Production staff

Biographies current to the year of release in 2000

Producer, Director and Writer FRANK ABE is a former senior reporter for KIRO Newsradio and KIRO-TV, the CBS affiliates in Seattle. In his 14-year career he wrote and produced numerous reports, broadcast live from Japan, Korea and Thailand, and produced a weekly series featuring writers of color, “Other Voices.” He won numerous awards from the Asian American Journalists Association, the Washington State Bar Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Academy of Religious Broadcasting, and others.

Abe helped produce the first-ever “Day of Remembrance” in 1978 with Frank Chin and Lawson Inada, and together they invented a new Japanese American tradition by producing car caravans and media events in Seattle and Portland that publicly dramatized the campaign for redress. “Days of Remembrance” are now observed as an annual event wherever Japanese Americans live. Abe was project director in 1980 for a series of successful public symposiums, “Japanese America: Contemporary Perspectives on the Internment,” funded by the Washington Commission for the Humanities. Abe supervised the editing and publication of the proceedings of those events, and produced a radio documentary drawn from the testimony.

Abe is a former National Vice-President of the Asian American Journalists Association, and taught broadcast writing at Seattle University. He was a founding member of the Asian American Theater Workshop in San Francisco, studied at the American Conservatory Theater, and was featured as an internment camp leader in John Korty’s 1976 NBC-TV movie, Farewell to Manzanar.

“My own father was interned at Heart Mountain. Only recently did I learn that he donated $2 to the Fair Play Committee and subscribed to the Rocky Shimpo to read James Omura’s editorials.”

More recently Abe has served as communications director for former King County Executive Gary Locke, the Metropolitan King County Council, and the current County Executive, Dow Constantine.

Editor LILLIAN BENSON, A.C.E. was nominated for an Emmy for her work on the landmark civil rights series Eyes on the Prize II. She has edited numerous documentaries and feature films for HBO, CNN, The Learning Channel, The Discovery Channel,and PBS. Benson made her directorial debut in 2004 with All Our Sons: Fallen Heroes of 9/11, a half-hour documentary on the firefighters of color who died at the World Trade Center. She recently edited an an episode of Craft In America as well as Beyond the Steps-Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for PBS. Her feature film credits include Au Pair Chocolat, Soliloquy, Alma’s Rainbow, and Twisted starring Christian Slater. She also edited two movies of the week The Fantasia Barrino Story and The Old Settler, both directed by Debbie Allen, and the first season of the dramatic series Soul Food for Showtime.

Ms. Benson is the first African American female member of American Cinema Editors, the honorary society of film editors, and serves on their board of directors. She is a native of Brooklyn and runs an editorial service, Lightwave Pictures, in Santa Monica.

Director of Photography PHIL STURHOLM is a 35-year veteran of television production, winning 32 regional Emmy Awards, a Peabody, and a duPont Award for his news photography and filmmaking. He graduated from Oregon State University and began a career in television news that took him to KING-TV and KIRO-TV in Seattle, and PM Magazine. He teaches broadcast writing and production at Seattle Community Colleges and Seattle University. He has been inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Seattle chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
For ITVS, Sturholm co-produced, shot and edited KONTUM DIARY (1994), which follows an American Vietnam Vet in his emotional journey back to Vietnam to return a diary to a former North Vietnamese soldier he once fought, and a sequel, KONTUM DIARY: THE JOURNEY HOME. Sturholm was director of photography for the national Emmy-nominated TWO DECADES AND A WAKEUP (1991). He won a National Press Photographers Award for REFLECTIONS OF CHINA (1979), as one of the first American TV photographers to enter the People’s Republic of China.

Co-Producer SHANNON GEE wrote and produced FINDING A HOME IN CHINATOWN: THE KONG YICK BUILDINGS for the Wing Luke Asian Museum, which aired on Seattle’s KCTS Television in 1998. She was associate producer of the PBS “American Masters” special, VAUDEVILLE, named one of the best television shows of 1997 by People Magazine. Ms. Gee also worked on documentaries for The Discovery Channel and the PBS series The American Experience, as well as independent film projects, web broadcasts, industrials and commercials in Seattle and New York.

Ms. Gee is also a film journalist whose reviews and articles have appeared in The Seattle Weekly, The Rocket, The International Examiner, Stereophile Magazine and on the Internet at A native of Seattle, she received her MA in Cinema Studies from New York University and her BA in English from Boston University.

Narrator LAWSON FUSAO INADA is regarded by many as the poet laureate of Japanese America. His Before the War (1971) was the first volume of poetry by an Asian American to be published by a major firm. In his second collection, Legends from Camp (1992), Inada acts the part of the Poet-Statesman in giving readers access to the Japanese American camp experience. Inada is co-editor with Chin of the groundbreaking AIIIEEEEE! and The Big AIIIEEEEE!

Inada has been Professor of English at Southern Oregon State College since 1966. He has read at the White House and speaks on multicultural curriculum for the Modern Language Association. He himself is the subject of the 1974 documentary film, I Told You So.

Music Composer ALAN KOSHIYAMA created the original score for the feature film, “Dead Dogs,” which won the “Best American Independent Award” at the 1999 Seattle International Film Festival. Variety Magazine called Koshiyama’s work, “…evocative.” Millions have heard Koshiyama’s music in “Teenage Confidential,” an ABC-TV original movie, “Alaska’s Bush Pilots” for Turner Original Productions, and numerous commercials, movie trailers, video games, short films, and even a theme park attraction on Catalina.

Alan was classically trained on piano and clarinet at a very early age, it wasn’t until he “fell in love and later became obsessed” with the art of jazz when he began to branch out into other forms of commercial music. His talent has taken him to such venues as the Pacific Basin International Music Festival in Hawaii, to the National Concert Hall in Dublin Ireland, to sought after jazz performances at the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival. Yet the orchestra, what he calls a “canvas for emotion,” remains his prominent choice of colors. Koshiyama studied piano, composition, and orchestration at California State University Sacramento and film scoring at UCLA extension. He is an affiliate of BMI.

We found Alan after a nationwide search. Only then did we discover that he is the nephew of Heart Mountain resister Mits Koshiyama, a key character in our show.

Sound designer JIM WILSON won a Daytime Emmy Award for Best Sound Editing on the Disney/PBS series “Disney presents: Bill Nye the Science Guy,” and the Emerald City Achievement Award for Sound for Dan Monaghan’s “The Quest for the Noble Desert Poodle.” He recently completed mixing the MP3 tour-audio for Seattle’s latest claim to fame, the Experience Music Project.

Born and raised in Seattle, Jim has worked in audio production and sound-design in as many forms of media as have been developed during his career, currently working out of the studios of Pure Audio. For radio he worked at KIRO Newsradio and on the NPR radio-series, “Sixteen Stories of Anton Chekhov.” His work in Interactive Media has included “Material World,” the Bill Nye CD-ROM Game, “Stop the Rock!,” for Microsoft, “Explorapedia,” “3-D Movie Maker,” “Creative Writer,” and “Close Combat.” Jim designed and produced audio for the first streaming media comedy-game-show for the web, “15 Seconds of Fame” for MSN. Recent work has included the PBS pilot “Adventure Divas,” the program “Inside the Box: The Human Face of Medicine,” and short films for Tim Blake Nelson, Adrienne Shelly, and Wendy Jo Carlton. He and Frank share a love for the film scores of John Barry.

Voice talent MAKO was nominated for an Academy Award for his supporting role in Robert Wise’s 1966 film, The Sand Pebbles, and played the lead in Steven Sondheim’s 1974 Broadway musical, Pacific Overtures. Mako founded East/West Players of Los Angeles, the nation’s first professional Asian American theater company. He passed away in 2006.

Voice talent GEORGE TAKEI is known world-wide as “Mr. Sulu” of the Star Trek movies and Trek-classic TV series. He appeared on PBS’ Exxon “Theater in America” series as a bitter Chinatown tour guide in Frank Chin’s Year of the Dragon. Among Takei’s other films are Hell to Eternity, The Green Berets, and Prisoners of the Sun. Takei currently chairs the Board of Trustees for the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, and is author of the autobiography, To the Stars.

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The history and literature of Japanese American resistance to wartime incarceration