Really enjoyed some prime time with 13-year-old actor Haley Joel Osment and his family backstage at Budokan where Warner Brothers held a screening of the film “A.I.” Haley just finished the seventh grade and has been doing a lot of traveling (Japan and most of Europe) to promote the film. As far as music goes, he likes REM and plans to study piano and guitar next year. He hasn’t yet decided on his next project but is busy reading scripts with his dad. Prince and Princess Takamado were special guests at the premiere, and I suggested she bring copies of the children’s books she wrote to give to Haley and his 9-year-old sister Emily who is also into acting. When she presented Haley with a copy of Lulie the Iceberg, he leafed through it, looked up at the princess and said, “Cool.” She and the prince both got a kick out of that.
To Kumiko Hattori who celebrated her birthday on July 17. Sorry I had to miss the dinner Nancy and Helen Ma hosted in her honor at Nancy’s restaurant. Kumiko in recent years spends most of her free time on the golf course, and I hear she’s really good.
The spacious residence of Italian Ambassador Gabriele Menegatti was wall-to-wall people when he and his wife Brigitte invited mostly members of the media to a press conference to open Festival de/ Cinema Italiano 2001. It was all very well planned. In addition to actress Maya Samsa and a group of directors from Italy, the embassy had arranged for one of Japan’s most popular entertainers, Takeshi Kitano (Beat Takeshi) to be on the panel. He really kept the people there in stitches. After the press conference and a short photoshoot, he rushed out, surrounded by more bodyguards than the prime minister. Guess that’s the price of fame or a big ego. Meanwhile, the guests moved into the dining room for a bountiful Italian buffet and the opportunity to meet and chat with Maya and the directors.
Still on the film scene, Canadian Ambassador Leonard J. Edwards and his wife Margaret hosted a screening of the opening film, “Waydowntown,” of the Canadian Film Festival. I had a kind of difficult time understanding the story but enjoyed a look at the Plus 15 maze of downtown buildings connected by 15-story high walkways in Calgary, where the film was shot. I really appreciate Canadian Cultural Projects Manager Stephane Enric Beaulieu introducing me to James Joe and Earl. In talking with them, I learned we share some Native American friends. I also enjoyed talking with Japanese film director Masato Harada who told me he was working on a film in which his son Eugene ( who was with him) would act. Unfortunately, the project seems to have fallen through.
It had rained the previous day, but the clouds moved on, the sun came out, and it was a beautiful day for Mitsuo and Lilo Maruyama’s annual garden party. I rode out there with Kyoko Spector, Carole Yoshida and Nancy Erne. It was great fun, and the two hours it took us to get there flew by. Happy to Kyoko’s a good and safe driver. As always, the Maruyamas’ sprawling California-style home, spacious gardens and poolside gazebo were full with a colorful and casual mix of interesting people. Chichan Plessner was there with her friends, Asatake and Sakurako Kuni. I got to know Asatake, who’s related to the Imperial Family, when we were in Berlin for the opening of the Sony Center in June of last year. He’s a real gentleman.
I drove back to Tokyo with Omani Ambassador Mohammed bin Yousef AI-Zarafi and really enjoyed getting to know him better. Oman’s one of the few countries in the Gulf area I have not visited, but everyone I know who has been there really loved it. These include Mitsuo, Lilo and their son Helge. Lilo told me, “It’s a dream destination.”
I was happy the weather was nice for South African Ambassador Karamchund Mackcrdhuj and his wife Suminthra at their mid-day reception to celebrate their country’s Freedom Day. The many guests included Japanese government officials, diplomats, business leaders and other friends of the Mackerdhujes. Kararnchund was also happy to have several relatives visiting from South Africa. Kararnchund and Suminthra were very busy preparing for the huge and, happy to report, very successful South African Experience, a many-faceted cultural presentation at the Hilton Tokyo. More on that later.
Be sure to catch one of magician David Copperfield’s shows this month. The man’s amazing. One night not long ago, I was chatting with David at the Lex, and he asked, “What’s happening?” Then added, “The models are getting younger all the time.” Kind of interesting to hear that David, 44, is living with a 22- year-old Belgian model, Ambre Frisque. David’s shows are at Tokyo International Forum through Aug. 13. For information, call M&l Company at 5453-8899.
As part of the Hotel Okura’s 40th anniversary events, the hotel will hold its seventh Charity Art Collection from Saturday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, the 26th. “The Great Rome Exhibition of 1930-a Retrospective” revisits an international showing of Japanese art.
If you’re into dancing, the Broadway musical “Fosse” is a must-see. The American production will run here from Aug. 3 to Sept. 4. For info, call Kyodo Tokyo at 3498-9999. Looking forward to September which will be here before you know it and when Min-On Concert Association will bring in the highly acclaimed Zambia National Troupe’s “Dance of the Earth” for a series of performances around Japan.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender