'Setsuna' to chart singer's fall from grace
TOKYO — Japan’s biggest celeb scandal of this year is being made into a pic, producers announced in Tokyo on Thursday.
Titled “Setsuna,” the pic will detail events surrounding the August drug bust and subsequent career hara-kiri of Noriko Sakai, one of the biggest female pop idols in Japan and Asia through the 1990s, with a long list of hit CDs, TV dramas and pics to her credit.
Based on a book by veteran entertainment reporter Masaru Nashimoto, the pic stars Shion Machida (“Chameleon,” “Big Man Japan”) as a tabloid reporter who starts to see her own reflection in Sakai’s troubles. Masao Sasahara is helming and Psydirec will distrib, with release send for late January.
After her professional surfer husband was busted for stimulants possession on Aug. 3, Sakai absconded with her son to escape police questioning, sending cops on a nationwide manhunt. Sakai gave herself up to Tokyo police on Aug. 8, after a small quantity of stimulants had been found in her house.
Soon after, her agency, Sun Music, and her record company, Victor Ent., both fired her, and Sakai subsequently pleaded guilty to possession and use of illegal drugs. She also declared that she would divorce her husband, abandon her showbiz career and train to become a caregiver. On Nov. 11, a Tokyo court handed her an 18-month sentence, suspended for three years, explaining her contrition as a reason for leniency. These and other events related to the case, including Sakai’s tearful post-bust press conference, grabbed headlines for weeks, while boosting ratings and, ironically, sales of Sakai’s CDs.