EXT. WONG’S NURSERY – LATER THAT MORNING
Billy enters, past the flatbed truck parked in front, on the way into the nursery. The place looks like a bad Japanese poster. Some bonsai trees, little cast cement fountains and large paper umbrellas.
NURSERY WORKERS move plants and carry out other tasks. ALL OF THEM ARE MEXICAN, BUT WEAR ORIENTAL SHIRTS AND THE INVERTED CONICAL HATS OF ASIAN RICE FARMERS.
The owner, WONG, hands a plant to a CUSTOMER and approaches from the nursery. WONG IS A COMPACT, SQUAT CHICANO WITH A PENCIL LINE MUSTACHE AND LAID-BACK, ZEN-LIKE MANNER. He speaks in an Asian accent, loud enough to make sure the customer can hear his routine.
Honorable Mr. Cole, you very late.
Enough of the accent, Gonzalez, okay? It’s bad, just bad.
Hey man, I told you a hundred times... in this town, you're Mexican, you’re a gardener--
Yeah, yeah, I know...
WONG & BILLY
...you're Asian, you’re a landscape designer.
Wong smiles, relieved. Accent returns.
As LA high school kids march past the Tabloid Baby offices in Hollywood, using this weekend’s protest against immigration restrictions as a Ferris Bueller excuse, we offer our support to the protesters by reminding everyone how the motion picture Cloud 9, written and produced by Burt Kearns and Brett Hudson of Frozen Pictures and Academy Award winner Albert S. Ruddy, is in the forefront of Southern California’s immigration debate with its sly social satire.
In the hit sports comedy, now on Fox DVD, Sinaloa-born Latino comedy pioneer, Air Force veteran, social activist and Cesar Chavez pallbearer Paul Rodriguez plays an apparently stereotypical “Chinaman” named Wong. But there's a surprise twist in the character’s arc—which may be one reason Rodriguez has avoided criticism for taking on this very controversial role.
Rodriguez says of his character: “Wong is more confused than the Bush Administration… a Mexican guy who thinks he’s Wong for the wong reasons. He figures that if you’re Mexican you’re just a gardener, but if you’re Asian, you’re a landscaper!" ( Rodriguez says more on the Frozen Pictures blog.)
On the Frozen Pictures website, writer-producer Kearns calls the Wong character “a little bit of social satire. Based on the plight of the very hard-working Latino day laborers and gardeners in Malibu and Pacific Palisades. If you live on the Westside of LA, you know what I mean."
The anti-immigration hysteria whipped up by talk radio, cable news and political yahoos is a smokescreen to cover real crimes like the extended stay in Iraq. The Southern California economy and way of life couldn't exist without the sweat of these people who are underpaid and ignored. Saturday’s massive protest in downtown Los Angeles is a monumental occurrence in this local history—and a testament to the power of Spanish-language radio (which sent out the call to arms). Yet of course, it's being woefully under-reported and analyzed in both the LA Times and on local TV news.
(Cloud 9 is an uproarious sports comedy starring Burt Reynolds as the coach of an all-stripper beach volleyball team. It's available for sale or rental-- and includes exclusive extras produced by the Frozen Pictures team.)