Emme Tomimbang Burns, a beacon in Hawaii’s broadcast landscape, died Monday (Feb. 19) night at Queen’s Medical Center, while undergoing open heart surgery. She was 73.

A proud graduate of Farrington High School and a prominent figure in the Filipino community, she was the widow of Judge James S. Burns, who preceded her in death.

Best known as the producer and host of “Emme’s Island Moments,” Emme (pictured) — full first name Emmeline — was queen of Hawaii TV’s version of what is dubbed a “magazine show,” assembling show biz celebrities and notables in all walks of life.

Her “Emme” brand has been televised on all network affiliates, including KITV, KHON and KGMB, with screenings also on KFVE. She produced the productions and served as interviewer on all episodes.

Her idol was Oprah Winfrey, and she was inspired to put her own imprint on that genre.

She also was a philanthropist, supporting JABSOM, the James A. Burns School of Medicine, , named after  Gov. John A. Burns, her father-in-law.

Memorial services are pending…

Sneak peek at MVT’s new season

Manoa Valley Theatre has let the chat out of the bag.

Season ticket owners have learned that MVT’s 2024-2025 season will include three theatrical treasures:

  • “Parade,” a Tony Award-winning musical Alfred Uhry (book) and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. The show, fresh from a Broadway run earlier this year, starred Ben Platt. “Parade” is a true story about a dramatization of the 1913 trial and imprisonment, and 1915 lynching, of Jewish American Leo Frank in Georgia.
  • “Kim’s Convenience,” a comedy by Ins Choi,  about a Korean family operating a grocery store in Toronto’s Regent Park neighborhood.
  • “Side by Side by Sondheim,” a Stephen Sondheim musical which honors and celebrates the lyrical and tuneful artistry of the iconic Broadway composer, a favorite of the acting community.

Details of the complete new season will be forthcoming…

And that’s Show Biz…


Ezekiel Kekuna, the Kaneohe lad tapped to star as Young Simba in Disney’s cast of “The  Lion King” on Broadway, is looking forward to return to the Pridelands.

Zeke has been on sick leave for several weeks, due to an injury that left him wearing a leg/foot boot, and he will finally return to the limelight this Saturday (Feb. 24) at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway. He opened last December for a six-month run before the injury in January sidelined him.

Ezekiel Kekuna and his February playdates in “The Lion King.”

Meanwhile, older brother  Ezra Kekuna will  portray Squidward in “SpongeBob Squarepants: the Musical,” a modified junior production of the Broadway musical based on the cartoon character and his undersea colleagues. It’ll be a three-day run Friday night (Feb. 23) through Sunday afternoon, in a Castle Performing Arts Center production at the Ron Bright Theatre.

Ezra Kekuna as Squidward, in “SpongeBob” at Ron Bright Theatre.

Hence, the brothers Kekuna will be in action in two musicals on two stages for the first time.

“I am so excited to be back and wanted to say a big thank you for your love, well wishes, and prayers,” Zeke said in a Facebook posting. “God blessed me with the best family, friends, doctors, and specialists to get me back to where I’m supposed to be, especially Mom (Sarahlea Gamiao Kekuna) for being there every step of the way. I am ready and look forward to seeing you in the Pridelands!”

Zeke’s performance dates are listed in the visual above; he is alternating with another youth actor as Young Simba, in compliance with usual Broadway guidelines. Many island family and friends had been securing tickets to see him on the grand stage; more are anticipated with his rejoining the cast.

Tickets for “The Lion King” can be ordered at www.disneyonbroadway.com or through usual websites like Ticketmaster or Telecharge.

Seats for “SpongeBob” are available at https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/79651sor (808) 233-5626 …

Disney casting for ‘Moana’ cruise

Disney Cruise Line is seeking dancers and singers for planned “Disney the Tale of Moana” shipboard show. Tryouts are underway in Honolulu.

Auditions for dancers were being conducted today (Feb. 20), at 9:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m., with calls for singers set for the same times Wednesday (Feb. 21).

Two islanders are involved in the first theatrical version of the popular Disney cartoon transfer to the stage: Peter Rockford Espiritu and Aaron Sala.  “Moana” also is in the midst of shooting a live-action film.

Contracts will be available for eight weeks of rehearsals in Toronto and also for a six-month tour aboard a cruise ship in Disney’s fleet. It’s not stated whether applicants should be able to withstand seasickness at sea.

And that’s Show Biz…


Just asking…

Are you a good speller?I think I’m a decent speller; after all, my life as a journalist demanded the ability to spell.

Words are tricky, however, and I admit I often have to spell-check a specific word. If you’re computer-efficient, you know that misspelled words usually are flagged with underscoring, to advise you of errors. No one is perfect. (Spell-check doesn’t work efficiently with Hawaiian words, right?)

I bring up spelling because a friend told me her grade-school child has some difficulty in spelling. It’s understandable because words can be tricky.

Many words sound alike but are spelled differently. Examples: but/butt, knew/new, knight/night, wood/would, dough/doe, plane/plain and kernel/colonel. These are called homophones.

Some words like psychology, pseudonym, phlegm,  phantom, psychic, and physics don’t look like how they are pronounced. The spelling of Wednesday is not logical, nor is the word marble, which means the little glass thing kids play as well as the stone-like glossy matter utilized in countertops. Hmmm, it is what it is.

The  older you become, your vocabulary increases, so you learn the ropes and will know the difference between rain and reign. Hopefully.

Perhaps you can whip up a pair of same-sounding but different words. I’ll add one here — pair/pear — so add yours to the list…


Richard Vida, a veteran Broadway luminary, has been named as the new executive director of Ballet Hawaii.

A frequent visitor to Hawaii who has lived on Oahu briefly, Vida previously taught tap dance and musical theater at Ballet Hawaii.

“We have known Richard for many years and could not be luckier that he agreed to join our team,” said Susie Schull of Ballet Hawaii. “His background on Broadway and the performing arts is vast and covers every type of dance.”

Vida and his husband Bob Billig have called New York City their home where both have been active for decades (Billig is a musical conductor), and they have traveled extensively and had relocated to Connecticut. 

Vida, pictured, has had a diverse career,  not just as an actor, singer and dancer in theater, on TV and in films, and boasts credentials a guest artist, teacher, producer, and director…

Show breezes

Several popular island performers will be on the Hawaii Theatre stage in the weeks ahead.

The Hawaii Symphony Orchestra’s Hapa Symphony series will feature these acts:

  • Singer Paula Fuga, pictured, appears at 7:30 p.m. March 9.
  • Singer Robert Cazimero performs at 7:30 pm. April 20.
  • Ukulele artist  Jake Shimabukuro performs at 7:30 pm. May 18.

Tickets are priced from $10:50 to $99, at hawaiitheatre.com or (808) 528-0506…

Michael Weatherly (DiNozzo) and Mark Harmon (Leroy Jethro Gibbs) on “NCIS.”

Will DiNozzo and ‘NCIS’ regulars return?

The internet is a-buzz with a possible return of Michael Weatherly, the beloved  Tony DiNozzo from the original “NCIS” universe, which made him a star and producing director-producer Mark Harmon a legend as Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

Ten years since Weatherly departed the CBS procedural, he’s ready to return to the franchise for his last hurrah. Performers including Harmon likely will also return to the show (he’s been off the show for a couple of seasons) and possibly Ziva, played by Cote de Paulo, who exited the same time Weatherly did, could return.

Weatherly may have been the one to trigger the rumors, after he posted on X/Twitter his notion to reprise DiNozzo.

“There will be more DiNozzo someday because he is the one character that felt unfinished,” he said on X.

The NCIS franchise continues to expand via a Leroy Jethro Gibbs prequel series, which will feature familiar faces and potentially a few more.

“NCIS” is in the midst of its 21st season now. So it makes sense that the alums return to the show now.

First, Weatherly’s DiNozzo had unbeatable chemistry with Gibbs, and was the favorite of the NCIS leader, to target DiNozzo, with a slap on the head.

Second, Weatherly also had sizzle with agent Ziva and their relationship was hugely popular with viewers.

Third, now is the time for NCIS characters from the past, returning to pay homage and respect to David McCallum, who played Donald “Ducky” Mallard. who died last September. He played the chief medical examiner and the current series plans a tribute to Ducky, and it’s a smart way – and a ratings boost – that past colleagues return to say goodbye.

Surely, even Abby Sciuto, the forensic scientist  enacted by Pauley Perrette, would be a likely returnee, too.

CBS has remained mum about the return of any ex-cast members– for the goodbye to Ducky or for a cameo in the last season for the franchise’s mother ship original. The time is right for that elusive reunion…

And that’s Show Biz…


Reflections on last Sunday’s Super Bowl:
Marcus Mariota, homegrown football fave, finally made it to the Super Bowl. Well, sorta. The Philadelphia Eagles’ underutilized secondary QB was heard but not seen on the  Super Bowl telecast.

Mariota (pictured) narrated that splendid Lahaina Wildfire commercial, that reflected the Maui Strong message, depicting the horrors of that August day, when more than 100 perished and the historic harbor front town was reduced to a charcoal-gray ghost town. The commercial was a preview to the coin toss to begin the battle between the favored San Francisco 49ers and the underdog Kansas City Chiefs. A Lahainaluna football contingent were honored, including  four Luna team members, including players Morgan “Bula” Montgomery, Teva Loft, Kaulana Tihada and Kuola Watson who were joined by their coaches Dean Rickard and Garret Tihada and former head coach Bobby Watson…

Then there was actor Jason Momoa (pictured), the Hawaii native, in a T-Mobile clip, even singing and doing a backflip, in the commercial featuring  Zach Braff and Donald Faison, who shelved their usual “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” vocalizing. In a comedic set-up, Braff and Faison knock on a door with a plate of wings, and Momoa informs them that the party had been cancelled due to the cable being out. Then, Braff and Faison broke out in song and dance moves, convincing Momoa to switch to T-Mobile 5g home internet while chirping ”What a Feeling” from the 1983 film “Flashdance.” “Aquaman” joins in only to get doused with water…in a splashdance of sorts…

With CBS  airing the Super Bowl, it was no surprise to see quick images of “NCIS: Hawaii” co-stars Vanessa Lachey and LL Cool J together…

Of course, Dwayne Johnson, an island native, got camera time, too, but why not? He’s The Rock…

But there was no sign of local boy Bruno Mars, who has a residency at the MGM Resort, but then again, he was busy during the weekend, hosting and opening The Pinky Ring, his new ritzy lounge/bar at the Bellagio resort on the Las Vegas Strip, where the likes of Lady Gaga and Blake Shelton popped in during Super Bowl weekend…

Nyle Hallman dies at 95

Sorry to report the death, on Feb. 14, of Nyle Hallman, widow of Roy Hallman  who were co- founders of the Honolulu Boy Choir. She was 95. She also was the  longtime accompanist for the choir and the veteran  organist of the Central Union Church.

Daughter Kathy Hallman confirmed the death at the family home.

Blake M. Nuibe, who has served as executive director of the world-famous Honolulu Boy Choir, said he and boy choir ohana members Kay Hirasuna, Glenn Seo and Philip Fujimoto, recently gifted Nyle with a Hawaiian floral arrangement to celebrate the new year and to wish her well.

 “I conversed with Nyle on Jan. 18 and again on Feb.9,” said Nuibe. “Both times, her mind was sharp, and her spirits were high, but knew her health was flailing.  Kathy is heartbroken but very grateful for Nyle’s long. amazing life.”

Nyle and Roy (who died April 20, 2007, at age 82) had a successful and prolific life with the Boy Choir, which they co-founded in 1974, inspired by the Vienna Boy Choir. They enlisted boys 7 to 14 — with or without experience, many with higher-pitched voices due to their young ages – to sing, focus, and to be attentive while standing on risers, unified in voice, and mentored by the Hallmans. The choir toured globally, were fixtures on not only on the concert stage, but in recordings and TV, and for many years did Christmas season concerts, notably featuring their version of “Numbah One Day of Christmas,” at the Monarch Room of the fabled Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

Nyle was a masterful musician, who played harp as well as organ, and has been the organist at Central Union and principal harpist with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.

Funeral services are pending…

Streetlighters have weekend shows

Streetlight Cadence will do shows on Maui and the Big Island this weekend.

The agenda, part of the group’s ongoing Brighter Than Ever Tour, includes these shows:

–Friday (Feb. 16), at 7:30 p.m., at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center’s McCoy Studio Theatre. (tickets).

–Saturday (Feb. 17), at 7 p.m., at Kahilu Theatre in Waimea, on the Big Island. Tickets: $40, $70. (tickets)

–Sunday, at 2 p.m., at Hungry Ear Records in Kakaako. Free, with a meet-and-greet after the show. please RSVP here

Broadway grosses, for week ending Feb. 11

“Hamilton” again is the No. 1 draw on Broadway, a skosh ahead of “The King.”

Here’s the top 10:

1—”Hamilton,”$1,565 million.

2—”The Lion King,” $1,504 million.

3—”Merrily We Roll Along,” $1,494 million.

4—” Wicked,” $1,303 million.

5—”Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” $1,260 million.

6—”Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” $1,205 million,

7–“MJ The Musical,” $1,163 million.

8—” Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” $949,121,

9–“ Aladdin,” $923,150,

10—”& Juliet,” $897,506.

The complete list, courtesy The Broadway Guild:

And that’s Show Biz. …