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Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010

CHANNEL SURF

SMAP day on Fuji TV, interesting money facts and Yukie Nakama's exploration of Okinawa

There are rumors that "SMAP × SMAP," the long-running variety show featuring Japan's most enduring boy band, will be ending sometime this year as its members increasingly follow individual paths. Moday is SMAP Day over at Fuji TV, which will be airing the group's 1994 theatrical film "Shoot" at 3 p.m. A legendary stinker, the manga-based movie should at least provide some laughable nostalgia.

Then there's a 4 1/2-hour "SMAP × SMAP" special starting at 7 p.m. It will be the first time the show has ever been broadcast live. The celebrity guest for the SMAP Bistro segment, where four of the boys whip up competing meals, is Miyuki Hatoyama, the first lady of Japan. The idol group Kat-Tun, which also toils for SMAP's overlords, Johnny's Jimusho, will sing and dance with their senpai (seniors) in a special "joint performance," and the most elaborate domino chain reaction setup is promised as well.

Freelance announcer Seiji Miyane is called the "Monto Mina of Naniwa," Monto Mina being the most ubiquitous emcee on Japanese TV and Naniwa being another way of saying "Osaka." Kansai people know him very well while Kanto viewers probably don't.

That discrepancy will be bridged when he appears nationwide on "Miyane no Gyoten Money-jiku, Uchiwake Oshiete" (Miyane Explains in Detail Surprising Things About Money; Nihon TV, Tues., 8:54 p.m.), where the peripatetic announcer will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the cost of living, and a few things you didn't what to know, such as the difference between having a baby in a hospital and having one in a taxi cab. He will also explain why utility fees differ from prefecture to prefecture; break down the cost of an average funeral; give meaning to national defense expenditures; and tell you why you probably shouldn't buy insurance.

Yukie Nakama is Japan's most popular personality if you consider the volume of her activities: a dozen or more commercials, one or two TV drama series and half a dozen theatrical films a year, and while she protects her brand image by not appearing on variety shows, she does a lot of hosting work, epitomized by her recent co-emcee gig for NHK's New Years Eve song contest.

Nakama is from Okinawa, and will be revisiting the prefecture for "Nakama Yukie no Aoi Chikyu" (Yukie Nakama's Blue Earth; TV Tokyo, Wed., 10 p.m.), an occasional documentary series in which the actress communes with nature. She'll join a group of elementary school students attempting to grow coral off the coast of one of Okinawa's smaller islands. She'll also go north to Hokkaido to watch local people's efforts to save the marshlands of Kushiro.



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