Steve Iwamoto, a Hawaii resident and a late-blooming actor, stars in
“I Was a Simple Man,” which has been acquired by Strand Releasing for North America screenings.

Turns out that Iwamoto is the first cousin of singer-turned-business-guru Kevin Iwamoto, aka Kevin I, the singer.

“You can clearly see the family resemblance,” says Kevin. “He’s the son of my dad’s older brother.”

Steve Iwamoto

The fact that cousin Steve stars opposite Constance Wu in this film was a mild surprise. That it had its premiere this year at the Sundance Film Festival was joyous.

Kevin Iwamoto

“I always thought for years that I was the only one in the family with the creative gene, but my cousin proves it existed, albeit later in life,” says Kevin.

The film, by Christopher Makoto Yogi, is described as a lyrical ghost story set in an Oahu countryside. It is rich in familial struggles with terminal illness, caregiving, obligations, but wider elements like respect and mortality. Steve plays Masao, whose sunset years are fading due to failing health as estranged family members strive to provide the support and care he needs.

When Masao is visited by his deceased wife Grace (Wu) where the ghost strand unfolds, he is forced to face the decisions of his past.

The multi-generational film features an ensemble of Asian American and Native Hawaiian actors beyond the two leads, including Kanoa Goo, Tim Chiou and Chanel Akiko Hirai. Its simplicity, with the ghost-story element, provides serenity as well as suspense.

Wu might be remembered for her roles in the zany hit film “Crazy Wild Asians” and the TV series “Fresh Off the Boat.”

No indication yet if “I Was a Simple Man,” clearly more art film than blockbuster summer fare, might be shown here. …

Lee Cataluna has a bold pace this summer

Lee Cataluna

No rest for Lee Cataluna, a former colleague from our newspapering days, this summer.

As she announced on Facebook, the prolific playwright when she’s not writing for Civil Beat, faces a busy two months. So  she’s on leave as a journalist till Aug. 1.

This is her agenda of projects, by numbers:

1 — She’s been commissioned by the San Francisco Playhouse to write a play.

2 — There’s an upcoming play reading with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

3 — She’s working on another play, from a ReImagine grant.

4 – She’s prepping an anthology of four of her works, to be published next year.

5 – She’s committed to do a piece for Dramatic Publishing and Childsplay.

So the next two months will be extremely fantastic and productive.

You know, if you know me, that Lee wrote “You Somebody” with me in mind, which was produced twice in sell-out productions at Diamond Head Theatre.

And yes, I recall our conversation when she yearned to be in my “Show Biz” column, print edition, some years before she ultimately became a “somebody” herself.

So Lee, this is my first online column that mentions you. In usual boldface, of course. And enjoy your fruitful summer …

Trump’s blog site is history

One dude who won’t have a happy summer is former President Donald Trump. His blog – established after social media sources such as Twitter and Facebook banned him because of untruths he posted, alleging the election was stolen from him  – has been permanently shut down less than a month after it was established.

The blog, titled “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump,” is history, according to online sources such as CNBC and Variety. The site had a lukewarm response and was mocked by some sources.

“It will not be returning,” his senior aide Jason Miller said on CNBC. He added that the website blog was part of an auxiliary plan “to the broader efforts we have and are working on.”

Trump was effective with his online rants, until he was suspended, then ultimately banned, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google over his role in inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, a charge the ex-pres has denied, claiming “free speech has been taken away from the President.” …

And that’s “Show Biz.” …


There’s a new addition to the Sayre household in Mililani Mauka. Loretta Ables Sayre, the entertainer, and David Sayre, her publicist hubby, have welcomed Kamuela Sayre, whose pitter-pattering around the house is music to the ears.

Kamuela is 7, so somewhat of a senior, and he is a black lab mix “that is all love,” says Loretta. “We weren’t looking for a senior dog after losing Kaimana so recently,” she says on Facebook. “But when we met Kamuela and couldn’t get him out of our minds, we knew he needed us.”

Kamuela Sayre, dressed to thrill, is, a new member of the Sayre household in Mililani Mauka.

It’s been a mutual admiration relationship since. So the Hawaiian Humane Society is one dog short, and Kamuela’s constantly wagging tail means he’s happy to find a home.

Kamuela loves cooked rice, and is “77 lbs. of solid love,” says Loretta. “Our hearts are full again.” …

A Willie remembrance…

Since June is Willie K Month on Maui — and there’s no rule that we can’t salute Willie Kahaiali’i in Honolulu — thought I’d share a reflection from one of his fans on Oahu.

This was from an email I received today; the writer prefers anonymity:

Willie K, at one of his many appearances at Blue Note Hawaii.

“Before he was really well-known, a young pre-school teacher in our Alpha Delta Kappa educational sorority got him to entertain at our Southwest Conference at the Sheraton Waikiki because his child was in her class.  He liked her so much he did it for free.

“On the evening of our banquet he walked onto the stage with wild, bushy hair, aloha shirt, short pants and no shoes.  Seated next to me was a special guest from Washington, DC.  She was not a classroom teacher but an out-spoken woman who trained executives.  Taking one look at Willie K’s, she expressed her outrage at his appearance.

“Then as he talked and started with ‘local’ songs, she continued to complain.  However, she was silenced when he sang an operatic selection, and at the end of the evening she wanted to thank the pre-school teacher.”  

Willie often startles or even offends folks who’ve never seen or heard him, but inside this rough, perhaps sometimes crude exterior lived an artist who mostly let his music tell his story. Yes, he often wore slippahs and appeared on stage with a comfy disposition. But when he sang, he reigned supreme — a book that might have a tattered cover, but a soul with pages of significant power and compelling storytelling brilliance. Simply, he has been a cultural pioneer with hard-to-beat versatility. Imua, Willie, and yes, Hawaii and the world miss you dearly…

And that’s “Show Biz.”…



It’s Willie K Month on Maui, and surely, the rest of the state will participate.

Debbie Kahaiali‘i, widow of the beloved musician-entertainer Willie K, and the singer’s Ohana Kahaiali‘I and Maui Tribe Productions, will celebrate the month of June as “Willie K Month.”

From June 1 to 30, daily tributes, recollections and perhaps some music will be heard and seen at Willie K’s Facebook page.

Willie K

Willie died last May 18 at age 59, following a bout with lung cancer. He was one of Hawaii’s most versatile entertainers, capable of delivering anything from Hawaiian to rock, from opera to blues, from country to standards from the stage. He played the ukulele but switched to guitar, depending on the genre of his music.

“Willie K Month” proclamation is signed at Maui Mayor Michael Victorino’s office.

Because of his popularity and usually avoidance of sharing his musical stylings to a Waikiki audience, he ultimately became the face and leading figure as a resident act at Blue Note Hawaii, the club at the Outrigger Waikiki resort, and established himself as the showroom’s most popular attraction. He regularly traveled to Honolulu from his Maui base, and ultimately sharing the news of his failing health until he became too ill to continue.

Mayor Michael Victorino made the Willie K Month proclamation to kick off the festivities. And the Ohana shared the moment of the signing at the mayor’s county office.

For details, visit  Facebook: @OfficialWillieK and the website at WillieK.com …

‘I and You’ at TAG

“I and You,” a play by Lauren Gunderson, will be staged July 8 to 11 and July 15 to 18 at TAG(The Actors’ Group), at the Brad Powell Theatre on the premises of Dole Cannery in Iwilei.

Directed by Bro. Gary Morris, the show features a cast of two: Natalie Maria Figuracion Borsky  as Caroline and Manuel Diaz as Anthony. Described as an ode to youth, life, love and human connection.

Anthony arrives to homebound classmate Caroline’s door, with a beat-up copy of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” and they engage in the mysteries of the homework poetry by unlocking the nature of their lives.

For tickets, visit tagtickets@hawaii.rr.com

And that’s “Show Biz.” …


Actor Miles Teller, best known for his movie “Whiplash,” was assaulted at a Maui restaurant last week, putting a damper on his island vacation with wife Keleigh Sperry Teller and a celebrity couple.

As reported by TMZ, Miles was punched in his face outside of the restroom of the Monkeypod Kitchen on Maui last Wednesday evening. Apparently, the incident was unprovoked, and is under investigation.

The Tellers were on vacation and dining with the actor’s “Divergent” co-star and friend, Shailene Woodley, and her high-profile fiancé, MVP QB Aaron Rodgers of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers. Instagram photo postings reflect the two couples’ peaceful vacation that included hiking and swimming on Maui and some golfing.

Keleigh Speller Teller, Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley and Aaron Rodgers amid Maui’s forestry and waterfalls.

The diners were also involved in karaoke singing and dancing before the attack. Reports indicated that the vocals included “Shadow” (the hit song from “A Star Is Born”) and “Stand by Me.”

Teller’s film credits include “War Dogs,” “The Fantastic Four,” “Insurgent” and “The Spectacular Now.” He will be seen in the upcoming “Top Gun: Maverick” with Tom Cruise and the yet-to-be-released “The Flag,” co-starring Woodley.

Woodley has previously filmed in Hawaii, when she had a leading role opposite George Clooney, in the 2011 hit  movie, “The Descendants,” a kamaaina story based on the novel by local author Kaui Hart Hemmings. Her other films include “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Insurgent.”

The assailant, allegedly a wedding planner, accused Teller of owing him $60,000 for earlier services for the couple’s 2019 wedding. …

Recording notes

It’s taken a year for entertainer Willy Falk, a New Yorker with Hawaii roots, to complete recording and mastering his first two island melodies.

Willy Falk

He collaborated with guitarist Jeff Peterson, to put his own stamp of two popular Hawaiian ditties: “Hawaiian Lullaby” and “E Maliu Mai.” We got a preview listen. Superb! Seductive! Satisfying!

The key challenge in getting the songs mastered “because post-production studios were closed.”

But they’re now on YouTube: “Lullaby” at

and “Maliu” at


With the pandemic messing up everyone’s career and interrupting normal life the past year and a half, Falk is pondering the fate of the annual Buff N Blue Punahou Reunion Weekend  and alumni lū’au coming up June 11. Because of coronavirus, it will be the second year in a row without an Alumni Tent of 2,000 people.
“I will be home in front of my laptop for five hours … I am DEEP into being at the helm for my Punahou 45th virtual reunion,” he said in an email. “I am literally on board to host all four events at my laptop here in New York. Weird, but we are trying to make it fun.”Tough to stage this one virtually. …

Silk Sonic, the duo with Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, are nominees for two BET Awards, set to be announced June 27. The first single, “Leave the Door Open,” is the reason that Sonic is quite the tonic, nominated for Group of the Year and Video of the Year. …

And that’s “Show Biz.” …



Three “names” with island ties have fascinating tales in the May issue of The Magazine, the

AARP publication for seniors.

In a story dubbed Finding Their Heroes, the mag spotlights folks of local interest:

  • Olympian Greg Louganis’ hero as an athlete was the late Duke Kahanamoku, the celebrated Hawaiian free-lance swimmer-surfer who won three Olympic gold medals. Louganis, who collected four gold trophies himself, is part Samoan, was adopted as an infant, but met his biological father Fouvale Lutu some years ago, and learned he had a half-brother and two half-sisters with Hawaii ties.
  • Amy Tan, author of the revered “The Joy Luck Club,” credits local author Maxine Hong Kingston and her “The Woman Warrior” book for inspiration that Asians could publish stories they know. Tan notes that Kingston’s life wasn’t just her own – it was a turning page for other authors of color to open the door, or book, to share their tales.

  • If there was no Patsy Mink, there might not have been a Mazie Hirono, because Mink was the first woman of color to serve in Congress in the 1960s and ‘70s, serving 12 terms. She created such trend-setting legislations like Medicare and co-authored the Title IX law for equal-sex opportunities.  “I’m grateful that America offered me many opportunities,” says Sen. Hirono, an immigrant (born in Japan) who was a lieutenant governor of Hawaii who earned a seat in Congress in 2013 and the nation’s first Buddhist to serve.

These separate stories reflect the power of minorities beating the odds and becoming models for generations to come. …

Whee, the people

KoDee Martin

Local boy KoDee Martin has been cast as Ferdinand, King of Navarre, in Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” a July production in Central Park. It’s his New York theatrical debut, so if you’re in The Big Apple this summer, go visit. Martin was part of the “Allegiance” cast when the Manoa Valley Theatre staged the Hawaii debut of the show at the Hawaii Theatre. …

Singer Shari Lynn and hubby Michael Acebedo head to New York shortly –  beginning a five-week vacation-celebration of their 45th wedding anniversary, but one year tardy because of last year’s pandemic. If the Tokyo Olympics can stage a belated to-do, why not the Kailua couple? Bon voyage – and a shout-out for a happy 46th. …

Isle actress B.K. Cannon has a featured role in “Why Women Kill,” streaming on Paramount + this summer. She filmed her Season 2 role from last October till last April, in the height of the coronavirus pandemic; it’s a 10-episode, dark comedy series set in 1949, with requisite period costumes, cars and set,  from Marc Cherry, who created “Desperate Housewives.” …

And that’s “Show Biz.” …