Russell Shimooka, left, and University of Hawaii football coach June Jones talk about "The June Jones Show" in the Paliku Theater at Windward Community College during a preview party recently for the unveiling of OC16's new 24-hour programming. The show premiered Sunday.

Fishing for laughs

Andy Bumatai's zany new
show is part of the 24-hour OC16


Thursday, Sept. 4, 2003

The family game show "Mental Tilapia," set to premiere on OC16 in October, will star Ray Bumatai, improvisational players and Hawaii's kids. In a headline and photo caption on Page D1 on Tuesday, Andy Bumatai was named as one of the program's creators. He has no involvement with the show but appeared at an unveiling party in support of his brother.

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Imagine turning a perfectly respectable fish into an irreverent game show, and you have "Mental Tilapia," one of four shows debuting this fall on OC16.

"I wanted to combine my improvisational skills, and those around me, with kids, and make it into a kids show," Ray Bumatai says. Bumatai created the show as a spinoff project for his improvisational comedy troupe, which is also named Mental Tilapia, and added veteran local actor Elitei Tatafu Jr. as master of ceremonies.

Tatafu presides as three young contestants join Bumatai, Garrick Paikai, Stephanie Sanchez and Robb Bonnell in working through three segments -- "tilapias" -- of improvisational comedy. R. Kevin Doyle, the improv director of the Mental Tilapia troupe, will be the show's scorekeeper, Capt. Kooky Boots.

In the opening round -- the "opening tilapia" -- the contestants must throw out suggestions whenever the actors appear to be hesitating or grasping for ideas. Suggestions used -- the most interesting or challenging, but still suitable for improv -- are worth five points. Top suggestions in the second tilapia are worth 10 points; in the final tilapia, 20.

Andy Bumatai, left, and brother Ray Bumatai promote their new show, "Mental Tilapia."

The contestants are assigned the roles of "who," "what" and "where," and each chooses an actor to represent them. The fourth actor has a minute per category to figure out what's going on, what type of person or thing is doing it and where.

"It behooves the contestant to not only make the suggestion as easy as possible, but as interesting as possible," Bumatai suggests. "I had one (show) where I had to do the 'what,' and the kid said, 'You are changing elephants into toilet paper.' I said, 'Kiss your 20 points goodbye!'"

Bumatai invites would-be contestants to "please call the number on your screen" once "Mental Tilapia" premieres next month, or contact Oceanic at 625-8100.

The Kahuku Red Raiders entertain the crowd with a brief Maori war chant.

Oceanic Time Warner Cable is introducing the quartet of new shows as it expands its all-local station to 24-hour programming. That happens tomorrow, although most of the new shows won't debut until next month. ("The June Jones Show," starring University of Hawaii football coach June Jones and sportscaster Russell Shimooka, premiered Sunday.)

The most anticipated may be "Blood of the Samurai: The Series," a six-part follow-up to Aaron Yamasato's short film "Blood of the Samurai," which received the Aloha Airlines Hawaii Film & Videomaker Award at the 2001 Hawaii International Film Festival.

"The original was more of a low-budget B-movie romp, with its origins and influences in '80s action movies and old samurai films. In the series we've contemporized it a bit more and made it more of serial ... and aside from the action in it -- there's some great action in it -- we also came up with a story arc and delved more into the relationship of the characters," writer-producer Anderson Le says.

Tiny Tadani, complete with video camera, gave the crowd at Paliku Theater a dose of OC16's "Tiny TV" recently during the unveiling of the cable channel's 24-hour programming.

Two veteran actors, Bryan Yamasaki and Michael Ng, star as the "trendy Asian dudes" who use "ancient mystical samurai swords" to fight crime while mastering their martial-arts skills under the guidance of a wise old mentor (Ban Daisuke, of "Kikaida" fame). Colleen Fujioka and Stephanie Sanchez co-star as the dudes' crime-fighting colleagues, and Alicia Michioka, Shawn Forsythe and Egan Inoue have recurring roles as friends and enemies.

Le says the show has a "20-something sensibility," but is written to appeal to a broader audience.

He also said that "Blood of the Samurai" is not a low-budget backyard-video production shot with someone's camcorder. The Hawaiian Stunt Connection was brought in for action sequences and stunt work, and cinematography is in line with the conventions of the genre.

"We've been looking at the footage, and they're just amazing actors," Le said. "We're very proud of them."

Also joining the OC16 lineup is "Hawaiian Classics," described as an opportunity to "flash back to the Hawaiian music scene of the '70s, '80s and '90s."


New on OC16

"The June Jones Show": Premiered Sunday; new shows air at 6:30 p.m. Sundays; repeats air at 10:30 p.m. Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays and at 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
"Mental Tilapia": Premieres at 8 p.m. Oct. 13
"Blood of the Samurai: The Series": Premieres at 10 p.m. Oct. 13
"Hawaiian Classics": Premieres at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 14

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