Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Hawaii Five-O Spin-Off Show Greenlighted

April 1st, 2015

Program Alert: In the Career Changers TV April episode, we're going to a Hukilau -- the new Hukilau Marketplace at the Polynesian Cultural Center, which takes its name from the 1940s fund-raising luaus to rebuild a church that burned down in Laie. Our new show premieres Thurs., April 2 at 7:30 PM on Oceanic Cable channel 12/high def 1012 (a.k.a. OC16). For daily viewing times throughout the month, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV. Segments from past and current shows are posted on the CCTV YouTube Channel, which now has over 900,000 views!

Not sure if you saw the item in today's Variety, but it's being reported that Hawaii Five-O will end its run with a two-hour special on May 8. However, like CSI -- another CBS prime time staple -- H50 won't simply go away for good. Just as they turned the original CSI into CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, and now CSI: Cyber, they plan on doing Hawaii Five-O: Las Vegas. And why not? Plenty of local folks have moved to Vegas. In fact, they may wind up casting more people from Hawaii in the spin-off than in the H50 series set in the islands.

What's more, unlike the current H50 series, the early storylines being leaked indicate the plots will actually have something to do with Hawaii. For instance, the pilot for H50: Las Vegas involves a former Hawaii resident who loses his family's saving in a high stakes poker game, then attempts to rob a bank to cover his losses -- all because he could no longer afford to live on Oahu, and didn't want to become one of the homeless people he despised.

Another episode in the Vegas spin-off, titled "Coconut Girl," centers around a young local woman who, yep, becomes a fashion model but winds up working for a high-priced escort service run by a sleazy guy who also is from Hawaii. It seems that no matter where they set the H50 franchise, characters and actors from Hawaii will mostly be employed to play criminals or victims while the main roles will go to Mainland talent. So, in that sense, nothing much will change. My guess is the "guest star" villains will continue to be foreign in nature, since we all know from the current H5o series that Honolulu is a hot bed for international crime syndicates: Russians, Yakuza, Chinese, Europeans with strange accents. The usual suspects will follow the money to Vegas, just as locals do.

Maybe they'll even have a character like the late Didi Ah Yo, who will lure innocent Hawaii residents into taking her gambling junkets to Fremont Street casinos that she has an ownership interest in -- "And away we go with Didi Ah Yo!" indeed.

What do you think? Does Hawaii Five-O: Las Vegas have a chance to make it? Or does it sound like a bad April Fool's Day joke?


New Kapolei Massage Envy Spa Now Hiring

March 21st, 2015

Massage Envy Hawaii is opening their new Kapolei spa on May 19. They'll be hiring up to 25 massage therapists, plus another 10 to 15 front desk staff and estheticians. To apply online, go to

We did a story on the co-owners, Nate McFarland and Lari Jarvis, for our July episode of Career Changers TV (click here to see that segment) because they've been hiring lots of Remington College Massage Therapy program graduates -- one of my primary show sponsors. Nate and Lari gave glowing testimonials for Remington, and will probably be employing even more of their grads when the Kapolei spa opens. But you should watch the video because it's another great example of people making the leap from one profession to owning a business, and loving the change.

The two were actually friends working for Wells Fargo financial services when Nate hurt his back while surfing in Maui. While searching for an affordable massage on that island, he discovered there weren't any Massage Envy franchises in Hawaii yet -- and he knew that on the Mainland, they offered quality service at cheaper prices than what he saw in Maui. That's when he contacted Lari about his crazy idea of cashing in their retirement 401Ks and starting a spa on Oahu.

However, the ME people and other franchise owners who had crunched the numbers before they came along, thought the high cost of doing biz on Oahu wouldn't work for their business model. They also assumed the target market would be visitors staying in upscale hotels and resorts in areas such as Waikiki. Nate and Lari took a different tack: they focused on locals, military, and working people. What's more, since the benefit of being a ME member includes access to all spas in their national network (now over 1,000 locations in North America and Hawaii) that means Hawaii members could check into Las Vegas spas or elsewhere when traveling on the continent. And they do get Mainland visitors who use the Pearl Highlands spa too, despite it not being in Waikiki.

Nate laughed when he recounted how a ME spa owner in California told him the numbers wouldn't work for Oahu. Pearl Highlands became the fastest growing location in the franchise's history. Kaneohe then became the fourth fastest growing ME spa after we aired our segment on that location back in July. Kapolei will launch with their largest initial staff hires yet, and boasts new features in the spa itself -- such as couples rooms, two Tranquility Rooms and an indoor waterfall.

But all those niceties wouldn't mean much, unless they had qualified Massage Therapists, estheticians and front desk staff that provided great service -- and that's what makes Nate and Lari smile most. They say locals and visitors alike constantly praise their employees and rave about the professionalism of the Remington graduates.

To pay it back, Nate and Lari just announced a 10-year benefits package for employees that adds perks for each year employees stay with Massage Envy Hawaii. At a time when resorts on the west side of Oahu are closing for renovation or laying off spa staff, the new Kapolei jobs are coming at an opportune moment for people in the Kapolei area.


For daily viewing times of Career Changers TV, visit our website. You can also watch videos from past and current episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel, now approaching 1 million total views!

BTW, the Seed Restaurant IndieGoGo campaign to raise $50K for renovations needed for them to reopen, is already at $39K in only one week -- and they're featuring a CCTV video we did on them that got 30,0000 views in two days after the national Huffington Post site linked it to their article on Seed... Local advertisers, are you paying attention?

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

TV, Film Startups Help

March 18th, 2015

As producer of the Career Changers TV show, I've been following the startup movement the past four years, which has mainly been driven by high tech applications for computers and mobile devices. First, there were incubators to help nascent companies develop their business plan. Then accelerators sprouted up around the country that offered seed money, office space and mentoring, in exchange for equity in startups they hand-picked (usually a 5 to 10 percent stake). Events such as Startup Weekend brought together like-minded entrepreneurs who would pitch their ideas to actual venture capitalists, angel investors and business consultants.

While filming segments on Blue Startups and Henk Rogers of Tetris empire fame, I saw similarities to what writers and filmmakers must go through to sell their TV or movie projects to producers. Many of the same principles apply, like the attention-getting premise or "elevator pitch" that succinctly sets up the concept and the synopsis that spells out what makes this project different or better than similar ideas. But in the TV and movie biz, the script was pretty much the entire franchise plan for the writer. Tech startups live or die based on "proof of concept" and demonstrations of their new product, service or app.

However, with the explosion of multimedia options -- or "transmedia" -- writers and filmmakers suddenly had plenty of other means to get their projects noticed in Hollywood: short films shot on high def video cameras, movie trailer style pitches for unproduced projects, YouTube, webisodes that can transition to mainstream TV, crowdfunding sites, etc. So it was only a matter of time before there were accelerators specifically created to nurture entertainment franchises. We now have one in Kona called Global Virtual Studio Transmedia, which had its first accelerator cohort last year. I learned about it after the application deadline had passed, but was invited to pitch a project for their GVS Boardroom panel event on Feb. 27.

I've been writing scripts for a long time, and had some minor success. Yet I haven't been able to get over the hump. I've often felt the missing ingredient was that to sell my scripts, you had to "see" it because they were written for the big screen and incorporated spectacular visual images -- such as locations in Hawaii related to the legends of the Menehune. Anyhow, I decided to submit a proposal for a franchise based on my feature screenplay, "Stinky Feet and the Secret of Menehune Gulch."

Since I had gotten good responses to prior email pitches I wrote for that script, I adapted my e-queries for the GVS submission and fleshed it out with images of Kauai's lush valleys, dramatic cliffs, underground lava tubes, and what might pass for a Menehune village. The GVS accelerator offers $50K over a six month period to each of the six teams they will select for the next cohort in the fall, which is a very nice incentive for fledgling screenwriters and filmmakers. In exchange for providing funding, facilities in their Kona studio, plus mentors with lots of experience and Hollywood connections, the project creator gives 10 percent equity in the franchise to GVS... which is a strong incentive for GVS to make it work too.

Backing this accelerator, is the State Dept. of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, which also has a major stake in seeing winners emerge from the program. Two of the top DBED&T officials -- Georja Skinner and Karl Fooks -- are taking a hands on approach, as I found out when I was selected as one of the eight presenters. Although our pitches were NOT being judged as part of the application process for the next cohort, we were told the feedback should be used to hone our franchise concepts to address questions that would be brought up by the specially-assembled panel. Besides Georja and Karl, there was a former Disney and Pepsico exec, a former marketing exec for Sony Pictures, and people with major movie experience sitting in the audience of about 50 people.

To say I was nervous is a bit of an understatement. I hate speaking in front of groups, and have never been comfortable pitching my TV or movie projects to industry people. But I felt confident in my Menehune concept, and I thought the Power Point I put together right before the event was good.

There was just one problem. When the presenters were gathered to do our run-through, we had to use their system to show whatever media we had. Instead of a laptop with the Presenter's View mode for my Power Point slides (which includes "Notes" at bottom you can use as a cheat sheet) all I had was a keyboard and a big monitor screen slightly behind me on my right side. They gave me a clicker to advance the slides... which had a slight delay. I had printed out my "Notes" text to consult, i.e. read from, if I got nervous and forgot the scripted lines. On top of that, we were limited to exactly five minutes for our spiels, and there was a GVS staffer to my left holding a digital clock.

So I'm trying to remember my lines, checking my printed-out notes, glancing back at the slide on the screen to my right -- crap, that's not the right slide! -- looking back at the clock ticking down to my left, clicking the clicker back a slide, then another... and I realize I'm not even halfway through before my time is up. This is why I hate public speaking. I could feel the pity from the other presenters. All of them did their run-throughs in one shot with not much problem. Me, I was asked to stay behind and do it again. Ugh. How embarrassing.

The second run-through was slightly better after I switched to using the keyboard to advance my slides. It was still running long though, so I knew I had to ditch the scripted "Notes" text and refer directly to the outline or visual images on my Power Point slides when we did it in front of a live audience -- and cameras. Which is another thing that gives me stage fright.

Minutes before show time, I considered bailing. Rather than stand in front of a crowded room and make a sputtering fool of myself, I could just say I felt sick and wouldn't be doing my presentation. The other seven projects were very impressive, and those people had better credentials than me -- or so I told myself. "Stinky Feet"? What was I thinking! Yet part of me knew years of rejections, failures, and even ridicule as a kid, had prepared me for this moment. I started off a little shaky, relying too much on reading my notes. Then when I had to refer back to my outlined thoughts on the screen behind me, I loosened up and got through it okay.

The panel then spent 12 minutes asking questions and commenting on my pitch. The former Disney exec immediately said he had never heard about Menehune, and was so fascinated by the myths that he felt it could be a TV series. The former Sony Pictures guy said he loved the concept. After I explained why the lead kid character is nicknamed "Stinky Feet" by a local bully, I confessed that it got left out because I was terrible at pitching. "I disagree," the Sony guy interjected. "When you stopped reading your notes, your passion and knowledge of your subject really came through!"

Later, Big Island Film Commissioner Ilihia Gionson and his significant other came up to me. He said he really liked my Menehune project even though it's set on Kauai. She said she voted for mine as her favorite of the eight presentations (I didn't win that vote -- a martial arts movie project by a Big Island filmmaker got the audience choice award). But there was one more twist after I returned home to the other Kailua...

The next day, I got an email that said, "Great Pitch!" in the subject line. In my Power Point, I included my email address on the last slide that said, "Pau." You never know, right? It turned out an audience member with contacts in the movie and TV business loved my concept and disagreed with panelists who said it should be a $10 million dollar movie, not the $100 million budget I guess-timated. She wrote that I should stick to my vision of a big movie about little people, and not make it a smaller project just to fit the accelerator's business model. They know it's almost impossible to sell a $100 million project even if I was able to use the accelerator to create a dynamite movie trailer or short film to promote it. But a $10 million film is something they could realistically help set up, and their 10 percent stake would pay dividends.

I want to believe this person who contacted me has the connections that can move my Menehune project forward as a big budget film. If not though, I'd be happy to see it made even if we have to dress up little people like Polynesian Munchkins instead of the expensive CGI "Lord of the Rings" type dwarves, trolls and elves I originally pictured for my Menehune village scenes. And maybe that's the best thing about the GVS Transmedia accelerator... it gives writers like me a chance to dream of seeing our work be brought to life, even if it's not exactly what we hoped for.

Kailua Beach Gate Redux

March 12th, 2015

Eight years ago, I co-founded Beach Access Hawaii when residents on L'Orange Place put up a gate to keep others from using the beach path at the end of their privately owned road. I soon learned that at least 17 Kailua beach-side lanes were gated or had put up "No Beach Access" signs. Upon further investigation, I found that the State law pertaining to beach rights of way wasn't actually an enforceable law. The attorney representing the City and County of Honolulu contended it was only a guideline because it said there "should" be public access every quarter mile in urban areas or every half mile in rural sections. "Should," not "shall."

Despite standing room only crowds testifying for the need to preserve beach access at Kailua Neighborhood Board meetings, and having thousands of people sign petitions supporting our cause, ultimately the State Legislature and City Council chose to do nothing. We also organized a state-wide Groundhog Day rally in 2008 that brought together over 20 organizations on every island -- there was even a Surfrider protest in Florida that same day, which was inspired by our efforts. For all our lobbying, calls to State and county officials, media attention, sign waving, proposed bills that got multiple hearings and lip service from elected reps, in the end, the status quo prevailed. Forcing property owners to allow public access on privately-owned land would amount to "takings" or require condemnation proceedings by the State, which would be costly and probably fail in court.

I bring this up because once again in Kailua there's talk about another gate going up on Ka'apuni Drive. The difference this time around is that the rumors spread faster thanks to Facebook. Back when my neighbors and I began Beach Access Hawaii in 2007, our chief form of communication was going door to door and handing out flyers. We then built an email list, which became our main tool to spread the word about what we were trying to accomplish through our meetings with State and county government people.

But social media is a different animal. Anyone can post anything, and often no one bothers to check the facts or research an issue. On the "My Kailua" Facebook page, which is presumably meant for a wide range of ages, comments took on an ugly tone, resorting to slinging the "F" bomb or "sh*t" every other word . Unfortunately, it's the rude commenters that give fuel to the arguments put forth by the Gate Keepers, who point their fingers at miscreants for trashing their streets and beach paths or disturbing them at all hours of the night when the rude idiots are out partying, defacing property with graffiti and so on. There is no defense for rudeness, online or elsewhere.

As some noted in the thread comments, there are good neighbors too who have taken the time to help clean up the Ka'apuni Drive access. Killing them with kindness is a far better strategy than threatening to make their lives miserable if they put up a gate. The one positive outcome we had from the L'Orange Gate controversy was that State Rep. Cynthia Thielen convinced residents on her beach-side lane to unlock their gate. But many of the other oceanfront properties in Kailua aren't even occupied by local owners. Some have been bought by investors that rent them out as vacation homes or B&Bs with their own private beach access.

So what can be done? Here's my suggestion: if homeowners on "private" roads want to deny beach access to the public, then treat those roads as private and require them to pay for all public services they currently enjoy at the taxpayers' expense. Let them pay for trash pick-up at their homes, or else they can cart it out to the public road adjoining their private lanes. Ditto for mail delivery. And make them pay for any public utility work that must be done beneath or bordering their private roads. They can't have it both ways -- their roads shouldn't be used for public services when it suits them, but kept off limits to the public when it doesn't.

I have also suggested to State reps and City Council members that they could offer positive inducements for allowing public access, such as tax breaks on their "private" roads and easements. Sometimes a carrot is better than a stick. For what it's worth, here's the post from the My Kailua Facebook page that elicited a strong reaction:

Area Resident Local Reports In...
The "residents" of Kaapuni Drive have voted to put gates up and restrict beach access. This after only a few months ago they denied claims that this was happening nor would it ever. After local news was about to release the story, the Kaapuni association president called the news denying any validity to the accusations and dismissing it as baseless rumors. Now that one of the long time residents that has always opposed putting up gates has passed and her property is for sale, the "residents" (several of which live on the mainland and vote by proxy at the board meetings) now have the votes to pass the motion. Meanwhile the neighboring community that takes care of the beach accesses through community cleanups and beautification projects will be the ones most affected by this restriction. The next nearest public accesses are over a HALF MILE APART. We need to let the Kaapuni board and residents know that this is a horrible idea and will not decrease crime, vandalism, and littering. Those punks will just jump the gate or come down from another access. It is the families that grew up using these accesses and actually take care of the beach and accesses that they will be punishing. Beach access needs to be protected and opened, not limited! If anyone has contacts with the residents or board members, please share. Or contacts at local news outlets. Help spread the word before another beach access is restricted. Anyone happen to know the minimum distance between public beach accesses? Or an ordinance/law/etc regarding public trash and mail access on private roads?

Looking back, there was another positive result from the Beach Access Hawaii campaign... a lasting one. We got to know a lot of our neighbors by going door to door, and meeting in person to make our signs for the rallies and protests. That's one thing you can't do online. Putting names to faces, sharing stories of growing up in Kailua or elsewhere, spending real time together for a concerted purpose will always mean more than sitting in front of a computer, typing out pithy Tweets or snarky Facebook retorts. But at least grumbling online is a start. The question is, will any of them follow through and attempt to do something about it?


SEED RESTAURANT UPDATE: In my prior post, I mentioned Seed had closed its doors indefinitely for repairs. Well, you can help them reopen by contributing to their IndieGoGo crowd-funding campaign to raise $50K. Here's the link. It's been less than a week and they've already raised about 45 percent of their goal! For all my grumbling about the superficiality of social media, this is an example of the upside for worthy causes like Seed. Please help them reopen so they can continue their mission of rebuilding lives.

For daily viewing times of my Career Changers TV show, please visit out website. You can also watch video segments from past and current episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel by clicking here.

Posted in Career Changers TV, social media, Uncategorized | Comments Off

SEED Restaurant Gets National Publicity, Then Closes...

March 4th, 2015

PROGRAM ALERT: The spankin' new March episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., March 5 at 7:30 PM on Oceanic Cable channel 12/high def 1012, and includes an interesting profile of Judy Bishop, who recounts how she lost everything, then went off the grid in Fiji before building one of the biggest recruiting firms in Honolulu. Plus, we'll take you to PC Gamerz in Aiea, where they've tapped into the multi-billion dollar video gaming industry by focusing on social gamers. Fascinating look at a world I didn't know existed in the islands! For daily viewing times, visit www.CareerChangers.TV.


First, the good news: Seed, a "justice restaurant" in Kaimuki that we've featured on my show, got much deserved national attention when Huffington Post published an article on March 1 about a former prostitute who we interviewed last year. In fact, they used a photo from that video segment posted on the CCTV YouTube Channel (and credited us), along with the actual video at the bottom of their nice piece. All good, since we were properly credited -- unlike some recent articles and blog posts that plagiarized our CabaRAE pieces in the Feb. episode. One literally took the lines out of our host's mouth, which I scripted, and used that as the lead paragraph on his blog site! Sheesh.

Anyhow, within two days, the Huff Post article had over 20,000 Facebook "Likes" and 17,000 views of my YouTube video. As it happens, just prior to that post going national, the couple behind Seed and Bluewater Mission, had invited me to their One Year Anniversary dinner event on Monday night to thank me for "introducing Seed to the world." At the time, I didn't know Huffington Post had interviewed them and would be using my video. When I saw the link on Facebook and read the article, down towards the end I saw it mentioned they would be closing for renovations soon.

So when my wife and I met Jordan and Sonya Seng for dinner, that was my first question: when were they closing, and for how long? Turns out that night was their last dinner service for the time being. When -- or if -- they reopen depends on a couple of things. Jordan said there are a number of structural problems with the space that must be fixed, and the kitchen needs new equipment to carry on their mission of helping people like Mary, the former prostitute written about in the Huff Post story, and the ex-con we interviewed for my CCTV piece. Here's the link to the article, where you can also watch my video.

The closing seems like unfortunate timing. Ever the optimists though, Sonya and Jordan see a potential upside: they're launching a crowd-sourcing campaign to raise funds to fix the restaurant and get kitchen equipment that actually works (one of the stoves doesn't function and the refrigerator is on the fritz too). He figures it will take at least $50,000 to take care of the problems, but might look into finding another location. They're hoping the national attention will help them with donations and contributions. Seed will continue to offer catering services during the interim, Sonya said.

If you ask me, the landlord should do their part to help Seed because they've brought a lot of new business and customers into that old building. I'd venture the other small businesses and restaurants in that little complex have benefited too from the attention Seed has gotten.

Coincidentally, before I got the invitation to dinner or saw the Huff Post article, I had just finished editing the long-delayed Part 2 of my profile of the Sengs. They both have amazing life stories -- Jordan coming from a background in academia (worked for think tanks at Stanford and Harvard), Sonya being a triple threat in the entertainment field (model, singer, actor). I was able to include a little footage of her special guest appearance in the Early Edition TV series with George Takai and the star of the show, Kyle Chandler in the late 90's before Kyle went to another level as the coach in Friday Night Lights, one of the best television series ever IMHO.

Here's Part 2 of the Sengs story, and if you missed it back in November, this was Part 1. They are both a bit long (over 7 minutes) but if you take the time to listen, you'll see what motivated them to put words and Christian ideals into action. Although I have my problems with organized religion, they made me see the positive side of ministries like theirs that offer help to people who need it most.


Friend of the show, Lopaka Kapanui is also going the crowd-sourcing route for a book his wife has been encouraging him to write for a long time. The premise is there's a group of men who will cast a curse on your behalf, provided it's for a good reason that they condone. Sounds intriguing -- maybe a TV series idea? Click here for Lopaka's Kickstarter page. When I last saw Lopaka and his wife, they were at Paradise Park... which is where his halau meets and practices now. He mentioned that the owners were talking about plans to emphasize Hawaiian culture, which interested me since one of my show sponsors (Waimea Valley) has turned around their fortunes by going in that direction. I tried contacting one of the Paradise Park family owners, but never got a response. Now they're in the news because of negative blowback over their plans. Another example of poor PR. Had they gotten things right with the community first and listened to the public's concerns before announcing what they intended to do, they might have gotten some support. Sigh.

Some business owners never learn, while people like the Sengs and Judy Bishop have shown the value of community service, which also translates into good business in the long run. When I told Judy about Seed closing, she was sorry to hear it because she's hosted a couple of events there for orgs that help empower business women. We need more people like them.


Speaking of book and TV show ideas, one reason I haven't posted anything recently was my Menehune movie project was one of eight chosen for the Global Virtual Studio Transmedia Boardroom Pitch in Kona on Friday. They flew me over to present my concept, which is based on a screenplay I wrote awhile back. I had to tell some heavy hitters how it would be monetized as a franchise (movie, TV spin-offs, books for kids, educational products related to the Menehune myths, Hawaiian culture, etc).

It was a great experience that started out as a near-disaster for me! In my next post, I'll tell you more about the GVS accelerator program and some of the influential folks I met. In the meantime, here's the GVS website link to find out more. It's essentially a startup incubator for movie/TV franchises. Cool, huh?

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off