Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, May 31, 2001

Saturday is the big day for TV producer Al Masini
and June bride Charlyn Shizue Honda. They tie
the knot at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

Masini’s wedding
has all the romance
of a movie

He may live in a mansion,
but enjoys sunsets and
watching TV with bride to be

Menu, guest list

By Tim Ryan

A few times a year high atop Hawaii Loa Ridge, a concentration of light fills the night sky and part of Wailupe Valley, emanating not from the moon or stars, but from the massive marble house of one of Hawaii's most eligible bachelors.

So when Charlyn Shizue Honda was led to the edge of the second-floor patio by Al Masini in December moments after he turned on the beams, the Kalihi Valley-born woman knew love was in the air.

"A woman knows when she's going to be asked the question," said Honda, a senior film editor at Pacific Focus.

But Masini, 71, the producer and creator of the hit television shows "Entertainment Tonight," "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" and "Star Search," was not going to cut to the chase. Like any production worth its ratings, Masini wanted the mystery to build to a crescendo.

"He was so cute and sweet," Honda said. "Al is very much the salesman. He told me how much he loved me and cared about me and how he wanted to share his life with me. It was so tender and loving.

"Then he actually said the words. And I answered yes right away."

And the ring? There are two, including an "Eternal" wedding band surrounded by diamonds, with the center diamond given to Honda by her mother. The other diamond ring contains a large stone of several carats in an invisible setting on cathedral-type mounting, surrounded by 32 smaller diamonds. The rings were purchased in Los Angeles.

It is Honda's first marriage, Masini's fourth.

The wedding, to be held Saturday afternoon at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, has developed into an event of "champagne and caviar dreams" like the slogan opening Masini's "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." It promises to be one of Hawaii's social events of the year.

"It will be a good wedding," said Masini, 71, from his $12 million estate.

That may be an understatement.

The couple and a coterie of assistants have been planning the wedding for three months. Local designer Takeo created two dresses for the big day, and there is a title and motif for Saturday's event, but details are being kept a secret to surprise guests on the big day. (The Star-Bulletin will be there to report on the event.)

Eight acts will perform during the sit-down, three-course dinner, with more than a dozen entertainers performing throughout for 350 family and friends.

Among the performers will be Ho'okena; taiko drummers, featuring Kenny Endo; harpist Rebecca Smith; Na Leo Pilimehana; Danny Couch; Nueva Vida; Anita Hall; the Tihati Dancers; plus two surprise guests.

There's no best man or maid of honor for the nondenominational wedding ceremony, which, Masini said, will be no longer than 30 minutes.

The service will be conducted by the Rev. Arthur Pacheco; the invocation, by Kahuna Roland Freitas. The flower girl is Honda's niece Dara Nakagawa; ring bearer, nephew Gavin Mateo; attendant, niece Dawn Nakagawa.

When Masini arrived in Hawaii six years ago from New York, his intention was to "semi-retire" but assist the state where needed in attracting television productions. But the next three years became a whirlwind of work, beginning with producing the Miss Universe Pageant for the state, followed by getting "Baywatch" to relocate here, and then the cable show "Destination Stardom."

Masini's former wife April was reluctant to let her husband rest on the beach.

Honda said neither her fiancee's marriage history or age gave her second thoughts.

"I think you have to look at it on a case-by-case basis," she said. "With me, Al has always been the nicest person, very simple, easy-going and kind-hearted.

"We grew up in totally different environments -- Al in New York and me in Honolulu -- but we still have a lot of things in common when it comes to goals and humor and enjoying life. That makes up for a lot."

At 72, Honda's father, a general contractor, will be just one year older than his new son-in-law.

"My mother had me when she was 39, so I grew up being comfortable with older people," Honda said. "My parents met Al when we worked together and he was still married (to April), and they liked him from the beginning."

Masini met Honda in 1998 when he selected Pacific Focus to assist him in the Miss Universe Pageant production and to edit commercials promoting Hawaii, and later to help create a Hawaii video library.

Honda worked with Al and April as video editor on "Destination Stardom" from September 1999 to August 2000.

"We all became good friends," Honda said.

April Masini separated from her husband in last fall to pursue entertainment ventures in Los Angeles. The couple then divorced.

"Charlyn and I were still working together during that period, and she had to listen to my complaints and problems," Masini said. "She was a good friend."

Eventually, Masini asked his new friend for a date.

"This relationship is so good because it grew out of friendship," he said. "She was nice to me when there was no motive."

Honda has opened Masini's eyes to simpler pursuits.

"We like sunrises and sunsets and walking on the beach," Masini said. "Some nights we watch the 'Animal Planet' on TV because we're fascinated about what makes up life."

The 6 1/2-week honeymoon, which begins July 4, seems anything but simple: Stockholm, Norway, Sweden, Munich, Italy, St. Moritz, Austria, Prague, London, Scotland, Ireland, Amsterdam, New York, then back to Hawaii.

Honda attended Moanalua Intermediate and High schools, Leeward Community College and the University of Hawaii.

She's worked at Pacific Focus since 1994 and will continue to after the wedding but will be cutting back on her hours "to spend time with Al."

"I still want to be able to pay my own bills, but Al says I'm crazy," she said.

The couple for a time will live in Masini's "Hi'ilani" -- Hawaiian for "the arms of heaven" -- a 16,000-square-foot estate on Hawaii Loa Ridge.

The home features 27 kinds of marble, some of which was used to design a large indoor fountain in the entryway. An entertainment room becomes a professional THX theater with the help of a drop-down hidden screen and a laser-disc karaoke system.

A fan-shape cobblestone driveway leads toward the columned 543-square-foot porte-cochere. Entry to the house is through 11-foot-tall twin glass doors framed with Versailles-inspired wrought-iron scrolls.

The home is up for sale for $12 million. The newlyweds plan to either purchase another home or build another on the ridge.

 | | |

Wedding menu

First course: Big Island greens, seared day boat scallops, truffle shavings, chive caviar vinaigrette.

Second course: Roasted Pacific onaga, asparagus morrel risotto, chervil nage.

Third course: Beef tournedos Prince of Wales, foie gras, poached and seared Yukon Gold potato.

Dessert: Chocolate sampler and chocolate crumb cake.

Guest list

Among those invited are Gov. Cayetano and wife Vicky; former Gov. George Ariyoshi and wife Jean; entertainer Jim Nabors; Rick and Susan Fried; KHNL president-general manager John Fink; KHON's G.M. Bill Spellman; Apollonia; Barbi Benton; Doc Buyers and Elizabeth Lindsey Buyers; Larry and Brenda Foster; pianist Ginny Tiu; Continental Airlines' Ron Wright; Sam Riddle, who worked with Masini on the television show "Destination Stardom"; and Robin Leach, host of Masini's "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."

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