Actor Okada Masumi died early this morning of cancer. He was 70. Born in Nice, France to a Danish mother and Japanese father, he was one of the most popular supporting actors of the postwar era, appearing in a wide variety of TV, movie and musical theater roles. With his command of English and French and a deep booming voice, he was often the emcee of variety shows and beauty contests. His nickname was “FanFan.” He was married three times, including a first “contractual” marriage to choreographer Yoneyama Mamako.
• The legendary Michael Jackson (47) is in town since the weekend, making his first public appearance since being acquited on child molestation charges last year. He was making his first trip to Japan in eight years and was honored at the MTV Music Video Awards Japan on Saturday. On Sunday he visited an institute for handicapped children. His car was mobbed by screaming fans but Jackson wasn’t fazed, opening his window to sign autographs.
• Actress Mashita Konomi (28), who had been expecting her first child, revealed at the weekend that she lost the baby at the beginning of the month. She and her non-showbiz husband (39) married in June 2004. Mashita made her debut in a TV commercial at the age of four and was a popular child actress.
• NHK has revealed the extent of its financial scandals. After a former chief producer in the national network’s sports department was found in 2004 to have claimed millions of yen for fictional business trips, the company carried out extensive investigations. The findings have turned up some 287 cases involving 194 employees, who stole a total of more than ¥3.5 million in taxpayer’s money. Further false claims by the chief producer have also been discovered and will lead to a police case.
• “Babel”, the Brad Pitt Hollywood movie that also features Yakusho Koji (50), has been awarded the Director’s Prize at the Cannes International Film Festival.