Looking back at March — The latest fall, rise, & situations in pop culture

By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly

This month’s column stars a disgraced co-founder and a celebrated EGOT winner.

Wondering who or what an EGOT is? Read on to find out the answer, along with updates from this month’s entertainment headlines!

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Young Lee, co-founder of Pinkberry

Pinkberry CEO gets jail time

Young Lee, co-founder of the popular frozen yogurt chain Pinkberry, was recently sentenced to seven years behind bars for an altercation involving a homeless man in 2011. Lee helped to establish Pinkberry in 2005, but is no longer involved with the company.

The incident occurred when Lee sat in his SUV at a freeway off-ramp in June 2011.

Donald Bolding, a homeless man who was panhandling on the side of the road, flashed a sexually explicit tattoo to the people in Lee’s car, which included Lee’s fiancée. Lee felt deeply disrespected by this act, and returned to the same spot later to repeatedly hit Bolding with a tire iron. Bolding sustained a broken forearm and cuts to the head.

With so many witnesses around — including a few who had to hold Lee back from harming Bolding any further — it’s no surprise that Lee received the sentence he did.

Perhaps spending the better part of the next decade in jail will give him some time to mull over the consequences of taking a tire iron to someone’s head.

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Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

Presenting the first Filipino American Academy Award winner!

During last month’s Academy Awards, songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez won an Oscar for the Best Original Song category with “Let It Go,” their hit single from the Disney animated movie “Frozen.” Lopez is of partial Filipino descent, making him the first Filipino American to win an Oscar.

But, perhaps more importantly, this also makes Lopez the first Filipino American to earn a spot in the incredibly elite club of EGOT holders. This club is made up of people who have won all four major annual American entertainment awards: the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. It’s the Grand Slam of achievements in the entertainment biz, and only 11 other people have ever accomplished it. Lopez’s Emmy wins come from his music direction for an animated children’s show, while his Grammy and Tony awards were given for his work on the hit Broadway musicals “Avenue Q” and “The Book of Mormon.”

This is truly an amazing feat. Congrats, Lopez!

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Eddie Huang

Sitcom castings for next season

There has been a ton of buzz lately about Eddie Huang’s popular autobiography “Fresh Off the Boat.” Huang is Taiwanese American, and a well-known restaurateur, chef, and food personality. Huang’s memoirs cover his early life and rise in the food celebrity scene in New York, with a special focus on Asian culture and cuisine against his childhood backdrops of Washington, D.C. and Orlando, Fla.

Huang’s autobiography is being adapted for a sitcom, and will feature a rare feat seen in television shows. It will feature an all-Asian starring cast! That’s right, dear readers. When was the last time you recall seeing a network show starring an Asian American family? (The answer to that question would be “never”.) This is big stuff. Though the decision to apparently rename the sitcom to “Far East Orlando” is somewhat problematic with its Oriental overtures, I’m still pumped to see the development and progress on this show.

Constance Wu and Randall Park will play Huang’s mother and father, respectively. This will be Wu’s first major starring role to mainstream audiences, while Park may best be known for his recurring role on the hit HBO comedy “Veep” and guest-starring roles in a slew of popular sitcoms. Huang’s teenage counterpart will be played by newcomer Hudson Yang.

The show is currently shooting its pilot. If all goes well and the show gets green lit, it will debut in the fall. Fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, actor John Cho will star in another ABC pilot titled “Selfie,” which poses to be a modern remake of the classic musical “My Fair Lady.” Korean American Cho has a ton of television and film work under his belt, including the “Star Trek” and “Harold and Kumar” film franchises, in addition to a lead role on the short-lived sitcom “Go On.”

“Selfie” will follow a 20-something girl played by Karen Gillan, who watches her reputation fall apart over social media. Cho plays a self-assured marketing expert that helps the girl get her reputation back on track. For those familiar with the musical it’s based on, Cho plays the modern equivalent of Henry Higgins. As a former musical theater geek, I cannot wait to see this modern adaptation play out with Cho. He sounds perfect for the part! (end)

Vivian Nguyen can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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