Yu Yamada (25) has been given her first starring role in a drama series. She will play the protagonist in TV Asahi's "Gakeppuchi no Eri ~ Kono Yo de Ichiban Daiji na 'Kane' no Hanashi," based on a semi-autobiographical essay by mangaka Rieko Saibara ("Bokunchi," "Mainichi Kaasan").
"Gakeppuchi no Eri" describes the turbulent life of Eriko (Yamada), who has been extremely poor since childhood, due to the debt left by her parents. Despite constant misfortune, she aims to achieve happiness and money by moving to Tokyo to pursue life as a manga artist.
The cast includes Takanori Jinnai, Eri Watanabe, Muga Tsukaji, Kotaro Koizumi, Yoji Tanaka, and Ren Osugi. Saibara herself will make a guest appearance on the show.
The show premieres in July and will air on Friday nights at 9:00pm.
V6's Sakamoto Masayuki (38) was present at a press event for the play he's starring in, "Alibai no nai Tenshi" (Angel without an Alibi) [July 3-19 at Tokyo Globe Theater]. Regarding his association with singer and former Morning Musume member Nakazawa Yuko (36), he denied a romantic relationship, saying "We get along well as friends."
This is the first time Sakamoto has talked about Nakazawa pubicly. The two appeared together in a play in 2001, and thereafter weekly publications have reported about their passionate relationship. They were even reported to be nearing marriage, but he furthered the negation by saying, "I'm not thinking about it at all."
He plays the role of a man working in an alibi store, creating alibis for people. As for making up his own alibis, he confessed: "When invited out for a drink a sempai from my agency, I've declined about 10 times saying my grandmother collapsed. The truth is she's fine." His co-stars are Aika Mire (45), Kazama Shunsuke (26) and others. By the way, the sempai mentioned is "H-san"=Higashiyama Noriyuki (43).
Namie Amuro was awarded as Asia's best singer at International Music Awards in Monte Carlo on May 18, held in Monaco, which is immensely popular and will be broadcast internationally in 160 countries. Namie Amuro had a fantastic 2009 with the release of her album ' Past < Future ', which went triple platinum.
Talento and former Morning Musume member Mari Yaguchi (27) is in a relationship with actor Masaya Nakamura (24), it was learned on Tuesday. Yaguchi has already confirmed the news on her own blog.
The two met around the start of this year through a gathering organized by a mutual friend, and they hit it off right away. A source close to Yaguchi said that their meeting was like love at first sight. Although Nakamura is nearly 48 centimeters taller than Yaguchi, the height difference is apparently not a problem.
Yaguchi has been in show business much longer than her new boyfriend. Nakamura got his start when he joined D-BOYS in 2007, and he has appeared in several dramas since then, including "Innocent Love" and "Hatachi no Koibito."
Talento Kaori Manabe (29) has just been hit with a countersuit by her management agency, Avilla. The suit, filed on Monday, is seeking 300 million yen in damages for alleged breach of contract.
In December, Manabe had filed a lawsuit against her agency, seeking to have her contract canceled after the company's president was arrested for tax evasion, and authorities searched Manabe's home for potential evidence. Her battle with Avilla escalated in March when the company publicly suggested that Manabe herself was also guilty of tax evasion. At the time, it was reported that Avilla was considering launching a countersuit.
According to the suit, Manabe notified the agency in September that she wanted to cancel her contract. However, she also refused to carry out work that had already been scheduled for this year. A company representative said that those job contracts totaled about 188 million yen, and overall her breach of contract constitutes more than 600 million yen.
Manabe's lawyer said that they have not yet seen the details of the countersuit.
Asami Mizukawa (26) will star in a special drama project titled "Inu no Omawarisan," being broadcast by TBS this summer. The drama is based on a book of the same name, compiled from a personal blog by a woman named Mayumi Oishi, who died at the age of 24.
Mizukawa plays the young woman, who lives happily with her husband and her daughter. While pregnant with her second child, she falls ill with cancer, leading to her death shortly after she gives birth.
While she was alive, Oishi wrote in her blog about her fight against the cancer, which was diagnosed in February 2008. She was hospitalized and underwent treatment during her pregnancy, and she gave birth four months later. She passed away five months after that.
The "Inu no Omawarisan" dramatization will have Masaru Nagai (31) playing Mizukawa's husband. TBS plans to broadcast the episode sometime in July.
Actress Aya Omasa (19), who recently gained much attention for her role as the heroine in the "Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge" drama series, has been cast as the star of an upcoming movie. She will play the lead in the adaptation of "Usotsuki Mi-kun to Kowareta Ma-chan," directed by Natsuki Seta.
Based on a suspenseful light novel by Hitoma Iruma, the film was first announced last month without details. The original story is set in a rural town where two siblings suddenly disappear. The main characters are a boy named Mi-kun (played by 17-year-old Shota Sometani) and a girl named Ma-chan (Omasa), who was involved in a traumatizing incident several years earlier. The two childhood friends meet again and begin living together, but for some reason, the missing siblings are at Ma-chan's house.
The character of Ma-chan is described as being normally quiet, but whose personality completely changes when she is with Mi-kun. The production staff reportedly wanted an actress similar to Kou Shibasaki (28), and Omasa was unanimously chosen by the staff during the auditions for the part.
Besides Omasa and Sometani, the cast features Kyoka Suzuki (41) and Tomoko Tabata (29). "Usotsuki Mi-kun to Kowareta Ma-chan" is expected to open in theaters in 2011.
Johnny's Jimusho announced on Saturday that KAT-TUN's concert in Bangkok, Thailand, has been indefinitely postponed due to the political unrest in the country.
Recent clashes between the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) and the police have been escalating in violence, leading to many injuries and deaths.
KAT-TUN's upcoming Asia tour was scheduled to start with a concert in Bangkok on July 31, followed by two shows in Seoul on August 6-7 and two shows in Taipei on August 27-28. Although the Bangkok concert has been suspended, the other four concerts will go on as planned.
A similar situation happened in 2006, when an Arashi concert in Bangkok had to be canceled due to the coup d'état in Thailand.