Popular entertainer Jerry Ito, just back from filming in Cyprus, Diet member Katsuhiko Morinaka, stage actress Mariko Kaga and Hollywood moom pitcher great Tony Curtis; on the town in Roppongi.
Mel Gibson in Tokyo for Mad Max 2
From the Toho party I drove to Suehiro’s to join a dinner party Warner Brothers was hosting in honor of Australian actor Mel Gibson. Mel was in Japan to promote George Miller’s futuristic cult film, Mad Max 2 which Warner Brothers is distributing. He’s just 25 and has received international recognition and acclaim for his roles in Peter Weir’s war film Gallipoli and another film, Tim. In this one Mel won the Australian “Sammy Award” for best actor in his role as a young retarded man who falls in love with an older woman (played by Piper Laurie). He’s a serious, devoted actor who’s bound to become a big international star. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
From Suehiro, we went to the Lexington for a party in Mel’s honor. The program included an exciting chambara show by Jason Heller and two Japanese actors (they really get into it) and a presentation of happi coats to Mel and his wife Robin by Warner Brothers’ Veronique Maingard and Shoji Sato. After short speeches by Veronique and Mel and a preview of Mad Max 2 everyone mixed, mingled and boogied on into the next morning. People at the party included film and TV personalities Mako Hattori, Yuki Watanabe, Asahina Maria, rock star Joe Yamanaka, members of the popular group Monta and the Brothers and other familiar personalities.
At left: Star of the “Mad Max” film series out of Aussie Mel Gibson poses with young Japanese actor Yuki Watanabe. Yuki’s film “On the Road” to be released by Joy Pack in February has a lot of car and motorcycle action, too. At right: Warner Brothers’ gal in Tokyo Veronique Maingard with rock star-actor Joe Yamanaka. Far right: Jason Heller who staged a dynamic chambara show for Mel, guest of honor Mel Gibson, Weekender’s party-goer Bill Hersey, Veronique and Warners’ publicity guy Sato-san.
“Camelot” is back on Broadway and it really is one of those revivals that holds up well. Richard Harris plays King Arthur and had the audience with him all the way. Bill with Richard Harris, packing them in at the Winter Garden for the super successful revival of “Camelot.” Harris told Hersey he’d like to bring the production to Japan; nothing like that’s happened since the original company of “Hello, Dolly” came over some time ago.
Watanabe Productions’ big new Years blast
Meanwhile, back to the Big Mikan. I flew into Tokyo from L.A. on the 6th and got right into the social and showbiz scene on the 7th. Luckily, I had a Japanese friend to translate my invitations, otherwise I would have missed Watanabe Production’s glittering New Years reception at the Tokyo Prince Hotel late afternoon on the 7th. Nearly 2,000 guests included Government officials, business executives, leaders from the film, TV, music and stage worlds, and a host of film stars and top entertainers. Familiar faces in the crowd: Tokyo’s Governor Shunichi Suzuki, author-promoter Taki Katoh, Polaroid Prez Dick.
Toshiro Mifune was there and looked super chic in a wine velvet blazer and dark gray flannel pants. I was happy to have the chance to tell him I was sorry I couldn’t be at the Mifune Productions holiday party Dec. 21 and wish him a Happy New Year. I should be seeing him this evening at the International Film Festival opening. I also enjoyed meeting Alison Reading, a great-looking girl from London. I talked with Alison a few days later at The Lexington . . . she’s back in London by now, but will be here again in April when her first record is released.
Misa, her pretty and personable daughter Miki, Mie Nakao and many of the other women were in holiday kimono and that, of course, really added color to the affair. Mie got out of hers and into something she “could move around in” as soon as the program was over.
There was a huge buffet of continental, Chinese and Japanese (some I hadn’t seen or tried before) foods and during the course of the evening, performances by some of Watanabe Pro’s top talents. This was followed by a drawing for a large variety of door prizes.
Most of the guests left about 6:30, but Misa asked me to stay on for the party after the party—you know I did. This gave me the chance to talk with a lot of old friends and get to make a lot of new ones. Shin and Misa, over the years and time after time, have proven that when it comes to promoting talent, staging a show or giving a party, nobody does it as they do.
From left, above: Polaroid President Dick Otomo congratulates Shin Watanabe on a most successful year at the helm of Watanabe Productions. TBS’ Masafumi Watanabe takes a break from preparations for the upcoming Tokyo Music Festival; with Akio Onodera, managing director of Polystar. Sony Chairman Akio Morita seems to be enjoying himself hugely; that’s Mie Nakao who’s handing him the laugh. Below, left: Entertainment guru Tats Nagashima, Rolf Mettweg (he handles Larimar Films in London) and French Cultural Counsellor Gerard Coste. Below, right: Miki Watanabe (daughter of Shin and Misa), TBS President Yoshiyuki Yamanishi and Misa Watanabe, boss lady of “Watanabe Pro.”
At left, top: One of Japan’s top singers, the lovely Rumiko Koyanagi. Left, below: Mari Sono and Mie Nakao, both top singing stars in Japan’s showbiz firmament. At right, top: Misa and Mie crash into a wooden barrel of saké with true grit. At right, below: Alison Reading, London-born singing talent considered one of the Watanabes’ most promising new-comers; with Akira Nakamura of the Watanabe company.