Fred McQueen in Japanese War Crimes Drama

Fred McQueenThe offspring of Hollywood legends seem to be finding their place in Japanese movies these days. Yesterday we reported on the first Japanese feature starring Shirley MacLaine’s daughter. Today it’s the turn of Fred McQueen (51), son of the late Steve McQueen, who spoke recently to the SanSpo newspaper about his second Japanese movie role in “Ashita e no Yuigon” (Best Wishes For Tomorrow). The film is based on the novel “Nagai Tabi” (Long Journey) about a Japanese Class B war criminal who sets out to take responsibility for the execution of American airmen. Veteran Fujita Makoto (74) plays Lieutenant General Okada Tasuku, Fuji Sumiko (62, mother of actress Terashima Shinobu) his wife, and Robert Lesser (69) had the difficult role of defense counsel Featherstone. McQueen was drawn to the powerful story and, a huge fan of the late Kurosawa Akira, was particularly nervous given that Kurosawa protege Koizumi Takashi was directing and many of the Master’s production staff were involved. McQueen, who only took up acting in 2003 after working as a firefighter and pastry chef, beat out 200 others for the role of tough prosecutor Burnett. He says that though he spent a lot of time researching for the role of a military officer, nerves made him forget his lines and positioning. It’s just his third movie role, and the second in Japan after the 2005 submarine drama “Lorelei” (though his name doesn’t appear in the credits). “Ashita…” opens in theaters on March 1.

• Pin-up idol Koizumi Maya (19) has lost the court case against her former high school. While a senior at a girl’s high school operated by Toho Gakuen in the Tokyo suburb of Chofu in 2006, she released a photobook and did a swimsuit photo shoot for a weekly magazine. The school expelled her several months later saying she had broken a rule that prohibits students working in the entertainment business. She took the case to court last year hoping to be reinstated so she could graduate. But yesterday the Tokyo District Court dismissed the suit, ruling that Koizumi had blatantly ignored the school’s policy and that the school had acted reasonably.

• Some big names have been announced behind the scenes of an upcoming TV Tokyo drama series. Prolific movie director Miike Takashi is to be the main man behind “Keitai Sousakan 7”, while some of the show’s 51 episodes will be taken on by other top directors such as Oshii Mamoru (Ghost in the Shell) and Kaneko Shusuke (Death Note). The series, which airs on Wednesday evenings from April 2, stars Kubota Masataka (19) as a high schooler who takes on an internet-based crime organization. The series’ gimmick is the keitai (mobile phone) robot of the title, and major phone operator Softbank Mobile will release a tie-up model in mid-April. Kubota admits to feeling “a lot of pressure” about working with such big names. The cast also includes Ito Yuko (33) and Tsuda Kanji (42), and the theme song is performed by Shimatani Hitomi (27).

• A monthly magazine published by Yoshimoto Kogyo runs an annual survey of the talent agency’s best-looking and ugliest comedians. Yamasato Ryota (30), Yama-chan of the duo Nankai Candies, has been chosen for the third year running as the ugliest star. The third award earns him a place in the Hall of Fame alongside 130R’s HonKon (44) and Football Hour’s Iwao Nozomu (32). Happier news for Inoue Satoshi (32) of the duo Jicho Kacho, who three-peated as Yoshimoto’s best-looking star.