Once again my timing was right as a good friend, top producer Bill Kong (Hero, Windstmck) was in Shanghai shooting a film titled Fearless. I spent a day on two fabulous sets – old Shanghai at the turn of the century, and the then palatial lobby of the legendary Peace Hotel just off of Shanghai’s Bund. It was nice seeing Bill again as well as old friends Jet Li and Masato Harada (The Last Samurai). I also enjoyed meeting the highly acclaimed director Ronny Hu and kabuki- now film actor Shido Nakamura. More on this truly special experience later.
Clint, as you probably know, plans on making a film based on James Bradley’s book, Flags of our Fathers. Much of the action, World War II, takes place on Iwo Jima and as he’s a master of authenticity, he visited lwo Jima in preparation for the film.
The film scene has been super busy the last month or so with a variety of visiting celebrities and special events. Summer films have included V.I.P.’s War of the Worlds, 20th Century Fox’s Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith, Warner Brothers’ Batman Begins, Movie Eye’s Million Dollar Baby and Buena Vista’s Herbie. Travel kept me away from several press conferences and premieres. Sorry about that, and sorry I missed long time good friend actress Olivia Hussey while she was in town. I was in the Philippines when Olivia visited here to promote her film Mother Teresa for Toshiba Entertainment. I have been checking out all kinds of interesting films coming up. As they say “movies are better than ever”.
My regret is being out of Tokyo when U.S. Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer and his wife Suzanne hosted their reception to celebrate the good old U.S.A.’s 229th Independence Day on Jul. 4. My congratulations on that very special occasion.
As expected, the 2005 Thai Food Festival at Yoyogi Park was a huge success in every way. I went early on the opening day for the morning program which included speeches by the Thai Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Thai Ambassador Suvidhya Simaskul and a cultural show. It was fun watching Thai Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Preecha Ladhapongchana and Parliament member Lalitta Lerksamran preparing the noodles (which were delicious) for the VIP guests. Thai Air had flown in several of Thailand’s top entertainers for the festival. These included the band Carabao and singer Lanna Commins. Their many Thai fans living in Tokyo, as well as everyone there, really enjoyed their performances. It was a wonderful weekend at Yoyogi Park with so many Thai restaurants, handicrafts from all over Thailand, a massage service, a couple of Tuk Tuks (motorized tricycles), cultural shows, and a pop music show. As in the past, it was like a big happy international picnic.
It was a beautiful day for Mitsuo and Lila Maruyama’s luncheon party on the luxurious Vingt-et-un. The ship left the dock at exactly noon, and there were a couple of hours of smooth sailing around Tokyo Bay under the Rainbow Bridge and back to the dock. It was easy to see that the guests – a marvelous mix, casually dressed and mostly in a laid-back mood, were really enjoying the scenery, the bountiful buffet, and most of all, the opportunity to be with friends in such a unique and beautiful setting. Everyone was surprised when the restaurant staff brought in a huge birthday cake. It was a celebration – and what a celebration – for Lila’s birthday. Happy birthday my friend and I hope there are many more to come!
Congratulations to our Filipino friends at the 107th anniversary of Philippine Independence Day. Celebrations included an all-day party at Asukayama Park in Kita-Ku. In addition to a ‘housing, franchising’ fair there were food booths and all kinds of grand and raffle prizes. It was a full day of entertainment as well with performances by several of the Philippines’ popular showbiz personalities.
Sorry I couldn’t get to a dinner at the home of Indian Ambassador and Mrs. Manilal Tripathi. The occasion was to launch the Swaminathan Foundation’s big project this year – Modern Masters of Photography, Japan. In addition to an exhibition at the Prudential Tower in Akasaka, the work of 12 of Japan’s most influential photographers and a limited one hundred edition portfolio of their work was put on sale. Funds raised are being used to improve access to medical, financial, and educational services through the internet in villages in South Asia.
When two time Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood (The Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby) was in town, he did some shopping for his wife Dina. He bought pearls at Yonimine’s Pearl shop in Roppongi. Jane Yonimine, the wife of baseball legend Wally Yonimine has really put her heart and soul into making the shop the ultimate in providing the highest quality pearls to her customers from all over the world.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender