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Interview with Jacqueline Kong
The Asian American Bridge Incubator
of Deserving Asian American Talents

Robert   Katz   
AAMD Board Member

Robert Katz, principal partner, Esparza/Katz Productions - Robert Katz started as a producer of more than 200 health oriented documentaries and television programs for continuing Medical education and consumer health education.

He then went on to produce home video productions and finally feature films. His producing credits include Selena, The Roughriders, Lorca, Cisco Kid, and Gettysburg.

We've had one Asian American sitcom, Margaret Cho's show, and one network show - Martial Law, starring Sammo Hung and Kelly Hu. At the present time, HotPopTV.Com is going to produce the first Asian American episodic Internet series using an exclusively Asian American cast and writers.

This is very exciting. These programs will be a little window from our communities that will be written by our communities and available for everybody in the world to watch. It can be viewed like television on the Internet because the technology is there. This will also create greatly needed opportunities and outlets for Asian American actors. HotPopTV.Com will be one of the initial producers that are willing to produce Asian American material into product that can be viewed either on television or Internet. This is why HopPopTV exists. A description of HotPopTV.Com's program is an ethnic TV station on the web. HotPopTV.Com is the only one production doing an Asian American episodic TV shows on the Internet.

HotPopTV is interested in ethnic minority programming. Our organization consist Asian and Black Americans and we are an ethnic-owned television station streaming ethnic product - TV shows.

We were racial profiled very negatively by the Los Angeles Police Department at our Westside event. They had characterized our wholesome cultural event celebrating Asian Pacific American heritage as event that attracted many gang members. I was treated very poorly by the LAPD on the Westside and, as a result, currently considering legal actions. I've wondered why there are 150+ events that take place at the museum and not one of them get targeted by the criminal vice division as being an "evil outside force." Yet we were told by the LAPD that we're going to bring an "evil group of people" in a predominantly white bread area. I was very disappointed in this day of age that there is still a lot of racism, prejudice and ignorance about the Asian American communities.

James  Dowaliby  
AAMD Board Advisor

James Dowaliby is in charge of international production for Paramount International Television where he develops and produces television programming customized for the international marketplace.

Previously, he has spearheaded productions at the Yorkshire Television Group and The Family Channel.

He holds a Masters Degree from the Yale School of Management in corporate finance and strategic planning.

It is ironic that when I have the mayor of Alhambra and the Board of Education coming to give us accommodations, the police are still characterizing us as "kids" and being "evil outsiders."

This is one of the reasons why I am motivated to provide ACCURATE and moving portrayals for Asian Americans.

One of the problems we have is the lack of visibility of our communities within the general public. Our lack of "humanizing" our communities through drama and media is because the general public don't know anything about our many respective communities and us.

The average American doesn't know the difference between Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, etc. We are all lumped into one big stereotype. Asian men get terribly stereotyped as evil people and never portrayed as compassionate or loving human beings. They are constantly portrayed as evil characters that are up to no good while Asian females are sex objects.

These characterizations tend to dehumanize our communities. This means that the general public don't have the need to perceive us as a group of people with feelings. As a result, they can trample all over us and place members of our communities in solitary confinement for months (i.e. Wen Ho Lee). This is one of the reasons why we created AAMD.

Those are the issues.

Why is it so important that we need to create our own TV stations on the Internet? The answer is the following: it provides the opportunity for the general public to see our families and witness our own dramas that make us laugh and cry. When the general public see this, it humanizes our communities by providng opportunities to show an Asian American family interacting, having fun, being as funny and human - just like a white family.

Noteworthy Films with
Asian Male &
White Female

There have been relatively few daring attempts in dealing with interracial romantic relationships with Asian/Asian Pacific American males in films throughout history. Listed below are some prominent and rare examples.

In the early 1900's, isolated films such as Cecil B. DeMille's The Cheat brought to the screen the feelings of forbidden love between a White woman and an Asian man.

In the 1950's, Hiroshima Mon Amour and Crimson Kimono (in which, James Shigeta won the gorgeous White female - Victoria Shaw - from his White male co-star) featured an Asian Male and a White Female in starring romantic roles in major films!

In South Pacific, the song "You Have to be Carefully Taught" highlighted in the film one of the main reason why people fear interracial romantic situations.

In Bridge to the Sun, James Shigeta was married to the pretty Carroll Baker in a daring story during WWII!

In the 1990's, Disney's Johnny Tsunami was one of the last example of romantic featured roles featuring an Asian/Asian American male and a White female.

Is the Asian/Asian Pacific American male and a non-Asian (White, Black & Hispanic) female romantic relationships taboo in American films?

Spike Lee was a big factor of accomplishing this within the African American communities. Before the movement of African American films, there were lynching, etc. Those stereotypes are dangerous because they dehumanize a community. It provides the justification for people to do things because you don't feel the same way they feel. It becomes acceptable because they have removed from you on an emotional level.

This is especially true if we are not part of the landscape and media which defines the culture. This action will continue the impression that we will still considered as outsiders. If we are not in mainstream media in what defines the US populations, people won't think that Asian Americans as part of the American fabric. This is dangerous.

I take things one step further by analyzing things such questions such as - "why are they treating us as outsiders?" The reason why it is important to get treated as an insider is because it defines the "American Identify" within the general public.

When you are an American and you are missing from that landscape, you are not being represented. It impacts the thinking of the people that are watching the media. If the general public's only views of our community are negative, most people will assume that their perceptions are accurate. If you're not there at all, that's equally dangerous because you are missing from the scene.

Now what AAMD
is doing is that it is creating a bridge. We have our Asian American community that has no substantial profile within the entertainment industry. We're obviously not trained to understand that because you cannot step into a TV network show without having training. So what AAMD is doing is creating workshops that brings in TV executives to start working with "qualified" writers who need additional training to make that step from being a good writer to being a trained professional and writing on a show (i.e. Karoake Nights on HotPopTV.Com). At the present time, the seven finalist from our Screenwriting Contest are helping create the pilot's episodes that will be seen in March 2001.

What we are trying to do is to break that vicious circle of not having the writers providing material for our actors.

I was appalled to note that when 1,500 Asian American's came to celebrate a cultural event at a prestigious museum landmark with no history of trouble, we were hassled based upon perceived negative stereotypes of our communities. That is dangerous.

Click HERE to go to Part 3
Click HERE to go to Part 4 and HERE to go back to Part 1

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