Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa and the two individuals who first raised the issue of discrimination in the casting for the Broadway production of "Miss Saigon" will be honored tonight by the Assn. of Asian Pacific American Artists during its annual media awards ceremonies at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Kurosawa, the director of such films as "The Seven Samurai," "Ran," "Akira Kurosawa's Dreams" and the upcoming "Rhapsody in August," is ill and not expected to be present for the black-tie evening. His son, Hisao Kurosawa, and nephew, Mike Inoue, who both produce his films, will accept the association's Lifetime Achievement Award on the director's behalf.
Playwright David Henry Hwang, who wrote the stage hit "M. Butterfly" and actor B.D. Wong, who won a Tony Award for his performance in the play, will be honored with a special award for advocacy--in the association's words, for "bringing the issue of discriminatory casting issues raised by the 'Miss Saigon' controversy to national attention. . . ."
Last summer, both men filed a protest with Actors' Equity about the casting of British actor Jonathan Pryce to re-create his original London performance as a Eurasian in the $10-million New York production of "Miss Saigon." The actors union agreed that an Asian-American artist should have been offered the role, and vetoed the casting.
But after the producer threatened to pull the show, the union allowed Pryce to be cast. The musical will open on April 11.
In other awards, the association will honor: the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre of New York for its programming; the feature film "China Cry" and producer Don LeRoy Parker, and Parakletos Prods. and the Penland Co., for their telling of the story of evangelist Nora Lam under the Chinese government and the casting of Asians and Eurasian actors in all roles; director-writer Alan Parker and 20th Century Fox for the feature film "Come See the Paradise," for portraying "some of the darkest and most shameful events" in U.S. history--the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Also: Lynch/Frost Productions for its ABC-TV series "Twin Peaks" for casting an Asian American actress for a role not originally conceived as an Asian; the CBS movie "Forbidden Nights," about an interracial love story, from Warner Bros. TV, with Tristine Rainer executive producing; the documentary film, "Slaying the Dragon," about the negative portrayal of Asian women in film and TV, from producer Deborah Gee, CrossCurrent Media and the National Asian-American Telecommunications Assn., and the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Los Angeles, for its support of the association.