Hawaii Stars was the inspiration of then Senator Mike McCartney (currently, President of the Hawaii Tourism Authority). In 1992, Karaoke was all the rage and Mike was thinking it would be great to have a TV program showcasing the talent he believed was hidden away in offices, warehouses and karaoke bars. He thought the time was right for a local show that was positive and uplifting!
Bingo! He contacted Carole Kai (whom he did not know) and she in turn contacted a young up-and-coming director, Dirk Fukushima. They agreed to working on this concept. But first, they needed sponsors. In three days, Carole came back to Dirk with a few sponsors and said, “What do we do now?” “Find a television station!”, said Dirk.
After several stations rejected the trio, they decided to approach the number one station at the time - KHON. KHON graciously sold them a Saturday afternoon time slot.
So, in the Spring of 1993, with Carole and Kimo Kahoano as co-hosts at Ala Moana Centerstage, Hawaii Stars was born!
Originally expected to run for only 13 weeks, the show was an instant hit! KHON moved the show to 6:30 p.m. on Sunday where Hawaii Stars continued to grow in popularity. Over the next eight years, Hawaii Stars was the #1 locally produced show, and consistently ranked in the top Five shows on KHON. *Dirk and Carole bought out Mike in 1997 so he could pursue other interests.
Why #1? Everyday, ordinary people got their moment in time to walk through that curtain, step onto the stage and be like a Star! (This was many years before American Idol) Their friends, family and Community could celebrate their talent – no matter if they were good or not! It wasn’t about being the best. It was about each person Doing his or her best.
“We all worked hard to make every contestant feel like a Star, from the make-up artist to the hosts to the cameramen!” says Carole.
For many contestants, it was a life-changing experience – one that built self-esteem, developed their character and made them believe in themselves. They realized they could do something they never dreamed they could do, and it helped them move on to other good things in life. One contestant was a victim of spousal abuse (she was shot multiple times by her husband) and was at a low-point in her life. “Being on Hawaii Stars, gave me back my self-respect. I feel like I can do anything now!” she said.
After a two-year break to produce “Jan Ken Po – the Game Show about Hawaii!” Hawaii Stars returned to Ala Moana’s Center Stage in 2003 with a new format. Weekly winners kept returning to the competition until eliminated (a combination of judges’ votes and viewer call-in votes). The winner for the season won a recording contract with Mountain Apple Production Company for a year. Siona Fruean of Kona took the competition with with an amazing 243,000 votes. Producer Dirk liked the format because it gave us a chance to see the contestants develop from Karaoke singers to real performers – “that’s what we’re most proud of!” says Dirk.
Executive Producer Carole Kai says that the original Hawaii Stars meant a lot to her because it was about empowering people. But the show was still about making dreams come true.
In 2006, Hawaii Stars moved into an even more aggressive format. Partnering up with the number one venue in Waikiki, the Outrigger Main Showroom, the show did a 45-week Competition with professionals in the music business! Hawaii Stars really had a contest on their hands, every contestant was so talented, popular and great in their own right! For the judging, the Society of Seven Las Vegas, gave commentary after each performance, did away with the visible scorecard and chose a weekly winner.
The Finals in 2006 were judged by SOS creator, Tony Ruivivar, Music Maestro Matt Catingub, Mountain Apple Company’s Jon DeMello and legendary Al Masini, creator of “Solid Gold”, “Star Search” and “Life Styles of the Rich and Famous”. There was an unprecedented TIE for the Finals - Anita Hall and Anna Marie Love became duo-winnersand each received a contract to perform with the Society of Seven in the Showroom for 10 weeks.
The following season (2007) was an exciting year for Hawaii Stars as we made its new home at the fabulous Magic of Polynesia Showroom. The season was packed with even more of Hawaii’s best performers that included a Duet competition, the return of the ever popular Keiki Stars where the first Young Rising Star was named. The season Finale ended with the Hawaii Stars Idol Search Competition where the winner won a chance at the final auditions for American Idol. 2007 also marked the end of the top rated Hawaii Stars weekly program and made its final mark in Hawaii television history as one of Hawaii’s most beloved locally produced TV shows.
A New Era for Hawaii Stars….
In 2008, HSPI began to lay the ground work for a new type of TV production that would continue to create and perpetuate the Hawaii Stars show brand. Producers began exploring subjects and themes that are important to our everyday lives and committed to explaining it in ways that can be understood by young and old. Thorough and concise interviews with experts and/or people with first-hand experiences HSPI presented shows that enlighten and engage your heart.
“We wanted to produce pieces that were truly meaningful with the hopes to educate, inform, and instill pride within our community.” says Carole Kai.
Along with the return of the popular Keiki Stars and the Annual Weinberg Concert of Extraordinary Abilities, 3 - ½ hour TV specials (DUI A Lesson In Humility, Plumeria & Steel and Living Green) were created and were well received by our loyal viewers.
Today, Hawaii Stars Presents, Inc. continues its commitment to producing quality local programming with sponsorship partners in mind. Collaboration and input from our clients are encouraged during the pre-production stage to provide maximum benefit to all. We want to fulfill our sponsors’ needs along with providing compelling content – that is the goal of each production.