Bill’s Partyline April 2013
Film/Music Celebs in Town
The number of Hollywood stars visiting Japan really dropped after the 3/11 tsunami/earthquake. I’m happy to report they are starting to visit more, but usually only stay a few days. In just the past few months Toho-Towa (Universal) brought in Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and others to promote Les Miserables. Thanks to Paramount’s President, Ichiro Okazaki, I got to get to know Tom Cruise, who was here to promote Jack Reacher, better.
Paramount also brought in Denzel Washington for Flight; I enjoyed talking with him and really like his attitude about “living each day” as it comes. We all should do that. Leonardo DiCaprio made a surprise visit for Sony to promote Quentin Tarantino’s film Django Unchained. Leo stifled the rumors he was going to quit acting, saying “I did three films in a row and needed a break, so that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m not quitting acting.” He’s involved in many environmental projects and is especially interested in stopping “The rapid decline of elephants happening every day,” he told me and genuinely seemed concerned. Leo’s traveling companion on this trip was Lukas Haas, who gained fame as a child actor in the film Witness and who has a part in Lincoln, which 20th Century FOX will release here soon. The two were both in Inception back in 2010. Disney brought in a group of stars to promote their fun film Oz, the Great and Powerful.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was here to promote The Last Stand for Shochiku, but Bruce Willis, unfortunately, canceled his visit to promote A Good Time to Die Hard. I was surprised to hear long time friend, Sam Jones, who I first met
when he was here to promote Flash Gordon, was a big influence in the super box office hit Ted: I’ll check that out soon.
Haitian President Visits Japan
Due to weather conditions in his country Haitian president, Michel Martelly, had to cancel his visit to Japan. He did, however, officially visit here later with the first lady, Sophie and a special delegation. During their three days
in Tokyo, Judith Exavier, acting Ambassador of Haiti, hosted a reception for the President and his group. It was a relaxed evening with the visiting VIPs having the opportunity to meet and talk with most of the guests. The
president, who met Japanese business leaders and Government officials, was the first Haitian leader to visit Japan and kept very busy promoting his country’s tax-free status, bilateral relations and of course tourism. President Martelly was a pop singer before he was elected, and is still well known for his talent in Kompa (Haitian music). From all reports, he had a very successful visit here.
The turn of the year has as always been really busy. In addition to the many national days in a relatively short time, there were all kinds of charity bazaars, concerts and of course late Christmas and New Year happenings. Here are just some of the highlights this month. These included receptions for the Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain national days as well as the 85th birthday celebration of Thailand’s beloved ruler, King Bhumibol Adulyadej. All of these events took place in luxurious settings at the Imperial Hotel, where each country had created a setting reflecting their history and culture, and the fashion on show really added variety and color.
The Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Western and Thai food was amazing – just so good. Each of the Arab countries had set up Arab-style rooms (Diwania) with colorful comfortable carpets and pillows, where guests could relax and enjoy dates, pastries and even camel milk chocolate with coffee or mint tea. The sword dancing by Saudi Arabian Ambassador, Dr. Abdulaziz A. Turkistani, several diplomats, Saudi students and even a couple of former Prime Ministers were exciting and dynamic.
Talk about memories: I remember doing this with members of Saudi royalty when previous ambassador Shobokshi invited me to the Jenadriyah culture festival near Riyadh a few years back. Each party had exhibits – photos, art, handicraft etc – and the Bahrain party had a McLaren racecar and a variety of musical entertainment. The Thai party was hosted by Minister Lapisatepun as its new Ambassador, Thanatip Upatising, hadn’t presented his credentials yet, though he and his wife Monthip did attend and meet many of the guests. I could go on and on, but will close this part of the column with sincere congratulations to all the men and women who put so much time and effort into making their national day events colorful, interesting, educational and truly enjoyable.
Chinese New Year at Oakwood Midtown
I stopped by Oakwood Premier Midtown to say hello to friends there, and found myself just in time for their Chinese
New Year celebrations. I really enjoyed meeting a nice group from Costco and learned they now have 13 stores in Japan and plan to open five more this year. It was good seeing former sumo champion Konishiki and meeting some of his friends, as well as chatting with Deutsche Bank’s David and Helen Hatt. I had the privilege of introducing two friends, UAE Ambassador Al Nowais and Algerian Ambassador Ketrandj to BMW’s marketing director Tim Heile. Who knows, you may see Saeed and Sid in a super BMW soon.
As you can see there are always good people at Oakwood’s events. Other interesting people there included RGA Insurance Greg Goodfliesh and his wife Crystal Lynn; I hear she’s very involved in Country and Western music and I do plan on digging out cowboy clothes from my days in Arizona and joining them for a night of good old c/w song and dance. If you are interested, do check out Country
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender
*Images Copyright: Tsukasa Shiga