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Sunday, April 2, 2006

CHANNEL SURF

Tireless emcee comes up with "Mino Monta no Sashinomi" on Nihon TV and more

Apparently, being listed in the Guinness Book of Records isn't enough for tireless emcee Monta Mino. On Monday, at midnight, he launches yet another series with himself as host. That adds up to a whopping 10 programs a week for the 61-year-old presenter, who claims to only need three hours of sleep a night. Monta says he got the idea for "Mino Monta no Sashinomi (Drinking with Monta Mino)" on Nihon TV when he was hospitalized over New Year for an operation on his back. Watching TV, he found that except for TV Asahi's "News Station" and TBS's "News 23" there were no evening or late-night programs "for adults." The premise of the half-hour show is simple. Monta invites a guest to have a drink or two with him and they can talk about whatever he wants. Presumably, the guests won't be idol singers or pinup models, but as of this writing it hasn't been announced who Monta's first interlocutor will be.

One of the biggest domestic box-office hits last year was " Nana," a movie about a female rock singer based on a popular manga. This week, Nihon TV launches an animated series (Wednesday, 11:55 p.m.) based on the same comic, which has also spawned CDs and a computer game. Actually, the story is about two women named Nana. Nana Komatsu is riding on a train to Tokyo, where her boyfriend lives. She ends up sitting next to another young woman whose name happens to be Nana Ozaki and who is moving to Tokyo to realize her dream of becoming a singer. Later, fate brings the two Nanas together again when they happen to be looking at the same house-for-rent at the same time. They decide to live with each other and the two characters' lives are presented in parallel. Komatsu depends greatly on her boyfriend and other friends from her hometown, while Ozaki focuses all her energy on becoming a vocalist for a punk band. Her ambitions are complicated by her love for Ren, an old flame who is a guitarist for a rival band.

Earlier this year, the comedy duo Bakusho Mondai received an award from the education ministry for their TV work. Hikaru Ota, the taller, more cynical half, commented at the time that he had no idea why the pair had been given the award. "Maybe they thought it would shut us up," he remarked. Obviously, it didn't work. This Friday at 7 p.m., Ota launches a new series called "If I Were the Prime Minister" (Nihon TV), in which he sets out his own national policies for Japan. A panel of "experts" from a wide range of disciplines will discuss and debate his proposals, which sound far-fetched but on closer inspection seem perfectly reasonable. Among the ideas that Ota presents in the inaugural program are a one-year moratorium on relations with the United States and a proposal to limit personal stock trading to people over 65.



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