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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, and signed autographs for fans alongside “Spider-Man” creator Stan Lee, 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 High 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.”

“I 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.”



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...



TAG revives ‘Ira & George and Shari & Jim,’ plus Kip

January 1st, 2016


 By popular demand, Shari Lynn’s tribute to composers Ira and George Gershwin, launched last year by The Actors’ Group, is being revived in a limited-run fundraiser starting tonight (Jan. 1).

The show, entitled “Ira & George and Shari & Jim,” was written and staged by veteran theater and nightclub performer Shari Lynn, who also is a teacher at Hawaii School for Girls. Jim Howard, pianist, returns on the keyboards, but this engagement also will feature veteran tenor of opera and theater, Kip Wilborn, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Jean Valjean in the Ron Bright-directed “Les Miserables” production at Paliku Theatre at Windward Community Theatre.

“We’re excited to have Kip as a guest performer,” said Shari.

Veteran actor-director-choreographer Brad Powell provided additional staging.

Performances will be at the TAG venue, The Brad Powell Theatre, located at 615 Iwilei Road, on the ground floor of The Shops at Dole Cannery, opposite the Regal Cinemas complex.

Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m.  Sundays, now through Jan. 17.

Suggested donation is $40.

Information: 741-4699 or

Reservations: 722-6941 or

Validated parking is available at the cinema structure.



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Status quo for 'Five-0' in the Friday night playout

November 14th, 2015



Kristoffer Polaha and Natalie Dawson as con artists in "Hawaii  Five-0."


ABC’s “Shark Tank,” with its 1.6 rating in the key 18 to 49 demographics, was No. 1 Friday (Nov. 13) where it counts; CBS’ “Blue Bloods,” with 10.30 million viewers, topped the head count of viewers.

This duality has prevailed in the Nielsen ratings for Friday, so it’s pretty much status quo.

What Hawaii watches, of course, is the performance of CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0,” in the same hour (8 p.m. here, 9 p.m. Mainland) as “Shark Tank.”  The local show logged a 1.1 rating in the demos, 8.36 million viewers — behind in the demos but ahead of “Shark’s” 6.19 million watchers.

This playout seems to be the Friday routine and norm. With this regularity, it’s rough to expect higher numbers in the demos or for more viewers.  And thus, ABC leads in demos (1.3 rating) and CBS cops viewership laurels (8.16 million) for the night. It is what it is.

With episode eight of season six entitled “Piko Pau‘Iole (The Artful Dodger),”

three story threads prevailed:

  • Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) still in pursuit of Yakuza types, wanting settlement on due sums. The exciting opening had him escaping from the thuds, rolling down a forest hill, and eventually killing his pursuers. His fate still is unresolved, though the monetary issue is, um, resolved — for now.
  • The introduction of San Francisco police officer Abby Dunn (Julie Benz), to kokua Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) in investigating the murder of Chinese drug dealers appears to the start of yet another romantic tryst for Chin, who is all smiles all the time when Dunn’s around — and they barely know each other yet.
  • The con artist pair, led by Hank Weber (Kristoffer Polaha) and his accomplice,  Katie Dawson (Natalie Dawson), who rip off tourists after arriving at the airport, picking pockets to collect iPhones, cameras, bags, sunglasses and more. Curiously, he gets to work with the “Five-0” team in trying to sort out the accusations with the acquisitions — toward an unexpected finish.

Polaha starred as Jason Matthews, manager of the Grand Waimea Hotel,  in the short-lived Hawaii-filmed TV series, “North Shore” (2004-05), with the Turtle Bay resort serving as the fictional hotel. So this is a homecoming for him.

The triad of stories means the cast are separated; Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin), Danno Williams (Scott Caan), Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park) and Lou Grover (Chi McBride) pretty much investigate the customary crimes; Chin is busy accompanying Dunn with twinkling eyes; Kono again gets caught in the dark clouds of  hubby  Adam’s checkered past and one begins to wonder if it’s worth her time to stick to wedded bliss, when there’s little bliss.

Oh, and Jerry (Jorge Garcia) is the mix; yearning to earn  a swearing-in badge to officially be a “Five-0” officer, like the newly-minted officer Dunn, and again ascension from basement office to main floor glory.

Max (Masi Oka) is represented in a phone call; obviously, he’s double-dipping doing NBC’s “Heroes Reborn.”

Gabriel Waincraft (Christopher Sean) continues to be a menacing villain; he’s all venom and veneer — a combination that yields both intrigue and terror, elements “Five-0” periodically needs, and substance that Wo Fat (Marc Dacascos) failed to mine.


Rest in peace, Julie Honda; I’ll always remember you

November 4th, 2015

julie honda2


Julie Honda, right, with Martha Melton, left, her hanai sister and best friend.

Photo courtesy the Honda family.


Julie Honda always had her say and way in life; in death, she’s pretty much got the same pull.

Honda, wife of longtime Hawaii hotelier Fred Honda, died Nov. 3 in Loveland, Colo. She was 85.

“Julie was truly a ‘game fighter,’ never faltering and keeping active in spite of her many medical handicaps,” said Fred Honda. “A decade ago, her doctor said had five years —well, she had 10.”

It was not an easy decade; she had two open heart surgeries, had a pacemaker installed, and battled a failing kidney. But Julie and Fred marked their 50th wedding anniversary earlier this year.

In the early morning of Oct. 28, she was at home shortly after midnight, navigating a snack of milk and cookies, when she fell, resulting in  light hemorrhage in her brain and fractures in her neck, according to her husband.

She had surgery, recovered well enough  to laugh and talk with a neck brace, but suffered two heart failures and was placed on life support. Family members were notified and gathered at Greely McKee Hospital, where her wishes were fulfilled: She was pulled off life support. It was her call, loud and clear.

If you knew Julie, you knew she was forthright and frank, insightful and insistent, manipulative and methodical, sometimes rubbing folks the wrong way. But she was a mover and shaker, a hustler and an achiever, with a wide community reach and with aloha to spare.

She always became a beacon of the community she entered, like organizing the Kona Coffee Festival and arranging parades and crafts. She is the lone  Honorary Lifetime Member of the popular visitor and resident event.

Whenever Fred Honda pulled managing duties at hotels statewide — Keauhou Beach Hotel, Princeville, Halekulani Juilie would take on occasional social directorships, sometimes as paid staff, often as a community volunteer.

Her aggressive, open style made her a pal of several first ladies, wives of sitting governors, as well as queens such as Miss America, Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Philippines to participate in a variety of community events.

She rubbed shoulders with fashionistas and designers, entertainers and chefs, CEOs and politicos.

Over the decades, Julie made her mark: at Lahainaluna High School, she was the only woman in the Future Farmers of America; with La Chaine des Rotisseurs, the gastronomic society, she was the a regional offer and the first woman to receive the President’s Medal; she was the first woman president of the Kona Chamber of Commerce.

She worked in retail at Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom in San Francisco, with airlines such as United, Delta and Air India, with resorts like Maui’s Royal Lahaina, Sheraton Maui and Kaanapali Beach Hotel. She also was a small business owner, operating Julie’s Boutique and Koa Puka.

Because of mounting health issues, she wound up in Loveland, Colorado, to be near daughter  Patti Honda-Davis, who tended to caregiving tasks.

Survivors include husband Fred Honda, daughter Patti Honda-Davis, son Kyle Kalani Honda,  daughter Lee Ann Doering (from Fred Honda’s earlier marriage), brother Gilbert Barcoma, Glen Barcoma, sisters Chris Souza, Pricilla Duque, Sandra Kanemitsu and April Moniz, and grandsons Travis Kanekoa Davis and Garet Kealii Davis.

Services will be held in Loveland, but Julie Honda was precise about Honolulu and Maui memorials. In notes prepared September, 2014, Julie mandates that that her remains be cremated and  kept until husband Fred joins her for burial on Maui, above her mother’s grave. Yes, she already selected her urn design.

Julie demonstrates how she's the captain of her ship and  her final voyage: She requests that Randy Hongo perform “My Way,” not “Amazing Grace,” or perhaps “The Impossible Dream;” on dress before creation, she requests
“my white lace holoku with pink underlinings; on photo to display, “the one with peacock;” on family attire, “I want my siblings to be wearing red flower in their hair.”

A celebration of her life will be held in Honolulu in early December, specifics to be announced.



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