Tokyo’s most popular entertainer, Steve Haynes, is just back from several weeks in Peru. As did Shirley MacLaine, Steve fell in love with the ancient mountain city ruins of Machu Picchu. “You’ve just got to visit there;” Steve told me. I plan to do that next spring.
It was a “Fast and Furious 2” fun night at the Lex when stars Paul Walker, Eva Mendes and Devon Aoki, here to promote the film for UIP, dropped by and partied on into the a.m. I can tell you, success has not spoiled any of these fun, outgoing, warm and talented people. Paul’s hobbies include skydiving, bungee jumping, snowboarding and surfing, and he has a big following in Japan. Proof positive was the number of his fans waiting for him outside the club to shake Paul’s hand, get his autograph and even a photo with the laid-back, obliging “Hollywood Hattie:’ as the U.S. film magazines call him.
Cuban-American actress Eva Mendes is gorgeous, as you can see by the photos. She’s fun, outgoing, loves to dance and is a great dancer. Eva just worked with a friend, director Robert Rodriquez, based in Austin, Texas, on his film, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico:’ Her co-stars were Antonio Banderas and Johnny Depp. Now, that’s talking big time showbiz. Check out Eva’s photo layout in the June issue of GQ.
Devon is the daughter of Rocky Aoki of Benihana restaurant fame and his ex-wife, Pam Price. Check out Pam’s picture. It’s easy to see where Devon, a model since she was 4, got her looks. She’s known worldwide through her modeling for Lancôme makeup and fragrances. In addition to her mom, Devon brought her sister Echo and brothers Kyle and Steve. What a nice and interesting family.
Still on the movie scene, Warner Brothers brought in Nia Vardalos, the writer and star of the biggest grossing independent film ever, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding?” Nia, with her radiant smile and great sense of humor, had the many media at the press conference with her all the way.
A very new image Angelina Jolie was in town to promote “Tomb Raider 2-the Cradle of Life” for Toho-Towa and an always-busy Tom Cruise flew in early a.m. and out early the same evening on Aug. 28 for a fast Warner Brothers promotion of his film, “The Last Samurai?’ Warners was even able to arrange a meeting of the star and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, and I’ll have more on these two super promos (with photos) later.
It was a beautiful day when our Italian friends hosted a well-attended reception on the occasion of Italy’s National Day. This was my first time to meet newly arrived Italian Ambassador Mario Bova and his wife Anna. I’m sure this personable, outgoing couple will not only do an excellent job of representing their country here, but also will be very popular on Tokyo’s social scene. Nobuteru Ishihara, son of Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, is a member of the Diet, and I really enjoyed talking to him about a much-needed cleanup his father is pushing in Tokyo.
It was a grand day in every way at the British Embassy when Ambassador Sir S.J. Gomersall and his wife Lydia hosted a day of staggered receptions to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The embassy’s always spacious garden was full of interesting people enjoying fish and chips, sausages, cheese, pastries and other English food favorites as well as the warm ambiance of the special event. Shortly after a welcome speech by the ambassador, there was an exciting Japanese taiko show featuring several skilled English drummers. It was nice to read that a celebration at Buckingham Palace for this special event included setting up a park and playground for more than 500 underprivileged children.
On the occasion of the National Day of the Russian Federation, Ambassador Alexander N. Panov hosted a huge reception at his embassy. Guests included top Japanese government officials and business leaders. Former Prime Ministers Yoshiro Mori and Tsutomu Hata took time out of their busy schedules to be there. Enjoyed seeing and talking with development tycoon Minoru Mori. As always, I mentioned that, now that he’s opened his super project, Roppongi Hills, he needs to use his power, influence and connections to help clean up Roppongi. On the positive side, he has made it possible for the Guardian Angels to have an office in Roppongi, and I’ll have more on this hard-working community-minded group in Party Line. Mikimoto Pearls President Toyohiko Mikimoto was also there.
In commemoration of the 105th Anniversary of Philippine Independence, Ambassador Domingo Siazon and his wife Kazuko (Kay) hosted a well-attended mid-day reception at their home. The hosting couple, as well as most members of the embassy staff and Filipino business leaders wore national costumes; the ladies in Terna gowns and the men in cool, comfortable Barongshirts. It was a relaxed and festive celebration with a bountiful buffet of Filipino, Chinese and western foods. I met Ken, the son of Domingo and Kay, for the first time that day. He works for Nieman Brothers.
Guam, as always, was a great getaway. In fact, other than three dental appointments which weren’t all that bad, it was even better thru usual. “It rained all day:’” the receptionist at the Grand Hyatt Guam, told me when I checked in. No problem, as the next five days were beautiful. It was, of course, hot, but the ocean breeze kept it comfortable enough that I never had to turn on the air conditioning in my room. Got a brand new Nissan compact at Hertz and really enjoyed the freedom this gave me in getting around the island. I enjoy driving in Guam. Unlike Tokyo, there is very little speeding, very little running of red lights and drivers, for the most part, are courteous.
There really is an excellent selection of Thai films in the Thai Film Festival in Tokyo 2003. The special event runs Sept. 22-30 at the Japan Foundation Asia Center in Akasaka. Several of the films have English subtitles. For inquiries, contact Onamura-san or lshizaka-san at 5562-3892. Thai films are receiving a lot of international attention right now, and I have a dozen or so Thai films with English subtitles, and they really give one an insigl1t into urban and rural Life in that marvelous country.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender