Now it’s “Moana” that will get that live-action Disney touch.

Dwayne Johnson, below, left, who voiced the demi-god Maui in the original animation film, announced from Honolulu yesterday that the Mouse House is planning do a live-action version of the animated  2016 hit that has grossed $644 million since.

Johnson will produce the newbie via his Seven Bucks Productions company, partnering with Danny Garcia and Hiram Garcia.

And Auli ‘i Cravalho, right, the native Hawaiian actress from Kamehameha Schools who voiced Moana and sang the Oscar-nominated hit tune, “How Far I’ll Go” in the film, will be back – but not playing the titular role nor on camera.

She is too old now, and has been focusing on building her career outside of the Disney franchise (she’s doing the movie, “Mean Girls the Musical: The Movie”)  but will be on board as a producer instead, with Scott Sheldon of Flynn Picture Co.

Aside from Johnson, a cast is not yet set, so auditions for roles likely will begin in the weeks ahead, surely in Hawaii.

The animated “Moana,” with Johnson as Maui and Cravalho as Moana.

The “Moana” live-action project comes as Disney just recently announced plans for a live-action “Lilo & Stitch,” an island-based production that will star a Big Island lass, Maia Kealoha, as Lilo.  She has no previous acting experience but likely will emerge as a certified film star by the time the movie is released.

A search also is on for a Stitch, whether a live actor or a CGI creation, which will need a voice, too.

A director for the new “Moana” has not been named,  but Jared Bush, who wrote the screenplay for the original movie, will pen the remake, along with Dana Ledoux Miller. John Musker and Ron Clements who directed the original movie, from a story by Clements, Musker, Chris Williams, Don Hall, Pamela Ribon, Aaron Kandell and Jordan Kandell; the Kandells have Hawaii roots. Bush was the sole credited screenwriter.

“This story is my culture, and this story is emblematic of our people’s grace and warrior strength,” said Johnson. “I wear this culture proudly on my skin and in my soul, and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reunite with Maui, inspired by the mana and spirit of my late grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia, is one that runs very deep for me.”

Cravalho, who helped shape the protagonist in the original film, said Moana’s reach is sweeping. “She has had such a profound impact on how we think of Disney princesses. Moana’s strength and perseverance are inspiring—to audiences around the world, to me, and to everyone who helped bring her to life. I’m looking forward to sharing her story in a whole new way.” …

Remembering Phil Arnone

Friends, family, and colleagues of the late Phil Arnone, the GOAT of cultural and entertainment specials, gathered at the Outrigger Canoe Club today (April 3) to pay homage, share stories and simply remember the glory, the accomplishments and the irreverence of  the island-style TV documentaries, game shows, children’s shows and news broadcasts Arnone either produced or directed largely on KGMB.

His widow, Michelle Honda, assembled the gang and Arnone’s team of specialists involved in at least 50 shows he formatted and oversaw in his prime time “retirement” doing what he loved: making TV with watchable and wonderful programs.

Arnone died Feb. 12 at age 86, and folks like Dan Cooke, Larry Fleece, and Robert Pennybacker (the latter two, via scripts read by Cooke) reflected on the Greatest of All Time dude aka Mr. Television. From newscasts featuring Bob Sevey to “All in the Ohana” with Andy Bumatai and Linda Coble,  from “Bingo” shows with Karen Keawehawai‘i, above left, and Kirk Matthews, to “Hawaiian Moving Company” with Kamasami Kong and Michael W. Perry, and from“Checkers and Pogo” to  Rap Reiplinger, Arnone did ‘em all, and his professionalism and fingerprints were the common denominator.

Leslie Wilcox’s earlier PBS special on Arnone was the prime resource of the key interview, because in his prolific career, he was always the interviewer and researcher on his subjects, and never the interviewee.

Jerry Santos, right, the beloved Hawaiian entertainer, rendered “E Kuu Home O Kahaluu,” because that’s the number Arnone always asked him to share; Karen Keawehawai’i didn’t call out Bingo numbers, but yodeled beautifully; and Phil’s son Tony Arnone , left, brought his cello for a classical treatment of “Pearly Shells” and “Aloha Oe,” and said he forgives his dad for naming him Tony Arnone, which he had to live with while growing up. .…

And trusty Dennis Mahaffay, Arnone’s longtime buddy on the TV turf and life, documented the lovely program that should provide another kind of documentary that Arnone is awaiting to see from his heavenly perch. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


A Filipino American child actor from Hawaii is the latest to join a growing list of accomplished performers in high profile roles.

Milo Maharlika, 9, a fifth grader, joined a touring company of the Tony Award-winning “Les Misérables,” in the featured role of Gavroche. He made his debut March 31,  in a Durham Performing Arts Center staging of “Les Miz” in North Carolina, which will embark on a 12-week tour over the next six months.

As Gavroche, Maharlika (pictured below) solos on “Little People,” the tune that boasts a can-do attitude of a youngster.

Or, as the lyrics say, “The world is big, but little people turn it around!” In context of the show, Gavroche is a young patriot who does his best to work among adult soldiers amid the barricades, based on Victor Hugo’s compelling French Revolution novel, transferred to the Broadway stage and subsequently, in a film.

He’s the first Filipino actor to play this role—customarily cast with Caucasian lads, and infrequently Asians – in the U.S.  One of the early Hawaii actors to portray Gavroche in the 1990s was Jason Tam, who performed in the show here as well as on Broadway, and since has developed into an adult Broadway star with such notable credits as “A Chorus Line,”  “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Be More Chill.” Islander Ryan Rumbaugh also took on the role, too. …

Kamusta, Pilipinas!’

If you have relatives in the Philippines, might want to inform them that “Hamilton” is heading for the Philippines in September.

Show creator Lin-Manuel Miranda was in Manila a few days ago and told media that his award-winning show will be staged at The Theater at Solaire.

“Kamusta Pilipinas!” (Hello, Filipinos), Miranda said prior to sharing a video of his hit show. He also acknowledged that there are several actors in his company of shows who are Filipinos, including Marc dela Cruz (pictured right), from the Big Island, in the flagship Broadway company. It’s not likely for dela Cruz to join the touring company on tour, though Filipinos in the cast would boost ticket sales.

“Now we get to bring the show to your beautiful country very soon,” Miranda said. “I can’t wait for you to see it.” …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Maia Kealoha, a Big Island girl, has been cast as Lilo in Disney’s planned “Lilo & Stitch” live-action film, inspired by the animated set-in-Hawaii series.

Knight Edge Media was the first to disclose the news about Maia, with few details except the she has appeared in many Little Miss Kona Coffee pageants via Instagram.

Little is known about Kealoha for now; where she attends school, who her parents are. She has no acting experience, but is plenty cute. Details will be revealed, once Disney rolls out a PR campaign on its newest discovery.

Though the movie was scheduled to begin to start filming in February, it apparently has been delayed.

Further, buzz that Auli‘i Cravalho, who voiced Moana in Disney’s “Moana” animated hit, likely won’t be able to participate in “Lilo & Stitch” as Nani, the older sister of Lilo, because of commitments to “Mean Girls the Musical: The Movie.” If that production is completed befzackore the start of “L&S,” she still could join the cast.

Maia Kealoha, left,

and Zack Galifianakis, right.

Earlier, it has been announced that Zack Galifianakis will play the alien Peakley.

Lilo is a lonely Hawaiian girl, who adores hula and the music of Elvis Presley, who builds a bonding friendship with Stitch, a blue dog-like alien who potentially has destructive powers. No word yet on who might play  or voice Stitch, should it be a CGI-generated character.

Dean Fleischer Camp will direct. He was an Academy Awards nominee for his “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.”

Chris Kekaniokalani Bright, son of Clarke and Lynell Bright and grandson of Ronald and Mo Bright, scripted the new film, from an earlier draft by Mike Van Waes. So Bright brings a behind-the-screen Hawaiian element to the project.

Lilo and Stitch, the little lonely girl, and her alien pal, in their animated days.

Disney has had remarkable success with “L&S” and sequels included TV-centric projects over the years and continued to invest in Polynesian projects like 2016’s “Moana,” which also featured the voice of Dwayne Johnson, who appeared as Maui.

The studio has made unknowns like Cravalho to become certified stars, so Kealoha could be a candidate for such fame, considering the enormous popularity of “L&S.” And it has been converting, successfully, animated films in live-action feature films.

Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich will produce for Rideback, with Ryan Halprin executive-producing for the company.

No date yet on when “L&S” will be released. …


Jake Shimabukuro, right, and his ukulele will be at Blue Note Hawaii at 6:30 and 9 p.m. April 2. Tickets: $75, $85, at  or (808) 777-4990.

Streetlight Cadence will return to The Republik at 7 p.m. April 20. Doors open at 6 p.m. Keilana and MTO will be guest performers. Tickets are $28.50, plus a $7.74 fee. Information:  (808) 941-7469 …

Paula Fuga also will be at The Republik at 8 p.m. April 21. Trishnalei will also appear, along with DJ Keala Kennelly. Tickets: $35, $45 on day of appearance. Information: (808) 941-7469 …

And that’s Show Biz…