Last Friday’s 300th edition of the “KinSma” variety show, a special dedicated to the late talento Iijima Ai, recorded an impressive audience rating of 18.8%. A regular panelist on the TBS show hosted by SMAP leader Nakai Masahiro (36), Iijima was found dead in her Tokyo apartment last Christmas at the age of 36. She was said to have been already dead a week when she was found, and there was a lot of speculation as to whether it was suicide. But the cause of death was recently announced as pneumonia. KinSma was one of several shows that benefited from her broad appeal until she retired from showbiz in March 2007, citing health problems. A former porn star, she was the epitome of the “haranbanjo” (many ups and downs) life and was a straight-talking spokesperson for many issues, including teenage sex and AIDS. In addition to TV and radio appearances, she wrote a best-selling book about her turbulent life, which was made into a drama series and a movie.
• Journalist and TV regular Torigoe Shuntaro (68) revealed that the rectal cancer he had operated on several years ago has spread to his liver. He said on the “Super Morning” show today that the cancer had reached his lungs two years ago and he had undergone chemotherapy. He will be hospitalized for surgery this week and will be absent from the show for about two weeks.
• Dragon Ash front man Furuya Kenji (29, profile) and talento Megumi (27) became parents for the first time last Friday. The baby boy was born a few days late but was said to be healthy. The couple married in July of last year.