Now in its 15th year on Fuji TV, popular animation series “Chibi Maruko-chan” is to be made into a drama. There have been attempts in the past to put real actors and actresses in the famous roles, but producers have never been able to fill Maruko-chan’s shoes. But now in 8-year old Morisako Ei, they think they have found the perfect match, with the perfect combination of cuteness and maturity tinged with cynicism. Morisako was chosen at an audition from 500 hopefuls to play Japan’s most famous elementary schoolgirl. Her doting grandfather will be played by Moto Fuyuki (54), her father by Takahashi Katsumi (44). The pair have barely a tuft of hair between them and so will be donning wigs for thie roles. Versatile actress Shimizu Michiko will portray Maruko’s mother (45), while Ichige Yoshie (55) will play her grandmother. This week the network started production of a two-hour special to be aired in April.
• Celebrity couple Oshio Manabu (27) and Yada Akiko (27) were not too happy to meet the press after their return from the US yesterday. Yada wore a hat that nearly hid her face, while Oshio glared at reporters and berated them when his girlfriend almost tripped. Wearing matching rings and holding hands all the way through the Narita Airport terminal building, they were bombarded with questions about the trip and whether they were now married. When the couple left for Hawaii before Christmas, making no effort to hide their relationship, the media speculated that they were planning to get hitched, possibly on Yada’s birthday. They spent the New Year in Los Angeles, where Oshio lived for eight years as a child.
• Singer Fuse Akira (58) is romantically involved with a 48-year old former actress who bears a strong resemblance to his former wife, British Hollywood actress Olivia Hussey (54), according to Friday magazine. He married Hussey, whose film career ended with the marriage, in 1980 and they divorced in 1989.