While the Heidi Fleiss scandal rocks Hollywood like an earthquake, the Japanese entertainment world is feeling only the faintest of tremors.
The local press, including the respected mass-circulation Yomiuri and Mainichi daily newspapers, have not played up the story so far. They simply reported that “Japanese and Arab businessmen and such” are among Fleiss’s supposed clients, along with many important figures from the Hollywood entertainment industry.
These papers have printed only a few short stories on the subject — none of them on the front page and most direct translations from U.S. or Japanese wire services.
Little TV coverage
TV coverage has been minimal. Except for references to rocker Billy Idol, reports have not mentioned by name any companies or individuals, Japanese or otherwise, as likely clients from Heidi’s infamous “black book.”
Idol has denied ever paying for sex or having more than a fleeting connection with Fleiss.
Dick Sano, head of ASCII Pictures (which has close ties with Hollywood’s Castle Rock Entertainment and Edward Pressman Film Corp.) confessed that he hadn’t even heard of the scandal.
Kazuyuki Yamahana, ASCII’s senior manager of the international department, said he has followed the story through local papers but hasn’t seen anything on TV.
New reps in Hollywood?
If Japanese businessmen are named among the clients, he said he thinks it could be “embarrassing on a personal level, and companies may reshuffle a bit and put new representatives in Hollywood. But it won’t be anything at the company level.”
Kunikazu Sogabe, deputy president of Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan, told Daily Variety: “I know that some papers reported it, but I don’t think Japanese have much interest in it. Scandals like that always come out.”
He noted that Japanese people actually tend to be less titillated about the idea of using call-girl services: “I think Japan is more, I won’t say ‘open,’ but a whole bunch of Japanese (businessmen) go to Southeast Asia to have a good time, sex tours … Of those kinds of scandals we have more than enough. It’s not as serious as if it were drugs — that would be very serious.”
ASCII’s Yamahana pointed out that the scandal will be seen in a more serious and detrimental light if it becomes clear that corporate money was used to fund prostitution.
“That is unethical. And the Japanese are more concerned with (Western-style) ethics than a few years ago — especially regarding money,” he explained.
Recent financial scandals involving top-ranking politicians and businessmen ended in their removal for using corporate funds for personal purposes.
ASCII’s Sano shrugged off the idea that this Hollywood scandal will have any lasting repercussions in Japan.
He pointed to the example of then-Prime Minister Uno, who actually lost his position due to a sex scandal in the late ’80s involving a young mistress.
“And that was because he was the top — the Prime Minister.”