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Sunday, March 28, 2004

CHANNEL SURF

Fuji TV's "New New York Love Story" and more

The government is talking about reforming the ailing pension system and cutting benefits. A retired salaryman with a wife who is a full-time homemaker receives on average 230,000 yen a month as social security. Obviously, it is difficult to live on that amount of money without other forms of income.

That's why many retired couples opt to spend their golden years abroad, where their yen goes farther. On March 29 at 9 p.m., TV Tokyo will present a special program entitled "Happy Retirement: Couples Who Long to Live Overseas."

The most popular retirement destinations for Japanese are Australia and Asia and the program looks at some places that are gaining in popularity. One is Penang Island in Malaysia, where one couple has lived for 12 years in a spacious two-story condominium. Another is Costa del Sol in Spain, a popular retirement center for Europeans, which boasts an infrastructure that caters to older people. Even Nepal is becoming a magnet for Japanese retirees. The program explains visa procedures, medical services, and lifestyles and customs.

One of the mysteries of Japanese TV is the use of actor Masakazu Tamura as a romantic lead. As Tamura moves into late middle age, he continues to be paired with actresses in their 20s.

Tamura hasn't made a drama in the past year, concentrating on the more lucrative TV commercial market (that's him shilling for Tokyo Gas and making love to Audrey Hepburn's billboard in the Nicos Card CM). This week, he revises a role he played in a popular 1988 series "New York Love Story."

In "New New York Love Story" (Fuji TV, March 30, 9 p.m.), he again plays the cool expat Tajima, who owns a small successful winery on Long Island and lives in a beautiful Manhattan apartment. But all is not wonderful. Tajima is slowly going blind in one eye, and he believes he is dying. Into his life comes Eiko (Yuko Takeuchi), a young woman who is being secretly used by a Japanese-American FBI agent investigating Tajima's relationship with a U.S. senator. In exchange for spying on Tajima, the agent has promised to secure Yuko a green card. Obviously, the agent underestimates Tajima's charms.

Yuko Takeuchi's role as the love interest in the extremely popular "Pride" has ended. The man who wrote "Pride," Nao Nozawa, has had one of his novels, "Toride Nakimono (The Defenseless Person)," made into a television drama that will air April 2 at 9 p.m. on TV Asahi.

Koji Yakusho plays Nagasaka, a TV news reporter who does a story on a young woman running a prostitution ring. After the story is aired, the woman commits suicide and a young man claiming to be the woman's boyfriend says that she was not a criminal and that the report drove her to despair.

Nagasaka is disgraced and suspended, and the boyfriend becomes a media celebrity. With the help of a female news director, Nagasaka soon finds out that he is the victim of a huge smear campaign.



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