The True Significance of Dr. Ken

Posted by | Posted in On TV | Posted on 15-06-2017

From You Offend Me You Offend My Family
BY Dana Lee 06/14/2017

Dana Lee and Ken Jeong (photos via Dana Lee)

Veteran actor Dana Lee was a series regular on the ABC sitcom DR. KEN playing the role of DK–the divorced father of Ken Jeong’s titular character. The show was recently cancelled following its second season and Dana writes about why working on the show was a unique and special experience:

I have seen APIA actors come and go. APIA actors have always had some moments in the sun. Sessue Hayakawa in BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI, Dr. Haing S. Ngor in THE KILLING FIELDS, Golden Globe winner Nancy “Ka Shen” Kwan, Mako in THE SAND PEBBLES and Pat Morita in THE KARATE KID are most noteworthy. And let’s not forget the contribution Bruce Lee made to advance APIA actors.

However, proud and grateful I am of their performances, I can’t help but think that all of them fitted in a certain mold of what white people expected of APIA’s, except for Sessue Hayakawa. The popularity of Hayakawa rivaled that of Caucasian male movie stars in the decade of the 1910s, and he became one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood.

Today, one can say the industry has evolved to the point where the stereotypical mold of APIAs is considered broken. APIA guys with white or black girlfriends, and badass APIA girls kicking ass. APIA’s have leads on TV series, even a sitcom with an all Asian family (there were two). These are all good and positive things, to be sure, and I’m forever grateful for them. However, I still felt something was missing, until DR. KEN.

DR. KEN Summer Press Tour (clockwise from left): Suzy Nakamura, Dana Lee, Krista Marie Yu, Albert Tsai

My acting philosophy has always been to keep quiet and let your work speak for you. I know, that is not necessarily a good philosophy for someone in the spotlight. You see, I grew up in segregated Houston, TX where my dad had a mom and pop grocery store in the black section of town, Fifth Ward, and we lived in the poor white section of town, Denver Harbor. Because my dad was a grocer, we always had enough to eat, though we were definitely lower middle class.

So, with few people who looked like me, I became more and more introverted. One day in high school, I decided to do something about my shyness. I approached the speech teacher about taking a speech class. Mr. Long, who was also the drama coach, decided that acting was more suited for me. So, desirous of overcoming my shyness I was willing to give it a try. Immediately, I was hooked. Not for the spotlight or fame or money but I found my “voice” in acting. Mr. Long also taught me another thing, “You’re an actor. You can play any part you want to play. Don’t you ever forget that.”

I haven’t forgotten it yet.

So, having a venue for my “voice” has always been the driving force in my career. It has never been about money, fame, or any of the many other superficial trappings of acting. Although, let’s be clear, I’m also not against it either. It’s just that my “voice”, my belief in myself, has played a big part in the roles I chose. It was also a big reason why I spent about 15 years at East West Players working not only as an actor but all the other important jobs that make a successful production. I continue to work in Equity 99-seat plan theatres. That “voice” also played a significant part when it came to all the uproars about casting and white washings.


DR. KEN promo

To be sure, I’ve had some highlights in my 40 some odd years career in film, TV and stage. I got to slap Stallone, did two Frank Chin plays, played George to Nancy Kwan’s Martha in WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF and being cast in THE WOMAN WARRIOR. Sure, Ken Jeong, a star in his own right, is no Sly Stallone, Mel Gibson or Danny Glover and the writing on DR. KEN may not be Shakespeare, but I don’t care.

The thing that DR. KEN had over everything I’ve done is the opportunity to have that “voice” heard. It was a show about human beings with human aspirations and shortcomings…without denying our “Asianness”.

It also dealt with LGBTQ issues and interracial dating without being preachy. It had the humor plus the heart. It tried to delve deeper into the psyche of each character rather than just gloss over the superficial characteristics with a clever retort.

That humanity is what I’ve craved for my whole career. For sure, especially the APIA actors, felt we were doing something bigger than ourselves. The insight and courage of Ken Jeong, John Fox, Jared Stern and producers Mike Sikowitz, Patrick Kienlen, Mike O’Connell and the rest of the team; created an extraordinary journey for us all.

I want to thank them for a wonderful experience and for allowing me to express my voice. And with its cancellation, I think our community and the world will be deprived of one of the most significant moments on TV. Time will tell if there is anybody or any other network will have the guts to bring DR. KEN back or create another series like it.


Dr. Ken Season 2 Premiere TONIGHT!!

Posted by | Posted in On TV | Posted on 23-09-2016

TONIGHT!!!! SEASON PREMIERE Dr. Ken 8:30p/7:30c on ABC

“Dr. Ken” Renewed for Season 2!

Posted by | Posted in On TV | Posted on 13-05-2016

From Variety.Com:

ABC has added to its comedy roster for the 2016-17 season by renewing first-year Ken Jeong comedy “Dr. Ken” for a second season.

“Dr. Ken” has been a solid performer for ABC on Fridays this season, averaging a 1.5 rating in adults 18-49 and 6.4 million viewers overall in Nielsen’s “live plus-7” estimates. In both categories, this is the network’s best delivery in three years.

ABC has yet to make a decision on veteran comedy “Last Man Standing,” which has served as a lead-in to “Dr. Ken.”

“Dr. Ken” stars Ken Jeong as Dr. Ken, Suzy Nakamura as Allison, Tisha Campbell Martin as Damona, Dave Foley as Pat, Jonathan Slavin as Clark, Kate Simses as Julie, Albert Tsai as Dave and Krista Marie Yu as Molly.

The show, which hails from Sony Pictures Television and ABC Studios, is executive produced by Mike Sikowitz, Ken Jeong, John Davis and John Fox.

Dr. Ken Promos

Posted by | Posted in On TV | Posted on 20-08-2015

Ken Burns Presents – Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies

Posted by | Posted in On TV | Posted on 28-03-2015

“Ken Jeong found out that his wife had breast cancer when he started shooting The Hangover.”

Tran is 6 years cancer-free and doing great.

Find out more about the film:

Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies

The “Dr. Ken” Cast Is Complete

Posted by | Posted in On TV | Posted on 12-03-2015

Allison (wife) – Suzy Nakamura (“Go On”)

Suzy Nakamura

Molly (daughter) – Krista Marie Yu (“The Thundermans”)

Krista Marie Yu

Dave (son) – Albert Tsai (Bert on “Trophy Wife”)

Albert Tsai

Hector (HMO nurse) – Jonathan Slavin (“Better Off Ted”)

Jonathan Slavin

Damona (HMO receptionist) – Tisha Campbell-Martin (Gina on “Martin”)

Tisha Campbell-Martin

Pat Hein (HMO boss) – Dave Foley (“Newsradio”, “Kids in the Hall”)

Dave Foley

Medical Comedy Starring ‘Community’s’ Ken Jeong Scores ABC Pilot Order

Posted by | Posted in On TV | Posted on 10-02-2015

From The Hollywood Reporter:

The semi-autobiographical comedy was previously developed at NBC.

ABC has picked up to pilot Dr. Ken, a semi-autobiographical comedy starring the Hangover and Community star. The comedy stars Jeong as a frustrated HMO doctor juggling medicine, marriage and parenting — and succeeding at none of them.

The multicamera comedy was previously developed at NBC in 2013 and hails from The Internship writer Jared Stern, ABC Studios and Sony Pictures Television — which has a history of finding new homes for its programming, including Community. The comedy will be produced by studio-based Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox (The Blacklist), marking the duo’s second pilot order of the season. (They also have NBC drama Endgame.) Jeong, a licensed physician, will star and co-executive produce. Mike O’Connell and Jeong will also write and co-exec produce. Mike Sikowitz will also exec produce.

Dr. Ken marks a return for Jeong to ABC, where last he co-starred in comedy pilot Spy two years ago. Additionally, Jeong currently stars in MTV’s comedy pilot Ken Jeong Made Me Do It, which remains in contention.

For ABC, Dr. Ken marks its 13th comedy pilot order of the season, off one from a year ago. It’s also the second pilot to land at ABC after being developed for a previous network (joining drama Runner from Fox).

Semi-autobiographical fare continues to be in high demand as broadcast networks look to proven voices with a strong sense of direction. For its part, ABC also has Detour, based on Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo’s life, as well as its Johnny Knoxville entry; Fox has Studio City (writer Krista Vernoff); NBC has Go Jerrod Go (Jerrod Carmichael) and Heart Matters (Dr. Kathy Magliato); and CBS has its Tommy Johnagin comedy.

Medical programming was one of the biggest trends this past development season. Dr. Ken joins other medical-themed fare this pilot season including ABC’s The Advocate, CBS’ Code Black and LFE as well as NBC’s Heart Matters, all dramas.

Community, meanwhile, will return to Yahoo Screen in March. Its future beyond its upcoming sixth season remains unclear. Jeong becomes the latest member of the Community family to book a follow-up role and second at ABC, which also has Chev & Bev, a comedy pilot starring former regular Chevy Chase. Meanwhile, co-star Yvette Nicole Brown exited in a bid to care for her father and, because of its regular filming schedule, joined CBS’ The Odd Couple; Donald Glover, who exited two years ago, is shooting a pilot for FX; and Gillian Jacobs will star in Netflix’s Judd Apatow comedy Love, which landed at the streamer with a two-season order.

Ken Jeong Says Next Season of ‘Community’ is Better and ‘More British’

Posted by | Posted in On TV | Posted on 29-01-2015
Brent Lang
Senior Film and Media Reporter @BrentALang

“Advantageous,” a brainy new science-fiction film that debuted this week at the Sundance Film Festival, represents a major departure for Ken Jeong.

The comic actor best known for letting it all hang out in “The Hangover,” reveals himself in a whole different way. Jeong plays Han, a restaurant owner who is plagued by guilt after his affair with his wife’s sister results in a child. It’s a small, but pivotal role, and one he plays straight.

“I’m in exploration mode,” said Jeong, who did double duty as a producer on “Advantageous.” “Comedy will also be my first love, but it’s natural for every comedic actor to want to expand their range and see if they can do it.”

Jeong isn’t turning back on the roles that made famous. He’ll return to Greendale Community College as Señor Ben Chang, a former Spanish teacher with a tenuous grip on reality, in “Community.” The cult hit was cancelled by NBC last year, but was given a reprieve when Yahoo opted to produce a sixth season of the critically adored, but low rated series. It debuts on March 17.

“‘Community’ is such a miracle show,” said Jeong. “This is actually my favorite season we’ve ever shot, I think maybe because of some of the subtext. We’re survivors and we’re doing this again and that’s a part of it.”

Just because the series is free of broadcast censors, don’t expect a major overhaul to the absurdist formula that made it a favorite with the Twitter set. There will still be pop culture and meta-references aplenty.

“Just because we’re on Yahoo, it’s not like it’s a raunchy comedy now,” said Jeong. Creator Dan Harmon had some interesting advice for the cast and their new backers, Jeong reports, “He said, ‘I want it to be exactly what it was. Almost the same length. Maybe more British.’”

It wasn’t Jeong’s work on the small-screen that landed him his “Advantageous” role. Co-star Jacqueline Kim said she recommended Jeong to director Jennifer Phang after seeing him play demented and frequently naked gangster Leslie Chow in “The Hangover” while on a plane trip. Given his talent for making people laugh, she knew he’d be up to the challenge.

“That’s the hardest acting to do — comedy,” said Kim. “To be funny, you have to be a master of so many things, and have a deep understanding of human beings.”

For his part, Jeong said he was impressed by the way that “Advantageous” used its futuristic setting to explore topics of gender disparity and body image issues. The film focuses on a woman who undergoes a dicey cosmetic procedure in order to provide for her young daughter.

“As a parent of twin girls, I’m intimately aware of the pressures of having them thrive in society and in school right now,” said Jeong. “They’re universal themes.”

“Advantageous” is a work of almost daunting ambition. The futuristic world that director and writer Jennifer Phang and Kim, who co-wrote the script in addition to starring in the film, create is positively Darwinian. The one percent are still doing just fine, but the rest of society is rocked by bombings, political unrest and crippling unemployment levels.

“I’m looking at a future where the economy is more fractured,” said Phang. “The class divide is growing wider and the diminishment of the middle class has continued. It’s a time when there are more desperate people and more affluent people than ever before.”

Parallels to this current era of uncertainty are clearly intentional.


30 for 30 Shorts: Student Athlete – Reggie Ho

Posted by | Posted in On TV | Posted on 07-01-2015

Click the link for the film.

Our latest film, from actor Ken Jeong, tells the story of how a 5-foot-5 premed student played a crucial role in Notre Dame’s undefeated football season
by Grantland Staff on January 7, 2015

Welcome back to our 30 for 30 documentary short series.

Reggie Ho never dreamed of playing football in college. Growing up in Hawaii and of Chinese descent, he always imagined he’d be a doctor like his father. He enrolled at Notre Dame as a premed student and didn’t think much of playing football until he decided he needed a more well-rounded life. He was the placekicker on his high school football team and decided to walk on to Notre Dame’s. At 5-foot-5 and 135 pounds, Ho was one of the smallest players in a major college football program — and suddenly became a celebrity on and off campus. As a walk-on, Ho didn’t receive any financial support from his school: a pure student-athlete. He did it for the love of the game and for the love of Notre Dame. After the 1988 season, the walk-on walked off the field. Ho continued his premed degree, but no longer played football. Yet he was a crucial part in Notre Dame’s most recent undefeated season.

Olbermann Appearance – Stuart Scott, Reggie Ho

Posted by | Posted in On TV | Posted on 05-01-2015