Monthly Archives: April 2004

Weding Bells & Late Births

It was revealed this week that Da Pump member Yukinari (25) and former TV personality Nishida Natsu (21) married in February. They are expecting a baby in the summer. Also tying the knot this week were Kitahara Masaki (27) of the comedy duo Great Chicken Powers, and TV personality Sugimoto Maki (32). They registered ther marriage on Wednesday, Sugimoto’s birthday. The couple (photo) worked together on the TBS program “Just”.

• Actress Nishizaki Midori (44) gave birth to her first baby this week, a girl. She plans to return to work in June. Also new to motherhood is NHK announcer Takeuchi Sumiko (39), who is expecting her first baby at the end of October. She has been married for ten years. She was one of the presenters of last year’s “Kohaku Uta Gassen” New Year song spectacle.

• Actress Yonekura Ryoko (28) was overcome with emotion when talking about her upcoming NHK drama role during a press conference this week. “Haru to Natsu” (Spring and Summer), which marks NHK’s 80th anniversary, tells the story of two sisters and their family, and is split between locations in Japan and Brazil. Nakama Yukie (24) plays the role of the younger sister. Veterans Mori Mitsuko (83) and Nogiwa Yoko (68) play the sisters in later life. Yonekura, who leaves for Brazil after Golden Week, burst into tears while she talked about what she had learned about the meaning of life while preparing for her role.

Concrete Crime Movie Release Cancelled

Today is the “Midori No Hi” (Greenery Day) national holiday

Theater release of “Concrete”, a movie about a famous murder case in 1989, has been cancelled. The case involved a group of Tokyo youths who kidnapped a 17-year old high school girl, kept her captive and raped and beat her for 41 days before killing her. They putting her body in drum and filled it with concrete. The case is considered the precursor of a wave of juvenile crime that has hit Japan in the years since. The indie movie is the commercial debut by former bosozoku Nakamura Taku (33). It was due to open at a Ginza theater at the end of May, but repeated attacks on the Internet and threatening phone calls caused the production company to cancel. It can only be assumed that this was done by friends or sympathisers of the perpetrators – all but the group leader have served their sentences. A movie spokesperson said, “It’s unfortunate that people couldn’t understand that we had hoped to raise public awareness of the problem of juvenile crime, ring some alarm bells about the future of our youth.” Video release will go ahead in June as planned.

Burning Down the House

The apartment of Shiina Junpei (photo, 29), elder brother of singer Shiina Ringo (25), was destroyed Monday in a fire started by his wife’s cooking. Junpei, also a singer who recently recorded a duet with Shinohara Ryoko, was sleeping in his room when the fire broke out. He escaped without injury, while his wife – who had been cooking tempura – suffered from minor smoke inhalation.

• Singer Chiba Maria (55) attended a PR event yesterday to promote her new book, “Baka demo ii sa” (It’s Alright to be Stupid). She was accompanied by her sons Kotaro (34) and Masashi (19). Masashi was born following an affair with popular actor Matsukata Hiroki (61), something Chiba writes explicitly about in her book. She also talks about the sexual abuse she received as a child. When asked if he planned to follow his old man into show business, Masashi said “It would be cool if I were as popular with the ladies as he is. But the chances of that are, what, 2%?”

• TBS presenter Komada Kengo (30) announced that is to marry former sports presenter Takahashi Shiho (25) in early May. The 173cm model-like Takahashi retired from TBS in 2002.

It’s a Wrap for Ayu

Hamasaki Ayumi (25) wrapped up her national tour with a show at the National Stadium No.1 Gymnasium in Yoyogi, Tokyo on Sunday. The “Arena Tour 2003-2004” took in 12 venues and 31 shows, and was attended by a total of 230,000 fans. The media saw this as a huge number, which together with the elaborate staging had them crowning her “Queen of J-pop”. But her recent failure to dominate the charts as she did a couple of years back suggests that the title more rightly belongs to Utada Hikaru (21). This week, Utada became the first artist in 16 years to reach No.1 in both the single and album charts with titles not released on the same day (Ayu achieved the feat in 2000 and 2001 for same-day releases). Her “Single Collection” album is in its 3rd week in the top spot. The single is the title track of her husband’s movie-directing debut, “Casshern”.

• TV personality Kawashima Amiru (26) is pregnant with her second child. She is the daughter of the late singer Kawashima Eigo, who died in 2001 at the age of 48. The pregnancy was announced during a charity concert held to support those affected by the Great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake of 1995. It was the tenth and final concert in a series started in 1995 by the late singer.

Cannes for Kaneshiro

“Lovers” (English title “Flying Daggers”), the new movie starring Kaneshiro Takeshi (30), has received a special invitation to be shown at the 57th Cannes Movie Festival. Directed by Zhang Yimou, the action-romance also stars Andy Lau (42) and Zhang Ziyi (25), all major Asian movie names. Yimou’s previous movie “Hero” grossed ¥4 billion at the Japanese box office, so hopes are high for the new film. It is scheduled for release here on August 28.

Tamari Kaoru to be a Mama

Popular TV presenter Tamari Kaoru (42) is six months pregnant. A graduate of a medical university, she started as a TV commercial model before becoming a presenter on the “Yajiuma Wide” and “Tonight” shows on ANB. She’s also an expert on wine and works as a DJ and columnist. She married a dentist five years younger than her in 2002.

• British actor Jude Law, in town to promote “Cold Mountain”, says he’s a big fan of Kitano Takeshi’s movies and would love to work with him. “But he probably wouldn’t want to cast me!” he added with a smile.

Giant Ayu

Electronics maker Panasonic have put up a huge billboard of J-pop star Hamasaki Ayumi (26) in the center of teen mecca Shibuya. The ad for the latest MD player featues an extreme black and white close up and the ad copy – “Eye Love Music”. It measures more than 12 meters by 8 meters and is located on the trendy 109 building, which faces the famous Hachiko intersection. The billboard will be in place for two weeks.

• Songwriter Nakano Masahito (34) has been arrested for involvement in teenage prostitution. He has admitted paying ¥30,000 for sex with a 16-year old girl he met through a “deai-kei” (dating) website. Nakano is known as the man behind the hits by major artists, including Skoop On Somebody, Misia, and several by Hirai Ken.

Amigo’s Back

Pop singer Suzuki Ami (22) has finally made her long-awaited comeback. Hugely popular at the end of the 1990s, Amigo’s career took a long slide due to legal wrangles and a court case with her record company. There have several attempts at a comeback, but until now they’ve all ended in disagreement, usually over money, and she has been on a hiatus since the spring of 2001. Her new CD “Tsuyoi Kizuna” (Strong Ties) was released yesterday by publishing company Bungeishunju. as it will be distributed as a publishing product, it will not be ranked in the Oricon charts. At a press conference, she said, “It’s been so long. I feel like I could jump into space, I’m so happy!” She also denied rumors of a romance with singer and actor Takizawa Hideaki (22).

Japanese Horror is Hot in Hollywood

Horror movie director Nakata Hideo (42) is said to be a strong contender to get the megaphone for the upcoming Hollywood remake of “The Ring 2”, the sequel to the 2002 hit based on Nakata’s original. If he does, he will follow in the footsteps of Shimizu Takashi, who is working on the Hollywood version of the 2002 horror flick “Juon” (The Grudge), set for US release this autumn and starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. “Carrie” star Sissy Spacek (53) has been named as one possible member of the cast of “The Ring 2”. Filming is due to begin as early as next month.

Breakup For Asaka

Actress Seto Asaka (photo, 27) and actor Hakamada Yoshihiko (30) have split up. The two met in spring of last year while on location together for the first time in nine years and started going out at that time. They were spotted out on dates several times over the last year. But they have been unable to reconcile their busy working schedules and decided to make the split.

• The latest album by Utada Hikaru (21) has set a new record. It is the first time the first four albums by an artist have all become double million sellers. “Single Collection” is currently top of the Oricon charts. Utada recently appeared in public with her husband for the first time. She accompanied Kiriya Kazuaki (36) to the premiere of “Casshern”, his movie-directing debut. Meanwhile, the top-selling single, “Aja” by Southern All Stars, is their 38th Top 10 hit, tying them for the record with Tahara Toshihiko.