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Three days after Hold Still, Vincent was released on all available audio platforms, the star-studded podcast about the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin was disabled by its producers after activist Helen Zia, who represents the Chin estate, revealed that neither she nor Chin’s family had been contacted about the project.
“I’m not dead yet and it’s weird hearing/seeing myself fictionalized by people who have never tried to connect with me or the Estate,” wrote Zia on her Instagram account May 27, a day after all five episodes of Hold Still, Vincent were released. After the state of Michigan sentenced Chin’s killers to three years of probation and a $3,000 fine, Zia, a key leader in the Asian American civil rights movement, helped spearhead the appeal to have the case retried in federal court. She was portrayed by Kelly Marie Tran in the table read of Hold Still, Vincent, a feature screenplay by Johnny Ngo that forms the basis of the podcast.
The project originated in 2017 with Ngo and his manager, Writ Large’s Bash Naran, with A-Major Media’s Mary Lee coming on board in January 2020. In April, amid heightened mainstream awareness of anti-Asian American violence, Hold Still, Vincent was unveiled as an upcoming QCODE podcast with Gemma Chan producing alongside Lee and M88 managing partner Phillip Sun. QCODE’s Rob Herting and Sandra Lee Ying, Automatik’s Brian Kavanaugh-Jones and Fred Berger, and Naran rounded out the producing team. There were hopes of parlaying the podcast into a feature film directed by Aaron and Winston Tao.
Lee had been told when she joined the project that attempts to reach out to the relevant parties had already been made, a source familiar with the situation tells The Hollywood Reporter. Zia said no one had done that, as did activist Annie Tan, a cousin of Chin’s. “To my knowledge, no one in my family was contacted about the podcast or film project,” Tan wrote in a statement on her website June 2.
After Zia called out Hold Still, Vincent, the producers briefly corresponded with her via email, and Lee and Chan individually had phone conversations with Tan, who told them that the lasting trauma of her cousin’s violent death has made her family reluctant to engage in projects about the story. “I shared with Gemma and Mary, and hope to share with screenwriter Johnny Ngo and directors Aaron and Winston Tao, the impact of Vincent’s murder on my family,” Tan wrote in her statement. “I don’t speak for my family, but many members of my family have said they do not want to be involved in Vincent Chin projects because they do not want to be retraumatized.”
The producers took down the podcast, and a source tells THR that the fate of Hold Still, Vincent — in any form — is uncertain. “We disabled the podcast out of respect for Helen and the Estate and are hopeful to come to a resolution so as many people as possible can experience the vital story of his life, legacy and impact on our community,” said A-Major Media in a statement provided to THR.
Zia and Tan declined further comment beyond their public statements. Naran did not respond to a request for comment. In December, the Center for Asian American Media announced that Zia is developing a television series about Chin’s civil rights case with Madison Media Management chair and CEO Paula Williams Madison, CAAM director of programs Donald Young and producer Vicangelo Bulluck. That project is still in development, although a representative for CAAM tells THR no additional updates are available at this time.
Although sources familiar with the matter acknowledge that there was an “oversight” in making an overture to the Chin estate for their blessing to make Hold Still, Vincent, there were two points of contact between the two parties after the project was announced. Producers submitted an inquiry to the estate in April for permission to use a photo of Vincent Chin — a request that was denied — and in May, Lee and Madison both spoke on a UTA panel for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, in which Lee brought up Hold Still, Vincent during the discussion.
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