Though he’s one of Japan’s most established rock stars, Yazawa Eikichi (58) has never performed on the country’s most established music show. NHK’s annual Kohaku Uta Gassen song contest has been a New Year’s Eve institution for almost six decades. But recent years have seen NHK trying different approaches to reverse steadily declining audience figures. This year, the man with the plan is producer Samizo Takashi, who is behind the network’s successful Wednesday night show “Songs”. It was through that show and his respect for true musicianship that Samizo established a strong working relationship with “Ei-chan” and Sano Motoharu (51), another major star who has never appeared on Kohaku. With NHK planning to have a segment of the show centered around singers who have been featured on “Songs”, it should bode well for audience ratings – among the middle-aged bracket at least. NHK has a 3-year plan leading up to the 60th edition of Kohaku in 2009, with the theme of “utajikara”, the “power of music”.
• Talento Toyooka Masumi (24) announced yesterday that she is engaged to be married. She and her businessman fiance plan to register their marriage and hold a ceremony on November 3. He is 10 years older and 31cm taller than the tiny 147cm (4’10”) Toyooka. She debuted in 1999 as a member of the idol trio P-Chicks, all of whom were under 150cm. Her fanatical interest in railways has earned her the nickname “Tetsuko” and ensures her a steady otaku fan base.
• Talento Enari Kazuki (22) settled his lawsuit against a magazine publisher at the Tokyo District Court yesterday. “Nikkan Gendai” published a story that suggested Enari was a regular customer of the sex industry, a claim in total contrast to his clean image, and he sued for ¥11 million in damages. The magazine published an apology in last Saturday’s issue.
• Management for former Morning Musume member Ishiguro Aya (29) and Luna Sea drummer Shinya (37) have denied reports that the two are discussing a divorce. The story, printed in several newspapers today, claimed they are already separated and have only to decide custody and maintenance of their three children. But their agencies say that the separate apartments are simply to allow Shinya to work on his music, a claim he made several weeks ago on TV.
• Comedian Kajiwara Yuuta (27) became a father on Tuesday. A member of the comedy duo King Kong, he and former model Mikiko married in June.
• The latest in this year’s silly awards is the Megane Best Dresser, given to celebrities who look best in glasses. Among yesterday’s recipients of the award, now in its 20th year, were talento Manabe Kaori (26), actor Takenaka Naoto (51), model Mori Izumi (24) and Miyazaki governor Higashikokubaru Hideo (50).