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Polis Report

Asian Studs

By Ami Chen Mills

When Japanese-American reporter Vick Lee decided to get his mug on TV, an executive at KRON told him to forget it. "He told me to stick to writing and producing. It was devastating," Lee recalls. Now a general-assignment reporter for KRON (on TV!), Lee was resigned to his fate, until he met up with CBS foreign correspondent Peter Kalisher. Kalisher--who'd lived in Japan--told Lee to get his butt on the air. "I realized what [the executive] had said was total bullshit." With persistence, Lee got on the air.

Still, Lee is one of the few Asian males bringing the news into our living rooms. In the Asian-dense Bay Area, there are no prime-time Asian male anchors. To spotlight the deficit, the Asian American Journalists Association is releasing a "Men of Broadcast Calendar" celebrating AAJN's 15th anniversary. AAJN President Dinah Lee says that some members think the lack of Asian anchors (despite the success of Connie Chung, there are almost as few Asian female anchors) is because Asians are perceived as "threatening. ... We've had major wars with Asian countries," she notes.

Another theory is that Asian men aren't seen as hunky enough. "These jobs are filled based on a subjective idea of what is attractive." To prove everyone wrong, Vick Lee will strut his hunkdom in the calendar--albeit fully clothed. "I'm an aging, balding Asian, but I beefed up and put black shoe polish on my head. I wanted to get down and dirty, but they said, 'No skin.' After all, the objective is to sell calendars," he says.

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From the July 25-31, 1996 issue of Metro

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