J-pop diva Hamasaki Ayumi (30, profile) has landed a major scoop. She was named yesterday as the artist who will record the theme song for the upcoming Hollywood version of Dragonball. Due for release in Japan on March 13, 2009 (April 8 in the U.S.), the live-action adaptation of the mega-popular manga will be released here as “Dragonball Evolution.” The cast includes Justin Chatwin in the lead role of Goku, James Marsters as his nemesis Lord Piccolo, and Chow Yun-Fat as Master Roshi. It will feature Hamasaki’s original Japanese language song “Rule” as its main theme for all distribution worldwide. Though the local release of major Hollywood productions often uses a theme by a Japanese artist, it’s very rare for a J-pop star to get this level of global exposure. And when it’s in tandem with the kind of blockbuster marketing support that only Hollywood studios can provide, this has to be a major step up in Hamasaki’s already stellar career. Director James Wong is said to be a big fan of Ayu and personally requested that she be involved. She has provided four theme songs for Japanese movies, including “Kizudarake no Otokotachi” (Secret) and “Kaidan” (Fated) in 2007. For her first overseas collaboration, she’s written what’s described as an uptempo rock number. The Dragonball manga series has sold an estimated 350 million copies worldwide.
• Kobuchi Kentaro (31) of the J-pop duo Kobukuro became the proud father of twins yesterday, when his wife had a baby boy and girl. The couple, who met at university, married in 1997 when Kobuchi was still an office worker. Kobukuro are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year.
• Hollywood star Brad Pitt (44) hinted yesterday that he and Angelina Jolie (33) may be visiting Japan early next year. The couple were at the Los Angeles world premiere of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” whose Japan release is scheduled for February 7. If they come for the Japan premiere, it would be their first visit to these shores since November 2005.