Archive for July, 2010

Extra, extra: ‘Off the Map’ sets 2 open casting calls

July 31st, 2010

Want a role as an extra on “Off the Map,” the ABC drama that will feature Hawaii locales acting as the Amazon and South America? You have two chances.
Laurie Foi will oversee a pair of open casting calls for extras open to all — seniors, youths, children, male and female — to play various background roles, so folks who suit the Amazon region are especially needed. Spanish and Portuguese-speaking performers are desired, but experience is not required.
The first call will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, at the 100th Infantry Battalion Memorial Bldg., at 520 Kamoku St. Parking will be at Iolani School.
The second will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8, at the Turtle Bay Resort, 57-091 Kamehameha Hwy. in Kahuku.
Applicants must have a Social Security number and a work visa.
“Off the Map” begins filming Aug. 30, featuring Mamie Gummer (Meryl Streep’s daughter” and Martin Henderson. A six-episode order is committed.
The show is produced by Shonda Rhimes and the creative team behind “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice;” it is a medical show about a doctors-without-borders family set against exotic South America.
The production is a mid-season venture that extends ABC’s TV presence in Hawaii. “Lost” was entirely filmed in Hawaii, with the state playing a mythical island, on which survivors of an airline crash played out their past and their present fate over six seasons. Thus, ABC still has dibs on the Hawaii Film Studio near Diamond Head, where “Off the Map” will be anchored.
In other “Off the Map” news, Rachelle Lefevre (Victoria in the first two “Twight” flicks) will join the cast of “Off the Map” as a free-spirited missionary. But Enrique Murciano (“Without a Trace”) is out, according to Entertainment Weekly, and won’t be replaced.

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KITV4 to launch weekend morning news in September

July 29th, 2010

Soon, we can wake up to local morning news updates Saturday and Sunday mornings — thanks to KITV4’s announcement today that it will launch 6 to 8 a.m. localcasts on the weekend, beginning Sept. 18.
Two seasoned anchors-reporters will man the news desk: Jodi Leong and Paul Drewes.
Leong is a veteran broadcast reporter and anchor; the weekend duty might become a challenge if and when she takes an active role in local community theater, which she does periodically.
Drewes is a certified meteorologist, reporter and weather anchor relatively new to the Channel 4 lineup; he was bumped when his previous slot at KHNL8, which merged news operations with KGMB9 to become Hawaii News Now.
The weekend show will is officially called KITV4 News This Morning. It gives the ABC affiliate bragging rights, since it will be the only station to offer a local morning newscast — unless the competition joins the bandwagon.
The move reflects the ongoing commitment to provide and intensify local news by Mike Rosenbrg, KITV president and general manager. He earlier extended KITV4’s 10 p.m. to an hour for late-night viewers, co-anchored by Paula Akana and Lara Yamada, along with a 6 p.m. newscast on Saturdays with Pamela Young, and now he’s targeting a weekend morning audience — a sensible move for newshounds.
“With the success of our recent launches of our hour long 10 p.m. news and our Saturday 6 p.m. news, going to seven day morning news coverage seems a logical next step,” he said in a statement.
“Mornings are the fastest growing time period when it comes to news,” said news director Genie Garner.
She’s right, of course. A lot of stuff happens Friday night and does not get reported on TV till Saturday night, online postings excluded.
As Garner said, “News does not stop on the weekends.”

Endangered omiyage: buy-buy or bye-bye?

July 27th, 2010

With Bath and Body Works set to open a store at Ala Moana Center next March, one of the chain’s popular buy-to-bring-home omiyage will lose their gifting charm: those scented hand-wash liquid soaps, in handy plastic pump bottles, noted for their glorious hues and scents.
These have been favorites, among non-edible gifts, particularly for folks who travel to Las Vegas. Other travelers have been able to stock up on Bath and Body omiyage during airport stopovers, too.
As more Mainland stores open in Hawaii, it becomes more challenging to buy trip omiyage.
Vegas visitors still haul beef jerky, smoked clams and other snacks for family and friends here, but remember when Ethel M candies were the must-buy Vegas treasure, the way Big Island Candies treats are the No. 1 Hilo carry-on-the-plane? OK, Ethel M shut down the shop it launched at Ala Moana Center a few years ago, so it’s back on the buyables list.
But there’s no need to bring home See’s Candies, the all-time omiyage fave. It’s still a delectable treat, but you can get ‘em here. Everything, from the lollipops to the seasonal chocolate specials.
Remember when you’d tuck a couple of jars of Knotts Berry Farms’ boysenberry jam into your carry-on, after loading up your biscuit with the purple treat when you munched on fried chicken at the Knotts Berry playground in Southern California? The boysenberry product is widely available on supermarket shelves.
And Godiva chocolates? They were the desirable (and perishable) treats from a big city jaunt like New York or Chicago. Until outposts popped up here or selected boxes showed up in Macy’s chocolate counter.
While it would be grand if Trader Joe’s did some Hawaii trading for hometowners, its snacks — chocolates, preserved fruits and nuts — just might lose appeal as omiyage.
Do you have recollections of stuff you used to bring home for gifts, but don’t anymore because anyone can find them here?
Do you buy See’s Candies on the Mainland anyway to bring home?
Or do you have a “find” that is under the radar that you’d like to share?

What’s up with the Honolulu Symphony’s endowment?

July 25th, 2010

These are critical life-or-death times for the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, idled and silenced while facing extinction. The musicians and management are worlds apart, so a quick, efficient resolution to the bankruptcy issue is not likely.
The bizarre “resignation” of the 63 musicians, as the symphony society has alleged, has been denied by the orchestra union. It doesn’t look like an amicable solution will bring the orchestra back to the concert hall anytime soon.
What’s astonishingly missing, in media reports about the differences between the musicians and management, is a traditional revenue-producing peg that helps to keep the organization operational and afloat. It’s called an endowment.
There have been outrageous but expected thoughts bobbing in the current sea of discontent: the notion of a down-sized orchestra to keep costs down, the feasibility of a reduced, cut-back season, the incredible rumor that the muscians would form their own orchestra — like they can get the ship sailing without resources in a dour economy?
No way!
That’s the measure of an orchestra’s stability, or lack thereof. In the current standoff, neither party has brought up the issue of an endowment, which is a fund that helps generate income, through interest, to fuel operations, provide scholarships, enable projects to see fruition.
What’s up with the Honolulu Symphony’s endowment? Does the orchestra even have an endowment anymore? If so, much has been invested in the nest egg? How much interest has accrued over the years? How much has been spent? How much is left?
Traditionally, an endowment is the source and core of an orchestra’s survival; it is an investment for the musicians and management’s future, because interest drawn from the endowment provides ongoing revenue to help keep the doors open. Or, in the case of the orchestra, a season with a string of concerts.
Most orchestras across the nation have endowments, which somewhat ensures the future of the organization, reflects a legacy of commitment and investment from present concert subscribers and donors, who believe in the orchestra and therefore willing write checks to the endowment fund as an investment for future generations of musicians and subscribers to continue to share the joy of music.
Endowments can be specific, custom-made to the donor’s wishes: like provide funding for a specific principal section chair, a precise educational program like a music-in-the-school series, a designation to help cover musician expenses on a tour, or even establish a legacy for a beloved deceased family member.
It’s easier said than done, of course, but an endowment is the heart of an orchestra’s soul.
But in hard times, it can’t resolve all the money issues.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra, one of the nation’s best, is said to have one of the largest endowments in the industry; $370 million in 2006, when the economy was better and philanthropy more widely practiced. Even with endowments, the BSO had a $1.4 million deficit at the end of 2006, launching cost-cutting measures and a campaign to fuel the endowment.
In 2007, the Indiana Symphony Orchestra’s endowment reached an unprecedented $127 million, but deteriorated to $87 million due to the economy, triggering a $100 million campaign to try to fatten the coffers.
Orchestras with huge operational budgets — the likes of Atlanta, Cleveland, Houston, Milwaukee, New York, Pittsburgh and San Francisco — have had major fundraising campaigns since 2009 to build their endowments and pay for other operational needs.
In Honolulu, endowment seems to be a foreign word few speak.
I’ve raised the question of an endowment last year, regarding the rocky financial picture at the Honolulu Symphony, which has been accustomed with having an angel sweep in to save the day.
If anyone else agrees about the worth of an endowment, he or she has never come clean about rebooting this conventional core of an orchestra’s livelihood.
I’ve read, with sorrow, the plan to cut the size of the orchestra here, to 30-plus, which is about half of the 63 or 65 which has been the norm for some time. Do that, and you have a second-class orchestra, which won’t be able to perform specific repertoire pieces, which ultimately demotes the reputation of the orchestra.
Would you try to play football with nine players, or basketball with four, because cutting back is the best solution? No, of course.
Some musicians already have packed up to seek a future elsewhere; so the reality of those rosy days seem bleak, indeed.
Cutbacks in a season also means reduction in pay, loss or deterioration of medical benefits; fewer performances mean less opportunity to fill the seats, less chance to earn money.
The bottom line: You can’t really market a season of four concerts if you expect to be a world class orchestra.
And a world class orchestra has a solid endowment.

An ukulele weekend, with one of the best — Jake

July 16th, 2010

Jake Shimabukuro arguably is the ranking ukulele stylist today. For him, practice makes perfection.
And he credits the Roy Sakuma Ukulele Studio, where he learned the principles of strumming, even though his mother was first first instructor.
“I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today, if it weren’t for Roy’s commitment to teach,” says Shimabukuro, who, with the uke, will be in the limelight this weekend.
Tonight (Friday, July 16), Shimabukuro will be among the stars at a gala at the Ala Moana Hotel, and he will be on the roster of Sunday’s (July 18) 40th Annual Ukulele Festival at Kapiolani Park Bandstand.
“The popularity of the instrument is growing tremendously,” says Shimabukuro.
And he should know, with his extensive tours on the Mainland, in Europe, in Asia.
“On the Mainland, I talk with people who have music stores, and they all tell me, what’s keeping the shops alive is ukulele sales. Guitars are down, ukuleles are skyrocketing.”
And folks who come to his shows, domestically and abroad, include the young and the old.
“People bring their ukuleles to my concerts; and heavy metal musicians, with pierced ears and black outfits, bring ukuleles, too.
“I keep hearing stories that people are learning to play the uke after playing other instruments; it used to be the other way around, that you start with the uke and then branch out.
“But clearly, you get at a good time with the ukulele. It brings peace and joy. And in concert, even before you play a note, people see it and they smile. It’s a very special instrument.”
Shimabukuro played at the ukulele festival while still a student; of course, in recent years, he’s been a headline guest artist.
Yep, he got the jitters while still a student strummer.
“One year, they featured me with the instructors; I was so nervous; we had to play ‘Delicato.’ My teacher at Roy Sakuma’s was Tammy Omuro (she was Tammy Akiyama at the time) and I still keep in touch with her,” he said. “She was one the great teachers — still passionate about teaching, still teaching out of her home now. She’s amazing; one of those human beings who, if you’re in the same room with her, you just smile, because she makes you feel good. She made my half-hour class so encouraging, it motivated me to go home and practice. I credit her, and Roy Sakuma, when people ask me how I started playing ukulele, even if it was mom who first taught me. After all, Tammy was a student of Roy’s, too; when she was my teacher, she was still a student at Kaimuki High School.”
It’s all about the practice, he insists.
“Honestly, I enjoy practicing; it doesn’t get tiring at all. I do spend a lot of time at the airport practicing while waiting for planes; when we’re driving from city to city (someone else is at the wheel), I’m in the back seat, arranging, composing, practicing. You have many opportunities to practice.”
The proof of his practicing will be heard in “Peace Love Ukulele,” his newest CD, which will be released in September.


Ukulele Gala
5:30 p.m. today (July 16)
Hibiscus Ballroom, Ala Moana Hotel
Also featuring Danny Kaleikini, Herb “Ohta-san” Ohta, Nando Suan, Natalie Ai Kamauu

Ukulele Festival
9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday (July 18)
Kapiolani Park Bandstand
Also featuring Cecilio & Kapono, James Hill, Herb Ohta Jr., Bryan Tolentino, Natalie Ai Kamauu, Tommy D, Hookani Pila, Da Hawaii Seniors of Cerritos, Sunset Strummers, Yuji Igarashi, Kolohe Imamura, George Matsushita, Nihon Ukulele Assn., Yam

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