The drug-related arrest and trial of former top idol Sakai Noriko (38) is being made into a movie, it was revealed yesterday. The story was the biggest celebrity scandal in years and is still unfolding, as midnight last night was the deadline for an appeal of Sakai’s 18-month, 3-year suspended prison sentence. After her trial she enrolled at a university and will study to qualify as a social worker. She and her husband, who was also found guilty of possession and use of amphetamines, are said to be planning to divorce.
The case was extensively covered in the media over the last few months, so it’s unlikely that anything new will come out in the movie. It is an adaptation of the book “Sakai Noriko – Kakureta Sugao” (The Hidden True Face of Sakai Noriko) by showbiz reporter Nashimoto Masaru. Filming has already started under the direction of Kasahara Masao, with a former Takarazuka star playing the role of Sakai. To be titled “Setsuna,” a Buddhist word for the briefest moment in time, it is scheduled for release in January.
• Up and coming actor Ichihara Hayato (22) has switched from baseball to boxing. Having played the long-haired ace pitcher in the high school baseball hit “Rookies,” he has shaved his head and hit the gym for the role of a talented teen fighter in “Box!” Under the guidance of former Japan champion Tabata Noriyuki (45), he has getting into shape before filming starts in the New Year. The movie is being produced by the same Toei Studios/TBS team that made Rookies into the biggest domestic box office hit of the year (it made ¥8.5 billion). The cast also includes Kora Kengo (22), Kashii Yu (22) and Kakei Toshio (47).
• The government said Tuesday that it will decide within the year on whether to give the People’s Honor Award to the late Morishige Hisaya. The renowned actor died of old age on November 10 at the age of 96. He would be the 18th recipient of the award, which was most recently received by actress Mori Mitsuko (89) in July. Morishige would be just the third artist to receive both the People’s award and the Order of Cultural Merit.