Asian stars are rising — Latest TV breakthroughs look like the real deal

Once relegated to playing houseboys, prostitutes and extras on “M*A*S*H,” Asian-American actors are now appearing on prime-time television not as exoticized versions of reality, but as real people. Sandra Oh, superb in “Sideways,” is a star in the new medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” which has kicked “Boston Legal” to the curb and taken the prime slot after “Desperate Housewives” on Sunday nights at ABC. Or turn on ABC’s other hit drama, “Lost,” and you’ll notice not one, but two Asian regulars. Korean-American actors Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim (no relation to each other — or me) portray a married Korean couple stranded on the creepy island with a crew of folks including a pregnant woman, an Iraqi hottie, a fat dude, an African-American father and his son, a dog and a hobbit (or at least a guy who played a hobbit in “Lord of the Rings”).

Stalkers

“I am your No. 1 fan.” And so began Paul Sheldon’s terrifying encounter with Annie Wilkes, the obsessed character in Stephen King’s Misery who chopped off her idol’s feet so he couldn’t escape. (In the film version, she merely broke his ankles.) In real life, celebrities such as Sheryl Crow, Mel Gibson and Catherine Zeta-Jones are dealing with their own slew of “No. 1 fans.” Some go to prison for their obsessive behavior. But others don’t.

Burden of proof

This forum isn’t questioning whether William Kennedy Smith or Kobe Bryant are rapists. It’s about why people have been so hesitant to believe their accusers might be telling the truth. Audra Soulias says Smith raped her five years ago — and then had a consensual sexual relationship with her. Bryant — whose criminal case was dropped Wednesday because the accuser no longer wanted to participate in the proceedings — admitted to having sex with the young woman in Colorado, but insisted it was consensual.

Donnie Yen: Asians of change

Jet Li. Jackie Chan. Donnie Yen. Quick. Which one of these action film stars grew up in the United States? Or, more appropriately, which one of these stars had to leave the United States before he could make a name for himself in Hollywood? That would be Yen. Sure, while he’s not as famous in the United States as either Li or Chan, he has a loyal following worldwide and an impressive resume of films — the best of which were made in Hong Kong.

Patience a virtue, but plastic surgery is faster

Back in my day, a trip to Europe was considered a nice graduation gift. Having your parents pay for your college education was even better. But these days, a growing number of parents are giving girls the gift of the breast augmentation for their Sweet 16 or high school graduation. In 2003, almost 4,000 girls 18 years old and younger had their breasts done. I don’t think this is exactly what feminists had in mind when they encouraged young women to aim higher.

It’s the one-hour photo processor’s world — I just live in it

One hour isn’t what it used to be. Back in the day, one hour equaled 60 minutes. But take your film to be processed at one of those one-hour film developing shops and you’ll find that one hour often translates into 120 minutes. Or more. I realize the amount of time it takes to develop film depends on how many photo processing machines are available as well as on the number of customers already there before you.

Marriage 101

Sharon Skonie and Tom Martin dated for three years and were engaged for 18 months prior to their wedding almost a decade ago. By all accounts, they knew each other very well. But as devout Catholics, they also knew they would have to take part in pre-Cana, where they would meet with an already married couple and then later their priest to discuss marriage issues. “Pre-Cana was a requirement for us to get married in the Catholic church, so the idea of getting [pre-marital counseling] didn’t come as a surprise to us,” says Sharon Skonie Martin of Bolingbrook. “I was actually really looking forward to it because I wanted to get to know Tom better.

Women in the mix: the impact of gender studies

Mention women’s studies and you’re likely to get a mixed reaction. One group may talk about why it’s so important for students of both sexes to learn about women’s historical impact on society. Another may roll their eyes and argue that a men’s studies program would be considered sexist — so why the need for women’s studies in the 21st century?

Munchausen’s by proxy

At age 4, Mary Bryk began to suspect there was something seriously wrong with her mother. As Bryk recalls, her mother would meticulously tie Bryk’s hands together and bind her leg to a high chair. Then, she would strike the child’s foot with a hammer. “My mom was a nurse and would constantly tell me she was doing treatments and that the doctor knew what she was doing,” says Bryk, now 44. “But even at that age I knew something wasn’t right. When she fractured my hip while I was hospitalized, that’s when it hit me that what she was doing wasn’t normal.”

Money doesn’t grow under the tree

Preaching about how difficult it is to earn money is one thing. Actually putting yourself in the situation to experience it is another.

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