Archive for August, 2012

Augie T quits radio for an alarming job

August 31st, 2012
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Don’t get alarmed, but comedian Augie T, an Island favorite on radio and the comedy circuit, has ventured into the home alarm business — as a vice president.
By shelving the radio airwaves that helped solidify his reins in local comedy, Augie is learning the ropes about running a business first-hand as an executive with Hi Alarm (Hawaii Alarm). Not surprisingly, however, Augie and his new-found livelihood are the central focus of a reality show now being shot called “Funny Business.” (Go to www.funnybusiness.tv).
The show, set to bow Oct. 8 on OC16, is intended to depict the day-to-day experiences of a new firm as it builds relationships and meets folks all over the island. Augie and his new boss are introduced, and the show is peppered and flavored with the main ingredient, fun.
Real personnel and actors are involved in "Funny Business."
Even before airing, Hi Alarm is on the road with a fleet of vans that boast Augie’s smiling photo. Haven’t you seen the company’s car around town? Augie has become the face of Hi Alarm, eliciting chuckles and charm.
“A Tennessee businessman approached me, after seeing me in a show at Dot’s in Wahiawa; he wanted to get me involved as the face of his new company,” he said.
Art Miller is the Southerner who had retired (in a security alarm business) on the Mainland and relocated to Honolulu. He set up a home alarm and security business here and serves as its president and quickly tapped Augie to be his vice president.
Smart move; Augie is widely known, not only as a stand-up comic and radio personality, but as a busy and likeable figure on cable TV, plus a number of TV commericals for local products and services.
But it was a first-hand experience with one of the services of Hi Alarm that triggered his split from broadcasting to home alarms.
“Art gave me a medical pendant for my dad, who used it in an emergency,” said Augie. “This thing saved his life.”
He added, “My dad also has (a medical emergency button) in his shower.”
While you may have seen one of Hi Alarm’s can’t-miss vehicles tooling around the island, you won’t find Augie behind the wheels. He tools around in a classier car now.
“I got a Porsche (as part of the deal),” he gasped. And it doesn’t bear Augie’s image.
His new role has brought on new challenges. “Part of me wanted to learn about business side of a business,” he said. “Payroll, marketing, that kind of stuff.”
Part of him wanted to maintain his foot in the comedy door.
So as part of the Hi Alarm crew, Mel Cabang, a frequent partner in Augie’s comedy show tours, also is aboard as a senior marketing adviser.
“Our marketing in Hawaii will be influenced by our comedy careers,” said Augie.
And naturally, Cabang is part of the “Funny Business” enterprise, too, serving as a senior marketing adviser targeting seniors in the community.

Augie revives Na Ali'i of Comedy Tour

The Na Ali’i of Comedy tour launched by Augie earlier this year is rolling out for a fall run on Oahu.
Augie assembled Frank DeLima, Andy Bumatai, Mel Cabang and Ed Kaahea for the Na Ali’i showcase, with these upcoming shows:
• Sept. 7 — Dot’s inWahiawa.
• Sept. 14 — Pagoda Hotel.
• Sept. 21 — Ka’a’ha’aina Café in Waianae.
Curtain time: 8 p.m.
Tickets: $15 advance, $20 door; on sale at venues or call 479-0576.

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Misalucha finale is Saturday; what’s the impact in Waikiki?

August 27th, 2012
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An eight-month run of the Lani Misalucha Show at the Magic of Polynesia showroom comes to an end this Saturday (Sept. 1).
This, amid rumors of its impending closure and a Waikiki nightlife climate that has not reached expected attendance expectations.
This does not bode well for nightlife in Waikiki, where showrooms are few and attractions are dimming. The “star” marquee era — think Don Ho — is gone with his death.
And with Misalucha leaving the nighttime mainstream, there will be one less place to go and be entertained.
“This is a very tough decision for us,” said Percy Higashi, president and chief operating officer for Roberts Hawaii, the producer of the Misalucha show. The intent was to expose her stellar talent in a second-show slot of the Magic of Polynesia showroom at the Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel.
“Lani is a phenomenal singer and entertainer, and we’ve received countless comments from guests who absolutely loved her show,” Higashi said in a press release. “Unfortunately, our experience is in line with what HTA (the Hawaii Tourism Authority) has been telling us, that while visitor counts may be rising, many travelers to Hawaii remain very budget-conscious and are holding back on their spending.”
Misalucha, a superstar in the Philippines who previously earned awards in the Las Vegas hemisphere while featured with the Hawaii-based Society of Seven, led by Tony Ruivivar. Her vocal prowess —rock to opera, pop to Broadway, impressions of show biz divas — made her a perfect fit for the SOS. But she went solo and eventually was wooed by Roberts Hawaii, a tour and transportation company, to headline her own Lani Misalucha Show that was launched last December and rebooted with a “Return to Paradise” billing about a month ago to lure visitors with a more tropical pitch.
While initial numbers were encouraging, attendance has been sluggish in recent months.
“Hawaii has become like my second home, and will always have a special place in my heart,” said Misalucha in a statement. “I’d like to thank Roberts Hawaii and all the wonderful people of Hawaii for their support.”
Because the Las Vegas-style showroom still has a resident star in magician John Hirokawa, it will continue to operate seven nights a week in the early hours.
The lights-off in the after-show hours means one less performance venue along the Kalakaua Avenue strip.
You recall, all major hotels had showrooms in the heyday of mainstream Waikiki entertainment in the 1970s and ’80s. Hyatt shut down its showroom in favor of leased commercial space; Hilton eliminated its famous Dome to built a more profitable high rise, and removed the Tapa Room for the same reason; the Royal Hawaiian relinquished the entertainment spotlight in its Monarch Room, making higher profits with special events like weddings, though tried mid-week special shows that failed to attract locals to sustain the experiment; the Moana removed Polynesian entertainment in its storied beachfront area beneath the banyan tree, for cocktail ambience for veranda patrons in recent decades; the Polynesian Palace on Lewers gave way for a hotel remake and the ultimate launch of Waikiki Beach Walk.
And you remember Don Ho; he was the big-name headliner at Duke Kahanamoku’s, now only a memory, unless you count his oversized statue on Waikiki Beach. Ho was able to shuttle from one showroom to another — the Hilton Dome, the Polynesian Palace, that second-level downsized club at the Beachcomber, which now is leased space for Jimmy Buffett’s franchise.
And the Outrigger, which still has a fading showroom with a bright history, is struggling to nail a deal with new owner prospects to keep the doors open. Otherwise, another showroom will bite the dust.
The other key showrooms in Waikiki are the Ainahau at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, where a Tihati Polynesian production has been in residency for decades; and the rooftop venue above the parking structure, where the Hilton produces a Tihati-created spectacular. A “showroom” that isn’t is that Monday-only high-end but exquisite Hawaiian show, on the green lawn outside the Monarch Room at the Royal Hawaiian, still another show with the Tihati stamp.
Oh, yes; the Royal Hawaiian Showroom, previously Level 4 and a showcase for a short-lived "Hawaii Nei" show, is supposed to be the anchor showroom at the Royal Hawaiian Center. It now is home to the "Legends" impersonation revue, which, like Misalucha's show, opened last December. "Legends" also is fighting for its share of the visitor/local pie, but it's also been a struggle; the big numbers have been somewhat elusive.
Misalucha’s numbers were inadequate because the show failed to generate visitor tour groups, that apparently wanted more Polynesian elements; hence, the “Return to Paradise” effort.
All is not lost for Misalucha, who is said to be seeking and getting some local and international bookings. But a full-time opportunity is gone.
Rumors persist that staff from one Waikiki hotel has been scrutinizing her show for possible two- or three-night bookings to keep her anchored in Waikiki.
“We considered a slew of other alternatives, but given its substantial production expense (singers, dancers, musicians), continuing the show was not a healthy option,” said Higashi.

The legacy of Tom Moffatt: a second-volume retrospective

August 19th, 2012
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Hard to believe that it’s been five decades since Tom Moffatt has been on the music scene. His career spans radio, album production, concert presentation, TV, and, in more recent times, column-writing.
Thus, the arrival of “50 Years of Music in Hawaii / The Legacy 2” (Shaka Records) magnifies the deejay-show presenter’s impact and reflects his perspective as a music industry activist. This compilation includes a potpourri of songs he might have played on radio and some acts he embraced in concert outings or recording sessions.
Clearly, his show presentations have been his trademark — think “Show of Stars,” Elvis Presley, The Monkees, Menudo, The Beach Boys, Bette Midler, The Rolling Stones, and nearly everyone in the Beatles/British invasion — but that’s another story.
Moffatt — reverentially called Uncle Tom, thanks to his “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” foray on rock radio (remember KPOI? And the Poi Boys?) has been one of the handful of dedicated local producers who have given Island musicians vital support and a career boost either by playing their recordings — vinyl, cassettes, and CDs before the downloading iTunes and MP3 player era — and exposing them on Island radio.
Also, he infamously sang “Beyond the Reef,” in his early years. In this collection, he tackles “16 Tons,” which offers a chuckle of delight, but admittedly, his is not the best voice in this volume.
Still, the CD is a great one for Christmas gifting, particularly for those ex-pats who remember Moffatt and the his role in local pop music.

Highlights of the 19 songs comprising this CD:

• Best treat: Al Waterson’s “The Old Songs,” which thematically provides the thread for this sentimental journey. A reflective take on the Barry Manilow best-seller, it’s sweetly nostalgic and romantic, and Waterson’s pipes are in tip-top shape.
• End of an era favorite: “Lifetime Party,” by Cecilio and Kapono. Considering what has happened in life (personal problems for Cecilio, another reunion is unlikely, so savor this party fave.
• Enduring ditty: Pauline Wilson’s “Follow This Road,” a signature that gives jazz a good name and proves she was and remains the heart of Seawind.
• Voice of the future: Anelaikalani, whose old-style warbling bridges yesterday’s memories with tomorrow’s hope in an endearing traditional style.
• A feverish hit: The Society of Seven’s “99.8,” whichfeatured Albert “Little Albert” Maligmat as lead singer, raised the local group’s temperature on the charts. A composition by Frances Kirk and Ernie Freeman.
• A song for all seasons: Ehukai’s “Molokai Slide” takes the prize as the melody with lasting power, a classic if you will, embodying good fun and easy-going Island attitude.

A quibbling note: Though each act and entry receive a one- or two-line bio/explanation, a compilation like this, with its 50th year milestone, is worthy of a pull-out liner extra, perhaps with a then-and-now reflection/update to enhance fan appreciation.

KEEPING TRACK

For the record, here’s a rundown of the tracks, in the order they are featured:

• “Where Is the Love,” Sean Na’auao and Robi Kahakalau. This is a cover of the old Donald Hathaway-Roberta Flack hit, interpreted by two local soloists.

• “Follow Your Road,” Pauline Wilson. Her signature song.

• “Don’t Be So Cruel,” Go Jimmy Go. A solid chip of rock, from one of Hawaii’s most prolific and productive ensemble.

• “Juliette,” Kalapana. Early and underrated classic from Macky Feary and the folk-rock-pop group.

• “Lifetime Party,” Cecilio and Kapono. Still a party-hearty spirit by the duo that defined the era of the 1970s.

• “99.8 (Love Fever),” Society of Seven. The most enduring of the classic SOS combo which has endured a four-decades run at the Outrigger Waikiki’s Main Showroom. This is the group's lone bona fide chartbuster.

• “Rainbow,” Jake Shimabukuro. The ukulele virtuoso who has become, and still is, a world-class attraction and the face of the four-stringed instrument.

• “Heart and Soul,” Michael Paulo. An expressive and exceptional solo saxophonist, who delves in both the jazz and pop genres.

• “Mango Tree,” Keola Beamer. A legendary singer-composer-guitarist, from an equally legendary ohana of traditional Hawaiian music.

• “Hallelujah,” Jordan Segundo. Hawaii’s first “American Idol” contestant, who has found a place in the Island entertainment scene.

• “Tico Tico,” Taimane Gardner. A next-generation uke stylist, whose career got a jumpstart on the Don Ho show in Waikiki.

• “Let Me Take You to the Mountain,” The Krush. A now defunct, but a powerhouse in the 1980s, performing a tune here with a gospel undercurrent with appeal to fans young and old.

• “Only Good Times,” Malani Bilyeu. Another pillar of the Kalapana combo, whose solo venture demonstrated the depth of his creative power.

• “Waimanu,” Anelaikalani. A next-generation songbird specializing in traditional Hawaii sounds.

• “KHBC,” Gary Halaemau. A popular melody hitched to the call letters of a radio station, which signaled this performer’s bright sound.

• “Olinda Road,” Barry Flanagan. The founder of the Maui-based Hapa duo, who occasionally works as a soloist in Island sounds — not bad for a dude with New Jersey East Coast roots.

• “Molokai Slide,” Ehukai. A Song of the Year Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner in 1997, brimming with Island-style good fun and good times.

• “The Old Songs,” Al Waterson. Perhaps better known as an emcee, this is a singer with a voice of reckoning.

• “16 Tons,” Tom Moffatt. One of the few tracks the veteran deejay-show presenter has tackled (here, with apologies to “Tennessee” Ernie Ford). Happily, he gets by with the vocal — but is more successful off stage than on.

ON THE TUBE

Moffatt will be focus of two upcoming TV specials:

PBS: Moffatt will co-host, with PBS president and CEO Leslie Wilcox, the upcoming live pledge show, “Ed Sullivan’s Top Performers: 1966-1969,” at 7 p.m. Aug. 27. During the pledge break, Moffatt will auction two tickets to the upcoming Glen Campbell concert in Honolulu.

KGMB: “Tom Moffatt — the Show Must Go On,” a retrospective on the life and times of the deejay-showman, is in post-production. Airdate: sometime in late September or October. Michael W. Perry will narrate; Phil Arnone is director.

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I'll remember Elvis — and his 'Aloha from Hawaii'

August 16th, 2012
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Today (Aug. 16) marks the 35th anniversary of Elvis Presley, the unmatched King of Rock.
And his historic "Aloha From Hawaii" telecast, beamed from the Blaisdell Arena (previously, the Honolulu International Center Arena), remains an icon in broadcast journalism.
In memory of Elvis, and to rekindle and jumpstart those fading recollections of those who were there "live" — at a wicked post-midnight hour, so timed to reach the wide international viewership — here's how I reviewed the performance and experience in the Honolulu Advertiser. Original publication date: Jan. 14, 1973.

Gold Crown Awarded to "King" Elvis

By Wayne Harada
Honolulu Advertiser

Elvis Presley received a golden crown - and a standing ovation - at the conclusion of his unprecedented satellite live TV concert beamed to a global audience of over 1.5 billion in the wee hours of the morning yesterday. A perspiring Presley simply held the crown, as he accepted the accolades - and thus, The King vanished backstage, another night's work completed.

The HIC Arena, dammed with 6000 Hawaii fans, became a supersized TV studio for the hour-long spectacle, "Aloha from Hawaii," which was televised to nearly 40 nations. It was a thrilling compact hour - long on music, loud on screams - Presley performed a total of 25 songs, including a rare and poignant rendition of Kui Lee's "I'll Remember You." Like Friday night's dress rehearsal, yesterday's performance was a benefit for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund.

But unlike any other charitable production here, this one had that aura of The Big Time: a superstar doing a super performance, right before the eyes of the world. Camera crews were everywhere: on stage, in the aisles, in the audience, zooming in on Presley and his breakthrough performance, coordinated by RCA Record Tours. "Aloha from Hawaii" is the first entertainment special telecast live to a global audience; it will be expanded into a 90-minute NBC-TV special, for viewing here and on the Mainland later this year.

Perhaps only a phenomenon like Presley could pull off such a coup, at such a wicked show-going time - 12.30 AM curtain, Hawaii time - yet draw a full house. The concert was similar in format to his pair of November shows at the HIC: it began in darkness, with the "2001: A Space Odyssey" fanfare preceding Presley's entrance; it ended with Presley singing Can't Help Fallin' in Love with You. Of course, there were differences. For starters, Presley hurled his flowing, white, studded cape - a trademark for his final number. That was a souvenir collector's dream come true. Too, the usual assortment of scarves went sailing into the audience at certain points of the show.

The specially erected set, on an unusually large stage with a protruding platform, consisted of basic black scrim that was as long as it was high, reaching to the ceiling of the arena. A series of mirrors framed both sides of the stage, and special lights - silhouetting the Presley form, spell out his name not only in English but in foreign toungues - flashed on and off occasionally. Once Presley emerged, he never was off stage. Once the show was under way, it didn't stop for commercial breaks.

For the Hawaii audience his "I'll Remember You" vocal easily was the most sentimental. The Presley version retained the Hawaiian flavor, but also capitalized on the International scope of the tune; it easily could emerge as Presley's next No. 1 hit. His American Trilogy medley - fusing Dixie, Battle Hymn of the Republic and All My Trials - was another emotional instance, sending several hundred fans to their feet. But apparently the necessity to move on the show - when such TV airing time is so precious - forced Presley to cut short the audience response.

The concert was smartly paced and packaged to suit all camps in the Presley following. There were the old hits - "Love Me," "Blue Suede Shoes," "Hound Dog," "Johnny B. Goode," "Long Tall Sally." There were the recent clicks: "Suspicious Minds," "Burning Love," "What Now My Love." There were the soulful slices: "C.C. Rider," "Something," "Fever," the latter with the classic Presley shuffles, from the hips on downwards. And there were the special Presley renderings of "Welcome to My World," "It's Over," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."

Only once did he pluck his guitar. After all, he had all the musical backing he needed: a six piece combo that travels with him, J.D. Sumner and The Stamps plus The Sweet Inspirations doing the background vocals, and a gigantic orchestra of about 40 pieces, including a splendidly nimble string section consisting of some of our symphony musicians. Presley kept his talk to a minimum. He quipped about "Hound Dog:" "I was just a baby when I did that song. With sideburns." He introduced Jack Lord as one of his actor favorites. And he reported that his original goal of $25,000 for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund had been exceeded, with more than $75,000 raised prior to show time.

Presley's "Aloha for Hawaii" has been demonstrated before, when he helped raise funds for the building of the USS Arizona Memorial a decade ago. Yesterday's show reaffirms Presley's and manager Col. Tom Parker's philanthropic fondness for Hawaii. Like the enduring nature of Kui Lee's music, the incandescence of Presley is incomparable. Perhaps Presley had a hidden meaning regarding the late Kui Lee, when he sang the composer's closing lines in "I'll Remember You," as follows: "...love me always, promise always, you'll remember, too."

* * *

Were you lucky enough to be in attendance of this show? Share your memories here.

Let the 'Games' begin, but where on Oahu?

August 10th, 2012
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Where on Oahu do you suppose “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” might be filmed this fall?
That the Lionsgate production is Island-bound for November filming is not the question. It's where. The filmmakers have been mum.
The logical Oahu locale for Quarter Quell would be Kualoa Ranch, because it's proudly and efficiently served as a Hollywood backlot for years. But don’t you think it’s widely over-exposed?
Sure, Kualoa has iconic vistas of the Koolau mountains and plenty of valley greenery. But if you remember “Lost,” the ABC TV show that ran six seasons here, you can’t forget the wild wilderness on the Windward side, since much of the verdant terrain footage was done there.
Kualoa has become a prime destination for a variety of Hollywood projects, like “Jurassic Park,” Indiana Jones’ capers, “Godzilla,” “50 First Dates” and “Battleship.”
It’s also a frequent filming site for CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0.” Very often.
While studio officials have remained silent, one of the actors who is a Maui resident already has chatted about Oahu plans, without getting specific.
Woody Harrelson — who plays Haymitch Abernathy, the ex-Hunger Games winner who is a mentor of Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) competing in District 12 — has been an unofficial source of recent chatter, but he has not identified the Oahu filming location. On a recent “CBS This Morning” appearance, he was quoted: “The part I’m not in is going to be shot in Hawaii, which happens to be where I live. It’s one of life’s ironies.”
Harrelson resides on Maui.
Hawaii would play the jungle-like humid zone also boasting ocean water, as noted for the Quarter Quell Arena in Suzanne Collins’ book, on which “Hunger Games” is based.
So if not Kualoa, where?
Kahana Valley? Nice and green, without the amenities of Kualoa. No nearby ocean.
Kalihi Valley? Also verdant and unexplored, but no water and too close to freeway traffic. Besides, the wild boar wouldn't enjoy intruders.
Kaena Point? Lots of water, isolated, but lacking a humid wilderness.
Waimanalo? Close to the ocean, with a spectacular Koolau backdrop, but sacred land; old stomping grounds of Gabby Pahinui, after all.
Manoa Valley? Too many homes. No ocean. Will the arboretum agree?
Waimea Valley? Pristine greenery. Long commute, however; and will tours take a backseat to Hollywood needs?
Makaha/Makua Valley? Access issues — one way in and out, and you know how often traffic snags occur out that-a-way.
So where?
Any thoughts?