Acclaimed movie art director Kimura Takeo (photo left) died of interstitial pneumonia at a Tokyo hospital last weekend, it was revealed today. He was 91. Renowned as one of the finest art directors in the business, he worked on over 200 films, most notably with cult director Suzuki Seijun (86). Suzuki said of his collaborator, “Kimura makes every movie as if it were his last. And he would think ‘if this is my last, then I can do anything I want.’ That’s why I love working with Kimura as an art director.”
Kimura joined the scenography department at the Nikkatsu studio in 1941 and made his debut on the film “Umi no Yobu Koe” in 1945. Among his best known films are “Zigoineruwaizen” (1980, dir. Suzuki), “Umi to Dokuyaku” (The Sea and Poison, 1986, dir. Kumai Kei), “Yumemiru yoni Nemuritai” (To Sleep so as to Dream, 1986, dir. Hayashi Kaizo). He made his feature length directorial debut in 2008 at the age of 90, with “Yumeno Manimani.”
Suzuki Seijun â Legendary Movie Maverick
Actress Tokiwa Takako (37, photo right) has landed her first leading role in a TV drama since she got married last year. She will team up with writer Kitagawa Eriko (48) on the TV Asahi special drama “Okaasan no Saigono Ichinichi.” The two have collaborated on several popular romantic dramas, but the most recent was the massive 2000 hit “Beautiful Life,” in which Tokiwa fell for Kimura Takuya (37). But as she says herself, “I’m at an age where love stories are tough.” The subject matter of “Okaasan…” is quite different – a mother’s final day with her family before she dies. But she pointed out, “It’s not just a sad story. It also conveys the warmth of family bonds.” Tokiwa married playwright-actor Nagatsuka Keishi (34) last October.
Johnny’s Jimusho have announced the first overseas concert tour by idol group KAT-TUN, but member Akanishi Jin (25, photo 3rd from left) won’t be joining them. Why? Because he’s going to be busy performing solo in Los Angeles. The other five members of KAT-TUN will be touring Japan and Asia between May and August, while Akanishi will be heading to L.A. in June. KAT-TUN will play 21 arena shows in 10 cities across Japan between May 2 and June 27. They start their “World Big Tour” at Tokyo Dome on July 16 before heading to Bangkok, Thailand; Seoul, Korea; Kyocera Dome Osaka; and Taipei, Taiwan. Negotiations are also underway for them to be the first Johnny’s artists to perform in Hawaii. As an indication of KAT-TUN’s popularity at home, last year they set a new record by playing eight straight days at Tokyo Dome.
Though the KAT-TUN tour had already been decided, when representatives of the American cable network UTB came to see Akanishi’s solo show in Tokyo last month, they approached him about performing Stateside. After consultation with Johnny Kitagawa himself and the other group members, three U.S. shows were set up on June 19 & 20 at Club Nokia LA Live. Akanishi will be staying in the U.S. until at least October where he will no doubt be working toward his dream of performing in Las Vegas. It’s said to be the first time for a Johnny’s group member to drop out of a tour to perform solo, and Akanishi will be first artist from the agency to go it alone in the U.S. He has a history of doing his own thing, and in October 2006 shocked KAT-TUN fans when he took off to spend six months studying in the U.S. For the upcoming L.A. shows, he is planning to speak mostly in English.
KAT-TUN’s Akanishi “On Leave” (Oct. 13, 2006)