Monthly Archives: September 2004

Nan-chan Papa

Nanbara Kiyotaka (39) of the comedy duo Uchan Nanchan is to be a father at last. His wife of almost 12 years Shizuka (33) is expecting their first child in March of next year. The couple have been together since before Nanbara became one of Japan’s best-known faces. At the time of their wedding in 1993, he said he wanted to have three children. Meanwhile, Uchan – Uchimura Teruyoshi (40) – remains a confirmed bachelor.

• Following the dismal audience rating for its last morning drama serial, NHK is doing no better with its successor. The opening episode of “Wakaba” drew a rating of only 18.9% in the Kanto region, and lower still in Kansai. The figures are only slightly better than those of the previous series, “Tenka.” The ‘asadora’ morning series are often used to launching young starlets, and in recent years have helped the careers of such actresses as Kuninaka Ryoko (Churasan) and Ishihara Satomi (Teruteru Kazoku). It remains to be seen whether Wakaba heroine Harada Natsuki (photo, 20) can turn things around.

Matsuura Takes Over Avex

Music label Avex Inc. said Tuesday that operating officer Matsuura Masato (39), known as a key promoter of popular singer – and the label’s “golden goose” – Hamasaki Ayumi (26), is the company’s new president with immediate effect. Matsuura succeeds Kobayashi Toshio (39) who becomes a managing director. Matsuura’s promotion followed his brief departure from the company in August over a conflict with then Avex President and Chairman Yoda Tatsumi over business strategy.

• It was revealed yesterday that Hotohara Tetsu (36, photo left), of the popular comedy duo Ame Agari Keshitai, recently tied the knot. His bride is said to be a former office worker in her 30s. A fan of the popular TV drama “Kita no Kuni Kara”, Hotohara decided to hold the wedding ceremony in the Hokkaido town of Furano, where the drama was set. He and comedy partner Miyasako Hiroyuki (34) are regulars on the hit Fuji TV show “One Night Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

Audience Loses Appetite for NHK’s “Cereal”

NHK’s recently finished morning serial drama “Tenka” had the worst viewer ratings of any “asadora” since research began in 1964. It only scored an average rating of 16.2% in the Kanto region and fared even worse in Kansai with 15.1%. An NHK spokesman said that more people are tuning into NHK’s satellite channels (BS1 and BS2) and that viewer numbers for dramas are in a downward trend on all channels. A new serial, “Wakaba,” started yesterday.

• Writer Morimura Katsura died last night in a Nagano hospital. Police are treating the death as a suicide. She was best known for the 1966 novel “Tengoku ni Ichiban Chikai Shima” (The Closest Island to Paradise), based on her travel to New Caledonia and made into a movie in 1984. She was 64.

• Pop singer Tone Mariko (44) recently married her hair makeup artist, on the 20th anniversary of her showbiz debut. She described their relationship as being more like mother and son, though he is also 44. She says she wants to support him in his dream of becoming a writer and winning the Naoki Prize.

Ayaya Pulls ’em In

Matsuura Aya (18) played a series of three concerts in Tokyo over the weekend, drawing a combined crowd of over 30,000 fans. It was the first time for a solo member of the Hello! Project, which includes Morning Musume and W, to fill a 10,000-seat capacity venue. In this case it was the Yoyogi No.1 Gymnasium, a venue left after the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. Among the performance “extras” were a 200m catwalk that took “Ayaya” close to fans, and a ride on a crane that lifted her 10m above them.

• Three members of pop unit globe appeared together in Tokyo on Sunday to promote an upcoming tour. Komuro Tetsuya (45) and wife Keiko (32) will tour for the first time since they got married two years ago, along with Marc Panther (34). The three first met on the same date ten years ago, when Komuro was judging an audition, Panther was the MC and Keiko was a young hopeful. She got so carried away with her audition that she fell off the stage. But that was the day globe was formed. Former X Japan member Yoshiki, who was a late addition to the group, is to rejoin after the 10th anniversary celebrations are finished.

Marcia, Gitan Split

Well, it’s hardly a surprise. Brazilian singer Marcia (35) and actor Otsuru Gitan (36) have divorced. Marcia submitted the divorce papers to a central Tokyo municipal office yesterday. According to both parties’ lawyers, there will be no alimony payments and custody of their six-year old daughter will go to the mother, while her father will make child-maintenance payments until she graduates from university. The high-profile showbiz couple married in 1995. Things came to a head in October of last year when, after walking out following an argument, Marcia returned to the family home only to find her husband with a young woman. Otsuru moved out in December, before the story became public, and spent several months working on location in South America. On his return in April, the affair got a lot of media attention and he made a very public and tearful apology.

Riho’s Going Ape

Actress Makise Riho (32) is in love, according to the weekly gossip magazine Friday. And the lucky man is Nigo (33), founder of the hugely popular youth fashion brand “A Bathing Ape.” The pair met in May and started going out soon afterwards. Makise’s agency has acknowledged the relationship and rumors are that they may be already headed for marriage. In the past, Makise has been romantically linked with former pop idol Higashiyama Noriyuki, kabuki star Nakamura Kankuro and, most recently, ballet star Kumakawa Tetsuya, with whom she broke up in 2000. Nigo opened his first store, featuring his familiar ape logo, in the Tokyo youth mecca of Harajuku in 1993. He built up the brand by selling only limited numbers and through the patronage of celebrities such as SMAP‘s Kimura Takuya. He has since expanded into beauty salons, cafes and music and his success can be gauged from the fact that hepaid almost ¥200 million in taxes last year.

• Seattle Mariners star Suzuki Ichiro took a huge step towards one of the oldest records in Major League Baseball over the last couple of days, with 9 hits in two games. This has moved him with 10 hits of the all-time season record set in 1920. He has 10 games left.

Tashiro Busted Again

Entertainer Tashiro Masashi (42) has been arrested for the fourth time. While driving with an unidentified woman, he was found to be in possession of marijuana and a butterfly knife. in the past he has been arrested for drug posession and indecent behaviour, and it is thought likely that he will serve prison time. Tashiro became a star inthe pop group Chanels, who wore black face paint, in the mid-1970s. In 1985 he started a solo career, appearing in comedy and variety shows and retaining his star status. His career went into a sudden slide in 2000 when he was arrested for secretly videotaping up a woman’s skirt at a train station. In June of this year he caused a traffic accident, injuring a young motorcyclist.

Imai, Hotei to Tour Together

Singer Imai Miki (41) and rock guitarist Hotei Tomoyasu (42) are to play their first ever combined national tour as husband and wife. The “Imai Miki Dream Tour 2004” will be her first in four years. The news seems to put an end to rumors of a split following Hotei’s highly publicized affair in June. They have been married since June 1999 and have one daughter.

• Rising comedy star “Guitar Samurai” is to make his CD debut. Before the end of the year, he’ll also release a book and DVD. Real name Hata Youku (29), his distinctive delivery style and cutting comments on other showbiz types have made him very popular with high school girls and “OL’s” though so far he has only appeared on one TV show.

• Recently “retired” newsreader Kume Hiroshi (60) made a full-day “comeback” on Monday. He appeared on a total of 6 live radio programs between 6am and 5pm on the Nippon Housou channel. In march, former comedian Kume gave up the chair on the popular TV Asahi “News Station” show after 18 years.

Get Ready for Devilman

The live action version of the hugely popular 70s anime “Devilman” is set to take the world by storm. There has been advance interest in the movie from about 40 countries, a number expected to reach about 50 and far more than the previous record for a Toei movie of 30, set by “Battle Royale 2”. The extremely violent manga version by Nagai Go, which has sold over 8 million copies, originally appeared in 1972 in “Shukan Shonen Magajin” and the anime first aired on TV Asahi in July of that year. The story tells of a world where demons wreak havoc and only through being possessed by the demon Amon, Lord of War, can the hero take them on. The dark hero role of Fudo Akira/Devilman is played by Izaki Hisato (20) while his twin brother Ryusuke plays his friend Asuka Ryo, who later becomes his arch-enemy. Both are members of the pop group Flame. Also appearing are supermodel Tominaga Ai (22) as the female demon Siren and Sakai Ayana 819) as the heroine. The movie, which cost ¥1 billion and was directed by Nasu Hiroyuki (52), is set for domestic release on October 9.

Checkers Finale

Today is the Keiro no Hi (Respect for the Aged Day) national holiday

The funeral service for former Checkers drummer Tokunaga Yoshiya turned out to be perhaps the last time members of the 80s pop group will appear together. The four remaining founder members, including current star Fujii Fumiya (42), had seats at the front of the service, while vocalists Takamoku Yoshihiko (photo, 42) and Tsuruku Masaharu (40) had to sit a couple of rows back. Fujii blamed the split on Takamoku’s book “Checkers”, published last year, which he claimed was “detarame” (nonsense). The author appeared with Tsuruku on live TV yesterday to challenge the accusation, but also added that he thought Checkers would never get back together again. Tsuruku broke down in tears holding a badge all members had worn on their debut. Tokunaga died August 17 of cancer at the age of 40.