George Takei, Joy Luck Club and the Asian World Film Fest

journalism, Movies, Variety

I’m back at Variety for most of the awards season (already well underway!).

Here are two stories I wrote connected to the Asian World Film Fest: One on the fest itself, which is adding more Asian American programming this year, and the other on George Takei, who’s getting a lifetime achievement award on closing night.

He’s a fan of the new Star Trek, by the way.

I rewatched Joy Luck Club, getting an anniversary screening at the event, and was somehow even more affected by it than when it debuted in 1993. That was unexpected.

And I learned much about the backstory, and exec producer Janet Yang’s efforts to get it made, during a chat with her.

Read more here.


Oh, to be Quincy Jones: ‘Love drips from his fingertips’

music, Variety

quincy-jones-charity-story-variety-homepageSeriously, I don’t know how he does it: Quincy Jones is about to turn 80, and he’s still a very active producer who makes plenty of time for philanthropic endeavors.

What’s his secret? One long-time associate, who runs his music consortium, told me “love drips from his fingertips,” while another head of a charity talked about how he sprinkles Quincy dust everywhere. Whenever they need him, the heads of these organizations told me, he is there.

Here’s my Variety story about it.

Sadly, it looks to be my last in Daily Variety, which is ceasing publication later this month. But the good news is that new owner Jay Penske has overhauled the pub’s website and promises to do the same for weekly Variety, which I worked on as writer-editor for seven years and have freelanced since.

Wyatt Cenac, vampire of comedy

comedy, digital media, TV, Variety

wyattIn case you were wondering, Wyatt Cenac is not one of those rat-tat-tat jokesters in person. Not at first meeting, anyway. But make no mistake about it — he’s very droll. And sly.

During our interview a few weeks back, he made several stealth points about Sarah Palin and the media. Sadly, they didn’t make it in my Variety Comic to Watch profile, linked here. Not enough space to do them justice; besides, sometimes you have to be along for the ride.

Cenac, “Daily Show” exec producer Josh Lieb observed, is deceptive — he seems innocent but is very sharp-witted. When you relax your guard, “that’s when he kills you. He’s a vampire of comedy.”

If you have a few minutes, treat yourself to a couple of his bits from “The Daily Show.” In “Judgmental,” he amusingly riffs on Sonia Sotomayor’s name and supposed gang ties; in “Fled Sanford,” he wildly speculates about Gov. Mark Sanford’s activities while supposedly hiking the Appalachian Trail. I love how he breaks up during the latter.

Also wrote three profiles for the companion Comedy Impact Report: One on Sandra Bullock, who showed she still has serious comedic chops in “The Proposal”; another on comedians’ use of Twitter; and a third on Comedy Central’s Web sites, led by Erik Flannigan.