Asian Americans Media Action Network Endorses 'Excelsior'By Christian
April 17, 2000 - 4:37 PM
We just received the following press release from the Excelsior Campaign:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Diversity Proponents Call for Captain Sulu Media Action Network for Asian Americans Endorses Excelsior Campaign
LORAIN, OH, April 17, 2000 - The Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) today endorsed the 5,000 member Star Trek fan organization, the Excelsior Campaign, which has been pressuring Paramount to produce a Star Trek television series about the adventures of the crew of the U.S.S. Excelsior under the command of Captain Hikaru Sulu (George Takei). MANAA was a key player in the successful "End the White Washing of Television" campaign which resulted in, among other things, the hiring of Vice Presidents of Diversity by CBS, FOX, and NBC. MANAA co-founder Guy Aoki, when announcing the formal endorsement, stated, "it could do for Asian American action shows what Cosby did for Black shows and sitcoms in the early '80s!"
Explaining the reasons for MANAA's endorsement, Guy Aoki continued. "I've heard countless stories from [Asian Americans] across the country that when George Takei came on Star Trek, they'd all rush into the living room to watch him because it was one of the rare opportunities to see someone who looked like them-and what's more, for once, it was a character they didn't have to be ashamed of being associated with. People need to see themselves acknowledged in television shows in movies. It gives their existence validation. [A television series about Captain Sulu is] long overdue! It was clear from 1991's Star Trek VI that while the other characters were retiring, Sulu was just coming into his own and that he could continue on with his own ship and his own adventures. The success of 'Excelsior'...would encourage other networks to cast Asian Americans in leads of other series. Besides, Takei has a commanding presence and would keep viewers riveted to the screen."
Excelsior Campaign manager Russ Haslage added that he feels optimistic about the Campaign's fortified chances for success because "as a consortium of different demographics, we offer something for everyone. For Voyager and Deep Space Nine fans, here's a brand new quadrant (the 'Beta Quadrant') to explore. For the typically high-earning fans of the Next Generation and the original series, the U.S.S. Excelsior is similarly a starship on a mission to explore the 'strange, new worlds' of humanity's future potential. For those who want more character-driven stories, the ship's crew will be facing the challenges of an era without holodeck technology. For those who would like the franchise to be revitalized by a return to its roots in the philosophy of Gene Roddenberry, there is an original cast member to help keep the producers on the straight and narrow. And of course we hope Paramount considers very seriously the desires of those in the Asian American community who have expressed their support. MANAA is a highly respected and successful organization, and I am honored that they're now a part of this team."
The Star Trek fans in the Excelsior Campaign will be taking their cause to the streets on April 22, with rallies of support for Captain Sulu and the U.S.S. Excelsior to take place outside Paramount and at Trek-broadcasting stations around the world. This will be followed by a letter-writing drive which will now also include as a recipient, Josie Thomas, the Vice President of Diversity at CBS, where the series would likely air with the merger of Viacom/Paramount/CBS. In an added challenge to fans, John Ordover of Pocket Books has offered to write another novel about Captain Sulu, if they will write him 1,000 letters of request by May 1.
The Excelsior Campaign is a project spearheaded by the International Federation of Trekkers (IFT), with the support of over five thousand individual members and several fan organizations, which together represent a few thousand more. IFT boasts over twelve hundred members and was founded in 1984 "to promote the humanistic philosophies and ideals portrayed in the Star Trek myths in a realistic fashion conducive to the continued existence and responsible advancement of human kind."
MANAA is "the only organization solely dedicated to monitoring the media and advocating balanced, sensitive and positive coverage and depictions of Asian Americans." MANAA can be reached by telephone at 213-486-4433 and they have a web site at http://janet.org/~manaa/.