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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, August 30, 2004

NBC series' premiere draws 3,000

By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

In his long and winding career, actor Michael Biehn has stared down "The Terminator," battled a brood of "Aliens," and taken a trip down "The Abyss," but none of that prepared him for the jovial mob scene at last night's red-carpet preview of "Hawaii" at Sunset on the Beach.

Actor Sharif Atkins, one of the stars of the NBC series "Hawaii," walked the red carpet at the show's premiere at Sunset on the Beach last night.

The cast of "Hawaii," from left, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Peter Tuiasosopo, Aya Sumika, Michael Biehn, Ivan Sergei, Sharif Atkins and Eric Balfour, received a warm welcome from the Waikiki crowd.

Photos by Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

Biehn and the rest of the ensemble cast of NBC's new O'ahu-based cop drama joined producers, crew and an estimated crowd of 3,000 at Queen's Beach for the screening of the one-hour pilot episode. The show officially premieres Wednesday.

"I've never been to a red-carpet premiere for a TV show," Biehn said as he surveyed the packed beach. "This is unbelievable. It's really exciting."

The actors started arriving at 6 p.m., with Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Peter Navy Tuiasosopo getting a huge home-crowd reception as they exited the first limousine.

The back-to-back advance screenings (ABC's "Lost" was shown the night before) also attracted a sizeable entertainment press contingent, including reporters and camera crews from "Access Hollywood," "EXtra," "Entertainment Tonight" and "E!" among others.

And the stars were certainly accommodating.

Sharif Atkins ("ER") hopped the security rope a few times to take pictures and sign autographs for audience members. Aya Sumika, the lone female in the core cast, obliged the TV Guide Channel with a glimpse of what she has learned so far in hula class.

The show itself got a warm reception from the crowd. Eric Balfour ("Six Feet Under"), who played to a packed house with his band, Fredalba, at the Wave Waikiki the night before, drew screams every time he appeared on the mammoth screen.

Shayna Tabarejo and Tyler Yuen, both of 'Aiea, said they liked the humor and energy Balfour and on-screen partner Ivan Sergei ("Crossing Jordan") brought to the show.

"They were the best," Tabarejo said.

The show also got the nod from Fred and Elaine Sampson from Atlanta. Repeat visitors to the Islands, the Sampsons said they enjoyed seeing familiar places on O'ahu.

"And there are some great lines," Elaine Sampson said.

Chris Lee, chairman of the the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawai'i, saw the pilot before but came for a second look.

"It looks good, moves fast and the writing is solid," he said. "They do a very good job of integrating Hawai'i into the show."

Teddy Bolocano of Waikiki came to the screening to see if the pilot really lived up to the flashy previews that have been running on TV.

"I like a good storyline," he said. "From what I've seen, this is pretty interesting. I'll keep watching.

Bolocano said he has mixed feelings about the show's premise, "the other side of paradise."

"I think that can be good and bad," he said. "I don't know if people want to see murders in Hawai'i. But it is good that they show other parts of Hawai'i, places that you don't usually see on TV."

While the overall response from the crowd was enthusiastic, there were a few detractors.

Helen Kawabata of Kaimuki came with high expectations but left before the show finished.

"I think it's terrific that they've hired so many local actors as extras and stuff," she said. "But some of the scenes were so bad. They made us look like buffoons."

Kawabata said she was put off by the depiction of a Japanese fishing-boat owner who came off like "a hysterical Japanese stereotype from the 1950s" and a scene in which a hefty Polynesian family is used as a visual gag.

Biehn predicts local viewers like Bolocano and Kawabata will like the way the show represents the community as the season goes on.

"Hawai'i is a very different place than the Mainland," Biehn said. "I think this show tries to share the way people from Hawai'i feel about this space, about family and life and music and all the other things that make this place special."

And while the pilot was warmly received last night, Biehn said he isn't satisfied yet.

"I think the pilot is good, but it can be better, and it will be," he said. "I like to think of it like a football team. We had a good game, but there are things we all can improve on."

Reach Michael Tsai at 535-2461 or at mtsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.