Archive for December, 2013

Filipino pride, talent yield $1 million for Haiyan victims

December 29th, 2013

Do the math: A corps of mostly Filipino entertainers gather to do a concert to raise funds for their family, friends and other victims of the recent devastation due to the typhoon in Haiyan; a community-spirited Filipina TV personality comes out of sick bay to organize and emee the show; a devoted Hawaii had already donated $400,000 to the effort since the storm; an equally giving audience at the Hawaii Theatre Saturday (Dec. 28) cough up $100,000 to the effort.

And the Consuelo Foundation, one of the key sponsors of the show, match the monies raised to date. The grand total: $1 million.

Such is the result of Hawaii’s lend-a-hand citizenry, always banding together to support a cause. So the “Aloha for Philippines Mahalo Concert, as the fundraiser was called, was yet another measure of Hawaii’s open heart and arms to its sister nation in a time of need.

Here’s a recap:

· Previously unannounced special guest star and ultimate headliner: Willie K. He’s Hawaiian, but has a Filipino heart, appearing in casual aloha shirt, jeans, slippahs and dark glasses; he sits on a stool, says he’ll do a request for “the godmother of my children,” and proceeds and sings “Imagine” (with a twist) for Tomimbang. The crowd goes wild with cheers; then he exits — for a hana hou. Then somebody shouts “Pavorati,” and he goes operatic with an aria, then vanishes again. Very impromptu, very casual, and surely mainstream — he is the powerhouse voice and personality Waikiki needs to recharge its batteries, show-wise.

· Best in Show: Little Albert Maligmat, formerly of the original Society of Seven. Now a soloist in various Waikiki venues, Little Albert wowed ‘em first with his heartfelt delivery of the inspirational R. Kelly ditty, “I Believe I Can Fly,” while hugging Kahala Nui caregier Maricris Baniqued, who lost a brother and an aunt in the Haiyan tragedy. This, after she had rendered the eloquent and expressive Celine Dion trademark, “My Heart Will Go On” from “Titanic.” Maligmat’s voice was reassuring, his body language touching, his hugs comforting. This brought down the house. And if that wasn’t enough, he also delivered a resourcefully inventive solo treatment of the 1980s anthem, “We Are the World,” showing that his residency with the impression-heavy SOS was not wasted; he did snippets of the song from a catalogue of iconic troupers with the kokua of minimal props, voice control and authority — Michael Jackson, Jose Feliciano, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen and more. A showstopper, for sure.

· All That Jazz: Grammy winner Pauline Wilson, formerly of Seawind, soared with her still-powerful and incomparable “Follow Your Road” hit from the past. Clearly, she’s been the real deal all along, and there’s nothing like the genuine article that still sparkles.

· The Society of Seven LV, minus a few members through featuring the awesome Jeanette Trevias on backup vocals and electric keyboards, opened the evening with a short set including “This Is the Moment.” And indeed, this was the telling moment: a band rudely axed from the Waikiki show scene just a month earlier shows up to put on a good face and a great sound to kokua tortured souls, when, indeed, they have their own hurt and uncertain future ahead. They handily won the Wounded Warriors award for their contribution.

· Broadway Babe: Kristian Lei, who’s sashayed from Broadway roles to Christian music, appeared twice, once with husband Gavin Vinta in a recreation of her Kim song in a Germany production of “Miss Saigon” (which was done in Europe in German, but in English here), “The Last Night of the World.” Her pipes are powerful as ever, and her hubby’s a crooner, too, doing the Chris part of the duet. She also appeared with her Broadway Babies choir with an uplifting tune reflecting the undiminishing spirit of aloha locals have for the Haiyan victims.

· Idol Worship: Though it’s been some years since Jasmine Trias won the hearts of Hawaii and Philippines fans as the third place finisher in the third season of “American Idol” (the year that Fantasia prevailed), she still has ‘em cheering hurrahs. Her medley of Idol-era tunes, like “Mr. Melody” and “Unbelievable” was sung to tracks, not live music, which distanced the intimacy somewhat, but those strings ‘n’ chorale voices were perfect — no squawks about pitches. She introduced and featured a Brit charmer of a guest singer, but failed to mention that Ben Stone is her boyfriend. So there. You know.

· For the finale, Trias and Stone were joined by Kristian Lei and Vina and singers Ben Vegas and Maila Gibson, for a right-on version of “The Prayer,” which host Tomimbang said had become the prevailing theme of the recovery movement in the Philippines. The ballad was nourished with the stunning hula artistry of Nani Dudoit, a soloist with Ho’okena, who recorded the tune with Gibson and features it their live shows. OK, they’re not Filipino by race, but they might have add just as much charisma and charm to wind up the evening.

'H50:' Murder, mayhem, merriment — and a Christmas memory

December 21st, 2013

5-0:d3c2-Gotta hand it to CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0.”  For its Christmas episode on Friday (Dec. 20), the show had a sleigh full of procedural fodder: a serial killer threatening to kill a team member, a memento from the Japan earthquake/tsunami found on the beach, a glimpse of “Honolulu City Lights,” even Chi McBride (Det. Lou Grover) as a Santa of color.

Despite the mix of murderous mayhem, there was a sweet dose of “Mele Kalikimaka.”  But auwe, the effort didn’t do much to jingle the Nielsen ratings bell; the preliminary live overnight numbers for “H50” topped its time slot (8 p.m. here, 9 p.m. Mainland) with 9.38 million viewers, but fell flat in the coveted 18 to 49 demographics with a 1.2 rating, a skosh behind ABC’s “Shark Tank,” which posted a 1.3 demo rating and 5.48 million viewers. Demos, you know, determine the power of a series’ advertising rates.

Overall, ABC won the demos for the night, but CBS had the most viewers, largely through the network’s “Blue Bloods,” which pulled in the most viewers (10.18 million) and a middling 1.1 demo. CBS’ “I Love Lucy Christmas Special,” at 7 p.m. (8 p.m. Mainland), logged the top demo rating, 1.4, with 8.65 million viewers.

“H50,” themed “Pukana” (Hawaiian for memento or souvenir), focused on a mysterious box with a trinket of sorts inside, discovered by Gracie (Teilor Grubbs) during a beach cleanup with dad Danno Williams (Scott Caan). The plot also involved a serial killer (James Urbaniak), whose house is invaded by a thief in the opening segment; the dude is shot in the head and stuffed in the trunk of a car.

Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) investigates and winds up as a kidnapped victim in the cellar of the home of the serial killer, where he is brutally beaten, gagged and bound. It is the bloodiest moment yet of an attack of a team member. And when he doesn’t (because he couldn’t) respond to his cellphone, Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) launches a search. Thank heavens the killer's g.f. (Heather Dubrow, pictured with Urbaniak, above) shows up, enabling Chin to wiggle his way out of harm's way.

Long story short: This is Chin’s show; he is reunited with his girlfriend, Leilani (Lindsay Price),  he utters the “Mele Kalikimaka” greeting; his fate is of the uttermost interest. Along the way, McBride shows up as a Santa for the second time in “H50” history; he has banter with McG as usual. Forensics guy Fong (Brian Yang) discovers DNA in the locket in the box that provides a key clue to return the trinket to its rightful owner, a Japanese national who survived the chaos and calamity of nature, where his family (and daughter pictured in the heart on a chain), so naturally, there will be closure.

Meantime, Kono (Grace Park) still is in her afar mode, appearing in a cameo from Seattle and then Vancouver; her situation still is in limbo, if anyone still cares.

This episode did have a warm personal surprise for me; when Danno and Gracie return the locket to the dad in Japan, the location for the supposed Nippon neighbor was actually Kokea Gardens, a stone’s throw from Kapalama Canal, where my late mom and dad lived. I know; I recognize the building and the narrow pathway of vegetation between buildings. Seemed to be the precise walkway where my parents lived for years, so it brought back fond memories of a Christmas past.

Programming note: expect returns  of “H50” over the next few days/weeks, including one at 8 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 21) that aired Nov. 12, 2012.

'Tis the season for bright and merry yuletide concerts

December 19th, 2013

With Christmas a-happening next Wednesday, the weekend calendar is a-buzz with holiday offerings.

Take your pick:

  • The Hawaii Prince Hotel offers a “Home for the Holidays” Christmas concert at 6:30 p.m. Friday (Dec. 20) at the Mauna Kea Ballroom. A literal buffet of performing artists will be featured, including Lehua Kalima, Imua Garza, Tiffa Garza and Ernie Cruz Jr., Ben Vegas and Maila Gibson, ManoaDNA, Mark Yamanaka and Darren Benitez and Kapena. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Cost: $55, includes the show and reception menu featuring a kalua pork slider station. Information: 952-4789 or go to delima
  • Frank DeLima’s holiday show, from 5:30 p.m. Friday (Dec. 20) at the Pagoda Restaurant’s C’est Si Bon showroom, features a buffet dinner followed by the comedian’s wacky revue at 7 p.m. highlighted by his lit-up Christmas tree costume and rendering of his iconic “Filipino Christmas” medley. Also, audience participation makes his “12 Days of Christmas” a laff riot. A prime rib dinner, with chicken, fish and salad fixings, is included. Cost: $52 adults, $31 children 3 to 8. Call 948-8370 or visit
  • Amy Hanaialii is on the Big Island Christmas concert swing, performing at 8 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 19) at the Kahilu  Theatre in Waimea and at 7 p.m. Friday (Dec. 20) at the Palace Theatre in Hilo. Tickets: Kahilu Theatre, $20 to $65, (808-885-6969); Palace Theatre, $30 general in advance, $35 at the door (808-934-7010).
  • Jay Larrin’s lunchtime Christmas concert will be held at 12:30 p.m. Saturday (Dec.  21) at the Hawaii Prince’s Mauna Kea Ballroom. Featuring singer-composer-pianist in his annual holiday serenades; he also shares poetry. With guest stars Ho’okena and Danny Couch. Doors open at 11:30 a.m.;  Prince buffet at noon; performance at 12:30 jay p.m. Tickets $65. Call 952-4789 or go to
  • The Makaha Sons’ “Makaha Kalikimaka 2013” will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 22) at the Ala Moana Hotel. Doors open at 5 p.m., prime rib dinner at 5:30 p.m., show at 7 p.m.Cost: $65 adults, $32.50 chidlren 4 to 11; VIP seating, $100. Call 944-4333.
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Tom Berenger to play Danno's dad in upcoming 'Five-0'

December 15th, 2013


Danno’s dad will emerge during season four of CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0,” according to Entertainment Weekly.

Tom Berenger will appear as the father of Danno Williams, one of the four principals on “Five-0,” an indication that the series is shelving history after a good showing  and returning to horticulture of sorts, carving out family trees and digging up roots.

Already, Melanie Griffith has been cast as Danno’s mom. She will be seen in three upcoming episodes, and Berenger as dad Williams will be in one of them. You know Berenger from such films as “The Big Chill,” “Platoon” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: The Early Years” and such TV endeavors  as “Hatfields and McCoys.”

The Berenger news was announced last week but was overshadowed by the Island-based show’s historical Pearl Harbor flashback story, which aired last Friday to great reviews, heralding the performance of James Saito as a war veteran with allegations of a cold case involving his late dad during World War II. Of course, Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) comes to the rescue to investigate, in an episode rich with the fabric of humanity, good deed, honor and service.

The detour to serious storytelling, albeit with a war theme but on a personal level, was devoid of car chases, bullets flying and international drug fiends. It was a welcome, satisfying relief and an encouraging turn for the better for fans of the show. But it didn't last long.

Now it’s back to basics for the show, shaping backstories of the main characters.

McGarrett’s mom and dad have been introduced in seasons past; his sister has had periodic appearances and a family aunt, played by Carol Burnett, made her debut earlier this year.

So it’s Danno’s ohana to bask in the limelight. We've met his wife and their daughter. With mom and pops aboard, we’re going to discover, with some certainty, where he gets his spunk and fire and argumentative nature.

It’s not an altogether encouraging development since this path has led to needlessly complicated story arcs and turns before.

Could  Kono Kalakaua's (Grace Park)  entangled situation eventually lead to the introduction of her yet-to-be-revealed family? We've known, from the get-go, that Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) is her cousin on the force. Kelly had a wife, who died; and it's possible parents could logically emerge some day.

Love it or loathe it?

WWII show is 'Five-0's' best so far, but not in ratings

December 14th, 2013


Despite a script which resonated with an older audience with detailed historical wartime memories, CBS’ commendable “Hawaii Five-0” episode with a cold case link to World War II internment camps was the season’s best. The program triggered painful memories for some but failed to lasso viewers.

The episode, entitled “Ho’onani Makuakane (Honor Thy Father),” drew more viewers (8.9 million) than ABC’s “Shark Tank” 7.12  million ) in the same Friday night hour (8 p.m. here, 9 p.m. Mainland), but tanked in the key 18 to 49 demographics (1.2 rating for “Five-0,” compared to 2.0 for “Shark Tank”). This plateau — No. 1 in viewers, No. 2 in demo — has been the M.O. in  the overnight Nielsen figures for the Hawaii-based procedural, which this week reflected a demo drop of 20 per cent from 1.5 on Nov. 22 while “Shark” was steady, maintaining its 2.0 ranking.

For the creators of “Five-0,” the dip and the lack smallish  viewership must have been disappointing, since this episode reflected a laudable effort to create a particular brand of storytelling in a cop show’s rigid 42-minute running time. It’s this level of craftsmanship the hurls “Five-0” up a few notches.

The prologue — a fictional recreation of what might have actually happened on the fateful morning of Dec. 7, 1941 — is swift and newsreely, with bombs falling and GIs scattering and Japanese aircraft in the air.

Yes, there’s the use of the “J” word, common during the war, and the recreation of the Honouliuli interment camp, properly described as “Hell Valley,” was prison-like with guard towers, barbed wire and armed soldiers... and innocent Japanese natives unjustly placed there.

The episode, crisply directed by Larry Teng, hit the target with superb writing, though with some obvious and crafty coincidences unlikely in real life, matched by spot-on casting led James Saito as the central figure, David Toriyama, who remembers seeing what he believes was the murder of his grandfather by a wartime soldier and Pearl Harbor survivor Ezra Clark, played by Jack Axelrod.

This was a show with one cargument, and a mild one, between Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan), but absolutely no car chases.

Many familiar local faces appear, like Luke Hagi, son of weather man Guy Hagi and Aloha United Way honcho Kim Gennaula, as Young David; Mary Gutzi, as the daughter of George Rigby, a wartime cop;  and Eric Manke, as the grandson possessing the sword previously owned by the murderer of the soldier James Toriyama.

Honor is the working word throughout the show; the script is rich with complications and specifics, tradition and some torment, fuzzy recollections and snappy resolutions. A favored Japanese katana sword has a big role and is key evidence in the cold case; the humiliation of arrest and POW-type treatment reflect the tenure of the times; the early suspect, the solider Clark, has faded memories but while he hated the WWII enemy, he says he didn’t hate Japanese and married a Nippon woman and had a hapa daughter.

Too contrived, however, was the photograph album shot of McGarrett’s grandfather, Steven McGarrett, who was in the Navy during the war; and the ease with which shredded court documents and boxed, arcived evidence, can swiftly solve the case.

Not a spoiler, but yes, the bullet that killed the soldier Toriyama is found when his remains are examined.

A scene with Saito and Chin Ho  (Daniel Dae Kim) had a personal, revealing and humane tone, with Chin always bringing a sense of calm and resolve to the table.

And McG’s declaration to the older David Toriyama, “Soldier to solider, I need to hae you tell me the truth,” was the defining moment of this episode, which made McG go for broke and solve the 70-year-old crime.

Too bad the visibility — which will improve with delayed viewing — was moderate for such a meaningful and wrenching episode. Saito should be Emmy-nominated for this guest appearance.


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