Archive for September, 2012

Can 'Hawaii Five-0' rebound and recapture its sizzle?

September 29th, 2012

The worrisome performance of CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0,” in its third-season launch last Monday (Sept. 24) night, is a wake-up call for all concerned: the producers, the writers, the actors, even the audience.
“Five-0,” which had been averaging 12 million viewers a week (according to exec producer Peter Lenkov), dropped to 8.06 million — as low as it’s ever gotten — slipping it third place in the 9 p.m. (10 p.m. Mainland) slot. ABC’s “Castle” was No. 1 with a solid 10.45 million and NBC’s promising newbie “Revolution” with 9.45 million, was No. 2 with a very enviable debut. (The TV ratings figures have been readjusted from preliminary reports).
The HF0 fanship has been cheering and supporting the reboot, with aloha to spare at Sunset on the Beach, where the CBS series has previewed the first episode for three consecutive years.
Now it’s time to pause the fawning and reflect on the reality: what happened? The viewership for H50 was disappointing, the pits. Did the Sunset crowd, which saw the Monday episode, skip it in prime time?
The show’s slippage could be based on a couple of factors: folks who regularly support “Castle” and “Five-0” did some test-driving with “Revolution” a highly regarded newcomer with its theme of an America without electrical power and a lawlessness state; curiosity in “Castle’s” developing love relationship between its two leads in teaser ads resulted in loyalty buzz and steadfast support; the addition of yet another H50 character — Mama Doris McGarrett — in a community that’s becoming increasing cluttered with new folks who don’t necessarily provide chemistry or longevity might have been raised the profile of H50 a skosh.
In the past, we’ve seen Papa McG and sister McG. Familial fatigue, perhaps?
Since “Five-0” is filmed in Honolulu, we all take ownership and pride when it does well; we support it, even when it stumbles; we hurt, if it begins to wobble and wither; we worship its stars, who have become part-time residents; we know the series helps improve our see-sawing economy and community. Mostly, we’re grateful they’re all here. Win-win for everyone, right?
But there’s a lot at stake. H50 needs a quick-fix Plan B to reverse the low trending. Sure, the opening show may be an exception rather than the rule. The last one out could eventually cross the finish line first.
But face it: the competitors include appealing lead-in reality shows; and “Revolution” seems to tout surprises and the unexpected, following “The Voice.” “Castle” seems rooted in the traditional procedural (if it’s not broken, don’t fix it), foxtrotting in after “Dancing With the Stars.” H50 continues to experiment with new characters, extracted from a fabricated past, its lead-in shows are sitcoms "2 Broke Girls" and "Mike and Molly."
But there’s no reason why “Five-0” can’t rebound and recapture its sizzle.
With McGarrett and company filming since July, perhaps as many as eight or nine shows already are in the can.
Still, a midway checklist might work: Declutter by eliminating or certainly reducing excessive background character details; conceive story lines that grip and attract established and new audiences; downplay or freeze story arcs that impede efficient week-to-week adventures; prioritize character development only to add relevant specifics.
This season, we’re expecting McGarrett to get warm and cozy with a love interest from the past; Chin alarmingly lost his wife, introduced last season via a wedding; Kono seems to be getting close and personal with a main squeeze we’ve already seen; Danno retains feelings about his ex who is the mother of his beloved daughter. With these plot devices, the imbalanced focus seems to be on personal lives rather than solving and fighting crime.
We’ve already seen William Baldwin in a return cameo. Ed Asner recurs in this Monday’s (Oct. 1) episode. Does that mean Jimmy Buffett might do a hana hou?
And what’s up with Wo Fat? He flits in and out, providing some menace but he’s still not the oily snake of a villain he should be. And whoa, Mama McG factors in the Wo Fat complexity? And Kamekona? A big guy with a big heart, yes, but perhaps his shrimp truck shtick has run out of fuel.
And: Enough of the silly Shelburne issue. Solve it in one more go-round. Then bury it. And move on.
The carguments between McGarrett and Danno — they hook ‘em, Danno — are snappy snits and snarls that should continue. And happily, McG looks McGreat — the hiatus obviously was invigorating. Alex O'Loughlin's personal life (a girlfriend, a baby due in a month, his son in school here) means blissful times off camera.
So why can’t this energy and manner infiltrate and transcend into the weekly watch?
With “Five-0” destined to be picked up by TNT (summer 2014, at $2 million-plus per episode) for USA-type cable syndication enjoyed by “NCIS” and “NCIS: Los Angeles” and the “Law and Order” franchise, the show won’t be immediately canceled; however, the commitment needs a stable of episodes to make the association profitable for a truly long shelf life.
So: “Five-0” vitally needs new blood, new vigor, new excitement. Focus on the main four, establish scripts with credibility and inventiveness.
It’s a matter of the three Rs: rethink, recoil, rebound.

ABC's 'Last Resort' holds up against CBS comedies

September 28th, 2012

Considering the Thursday (Sept. 27) night competition, the Hawaii-filmed ABC series, “Last Resort,” held its own with 9.1 million viewers and a 5.8 rating.
It was a respectable performance by a new series in a problematic slot for the Alphabet network — no show has survived a full season in recent times — amid a field of sit-coms, reality show and drama.
The time slot — 7 p.m. here (8 p.m. Mainland) — was handily won by the one-two punch at CBS, “The Big Bang Theory” (15.3 million viewers, 9.3 rating) in the first half-hour and “Two and a Half Men” (12.4 million viewers, 7.7 rating) in the second half-hour, according to the Nielsen TV ratings.
Further, “Last Resort” also is pitted against Fox’s “The X Factor” (9.85 million viewers, 5.9 rating), NBC’s “Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday” (5.4 million viewers, 3.6 rating) and “Up All Night” (4.5 million viewers, 2.8 rating) and the CW’s “The Vampire Diaries” (771,000 viewers for a rerun, 0.6 rating).
“Big Bang” was the evening’s most-watched show, topping “Person of Interest” (14.3 million viewers, 8.8 rating) at 8 p.m. and “Elementary” (13.3 million viewers, 8.4 rating) at 9 p.m., making the Eye network the Thursday night winner.

* * *
So, did you watch “Last Resort”? What’s your take on the premiere episode — will it float or will it fade against the comedy competition?

10 years, 10 questions for Ron Bright, Tom Holowach

September 27th, 2012

Paliku Theatre at Windward Community College, which has been the canvas for director Ron Bright’s musical productions and a playground for his post-retirement energy, has bypassed a traditional “book” show this year because of elusive funds and a still-weak economy.
The theater instead is presenting sort of a Best of Ron Bright retrospective, looking back at the past 10 years of stage spectacles at Paliku, with “Broadway @ Paliku: 10 Years of ‘Bright’ Lights,” for a two-weekend Sept. 28 through Oct. 7. One extension date also has been set: Oct. 3
The round up enables Bright to tap some of his luminaries from the past, many with legit Broadway credits, showcasing 30 tunes, many showstoppers, from the last decade. All involved hope this will jump-start renewed support for Paliku and its enviable track record, and perhaps trigger donations to continue the show policy at the Windward outpost for the next decade — or longer.
We posed 10 questions — five for director Bright, who has been at the heart of the Paliku punch, and five for Tom Holowach, the lone salaried community college theater staff member — to comment and reflect on the artistry and the necessity to tap resources so that actors can strut their stuff and new generations of performers can experience the joy of theater.

Ron Bright Q&A:

Q: Was it tough to extract one number to represent each show?

A: No, it wasnʻt difficult at all. It was great fun reminiscing over the past. We are shortening each number ... We have so much more to share! All performances for the montage (our 10 years of musicals) are done by newcomers, with the exception of my son Mike who will reprise a bit of "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning."

Q: How about placement -- is there a scheme from beginning to end, or is the retrospective meant to just revisit good moments from great shows?

A: No, there is no scheme. The montage happens at the beginning of the second act. Yes, we are revisiting great moments from many recent Broadway shows and some vintage ones that have been around for a while. What weʻre doing is showcasing the many extraordinary voices that have come our way by an audition call. I was truly blessed by the number of people who showed up.

Q: What is/was the most complicated tune to stage (costume, prop, talent involved, etc.)?

A: None were majorly complicated. You see, Iʻm working with very seasoned performers, many of whom are soloists. We are going with a black and white costume color scheme adorned with a few colorful accessories. Staging the full company numbers were the most fun.

Q: Is it tougher to put together this theatrical mixed plate than to stage a "book" show?

A: Not really. The difficulty was selecting the show tunes... We finally settled on performer preferences and some that I really wanted to do. Here, you are staging songs only, whereas in a book musical you block songs and dialogue. I never find one more difficult than the other. Theyʻre all fun! The cast always rejuvenates my energy level. Actually, we feed off each otherʻs energy.

Q: Despite the intensity of staging another annual production, do you manage to make time to enjoy "retirement," or is that word not in your vocabulary?

A: Thanks for asking! Yes, that word is in my vocabulary but it takes on a new meaning. You see, Mo (Mrs. Bright) and I continue to babysit every day, but weʻre down to only one child now, my granddaughter. The other two are in kindergarten and pre-school. I still manage to walk for exercise, either strolling babies or walking laps at Ala Moana Center. No, I donʻt think I will ever truly retire, however I would like to envision several cruises my the future. I’d like to take trips to Broadway ... maybe when I "tire" myself out, only then will I embrace the word retirement.

Tom Holowach Q&A:

Q: It's no secret that funding has evaporated for the performing arts; so how much is this show costing vs. a traditional book show?

A: There has never been any funding directly from WCC to run the theater... not one cent; only the legislative appropriation for my salary and a half-time technical director. There have never been any grants or corporate funding to lose. Consequently, when the economy went bad, and people said “Aren’t you afraid your funding will be cut?” I answered “No, because the only funds they can cut are my salary, and if they do that, they will have to close Paliku’s doors, which would be a huge PR hit.

Q: You are Paliku Theatre, in terms of staffing; is the success of "Bright Lights" a make-it-or-break-it situation, in terms of funding?

A: Every production is zero-base budgeted and produced like a film. We hire everybody independently for each project, float everything on credit and pay all the expenses from ticket receipts. In addition, all the theatre maintenance items like tools, equipment and replacement lamps are amortized into the operating budget for the fall show. WCC as a fiscal entity has not paid for a single lamp, either in the auditorium or in the lobby, since the building was built.
Every show is budgeted to break even; full houses and true extensions are where we make a true profit. Of course, we don’t have to pay a mortgage.

Q: How do costumes and props or other essentials of a Broadway musical factor here; does Paliku save previous wardrobes so you could recycle for this production, or did you have to muster up all needs for the cast from scratch?

A: We went with minimal costumes over black and white actor-provided basics. We don’t have a huge wardrobe area, but after 10 years, we have many bins full of basic stuff from shows we have done. Overdressing is fairly easy, and my new costumer for this particular show has many connections with other sources. We already had basic stage building materials. Unlike the last two shows we did as fundraisers in 2005 and 2007, all the professional staff is getting paid for this one, and I kept the top price to a reasonable $26 to try and dodge the “Lion King” effect of “Wicked” (when touring shows sapped discretional entertainment budgets for theater fans). Low costs equal low risk.

Q: Moot point now, since you're doing a musical revue; but what "book" show were you seeking for this fall slot?

A: Even before “Phantom of the Opera” closed, I had received the perusal script for “Evita.” I figured it hadn’t been done by anybody major in years, it was Andrew Lloyd-Webber, and it was reopening on Broadway. I found out after we decided to do this revue that Jade Stice would have jumped at playing Evita, so she’s singing “Argentina” in this show. We can’t do another book show until UH legal breaks the logjam over the wording in stock contracts issued by R&H (Rodgers & Hammerstein) and all the other major players.

Q: Ron Bright has, indeed, been a Bright Light on theater on the Windward side. How would you assess his contribution to the performing arts?

A: Certainly on the Windward side, RB created a tradition of singling out raw talent, motivating them to do their best, respect others and give their all. Castle, Kaimuki and Mililani all have PAC (Performing Arts Center) programs that can be traced directly back to what he started. At the same time, the funding for state-supported performing arts education has plummeted, but there are now many groups who, as private organizations, continue the legacy he created. We are fortunate to have four of them using Paliku as their final performance venue: Paliku Academy of Performing Arts (PAPA), Hawaii Education for the Arts (HEARTS), Diamond in the Rough productions (Applause Performance Academy) and Children’s Theatre of Oahu (CTO.) More and more I feel like a proud parent because we have young performers in our mainstage productions who have first performed here as children as many as 10 years ago; people like Jonah Hookano, Lucas Cusick and Niki Badua, many of whom are on shows like “Hawaii Five-0” or in NYC getting cast in Broadway shows. It’s nothing like the epic “Miss Saigon” days, but Mr. Bright continues to nurture these young people like he did at Castle, and it is an honor and privilege to work with him here at Paliku!
Broadway @ Paliku: 10 Years of Bright Lights”
7:30 p.m. Sept. 28, 29, Oct. 5 and 6
4 p.m. Sept. 30, Oct. 7
Lone extension performance: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3
Paliku Theatre, Windward Community College
$26 adults, $24 seniors 62 and older and military, $20 students

'Castle,' 'Revolution' eclipse 'Five-0,' which slips to third

September 25th, 2012

As suspected, CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0” took a dive in preliminary overnight Nielsen ratings, falling to third place in its 9 p.m. Monday (10 p.m. on the Mainland) timeslot opposite ABC’s “Castle,” which was No. 1, and NBC’s freshman series, “Revolution,” which was No. 2.
The Island-filmed series may be a local fave, but it took a licking with “Revolution” wind up as the spoiler with its post-apocalyptic premise of an America without electrical power. Surely, the Peacock network’s lead-in show, “The Voice,” was a factor, but the Eye network also shuffled its Monday comedy shows preceding the cops-in-paradise procedural, and NBC’s new series emerged as an early season spoiler for Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) and ohana, despite the launch of a new Mom McGarrett character (Christine Lahti), who made her debut alongside the return of McG’s nemesis, Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos).
“Castle” led the pack with 11.4 million viewers and a 2.5/6 rating/share in the coveted 18 to 49 demographics, which was down a skosh from last season. However, its “Dancing With the Stars,” also slipping from last year, was an effective lead-in.
“Revolution” followed with 11.0 million viewers and a 3.5/9 rating/share in the18 to 49 demo. For all the hype, “Five-0” just could not get its batteries going, pulling in 8.0 million viewers overall, with a 1.9/5 rating/share among the18 to 49 demo —and and pending a surge among fans who DVR’d “Five-0,” for delayed viewing, this could mark the lowest-ever season H50 debut.
Over-all, NBC owned adults 18 to 49, largely on the power of “The Voice,” though ABC copped more total viewers partially because the alphabet network affiliate in Green Bay, Mich., carried “Monday Night Football,” somewhat inflating the Nielsen numbers.
So let the post-Monday quarterbacking resume: Are the new characters and backstories hindering “Five-0”? Will the romantic angle in “Castle” overpower the anticipated McG love element? Will the mystery and wonderment of an America without juice run its course after a few weeks?
Share your thoughts and observations.

MVT adds another week for 'Young Frankenstein'

September 25th, 2012

With a first extension of five performances nearly sold out this week, Manoa Valley Theatre has added five more playdates in October for its hit musical, “Young Frankenstein.”
The latest add-on shows are at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 and 4, 8 p.m. Oct. 5 and 6 and 4 p.m. Oct. 7.
Tickets: $35 for adults, $30 for seniors and military, as well as current season subscribers and their guests; and $20 for youths 25 and younger. The Mel Brooks musical, a spoof of the Frankenstein yarn, is not suitable for children under 6.
Reservations: 988-6132,

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