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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, August 5, 2005

New TV series filming on O'ahu

By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer


MTV's assault on the WB's 'tween empire is expanding to Hawai'i this fall with the production of an original dramatic series, "Boarding School."

The show, which will air on MTV's new 'tween and teen network, The N, starts production Sept. 13 in Makaha. The N has ordered 22 episodes of the show, which co-creator Sean McNamara describes as " 'Blue Crush' meets 'The O.C.' "

The show revolves around a group of young women struggling to make it in the world of professional surfing.

Of course, the recent history of Hawai'i-themed shows hasn't exactly been stellar. NBC's "Hawaii" flamed out after just seven episodes last season; "North Shore" held on for almost an entire season before Fox pulled the plug.

Shows specifically about young North Shore surfer girls have fared even worse. "Blue Crush" creator John Stockwell developed two such TV projects — "The Break" and "Rocky Point" — but neither were picked up.

So how can a relatively low-budget show on a start-up network be expected to survive in such dicey waters?

For starters, McNamara and creative partner David Brookwell have a proven track record in 'tween-oriented programming, having collaborated on "That's So Raven," "Even Stevens" and other hits.

What's more, McNamara said that The N is committed to giving the show the time necessary to grow an audience. Last September, the network agreed with Brookwell McNamara Entertainment and MarVista Entertainment on a three-series production deal.

It doesn't hurt that McNamara and Brookwell are both avid surfers.

"We get to take our love of surfing and our love of TV and film and put them together for this project," McNamara said.

McNamara said many other Hawai'i shows falter because the writers, directors and producers aren't familiar enough with the place they're representing. He said "Boarding School" will draw heavily on local talent in every aspect of production.

"We're looking for actors, writers and directors from Hawai'i," McNamara said. "We want to bring more work to Hawai'i and help build the base of experienced crew here. A lot of people who were the No. 2 or No. 3 guys on other productions will get a chance to be the No. 1 here."

Producers have retained waterman Brian Keaulana to help as a consultant. One local actor has already been tentatively cast and others are being sought by casting director Joey Paul Jensen.

Jensen is holding an open casting call, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday, at Anna Fishburn Casting in Nu'uanu.


As you might imagine, the producers of the ABC smash "Lost" are a pretty cryptic bunch.

Here's what Bryan Burk recently had to say about a few hot "Lost" topics.

Q. Is Boone really dead?

A. "Boone is deceased."

Q. So we won't see Boone anymore?

A. "We like people who are deceased to stay deceased. That said, you never know on 'Lost.' "

Q. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is joining the cast as Emeka. Who's Emeka?

A. "He's ... hmm. Let's just say we'll meet new characters on the island this season."

Q. How will the show use the new soundstage at Diamond Head Studio?

A. "It's going to be ... it'll be used as one of our new locations."

Q. That's all you can say?

A. "And (production designer) Jim Spencer did a fantastic job with it."

Check back in a few days for Burk's more in-depth takes on what your favorite "Lost" characters will be doing this fall, how the failure to pass refundable-tax-credit legislation last session could affect the show, and why this season promises to be even better than the last.


Honolulu-based actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa knows a lightning rod when he sees it. The new film "Memoirs of a Geisha," in which Tagawa plays the virile but oh-so-sukebe (somewhat pervy) "Ba-ron," will likely qualify.

Tagawa says the film is faithful to Arthur Gordon's original novel about a girl who becomes one of the most famous geisha of the 1930s — and that will be enough to draw the ire of those who view the film as "a story about child prostitution."

Tagawa also predicts others will object to the all-star trio of Chinese actresses who play lead roles as Japanese characters. The film stars Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh and Gong Li.

Yet while their Chinese mannerisms may be apparent to a discerning eye, the three actresses acquitted themselves well in roles that were particularly challenging, Tagawa said.

Tagawa's scene with Zhang was itself difficult. It called for Zhang, playing the 14-year-old lead character, to stand still as Tagawa undressed her.

But Zhang balked, saying she couldn't imagine herself not fighting back. Director Rob Marshall tweaked the scene to make it more palatable to Zhang, but without turning it into what Tagawa feared — "a rape scene."

The film will be released this winter, in time for Oscar consideration. It's that good, Tagawa said, regardless of the criticism it draws.

"It has the feel of an independent art film but with a Hollywood budget," he said. "Cinematically, it's a work of art."


The film world continues to react with shock and sadness over the recent death of pioneering independent filmmaker Kayo Hatta.

In an e-mail message from Australia, Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival executive director Chuck Boller called Hatta an embodiment of "the type of extraordinary filmmaking talent that exists in Hawai'i."

"Her talent was so huge, yet her personality was so humble," Boller said.

Hatta, 47, died last month in an accidental drowning in Encinitas, Calif.

Boller said Hatta's work on the acclaimed independent film "Picture Bride," which won an Audience Award for best dramatic film at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival, was a pivotal accomplishment for the local industry.

" 'Picture Bride' proved that a beautifully crafted feature film could be made in Hawai'i by Hawai'i-based talent for practically no money," Boller said. "For me, it strongly helped launch the current wave of high-quality filmmaking that is happening throughout Hawai'i."

A Kayo Hatta Fund has been established at Asian Improv aRts in California. Contributions earmarked "Kayo Hatta Fund" may be sent to Asian Improv aRts, 201 Spear St., Suite 1650, San Francisco CA 94105.