Archive for July, 2016

Damien grad Batalon lands a leading role in 'Spider-Man: Homecoming'

July 27th, 2016



Jacob Batalon, appearing at Comic Con in San Diego recently. 
He'll play Ned Leeds, Peter Parker's best friend, in Marvel's "Spider-Man: Homecoming," opening July 7, 2017. –  Photo courtesy Jacob Batalonjacobbatalon

For a dude who strummed ukulele in high school and who never acted locally, Jacob Batalon feels stunned and lucky to land a role in Marvel Studio’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” now filming in Atlanta.

“I’m extremely blessed to even just be in the film,” he said in an exclusive interview.

He made his first public appearance, amid cheers and applause from the gallery, alongside “Spider-Man” creator Stan Lee and his co-stars, at the recent Comic Con in San Diego.

But he doesn’t yet feel like a star. “It’s humbling,” he said. “God has definitely been good to me.”
Batalon, 19, a 2014 graduate of Damien Memorial School, will portray Spider-Man/Peter Parker’s best friend, Ned Leeds, in the reinvented superhero flick, scheduled for release July 7, 2017. The movie is poised to be one of next summer’s sizzlers.

Curiously, he was about 7 when he first saw the original Spidey film which hurled Tobey Maguire into the superhero universe. “What’s really funny about that is it was the first superhero film I remember fully and actually liked. So it’s really crazy how it all came full circle.”

Because Damien had no theater or stage program, he was a late bloomer in theatrical or film training. In May, Batalon graduated from the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, learning about the acting craft, in a two-year program.

“Singing and (playing) the ukulele really was my thing,” he said, recalling jams with his Damien buddies and performing at family functions. “My mother would make he go up and sing in front of everyone all the time, hahaha, and I didn’t particularly enjoy it so much as a child because I thought it was torture. But in retrospect, I think that’s what helped me get over my fear of being in front of people.”

Not surprisingly, he was startled when his agent called him to inform him of the “Spider-Man” role.

“This was at 10:47 at night, and he said I got a role in the film but he told me the producers weren’t sure what they wanted me to be. But I didn’t care. I was so happy and elated that I had actually passed out for a good two minutes after my agent called me.”

Batalon said he’d been waiting since March, when the buzz started, but it wasn’t till June that he was confirmed to play Ned Leeds.
“It was a week before I flew to Atlanta (when he learned about the character),” so it was somewhat of a grueling period of waiting and wondering.

“When they told me I was gonna be Ned, I was in Bryant Park in New York, just going absolutely crazy,” he said. “I was yelling and screaming and cheering. I’ll never forget that feeling. But the satisfaction made it all worth (the wait).”

Because of privacy issues, he can’t reveal much about Ned Leeds. “He’s Peter Parker’s best friend and he’s a sweet genuine guy and I really believe the fans will love him. I know. I do, hahaha.”

The Ned Leeds character has previously appeared in the comics, as a worker at the Daily Bugle, and in a “Spider-Man” animated series, but as Ned Lee, with Asian surname and ethnicity.

Batalon had to tell someone about his good fortune, and the first person he called was his brother-in-law, who could keep a secret. “I know he doesn’t say anything to anyone, even my sister; he’s in the military, so he knows something about being true to your word. I wanted it to be a surprise for my whole family, and I knew he was gonna be gone for a while, so I just told him first.”

When “Spider-Man” and its cast were introduced at Comic Con, the response was overwhelming, said Batalon. “That’s when I realized the gravity of it all,” he said. “I knew this film was big, but being in front of those fans who really love Marvel in general ... it was so humbling. It made me realize this is a lot bigger than all of us. I just want the fans to be happy, and if they’re happy, I’m happy. And yes, most definitely, I am definitely a fan.”

Perhaps because the actual film is a year from release, Batalon doesn’t yet feel like a budding star. He told Jon Watts, the film’s director, that he feels more like a fan than a movie star, and appreciates the hard work that goes into film production. “I’m just another working actor trying to get his fill,” he said.

He met Tom Holland, the actor tapped to play the next Spidey, in Los Angeles prior to filming, doing an audition together and “he’s been nothing but nice and great. We all love each other a lot now,” he said of his other castmates — Laura Harrier as Liz Allen, Parker’s high school crush; Zendaya as Michelle, presumably Michelle Gonzales, who had a fling with Parker in comic book lore; and Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson, who appeared in Sam Raimin’s “Spider-Man.”

“We  made it a point to hang out and be tight with each other before we started filming. And now that we’re in the throes of it all, there’s no problem with our chemistry. We really do love one another; I don’t think this film would be half as good as it is, if these people weren’t with me. I appreciate them so much; I’m glad they’re in my life now.”



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'Kopy Katz 2' has a glamor cat, but requires some fixing

July 22nd, 2016

Derek Daniels glams it up as Prince Hanalei; Charles Degala is Alfred Apaka, Cathy Foy is Hilo Hattie

katz1 katz2





“Waikiki Kopy Katz,” relocated to Treetops Restaurant in Manoa Valley but returning in the future to the Hale Koa Hotel, adds new island legends to the roster in spacious venue accessible to Honolulu audiences.

Alas, the results are mixed .

The revue intends to salute newsmakers, now all deceased,  on the show biz front from the Waikiki landscape of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. This nostalgic endeavor — call it "Kopy Katz 2" — gets lively and robust with the addition of the glam and gay Prince Hanalei, performed by local dancer-choreographer Derek Daniels, with plumes and feathers galore, with shimmying and twirling a-plenty. He's visually a glamor Kat and the one to see in this outing.

Decked in flamboyant Tahitian headgear and costumed in sparkly leotards accented by feather décor (and notice the blue lipstick), Daniels is the essence of the “South Sea Island Magic” he prances to. But he takes liberties; on another number with a chorus of five hula girls dubbed the Manoa Dancers, he does a hula about mountains and waters, depicting Mother Nature’s charms. But there’s a cultural clash here: the hula, which is Hawaiian, is performed in essentially what is a Tahitian outfit. May not be a big deal among causal viewers, but another hula later in the show, Daniel donned aloha attired accented by a lei and white trousers, and was a lot more legit and eye-appealing. Tradition matters.

Also new to the roster is Johnny Kai as Don Ho, clad in dark glasses peering from beneath a floppy hat. Kai needs to perfect his Ho impression — a slur here, a mumble there — and attempt to recreate the sound that is globally revered as Mr. Waikiki’s. Worse, Kai does his Ho shtick on floor level, fronting the elevated stage, with a bright spotlight yielding a stark image that again doesn’t quite elevate the salute Ho deserves. Kai can make his entrance from the floor amid darkness, but Ho deserves  bigness  and brightness — on stage, maybe with a prop like a drinking glass to toast during “Tiny Bubbles.” And since there’s a sing-along with the audience on “Pearly Shells,” the action should definitely move to stage center. With fitting illumination.

Marshall Kaniho debuts as Martin Denny on keyboards, more as an accessory than a headliner, but his cheerfulness at least brings personality to his impresh. But where is the “Quiet Village,” with gongs and birdcalls and exotic sound effects, that made Denny a sensation?

Otherwise the show is capable hands. Cathy Foy, utilizing a new hand mike for the first time, needs to distance her mouth from the mike, to eliminate an echo-ey sound effect through her Hilo Hattie tribute. When she delivers the hip hop on “Hilo Hattie Does the Hilo Hop,” the prevalent pink/red jell on the spotlight is intrusive and artificial; better to go brightly, without the color effect. Adjustments will upgrade this entire segment.

Charles Degala excels as the beloved baritone, Alfred Apaka, notably on “Sweet Leilani.” His costume is spot-on, too — red lei and red sash, contrasting the white shirt and trousers. Just what we all remember.

And incidental Hawaii visitor Frank Sinatra (capably interpreted by Randy Smith) easily was the evening’s most suave figure in nifty black-tux (and later with white jacket), especially on his swing-ding “New York, New York” and “Fly Me to the Moon.”

The show opens with a trio of Andrew Sisters-type performers clad in military khaki, but only Foy sang “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B,” which is awkward because the gals are gyrating but minus the 1940s harmony characterizing the ditty made famous by the sisters and eventually became a signature for Bette Midler. In its present form, the number doesn't deliver.

And emcee Bo Irvine was off in timing and thinking. The stand-up comic generlly is a funny soul, but did some missteps on opening night, including a gaffe when he mentioned Sinatra’s wife as Eva Gabor when it should have been Ava Gardner. This is a fixable moment — and surely, veteran entreprenuer Jack Cione, who conceived and directed "Kopy Katz," has already summoned  a rehearsal to make amends. The show is set to run three more Thursdays, through Aug. 11.




When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, through Aug. 11, 2016

Where: Treetops Restaurant, Manoa Valley

Cost: $48.50 includes buffet dinner and show (buffet from 6 p.m.)

Reservations: 988-6838


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Frank DeLima does Pokémon like the Candy Man can...

July 18th, 2016



frankpokeComedian Frank DeLima has hopped onto the Pokémon GO phenom, with a signature parody about the location-based reality mobile game developed by Niantic and creating a tsunami of followers/participants with iPhones and other devices roaming the highways and byways in search of those roving critters in actual places.

To the tune of “The Candy Man,” DeLima has just released his tuneful take on the Pokémon phenom, chirping that it can drive him crazy, “trying to catch one monster outside of Thomas Square.”

The song with craze-related lyrics mentions one other Hawaii location, Waianae, but suggests prudence and common sense in the pursuit of the Pokés.

One verse goes like this:

“Listen to policeman

“He like for you stay safe

“No play da game when driving

“No play da game alone...”

And some cautious advice about looking at your devices and not concentrating on your spot in reality:

“With Pokémon GO

“I look high and low

“Walking into poles and bushes

“Everywhere a monster swooshes

“Trying to catch their tushes.”


To hear and download the full song, make a donation to DeLima’s student enrichment fund at No app required...



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