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.” …

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