Indian-Americans and TVLatest News and Opinion
Posted Thursday 11/29/18 at 7:15PM EST
Disney Junior orders Mira, Royal Detective, a mystery animated series inspired by Indian cultures and customs
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Teen actress Leela Ladnier, who's 15, will voice the title role, joining an all-star voice cast of Freida Pinto, Hannah Simone, Kal Penn, Jameela Jamil, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Aasif Mandvi on the preschool animated mystery-adventure series. Each episode of the show is "rooted in India's vibrant heritage." According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Mira travels throughout the kingdom helping royals and commoners alike. Along with her friend Prince Neel, a talented inventor, creative cousin Priya and comical mongoose sidekicks Mikku and Chikku, she will stop at nothing to solve a case, taking young viewers on adventures that highlight critical thinking and encourage deductive reasoning."
Posted Friday 10/26/18 at 1:44PM EDT
Producer Adi Shankar: I hear The Simpsons decided to quietly drop Apu
In April, the Indian-American movie producer launched a spec script contest to solve The Simpsons' "Apu problem." He has since found what he calls the "perfect script," one that won't apparently be produced. “I got some disheartening news back, that I’ve verified from multiple sources now: They’re going to drop the Apu character altogether,” Shankar tells Indiewire. “They aren’t going to make a big deal out of it, or anything like that, but they’ll drop him altogether just to avoid the controversy.” Asked to respond, a Fox spokesperson provided a cryptic response: “Apu appeared in the 10/14/18 episode ‘My Way or the Highway to Heaven.’” In the episode, Apu only appears in a single wide shot that showed dozens of characters gathered around God. Shankar says eliminating Apu is a mistake. “If you are a show about cultural commentary and you are too afraid to comment on the culture, especially when it’s a component of the culture you had a hand in creating, then you are a show about cowardice,” says Shankar. “It’s not a step forward, or step backwards, it’s just a massive step sideways."
Posted Friday 10/05/18 at 3:56AM EDT
NBC's I Feel Bad is a fresh idea about an Indian-American family that's been needled half to death
Source: Vanity Fair
The NBC comedy revolves around an Indian-American mom named Emet, played By Sarayu Blue. Sonia Soraiya says it's great to see Indian-American representation onscreen, but watching this show makes her feel bad. "The sloppy and overfull pilot is what happens when a boardroom and a PowerPoint come together to make a television show," she says. "Emet is the daughter of immigrants, but she’s neutralized her otherness through immersion into the cult of American female domesticity; her problem, we’re told, is that she’s too giving. And as maddening as this mom-pandering is, it’s probably the only way this show could be sold. What’s especially, painfully obvious, like a brick to the face, is how the show tries to ignore, or at least smooth over, the alienation Emet must feel. Emet’s only character trait, amidst the hastily sketched mom-and-wife tropes, is that she is Indian-American. But the commonplace agonies of immigrant life have been spun into tepid sitcom banter so unconvincingly upbeat that the grins seem to stifle screams."
Posted Wednesday 7/18/18 at 1:42PM EDT
The Simpsons creator Matt Groening: Apu debate is "tainted now"
Source: The New York Times
In a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times, Groening said of The Problem with Apu director, "my guess is I agree, politically, with 99 percent of the things that Hari Kondabolu believes. We just disagree on Apu." Groening said he loves the character of Apu, and "it makes me feel bad that it makes other people feel bad. But on the other hand, it’s tainted now — the conversation, there’s no nuance to the conversation now. It seems very, very clunky. I love the character. I love the show." Groening went on to say he had a "scholarly intention" with Apu by naming the character after Satyajit Ray's The Apu Trilogy. "I am sorry that The Simpsons would be criticized for having an Indian character that, because of our extraordinary popularity — I expected other people to do it. I go, maybe he’s a problem, but who’s better?" said Groening. "Who’s a better Indian animated character in the last 30 years? I’ve been to India twice and talked about The Simpsons in front of audiences. That’s why this took me by surprise. I know Indians are not the same as Indian-Americans." Groening also addressed his USA Today interview earlier this year, where he said of the controversy, "people love to pretend they’re offended.” Groening told The Times that comment "wasn’t specifically about Apu. That was about our culture in general. And that’s something I’ve noticed for the last 25 years. There is the outrage of the week and it comes and goes." As for whether Apu will appear again, Groening said: “If we come up with a good story, we’ll do it."
Posted Thursday 7/12/18 at 5:29PM EDT
More people of color were nominated for Emmys this year than ever before
Source: TV Guide
According to TV Guide's tally, 38 people of color were nominated in the top categories, form Lin-Manuel Miranda to Sandra Oh to Trevor Noah. That's nearly double from 2016, when 21 people of color were nominated. ALSO: Sandra Oh and Darren Criss' nominations show the two ways to diversity casting.
# TOPICS: Emmys, 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, Darren Criss, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sandra Oh, Trevor Noah, African Americans and TV, Asian Americans and TV, Diversity, Indian-Americans and TV, Latinos and TV
Posted Saturday 5/12/18 at 12:41AM EDT
Katie Holmes' FBI drama, Cagney & Lacey and The Greatest American Hero are among the most surprising rejected pilots
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
"We just found out that network tv isn't ready for the first brown female superhero on tv," New Girl star Hannah Simone tweeted when she learned that her Indian-American reboot of the 1980s ABC superhero series failed to make next year's ABC schedule. CBS' rejection of the Cagney & Lacey reboot pilot means Grey's Anatomy star Sarah Drew has lost two jobs in as many weeks. Fox's passing on Katie Holmes' FBI drama marks the second time that she has been passed over for her first regular series role since Dawson's Creek. According to The Hollywood Reporter, there's a possibility of reshooting the pilot if Holmes approves. The most surprising rejected pilot is Bad Boys spinoff L.A's Finest starring Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sony wanted to package L.A.'s Finest with Norman Lear's passion project Guess Who Died and bubble shows Timeless and The Blacklist. Now both pilots are being shopped, while a decision hasn't been made on The Blacklist and Timeless.
Posted Tuesday 5/08/18 at 1:23PM EDT
The Problem with Apu's Hari Kondabolu thinks it's "too late" for Hank Azaria to step aside from The Simpsons' Apu role
Source: The Daily Beast
Kondabolu says he doesn't think The Simpsons writers or Matt Groening saw his truTV documentary -- but he thinks Azaria did -- because his film made clear that he didn't think Apu was made with nefarious purposes. "The Simpsons’ writers’ response is a response of people who didn’t see the film," he says. "That’s what I mean about fragility. I’m trying to have a nuanced discussion and they’re acting like the trolls on the internet who don’t read or watch anything and then question it." As for Azaria saying recently he'd step aside from the role, Kondabolu says: "I mean, personally, I think it’s too late. I think he can have the voice, but what can you do to make it more current, to make (Apu) more upwardly mobile? How about his kids’ voices? I think it would be funny if Apu’s kids were made fun of at school because of their father. Ultimately, there are creative solutions they haven’t explored and it’s bullsh*t to say they can’t change."
Posted Friday 5/04/18 at 1:53PM EDT
Priyanka Chopra says The Simpsons' Apu "was the bane of my life, growing up"
The Quantico star said she personally experienced the ramifications of the controversial Indian-American character, telling The View: “A lot of people are talking about, ‘oh, the show was so successful for 30 years, why are we suddenly waking up and being offended by a character that everyone loved.' The population of Indian-Americans in America has tripled … so the voice is louder, the representation and the demand for representation for people of color is louder.”
Posted Wednesday 5/02/18 at 1:17PM EDT
Longtime The Simpsons writer says Apu is practically already gone from the show
Source: Vanity Fair
Mike Reiss says he's puzzled by recent The Problem with Apu controversy because the writers were aware three or four years ago that the Indian-American character was problematic, which is why they came up with the 2016 "Much Apu About Something" episode. Apu “has barely been in the show since then. People are saying, ‘Get Apu off the show.’ Well, he’s not on!" says Reiss, who's promoting his new Simpsons book Springfield Confidential. “There is all this hoopla about Apu," he says, "and the fact is we were cued into this three or four years ago. We did an episode then to address it." Reiss adds: “Though there’s a lot of discussion on Apu, he’s barely had a line in the past three seasons. Hank Azaria saying he won’t voice the character anymore is like Val Kilmer announcing he won’t play Batman again—no one’s asking him to.”
Posted Monday 4/30/18 at 8:42PM EDT
The Problem with Apu's Hari Kondabolu: "Matt Groening finally responded & sounds like every other troll on the internet who didn’t see the documentary"
The Simpsons creator told USA Today last week when asked about the Apu controversy, "I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended." Kondabolu responded to Groening's comment, tweeting: "Well, that seals it. Matt Groening finally responded & sounds like every other troll on the internet who didn’t see the documentary. No one is offended by this character. It was, at times, insulting & was frustrating to many of us who were solely represented by that one image." ALSO: Groening's remark is "the height of willful ignorance."
Posted Monday 4/30/18 at 2:02PM EDT
Indian-American movie producer Adi Shankar is crowdsourcing a plan to fix The Simpsons' Apu
Source: The Verge
The Dredd and Lone Survivor producer has launched “Crowdsourcing the cure for The Simpsons," a free competition open to everyone, but it offers the following warning: “If you don’t have any experience with Indian culture in America then you may not have the perspective and experience to write well on this topic." Shankar says he'll take the winning script to The Simpsons' writers' room and Fox and ask them to run it, and hire its writer full-time.
Posted Friday 4/27/18 at 1:37PM EDT
Matt Groening on The Simpsons' Apu controversy: "I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended"
Source: USA Today
Asked by USA Today if he had any thoughts about The Problem with Apu criticism, The Simpsons creator said: "Not really. I’m proud of what we do on the show. And I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended." He added: "We’ll let the show speak for itself."
Posted Thursday 4/26/18 at 1:08PM EDT
The Problem with Apu's Hari Kondabolu on The Simpsons: "Honestly, I wasn’t trying to troll, but if I was, I won"
The Indian-American comedian -- speaking the day before Hank Azaria said he was willing to "step down" from voicing Apu -- said of The Simpsons episode responding to his TruTV documentary: "You’re not supposed to respond to me, you’re The Simpsons! You’re supposed to just keep going, pretend nothing happened. The fact that they buckled like that, to me, is also an indication of, like, white fragility. Oh my god, so somebody on a cable network said something about your show that’s been on for 30 years, and everyone obviously loves you and they don’t really know what my critique completely is, but still, because it damaged you in some small way, all the white writers freaked out and destroyed (the character of) Lisa. What is that? That’s white fragility."
Posted Wednesday 4/25/18 at 4:58AM EDT
Hank Azaria offers to "step aside" from Apu role, calls on The Simpsons to listen to South Asians
Asked by Stephen Colbert about the Apu controversy, Azaria said, “the idea that anyone young or old, past or present, being bullied based on Apu really makes me sad.” Azaria said he'd be “perfectly willing and happy to step aside” from voicing Apu, adding: “I’ve given this a lot of thought, really a lot of thought, and as I say my eyes have been opened. And I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country and they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character and what their American experience of it has been.” The Problem with Apu's Hari Kondabolu responded to Azaria's comments, tweeting: "Thank you, @HankAzaria. I appreciate what you said & how you said it."
Posted Monday 4/16/18 at 11:31PM EDT
The Simpsons' Apu controversy is what happens when a show is stuck in an eternal 1990
"The show seems to take pride in the way it hasn’t changed since 1989, even as change is a fact of life," Todd VanDerWerff says of "the horrible way" showrunner Al Jean has reacted to the controversy over Apu. "And for a show that likes to satirize everything, its inability to talk about aging, about shifting political opinions, about how different America has become, ends up miring it in a past it could so easily escape." With the Roseanne revival in mind, VanDerWerff wonders what would've happened if Bart, Lisa, Homer, Marge and Maggie had grown up? What if they were 29 years older? "I keep thinking about a Simpsons where everything had changed, and just by its very nature, such a show would have had to deal with Apu slightly better (though (Hank) Azaria would probably still be playing him)," he says. "When things can change within your fictional universe, it’s only natural for the characters to grow and change with them. "