MANAA Asks CBS to Renew “Stalker” Co-starring Maggie Q and “Elementary” Co-starring Lucy Liu

manaalogo

 April 17, 2015

Ms. Nina Tassler
Chairman, CBS Entertainment
4024 Radford Avenue
Studio City, CA 91604

Dear Nina,

I hope this letter finds you well. Over the years, under your leadership, CBS has made great strides in including Asian Americans as regulars of its drama, comedy, and reality series. The two CBS shows which feature Asian Americans in the most significant roles are “Stalker” with Maggie Q and “Elementary” co-starring Lucy Liu. As Lt. Beth Davis and Joan Watson, respectively, their stories very often drive the narrative of the main plot of the week and both defy the traditional way Asian American women have been portrayed in the media. Davis is no shrinking violet and commands the anti-stalking unit of the Los Angeles police force, and Watson displays her own talent at solving crimes even under the formidable shadow of the legendary Sherlock Holmes and is not cast primarily as the love interest of anyone.

However, both series have not had strong 18-49 ratings, and we are concerned about their chances for renewal for the 2015-2016 season.

New episodes of “Stalker” average a 1.53 Live+same day rating in the 18-49 age group, but jump 62% to a 2.48 with Live+7 numbers. It usually beats NBC’s “Chicago P.D.” (which has already been renewed for the Fall) and ABC’s “Nashville.” “Stalker’s” last new episode (which aired February 18) fell to an all-time low of 1.15, but that was due to the weak lead-in of the two hour finale of “The Mentalist,” which averaged a 1.28, the lowest 9 p.m. rating for any CBS first-run episode all season.

Though new episodes of “Elementary” average a 1.3 Live+same day rating in the 18-49 demo, the Live+7 audience jumps 85% to a 2.42. The show was probably hurt by beginning Season 3 a month later than usual (October 30) and a weak lead-in from “The McCarthys,” which was pulled from the schedule in February (perhaps a drama lead-in would be more helpful next season?). “Elementary” has done considerably better in the 2015 calendar year than the Fall of 2014, perhaps due to viewer unhappiness with the dominance of the Kitty character (Opehlia Lovibond), whose storyline ended in January. “Elementary” is currently beating its competition on ABC (“American Crime”) and NBC (“The Slap,” “Dateline”) and is getting closer to producing enough episodes so it can be sold into syndication. In addition, we are happy that co-star Lucy Liu has been able to demonstrate her impressive talents as a director on the show.
Given these considerations, we hope you will renew both “Stalker” and “Elementary” and give them sufficient promotion to ensure their long-term success. We would also like to see more Asian American guest stars as, for some reason, they have been sparse on those shows. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Guy Aoki
Founding President, MANAA

Cc: Christina Davis
Glenn Geller
Kelly Kahl
Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i

All the Great APAs on Lost

lost

Two articles about Lost and all of our favorite Asian American actors on the show:

Melinda Hsu Taylor

In Part 1 of our Lost interviews, writer/producer Melinda Hsu Taylor talks about her favorite characters to write for and her affinity for the sci-fi genre.

Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse

Executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse talk about how Lost came to feature so many diverse Asian and Asian American actors.

Asian Americans on “The L Word”

As a huge fan of the lesbian melodrama “The L Word,” I’ve been keeping my eye out for Asian Americans since the show began. Despite a petition last fall to see more LGBT Asian Americans on the show, it seems that the best we can hope for are mixed race Asians, or Asians playing other races. In looking back at past seasons, there are actually quite a few instances of this. Unfortunately, in the case of mixed race characters, their Asian American identity is never mentioned. This is particularly disappointing given the sensitivity that the show has given to the issue of Bette’s biraciality, which has resulted in one of the best portrayals of mixed race identity we’ve seen. It’s also clear that Asian American women can only stand in as brief love interests, and then they disappear forever.

l word - catherine

Sandrine Holt as Helena’s love interest in season four. They have a weird relationship where Catherine seduces Helena into her high-stakes gambling career. Holt is half-Chinese, half-French.

l word - jamie

This season’s hapa star—Mei Melancon as Jamie Chen, Alice and Tasha’s third wheel crush. Jamie is Chinese, Japanese and French. With the character’s last name “Chen,” Melancon is officially the first character to be actually noted as being of Asian heritage. We’ll see if this ever comes up in the plot.

l word - carmen

l word - papi

Last but not least, it must be mentioned that Shane’s beautiful ex-fiancee Carmen was played by Sarah Shahi, who is Persian, and Janina Gavankar as the notorious Papi is Indian and Dutch. However, both roles are decidedly Latina.

MANAA’s Interview with “On the Lot’s” Shalini Kantayya, MANAA’s 2004 Scholarship Winner

“On the Lot,” Fox’s reality show about 50 directors (chosen from 12,000 submissions), aired its finale on August 21, 2007 with Will Bigham named the winner of the $1 million development deal with Dreamworks Pictures. The series faced many problems, including an ever-dwindling audience that sunk to less than two million viewers (the finale got the attention of 2.5 million), the firing of Chelsea Handler as original host, and the hiring of greenhorn live host Adrianna Costa. The main interest of “On the Lot” to MANAA supporters, though, was the participation of Shalini Kantayya, a 30 year old director originally from Connecticut who’s lived in Brooklyn for the past 10 years.

The Indian American won MANAA’s 2004 scholarship and demonstrated her commitment to the cause week after week, finishing in the Top 10. Guy Aoki, a MANAA Board Member and the group’s founding president, interviewed Ms. Kantayya by phone. The following interview previously ran in an abridged version of Aoki’s “Into the Next Stage” column in the Rafu Shimpo newspaper.

Guy Aoki: Well, first of all, we’re so proud of what you’ve done.

Shalini Kantayya: Oh thank you!

GA: I mean, what’s really terrific is that you used at least one Asian person in every one of your films (SK laughs). And you know, that’s so refreshing because I often hear Asian American writers say, “Well, I’m gonna have to wait ’till I make it [to help Asian Americans].” They get onto the writing staff of a TV show, and they’re still very self-conscious about being Asian American. I understand that: If there’s like only one Asian in the whole writing room and everyone else is white, then they don’t want to be an advocate right off the bat. They want to just kind of fit in and show that they’re like a team player.

SK: Very understandable.

GA: And then you wait and wait and wait and you wonder, “Well, are they going to remember when they make it, or are they just going to get so used to doing white stories and casting white people that they’re gonna forget about it by the time they, quote, ‘make it?'” So I was so happy that every one of your films featured an Asian person, and it didn’t take away from the piece, and it was part of the success! Was it [intentional?]

SK: Well, we had a pool of actors to work from so you’re pretty restricted. Do I have a commitment to diversify? Absolutely. But I think more than that… I never want to be held back or boxed in as an Asian American filmmaker. I hope that if I’m asked to make a film about Latino gangs, I’ll be able to do it, or white American suburban life that I’ll be able to do it. But I think as my voice grows as a filmmaker, we make films about things that we know about. And I happen to know, for instance, the script for “Doctor-In-Law” was great. That script could’ve been about any immigrant community. It could’ve been Czechoslovakian people, could’ve been any first generation family, but I think those kinds of immigrant stories are very close to my heart and Doctor-In Law, I think, was a script asking for me to direct it.

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