accessAtlanta

City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Local producer shooting Asian-American sitcom ‘The Chin Chens’

MargaretCho_smIn 1994, Margaret Cho broke new ground by becoming the first Asian American to helm a sitcom which featured mostly Asian Americans. Though it was supposedly inspired by her stand-up act, the decidedly unfunny show was quickly subsumed by executive meddling and was axed after 19 episodes.

No show with a heavily Asian-American cast made it on air again until this past fall’s “Outsourced,” an NBC comedy set at a call center in India. Though the primary lead is a white guy, the cast is primarily of South Asian descent. Reviews have been mixed, but ratings have been good enough for NBC to give it an entire season run.

New actress Hanh Hoa plays the grandmother in a new sitcom shot in Norcross named  "Chin Chens." Will Holland (right) is creator and lead writer.

New actress Hanh Hoa plays the grandmother in a new sitcom shot in Norcross named "Chin Chens." Will Hollins (right) is creator and lead writer.

Now in Atlanta, creator and lead writer Will Hollins is trying to mine humor from Asian-American culture in a sitcom he’s calling “The Chin Chens.” It focuses on a family with three children led by a Chinese American father and a Vietnamese-American mom. They own a successful chain of nail salons and Chinese restaurants.

“I felt the Asian community didn’t have a proper voice on broadcast television,” said Hollins, a Mississippi-born African American who once ran a local recording studio and has been working in TV and film the past decade.

Vickie Eng, an Atlanta actress who plays the mom, thinks the show could be “like ‘The Cosby Show’ was for African Americans. The family is wealthy and educated. It brings core family values, Asian values. We hope to be funny while doing it.”

The show started production this week at Hollins’ Bright Ideas Entertainment company in Norcross. There, the actors gathered to go through the first scripts and learn their way around the sets, which cost $325,000 to erect.

Hollins will direct the first two episodes and Debbie Allen, the choreographer and TV producer known for her work on 1982’s “Fame” TV series, will direct some future episodes, according to Tom Nguyen, a University of Georgia graduate who plays the son on the show and is helping tweak the scripts to ensure they have a proper Asian-American  feel.

VinceThere are no big name actors along the lines of Cho. Some, like Eng and Vince Canlas (left), have years of experience with credits on shows such as “In the Heat of the Night,” “Drop Dead Diva” and “Good Eats.” Others, like Nguyen, are neophytes.

Nguyen said more than $3 million has been raised to fund the first 13 episodes, mostly from Chinese and Vietnamese investors.

“The Chin Chens” has a year-long commitment from a small Denver-based non-profit cable outlet Colours TV, available on Dish Network. That network has a relatively small viewer base so Hollins hopes to get the show on a bigger network once they film a few episodes. From there, he hopes to leverage success on a U.S. network to big licensing fees from international syndication.

Hollins also has another project in the pipeline: an inter-racial family comedy called “My Parents, My Sister & Me,” which features Robin Givens. (Jasmine Guy initially joined the show but quit partway through.) Ten episodes have been shot and he hopes to get three more in the can.

Jeff Yang, who writes a pop culture column for the San Francisco Chronicle and is an expert on Asian-Americans in media, said Asian Americans have become more prominent in TV comedies of late, notably Ken Jeong on NBC’s “Community.”

He also likes “Outsourced.” “The actors are talented and there are good writers,” he said. “They are allowing things to develop as characters to stand alone as a source of humor, not just their ethnic nature. The show could be a lasting hit.”

For more, read http://blogs.ajc.com/radio-tv-talk/

20 comments Add your comment

Andrew

October 29th, 2010
3:16 pm

I got to the end of the article before I realized Margaret Cho isn’t in it.

Freakshow blue

October 29th, 2010
4:41 pm

Dude, not trying to be too critical but why mention the total failure that was Cho’s show? I know you like her for whatever reasons but millions, even billions of people in America can’t stand Cho. She is not funny and has no talent. I am sure that you would want this new show to succeed but many people stopped reading the moment they saw another Margaret Cho is God article posted by Rodney Ho.

Rodney Ho

October 29th, 2010
4:44 pm

Have no clue why you think I was trying to be flattering to Margaret Cho in any way in this instance. That 1994 show was horrible by any measure. Even Cho herself would say that!

BryAnn

October 29th, 2010
4:57 pm

The first paragraph mentions that the show was unfunny. Hardly a “Margaret Cho is God” statement.

Glad to see something like this in production, and impressed that the creators and backers are a mix of Asian Americans and African Americans, 2 ethnic groups that largely have not worked together and at times have been pitted against each other.

Cam

October 29th, 2010
7:27 pm

Do they need good looking Vietnamese extras…LOL Maybe a love interest for the son..hahaha I’ll walk down the block to help. Looking forward to Rodney Ho’s coverage. This better not be some show to further perpetuate Asian American stereotypes, b/c I’ll come down to the set about that too and it won’t be funny.

Addy C

October 29th, 2010
8:44 pm

I really hope the writing and acting will be good! Comparing it to the Cosby Show is setting the bar high – but that would be awesome if it could be!

Jimmy B

October 29th, 2010
11:15 pm

Well good luck with trying to get paid. I worked for this guy (Hollins) and he still owes me money and doesn’t return calls. This company is nothing but a front-shop to swindle money from its investors,actors and crews. BEWARE!!!!!!!!

Jon Lester

October 30th, 2010
12:26 pm

I don’t think it’s Cho’s fault that network executives won’t consider more than a short list of “ethnic” talents with name recognition. The average viewer can probably name more than they can.

Sallie T

October 30th, 2010
2:49 pm

Hey Jimmy B, don;t know what rock you’re under, but I’ve also worked with Hollins and he is a Fair and equitable man and pays all of his bills and his workers. People who are dishonest as you allude to with Hollins, don’t enjoy the success he having and preparing for another show does not happen to those who lack integrity because there are people, aka investors who believe in his vision, talent and integrity as a businessman. So stop gripping, your check is probably in the mail! Check your post office. Peace!

Pam

October 30th, 2010
4:16 pm

It’s wonderful that a “African American” production studio is bringing the 2 cultures together. The Chin Chens is being written and directed by an African American….HOW HOT IS THAT!!!! It also demostrates how we are coming together as one and are able to interact and find the humor in each other’s culture.

Taintstick

October 30th, 2010
10:41 pm

I wonder if they realize Chin Chin is Japanese slang for penis?

rod

October 31st, 2010
6:02 pm

freakshow blue, i was with you when I saw the Cho headline. She is gross and talentless and I dont know who is in this blog more, Cho or the Real *%*^(*& of Atlanta.

[...] of Atlanta comes a story written by Rodney Ho about The Chin Chens, a new Asian American sitcom about a family with a [...]

BlueEyedBlondBabe

November 1st, 2010
10:40 am

Finally! How exciting for us to have some new Asian Actors to crush on! Seriously though, I look forward to seeing the show and hope it is a big success… it has been a long time coming because up until now we have only been able to peek at Asians on Primetime: B.D. Wong of SVU and the sexy Daniel Dae Kim of the new Hawaii Five-0 come to mind.

Dragon

November 1st, 2010
10:56 am

What the hell is a “Chin Chen”? The name in itself is a forewarning of what’s to come.

[...] Local producer shooting Asian-American sitcom ‘The Chin Chens’ [...]

[...] Chin Chens” is a sitcom being filmed by a local Atlanta-based producer, Will Hollins. Hollins describes “The Chin Chens” as focusing on a family (mother, father, grandmother and three children) who owns a successful [...]

lil john

November 2nd, 2010
1:46 pm

Tom nguyen

November 2nd, 2010
5:33 pm

This is Tom Nguyen, the executive producer/producer of The Chin-Chens. First, I want to said thank you all of those that showing support to the show. Secondly, to all my Asian fellows out there, you can rest-a-sure that this show will have the best representation of Asian American and will show case the beauty of our Asian culture. My self along with other consultants from the Asian community in atlanta, such as Mrs. Hanh-Hoa and Katy Tang, are working closely with the writers to make sure everything is authentic and non-offensive. We strive to give Asian American a voice on television through a wholesome family sit-com format. I wish I can give out more info about the show, but I guess you just have to wait and see for yourself. God bless….

Tyler Perry

November 3rd, 2010
3:08 pm

Whoa!! This could take attention away from me and my control over minority themed shows!

OK….I’M GAY!!!

Will you all look at me now?