‘NCIS: HAWAI‘I’ THIRD IN RATINGS

With the launch of a new TV season Monday (Sept. 20), and  “NCIS” mothership switching to the lineup from its long-time Tuesday perch, the newbie “NCIS: Hawai‘i” appears to benefit in the ratings, thanks to its slot following the original show’s 19th season lift-off.

A new franchise — this one filmed in Hawai’i — can always use a helpful boost.

Here’s how the evening played out in the ratings:

— No. 1 – CBS’ “NCIS,” the Mark Harmon foundation of the franchise, attracting an audience of 8.5 million viewers and 0.7 rating in the coveted 18 to 49 age demo, a skosh lower than last season’s debut on a Tuesday night.

— No. 2 — NBC’s “The Voice,” with 7.2 million viewers, topping the demos with a 1.1 rating. Its audience of younger fans reflected the uptick in the demo.  

— No. 3 – CBS’“NCIS: Hawai‘i,” with 6.6 million viewers and a 0.5 demo rating. Not bad for the newbie.

Mark Harmon as agent Gibbs.

In fine fashion, there was Harmon, as lead agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, recovering from his boat explosion from last season’s finale, and finally connecting with his team including special agent Timothy McGee (played by Sean  Murray). Sure, Gibbs is an often threatening bossman, who often smacks the back of the heads of his agents, but he has their back, and vice versa. That rapport is a two-way street; respect for the honcho, and support for the chief. That camaraderie has been the spine that has kept NCIS on the straight-up as the No. 1 procedural for nearly two decades.

Vanessa Lachey, appearing as Jane Tennant, the first woman leading an NCIS team, must not have gotten the memo, or its script writers didn’t, in the first episode of the “Hawai‘i” installation. Her I’m-the-boss tone quickly created friction with a Navy Capt. Joe Milius, portrayed by Enver Gjokaj, with her colleagues awkwardly jostling for relevance. Leaders need to have mutual respect and sensible work ethics to co-exist and succeed.

Vanessa Lachey as agent Jane Tennant in “NCIS: Hawai’i.”

Tennant is a single mother, so is tasked to shape a comfortable home front while juggling her chores as a head agent. She is called from a soccer match to proceed to a plane deliberately pounding into a mountain, so the mission’s finally launched. At best, Lachey has potential to get that chip off her shoulder and lead the team effort. Might take two or three more episodes for this niggler to settle. Alex Tennant ([portrayed by Kian Talan) is the elder son of the lead character and Julie Tennant (played by Mahina Napolean) is the young sister and both logically can anticipate to be more visible in future episodes when the mother meter ticks.

The Hawaii’i investigative team is a quirky lot. Lucy Tara (played by Yasmine Al-Bustami), eager to please and curiously swift to proclaim her standing, has an unexpected lesbian embrace, suggesting future LBGTQ themes down the line.

Kai Holman (played by Alex Tarrant) is a junior squad member returning to Hawaii to serve, still trying to forget or escape his Waimanalo roots; he looms as a key figure, but seems unsettled about where to set anchor. He looks local/Hawaiian (he’s Maori, Samoan and Niuean) and orders kalua pig, manapua and loco moco from a food wagon, but clearly can’t feign the real-local ways. Yet. One of his issues is in doubting his dad, realistically portrayed by Moses Goods, a keiki o ka ‘aina. You can quickly recognize the legit in the first few utterances and moments. Yep.

Jesse Boone (portrayed by Noah Mills), is a homicide detective settling into a new job in the islands, and has the look and physique that could develop into a popular and major sidekick.

Kate Whistler (played by Tori Anderson) also is an outsider from the Defense intelligence Agency hoping to find her niche in the Pearl Harbor realm and seems to have a path for her own rise on the ladder of investigation—and possible revisit her eyebrow-raising smooch with Agent Tara.

And Ernie Malik (played byJason Antoon) is the sometimes goofy techie /intelligence guy – all procedurals have one – who has to dig up investigative files in quick moves.

When a franchise has four shows total (“Los Angeles” and the original still exist, ‘New Orleans” went to TV heaven), it’s tough to differentiate one from the other, except by setting. The military or cop jargon remain the same, but landscape matters. Problem is, “NCIS: Hawai’i” still has competish from locally-filmed “Magnum P.I.” (aerials, surf, hotels, green mountains when it rains), and frankly, reflecting back to the original “Hawaii Five-0,” “Magnum” and other Hawaii series as “Jake and the Fatman” and “Five-0” reboot, the novelty of sea-shore-sun is long gone. The major difference will be in the art of storytelling, and perhaps some day, bona fide Hawaiians, Asians and Pacific Islanders as principal cast, not secondary backgrounders. (Current fave: “Doogie Kamealoha,” the Disney+ creation, with lots of local faces and manners).

At least in the premiere, the newbie had the smarts to embrace local music in the soundtrack, notably “Island Style.” Words and sounds — meaning our cultural tunes — will boost and establish atmosphere, and further enhance and propel the images.

If nothing else, Lachey’s Tennant character has gusto and guts, speaking her mind, and totally immersing herself in island waters (well, clearly, her stunt double did that finale scene). The best bet going for her, and the island-based show, is the fact that it airs here at 9 p.m., following the mothership at 8 p.m. Mondays. Now it has to earn its own stripes. …

And that’s Show Biz. ….

A MOON WALK WITH CAZIMERO

Another month, another Full Moon Concert.

That’s been the agenda for veteran entertainer Robert Cazimero, who vocalizes and plays piano each full moon night .

And so it was on Sunday (Sept. 19) at Chef Chai’s on Kapiolani Boulevard.

The joyous element is familiarity and form. When Cazimero is stationary and confined to his piano, his personality and ease reign; it’s almost like a living room concert amid friends and family. And that’s the formula: intimate and inviting, like a private party. So yes, the tunes and memories see-saw and evoke smiles and happy remembrances.

Robert Cazimero

On this night, the songfest started with a cluster of familiar faves, including “Molokai Nui Ahina,” “At the Royal Hawaiian Hotel,” “At Home in the Islands,” and “I’ll Remember You.” We remember him, too, with fondness galore. After all, his style is legendary, his live shows infrequent, yet he shows up once a month, and glows like the moonlight.

The tune tour is nostalgic. With “Edelweiss,” he creates images of the Alps, then jumps to “Hawaiian Hospitality,” “Holo Holo Kaa,” and “Only You,” familiar turf with playful hula by Sky Perkins Gora and Bully Keola Makaiau, longtime regulars who add moon-night merriment despite the difficulties of hulaing among diners in a crowded full house.

Yep, there’s always a non-cast guest appearance. On this eve, his sister Kanoe, offers a warm and comforting hula, celebrating her belated birthday, and provides the spectators a gift of dance.

Kanoe Cazimero

With Cazimero’s fondness of all kinds of music, he shares a true mixed plate, ranging from a nostalgic pop ballad of the past, “It’s Impossible” (think Perry Como), to a sandwich of movie-theme favorites, “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dan”  (“Song of the South”),  “Whistle a Happy Tune” (“The King and I”)  and “When You Wish Upon a Star” (“Peter Pan”). The point: his grasp and knowledge of titles and shows know no bounds.

The pendulum swings wide and often, with his comedic “Let’s Have One on the House” contrasting the fragile one of his Brothers Cazimero trademark, “Kuuipo I ka Hee Pue One.”

For his final entry, he whipped out one of his favorite Christmas carols, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” surely out of season but not out of style. It was a gentle reminder of his holiday songfest Dec. 15 through 19 at Chef Chai’s. …

And that’s Show Biz. …

OPINION: GOOD COPS … BAD COPS

Police everywhere, here and on the mainland, are either loved or loathed.

Like facemask-wearing and vaccination shots, they cause people to take sides, notably if and where there are good deeds or bad deeds.

With happenings within the Honolulu Police Department in recent days/weeks, I felt compelled to post an observation and perhaps spur a discussion about actions and behaviors of our local cops.

Thus, this is a moment of Good Cops … Bad Cops.

On the good side, three HPD members – prior to the 9/11 anniversary on Sept. 11 – released a ‘swonderful version of Lee Greenwood’s patriotic anthem, “God Bless the U.S.A.” And God bless them, indeed.

The video, launched on YouTube, incorporated local places of significance to the mix, making this version by and for the locals.

So bravo, to Officer Taylor Hoopii , Officer Bill Sapolu, and  Officer Cameron Tuitele. You might remember them from the Touch of Gold group, specializing in nostalgic music of the recent past, and harmonies that tug the heart. The musical accompaniment was by Clarke Tuitele. You can view the clip here:   

It’s such an emotional, enterprising video, and many folks call it a keeper, because the joy and pride never stop, when you replay and replay.

On the Bad Cops side, a trio of Honolulu officers on duty in Makaha are facing potential criminal charges for allegedly fleeing the scene of a critical accident, following a high-speed auto chase by the men in blue a few nights back.

A hit-and-run implication possibly exists, since the three officers in District 8  – as yet, not identified – were apparently the ones pursuing a car of youths partying at Maili Beach Park. The vehicle carried a boy, 14, and five others, and the boy is paralyzed from the neck down and is incapable of speaking, with the young driver of the car, one of the five in the vehicle, also hospitalized and on life support. They have not been identified either, but some are being represented by attorney Eric A. Seitz, overseeing legal matters.

Obviously, this was a case of a speeding vehicle (which careened into two properties) chased by three officers, who apparently didn’t stop to give aid … until someone called 911, according to one area witness on Hawaii News Now.

This clearly smells a court case in the making, and surely a black eye for HPD. …

Happy talk

Vanessa Lachey

Actress Vanessa Lachey, who makes her debut as Jane Tennant, agent-in-charge of “NCIS: Hawai‘i,” when it premieres Monday (Sept. 20 on CBS), has posted an Instagram video, sharing an emotion-charge response the moment she learned she landed the role several months back.

“I’m in the car and I just found out I got the job,” Lachey says through her sobbing tears. “I couldn’t take a video because I was on the phone. I don’t know what to do; I don’t know what to do. Thank you. I’m so happy.”

Phoenix, her 4-year-old son with husband Nick Lachey, was in the back seat. “He doesn’t know what we’re happy about.” …

Also happy news: CBS has finally included the ‘okina in its “NCIS: Hawai’i” logos. …

And that’s Show Biz. …

KONG LEAVING BEST-WESTERN EMPIRE

After 20 years of top-tier service, a prominent hospitality executive with Hawaii ties will retire as CEO of BWH Hotel Group. His departure means a huge void in AAPI presence in the realm of hotel management leadership.

David Kong, a graduate of the TIM school at the University of Hawaii, will retire at the end of 2021. His successor will be named at the BWH convention Oct. 7 in Las Vegas.

BWH is the acronym of Best Western Hotels & Resorts, where Kong had served since 2001 and became CEO in 2004. 

David Kong

He has been the hotel industry’s longest tenured CEO, an indication of his leadership and savvy in shaping the Best Western brand into a major global competitor and player in travel and hospitality. Under his watch, Best Western has expanded from one to 18 brands in a spectrum of service that taps a range of accommodations in all price brackets.

“What (Kong) has been able to do with Best Western is really create the consistency of the highest level of performance,” said American Hotel & Lodging Association president and CEO Chip Rogers in a statement. “David has created an environment at Best Western that encourages its owners to be their best and to create the best products.”

Kong’s bio often mentions that he entered the hotel business as a dishwasher and busboy and is leaving a legacy of caring atop the peak of an industry. His dedication and reputation of serving and mentoring his colleagues and staff teams and delivering on his promises makes him a one-of-a-kind.

Kevin Iwamoto

Kevin Iwamoto, a colleague at TIM and also a key player in hospitality trade, said of Kong, “I have so much respect for him; he’s achieved so much but is so humble, soft spoken and a nice human being. He has risen to the highest ranks of the industry and is a role model for Asians and Pacific Islanders (API) who aspire to lead the industry in senior executive positions of influence.  His retirement and departure from full time work will leave a tremendous void for API diversity in the executive ranks of the hospitality industry.” 

Iwamoto, who is chief strategy officer and head of Bizly Inc., a leading meetings technology company, himself is planning on retiring sometime soon.

“The story of me and David Kong is connected forever because we both graduated from UH’s Travel Industry Management School – David in 1971 and me in 1977—and we both were inducted into the 2013 UH TIM Hall of Honors,” said Iwamoto.

Though Hong Kong-born, Kong was educated at UH.  “Our careers intersected in both the business travel and meetings/events worlds of the industry,” said Iwamoto. “We currently both serve as UH TIM Alumni Association Board members”…

Name-dropping

Tom Holowach

Kudos to Tom Holowach, former honcho at Paliku Theatre at Windward Community College. His first screenplay, “The Kaliikak Crusade,” is a finalist in the UK Page Turner Awards. …

Drew Bright, son of Michael and Jade Bright and grandson of Ron and Mo Bright, will be portraying the role of Dimitri in Castle Performing Arts Company’s “Anastasia,” a Broadway music filled with rich tunes that resonate. Could this be the Hawaii premiere of this jewel, at the Ronald K. Bright Theatre on the Castle High School camps? Performance times and ticket details will be forthcoming. Surely, Poppo (what his family calls Ron Bright) also must be anticipating the rise of the curtain from his orchestra seat in heaven. …

And that’s Show Biz. …

OPERA SKED POSTPONED BY PANDEMIC

The Hawaii Opera Theatre is the latest victim of the coronavirus pandemic; it has announced the postponement of its fall show slate as well as its fund-raising Opera Ball till 2022..

Andrew Morgan

“My goal since the start of the pandemic has been to find creative artistic outlets of expression that keep opera alive while ensuring the safety of our patrons, staff, artists, and artisans that collectively makeup the HOT ʻOhana,” said Andrew Morgan, HOT’s general director, in a statement. “The generous support of our audience has never been more appreciated and impactful. Truly, there would be no Hawaii Opera Theatre without our dedicated patrons.”

HOT patrons need to add patience to the mix before opera returns to the shuttered Blaisdell Concert Hall.

On the horizon:

— “Re-Emerging: HOT Live in Concert, set for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 and 4 p.m. Jan. 30

— “Opera Ball: The Butterfly Emerges,” rescheduled for 6 p.m. March 26, at the Sheraton Waikiki ballroom.

— “The Tragedy of Carmen,” Feb. 18 and 20  (dates are unchanged).

— “Madame Butterly,” April 8, 10 and 12 (dates are unchanged).

— A December musical show honoring the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, will also be staged, at  theHOT rehearsal studio at Hawaiʻi Opera Plaza, 848 S. Beretania. Featuring members of the Mae Zenke Orvis Opera  Studio at the University of Hawaii, directed by Jamie Offenbach, HOT artistic director.

Pandemic protocols will prevail at all events: proof of mandatory vaccinations for all staff, artists and artisans; proof of vaxx shots, certification of those with protected exemptions, masks  for everyone. Ticket holders may call the HOT box office at 596-7858, or visit  HOTTickets@hawaiiopera.org.

Talk about people

Michael Paulo

Sorry to report the ongoing misfortunes within the Paulo musical family.

We earlier mentioned Rene and Akemi Paulo, who caught the COVID-19 virus. They are the patriarch and matriarch of a talented musical family in Hawaii’s history.

Now two other daughters, along with the husband of one, have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to musician-saxophonist son Michael Paulo, who so far has managed to dodge the bug.

Again, the family welcomes prayer support, so send positive thoughts and hopes for wellness. …

A Bright kid sings a Disney oli

Colton Bright

Belated congrats to the Ron Bright ‘ohana; Colton Bright, son of Michael and Jade Bright, had a role in Aulani Disney’s 10th celebration recently, singing and recording a special tune.

Colton has appeared in I’m a Bright Kid Foundation shows, the organization preserving and persevering the memory and methods of the late educator-director Mr. B. He recorded an oli, “’O ‘Aulani No Ho‘i Au,” which was part of the hotel’s first decade anniversary. Aunty Linell Bright, the music and  choir teacher at Kamehameha Schools (who is the wife of Clarke Bright, the eldest son of Ron and Mo Bright), had a hand in making arrangements. The tune was written by Eric Lee (a  Disney cast member) and Angela Morales (also a Disney cast member, and one-third of Na Leo who now is Mrs. Ricardo Escontrias, having wed this past June).

Dad Michael commented online, “Our ‘ohana is truly humbled and blessed that Colton had a small role  in the celebration.” And you betcha, a proud Poppo, as Ron is called by the grandkids, must have been beaming gratitude and pride from the heavens. …

And that’s Show Biz. …