It matters not from where you come, but it’s all about what you do with your life. With a will, you can succeed, despite the odds.
So sayeth, in different tones, the two stellar honorees in the Sales and Marketing Executives’ double-barreled celebration last night at the Sheraton Waikiki’s Hawaii Ballroom.
Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism organization, and Cha Thompson, retired co-founder of Tihati Productions, were saluted side-by-side for their exemplary leadership and service to the hospitality community in Hawaii. In marketing lingo, they are the best sellers, instrumental in servicing the somewhat tentative community of the visitor industry, particularly when the market has been affected by the dark cloud of the pandemic in the past 2 1/2 years.
Hannemann technically was the 2019 honoree, Thompson the 2021 awardee, but neither could be properly recognized because of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. So SME doubled up, recognizing both individuals in the group’s first-ever dinner gala (previously recognitions were made over simpler luncheon events).
Coincidentally, both Hannemann and Thompson projected commonality in backgrounds and in service. And they live up to SME’s Hawaiian theme: “E hele me ka pu’olo,” which translates to “leave a place in better condition than when you got there.”
Both grew up in ZIP codes not generally associated with achievement; both are minority leaders of color (Samoan and Hawaiian, and/or a mixture of Polynesian ethnicity) and faced growing-up-time challenges. A stellar athlete in basketball and football, who ached to attend and graduate from an Ivy League college, Hannemann is an Iolani graduate who earned scholarships to attend Harvard, and broke down barriers to become the first-ever Samoan graduate from Harvard. Before taking on the leadership of HLTA, the state’s largest and oldest private sector tourism organization, he was an elected City Council member and a two-term Mayor of Honolulu.
Thompson, the self-annointed Queen of Kalihi, is proud to be a Farrington High School graduate, where her sweetheart, Jack Thompson, shared a passion for Polynesian entertainment; she, as a hula stylist, he as a Samoan flaming fire-knife dancer, and both co-founded Tihati Productions. In 2019, before the pandemic shut down everything, Tihati marked its 50th anniversary as the state’s and world’s largest producer of Polynesian spectacles with 12 shows on four of the state’s key islands with more than 1,200 employees who uphold the authentic cultural roots of the South Seas islands.
Not surprisingly, both Hannemann and Thompson have corralled White House-related accomplishments; as a beneficiary of the scholarships of the White House Fellowship program, Hannemann has established the Pacific Century Fellows modeled after the D.C. pioneer, and has been appointed to serve five U.S. presidents.
Thompson’s Tihati brand has been recognized by three presidents, and is the only state entertainment entity that has staged a full-on luau show on White House grounds during the Barack Obama presidency, and Tihati has established scholarships to fuel future performers. In a passionate revelation, Thompson said it was not easy being a Hawaiian-Samoan entity in the early days, where her company had to prove it had the smarts to make a living like any other fledgling small business, commonly facing the naysayers in the community.
With its depth and breadth of island entertainent, Tihati provided mainstream headliners including Robert Cazimero and Karen Keawehawaii, who performed brief vocals for the dinner crowd; not surprisingly, Cazimero tapped Thompson to provide her trademark hula for his “Hawaiian Lullaby” selection; and nobody says no to Cazimero.
Excerpts from Tihati’s vast library of artristy – hula maidens, dancing to a tune tracking the array of island lei, animated and rigorous male dancers, capturing the syncopation and drum-fueled energy of the pulse of Polynesia – to charm and excite the spectators. It was a slightly scaled down version of Tihati’s 50th anniversary gala in the same showroom.
With two honorees, it made sense that there were two emcees, the one complementing the other: Billy V. and Augie T. The former is a veteran announcer-emcee, invited by Thompson; the latter is the stand up comedian,, tapped by Hannemann, and like Thompson and Keawehawaii, are former Farringtonians.
At one point, Hannemann made a humble and earnest revelation, that he initially declined the request of SME that he join the list of honorees; he recommended another possible recipient, who also served admirably in visitor hospitality community, but agreed only after a second individual (Thompson) would share the spotlight, admitting she was the perfect match with parallel missions to serve the hospitality community. He was right. …
And that’s Show Biz. …
It’s the “$64,000 Question,” tapping the rhetoric of the 1950s TV game show: Why is CBS stalling and delaying the go-ahead green light for one of its top procedurals, “Magnum P.I.”?
Many other cop and investigative series on the network already have been renewed for a return this fall.
Not so for the “Magnum” camp. Season 4 is pau and in the can. No doubt, the cast is on standby, awaiting the go or no word.
But honestly, Season 5 is undoubtedly somewhere over the rainbow, but still, mum’s the word.
Ratings for its Friday night slot, preceding “Blue Bloods,” has been solid. “BB” is Friday’s hottie and its 13th season is ahead, led by original Magnum star Tom Selleck, now Commissioner Regan.
Jay Hernandez is the current Thomas Magnum, private investigator in paradise; he’s popular and has done no wrong.
The show deserves another season.
Why? Scripts have been pretty solid.
And aside from those somewhat infrequent but humbug road closures for filming — notably the passage way through the tunnels of the Koolaus – they have been rare, so tolerable.
The cast is properly diverse, even if no true isle-reared actor has one of the plum co-starring roles, a fault for mostly all the network shows lensed here. As I’ve preached before, that’s a missed opportunity, and my ongoing mantra.
So what gives?
Are the showrunners waiting for Selleck, who created the role in the first go-round with Higgins, to agree to a cameo? (Not likely, he’s moved on to “Blue Bloods” and is indifferent to interfere with the spin-off reboot; and after eight years as a P.I., he was tired and wanted to terminate the show).
So what’s bewildering for the overdue invitation for the new Magnum to proceed and start planning a summer start on the new season of episodes, since we’ve heard of no chatter nor disenchantment to move ahead, to film new episodes to launch the fifth season this fall.
CBS kept the reboot of “Hawaii Five-0” alive for more than a decade. Now, that was a skosh overlong, considering Alex O’Loughlin as Steve McGarrett wanted out, perhaps for three seasons before shutdown, and Scott Caan was an unhappy camper from early on. Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park smelled a salary rat, and perhaps a racial bias, so they exited the show midway through the journey, and we all weren’t surprised that there were behind-the-scenes shenanigans with problematic showrunner Peter Lenkov. His firing was not surprising; his conduct was an issue that created unrest among the cast; the network dismissed him.
But “Magnum”— the other Lenkov-launched series here — has had all its ducks in a row, even surviving the gender switch, turning Higgins into Juliet Higgins, enacted by Perdita Weeks. But we all forgave and forgot.
CBS already has green-lit new seasons, albeit with quirky circumstances, for its “NCIS” franchise series.
If you’ve noticed, the original NCIS no longer features iconic Mark Harmon, as the incomparable Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Strangely, he’s still in the opening credits, even if his character no longer is part of the active acting team. Similarly, the original crime drama enables Duckie, the medical examiner Dr. Daniel Mallard played by David McCallum, to be counted as a team member even if he’s not on call for every episode.
There’s more strange elements on sister show “NCIS: L.A.,” Linda Hunt, as Henrietta Lange, has been absent from the regular pace of storytelling – Hetty is mentioned but not commonly seen – a peculiarity not fully explained. Hunt is 77 and the NCIS honchos reportedly kept her safe and secure during the height of COVID concerns, and though she was off show for nearly two seasons, she made a brief return on the show’s first episode this season. Her character’s status: she’s secure and invisible in Syria. The tradeoff is the recurring Gerald McRaney, as Adm. Hollace Kilbride, who has inherited her screen time, not a wholly acceptable or logical playout.
Of course, the latest serial, “NCIS: Hawai‘i,” has been tapped for a second season without any asterisked characters – meaning no roles have been tapped for limited programming.
Which bounces back to the basic earlier discussion: Why has the renewal of “Magnum” been delayed? We’re all anticipating No. 5. …
And that’s Show Biz. …
Have you been caught in the spell of “Tokyo Vice,” the enticing and intriguing HBO Max series that explores the dark corridors and Yakuza-clouded world of Japan journalism?
Ansel Elgort, who was Tony in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” stars as a newbie gaijin (foreign) crime reporter named Jake Adelstein, who is trying to earn his stripes in the daunting world of Japan’s gloomy and structural media world, based on Jake Adelstein’s novel about a fish-out-of sea element. While Elgort appears to speak and write fluent Japanese, he cannot appease his bosses because he asks too many questions, doesn’t abide to demeaning orders since he smells opportunity in the shadowy world of Hiroto Katagiri, the veteran police chief played by legendary Japanese actor Ken Watanabe, who has the power and voice to emphatically ban a cub reporter’s story, reasons not needed.
Elgort is one of the executive producers of this hypnotic drama, which explores the underbelly of Tokyo’s 1990s club-and-crime scene, where an apparent murder cannot be reported as such, unless the cops say it is. The reporter is an eager soul with a thirst for that prime story that will put him on the map, but in the three (of eight) episodes I’ve watched, he’s still got a lot of tough challenges to confront. His fashionably long tresses, tall and lanky frame might project a model, but clearly, he’s a loose cannon uncertain what to make of Rinko Kikuchi’s Emi, his contemporary boss who oversees his assignments but always trashes his work. So he’s still working on his fame to turn around his shame.
Director Michael Mann, who helmed the pilot episode, projects a film noirish universe, with its obvious hooks: crooked Yakuza agents pressuring clients to pay protection fees; hostess bars where Samantha, a transplanted haole played by Rachel Keller, is trying to work out her status since she speaks and adapts to Japanese ways. Samantha and Adelstein become friends as he conducts his own investigations to discover there is a link between the demise of two Japanese nationals whose deaths might be related, even in the manner of death. One, with multiple stabbing wounds; the other, a gasoline-stained guy who lights a match in an spectacle of a fiery finale; different but decidedly with similar hooks.
Action aside, a pleasant surprise was to discover an Island name in the credit rolls – that of Haiku, Maui native Destin Daniel Cretton, who is one of the producers for at least six episodes of “Tokyo Vice.” Suddenly, it became “Tokyo Nice,” with a local spin in the story and action.
Cretten, of course, is known primarily for shaping and directing “Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings,” the mammoth Marvel box office hit, which made Simu Liu a major action film star.
This, along with other yet-to-be-completed projects, including a sequel to “Shang-Chi,” will keep his name on the front burner for the next few years.
All the episodes of “Tokyo Vice” are streaming now and the spoken Japanese is sub-titled for gaijin viewers.
It’s gritty, atmospheric, and preciously dark, and part of the fun is to recognize quick shots of Japan’s bevy of tucked-away sushi bars and ramen shops, amid the crowded streets and alleyways of marketplaces and the network of subway trains.
And oh, about Elgort’s nihongo – no, he’s not fluent in the Japanese lingo but had to memorize lines, but managed to be a convincing conversationalist because of his diction and delivery. Apparently, he became a master of his lines and even could ad-lib, properly, the manner and the message in Japanese. …
And that’s Show Biz. …
Amy Hanaiali‘i will be very visible at the Halekulani Hotel, beginning with a two-seating performance, at 7 and 9 p.m. May 7, at Lewers Lounge. A $50 cover charge is in place, with a two-drink minimum. “An Evening of Jazz With Amy” is the theme, so expect swing and blues, instead of her Hawaiian repertoire. …
In addition, Hanaialii also will be headlining the earlier-announced first-ever Mother’s Day show on May 8 at the Halekulani ballroom. Hawaiiana and a more diversified song menu will prevail.
Hanaiali‘i, lest you forget, is the president of the Hawaiii Acacemy of Recording Arts, the organization that celebrates achievement in the music community. She informs voting members, via email, that preliminary balloting begins today and continues through May 6. HARA members who don’t receive the e-ballot should email firstname.lastname@example.org to request the ballot. The competition will unveil during the annual Hoku evening later this year …
The Shari Lynn Trio, which ventures into jazz and the Great American Songbook, returns to Medici’s at Manoa Marketplace, for a lone show at 7:30 p.m. May 6. Doors open at 6 p.m.; a $59 fee includes dinner and the performance.
Shari has a lot to sing about; she’s retiring as a music teacher at La Pietra, Hawaii School for Girls, at the end of the academic year. She and husband Mike Acebedo will finally venture to Europe for a pandemic-delayed celebration of their wedding anniversary. …
The Broadway update
The same leaders pace the grosses for the week ending April 24 – meaning the money-makers continue to be “The Music Man,” “Hamilton” and “The Lion King.”
Here’s the compilation, courtesy the Broadway League:
Broadway grosses, week ending April 24 2022
|04/24/2022||A STRANGE LOOP||Musical||Lyceum||8||0||$385,960||$202,403||5,899||2,756||80%|
|04/24/2022||AMERICAN BUFFALO 2022||Play||Circle In The Square||0||8||$596,826||$543,714||5,261||5,733||88%|
|04/24/2022||BIRTHDAY CANDLES||Play||American Airlines||0||8||$300,256||$302,958||4,258||5,112||73%|
|04/24/2022||COME FROM AWAY||Musical||Schoenfeld||0||8||$568,442||$588,164||6,336||6,687||76%|
|04/24/2022||DEAR EVAN HANSEN||Musical||Music Box||0||8||$691,174||$758,578||6,358||6,662||81%|
|04/24/2022||FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE / WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF||Play||Booth||5||3||$144,377||$130,359||3,828||3,771||62%|
|04/24/2022||FUNNY GIRL 2022||Musical||August Wilson||7||1||$1,147,648||$1,415,086||9,790||9,760||100%|
|04/24/2022||HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD||Play||Lyric||0||8||$1,684,210||$1,964,665||11,711||12,818||90%|
|04/24/2022||HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE||Play||Friedman||0||7||$265,830||$237,890||4,003||4,302||90%|
|04/24/2022||MJ THE MUSICAL||Musical||Neil Simon||0||8||$1,446,359||$1,462,484||10,574||10,841||95%|
|04/24/2022||MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL||Musical||Al Hirschfeld||0||8||$1,469,432||$1,468,217||10,098||10,119||97%|
|04/24/2022||MR. SATURDAY NIGHT||Musical||Nederlander||7||0||$770,229||$652,920||7,504||5,474||90%|
|04/24/2022||MRS. DOUBTFIRE 2022||Musical||Stephen Sondheim||0||8||$631,929||$528,807||7,078||5,887||86%|
|04/24/2022||PARADISE SQUARE||Musical||Ethel Barrymore||0||8||$253,374||$||4,791||61%|
|04/24/2022||PLAZA SUITE 2022||Play||Hudson||0||8||$1,684,725||$917,819||7,728||4,509||99%|
|04/24/2022||TAKE ME OUT 2022||Play||Helen Hayes||0||8||$424,287||$397,313||4,265||4,212||91%|
|04/24/2022||THE BOOK OF MORMON||Musical||Eugene O’Neill||0||8||$1,018,320||$1,134,629||7,984||8,380||94%|
|04/24/2022||THE LION KING||Musical||Minskoff||0||8||$2,000,821||$2,560,960||13,411||15,152||99%|
|04/24/2022||THE LITTLE PRINCE||Special||Broadway||0||8||$280,887||$373,831||3,263||6,704||28%|
|04/24/2022||THE MINUTES||Play||Studio 54||0||8||$401,095||$304,074||4,318||4,544||81%|
|04/24/2022||THE MUSIC MAN 2022||Musical||Winter Garden||0||8||$3,464,388||$3,328,253||12,177||12,126||100%|
|04/24/2022||THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA||Musical||Majestic||0||8||$850,940||$1,073,263||8,350||10,009||65%|
|04/24/2022||THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH 2022||Play||Vivian Beaumont||8||0||$174,880||$138,610||4,656||3,842||55%|
|04/24/2022||TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL||Musical||Lunt-Fontanne||0||8||$969,832||$826,821||8,128||7,164||69%|
And that’s Show Biz …