A Rough Start to the Year

Lasar Ishii, Hatori Shinichi

It’s been a bad start to the year for talento Lasar Ishii (55, photo left). Management for the star have acknowledged media reports that he and his wife of 32 years have divorced. He and his ex-wife are said to have been living apart for the last 15 years. And according to today’s issue of the “Josei Jishin” weekly magazine, around the same time that the couple got formally divorced at the beginning of this month, Lasar was dumped by his 20-something girlfriend. Adding to the upheaval, Lasar was named as a last-minute replacement for ailing kabuki actor Nakamura Kanzaburo (55) for a stage production starting next month. He posted to Twitter, “What happened to my New Year?! Three surprises in a row!”

The magazine report says that Lasar and his now reportedly ex-girlfriend were spotted out at dinner on Christmas Eve, looking very happy. He was even seen presenting her with a ring, but it seems the happiness wasn’t to last.

Lasar formed the comedy trio Conto Akashingo with Watanabe Masayuki (56) and Komiya Takayasu (54) in 1977 and they got their break on the hugely popular and influential TV comedy show “Oretachi Hyokinzoku.” Lasar dropped out of Waseda University to join the Teatro Echo theatrical troupe, and it was there that he met his future wife, with whom he has two daughters. His image of having a solid career and happy family life was damaged in 1997 when an affair with an actress 12 years younger was made public.

NTV Loses Two Announcers
At a regular press conference yesterday, Nippon Terebi chairman Hosokawa Noritada (70) formally announced the departure of two of the network’s popular announcers. He said he was sad to lose “Zoom In! Super” presenter Hatori Shinichi (39, photo right), who will become a freelancer at the end of March, but seemed less upset regarding Natsume Miku (26). A presenter on the quiz show “Ichiokunin Daishitsumon” she will quit NTV at the end of this month. It has been reported that she will go freelance, but when asked Hosokawa simply said, “I have no idea.”