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Breakout stars of 2010

The people, places and things that grabbed our attention and hit it big this year

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 1:45 p.m. HST, Dec 26, 2010

'Hawaii Five-0' puts a hip spin on a TV classic

From the moment last spring when CBS announced it would revive "Hawaii Five-0," anticipation was at a fever pitch.

This was a show people wanted to see, but the network faced a challenge as tough as any in TV: create a show that reminds viewers of the original hit drama while not sacrificing an opportunity to shape a modern identity.

CBS assembled a group of attractive stars — Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park — who brought a broad fan base and teamed them with talented executive producers. Then it launched a marketing campaign that gave the new "Five-0" enormous visibility.

It was such a successful combination of talent and network backing that "Five-0" became the No. 1 new show of the season, and Caan has been nominated for a Golden Globe.

The show sparked a devoted following among social media mavens who fawn over every detail and poke fun when the writers or actors manhandle the subtleties of Hawaii culture. Speaking pidgin became speaking "bird," and slippers became flip-flops.

To be sure, there is plenty of gritty action, but the show puts the beauty of Hawaii in living rooms all over the world.

Australian actor O'Loughlin, who plays the iconic McGarrett, told us that working on "Five-0" has been a great experience.

"The success of 'Hawaii Five-0' is pretty surreal," he said. "It is exciting how well the show has been received by audiences. While we are aware that millions of people are tuning in each week, we are isolated on set and it is not something we are thinking about as we are making the show."

— Mike Gordon


Hawaii export Bruno Mars is out of this world

Last Sunday's sold-out homecoming concert by Bruno Mars was made that much more special when just days before, the 25-year-old singer-songwriter-producer surprised almost everyone by garnering seven Grammy nominations, an unprecedented showing for a local artist. Only Eminem scored more nods.

The recognition reflects the impact the ascendant Mars had on pop music in 2010, from "Nothin' on You," a collaboration with rapper B.o.B. that first brought the Roosevelt High grad to widespread attention, to the romantic smash single "Just the Way You Are," a top iTunes download.

Grammy also acknowledged Mars' co-writing job on the provocative but sunny retro-soul hit summer single "(Expletive) You" from R&B singer Cee-Lo Green, which was nominated for Song of the Year.

And the hits keep on coming, with "Grenade," the latest release off his debut album, "Doo-Wops & Hooligans," blowing up the charts.

Regardless of whether Mars walks away with any trophies after the Grammy Awards show on Feb. 13 or is forced to face the music in a Las Vegas courtroom where he is facing cocaine possession charges, he became a player in the international pop music scene in a big way this year, and his multifaceted talent ensures he'll be a music industry fixture for years to come.

— Gary Chun


Food trucks redefine alfresco

With so many new additions to Honolulu's mobile culinary landscape, it's fair to call 2010 the Year of the Food Truck. There are options for foodies, plus those looking for a cheap, quality meal. If you wanted to, you could easily spend days eating all your meals outdoors.

The interesting thing about food trucks? The more you look for them, the more you'll find in operation. Even a few of Oahu's most popular brick-and-mortar eateries are getting into the food truck game. While some, like Haili's Hawaiian Foods and Magoo's, went the mobile route when their restaurant operations failed, others are looking to make the jump in reverse.

Get started by searching online for Melt's "Melt of Shame" patty melt, or the Korean-Mexican fusion served up by Gogi Korean Tacos. Expand your culinary horizons with Shogunai Tacos, Jawaiian Irie Jerk or Opal Thai Cuisine.

And those with a sweet tooth, get ready: Rumor has it, Honolulu will welcome its first mobile cupcakery in 2011!

— Jason Genegabus


Andy South shows his stuff on the 'Runway'

In July we learned that two designers with roots in Hawaii had made it onto Season 8 of Lifetime's hugely popular television show "Project Runway."

Both Andy South and Ivy Higa did well, but while Higa was sent home after nine episodes, South continued on to the season's finale in Week 14, when Portland designer Gretchen Jones was finally named the winner.

It seemed fated that South would find his way onto the show. Talk of auditioning for the series was circulating immediately after he graduated from Honolulu Community College in 2007, and he'd been steadily, quietly, honing his skills ever since by creating beauty pageant gowns and custom designs, and entering local design competitions.

After initially auditioning for "Project Runway" for Season 5, in 2008, South said he refocused his endeavors to work on his artistry and vision after being told by Tim Gunn, "I don't know who you are as a designer."

His hard work paid off with his place in the "Project Runway" finale, and his humility won him new fans across the country. South's winning competition sportswear designs were picked up by Heidi Klum for her New Balance line, made available nationwide through

The year's end saw him working with noted fashion photographer David LaChapelle and, over Christmas and New Year's, in Hong Kong working on production of his secondary line, SOUTH by Andy South. He and business partner Richie Miao are aiming for a soft launch in February.

— Nadine Kam


The Edition makes it cool to chill at the pool

The Waikiki Edition is a Breakout Star of 2010 because it's a sophisticated game-changer in the world of Waikiki hospitality, opening its chic surroundings to locals in a thoroughly modern, calculating and entertaining manner.

Common areas, including, notably, the swimming pool decks, are open for socializing. This brings a touch of Los Angeles or Las Vegas to the vibe and adds electricity to the atmosphere, as locals mingle with well-heeled guests. The hotel extends itself to make hanging out at the pool enjoyable, with weekly movie nights and rotating deejays who bring in their own island following.

Morimoto, the namesake restaurant operated by celebrity "Iron Chef" Masaharu Morimoto, is a luxe experience, breakfast through evening. The Sunrise Pool deck, with wooden-slat floors, couches and a marina view, is chill all day long and especially gorgeous as the sun goes down. At the Sunset Pool one level up, there's a wading pool and a sandy "beach."

Edition's lobby bar, hidden away until the afternoon behind a swinging wall-size bookcase, features a deejay on some afternoons. It's equally clubby and contemporary. And late nights only, Crazybox, a silver-walled dance cube in the spirit of New York and Warhol, sometimes hosts celebrity deejays along the lines of Rev. Run of Run-D.M.C., who appeared in November.

The urban/contemporary ambience keeps visitors' eyes wide open. A team of architects, designers and consultants groomed the interiors and exteriors, as well as the staff, so that every element would be just this side of slick.

Edition General Manager Michael Rock imagines it as a "social hub" full of "engaging experiences," while night life director Laura Modica praises the raw excitement of a night of wild abandon at Crazybox and the "edge" provided by famed New York hotelier Ian Schrager's conceptual design.

Modica says the hotel gives the feeling there are "secrets around every corner." There is certainly enough cool mystery in the hotel's design and execution to keep patrons amused throughout the coming year.

— Elizabeth Kieszkowski


'One Kine Day' cuts a slice of life in the 808

The opening scene of the indie feature "One Kine Day," a film shot at several Windward Oahu locations, does a lot to sum up the vision of its director, Chuck Mitsui.

His cameras fly over the island, sweeping from the hotel-studded beach of Waikiki, across the rugged Koolaus. As they drop into a working-class suburb in Kaneohe, they find Ralsto, a young skateboarder who seems to bounce from one drama to another like an emotional pinball.

The story of Ralsto's day, and the colorful Hawaii locals he meets along the way, is not only entertaining, but also a slice of life seldom seen on the big screen. It was a breakout film.

"What I tried to show was the real Hawaii," Mitsui said of his directorial debut. "The local's perspective."

Since capturing an audience choice award at its world premiere in October at the Hawaii International Film Festival, "One Kine Day" was accepted at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival in March and at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in April. And the 36-year-old Mitsui is starting to get inquiries from distributors who are talking about a theatrical release.

"It is always risky to write about Hawaii," he said. "It goes out there, and people say that is not a true depiction and you get hammered. Having won this award at HIFF stamps this. The people of Hawaii say this is a true depiction."

Mitsui, who owns a skateboard shop in Kailua called 808 Skate, isn't originally from Hawaii. He grew up in San Francisco and moved here in 1992 to pursue a college degree in marine biology.

"I want to make more movies about Hawaii because I really love it here," he said. "I think there are stories here that are really compelling."

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