The Park Hyatt Hotel’s 41st floor Peak Lounge with its bamboo garden, atrium look and tremendous view of Tokyo made a perfect setting for the recent Tokyo GraceKai charity concert. Grace-Kai is an organization headed by its founder, Grace Saito. Its main activity is organizing charity concerts, with proceeds going to music scholarships for needy students, programs to help the handicapped and other worthwhile recipients.
The afternoon of music included a performance by soprano Emi Sawahata, tenor Kei Fukui, cellist Yuko Miyagawa and pianist Etsuko Taniike. Guests received a special bonus when Sojiro, one of the world’s most famous ceramic ocarina players, performed several of his own composition.
It was a full house with members of the Imperial family, diplomats and Japanese and foreign society all thoroughly enjoying the concert.
Grace-Kai celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and, to celebrate the event, Grace will host a sit-down dinner and violin concert by Yasuko Otani On June 11, she’ll also sponsor a special concert that features 15 classical music artists at Sogetsu Kaikan.
Hopey Yamamoto held her annual charity gala at the Akasaka Prince Hotel. Her “The Paradise of Angels” concept’s main cause is to contribute to bone marrow banks for children. Special guests at this year’s events included award-winning actor-director Sammo Hung Kam Po and Los Angeles-based songwriter-composer, producer, performer and recording artist Paul Chiten.
Sammo, long a pillar of the Hong Kong film industry, has directed, acted in and/or produced more than 160 films. He’s worked with Chinese superstars Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Yuen Biao. In 1998 he was voted one of the 25 “Most Intriguing People of the Year” by People magazine.
Paul has worked with the likes of Tina Turner, Natalie Cole, the Pointer Sisters, Alice Cooper and Cyndi Lauper. His music has appeared in several films, including “Coming to America” and “Witness.” He was in Tokyo to present the new song, “You Are My Angel,” which he co-wrote with Hopey. It was an evening of flamboyant fashion, music, dancing and fun-all for a good cause. Our congratulations.
Swiss Ambassador Johannes J. Manz and his wife Antoinette invited members of the Japan-Switzerland Parliamentary Friendship League to their home for a relaxed evening of warm hospitality and superb Swiss food.
I enjoyed talking with Hisanaga and Takako Shimazu; she’s the younger sister of Emperor Akihito and was the first member of the Imperial family to take an outside job (with Seibu). He comes from a prominent family and was a banker before taking his present executive position with Sony Corporation. They’re a very popular couple and top-notch representatives of Japan.
Over at the Hilton Tokyo, Martina Hoebom hosted a surprise cocktail party for her husband, Thomas Hoebom, who had just been promoted to Manager, Hilton Tokyo, and Regional Food and Beverage Director, Japan and Guam. The Hoeboms have made friends from all walks of life, and I enjoyed meeting some very interesting people there.
Thomas is a hard-working, dedicated and creative man. He is working with Hilton International V.P.-Japan and Micronesia and Hilton Tokyo G.M. Michael Nigitsch and the Hilton Tokyo staff, has come up with some very good promotions and renovations. These include the International Food Festivals (Egypt, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore), art exhibitions and futuristic new restrooms on the first floor.
I also appreciate Thomas giving me his full support on my annual Christmas party for orphans. Our sincerest congratulations on his promotion.
My sincerest congratulations to a really great woman, Teri Ritzer, on her marriage to Stephen Meyer at Belvedere Castle in Central Park. I worked with Teri and her matron of honor Pat Jennings for several years when she was editor of the Hollywood Reporter and the magazine still had some interest in what was going on in Japan. That’s all changed now.
Teri, as I knew she would, went on to bigger and better things and is now head of international publicity for Buena Vista Films.
After a honeymoon in London and Dublin, they’ve settled down; Teri at Studio City for her work with B.V., and Stephen in Monterey where he buys apartment buildings and refurbishes them before selling or renting them out.
Schedule permitting, I may see Teri and Stephen in Hawaii in a few months when Buena Vista has a premiere of the film. “Pearl Harbor.”
On the showbiz scene, I really enjoyed setting up a party at the Lex for longtime friend, actor Stephen Dorff, and director John Waters. The two were here to promote the film, “Cecil B. Demented,” which distributor Prenom H will open during Golden Week. This was my first time to meet John, and he really is an interesting and nice man.
From Tokyo, Stephen flew to New York City to work with actor Matt Dillon on a ’50s gangster film, “Deuces Are Wild” John’s next project is a film about sexual addiction, titled “It’s a Dirty Shame.”
Pop star Christina Aguilera, in Japan to do concerts for HIP, dropped by the Lex one night with her entourage. Unfortunately, there was an electrical problem, the music and the lights went out and, after 25 minutes of darkness, they left.
I saw Christina’s concert, and she’s a real talent who can sing not only pop songs, but also Latin music and the blues as well.
Met another beauty, South Africanborn, Los Angeles-based actress Charlize Theron when the 20th Century Fox people brought her and her mom to the show at the Kingyo Club in Roppongi. Charlize was here to promote “Legend of Bagger Vance” for 20th, and this talented lady really keeps busy.
She starred in “The Devil’s Advocate” with Keanu Reeves and is in the film “Sweet November” (also with Keanu) which Warner Bros. will release here this year. She told me she’s really looking forward to one of her future projects where she’ll be working with Robert DeNiro.
Here’s something for the ladies: A classy little club over by the ANA Hotel. The Chippendale’s-type revue features six American guys: John, Jeffrey, David, Terry, Dante and Bernard, and one Brazilian, Dino.
It’s a fast-paced, dynamically choreographed show that features dancing, singing and some masterful drumming. The fashionable costumes, the up-to-date music and the guys’ talent (they really get down), add up to 45 minutes of class entertainment.
It is well known the Filipinos excel in music, and the country produces some excellent singers and dancers. You’ll be able to see some of the best at “Walang Tulugan Sa Japan.” The show starts at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Mar. 25, at Lumiere Douce Building, behind Velfare in Roppongi.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender