Kitano “Beat” Takeshi has completed his role in the movie “Chi to Hone” (Blood and Bones). It’s the first time in 14 years for the renowned actor, director and comedian to star in a movie that he is not directing himself. The man at the helm for this project is Sai Yoichi (54). Takeshi plays an unpleasant lead character, a heavy drinker who abuses his wife and children. He says he worked harder ton this than any other role he’s ever done.
• Yomiuri TV announcer Nakamoto Ayako (photo, 32) is engaged to be married. She is planning to marry a 38-year old New York-based systems engineer in November. Nakamoto is a familiar face on early weekday morning shows, and is particularly popular among fans of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team, as she appears on the Tora Tora Tigers show at 12:55am on Sundays. Busy girl.
Matsuda Seiko (42) is working hard to promote her new single and upcoming album. One of Japan’s biggest ever “idol” singers, Seiko has a 24-year career behind her but is pulling out all the stops to give it yet another boost. In the past, she has often relied on controversy and publicity stunts to keep herself in the public eye. But this time she is working the TV shows and live events, appearing on early morning TV, seemingly, for the first time in her career. She even showed up for the daily morning assembly of staff at her Sony Music label. The new single “Aitai” is her first ballad in several years and she wrote the lyrics to music composed by the man said to be her latest flame, musician Harada Shinji (45). “Sunshine”, her first original album in three years, goes on sale June 13.
Actress Tanaka Reina (24) is to star in a Chinese TV drama. “Aigami Seikihatsu”, set to air next spring, will be Tanaka’s debut as a leading actress. It will also star Chinese actors Chen Jen Bin (34) and Dan Hao (26) and be directed by award-winning moviemaker Jin Chen (35). Filming will take place between June and August in Dalian and Tokyo.
• Aspiring actress Sato Eriko (22) broke down in tears while addressing the 2,000-strong audience at a PR event for her new movie “Cutie Honey”. She said she was overcome with happiness by the huge turnout of fans. The movie adaptation of the famous TV anime has been widely hyped and is a big career step for the pin-up girl. The tall and slim Sato is one of the high-profile members of the Yellow Cab talent agency that specializes in girls with large to enormous bustlines.
Toei held a pre-production press conference yesterday for the upcoming and final Godzilla movie. “Godzilla: Final Wars” is scheduled to open on December 4, and stars Matsuoka Masahiro (27) of the Johnny’s pop group Tokio and Kikukawa Rei (26). It will also feature Takarada Akira (70), who starred in the very first Godzilla movie. Production starts in Sydney this Friday and is scheduled to finish November 15. It will be the biggest “Gojira” flick ever, with a budget of ¥2 billion, about twice that of recent Toei versions. It will also be the most international, taking the big lizard to New York, Sydney, Paris and Shanghai before he wreaks havoc in Japan. Celebrating his 50th birthday this year, Godzilla is enjoying something of a boom. The original 1954 movie is currently showing in New York and San Fransisco. He made his first appearance in the U.S. in 1956 and got a Hollywood makeover courtesy of Roland Emmerich in 1998. The following year, the Japanese production “Godzilla 2000” opened in 2,000 theaters across the U.S. The 27 previous movies in the series have drawn over 98 million people to the cinema and the target for this project is to smash the 100 million barrier. Just the job for the world’s most famous monster.
Morning Musume leader Iida Kaori (22) and “ace” Ishikawa Rika (photo, 19) are to ‘graduate’ from the group next year. Iida is the only remaining original member. Guru Tsunku (35) says he wants Iida to develop as a multi-talented artist, while Ishikawa will be at the center of a new unit within the Hello! Project. It was announced earlier this year that young members Kago Ai (18) and Tsuji Nozomi (16) will leave the group in August. Auditions for new members are currently being organized.
• Da Pump vocalist Issa (25) turned up for the MYV Video Music Awards Japan with a freshly shaven head, a sign of repentance over his recently publicized womanizing. Hamasaki Ayumi (26) took three awards, including Best Female Artist. Amuro Namie (26) presented the Inspiration Award to a visiting Janet Jackson (38), who managed to keep her cleavage indoors.
14-year old Yagira Yuya was the surprise winner of the Best Actor award at the 57th Cannes Film Festival on Saturday night. Yagira was recognized for his performance in “Daremo Shiranai” (Nobody Knows), loosely based on a true story from the 1980s of four siblings abandoned by their mother. Visually striking, it was criticized as overlong by some reviewers. It was directed by Koreeda Hirokazu, who accepted the award on his star’s behalf. Yagira left Cannes on May 13 after the movie was screened, to go back to mid-term exams at school. He is the first Japanese to win the best actor award at Cannes, and stole the limelight from some more established Japanese stars trying to make an impression at the festival.
It was announced yesterday that actor Hayashi Kouki (33) married former NHK actress Matsuno Chika (33) last August. Hayashi is the younger brother of former X Japan member Yoshiki and is curently involved in his management. He is considered to be an “ikemen”, or “good looking”, actor. The word comes from the current Japanese expression “ikete iru”, meaning “cool”, and “men” (face). He has appeared regularly in such dramas as Fuji TVs “Yamato Nadeshiko” and “Out”. Matsuno is a former gymnast at the national level and was a regular on the popular pre-school show “Okaasan to Issho” in the late 1990s.
The gossip magazine Friday revealed this week that Issa (25), vocalist with the dance group Da Pump, split up with actress Shibasaki Kou (22) in January shortly after they went to Tokyo Disneyland (a popular tactic for break ups). He has since been spotted with several other women, including an ongoing relationship with TV personality Abiru Yu (photo, 17) and a romantic encounter with personality Kifune Kaori (25), caught by the magazine’s paparazzi.
• Police have issued a summons to actress Shimada Yoko (51) for driving without a license. The summons follows an accident that occured in Koto ward, Tokyo in March. Shimada had a Canadian license at the time, and “wasn’t aware” that she needed a Japanese one.
It’s silly award season again. This year’s Miss Lily – for the woman who looks best with lilies – goes to…actress Tokiwa Takako (32). The popular actress, who has been busy both on TV and the big screen over the last few years, was presented the award and a bunch of yellow lilies at the Dutch embassy in Tokyo on Wednesday. You have to wonder if stars are embarrassed sometimes by these obvious PR events.
• Folk legend Yamashita Tatsuro (51) has penned his first song for an anime production. He has written the opening tune for NHK’s upcoming show about the famous Agatha Christie characters Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The ending theme was written by his wife Takeuchi Mariya (49).
SMAP member and perennial most popular man in Japan Kimura Takuya (31) arrived at the Cannes Film Festival safe and sound but it looks like the movie he’s there to promote might not be so lucky. “2046”, the new flick by Wong Kar Wai (45), was scheduled to have its press screening this morning, but one reel was still on its way from Bangkok last night and scheduled to arrive in Paris at 5am. With French subtitles yet to be added and a trip across the country to the south coast, it was decided to cancel the morning showing and delay the 7pm gala screening by half an hour. This is a first for the prestigious film fest, according to organizers, as well as a major embarrassment all round. The screening schedule for other films, including Oshii Mamoru’s “anime “Innocence”, has also been disrupted. The project, which has no script whatsoever, has been plagued by problems from the start. Production started in 1999 but soon ground to a halt due to scheduling difficulties. It was restarted last November after a 4-year hiatus, but even then no end to the project could be seen. But the – almost – finished film has received good reviews and a Best Actor award for Tony Leung (41).