By Katherine Nichols
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Oct 31, 2008
Two popular television shows this week featured former Hawaii residents. Actor Blake Kushi landed a guest-starring role on ABC's Emmy Award-winning "Pushing Daisies," playing a manager of a Chinese restaurant. Born and raised in Hilo, Kushi graduated from Waiakea High School and received music and theater degrees from the University of Hawaii-Manoa. His background includes improv work and stints at Manoa Valley Theatre, Diamond Head Theatre and Kumu Kahua Theatre. Living in Los Angeles for four years helped Kushi earn gigs on cable TV and a role in a feature film about Bruce Lee. But this was his first network job.
Kushi isn't Chinese, but that "wasn't a problem for me or the director or anyone on the production," he said via phone. "It was a nonissue. The only part that worried me was having lines in Mandarin Chinese." Thankfully, they provided a dialect coach during the six-day shoot in August.
Kushi anticipates this will be a stepping stone for his career. "I'm hoping to build upon this and have a stronger resume so I can be considered for bigger roles."
In the incomprehensibly zany household of Jon and Kate Gosselin, Jon (originally from Hawaii) and Kate prepared to travel to the islands to renew their vows with their twins and sextuplets (nice touch: he wore a kukui-nut lei throughout the episode). And, yes, they needed a bus to get to the airport! Stay tuned for the next installment of "Jon and Kate Plus 8," which airs on TLC. Check listings at http://tlc.discovery.com/ ...
How about a reality show that tests your filmmaking and blogging skills -- in two languages? "Aloha Challenge," a seven-episode educational series that premieres at 8 p.m. next Friday on KIKU-TV, starts with eight semi-bilingual college interns. Four hail from Japan; the others are American. To win the grand prize of $10,000 and the title of "Top Producer" in a competition to produce the best blogs and short films about Hawaii, teams must collaborate and communicate while barely speaking each other's languages. High school students also are involved.
"Aloha Challenge" has multicultural, bilingual and multimedia qualities, according to Lorenzo Wyatt, the show's executive producer and host. Wyatt, who lived in Japan for several years and recruited students to come to Hawaii to participate, also wrote an English/kanji curriculum to accompany the show. "If you give students something to do where they have to problem-solve, it means you're going to have to explain things you don't have the language for," Wyatt said. The first episode deciphers the complex game and introduces the players. From then on, personalities and plenty of drama emerge. Said Wyatt: "We could not have gotten a better group of students for this production." Visit http://www.alohachallenge.tv/. ...
I stumbled upon the "Lost" crew filming a New York City scene in downtown Honolulu this week. Taxis were adorned with N.Y.C., and extras wore suits and coats in various shades of gray and black. Stars included Terry O'Quinn (John Locke) and Malcolm David Kelley (Walt) -- together! It got me excited for the new season, which can't come soon enough.
Contact Katherine Nichols at firstname.lastname@example.org.