Dreams Come True for Sergio Mendes

Sergio Mendes, Yoshida MiwaDreams Come True vocalist Yoshida Miwa (42) represents Japan on the latest album from the legendary Brazilian musician Sergio Mendes (66). “Morning in Rio” is a follow up to 2006’s “Timeless”, a collaboration with various neo-soul and alternative hip hop guest artists, in particular will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas. The new album is described as a celebration of 50 years since the birth of Bosa Nova. It features 13 guest artists from five countries, with Yoshida providing Japanese vocals for the track “Lugar Comum”. The track will be released as a single worldwide except for North America. The album goes on sale worldwide in April, but has an advance release in Japan February 27. DCT recently released the single “Mata ne”, the theme tune for the latest “One Piece” anime feature. It’s good to see one of J-pop’s finest artists fully back at work again following the death of her husband last October.

• Oscar-nominated actress Kikuchi Rinko (27) has dropped out of the cast of an upcoming movie. She is said to have torn muscles in both thighs in mid-December while preparing for her role in “Kamui Gaiden”, due for release in 2009. The movie is being directed by Sai Youichi (58), Japan’s most established film director of Korean descent, and filmed on location in Okinawa. Though shooting has already started, Kikuchi’s wasn’t due to start working until February. But it was decided that she wouldn’t be able to be ready for the movie’s demanding action scenes. Star Matsuyama Kenichi (22) has also suffered minor injuries during filming. Kikuchi recently appeared at the Japan premiere of Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution” and is not said to be suffering any ongoing physical problems.

• Also injured is top Takarazuka star Hizuka Hana, who has dropped out of an upcoming production after breaking her ankle. She is the female lead in the Soragumi (Sky Troupe) and was due to appear in “Reimei no Kaze” at the Grand Theater in Takarazuka City from February 9. In her absence, her role will be played by Kazune Miou. The all-female theatrical revue is made up of five troupes, each with a top star for both male and female roles.

• Actor Kawakubo Takuji (26) was recently spotted staying at the home of former Morning Musume member Yaguchi Mari (25), according to today’s issue of weekly magazine “Josei Seven”. The two are said to have met at a party last summer and Yaguchi pursued Kawakubo relentlessly. He was seen entering her home, where she lives with her parents, after midnight and leaving the following morning.

• J-pop trio Globe have closed their fan club “house of globe”. Made up of Komuro Tetsuya (49) his wife Keiko (37) on vocals, and Marc Panther (35), the group has been largely absent from the charts since the late 1990s. They announced on their official website yesterday that the fan club is being temporarily shut down and membership fees will be returned.