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 TV production executives charged with securities fraud

Hanh Hoa, a new actress playing a grandmother in "The Chin Chens" works with Bright Ideas CEO Will Hollins in October, 2010. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Hanh Hoa, a new actress playing a grandmother in "The Chin Chens" works with Bright Ideas CEO Will Hollins in October, 2010. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

A colleague of mine, J. Scott Trubey , reported last week that executives at Norcross-based Bright Eyes Entertainment were charged with securities fraud and other related infringements, costing investors at least $2 million. The company created two sitcoms, “My Parents, My Sister & Me,” featuring actress Robin Givens, and “The Chin Chens.” Neither program made it on a major network.

William Hollins, chief executive of Bright Ideas Entertainment LLC; the firm’s president, Daniel High; and a lawyer, Tene Davis, are accused of soliciting investments in the company by making false assertions in contracts to convince investors their money was fully guaranteed against loss.

The Georgia Secretary of State said more than 30 investors had invested in the original project.

Ric Reitz, an actor who played the dad in ten episodes of “My Parents, My Sister and Me,” said he wasn’t surprised by the accusations in retrospect. “While it’s bad news for our local industry,” he wrote me Sunday, “it will serve as a good warning to others.”

Last fall, in a story I wrote about “The Chin Chens,” one of the actors and an investor Tom Nyugen told me that more than $3 million has been raised to fund the first 13 episodes, mostly from Chinese and Vietnamese investors. That was a separate pool of investors from those of “My Parents, My Sister and Me.”

Nyguen said his attorney limited what he could say. But he still supports Hollins. “I feel good about Will,” he said. “I believe in the guy. He’s been very transparent to me. There’s nothing I have to worry about.”

When I talked to Hollins last year, he seemed very earnest but he had zero track record in terms of creating successful TV shows. He said he had done TV production in the past but cited nothing of substance. I also questioned the use of the title “The Chin Chens,” which is close to the mocking phrase “ching chong” Asian-Americans have heard in the past.

The plotline wasn’t bad: a Vietnamese and Chinese married couple own a nail salon/Chinese restaurant combo, with three kids and a grandmother under one roof. Stereotypes? Yes. But Hollins justified it by noting that the family unit was strong and they were clearly well off.

A couple months later, Nyugen brought me to the studios to screen two finished episodes. While some of the actors were okay, others clearly had no experience or comic timing. The writing was subpar and it felt dated. When I spoke with Hollins, who was also there, about current sitcoms, he didn’t give me the impression he knew much about “Modern Family,” The Big Bang Theory” or even Tyler Perry’s sitcoms. The most sitcom reference he made to me was “Seinfeld,” which ended 14 years ago.

I wished them luck but had a feeling nothing would ever come of this.

One of the lead “Chin Chens” actors Vince Canlas said last week another company earlier this year had purchased Bright Ideas, called OWOW Studios. Canlas still hopes the show will be revived in some way, shape or form.

For “The Chin Chens,” Hollins used only non-union actors, which limited his pool of people he could hire. At the same time, actress Vicki Eng – who played Canlas’ wife, said since it was non-union (as opposed to his “My Sister, My Parents and Me” project), she was told it would never air on a regular network. She did it for the experience, she said. She knew nothing about the investors. She said she was paid. In the end, only 2.5 episodes of “The Chin Chens” were shot.

Eight months ago, OWOW Studios released a demo reel of “The Chin Chens.” Check it out:

The theme song featured these lyrics:

Waking up in a world through different eyes
Believing we could swim against the crimson tide
Using love, we hitched a ride on the rising sun
Off to start our lives anew
Girls for him, for me a son
We’re Americans in heart, Asians by blood
Red white and blue, mixed with yellow-colored [can't quite figure out the word-- mud?]
With our faith,we embrace the dream
Through our heritage, we cling
The world as one, big family
Oh, yes, we’re one big family

Comments on YouTube were not kind. An example: “The beginning song was bad taste. It was laughable in a bad way. As an Asian American, it was probable the lyrics might not have been written by an Asian American. They all talk a bit too slow, no comedic timing, it sounds like they went to a recording studio & dubbed over their parts.”

OWOW has a website which features “The Chin Chens.” The phone number listed on the site, though, does not work.

Join my Facebook fan page and Twitter.

By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

7 comments Add your comment

Jimmy Barron

November 30th, 2011
9:55 am

I need a job.

[...] more Local TV production executives charged with securities fraud at Radio & TV Talk… You Might Also Like…Local stages offer gay favorites As [...]

Dr. Warren

November 30th, 2011
2:18 pm

Derivative, full of stereotypes and cliches, but at least the laugh track works like in the real shows.

WAR EAGLE

November 30th, 2011
2:28 pm

If that show sucked any further, it would be an adult film.

the TRUTH

December 1st, 2011
8:07 am

Jimmy Barron, now thats funny.

Fred

December 1st, 2011
11:39 pm

Rodney,

I wonder how how much of your outrage stems from the fact that you obviously have some Asian fore bearers. Give it up. Either you are American or you aren’t. If you are going to carry that cross grab some nails and nail yourself up on it. I was born in Japan to lily white American parents. My wife was born in America From Koreans. We are BOTH Americans. Technically I’M the “Asian-American.”

Ching Chong? I have to admit that’s a new one on me. Really? You said the show was crappy. Given your track record I’ll take that at face value as you have a pretty good track record at what you do. But to bring the “Asian’ thing into this? That’s beneath you bro.

You have done a really piss poor job trying to play the race card. It isn’t you, you don’t believe it and I’m not buying it. If this gets me banned from your blog I’ll take my banishment with pride. I’m an American. Either you are or you aren’t. If you are embrace it as we embrace you, if your allegiance is with another Country I would suggest you immigrate there. Look for ways to draw us together rather than for ways to drive us apart.

It’s pretty simple. Once The United States was known as the “melting pot’ now I think we are the dividing pot. Rather than looking for our commonalities, so many are looking for ways to drive us all apart and divide us.

Just damn.

ebony

December 3rd, 2011
1:08 pm

This is so sad. I used to work for this company. I left them last year, Hollins and High was very good in selling you a dream. It all seemed very promising at first but then they would never pay on time or just not at all. I kind of new something was not right just didn’t know what. I hope they put them under the jail. You just can’t go around taking people money and believe you will get away with it.