By Rich Figel
TRICK OR TREAT! Our Halloween episode premieres Weds., Oct. 7 at 9 PM on Oceanic Cable channel 12/high def 1012 (which still goes by the misnomer of OC16). For other daily viewing times, visit www.CareerChangers.TV where you'll also find a link to segments from past Halloween shows... including one for Lopaka Kapanui that apparently got him a lot of attention, according to Lopaka himself. (click here for his update).
First though, we have a segment about Storybook Hawaii, which provides costumed fairy tale characters and superheroes in customized party packages (options include personalized songs, story book readings and craft sessions). You may have seen the owner, Casey Thompson Fortuno, and her performers making guest appearances on TV and at special events. What you may not know is the local demand for Princesses is red hot. Her company is booking up to 50 parties per month during their busier times at a price of about $90 to $200 per appearance, depending on the package that is chosen.
So, there we were -- our host Theresa Tilley, cameraman Stanford Chang and myself -- at the Z3 Sports Academy in Kapolei (another interesting story we're going to be doing later this year!) to shoot our October show intros with Casey and her cast of Storybook entertainers. She had run a Facebook contest asking kids to tell why they would like to be a princess for a day or something to that effect. The winners, all young girls, got to attend a special princess party at Z3 that was going to be filmed for a music video Casey is doing.
When the costumed princesses arrived en masse, the girls erupted in squeals and shouts as they hopped up and down while the Disney look-alikes entered. It's important to note that for legal reasons and fear of the Mouse House corporate lawyers, each princess or fairy tale character differs slightly from the Disney versions or original creations. People assume Snow White and Cinderella are owned by Disney. Wrong. They were fairy tale characters long before Walt picked up a pencil and sketched his first cartoon. Which means they are in the public domain. However, other popular characters that Casey gets requests for have been slightly altered. For instance, Iron Man is Iron Superhero (she got the 3-D printed costume from a company in China, which her hubby, Johnny Fortuno wears... we featured the Elvis tribute artist in a piece we did about Legends in Concert).
Then two nights later, Stan and I were at the Waipahu FilCom center shooting a pro wrestling event for the segment we did on Daryl Bonilla. Don't recognize the name? You'd probably recognize his face and voice from the old Bank of Hawaii "That's my bank!" commercials. Turns out he's the one that came up with the line while doing some improvisation when they were shooting b-roll of him and another actor driving around in a car.
How he got into pro wrestling is an interesting story in itself and involves master storyteller Lopaka Kapanui, who suggested we interview Daryl. As it happens, before Lopaka became know as the ghost tour guy, he had a long career as a masked wrestler and trainer -- Daryl was one of his wrestling proteges. (Here's that link.)
To be honest, wrestling is not my bag, nor is MMA fighting. But the AZW matches that Daryl runs is more like comedy slapstick or surreal theater. Highbrow types can look down their noses at it or dismiss it as silly... and that's fine since everyone has different tastes when it comes to entertainment.
Yet it reminded me of that old Preston Sturges classic movie, Sullivan's Travels in which a famous fictional director of comedies embarks on a quest to learn about the "real" America during the Depression with the goal of making a serious dramatic film. Incognito, he joins the ranks of the homeless and when his shoes are stolen by a hobo who gets killed, his ID is found in the shoes and is mistakenly assumed to be dead. The director winds up wrongly imprisoned and it appears things are hopeless. But while he and his fellow inmates are watching a silly cartoon, he sees them laughing and realizes he was wrong -- the world doesn't need another somber, serious drama about what's wrong with life... we need release and escapism, even if it is silly. Eventually he gets out of prison and announces he's going to make another comedy because people need laughs as much as we need love or food. I saw lots of people laughing and smiling at the FilCom Center.
Anyhow, I forgot to mention that for this same show, I got to interview two Olympic gold medalists -- figure skaters Kristi Yamaguchi and Brian Boitano, who were in town last month to promote their November Golden Moment show. Proceeds from the all star skating event will go to her Always Dream foundation program for early childhood literacy. It's a wonderful cause, so please buy tickets! You can see Kristi's segment by clicking here. Brian's piece will be shown in November.
From princesses to pro wrestlers and a real life ice princess. Sometimes I look at the show I produce and have to smile. It's a weird, wonderful world we live in. Check out this month's show on high def TV if you can!