Canadian and none are available, so we are going to invite appropriate artists from the United States and see if someone is available.

What was not said was, “We know this show is a musical, though we are doing it for our season, and we understand that in 2017 it is not appropriate to paint people yellow.

No.

What Calgary Opera said was they did their ‘due diligence.’

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TFP decided she would do HER ‘due diligence‘ and see if she can find a Bloody Mary that would be in keeping both with where Canada is today, and honor the vocal traditions of the company and the piece.

In short – she went looking for Opera Singers of Asian descent who are Mezzos and Canadian.

Guess where you can find them?

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Right there on the world wide web.

It took one internet post about how she was looking and then some research and then…BOOM, BABY!

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Emma CharCanadian. Mezzo Soprano.

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Ms. Char captured her role well, singing with tremendous composure. Her Lucretia was overpowering at times, emotionally terrifying in its final tragic dissolution. But what I appreciated most is that Ms. Char is a very intelligent singer on multiple levels… incorporated the necessary dramatic quality, all the while making you feel as though her musical lines were poetry set to music. That demands a very special kind of performer, one who can sing her lines as though they were speech, yet speak musical prose into song. Those qualities delivered the production securely over the top, and made the horror of Act II live in multiple dimensions. We owe Ms. Char a great deal for the success of the production… a scene in which Ms. Char must give a sparse, gut-wrenching account of Tarquin’s assault. It was a powerful, stomach-twisting performance combining disconsolate mood swings of psychological distress and distraught dissolution leading to a complete collapse into self-abasement and shame… She bemoans to her husband that “Our love was too rare for life to tolerate” — lines Ms. Char seemed to utter as though from direct experience.” – Stephan Bonfield, Calgary Herald, July 2016

 The Calgary Herald. Said. That.
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Repeat after TFP – The Calgary Herald, ostensibly read by people in Calgary, which is the third largest city in Alberta, thought she could sing and act.
How many people in Calgary?
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 1.214, 839 million. It is has more than 240 different types of people and is ranked third highest in visible minorities in any city in Canada.
Of the visible minority population of 28.1% – South Asian makes up 7.1%, Chinese makes up 6.3%, Filipino makes up 4.1 percent, Southeast Asian 1.8% .
No, they are not all Opera Singers, they are the general population – but a company that is trying to build audiences by doing a classic musical would be wise to not whitewash a character of Asian descent in a city where they know good and well what Asians look like!
So how much due diligence was done, really?

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   Grace Chan.
Canadian.
Mezzo Soprano.

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 The word on the street is that Ms. Chan rocks the house, but hard.
Widely praised for her natural voice, dynamic presence and audience rapport, Manila-born Chinese-Canadian Mezzo-soprano Grace Chan has sung with major opera companies in three continents; her strong reputation in the Canadian industry is evident in press reviews in publications such as Opera Canada, The Globe and Mail, Time Magazine, The Toronto Sun, Stratford Festival Theatre, The Vancouver Sun, The Georgia Strait and many other community dailies. A history buff, Grace is passionate about stories of peoples and civilizations. Grace obtained her BMus. (Opera Performance) and MMus. (Voice Performance) at the University of British Columbia, and extensive training in Vienna and New York. Grace is a teacher, clinician, adjudicator, conductor, and mentor with affiliations with Trinity Western University and the BC Conservatory of Music.”

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Mezzo Soprano.

Married to a Canadian.

Nina Nelsen, Santa Barbara, Oct 2012
 Here is a bit about what she has been up to from her website:
Hailed as a “rich voiced, expressive mezzo-soprano” by San Francisco Classical Voice and “appealingly direct and honest in tone and bearing,” by Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe, Nina Yoshida Nelsen recently made her New York City Opera debut as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, conducted by George Manahan.

In the 2016-2017 season, Nina Yoshida Nelsen returns to the Santa Barbara Symphony as the Alto Soloist in Beethoven Symphony #9 and debuts with the Guelph Symphony Orchestra as the Mezzo Soloist in the Verdi Requiem. In the 2014-2015 season, Nina was thrilled to return to Utah Opera to perform Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. She then made her debut singing the same role with The Atlanta Opera.  She also sang Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Southwest Florida Symphony. Nina made her Seattle Opera mainstage debut summer 2015 singing the role of Mama in the world premier of  An American Dream

For those following along at home –
That is TFP 3 – Calgary Opera – 0
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 Finally, Dr. Soon Cho. 
Mezzo Soprano.
 NOT Canadian, no one is perfect.
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Hailed by Opera News for her “potent presence” as Mrs. Clemm in Argento’s Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe, lyric mezzo-soprano Soon Cho has gained recognition as a versatile performer. 

As a recitalist, chamber musician, oratorio and concert soloist, and equally at home on the opera stage, she began her professional singing career under the batons of world-renowned conductors such as Alan Gilbert, Kristjan Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Erich Kunzel, Julius Rudel, Mischa Santora, and David Zinman.

As Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Cincinnati Post praised her performance as “regal in bearing, with vocal endowments to match. The tears were listener response to her heart-wrenching performance of “When I am laid in earth.”

Hmmmm, and then there were four.

Now look see here, oh Calgary Opera – TFP is going to ‘splain you what you did when you chose – and yes, she said CHOSE to ignore the three employees who quit over this casting when you did it and then you said ‘well maybe a soprano‘, but you still have the Caucasian lady ‘on hold‘.

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What you did was decide that Asian descended people only exist in your Operatic Space when you deem it appropriate.

What you decided with this casting is that Asian descended people or Native Peoples do not ‘have the chops’ to compete with actual Caucasian singers, and therefore are able to be pushed aside.

You did no due diligence.

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This is 2017.

TFP always takes the answer of ‘well there weren’t any” very personally – because these decisions are personal in that they deal with people, and personal in that she is an Asian descended person who works in the performing arts.

Regardless if you believe that you have done your ‘due diligence’ in trying to cast appropriately in a show that deals ENTIRELY with prejudice and racial politics, you have NOT.

You just wanted to work with someone who was not Asian descended.

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If that is the case – pick a different show. There are  3 major shows in the Rodgers and Hammerstein canon that are amenable to opera companies interpretations – OKLAHOMA, KING AND I, and SOUTH PACIFIC.

All deal with prejudice in their own ways.

The reason they do is because Hammerstein was as ‘woke’ as a guy could be who wrote musicals in the 1940’s and onward.

By the way, he also wrote PORGY AND BESS – and so the question then comes to you –

WOULD YOU CAST BESS AS A WHITE LADY CUZ YOU COULD NOT FIND ANYONE?

You damn well would not.

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Exactly.

Now, Megan Latham has gotten a lot of flack for accepting this role. The truth is she should get a lot of flack for accepting this role.

The question to ask prior to taking a role where you are expected to don another ethnicity in a musical is – would I be comfortable playing a role in another musical where I would have to paint myself?

If the answer is no – turn it down.

You are not ready for this jelly.

Yes, it is totally Calgary Opera’s fault for putting you in this position – but they would not have been able to put you in this position if you had not accepted the role.

It was very naive to think that people would not say anything in a city that has the third largest minority population in Canada. Perhaps it was not ill-intentioned, but it was wrong just the same.

At the same time, if a Caucasian does accept the role, they have to accept what comes along with it.

You need the check?

TFP totally gets it. Everyone has bills.

You are going to have to suck it up then, you are going to get checked twice, Boo.

That’s just life.

What should happen is Calgary Opera should pay Ms. Latham out and replace her, similar to what Dallas Summer Musicals did when they had to replace a Caucasian actor who they had hired to play The King in THE KING AND I.

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There is some other sh*t in Canada that is pissing off TFP(maybe she is transferring because of YOMYOMF’s story about the television shows Fresh Off The Boat, Dr. Ken, Quantico and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. all being on the bubble of potentially getting cancelled.) but here it goes…it’s super annoying…still grateful for Sandra Oh and Grace Park and other Canadians on US Television, but…something needs to be said.

Yes, Canada has Kim’s Convenience as an award winning television show and that is cool as hell. However when you are, well Justin Trudeau’s Canada, your television station and it’s representation have to up it’s game.

C’mon Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – where are the diversity initiatives that in the United States have actively affected change? Your casts are NOT reflecting the Canadian scene, as we say in the States. That should be a mandate.

Right now for scripted comedies, they have four – Mr. D, Working Moms, Kim’s Convenience, and Schitt’s Creek. Still Standing, is a hybrid comedy/reality series.

(Yes, It’s a super fun show.)

There have not been comedy shows featuring Muslims or South Asian people on since the show, LITTLE MOSQUE ON THE PRAIRIE which ended in 2012.

Of those, only Working Moms has an Asian series regular, who is Jessalyn Wanlim (Yes, she was also amazing in Orphan Black, but…she was killed off). She is excellent, we enjoy her.

However of those four scripted comedies, Ms. Wanlim is the only Series Regular who happens to be of Asian heritage!

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Canada is also the country that gave us the incredible Sandra Oh.  Dance it out!

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Another Canadian Ex-Pat that grace’s US television is…actually, Grace Park.

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(We sort of owe you for those last two, #SorryNotSorry.)

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But again, this is Justin Trudeau’s Canada and we expect more – there needs to be more Series Regulars on their Television shows that are of Asian and South Asian descent – because of course, the CBC serves the country. It is more similar to the British television system than the American one.

A country that has a very visible minority population of 19.1 per cent.

South Asians are the largest visible minority in Canada with 4.9% of the general population, yet…where are they in the scripted comedies?

Yes, Asians are on the news and specific shows that deal with documentaries, travel, they are hosts and reality show contestants, and a few dramas and all – but when on Canadian television are they being funny?

TFP tries to watch television from around the English speaking world, when she can, to keep up with what is going on. Thank goodness for the internet. So imagine TFP‘s surprise when she saw this Vanity Fair photo by Andrew Eccles which announced their three new Series Regulars and…

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NO RAY THE REALTOR!!!!!

HE HAS BEEN THERE SINCE THE BEGINNING!

TFP is upset.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has a low number of scripted comedies, and they have no South Asian series regulars – that is disgraceful.

Also, they have RAY THE REALTOR right there – working every scene hilariously – that he is ‘allowed’ to be in.

Of course TFP is going to be sad that there is not more of Actor, Rizwan Manji on Schitt’s Creek – it is a brilliant show, and he is brilliant in it.  While no one should feel sorry for a guy that has been in as many films  as he has (he has 101 credits on IMDB)  – it is still weird.

Guess we will just have to look for him recurring on the breakout hit, MR. ROBOT on US Television – but here’s the thing many people may not know about Mr. Manji…

He is Canadian.

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Not many people can go toe to comedic toe with Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, and leave you wanting more, but Rizwan Manji can, eh?

However, he’s not in that photo, and he’s not a Series Regular – no wonder all the Asian Actors leave Canada – we may have elected a Cheeto Small Hands Combover Twitler, but at least we embrace more diversity in our comedies.

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With such a large South Asian population…it really is a puzzlement how this kind of thing continues to go on – how we ‘miss’ definitive diversity in a specific genre because we look at the broader picture – television as a whole. However, when you look at the scripted comedies – it’s hilarious but very, very, very Caucasian.

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Here is why TFP is writing about Canada, er…Justin Trudeau’s Canada…we are asking you to be a beacon for the USA right now, eh?

The USA is at war within it’s own boarders – we have racial tension, we have Nazis in the White House – we need some hope, Canada.

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You have some of the funniest people on the planet – for heaven’s sake you give the world brilliant comedians like Russia gives us vodka and wiretapping –  so we need you to show both your own visibly huge minority population, and the rest of us who follow you on the internet that we, one day, will have a real shot at being half as good as Canada.

For two Canadian Companies – one Opera, one Broadcast, who fail to realize the erasure of Asian Canadians…TFP fines them all a hundred lashes with the wand.

You could do something a-fresh-off-the-boat this, so why not do it, eh?

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TFP out.

 

The Fairy Princess was perusing periodicals when there was, she noticed at casual glance, a mention of The Tony Awards, she was mildly interested.

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Absolutely no one noticed her interest, it was subtle.

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As she read on MacDuff, she noticed that the big kerfuffle in announcing a host was that Tina Fey had dragged the poor Tony Awards along like a third string prom date, and ultimately had to just tell them flat out, it was a no.

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TFP was left wondering – who was going to watch the TONY Awards this year with her, if there was no host?

Who had they asked?

Hugh Jackman? Busy.

James Cordon? Busy.

That guy with the three names who always does a great job?

Totes Busy.

For consolation, TFP resorted to the internet…and she remembered THIS video!

Upon first viewing – she had thought this was genius, and since then…well, Rachel Bloom has gone on to have a hit television show on the CW….that is produced by CBS Studios…which is broadcasting the TONY Awards!!!

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TFP had a VISION – the Cast of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend should host The Tony Awards this year!

First of all – there is, of course, Rachel Bloom – totes hilarious, great writer, obviously an lover of all things Broadway – obvious because a bunch of the main cast of characters of her television show have actually BEEN on Broadway!

Let’s start with this lady – Ms. Donna Lynne Champlin!

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Drama Desk Winner.

FIVE Broadway Shows!

Donna Lynne Champlin belongs to the the theater – however we are letting the television world ‘borrow’ her so she can make a lot of money and more people will fall under her spell.

Let’s face it, she is so talented, she will one day HAVE a TONY Award, so why not give her a hosting gig and see why people all over the country fall in love with her Paula every week?

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Moving on….

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Santino Fontana.

SEVEN Broadway shows!

WHAT? Seven in one…er… career?

Plays and Musicals.

And…Disney Prince – possibly the only Disney prince who turns out to be a villain – but let it go, Folks, it was AMAZING!

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He gave you full on “don’t trust the good looking guy, he only wants your castle’ realness.

He can sing and dance – as can the entire cast – and isn’t that what we want to see on The Tony Awards?

Triple threats?

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Everyone’s favorite Asian “Bro” – Vincent Rodriguez III came right out of the National Tour of ANYTHING GOES, performed in HERE LIES LOVE at NY’s The Public Theater…

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Mr. Rodriguez can sing and dance his ass off….

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As well as tap!

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BEST OF ALL – because he IS the love interest, Josh Chan – he comes with a whole host of Asian Americans playing his family!

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including fellow Broadway Performer, Amy Hill as his Mom and the one and only TONY Award Winner, Lea Salonga as his slightly self-absorbed Aunt who insists on singing at his sister’s wedding.

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(The funny part being that no one would actually argue with that.)

Shall TFP continue?

She shall!

Gabrielle Ruiz!

THREE Broadway shows!

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Pete Gardner!

Yasss, gurl – Broadway Show!

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Vella Lovel!

She’s a West Coast gal! There is time! 

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Not to mention, not to mention –the guest stars!!!!

Mega Broadway – TONY Winner Patti LuPone and TONY Nominee Tovah Feldshuh!

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In fact, the only thing more Broadway than the TONY Awards on television now is the cast of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

C’mon -they even do throw away musical references that only a few hundred people get and make no big deal out of it….

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That is like, everyone that TFP hangs out with!

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TFP is voting yes! She is voting all the yes-es!

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Come on CBS – who do we need to talk to? If you are not going to go ‘snarky female comedian power show runner’, why not make it a #TonysSoWoke ?

Why not make it the cast of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend for the win? 

Er, the Hosts?

Why not?

Other people are booked – there is still time for them to write and learn a kick ass show – and it would be great to see all those Broadway folks who left us for television have a big, warm welcome home.

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Best of all – this time there is no Electoral College to screw up the voting!

CBS – they’ll be swell, they’ll be great- plus they clean up good, and they’re funny as hell – a no brainer!

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Get it!

TFP out.

The Fairy Princess was feeling good…

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Nothing is “perfect’, but there was some good news out there – and by the way -there still is:

MISS SAIGON is opening this evening on Broadway tonight, and we wish them very well – break everything and slay the people!

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Several people have booked pilots, and several series with API leads were renewed – more on that later but very quickly – off the top of the head – Congrats to B.D. Wong, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park, Masi Oka, Kunal Nayar, Parvesh Cheena, Leonardo Nam, Rodney To, Isabella Russo, Amy Hill, someone TFP is not supposed to say because he is believes in curses and bad luck, and all others who are waiting to hear if their shows were renewed or whatever – may the odds be ever in your favor. (Also, she may have missed a few names, she will get there)

The 72 Hour Shootout by the Asian American Film Lab has applications open and here is the trailer.

This year’s shootout will take place from June 1-4th and will be judged by ABC’s Exec Dir of Casting, among others – and prizes range from cash to NBC Mentorships!

The one requirement for the Shootout is that one of your key production members be of Asian descent, and one of your principal cast members.

You get 72 hours to write, cast, film, and produce your masterpiece – so get your teams together and get ready for summer!

We all know that Marvel has released IRON FIST and the reviews have been less than stellar

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Now, they sent their, ahem, first string – their FIST string if you will, out there to defend the casting of a white male as Iron Fist and…it did not go well.

Poor Finn Jones.

It got so bad – he quit the Twittah!

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YAAASSS Gurl, QUIT IT!

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(For like, a week)

He had to get his ‘zen’ back so he could look at that ridiculous poster.

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Then in an attempt to “clap back” as the kids say, the co- creator of the comic – Roy Thomas, said in a interview with Inverse:

“…I have so little patience for some of the feelings that some people have. I mean, I understand where it’s coming from. You know, cultural appropriation, my god. It’s just an adventure story. Don’t these people have something better to do than worry about the fact that Iron Fist isn’t Oriental, or whatever word? I know Oriental isn’t the right word now either.”

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First Marvel casts the Iron Fist as a white guy – (which, btw, TFP always thought they were going to do, because the character was written that way originally and though MANY thought, and TFP agreed, that this would be a perfect time to re-imagine the character as either Asian/American or someone of Asian descent – to both negate the co-option and to still give the character an ‘otherness’ when he went to China – they did not) and then Mr. Thomas decides, deliberately, to insult Asian/Americans by negating their concerns in a half-assed manner.

Hold my earrings!

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However,  Iron Fist Co-Star, Jessica Henwick tweeted back at him that

Oriental is a term used to describe rugs, not people”.

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Which is pretty badass.

She can come sit next to TFP at the next Hapas of Hollywood round table.

Totally kidding – no such roundtable.

Yet.

Ok Mr. Thomas – yes, we all realize that the casting of Iron Fist was problematic, essentially because – if you are going to whitesplain China to us, you are going to have to pick someone with a bit more, shall we say, range.

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However, TFP realizes everyone already discussed the many shortcomings of Finn Jones as Danny Rand – and whether it is fair or not – it is already out there and she is not going to add to it.

It’s been done.

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What she will do, however, is give you just a little lesson on using words that you realize are not the correct words – in fact, your use of them is designed to set us all spinning and simultaneously remind us all of our ‘place’ within the Marvel world.

Which is that we are there at all, only by your good graces.

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Which is not, really, as we soldier on into our intersectional world, something that we want to encourage. It is not something we will even tolerate, given the disdain that you have repeatedly shown for Asian/Americans and their viewpoints.

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“Oriental” is a word that was used back in yon olden days until likely the last 25 years or so to yes, describe Asians.

Now – it came originally from a map perspective – what was Occidental was Western, and what was to the East was Oriental. This was from the map maker’s perspective, which was a Eurocentric perspective. After all, they were making maps of what they knew, and not everyone at the time, way back in the day knew a hell of a lot about China and so on because…no internet, no planes – just boats, and things that could be pulled by animals.

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Makes sense, except however this usage extended to everything – grouped everyone together and made ‘us’ and our many variables one giant mass of “Not White People“.

To put in language that you can best understand, our origin stories, if you will, got lumped together into one big morass of “Other’. We were not Persian, or Chinese, or Japanese, Korean, Thai, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Indian, Pacific Islander, Pakistani…we were just them.

All look same dot com.

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Terms like exotic and foreign and Far East were also used adjacent to “Oriental‘ and that is part of the whole ‘appropriation‘ that you scoffed at, but which you made money from. You had the character go to China, learn martial arts and mystical stuff and then return to the USA, inherit a fortune and then solve crime, all the while relying on his ‘mystic martial arts’ to pull it off.

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It was part of a movement that pandered to the dominance of white culture – and we see it’s effects even to this day.

(It is the kind of thing that well, led to electing the Orange Combover Twitler to office.)

Now, do white people get described in terms of their relevance as objects?

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As Rugs?

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Would TFP ever say Oh, don’t invite those Shag Carpets, the last time there were here they got wine all over the linens.”

Does she say “That is a Caucasian vase from the Early Elizabethan period known as an Occidental, notice the etchings on the side?

Has she ever uttered “Darling, wherever should I place this lovely painting that the Wall to Walls sent us? So thoughtful. It’s part of their culture you know….”

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Even with as much as a pain as those fans are, how their devotion to a comic book character interrupts your ability to sip whisky by the fireplace and contemplate your navel – they need to be given more dignity by you. “Nerds’ that have literally funded your life and art who are weighing in and campaigning for what they would like to see going forward – you should give them more respect than the rug that you are likely walking on even now in your study and address their concerns with thought.

Not to mention your Actors who happen to be of Asian descent – Jessica Henwick and Lewis Tan – who are working on your show and helping it have life again and thus ensuring a very comfortable retirement for you – don’t they deserve more respect than being compared to a rug?

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Because you have been a very poor student if you do not realize one of the basic tenants of Chinese culture, of Japanese culture, of almost every Asian culture – is respect.

Especially when you know that they can do this?

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One would think you would do everything you could to keep them happy.

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So when you speak of us again, and you will – you WILL – please remember – it is Asian/American or East Asian or South Asian or even just Asian and not, ahem – RUGS!

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TFP fines you 500 lashes with the wand!

It wasn’t so much that you ‘accidentally‘ used the word Oriental, TFP could just chalk it up to your ‘generation’ and mark it as a misuse of an outdated term.

It is how you used it to show that, for you, Asians do not really have a valid viewpoint and that they should just shut up. You used it deliberately to hurt people and why?

You already won – sorta. Iron Fist is Finn Jones. Got it.

Everyone likes Lewis Tan better, because…well…they do.

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So take it – take all the backlash – and you think about it.

Think hard.

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TFP Out

The Fairy Princess has been disgruntled with the ‘whole thing’.

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Like, the whole Orange Combover Twitler POTUS and his Deatheater cronies destroying the country in plain sight, with the rest of us left to observe in abject horror. It is a combination of absolute power and absolute disregard for anyone who is not a white heterosexual male who makes a living on Wall Street.

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It is staggering.

In a nutshell, she has not been writing because of the supreme sh*t show that the United States of America has allowed itself to become.

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Also, there are people to whom that category does NOT apply, and for those of us hanging on like that friggin’ cat – yes, TFP acknowledges that the above does NOT apply to everyone, although she does not NOT apologize for that generalization.

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You just have to be strong enough to weather the ‘does not apply to me’ burden and carry on like you are British royalty or something.

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However – there have been some GOOD things happening and TFP thought she better list them because some are SUPER cool, and she would be remiss if she did not do a little dance over their news – so onward we go. (Yes, country still a sh*t show, but like James Thunder Early says ‘”There have GOT to be some good times!“)

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of SNOW IN MIDSUMMER is coming to the end of a VERY successful run – it closes on March 25th. The reviews were stellar, The cast was, for the very FIRST time in RSC history – ALL East Asian, and they told an East Asian story.

This would NOT have been possible without the advocacy work of the British East Asian Artists, Daniel York, and Lucy Miller-Sheen. They have been ‘hammering away’ at the British Establishment for a number of years, and what this shows all of us, is that advocacy works.

Standing up for yourselves and your talent – your writers, your composers – it works. Eventually, as was sung in RAGTIME, you can ‘Make them hear you’.

This show will be making it’s U.S. Premiere at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival next season! 

As we leap back across the pond, we find some more good news – for example, here on Broadway, we have the opening of AMELIE starring Philippa Soo, it has begun previews and we wish it a long and happy run. Also in the cast is Maria Christina Oliveras, who is amazing – so...toi toi toi!
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GROUNDHOG DAY, which features Raymond J. Lee and Vishal Vaidya, has also begun previews. Toi, toi, toi to them, them, them as well!

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Other Broadway shows that have API Cast Members include HAMILTON, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, CATS, SCHOOL OF ROCK, COME FROM AWAY, IN TRANSIT, and of course, coming BACK to Broadway is MISS SAIGON.

So there are PLENTY of shows that do have API Cast members, and that is a great thing to remember as we head into this next Broadway season.

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Off Broadway, there is some rather excellent news – The Classic Stage production of Stephen Sondheim’s PACIFIC OVERTURES has broken box office records for pre-sale!

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Directed by John Doyle, performances are scheduled from April 6-May 27th.

This has a cast headed up by the inimitable George Takei, and features some of Sondheim’s most beautiful music – it is also worth noting for those who were quick to point out that ALLEGIANCE did not SRO- that THIS show, which features all ALL ASIAN AMERICAN CAST – is doing just fine

Which negates to TFP, the argument that “Asians don’t sell tickets” – this crew will knock it out of the park, and that…is pretty awesome.

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BD Wong and his writing partner, Drama Desk Winner, Wayne Barker, are turning the 1995 film, Mr. Holland’s Opus into a musical! Very exciting news that this TONY Winner is continuing his journey, whilst being made a Series Regular on the TV Show, GOTHAM, as an author.

 Our very best wishes to both Mr. Wong and Mr. Barker as they head down to San Diego State University to work with the students in the MT program there on the workshop of this piece.

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SANDRA OH IS BACK ON TELEVISION!!!!

That is a pretty great thing – she is a phenomenal actress and frankly, television has been missing her. 

She will be on the third season of AMERICAN CRIME, in a multi-episode guest star arc -helmed by John Ridley.

The show began on March 12th on ABC, and reviews are great!

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New on Disney Channel is the ANDI MACK show, which premieres on April 7th at 8:30pm.

The later time is because, for a ‘kids show’ this has a rather mature story line – ie, much like Jack Nicholson, the child, “Andi” finds out that “Mom” is really “Grandma”. 

This alone would not be enough to get you ‘there’, except for the fact that, of course, “Bex”, her cool older sister returns home after an extended time traveling about. 

The trio of Family is played by Lauren Tom, Lilan Bowden, and Peyton Elizabeth Lee as Andi.

Finally, Trans Actress, Ivory Aquino starred in the miniseries WHEN WE RISE, penned by Dustin Lance Black.

This is very exciting and huge breath of fresh air!

They totes WIN!

 

Good times!

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THUS, ABC is WINNING!

They have consistently been the best at incorporating diversity in front and behind the camera.

They also have FRESH OFF THE BOAT and DR. KENTFP is very pleased with ABC, very pleased. 

They keep this up and she’ll retire the blog!

Thanks, Y’all!

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Just because, you know TFP cannot go one blog without trying to scold someone – she wanted to bring up the live action version of MULAN – which now, reportedly will NOT have music.

TFP has noticed that some on the internet are ‘upset’ to put it mildly.

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Folks, this is ok. 

You will be FINE!

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Fa Mulan as a legend existed way before the animation team at Disney existed. Literally it has been around for thousands of years  – she was believed to have lived during the Northern Wei dynasty which is late 386CE – 534CE.

Frankly in a live action version – it will be very hard to sing whilst battling hordes of Mongols.

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Further more, no one wants to go up against the singing chops of Lea Salonga.

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She is, of course, a ‘double Princess’ in the Disney canon, and let it be known – she remains the Queen.

A Princess plus a Princess equals a Queen.

So let the animated film do what it does, let the live action film do what it does.

Heavy is the head that wears that crown, so we shall see how whomsoever is cast, does in coordinating the action and the acting.

After all – with the voice, they needed two people!

That is Ming Na and Lea Salonga right there – tough combo to beat. Not to mention talking dragons that were on pedestals and a lucky bug.

TFP is in a wait and see mode with this new live action MULAN.

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So there, see – TFP did a ‘feel good’ blog – we can feel good-ish about so many API’s working and being seen in America.

When MISS SAIGON closes, and goes on tour,  the numbers will go back in the toilet, but there are a lot of things to be grateful for and we should all #RESIST and stay focused, but also…be aware that whatever state the Country is in, we’ll always have Broadway.

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TFP out.

The Fairy Princess has been looking at this country’s new Regime (YES, SHE SAID REGIME) with angst. After which she has to instantly freebase some Randy Rainbow to keep sane.

As many know, TFP is a theater professional – who has ideas – and much of the new year has been taken up with panel discussions that has expanded upon those ideas.

In January, she spoke on a panel at the Musical Theater Educators at New York University on Diversity at the invitation of Prof. Kikau Alvaro from Virginia Commonwealth University. Thanks Kikau!

She felt many of the crowd were ‘up in arms’ at some of the issues raised… but still, she persisted.

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To sum up what TFP believes about, for example, putting a Performer in a role say, as Christmas Eve from AVENUE Q, and then not having them be Asian/American…

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What is taught when this occurs?

What is being taught is that ethnic identity and culture is something to be acknowledged only when Caucasians say they will acknowledge it. It teaches a basic disrespect for Performers of Minority Status.

This plays into the cultural disrespect that permeates this country that has currently boiled over to such a point where we have elected a man who TFP refers to as Comb-over Twitler, and if you, as a theater educator, are ‘indulging’ in the erasure of people of minority status from the Arts – YOU are part of the problem.

Be the solution.

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BroadwayCon had it’s first Asian American Panel called “Someone In A Tree“, to discuss representation on Broadway of Asian/Americans – and those on the panel were – B.D. Wong, Amy Hill, Manu Narayan, Kelvin Moon Loh and TFP

Here is what Playbill.com had to say:

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TFP thanks her panelists for their time and energy – these discussions are lively and fun, and need to keep happening. She knows, at times, they can be a drag…but there were BroadwayCon attendees who came up with tears in their eyes after, just from being able to see people they could relate to, talk about a life in the Arts.

Thanks too to the amazing BroadwayCon staff, who are so supportive of inclusion. BroadwayCon makes these panels a priority, giving them a forum when many in our business make a practice of ignoring them – and so, Bravo on a great second BroadwayCon – honored to be included.

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TFP then traveled to Princeton University to speak on a panel with Composer Robert Lee and Playwright, Lloyd Suh at their first Asian American Theater Symposium.

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The day was presented by Princeton’s newly formed East West Theater Company, who also mounted a production of Lloyd Suh’s Charles Francis Chan Jr’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery, ably directed by Peter Kim. Mr. Kim was in the original Off-Broadway production of the show, and is a dynamic and talented Actor/Writer/Director in New York City.

Earlier panels included a discussion with Professor Christine Mok, University of Cinncinnati and Professor Brian Herrera, 0f Princeton University.

TFP learned quite a lot, and she has to thank Professors Mok and Herrera for having a frank discussion called “The Privileged Conversation’.  One of those points IN their discussion, was Prof. Mok’s preference for writing Asian/American with the slash in between Asian and American. There is a long reasoning behind it, but in a nutshell, / let’s the term be both fluid and encompassing.

TFP is for it!

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This new East West Theater Company was founded by current Princeton senior, Kathy Zhao, in response to being cast the previous year in a role based on stereotype – and if this is how Ms. Zhao responds to being challenged, all TFP can say is, the future of Asian/American theater looks promising.

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Then she turned on the Interweb and read the response of Jack Viertel of ENCORES!to their New York Times Review by Laura Collins-Hughes.

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She thought the Times response was valid, but she wanted to add a few thoughts while she was fresh off all these panels…just some thoughts.

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First of all, the idea that the press should buckle to the whims of a president, er, producer is ludicrous.

The press and producers have a symbiotic relationship – Producers need to sell tickets, and Critics need shows to review. Everyone knows this. However to insist that the presenting the story of Big River should be devoid of comment about the current state of racial dynamics in the United States, even while it is being presented during Black History Month,

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is a far reach.

The character of Jim, who is an escaped slave cannot just be seen through the viewpoint of Mark Twain writing way back in the day, that is impossible given the internet and our current crisis that brought about the Black Lives Matter movement.

To be frank, Mark Twain would not have wanted that.

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He wrote the story of Tom Sawyer because he was opposed to people OWNING other people – and his setting of the issue to be seen through the eyes of a young white boy was because he wanted things to change. He also wanted his readers to but ‘gulled’ into reading what they would think is a ‘charming story of a young boy and his misadventures‘ and wind up with a damning indictment of white privilege.

Mr. Viertel’s response was painful to read for those who value the free press (didn’t the free press just strike a palpable hit against former Government employee, Mike Flynn?  Andrew Puzder?) and for those who are may also be one of the aforementioned minorities upon which those panels on diversity in which TFP participated, was based.

But the shock of reading her stunningly polarized, politicized, narrow-minded and unfailingly myopic notions about Mark Twain, Big River itself and the place of racial and gender diversity in American letters and the American theater is something I can only picture seeing in some crackpot journal put together by college undergraduates in the late ‘60s.

Mark Twain does not go in and out of style. Whatever one thinks of the specific success or failure of Big River’s efforts to translate The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to the stage, it is faithful to Twain. I’m stunned to read, for instance, that Ms. Collins-Hughes is upset about the character of Jim being the only important black character in the piece. That’s true. It’s true of Twain’s novel, but it’s worth noting that Jim is, in fact, the most important black character in all of American literature of the 19th and early 20th century. Isn’t that enough?

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No, Mr. Viertel – it’s not enough. You do not get to be the decider of when and where racial and gender diversity is appropriate. This may be hard for you to fathom.

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TFP ‘gets it’, America voted in Comb-over Twitler and some people are like, whew!

Back on top!

What a relief!

‘They’ were getting so close!

Even in the theater.

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Just because your wheelhouse is musicals of the past, which often do not deal with race as a construct (except Oscar Hammerstein shows of course) – we, the audience, cannot ignore where America is now.

For Old Man Encores to yell about a good review is a sign of nothing but panic at the thought of having to be concerned with social responsibility.

It is a cautionary tale for those who believe that all Artists live in a liberal bubble.

Still, it is surprising that a man in his position decided to ‘pop off’ the way he did.

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Inclusion does not come easy – we see this all over the world, for example in England with The Print Room yellow face debacle.

Look at the photo here, which shows a patron yelling at British East Asians over protesting a play set in China, where the characters are to be Chinese, and not having any British East Asians in the cast. One of the remarks made by him had to do with the British East Asians not understanding theater.

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TFP is pretty sure they ‘understand’ theater.

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What they, the British East Asian Artists understand, and what was also discussed this past weekend at Princeton, is that – just by being on the stage as a minority, you become a political act.

You are demanding that people turn off all the lights and sit together, almost breathe as one, to look at you and the story you are telling – your face, your history tells a story. They must acknowledge you. They must see you as a person, as an Artist, as a human.

The truth though, about political acts is that many times, they are ignored because the people for whom they are intended prefer to ignore them. Political acts are not convenient for a lot of people – upsets the apple cart.

Which is why, often when minorities demand more space on stage, or on screen, or to tell their own stories, we are shown ‘the one’ as an example for why we should be satisfied. In fact, they get all ‘alternative facts’ nutso if you try and explain things like population percentages in regards to the setting of the show, the professions shown – demographics make some people very uncomfortable.

But you have (insert noted minority talent) – you can’t say there aren’t any!”

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Actually what we can say is that the parts given to minorities again and again, do not – in any way, ‘reflect the American scene’ – our numbers are low, and often it seems, our cultures are up for grabs at the whim of those with more power.

Oh, by the by – could someone explain intersectional feminism to Scarlett Johannson?

She might be a few college credits shy of being able to understand that a white woman replacing an Asian woman in a film set in Japan,  about a Japanese Major is NOT feminism.

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It is something else…begins with an r….

Nah, she will never get it, because she does not want to. It is not ‘convenient’ for her, or Matt Damon, or Tilda Swinton, or Emma Stone to believe they are in a direct line of descent from Mickey Rooney.

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Personally, TFP thinks that any major film actor or actress who agrees to be in a whitewashed/yellowfaced role should go into a closed cage match with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and explain it all to him, in depth.

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But then…TFP gets testy.

Honestly, this is a F**KING exhausting because it seems like it is truly getting worse.

Look in March’s VOGUE Magazine, which FULL ON indulges in yellow face, (Angry Asian Man) but expects us to ignore it because they put a Sumo wrestler in there!

Because – Fashion Art.

Racism is pervasive – and “Artists‘ hide their innate disregard for People of Color every. damn. day. under the ‘premise‘ of Art.

(That is Karli Kloss, for those of you wondering – photographed by Mikael Jansson for Vogue.Yes, she has already apologized)

They ‘cannot’ tell us apart, nor do they even try – Dev Patel is Riz Ahmed!

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Just messing with you, that is Riz on the left!

Misidentified by Burberry, perhaps the whitest brand in the world – who just happened to have DRESSED Mr. Patel for that award show!

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Jeannie Mai (from THE REAL) is confused with Brenda Song (from THE SUITE LIFE)!

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By the by – that last one, misidentified by Ms. Mai’s OWN network, TV One!

To add insult to injury, Jeannie Mai was with her fellow Cast Mates at the NAACP Awards!

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Artists of course, like and embrace People of Color, they will tell you that a million times – but the ‘rarefied air’ is allowed to be shared only upon occasion, and only with permission.

Of course, once ‘called’ to the carpet (the Red Carpet in these instances), they are quick enough to apologize for being unable or unwilling to tell us apart,  but People of Color are only ‘allowed’ to exist in that world when and where Caucasians say so, because…ART.

TFP finds that frustrating.

TEEN VOGUE better go have a ‘talk’ with Big Sister VOGUE, is all TFP is sayin….

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It was, of course, much ‘easier’ in the past to ignore sticky subjects like inclusion in theater and how people will view the show through the ‘matters of the day – because ‘such things’ were not discussed. Theatrical Producers of a certain age were raised in that tradition and they do not like to be questioned. They liked things as they were – and of course they would, for them, it was a nice world to live in.

However the rest of us no longer live in the world where men of a certain age, education and privilege are allowed to reign unchecked.

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 Good reviewers can separate performances from issues that are on the greater spectrum – which Ms. Collins-Hughes did, in TFP’s opinion. She gave the performers pretty much a rave, but she pointed out that choosing a show like this, at this time, is an odd choice, and that while Jim is a main character at first glance, he is not fully developed.

This is a critic who went and viewed the original Broadway production to put her points in context – it is, actually, an innately responsible journalistic approach to theater, and frankly – it’s refreshing.

Theater reviewing sometimes devolves into a cult of personality, rather than impartial viewing of a production on it’s own merits.

It is also telling that this is a Female Critic – and so there comes the additional debate of – if it was a MALE Critic who wrote this SAME thing, word for word –

WOULD YOU HAVE COME FOR HIM, MR. VIRTEL?

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Now, ENCORES Concert Series has been around since 1994 – and their ‘thing’ is to present American musicals of ‘the past’, sans too much scenery, for those who are avid musical theater fans. Some of those shows have, of course, gone back to Broadway because of the impact of the ENCORES presentation – for example, CHICAGO.

(Just an aside: CHICAGO as it exists now in the world and on Broadway, regularly uses Performers of Colors in lead roles – and that is a credit to the Producers and the staff that maintains this long running show)

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This is all well and good. It also should be applauded because American musical theater is rich with shows that have faded from general public memory.

However “the past’ of American Musical Theater history is mainly Caucasian.

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ENCORES does cast some performers of minority status – for example, last year they tried with a “Hamilton‘ style casting with their ‘1776’ – however in general they do not seem to embrace inclusion or diversity with any regularity in lead roles. In fact, they have not done many musicals that explore stories that have race as part of the setting of the show.

Out of the shows they have done – St. Louis Woman, Hair, Golden Boy, House of Flowers, Purlie, It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane, it’s Superman, Kismet, and The Wiz – only “Superman’ & Kismet have Asian roles written in the show.

In Superman, they are the evil “Flying Lings‘.

Kismet is set in fictional Baghdad during mythic Arabian Nights times. 

One hesitates to think what Mr. Virtual would think is appropriate for Asian History Month given his choice for the month of February! 

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TFP saw their “Wild Party”, yes, that had some diversity, however that reflected the original casting of that show.

Then of course, they ‘added on’ to their ‘shows that have minorities’ tally this season with Big River.

So while ENCORES does employ Performers of Color, it certainly does not seem a mandate of theirs to be inclusive. They are very happy with their status quo – and while it’s not awesome and amazing…it is worth pointing out that they still do way better than The Roundabout.

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What she is saying is, ENCORES could do better. Broadway could do better too.

TFP appreciates that Mr. Virtel tried to ‘clap back’ to a review.

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She realizes he was backed by many theater lovers (Including Frank Rich)  online who find being conscious of today’s society ‘exhausting’ and would really like minorities to take a nicely subservient role and exist to serve only adjunct parts where they ‘should’ be – that is not going to happen.

Theater and politics have always co-existed, and this will never change.

We saw it with HAMILTON‘s ‘noble call‘ to VP Elect Pence.

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We saw it with NYGASP’s updated production of “THE MIKADO”

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In fact to quote HAMILTONHistory is happening in Manhattan and we just happen to be in the greatest city in the world, the greatest city in the world. Look around.”

Yes, Mr. Viertel – LOOK AROUND!

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You can do BOTH – you can be a ‘woke’ Producer AND still love period musicals.

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As Oscar Hammerstein wrote “Impossible things are happening every day.”

Here in New York City – our critics SHOULD do the work, and they SHOULD put their reviews in the context of the time, absolutely.

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Maybe if Mr. Viertel took a nap, he would be able to see that her input in the context of this musical with her review, both prepares a modern audience and gives them the ability to figure out what may ‘bother’ them about it – it does not negate performances nor their wanting to see it.

The point is, just because styles are changing and one is bearing witness to it does not mean that there is not room for everyone.

The point is, just because something is not the same as when you first started in entertainment, does not mean it is wrong.

The point is, diversity equals dollars – and dollars keep musicals afloat.

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IN SHORT – GOOD JOB MS. COLLINS – HUGHES!!!

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Long Live a FREE PRESS!!!!!!

For trying to ‘shame’ a female theatrical critic on the basis of “Because the White Theater Gods Say So’….

TFP fines Old Man Encores a thousand theatrical listenings, each -of LEGS DIAMOND and CARRIE, the musicals!

Oh yeah, TFP knows a few old musicals too…

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TFP out!

The Fairy Princess went to see the ‘new’ Re-imagined Mikado.

As she told the Michael Cooper from New York Times, she was ‘cautiously optimistic’.

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Yes, on New Year’s Eve, she girded her loins, took her six foot Korean American husband in hand, and dived into the re-invention of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Mikado”, as performed by New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players, which is in it’s 43rd year.

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This new production, which is double cast – was directed and choreographed by David Auxier and Assistant Directed by Kelvin Moon Loh. The scenic design was by Anshuman Bhatia, with costume design by  Quinto Ott.

TFP does not usually ‘review’ shows per se, and this is not a review – but having ‘ahem’, helped NYGASP come to the conclusion that their past productions needed revision with this blog, she wants those who read this follow up, to understand why this production worked and why Asian Americans should go and see this show which lasts until January 8, 2017.

Also to express to Asian Americans that yes, they CAN bring their children to this particular production, and feel at ease.

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Here’s how it was different than the last time TFP had seen it:

No yellowface makeup!

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(Katisha could go a bit easier on the brows, but a heavy brow is ‘in’ now, so?)

No outrageous shuffling of feet or excessive gestures meant to convey ‘orientalism’!

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Here is what was left – a very enjoyable romp of a G&S classic that in no way takes courage for an Asian American to sit through. It is enjoyable no matter what your background, and that is the point of Gilbert & Sullivan – that we all may enjoy absurdity and music in equal measure.

In fact, if one were a G&S afficianado, one might celebrate that this production has ‘renewed‘, if not ‘saved‘ altogether, this staple of the canon from those who very accurately charged that, as performed in many venues over the last few decades, The Mikado has been, to Asian Americans, an excuse to put racism on the stage.

This is what is different about this production – and, no, it is not a complete ‘win’, there are things – as there always are – that work and do not work about any new production – however this is not a ‘step’ forward, it is a gigantic leap.

One might even say….huge.

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Not that any thinking grown ass adult wants to use that particular word anymore, but it is applicable here.

The prologue – which was written by Director David Auxier – does work. It should become a standard around the country. Perhaps the dialogue at times could be tightened and some of the references not quite as broadly broadcast – but this is a rather appropriate way to enter the world of a Victorian Fictional Japan.

What happens is that Gilbert and Sullivan are in a meeting with their Producer, and as an incentive – he gifts them a trunk of treasures from the ‘new’ Japanese exhibition to inspire/bribe them to create a new show. Based on a story that is fiction, but one that was told by Gilbert himself, he is hit on the head with a sword from the collection, faints, and boom – we are ‘in’ his world of The Mikado.

This premise, and the way in which it is done, and the way in which Gilbert is thus a character in “The Mikado” he is imagining, makes vast amounts of sense. Instantly the audience is made aware that no, this is not Japan, this is a fantasy. In that fantasy are characters we have already been introduced to in the prologue – Gilbert weaves this dream with the faces he already knows – faces which are not altered in any way to be anything other than their own.

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TFP saw Chris Vaughn who gave the pompous and creative Gilbert a ‘life’, even when he was an observer in scenes. The way Gilbert is woven in and out of the dialogue is very smart – and again, keeps the audience aware of the ‘invention’ of the world.

The costumes are Victorian English, with elements of design that suggest Japan – or rather “Asia’ in the way someone who has never been to an Asian country, whose only exposure has been in fabrics and rugs and object d’art would suggest- in that of the trimmings and fabric choices.

TFP wants to give a shout out to the cast of the performance on Dec. 31 – they looked entirely at ease with the new setting and costumes. They were relaxed and adept – which made the crowd relax. No one was worried about ‘putting on’ another ethnic facade – and so they ‘played’ the show with every bit of honesty and fun that Gilbert and Sullivan intended. In that, it was one of the strongest Mikados that TFP has seen.

Onto the casting – TFP did help NYGASP try to broaden their reach, and the production she saw had Quynh-My Luu as Yum Yum.

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TFP can see that Ms. Luu could just as easily go into Mabel from Pirates of Penzance, as do The Mikado – and that is the absolute point of inclusive casting.

The point – and TFP does have one -is that there are people out there, performers of color and various minority status, that should indeed be seen based on their talent, and not because there is rigorous adherence to ‘the way it was’.

The romance between Yum Yum and her Nanki Poo, played by  Jesse Pimpinella, was authentic, youthful and delightful.

Caitlin Burke, who is of Asian descent, was properly terrifying as Katisha

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and then absolutely hilarious once she and Adam B. Shapiro’s Koko decided upon their romance – the two of them absolutely ‘killed it’, and with Mr. Shapiro’s only nod to Japan being in his leather obi and accented trousers, it freed him to round out Koko in a majestic way.

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Poo-Bah (Andy Herr), The Mikado (Cole Grissom), Pitti-Sing (Jessica Rose Futran), and Peep-Bo (Lauren Frankovich) also embraced their roles with gusto, freed from imagined chains of what it means to portray someone of another culture – and congrats to them all.

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In point of fact, that is how TFP felt about this version of THE MIKADO, that it freed everyone from tired tropes and allowed those on stage and off to relax and enjoy the show.

“A Little List‘ has been delightfully rewritten to include references to Lin Manuel Miranda and Bravolebrities – fair game, as LMM has references to Pirates of Penzance in Hamilton, a G&S ‘quid pro quo” as it were…yes, that works too.

In short – this version of The Mikado by NYGASP is enjoyable.

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TFP has said all along that The Mikado does not need to be rewritten to not offend people – it simply should be performed in a way that embraces inclusion, embraces multi-culturalism, because it if does not, the audience and the actors for this type of entertainment, which has entertained people since the 1880’s, will disappear.

If you do not believe TFP, believe Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.

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You can perform the show in a variety of ways – take it out of Japan entirely but keep the text, you can change the setting and the text, or you can find a new way to keep it in Japan that works.

There are two ways to do this – do what NYGASP has done, and embrace the fantasy aspect of what Japan meant to Gilbert, add a prologue, and keep a diverse cast.

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Or, hopefully sometime soon, have an All Asian Cast of The Mikado, deciding at the time whether or not to use traditional costumes and scenery of Japan.

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Congratulations to NYGASP, particularly Producer David Wannen and Director David Auxier – you definitely could have told us all to go jump in a lake, and continued with the tiredness of orientalism, but you took a good look at a classic piece, and created a new vision that will ensure it goes forward to 2085.

Well done, well done.

Let’s all keep talking and moving forward America’s Arts Community – let’s be there for one another and create the world we want to live in.

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TFP out.