Ono Machiko not cut out for Fuji’s TV Geku, industry insiders say … There have been whispers of an informal decision on the next drama for Fuji TV’s Monday 9 pm time slot. Some views have it that this will be a sequel of Hero starring Kimura Takuya, while other views are that a female will play the lead. This time, talk has turned to popular actress Ono Machiko in what will be her first Geku. An advertising agency rep said the regime of the new Fuji TV president, Kameyama Chihiro, really starts this new fiscal year and they are determined to have “stars of the class to stage a home run” on Geku. Sequels to dramas such as Hero and Rich Man, Poor Woman were names that emerged for the 9 pm time slot. However, Hero doesn’t fit Kimura’s schedule and has been delayed till July. Rich Man, Poor Woman eventually fell through because Ishihara Satomi is the heroine of the current drama Shitsuren Chocolatier. Ono Satoshi, Fukatsu Eri and several names came up for the leading role which had been in limbo, and Ono Machiko’s was the one that was finally pulled off the list of candidates. It will apparently be an original new production and not a sequel. Ono is coming fresh off the drama special for Saikou no Rikon which some were quick to note did not chalk up high ratings, but was well-received within the industry. Insiders have expressed some disappointment that the first lead actress for the new year is not a name of Kimutaku’s league and have said that Ono is not of Geku material. It’s outrageous to even speak of Ono and Kimutaku in the same breath for there is no comparison when it comes to acting chops. But thick heads reign in drama land which explains how they can be oblivious to so many things including the obvious contradictions in their preference for Kimutaku, or only finger the lead actor or actress even if there are many drama shortcomings. I can’t remember the last time there was a good drama on Geku, but I hope Ono gets a production worthy of her calibre if she is accepting Fuji TV’s offer. In any case, there’s always WOWOW and NHK.
A sequel to Hero in July? … According to the magazine Shukan Shinchou, the sequel to Kimura Takuya’s Hero which set a record high of 36.8% 13 years ago, will be broadcast this July. At that time, the drama which co-starred Kimura and Matsu Takako made the headlines and averaged 34.3% in viewership ratings. It also ranks at the top of dramas which Kimura was the male lead. Hero was later made into a movie in 2007 and raked in 8 billion yen at the box office. Kimura’s stand until now is that he doesn’t do sequels. But Shukan Shinchou claims that he has changed tact because Ando Lloyd was a big flop and he is flustered. None of the main cast from the original drama will be able to reprise their roles in the sequel. Kitagawa Keiko, who has been known among Johnny’s fans as “Johnny’s favourite actress” for some time because she has acted opposite Kimura, Yamashita Tomohisa, Sakurai Sho, Kusanagi Tsuyoshi and Nishikido Ryo, will apparently be the new heroine. An entertainment reporter commented that with the exception of Dokushin Kizoku which averaged 11.4% in viewership ratings, all other dramas in which she co-starred with a Johnny’s member have done well. However, Kitagawa is also famous for “devouring costars”. It would not be a surprise for Johnny’s would normally slap a “costar NG”, but because they did not break this off for some reason, he wonders if this is an indication that Kitagawa’s acting has found favour with the agency. Some TV reporters have also noted that when turned down by the favoured actress, Kitagawa, who rarely refuses, would always be mentioned. Catch up with Kuryu Kohei 13 years later and watch him doing the same old thing? I suppose that would please Kimutaku’s legion of fans.
Kimutaku doesn’t really want to do a sequel? … In the same week, another article claimed all bets are off a followup to Hero and speculated that maybe Kimura Takuya still does not want to work on a sequel. Fuji TV reportedly began to talk to Kimura Takuya about starring in a drama around the time he was doing Ando Lloyd. The assumption is that Fuji TV wants to do Hero Season 2 because sequels like Galileo and Legal High have brought Fuji TV solid ratings despite the failure of Shomuni. That was precisely the time that Ando Lloyd was beleaguered by low viewership ratings. “The viewership ratings were so low that it looked like Kimutaku’s name would be hurt if this went on. Although Johnny’s was also halfhearted, the mood was that it couldn’t be helped. So the feeling was that it would be July. But Johnny’s held back at the eleventh hour. This talk is completely moot,” a TV network personnel observed. The drama special Miyamoto Musashi which will air on TV Asahi in March to commemorate the network’s 55th anniversary apparently had a profound impact. “Kimutaku had been considered unable to do a period drama so far. But he seems to have done pretty well in Miyamoto Musashi and got a good response. This is breaking new ground to him, and it is also refreshing doing a drama with TV Asahi because he has only worked with TBS and Fuji TV in recent years,” another TV network personnel said.