Disgraced talento Tashiro Masashi (52, photo right) is on the comeback trail yet again. The former jailbird held a press conference yesterday for an upcoming new talk show on the Mondo21 cable channel. The first show will likely draw a lot of attention, especially as his guest will be the Livedoor founder, and another former jailbird, Horie Takafumi (36). Tashiro is the epitome of the top star whose life and career hit rock bottom when repeated arrests led to a three year prison term that ended in June of last year.
He made his showbiz debut in 1980 as a member of the doo-wop group Chanels, who had a million selling debut with the single “Runaway.” The following years saw a change of name, to Rats & Star, and a string of hits. In the mid-80s, top comedian Shimura Ken took Tashiro under his wing, rebranded him as a comedy/variety performer and helped him become one of the biggest young names in the business. That popularity and success started getting a bit wobbly in 2000 after Tashiro was found to have filmed up a woman’s skirt on a station platform, a story the media tried to bury. But one reporter’s persistence kept the story alive and Tashiro eventually paid a minor fine of ¥50,000 and dropped out of sight for several months. He was back on prime time the following summer but everything suddenly came to a grinding halt at the end of 2001. The relatively minor offense of peeping into a neighbors bathroom led to a police search of his home, where they found stimulant drugs. He received a suspended prison sentence and tried to rebuild his career, making his debut as a porn director. But he caused a traffic accident while on probation and was later arrested again for drugs. This finally landed him in jail. In recent years, the mainstream media have almost totally avoided even mentioning his name, and his face is blurred out on any old video footage. Only his once elevated status offers him any chance at reinstatement into the showbiz firmament.
• Talento Kurusu Atsuko (31) gave a tearful press conference yesterday to address rumors about her private life. The rumors started in mid-June when the former pinup idol wrote on her blog that she was an emotional wreck. This led to the usual online speculation about her becoming the latest showbiz suicide, and indeed it turned out that she had attempted to kill herself. The reason was revealed in one of the weekly gossip magazines to be a romantic breakup with an unnamed younger actor. Yesterday Kurusu talked about the end, in early May, of a two-and-a-half-year relationship with the actor. They had been living together and had talked about marriage. But money problems brought all that to an end. Kurusu said she had lent her former boyfriend millions of yen and that he had lied to her repeatedly about what the money was for. He even went so far as to claim that his grandmother had died and later that his mother had blown all the money borrowed from Kurusu to pay for the funeral. She said he has so far refused to repay any of the debts but she hopes he will do so rather than force her to take legal action.