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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 19, 2010

Emme back in 'Island Moments' hana hou

By Wayne Harada

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Jason Scott Lee and Emme Tomimbang, circa 1994. Emme circa 1990.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Tomimbang's 60 productions still appeal to Island people with their mix of show business, performances and celebrity interviews.

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"Emme's Classic Island Moments," a valuable trove of archival profiles and stories of Island and visiting personalities by prolific producer-host-TV personality Emme Tomimbang, bows on K5 from 6 to 7 p.m. Sunday.

The reboot is a vintage armchair look at folks who entertained and amused us over the past 15 years, through song, drama, achievement and more.

It is a format that has become an Emme signature for the past 15 years; she is the former radio and TV host who became a local version of Barbara Walters by producing periodic TV specials that zoomed in on the celebrity crowd — kind of a mixed plate of stardust and stardom we all noshed on.

She has 60 shows in her TV bank — some tied to news of the moment, others with Christmas holiday themes, still others that gave a nod and nudge to a legion of careers, here and abroad — that continue to compound interest.

The retelecast will stir memories for those who recall the originals and enlighten a new generation of viewers who will get a peek at some true notables and achievers.

"I am thrilled to be joining the new home of quality local television events — K5," said Tomimbang, who also plans to continue mounting new shows. "But I'm pleased that these classic moments will get a new life on Channel 5."

"It's a good fit," said John Fink, vice president and general manage of K5. "We are pleased and excited to add Emme's wonderful classics to our broadcast lineup as we continue to grow the K5 brand."

As part of the move to broaden the scope of the station's home-based shows, K5 has been touting Your Home as its slogan, saving Your Home Team, the earlier branding tagline, to University of Hawai'i sports programming.

Emme's show joins the annual Nä Hoku Hanohano Awards live telecast later this year and the repositioned (from KITV) Merrie Monarch Festival coverage in April as part of the K5 entertainment-related coups.

"Our goal is to add compelling, quality local programming and news, and Emme's special and memorable moments are a great addition to our expanding excellent home for local shows," said Fink. "We hope to add on some new programming in the months ahead."

Tomimbang long has been an indie producer, doing her shows with her own staff, corralling sponsors for airing on local stations. Thus, while K5 factors into the conglomerate news branding of Hawaii News Now since last October via KGMB9 and KHNL, Emme's shows are not part of that bonding, though she's likely to benefit from cross-station promotion.

"The cross promotion made it exciting and interesting for me," she said. "K5 is part of the trio of stations, after all."

The look back will begin with her first-ever "Emme's Island Moments," featuring musicians Hapa, actor Jason Scott Lee and surfer Rell Sunn, which premiered in February 1994, and will boast a new intro and, for most weeks, an updated finale with conversations with one of her earlier guests.

Kelii Kanealii will talk story in the present time in the premiere.

The first season of"Emme's Classic Island Moments" will run for 12 consecutive weeks, and repeat for the following 12 weeks. The second season, with more classic shows, will begin Sept. 11, again followed by hana hou airings.

The old shows are mastered on Beta SP tapes, with some on DVD, but there's bountiful work involved in getting them prepped for 2010 screenings.

"It's not just taking out the tapes and putting them on the air," she said of her task of dusting off her classics. "There's a lot of editing and tweaking; and I will add close-captioning; so I need to find sponsors to get the shows on the air. In these tough economic times, I don't have the luxury of year-round sponsors, and the formula of getting a show on the air is $1,000 per minute; so you're talking $50,000 for a 50-minute show."

Her ultimate plan is to "preserve, in perpetuity, these old shows, so future generations can learn from Auntie Genoa, Irmgard Aluli, Don Ho, when I'm in a nursing home," she said. "Some of my guests spent a lifetime learning and sharing their craft, and yes, it's about the time, the longevity. I've been doing this for some time now, and I wished I mentored somebody, a next-generation person, you know, another Emme, to carry on my tradition.

"But at least I have these old shows. Sadly, the faster you get on the information highway, the quicker you flicker out. Some of today's younger folks haven't spent the time to get famous. It takes time and experience."

Many of her talk-story guests have evolved into lifelong friends, including the likes of Willie K, Loggins & Messina, Chris Lee, Dean Pitchford, Jimmy Borges, Mark Dacascos, Tia Carrere, Dean Wilson, James MacArthur, Roy Yamaguchi, Alan Wong, Chuck Furuya, Jesse Sapolu, Tadd Fujikawa, Al Harrington, Kealii Reichel, Arnold Palmer, Nohelani Cypriano and more. Some classic troupers — Dick Jensen, Auntie Genoa Keawe, Loyal Garner, Don Ho, Kam Fong Chun, Kimo McVay — are gone, but remain alive in her memory book, and archives.

"She's done them all and (is) still doing it," said the jazz veteran Borges.

Reach Wayne Harada at 266-0926 or wayneharada@gmail.com. Read his Show Biz column Sundays in Island Life and at showandtellhawaii.honadvblogs.com.