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Dec 03rd
Home Sections MiscellaNEWS RE: “Desperate Housewives” Is Unlike the Martin Gantz’ Murder Case, Where the NBC Acted Responsibly
RE: “Desperate Housewives” Is Unlike the Martin Gantz’ Murder Case, Where the NBC Acted Responsibly PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 06 October 2007 17:56

RE: "Desperate Housewives" Is Unlike the Martin Gantz’ Murder Case. Where Were the AAJA, the MANAA and the Screen Actors Guild EEOC in March 1994? The NBC Network Acted Responsibly in the Gantz Incident.

Part 9 of "Should We Do Desperate Moves About the Supposed "Desperate Housewives" Slur on RP's Med Schools?"

Sumi Sevilla Haru has written a criticism about the reaction of Bobby Reyes and the editorial staff of the on the apparent slur made by the "Desperate Housewives" TV series’ episode. The full commentary of Sumi Sevilla Haru follows this report. Bobby Reyes does not run away from fights involving insults to any race, especially slurs against the ethnic minorities. He has the track record to prove it. On Feb. 14, 1994, Sunday, after Reyes watched a special edition of the "Prime Suspect" on Channel KNBC-4 of the NBC Channel, he immediately wrote a protest letter that he sent by fax to the NBC office in Burbank. What did Reyes protest? The "Prime Suspect" said that the killer of Manhattan Beach Police Office Martin Gantz in December 1993 was an "Asian, possibly Filipino." The next day, Reyes delivered the hard copy of the protest direct to the NBC office. Then he started to call up the NBC offices to follow-up the protest.


Then Reyes rallied the community for a picketing of the NBC office and studios in Burbank. None of the then three existing Filipino-American press clubs wanted any part in the planned picket. Reyes met also with the representatives of the Los Angeles chapters of the Asian-American Journalists’ Association (AAJA), the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA), the Black Journalists Association (BJA) and the Chicano Journalists’ Association. Only the Black Journalists’ Association, then headed by George White of the Los Angeles Times Business Section, promised to walk together with the Filipino-American protesters spearheaded by the Media Breakfast Club of Los Angeles (MBCLA). Reyes and Romeo P. Borje, the dean of Filipino-American columnists, even met with the Board of Directors of the AAJA (L.A. chapter) but still the Asian-American journalists refused to join the MBCLA-led protest. The AAJA Board refused even to pass a resolution condemning the use of the offensive phrase. The MANAA sent a representative to address the MBCLA but then it did not commit to join the picket at the NBC and even write a letter of support. Reyes, the MBCLA founder, appealed to all the ethnic media associations, but no organization – even the Screen Actors Guild EEOC – never bothered to reply to the MBCLA appeal for assistance.

Two days before the scheduled start of the weekend picketing of the NBC, the network’s public-relations director called up Reyes and arranged a meeting at the TV station. Present also were several NBC officers, including the producer and anchor of the "Prime Suspect" TV series. A compromise was reached, wherein NBC would delete the offensive phrase, "Possibly a Filipino," in the national broadcast of the episode of the "Prime Suspect." The NBC public-relations director would also attend a meeting of the MBCLA then held at the Bahay Kubo Restaurant in Los Angeles to personally present the regrets of the NBC network and the producers of the TV series. The MBCLA then agreed to call off the picketing.

The MBC-led coalition then commended the NBC for exercising “responsible journalism,” as the other TV networks and mainstream newspapers refused to delete the offensive phrase.

The MBC-led coalition then commended the NBC for exercising “responsible journalism,” as the other TV networks and mainstream newspapers like the Los Angeles Times refused to delete the offensive phrase. They cited that the description of Officer Gantz’s killer, “as Asian, possibly Filipino,” came from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office and was not, therefore, their own making. Only the NBC Network chose to act responsibly, in reaction to the demand of the Filipino-American community, as backed up by the Black-American media.

So, in March 1994, where were Sumi Sevilla Haru and all the Asian-American media activists during the confrontation with the NBC Network?

Reyes and his fellow members at the MBCLA say that the case involving Police Officer Martin Gantz was real and was not a reel made-for-TV series or a movie. It was a life-and-death situation. By the way, the killer of Officer Gantz was arrested and he turned out to be a half-Caucasian, half-Vietnamese killer.

The "First Amendment" is the reason the MBCLA members refuse to meddle in the grandstanding of many Filipino-American, Filipino and Asian-American leaders and activists in the "Desperate Housewives" case. Besides, the alleged racial slur happens in a television show, a soap opera, which is pure fiction. The present brouhaha with the ABC Network over the "Desperate Housewife" series is similar to a 1994 episode of the "Frasier" comedy series when the actor who played the role of Frasier’s father said that he needed $25,000, so that he could afford a Filipino bride. Reyes and his friends laughed off the alleged racial slur because it was then true (as it still true) that an American groom would need like $25,000 or even more to go to the Philippines, meet the bride, do the wedding and reception and fly the bride back to the United States, where the couple would reside. Reyes says that truth is a defense in libel cases, even if it were to be argued that the Frasier’s incident amounted to a defamation of the Filipino "mail-order" bride.

Reyes says that it is public knowledge that the pride and joy of the Filipino Americans are the Filipino medical professionals and healthcare workers. So, Filipinos should not be onion-skinned because the American public knows the value of the Filipino medical professionals’ expertise and dedication to public service.

What Reyes and his friends suggest to the Filipino-American physicians and medical professionals is to undertake more positive public-relations efforts to present their track record of exceptional service to the United States. Like when Bobby Reyes organized the first Filipino-American Community Night at the Dodgers’ Stadium on July 24, 2006. Then Acting Filipino Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Willy C. Gaa, threw the ceremonial first pitch. Reyes invited the Philippine Medical Association of Southern California and the Philippine Nurses Association of Southern California to send a representative to be presented together with eight other Filipino-American community leaders. But the two organizations said that they could not make it due to a conflict of schedule because it was on a Thursday afternoon, a working day. "To make Filipinos look good, feel good and proud of their positive contributions to the United States" is the motto of the Fil-Am event at Dodgers Stadium. The second Fil-Am event at the Dodgers Stadium was held on July 1, 2007. Reyes and his group are preparing a bigger Fil-Am Day during the 2008 baseball season, as next year is the golden anniversary of the Dodger’s transfer to Los Angeles from New York.

To view the write-up of the 2007 Fil-Am Dodger Day, please click on this link

To view the photos of the 2006 first-ever Fil-Am Community Night at the Dodgers Stadium, please go to this link


* * * *

Sumi Sevilla Haru writes: QUOTE. Bobby Reyes just doesn't get it.  Even though Desperate Housewives is fiction, the impact of prime time television makes an impression on viewers around the world.  The portrayal incident wasn't a molehill; it was, indeed, bigger than a mountain.  Media professionals starting in 1969 with Brotherhood of Artists (many East West Players and Nosotros members), Asian Americans for Fair Media, Asian American Journalists Association, Association of Asian Pacific Americans, Asian Media Coalition, Media Action Network for Asian Americans and Screen Actors Guild EEOC have been fighting for balanced images of people of color.  Where has Reyes been?  Obviously out of it.  Because of the negative Asian portrayal in Brides of Fu Man Chu on KTLA-TV in 1972, I was hired on the station to co-host and co-produce public affairs programs with Johnny Grant.  The community wanted a positive Asian image on channel 5. That gig lasted 17 years. 

The creative unions, Directors Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Actors Equity Association, Writers Guild of America, Cinematographers Guild and Screen Actors Guild negotiate for diversity and balanced portrayals of women, people of color, seniors, lesbians, gays, transgender, bisexuals and persons with disabilities are imperative and that behind-the-scenes creators must also be diversified in order to make the screen and stage images balanced.


I was a co-founder of the Screen Actors Guild Ethnic Minorities Committee in 1971, and was first elected the national board in 1974 and just re-elected for another three-year term.  I have served on the AFTRA national and local boards since 1976.  Through all these years in my unions, I have been fighting against stereotypical images. 


Now we have a self-appointed spokesperson for the Filipino community saying stereotypes are a molehill!  Reyes does a disservice to the Filipinos around the world.


Sumi Sevilla Haru UNQUOTE.


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Last Updated on Friday, 07 December 2007 04:22

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