Management for actor Matsuda Ryuhei (25) announced yesterday that he and model Ohta Rina (21) got married on January 11, Ohta’s birthday. They are expecting a baby in the summer, an experience Matsuda will already have portrayed in the upcoming movie “Tsurugidake,” due to open in June. The couple first met through a mutual friend in the autumn of 2007 and soon started dating. The son of actress Matsuda Miyuki and the legendary Matsuda Yusaku (1949-89), Ryuhei won multiple awards at the age of 16 for his first movie starring role in Ohshima Nagisa’s “Gohatto.” His younger brother Shota (23) is also an up-and-coming actor. Ryuhei will no doubt be expected to talk about his big news on January 17, when he is scheduled to appear at a talk show event to promote his current movie “Akumu Tantei 2” (Dream Detective 2). Ohta debuted as a fashion magazine model in 2001. Half Russian on her mother’s side, she has appeared on NHK’s Russian language learning show as well as several movies.
• Talento Yamamoto Mona (30) is getting back to work again. Six months after yet another affair with a married celebrity got her in trouble, she is to return to her weekly job on the Bunka Housou radio network. She was Ohtake Makoto’s co-presenter on the Tuesday edition of his weekday afternoon show since it started in May 2007, but has not appeared since her affair with baseball star Nioka Tomohiro appeared in the media last July. Ohtake is an old friend of Kitano Takeshi, whose Office Kitano management agency represents Yamamoto.
• Management for talento Yasuda Misako (26) and actor Shirota Yu (23) have denied rumors of a romance between the two, insisting they are just friends. The pair have known each other since they played a wild young couple in the 2007 movie “Arakure Knight.” Yasuda was romantically involved with actor Kashiwabara Shuji (30) from the autumn of 2006, but they broke up the following year.
NTV yesterday announced the new format for its weekday afternoon schedule. Veteran emcee Mino Monta (profile) announced last month that he will be stepping down as host of the network’s flagship live information show “Omoikkiri Ii! Terebi,” a show he has presented for more than 20 years. From April, the show will have an expanded time slot and a new host. With Nakayama Hideyuki (41), who currently hosts the morning wide show “Rajikaru,” at the helm the show will run from 10:25am to 1:55pm. It will mix Rajikaru’s showbiz and news format with Omoikkiri’s health and lifestyle info aimed at housewives and older viewers. Nakayama will be supported by Mino’s current assistant presenter, Natsume Miku (24). The new format has been provisionally titled “Omoikkiri Don!” Meanwhile rival network TBS is also said to be planning a major new afternoon show to take over from its current offering, “Pinpon.”
• Over on Fuji TV, another veteran presenter was making an apology…of sorts. On his regular weekday morning wide show “Tokudane,” Ogura Tomoaki (61) apologized to the Japan Sumo Association for an off-the-cuff remark he made last Friday. But he made it very clear that he was doing so under orders from above. In a discussion about the return to sumo of yokozuna Asashoryu, who is recovering from injuries and rumors of an early retirement, Ogura had joked “Hoshi ga kaereba iinoni.” The remark translates as “If only he could buy a star,” referring to the “white star” that indicates a win in sports, and the rumors of match fixing that surround sumo. Ogura said that Kokonoe Oyakata, formerly known as the legendary Chiyonofuji and now sumo’s head of public relations, had summoned the show’s producer to the Sumo Association and threatened to withdraw Fuji’s broadcasting rights for the sport unless Ogura apologized yesterday. But he insisted that such dark humor has been part of his style for ten years on the show and added bitterly that he was quite ready to step down if Fuji felt he should take responsibility. Though calm, he was clearly angry during the monolog that always opens the show. He retorted that sumo elders should be grateful for all the support his show has given the sport, which has been hit by a series of scandals over the last few years.
• Johnny’s Jimusho idol Takizawa Hideaki (26) has seen his solo debut single enter the Oricon chart at No.1. He wrote the words and lyrics to “Ai – Kakumei,” the theme song for his current stage show, currently running at the Imperial Theater in Tokyo. He has previously had chart-topping releases as one half of the duo Tackey and Tsubasa.
So it’s a “speed divorce” for actress Adachi Yumi and comedian Itoda Jun! Adachi (27) and Itoda (36) announced by fax to the media last Friday that they have formally ended their 3-year marriage. Though a good bit older, Itoda – one half of the comedy duo Speed Wagon – was quite a bit younger than Adachi’s previous boyfriend, actor Kuroda Arthur (47) and the media saw him as a more sensible choice of marriage partner. But showbiz shotgun weddings are notoriously short-lived, and Adachi was pregnant when the couple tied the knot on her birthday in September 2005. They held their wedding ceremony the following November and all seemed rosy. But a few months later Adachi was not impressed when the media reported on her husband’s secret hotel meeting with an ex-girlfriend just days before she gave birth to their daughter in April 2006. A series of media rumors followed of a split between the two, and they are said to have been separated since last September. Itoda was also reported to have taken no interest in raising their child, who was often taken care of by Adachi’s mother. Itoda spoke only briefly to reporters on Saturday, saying that he and his ex-wife had had “differences” and the divorce decision was mutual.
Yumi’s Speed Wedding (April 21, 2006)
Yumi’s Bad Day (April 21, 2006)
• Pop duo Chage and Aska have denied media reports – also reported here last week – that they are to split up. Their management agency said on its website that they will be sending a clarification to fans in the official newsletter at the end of the month. Though one of the biggest J-pop acts in the 1980s and 90s, ChageAsu have had little commercial exposure in the last few years and have mostly been pursuing their solo careers. Their last live performance together was on Christmas Eve 2007.
In a very rare move, it seems that this year’s taiga drama series on NHK is to end a month early. NHK’s annual historical drama has aired on Sunday nights for 50 episodes the last couple of years, but “Tenchijin” will run for only 47. Tenchijin, with an all-star cast led by Tsumabuki Satoshi (28) as medieval retainer Naoe Kanetsugu (1560-1620), got off to a good start last weekend with an audience rating of 24.7% in the Kanto region. But yesterday NHK announced that another major drama series will air in the Sunday night time slot from November 29 to December 27. The cast and large scale of “Saka no Ue no Kumo” was first announced back in November 2007 when filming began, and the series is being shot on 18 locations around Japan as well as Russia, China, France and the U.K. Starring Abe Hiroshi (who’s also in Tenchijin) as the famous general Akiyama Yoshifuru (1859-1930), Motoki Masahiro, Kagawa Teruyuki and Kanno Miho, it is based on the historical novel by Shiba Ryotaro (1923-96). This year’s five episodes will actually complete the first part of the series. The second series of four episodes will air in the autumn of 2010, while the third and final part will be shown a year after that. An NHK spokesman said that the plan to show the drama in the usual taiga time slot was to ensure that it got the maximum audience exposure and was made well before Tenchijin started.
&$#149; Pop duo Chage and Aska are calling it quits after a 30-year career. The pairing of Chage (51) on guitar and Aska (50) on lead vocals were one of the biggest J-pop acts of the 1980s and 90s, with million-selling hits such as “Say Yes” and “Yah Yah Yah.” They plan to formally announce the split next week and are both be planning to continue their solo careers. Their last live performance together was an acoustic show on Christmas Eve 2007. Aska has a major concert tour scheduled for this spring. Last year Chage resumed his solo career after a 10-year hiatus and became a father for the first time in November. He has a Tokyo concert scheduled for April.
&$#149; Actor Muta Teizo died late last night at a Tokyo hospital. He was 80. A veteran supporting actor on TV dramas and in movies, he is best known for his role in the “Ken-chan” series that ran throughout the 1970s.
&$#149; Actress Sawajiri Erika (22) and media creator Takashiro Tusyoshi (44) got married on January 7, according to the Sankei Sports newspaper today. The couple chose the auspicious taian day on the traditional calendar to register their marriage, while their formal ceremony will be held at Meiji Jingu shrine in Tokyo on January 19.
Popular TV talento Hashino Emi (35) yesterday formally announced her recent marriage to actor Tsunashima Gotaro (35). She is currently appearing in a production with veteran comedian Hagimoto Kinichi (67, photo left) at the Meijiya theater in Tokyo. After the final curtain, she surprised the audience of 1,200 with the news that she had tied the knot on New Year’s Day, and called her new husband up onto the stage. Hagimoto has been like a father to Hashino since she came to Tokyo at the age of 17 and joined his “Kin-chan Gekidan” theater group. Hashino first took a liking to Tsunashima in 2006, when he played her fiance in the TBS afternoon drama series “Mikon Rokushimai.” She said she’d like to have two children, though she isn’t expecting just yet.
• Island Records have announced an upcoming second U.S. album release by singer Utada Hikaru (25, profile). The label is currently promoting the all-English single “Come Back to Me” online, including on its MySpace page. There’s no title or info for the upcoming release other than “New album coming soon.” Utada uses just her family name in the U.S. and released the “Exodus” album in 2004. A No.1 on the Oricon chart and a million seller in Japan, it got no higher than No.160 on the U.S. charts. But Utada announced on her blog in October 2007 that she wouldn’t be giving up on the U.S. market.
• The second part of the “20th Century Boys” movie trilogy is to be promoted with one of the local movie industry’s most expensive ever PR stunts. An estimated ¥80 million is to be spent transforming Okamoto Taro’s famous “Taiyo no To” (Tower of the Sun) on January 19. The symbol of the hugely successful 1970 Osaka Expo, the 65m high sculpture is perhaps the most famous example of modern art in Japan. With a couple of modifications, it will become “Tomodachi no To,” named after the mysterious figure who dominates the marketing for the movie series, adapted from a popular manga. The movie opens on January 31.
Kabuki actor Nakamura Kantaro (27) yesterday for the first time acknowledged his romantic relationship with actress Maeda Ai (25), and added that they plan to get married in the autumn. The actor was attending a PR event for his latest movie, held at a Shinto shrine in central Tokyo. In “Zen” Nakamura plays the famous monk Dougen (1200-1253). In accordance with tradition, yesterday’s news should not have come out until after the one-year mourning period for Maeda’s mother, who died on January 16 of last year. Nakamura’s father and fellow kabuki star Kanzaburo (53), meeting the press after a performance at the Kabukiza theater in Tokyo, said the media had got hold of the news earlier than his family had planned. He said he would be meeting with Maeda’s father on the 17th of this month to discuss the wedding, which is likely to be a big showbiz event. The couple’s relationship began in 2001 when they appeared together in the NHK drama “Hikari no Teikoku.”
• A roundup of other New Year wedding news…Former top Takarazuka star Aika Mire (44) announced on her blog that she got married at one minute past one o’clock on January 1. According to her management agency, her new husband is ten years younger and runs a sports clinic in Tokyo. Aika revealed in March 2008 that she was battling with cancer and dropped out of a scheduled theater production. But she made a full recovery and returned to the stage last August.
Actress Hatano Hiroko (33) and J-Leaguer Suzuki Keita (27) held their wedding ceremony and reception at the Peninsula Tokyo hotel on January 4. Hatano is expecting a baby in April.
Earlier story: Hatano Hiroko, Suzuki Keita to Wed
Popular TV Asahi sports announcer Shindo Junya (31) is engaged to get married, according to the Sports Hochi newspaper. He and an airline company employee plan to tie the knot in the spring.
• Not so happy news for actress Tomosaka Rie (29), who divorced from actor Kawahara Masahiko (39) on New Year’s Eve. The two met when they worked together in a stage production in 2000. They married in April 2003 and have a 4-year-old son.
• Guitarist Inoue Takayuki (67) has announced his retirement from the music business. A spokesman for his management agency said Inoue had been struggling with the question of how to live out his twilight years for some time, and made his decision on New Year’s Day. He has been suffering from emphysema, which has made it difficult for him to sing. A concert scheduled for next month has been canceled. Inoue made his name as a founding member of Japan’s top 1960s group the Spiders, who opened for the Beatles. After the band split in 1971, he and fellow member Ohno Katsuo joined with members of the Tigers, another top band of the 60s, to form PYG. He later had several hits with the Inoue Takayuki Band, including the theme for the hugely popular TV series “Taiyo ni Hoero!”