Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Many Faces of Boys Over Flowers Part 2

American Cast of Boys Over Flowers Remake

WillKinn Media has undertaken the task of producing the American remake of Boys Over Flowers, entitled Boys Before Friends.  While you may be relieved that a big studio isn't twisting the original plot right out of the story, there are other worries when a smaller operation is making it an independent internet series.  But first, we should meet the main cast of unknown actors.

This group is still fresh enough that it was difficult to find much information about them.  They haven't had any mainstream roles and aside from Joseph Almani, they don't seem to be very organized in promoting themselves online.  But here's what I could glean:

Riley Rae Baker playing Zoey
(Makino Tsukushi)
EDIT:  Riley Rae Baker was replaced by Claude Racine who appeared in episode one and
part of episode two, before being replaced by Dawn Morrow who appeared in episodes two
and three, before being replaced by Rose Guess.
Riley Rae Baker is playing Zoey, the Makino Tsukushi character in the American version of BOF / BFF.

Age:  21
Hometown:  San Antonio, TX

Quote from Twitter:  "I'm an actress delighted by black and white photographs, random movie quotes, traveling, beautiful scenery, passionate people, & lifted Jeeps."

Since DramaFever posted her demo reel, it has been made private, but there are still examples of her work on the web:

Joseph Almani playing Liam Montgomery (Domyouji Tsukasa)
EDIT:  Joseph Almani has been replaced by Kevin Markovic.
Joseph Almani is playing Liam Montgomery, the Domyouji Tsukasa character in the American version of BOF / BFF

Age:  29
Height:  6'0"
Weight:  160 lbs
Hometown:  Baltimore, MD
Education:  The Travel Channel Academy (Video Journalism), Carolinas Acting Group (Acting), United Stuntmens Association - International Stunt School (stunt work)
Special Skills:  Martial Arts, Stunts, Sports, Gun Safety-Marksmen Training, Construction, Medical Training, Pilot

Most of Joseph's resume is made up of modeling work, but there is some stunt work and a co-lead role for a small production company that I could not find a website for.  He has his own website, though unfortunately there are no demos on it, but the pictures are pretty.

Quote from Twitter:  "Im a true mutt! Italian, Arab, and Scottish. Love culture, and people! Actor/Model/Stunt Performer. Serving others is the only way I find any real peace. ;)"

Trenton Culkin playing Oliver Young
(Hanazawa Rui)
Trenton Culkin is playing Oliver Young, the Hanazawa Rui character in the American version of BOF / BFF

Age:  23
Hometown:  Holland, Michigan
Training:  Salsa Dancing Workshop, Improv Acting Workshop, Scene Study and Advanced Scene Study, Career Mentoring by KP Theatrical Management

Trenton has done some local theater work and acting in independent films.  Here is a scene from one of the films:

Napoleon Tavale playing Chase Carlton
(Nishikado Sojirou)
EDIT:  Napoleon Tavale has been replaced by Erik Thomas
Napoleon Tavale is playing Chase Carlton, the Nishikado Sojirou character in the American version of BOF / BFF

Age:  29
Height:  6'2"
Ethnicity:  Pacific Islander
Education:  University of Virginia (M.F.A. Acting), Whittier College (BA Theatre Arts)
Skills:  Singing, Dancing, Basketball, Football
Dance:  Polynesian/Samoan, Maori, Hawaiian
Languages: Samoan

Napoleon was born on the island of Samoa.  He and his family moved to St. Paul, Minnesota when he was two years old.  

Napoleon has had some extra work, most recently a speaking gig on Hawaii Five-0.  You can also catch him on his YouTube channel.

Napoleon Tavale Demo Reel from Napoleon Tavale on Vimeo.

Jason S. Mordeno playing Noah McCallster
(Mimasaka Akira)
Jason S. Mordeno is playing Noah McCallster, the Mimasaka Akira character in the American version of BOF / BFF

Hometown:  Los Angeles, CA
Education:  Eagle Rock High School class of 2013

There was really the least amount of information on Jason Mordeno.  Guessing from his Facebook (and name) his ethnicity is Filipino.  He is credited for having a small role in a 16 minute short comedy called Pawnshop Express.

The American remake of Hana Yori Dango is called Between Boys & Friends

If that isn't enough to scare you, there's the production company.  According to the article on MyDramaList, the project is no longer under WazEgo Collective, as it has been taken over by WillKinn Media.  I find it difficult to differentiate between the two since Kelly Kinney seems to be the founder of both, listed as the owner of WazEgo and the CEO of WillKinn Media.  

WazEgo is a collective where members pay a fee for the opportunity to be hired.  Their benefits include discounted classes, learning opportunities, workshops, discounted headshots and audition feedback.  They claim to produce over 10 pilots, web series and feature films every year, however they only list a few projects they are working on (The Liar, Connected and the remake of Boys Over Flowers) to be released in the future.  Reading a little further, the website states that the collective was created in 2012.  Perhaps that is why there is no list of successfully completed productions.

WillKinn Media is a multimedia marketing company that was founded in 2003.  Although their website template is identical to WazEgo Collective's, they haven't replaced the sample placeholders with content. Basically it's an empty template with one paragraph telling you that the company has been around for 10 years.  But let's move on to what they have planned for the American remake of Boys Over Flowers which at the time of this writing, is being called Between Boys & Friends.

The head writer and director are fans of the series and we've been assured that they plan to stay true to the original Japanese manga with a few ideas of their own.  The main characters will still be rich, but they'll also be very active in sports.  

The story takes place on a grad school campus and Zoey (Makino) is an amazing dancer.  Additionally, the background characters will have their own storylines, specifically Akira and the Nishikado/Matsuoka romance.  Iconic scenes will be included, but adapted to make us love them more.  That is a big promise; the netizens will be quick to tell them if they haven't succeeded.

The bullying will be more intense (given the level of violence in the Korean version, I can't imagine it escalating) and although there will be no sex scenes, there will be amorous scenes that may imply it.

WillKinn Media claims a multi-million dollar budget for this series and we should see plenty of style, fashion, mansions, penthouses and props.  The 100k Kickstarter campaign was started to raise the money to complete their budget.  They plan to start another campaign after filming starts.  They've also stated that they are working with a co-production company, which I suspect is WazEgo Collective since the title is still on WazEgo's website.

Each of the 16 episodes will be 55 minutes, most likely rated PG-13 and aimed towards young adults.  They will air on YouTube,, Roku, Vimeo, DramaFever, Amazon, and they are working on adding Netflix and Hulu.  There will only be one season.

Filming is scheduled to start on October 21, and they are aiming at airing the first episode on November 21, 2013.

Check out updates on their Between Boys & Friends website, though at the moment most of the links will give you a 404 (Page Not Found) Error.  They are also accepting music suggestions there.

At first I was hopeful and curious at the news of an American remake, but after doing more research into it, I'm quite nervous.  Everyone looked to Taiwan, Japan, Korea and China, and were for the most part satisfied with how the manga adaptations were handled.  If America is the first one to drop the ball, it will be a great embarrassment.  But most of all, I don't want to see a beloved story butchered.  To the cast and crew of Between Boys & Friends, ganbatte!  And don't screw it up.


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