I just finished watching the Academy Awards live on a huge TV monitor at a friend’s office, and I really got caught up in the glamour and glitz of this year’s Oscar presentations. It was especially exciting as a few stars I’ve had the privilege of meeting walked off with top honors. These included the down-to-earth Jeff Bridges for best actor, and the super smart Sandra Bullock for best actress.
It’s always nice to see good things happen to good, deserving people. I am writing this on March 16, and I’m really looking forward to the opening of the French Film Festival here in Tokyo on the 19th. Last year I had the opportunity to meet special guest French actress Juliette Binoche. This year’s special guest will be actress Jane Birkin. More on this in an upcoming issue. As most of you know, the movie scene here in old Edo has really been busy. Japan is a favorite destination for stars and directors to promote their films, and recently there’s been one celeb after another here for their film promos. Hugh Grant was back, this time to promote Did You Hear About the Morgans? for Sony, and I heard that he and a friend partied at the Geronimo shot bar in Roppongi.
Jude Law was here to promote Sherlock Holmes for Warner Brothers, and really made a first class presentation at the premiere at Roppongi Hills. He was traveling with Sienna Miller and his four children, and spent any free time he had showing them around Tokyo. One of the things they enjoyed was a dinner at Ukai, a famous restaurant behind Tokyo Tower that specializes in a variety of delicious and healthy dishes made from tofu. Oscar winner Benicio del Torro was in town for Toho Towa to promote Wolfman, and Leonardo DiCaprio was here to promote Shutter Island for Paramount.
Leo brought his family this time, and they spent several days exploring Kyoto. Warner Brothers also brought in martial arts actor Jon Foo to promote his film Tekken: King of Iron Fist Tournament. Jon is very international; he has a British passport, lives in Thailand, and works all over the world. Thanks to friends, I was able to set up a party for him at the New Lex, and the club was full of Japanese showbiz personalities. We really surprised Jon when we brought in a long time friend of his, Joey Beni, a very talented dancer from L.A. Jackie Chan, who spends considerable time in Japan, was also here for a week doing several charity projects. He does a lot to help others.
SHERLOCK HOLMES PREMIERE
There was a big turnout of Jude Law fans at the Toho Theater in Roppongi Hills for Warner Brothers’ premiere of Sherlock Holmes. It was really cold that night, and Jude braved the weather in just a suit and t-shirt to spend considerable time talking with the journalists outside the theater. He is, as they say, a real trooper. The film itself was a real crowd pleaser, with nothing but raves for both Jude and Robert Downing Jr.’s performances.
OAKWOOD PREMIERE PARTY
I’m sure that all of the 200-odd guests at Oakwood Premiere Tokyo Midtown’s elegant and interesting evening really enjoyed themselves and will be happy to hear that Oakwood Japan’s top man Martin Fluck is planning to do quarterly gatherings like this. Sponsors for the evening included the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank, Asian Tigers and Wall Street. It was really nice seeing many longtime friends, including TAC president Lance Lee. Three of his four great sons party at the New Lex from time to time (the fourth is a bit young for the Roppongi scene). Lance’s wife is a medical doctor, and the whole family is really great. It was also nice seeing the hardworking and good people from moving company Asian Tigers, and I was happy to have the chance to thank them for their longtime support of the Weekender. The company’s sales manager, Sandra Van Gessel, gave me a huge stuffed tiger (one of my favorite animals) that was sitting on a baby grand piano at the party venue. I had to meet some people at Dean and Deluca after the party, and the tiger attracted a lot of comments and actually made me a few new friends. I pass his chic Tomigaya studio every day, but this was the first time I met David Stetson, a highly regarded photographer who works in New York, London and Tokyo. David, who’s British, specializes in portraits, and has photographed Princess Diana, Ken Watanabe, and a host of famous people from all walks of life. It was a laid back evening of good food and interesting people; I really appreciated being a part of it all.
MARUYAMAS’ CHINESE DINNER
One of the world’s most traveled couples, Mitsuo and Lilo Maruyama, are also some of our city’s top party hosts. Anything they do (garden parties, yacht parties, etc.) is special, and the 11-course Chinese dinner they hosted with their son Helge at Hilton Toyko’s Dynasty Restaurant was all that and more. Guests were an interesting mix of diplomatic couples, business leaders and socialites, and the food was excellent. I sat between two of my favorite ladies, Jane Scolinos and Grace Saito. Polish Ambassador Jadwiga Rodowicz was also at our table, and the evening really gave me the opportunity to get to know this exceptional lady better. I would also like to thank her for the invitation to a Chopin evening she co-hosted with French Ambassador Philippe Faure a week later. Sponsors for the event included HSBC, among others.
LUNCH AT THE SOUTH AFRICAN EMBASSY
South African Ambassador Gert Grobler hosted a luncheon to introduce popular soccer player Hidetoshi Nakata to members of the African diplomatic corps and a group of Japanese VIPs. South Africa, as you know, will host the World Cup this summer, and Nakata is Friendship Ambassador for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour. The program that day included a welcome speech by Ambassador Grobler, followed by a speech by dean of the African Corps, Gabonese Ambassador Jean Christian Obame. Nakata also spoke, and obligingly posed for photos with fans. He’s currently involved in many humanitarian activities, and spends considerable time working with the Take Action Foundation, which is very active in many projects in Africa. Kudos to him; he has so much to be proud of.