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J!-ENT’s Dennis A. Amith interviews Misaki Iwasa (Wasamin)

October 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

AKB48 has dominated the Japanese music charts for numerous years and while many may recognize the main core members of the group, there is one former AKB48 member who has shined thanks to her talent of singing enka songs.

Her name is Misaki Iwasa, known by her fans as “Wasamin” and was a 7th Generation AKB48 member who passed the audition for AKB48 back in 2008.   Iwasa was also a member of the side group Watarirouka Hashiritai 7 and while performing a lot of pop songs as a member of AKB48, she is known for her love of enka music and for performing enka music, especially exposing the music to a younger generation.

In 2011, she won first place in the AKB48 YuruYuru Karaoke competition by singing an Sayuri Ishikawa’s enka song “Tsugari Kaikyo – Fuyugeshiki”.  And her participation in the competition sealed the deal for AKB48 creator and producer Yasushi Akimoto, who gave the unranked AKB48 member her start to shine with a debut CD single titled “Mujin Eki” (which translates to “Empty Train Station” or “Ghost Train Station”).

While Wasamin has graduated from AKB48, she has released numerous singles, a photobook and has performed all over the world, most recently at J-Pop Summit 2017 in San Francisco, California.

J!-ENT’s Dennis A. Amith recently had the opportunity to interview Misaki Iwasa (Wasamin) before her performance at J-Pop Summit 2017.

Please click here to read the interview


 

 

Interview with Penelope Lagos, Author of “I Miss My Best Friend” (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

October 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Back in 2011, I had the opportunity to interview actress Penelope Lagos about a film that she starred in and also discuss her career as an actress and a model.

In 2017, I am interviewing Penelope once again, but not as an actress or model, but this time as a writer.

Penelope has written and published her first children’s book titled “I Miss My Best Friend”, featuring illustrations by Sophie Moracchini about her dog Cassius “The Legend”.

A dog purchased for Penelope and her twin brother Louie, the entire family raised Cassius since he was a puppy.  Taking him to Greece and to see Cassius become a champion swimmer.

He was no doubt more than just a pet, he was a family member.

And when Cassius passed away, dealing with the grief of losing a part of your family was a challenge for the Lagos family and for Penelope, she decided to write a book about Cassius to help children deal with the passing of their beloved pet.

“I Miss My Best Friend” has received a lot of positive reviews and I recently had a chance to interview Penelope Lagos about her new book and also about Cassius “The Legend”.


Penelope, I interviewed you as an actress and for this latest interview, I am interviewing you as an author of your first book, “I Miss My Best Friend”. What was the inspiration for writing this book?

PENELOPE: My own dog and best friend, Cassius. He was everything to me and when he passed away, I was absolutely devastated. I looked online and in stores searching for something, anything that would make me feel better, but I quickly realized there weren’t a lot of resources out there. I wasn’t ready to sign up for a pet loss group or even talk to anyone about my feelings, so I started writing them down. Within these notes, a story began to form and hence the fruition of “I Miss My Best Friend”.

Illustrator Sophie Moracchini did a wonderful job with the illustrations. How did the two of you come to collaborate on this book?

PENELOPE:  Sophie is such a talented and professional young woman to work with. I had taken a canine conditioning course and the instructor, Dr. Erica Boling, created various dog groups on Facebook for people to connect/network. I saw a beautiful drawing of a dog that Sophie had posted and I knew immediately I had to reach out to her. She lives in the UK, but technology has afforded me the opportunity to easily work with her throughout this entire process.

Were there any major challenges in writing “I Miss My Best Friend”?

PENELOPE:  Yes (laughing). What I have come to realize is that writing a book is not easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it. I think that condensing my story to fit the standard 32-page structure for a children’s book was difficult for me. I tend to be wordy, so it challenged me to keep my story simple, yet still include what I hope is a powerful message for children and adults alike.

Of course, the book was written to also help children understand the loss of a pet. Any tips that you have on what helped you overcome those difficulties of losing Cassius?

PENELOPE: I think each person copes differently with death, which is why I included the ten tips at the conclusion of the book. I personally found writing to be helpful while another may want to put a scrapbook together or talk to their friends and family about the loss. For me, the most important tip is to let yourself grieve. Don’t ever apologize for feeling sad. A pet provides unconditional love and is a member of the family, and the grief process often mimics that of losing a human.



“I Miss My Best Friend” revolves around the love and also the pain of losing your dog Cassius. Having to say goodbye to my dogs a little over a year ago, both brother and sister, who were very much part of our family was very difficult. And as the passing of time had made things better and we eventually ended up adopting a new dog a year later.   I’m curious, how often do you still think about Cassius and have you moved on by getting a new dog?

PENELOPE: I think about him every day. I grew up with cats and Cassius was the only dog I ever had. Unlike the book version, he lived to be almost 16 years old, so in essence he was with me almost half of my life. Shortly after his passing, so many people sent me photos of dogs that needed a home, others stopped by with one in hand. I wasn’t ready and I don’t know when or if I ever will be. I think it’s a personal decision and there are so many beautiful animals in need of good homes, so it’s nice to be able to open your heart again and adopt.

What is your favorite memory of Cassius?

PENELOPE: What I’ll always remember about Cassius is what an incredible swimmer he was. Being outside with him and playing in the pool were my happiest times. Even near the end, with his severe arthritis, we swam together. He even went to Greece not once but twice where he swam in the Aegean Sea. He was a very special boy who was known internationally!

PENELOPE: “I Miss My Best Friend” has received positive reviews online. I have to ask, can we expect to see more books written by you in the future?

I am beyond happy that people are responding positively to the book, and I’m hoping in some way I will be able to help people overcome their loss. I am also donating 10% of each book sale back to St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center who does extraordinary work in the mission to rescue animals. I already have an idea for the next book, so you won’t be hearing the last from me


“I Miss My Best Friend” is available on Amazon

 

CBS RENEWS DRAMA SERIES “RANSOM” FOR SEASON TWO

October 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Luke Roberts, Sarah Greene, Brandon Jay McLaren and Nazneen Contractor Star

(Left to Right): Brandon Jay McLaren as Oliver Yates; Nazneen Contractor as Zara Hallam;

Luke Roberts as Eric Beaumont; Sarah Greene as Maxine Carlson

STUDIO CITY, Calif. – Oct. 10, 2017 CBS today announced that the drama series RANSOM has been renewed for a second season. The 13-episode order will be filmed in Hungary for broadcast next year. Additional details will be announced at a later date.

RANSOM stars Luke Roberts as expert hostage negotiator Eric Beaumont whose team is brought in to save lives when no one else can. Sarah Greene, Brandon Jay McLaren and Nazneen Contractor also star.

The series is inspired by the professional experiences of distinguished crisis negotiator Laurent Combalbert, who, along with his partner, Marwan Mery, are among the top negotiators in the world.

RANSOMwas created by David Vainola (“Diamonds,” “Combat Hospital”) and Frank Spotnitz (“The X-Files,” “The Man in the High Castle”). RANSOM is a Canada-Hungary treaty co-production, produced by Entertainment One (eOne) with executive producers Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny (Sienna Films) and Spotnitz (Big Light Productions). Valerie Pechels and Odile McDonald (Wildcats Productions) will executive produce with Daniel Kresmery and György Rajnai (Korda Studios) co-producing. RANSOM is developed in association with Corus Entertainment Inc., with the participation from the Canada Media Fund, and produced with the financial assistance of the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit and the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit. eOne controls worldwide rights to the series.

 

“YOUNG SHELDON” RECEIVES FULL-SEASON ORDER FOR 2017/18 BROADCAST SEASON

October 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

CBS has given a full season order to new comedy series YOUNG SHELDON, which premiered Monday night, Sept. 25. YOUNG SHELDON was the most watched comedy premiere on any network since 2011, averaging17.21m viewers, and 3.8 in adults 18-49, the highest rating for any new comedy since 2013. In addition, it retained 98%of its THE BIG BANG THEORY viewer lead-in, 93% in adults 18-49 and 95% in adults 25-54, the best retention percentages for any new comedy following an original episode of THE BIG BANG THEORY.

Following its special Monday night broadcast this week, YOUNG SHELDON now moves to its regular time period on Thursday, Nov. 2 at 8:30 PM, following THE BIG BANG THEORY.

YOUNG SHELDON stars Iain Armitage, Zoe Perry, Lance Barber, Annie Potts, Montana Jordan, Raegan Revord and the voice of Jim Parsons. Chuck Lorre, Steven Molaro, Jim Parsons and Todd Spiewak are executive producers for Chuck Lorre Productions, Inc., in association with Warner Bros. Television.

 

“Transformers: The Last Knight” Available on Blu-ray and DVD on September 26th

September 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The latest installment in the global TRANSFORMERS franchise stars Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter) and features a sensational supporting cast including Josh Duhamel (Transformers), Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games), Anthony Hopkins (“Westworld”), Isabela Moner (“100 Things to Do Before High School”), Laura Haddock (Guardians of the Galaxy), Santiago Cabrera (“Salvation”), and Jerrod Carmichael (“The Carmichael Show”).
The film is available now on Digital HD.

 

CBS DAYTIME EMMY AWARD-WINNING GAME SHOWS “THE PRICE IS RIGHT” AND “LET’S MAKE A DEAL” KICK OFF NEW SEASONS MONDAY, SEPT. 18

September 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Pictured left to right: George Grey, Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith, Manuela Arbelaez, Drew Carey, Rachel Reynolds, Amber Lancaster and James O’Halloran

Drew Carey Celebrates 10 Years as Host of “The Price Is Right” with a Week of Special Prizes and Debuts a New Game, “Gridlock”

Click Here to Watch a Preview of “The Price Is Right”

Let’s Make A Deal” Features “Premiere Week Prize-a-Palooza,” Offering Traders the Opportunity to Compete for More than $1.1 Million in Cash and Prizes

Click Here to Watch a Preview of “Let’s Make A Deal”

CBS Daytime Emmy Award-winning game shows THE PRICE IS RIGHT and LET’S MAKE A DEAL kick off their new seasons Monday, Sept. 18 (check local listings) on the CBS Television Network. THE PRICE IS RIGHT, network television’s #1-rated daytime program and the longest-running game show in television history, celebrates Drew Carey’s 10th anniversary as host. LET’S MAKE A DEAL, hosted by Wayne Brady, will feature “Premiere Week Prize-a-Palooza,” offering Traders the opportunity to compete for more than $1.1 million in cash and prizes.

This season, THE PRICE IS RIGHT is raising the stakes and – in honor of Drew Carey’s decade on the show – if a contestant spins $1 on the wheel, there will be a $10,000 bonus instead of the usual $1,000 all week long. And on the season premiere, Monday, Sept. 18, players win a $100,000 bonus if they spin another $1 on the wheel. In addition, any contestant who wins their pricing game receives a $10,000 cash bonus. Finally, the show will debut a brand new game, “Gridlock,” inspired by the traffic in Los Angeles, in which contestants playing for a car must “navigate” their mini game vehicle out of a lane of traffic and into an empty lane by correctly giving the price of the vehicle.

The celebration of Drew’s milestone season continues all week, with celebrity friends of THE PRICE IS RIGHT sharing special congratulatory messages, including Stephen Colbert, James Corden, the hosts of THE TALK, Pauley Perrette, Wayne Brady, Jonathan Mangum, Tim Allen and more. On Thursday, Sept. 21, contestants will play games that premiered during Drew Carey’s tenure on the show, including the one he created, “Rat Race.” Plus, the models will present a special Drew Carey-themed tribute showcase. The festivities conclude on Friday, Sept. 22 with a showcase showdown that will go down in the show’s history when THE PRICE IS RIGHT gives away the most money ever spun on the wheel.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL launches its ninth season with a sleek, remodeled set and “Premiere Week Prize-a-Palooza,” offering Traders the opportunity to compete for more than $1.1 million in cash and prizes. Adding to the excitement, for the first time at the beginning of each show, host Wayne Brady will reveal a sneak peek at some of the biggest prizes being offered that day, from luxury cars to a trio of trips around the world. LET’S MAKE A DEAL keeps the party going throughout the entire season with special themed episodes, including a “Wayne’s Favorite Folks” week, filling the audience with special groups Wayne has chosen to honor, from teachers to grandparents; a Prom episode with a theme selected by fans through social media; and a salute to the game show’s landmark 1,500th episode.

THE PRICE IS RIGHT is hosted by Drew Carey. Produced by FremantleMedia North America, THE PRICE IS RIGHT is broadcast weekdays (11:00 AM-12:00 PM, ET; 10:00-11:00 AM, PT) on the CBS Television Network. Mike Richards and Jennifer Mullin are executive producers.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL is hosted by Wayne Brady. It is produced by FremantleMedia North America. Mike Richards, Dan Funk and Jennifer Mullin serve as executive producers. The show, which won its first ever Daytime Emmy in 2014 for Best Original Song, for the song “30,000 Reasons to Love Me,” is broadcast weekdays (check local listings) on the CBS Television Network.

CBS Daytime has been #1 in the daypart for more than 30 consecutive years, featuring a balance of dramas, game shows and talk. The Network’s daytime lineup includes network television’s #1 daytime program and longest-running game show THE PRICE IS RIGHT, the #1 daytime drama THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, Daytime Emmy Award-winning THE TALK, THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, and LET’S MAKE A DEAL.

Website:http://www.cbs.com/shows/the_price_is_right/

 

TELEVISION’S LEADING TALENT ANNOUNCED AS PRESENTERS FOR THE “69TH PRIMETIME EMMY® AWARDS,” TO BE BROADCAST SUNDAY, SEPT. 17 ON CBS

September 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Riz Ahmed, Anthony Anderson, Alec Baldwin, Jason Bateman, Jessica Biel, Edie Falco, Anna Faris, Allison Janney, Rashida Jones, Nicole Kidman, Debra Messing, Lea Michele, Shemar Moore, Kumail Nanjiani, Jim Parsons, Tracee Ellis Ross, Adam Scott, Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon Will Appear on the Industry’s Biggest Night

Emmy Award Winner Stephen Colbert, Host ofThe Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Will Host for the First Time

Some of the biggest stars from television will take the stage to present at the 69TH PRIMETIME EMMY® AWARDS, to be broadcast LIVE from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, Sunday, Sept. 17 (8:00-11:00 PM, live ET/5:00-8:00 PM live PT) on the CBS Television Network. Set to present are Riz Ahmed, Anthony Anderson, Alec Baldwin, Jason Bateman, Jessica Biel, Edie Falco, Anna Faris, Allison Janney, Rashida Jones, Nicole Kidman, Debra Messing, Lea Michele, Shemar Moore, Kumail Nanjiani, Jim Parsons, Tracee Ellis Ross, Adam Scott, Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon. More presenters will be announced at a later date.

As previously announced, Emmy Award winner Stephen Colbert, the multi-talented host of THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT, is set to host, marking his first time as master of ceremonies for the event.

The 69TH PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS is produced by White Cherry Entertainment. Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner are executive producers, Weiss is director and Chris Licht, executive producer of THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT, is a producer.

About the Television Academy

The Television Academy seeks to expand the horizons of television excellence. It strives to empower storytellers who shape the evolving television space through the programs, publications and events of the Academy and its Foundation. And it celebrates those who have led excellence by recording their stories and recognizing their achievements through accolades and awards, including television’s most coveted prize, the Primetime Emmy Award. For more information, please visit Emmys.com. For more information and updates on the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, visit Emmys.com and follow @TelevisionAcad on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and YouTube.

 

“WHO SHOT BIGGIE & TUPAC?,” A NEW TWO-HOUR INVESTIGATIVE CRIME SPECIAL THAT UNCOVERS EXPLOSIVE NEW DETAILS ABOUT TWO OF POP CULTURE’S BIGGEST UNSOLVED MURDERS, TO AIR SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, ON FOX

August 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Hip-Hop Icon Ice-T and Award-Winning Journalist Soledad O’Brien to Lead Investigation that Unveils New Details and Reveals Never-Before-Heard Accounts Surrounding the Deaths of these Hip-Hop Legends

Two-Hour Special Produced by Critical Content

WHO SHOT BIGGIE & TUPAC? is an investigative crime special examining two of the greatest murder mysteries in pop culture history. The special, which digs deep into the entangled murders of hip-hop’s most legendary adversaries – rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls – airs Sunday, Sept. 24 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. The two-hour investigation will be led by actor and rap music icon Ice-T and award-winning journalist and documentarian Soledad O’Brien.

 

Biggie and Tupac: two larger-than-life personalities – and former friends – were gunned down within months of each other in the late 1990s. Shakur was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas on September 13, 1996. Smalls, born Christopher George Latore Wallace, was killed by an unknown assailant in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997. It has been 20 years since their murders, and no one has been held accountable. The plot-twisting mystery surrounding their deaths, combined with allegations of police corruption, gang connections and a fierce rap rivalry, are all theories about what might have played a role in their untimely deaths – and what might have resulted in a failure to close their cases. Both murders remain officially unsolved.

 

WHO SHOT BIGGIE & TUPAC?, from Critical Content, the producers of last season’s “The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey,” will lead viewers through an investigation re-examining these legendary homicides by uncovering new details and revealing never-before-heard accounts. The special will feature interviews with former private investigators, police officers, informants and hip-hop insiders, including Doug E. Fresh, Funkmaster Flex and former Death Row Records executive Suge Knight. For the first time ever, the best friends of Tupac and Biggie – Lil’ Cease and E.D.I. Mean – will reunite on camera to talk about the friendship between the two rappers, their untimely deaths and the East Coast/West Coast fallout. Additionally, an exclusive, never-before-released audio recording of Biggie talking about the shooting of Tupac will be unveiled. The special also will focus on how both artists lived and what those lives meant, as the 20th anniversary of these unsolved mysteries is marked.

 

Ice-T is the original embodiment of Los Angeles hip-hop. He first came onto the music scene rapping in the 1984 feature film “Breakin’.” From there, he went on to become rap music’s original gangster, writing songs such as “Six in the Mornin” and “New Jack Hustler.” In 1989, he formed

Rhyme Syndicate Records and released a string of groundbreaking West Coast rap records. With

 

 

 

-more-

WHO SHOT BIGGIE & TUPAC?” – Page 2

 

close high school friend and guitarist Ernie C, Ice-T subsequently formed the thrash metal band Body Count, whose 1991 self-titled debut contained the controversial single “Cop Killer.” As an actor, Ice-T has appeared in multiple films, including “New Jack City,” “Ricochet,” “Trespass” and “Johnny Mnemonic.” For the past 19 seasons, he has starred in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” as “Detective Odafin Tutuola.” He also starred in the reality series “Ice loves Coco,” with his wife, Coco. Additionally, he has published three books: “The Ice Opinion,” “Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption – from South Central to Hollywood” and the fictional work “Kings of Vice.” Earlier this year, he released a new Body Count album.

 

Soledad O’Brien is an award-winning documentarian, journalist, speaker, author and philanthropist. She is CEO of the Starfish Media Group, a multi-platform media production and distribution company. O’Brien anchors and produces the political magazine program “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien.” She also reports for “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” regularly contributes to “PBS NewsHour” and WebMD and serves as host and executive producer of the cable series “Mysteries and Scandals.” Earlier in her career, O’Brien co-anchored “Weekend Today”, and reported for the “Today” show and “NBC Nightly News.” In 2003, O’Brien transitioned to CNN, where she was the face of CNN’s morning news shows for many years. She also anchored the CNN documentary unit, where she created the “In America” documentary series. “Black in America” and “Latino in America” continue to be produced under Starfish Media Group and are subjects of an annual speaking tour. In 2016, her critically acclaimed documentary film, “The Way Comes Home,” was released and distributed to more than 350 theaters in the U.S. O’Brien has been recognized with three Emmy Awards for her coverage of the Haiti earthquake, the 2012 election and for a series called “Kids and Race.” She was honored twice with the George Foster Peabody Award for her coverage of Hurricane Katrina and for her reporting on the BP Gulf Coast Oil Spill.

 

The special is produced by Critical Content. Tom Forman, Ice-T, Soledad O’Brien, David Metzler, Jon Beyer, Brad Bishop and Jorge Hinojosa will serve as executive producers. Follow the special on Twitter @FOXTV and join the discussion using #WhoShotBiggieAndTupac.

 

About Critical Content 

Critical Content is a leading global independent content studio. Launched in October of 2015, the company focuses on unscripted and scripted programming for broadcast, cable and digital platforms.  Critical Content currently has more than 60 projects in production for more than 30 different networks. Recent series include “The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey” (CBS, Netflix), “Home Free” (FOX), “Catfish” (MTV), “StartUp” (Crackle, Amazon), “Limitless” (CBS), “The Woodsmen” (History), “Pretty.Strong” (Oxygen), “Boonies” (Nat Geo), “The Great Food Truck Race” (Food Network), “Young and Hungry” (Freeform), “Tia Mowry at Home” (Cooking Channel) and “Car Matchmaker” (Esquire).

 

“Baywatch”: Raucous Extended Version Hits the Beach August 29, 2017 on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Combo Packs

August 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Digital HD Available Two Weeks Early on August 15

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – The “bawdy, sexy” (Neil Pond, Parade) and “ridiculously
fun” (Rachel Smith, FOX-TV) comedy BAYWATCH makes waves with a new extended
version, featuring outrageous footage not seen in theaters, on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack and
Blu-ray Combo Pack August 29, 2017 from Paramount Home Media Distribution. Fans can
dive in two weeks early on Digital HD August 15.

When a dangerous crime wave hits the beach, legendary Lt. Mitch Buchannon
(Dwayne Johnson, The Fate of the Furious) leads his elite squad of badass lifeguards on a
mission to prove you don’t have to wear a badge to save the bay. Joined by a trio of hot-shot
recruits including former Olympian Matt Brody (Zac Efron, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising), they’ll
ditch the surf and go deep undercover to take down a ruthless businesswoman (Priyanka
Chopra, TV’s “Quantico”), whose devious plans threaten the future of the bay.

The BAYWATCH 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Combo Packs include both the extended
and theatrical versions of the film and are loaded with special features, including interviews
with the sensational cast, a look at the “Baywatch” legacy, behind-the-scenes footage of the
spectacular stunts, as well as deleted and extended scenes. The film also boasts a Dolby
Atmos® soundtrack* remixed specifically for the home theater environment to place and
move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead.

BAYWATCH Blu-ray Combo Pack
The BAYWATCH Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition with English Dolby Atmos
(Dolby TrueHD compatible), French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese
5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, English SDH, French, Spanish
and Portuguese subtitles. The DVD in the combo pack is presented in widescreen enhanced
for 16:9 TVs with English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby
Digital and English Audio Description and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.
The combo pack includes access to a Digital HD copy of the theatrical version of the film as
well as the following:

Blu-ray
• Extended Version of the film in high definition
• Theatrical Version of the film in high definition
• Bonus Content:
o Meet the Lifeguards
o Continuing the Legacy
o Stunts & Training
o Deleted & Extended Scenes
DVD
• Theatrical Version of the film in standard definition

BAYWATCH 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack
Fans can enjoy the ultimate viewing experience with the 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack,
which includes the Blu-ray detailed above, as well as an Ultra HD Disc presented in 4K Ultra
HD with English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD compatible), French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish
5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description with English,
English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The Combo Pack also includes access
to a Digital HD copy of the theatrical version of the film.

BAYWATCH Single-Disc DVD
The single-disc DVD is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with English 5.1
Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio
Description and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The disc includes the
theatrical version of the film in standard definition.

 

Q&A with Kenichi Sonoda (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

August 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Q&A with Kenichi Sonoda (by Michelle Tymon, Dennis A. Amith and Photos by Rhiannan Smith)


When it comes to world renown artists and animators, one man who received international attention before anime would become part of international pop culture was Kenichi Sonoda.

Working for the anime studio Artmic back in the ’80s, Sonoda worked on an anime series called “Bubblegum Crisis” and his character designs for the anime series was a hit among sci-fi animation fans.

Sonoda would go on to work on the anime series “Gall Force”, the OVA’s “Bubblegum Crash”, “Otaku no Video”, “Riding Bean”, “Solty Rei” to name a few.  But he would go on to create his next hit, the manga series “Gunsmith Cats”.

While Sonoda may not have a long string of series listed in his oeuvre, because of “Bubblegum Crisis” and “Gunsmith Cats” and those two being one of the most popular early anime series to come to the United States, Sonoda has earned the respect of anime fans and is continually invited to the United States frequently to appear at anime conventions.

Kenichi Sonoda recently was a special guest at Sakura Con 2017 in Seattle, Washington and J!-ENT recently took part in a Q&A.

The following is a transcript of the Q&A featuring our questions and other questions from press with Kenichi Sonoda’s answers.


Interviewer: Is this your first time here?

Sonoda: Sakura-con is my first. This is my second time in Seattle. Last time, I was here for Emerald City Comic Con a few years back.

J!-ENT: Did you get to do any sightseeing yet, if not, where would you like to go?

Sonoda: Yes, I did. I got to go to Nintendo. I also got to go to Crab Pot for some seafood. The food there was very interesting. They basically dumped a bunch of steamed crabs, clams and other seafood in front of you and give you a hammer and a couple other tools. It was very entertaining.

Interviewer: It’s very messy. They give you handwipes and a bib and it’s kind of embarrassing.

Sonoda: I was prepared because I put the paper bib on and I had a roll of paper towels.

Interviewer: How do you feel about how anime and manga is received in the US? Is there anything noticeable about the American market.

Sonoda: About America accepting manga… I’ve always had this admiration toward the US, and I grew up watching American movies and dramas. So that’s why I had Gunsmith Cats and Riding Bean set in the US. I even set the stories in Chicago because I was influenced by The Blues Brothers. So I am very grateful that the American fans have been so accepting of my work.

As for the answer to the second question, Japanese fans are very quiet overall. American fans are very lively and will approach you to talk and enjoy cosplaying. I think they’re very positive and they’re much more energetic than the Japanese fans, and I think that’s great.

J!-ENT: This is a similar question, but you were one of the very first guests invited to an event in the US. What is the biggest difference between the American fandom then and now?

Sonoda: Fundamentally there aren’t many differences but they’ve gotten smarter with promoting the events, and with how they’re run, and I think that’s great.

Interviewer: Are there any manga and anime series that you’re reading or watching right now?

Sonoda: I like to enjoy reading manga and watching anime quite regularly. But let’s see… Out of the recent anime series that have aired, I really enjoyed “Kemono Friends”. I have a lot of friends who are in doujin circles and at least 75% of them are obsessed with “Kemono Friends”, and we’re talking about men in their 40s and 50s.

Interviewer: It’s a very cute series, and everyone likes cute stuff.

Sonoda: The hype peaked in last two episodes, episodes 11 and 12. I was surprised at what happened myself.

J!-ENT: How did you get into this industry?

Sonoda: Right around the time I was sixteen or so, I started doujin work. And doujin work back then isn’t like the doujin circles who do derivative fan works that we have now.

It was more like a manga school, where everyone was determined to become manga artists. And I was the chairman for this group and got other people to join. After I graduated high school, I continued working on manga in hopes of becoming a manga artist while I went to design school.

One day, I was contacted by someone who worked at Artmic in Tokyo, who had seen one of my doujins. I was told they had a project called Gall Force and asked me if I had any interest in being the character designer.

Gall Force at the time was a 3D photo novel that appeared in a magazine called Model Graphix. They took models of girls that I designed and models of mechas that Kakinuma had designed, took photos of them, and made a story out of it.

At that point, there was no talk about making it into an anime. But not even six months later, I was told that they were going to be making a theatrical anime version, so I realized I was going to have a lot more work to do. Also, at the same time, a company called GAINAX also asked me to help out with some character design work.

So, I thought that since I now have at least two projects in Tokyo, I could move out to Tokyo and make a living over there without having to worry too much. So that was when I moved to Tokyo from Osaka, and I believe I was about 21 at the time.

My first job with GAINAX lasted about a year, and I worked at Artmic as an actual employee and did design work. At Artmic, I was working on the Gall Force series and the Bubblegum Crisis series.

Later on, I was told that if I had come up with a proposal, that it would probably go through. So I came up with a proposal without a script or original story and I went right to just storyboarding and animating it. That project was actually the anime, Riding Bean.

Work wise, things were going pretty well at Artmic, but because I was just an office worker there, my earnings didn’t really grow.

Even if something I created was a hit, I didn’t own the copyright. That was when I figured I should probably go back to my original goal of becoming a manga artist. I went to Kodansha to talk to them about a project and managed to land a deal on a serialized series.

That’s when I became a true manga artist and I quit my job at Artmic. I think I was about 26 or 27 when I started my serial with Kodansha, and my first serialized series, Gunsmith Cats became a hit. Because of that, I was able to become a successful manga artist.

Interviewer: When I was younger, I would watch Gall Force and Bubblegum Crisis on television and they were my favorites. I loved both series, because I hadn’t seen anything like them before. It was actually hard to find anime and manga in the early 90s when I first started watching. But now, anime is so popular and I wonder if you had any thoughts on how anime has transitioned to mainstream.

Sonoda: I’m very happy about Japanese manga and anime being so popular in the US and the world, but I do believe that this is mostly because of the stories being good so if we don’t keep up working hard, the interest in the genre could die down. So I think I need to keep working hard.

J!-Ent: How do you feel about your works like Bubblegum Crisis and Gall Force being loved so much after so many years?

Sonoda: I’m very happy about it. But since Artmic sort of went downhill, so that was regrettable. This doesn’t just apply to Artmic, but with the anime industry, if a series does well, you aren’t guaranteed to be provided with a high budget for the next series. Actually, the opposite would happen. They would say that we were able to make a hit, so we should actually be able to make another one with an even lower budget. That wasn’t the case with all the Artmic series, but I feel like if they spent more on the works, I think they would have done much better and been more popular longer.

Interviewer: Lately, there’s been a movement to make revival series, meaning companies are taking something from my generation or even older and bringing it back. Would you be interested in doing a new series for Gall Force or Bubblegum Crisis?

Sonoda: Yes, I would be interested. But there have been talks about doing digital remasters of older series for Blu-ray releases lately. There will soon be a digital remaster version of Riding Bean for the US and I did audio commentary for that. I also designed new cover art for that release.

Interviewer: Do you know the release date for that?

Sonoda: I personally haven’t seen the release schedule, so please check out the AnimEigo website for release information. Also, recently there have been talks about doing another anime of Gunsmith Cats, but I’m not sure what will happen with that yet.

 J!-Ent: Do you have any advice on how to get into the anime industry?

Sonoda: Not really. The only thing that I can say for anyone interested in joining this industry is to draw a lot.

Interviewer: Speaking of drawing, I wanted to know if you have more fun drawing mecha or if you have more fun drawing pretty girls.

Sonoda: Actually, I like drawing the atmosphere of the world of the story more than either of those choices. I’ll draw anything that is needed for that. I’m very good at drawing both pretty girls and mechas so if that enhances the series and makes it popular, that’s great. Recently, there are a lot of series that use pretty girls and mechas… and serious-looking mechas at that, and do it quite normally. I’m getting a bit nervous that my personal weapons that I thought won’t be effective anymore. Thirty years ago, there weren’t very many series that were filled with pretty girls and mechas. So I was able to use my weapons of being able to draw pretty girls and mechas.

J!-ENT: What was the first anime or manga that you latched onto?

Sonoda: The first manga works that I got into are the works of Fujio Akatsuka, Osamu Tezuka and Fujiko Fujio. There weren’t as many anime back then, so I was basically watching everything that was available. I can’t remember if I was in kindergarten or elementary school, but I cried so hard watching the final episode of Tatsunoko Pro’s Hakushon Daimaoh. I’ve also always liked American cartoons. Wacky Races, Tom and Jerry, and there was some cartoon where a Frankenstein-looking character appeared, but I liked that, too. There was also the cartoon for King Kong, too. But what I was most obsessed with wasn’t actually manga or anime, but a couple sci-fi dramas. They were the British dramas Thunderbirds Are Go and UFO created by ITV. I think the reason I started drawing so much mecha was because of Thunderbirds Are Go.

Interviewer: Would you have any interested in drawing a Thunderbirds Are Go manga?

Sonoda: No, because they are treasured memories and I want to keep them as such.

Interviewer: Are there any current American properties that you’re interested in?

Sonoda: There aren’t many American dramas that are on basic cable in Japan right now. They’re all on BS and CS, so I haven’t seen very many, but I think 24 from a little while back was really good. Also, I was quite disappointed with the newer Knight Rider series.

J!-ENT: You had mentioned that you liked America, but are there any places in America that you haven’t visited yet that you would like to?

Sonoda: So far, I’ve been only been to Chicago, Seattle, and San Jose. So there are plenty of places that I haven’t been to that I’d like to visit. I’d actually also like to go to NASA once.

Interviewer: You mentioned that a lot of your work is influenced by America and also takes place in America, but is there a reason that America influences you so much?

Sonoda: I like gun action and car action, so I watched a lot of movies and dramas with that and was influenced by them. Also, if when I draw manga, if America isn’t the setting for the story, I don’t think I could draw very many scenes where people are shooting guns. Guns are accessible in America. If the stories were set in Japan, I can’t easily logically justify the use of guns.

Interviewer: Unfortunately, it’s more believable for there to be gun fights and car chases in America.

Sonoda: In any case, I really love Dirty Harry.

Interviewer: Yeah, Clint Eastwood is really great.

J!-ENT: What are your hobbies outside of drawing and work?

Sonoda: Watching movies, making plastic models, and going out to drink with my friends. There are times that my friends invite me out to the movies, even though I don’t usually go to the movie theater. However, when my friends actually invite me out to the movies, I’ll go see any kind of movie. The movies that I went to see last year include Shin Godzilla, Girls und Panzer, and Don’t Breathe. They’re all completely different genres.

Interviewer: What were your thoughts on the new Godzilla movie?

Sonoda: I actually enjoyed the dull, first half of the movie more. During the climax scene in the later half of the movie, I thought the presentation wasn’t that great. It’s the scene where the train runs into Godzilla and explodes… But if Godzilla was standing in the way where a train as headed, you’d think that the tracks and cables would have already been trampled on, and the train shouldn’t have been running. I think it would’ve worked better if they did something like Operation Yashima in Neon Genesis Evangelion, because there’s a locomotive pulling the train, rather than the train running electrically.

Interpreter: I’m sorry, I have a slightly personal question in regards to movies, but have you seen the movie, John Wick, where Keanu Reeves plays a retired assassin?

Sonoda: Sorry, I haven’t seen it yet.

Interpreter: Honestly, considering your interests, I think it’d be a perfect movie for you, so I wanted to know your thoughts on it.

Sonoda: I see. I’ll try to rent it in the near future then. Speaking of Keanu Reeves, I think I heard a rumor a while back that they were to make a live-action Cowboy Bebop movie with Keanu Reeves, but that just never came to be, right?

Interviewer: We’ve actually had a couple live action adaptation movies of anime that haven’t gone very well. The Netflix live action Death Note movie is coming out and it’s already pretty unpopular, Ghost in the Shell didn’t do well, and Akira actually just got greenlit to be remade. American audiences haven’t been responding to them very well, it seems. I don’t know if I’d want a live action Cowboy Bebop because I love the anime so much.

Sonoda: There was also the live-action Dragon Ball. Also, speaking of Akira, that’s set in Tokyo… So are they going to change the setting to New York?

Interviewer: I heard that they were thinking about setting it in New York.

Sonoda: Also speaking of Akira, did the fact that one of the signs from the movie ended up correctly predicting the future become a popular story? In Akira, they mention that the 2020 Olympics are going to take place in Tokyo. The beginning of the story is the fact that the Olympics are going to happen the next year. Akira takes place in the year 2019.

J!-ENT: Since we’re talking about live action adaptations… In Japan, I think there’s a desire to see anime being made into live action adaptations. Whereas in the US, I don’t think there’s as much of a desire to see them. For example, there was already a lot of criticism over them casting a Caucasian actress to play Motoko in the Ghost in the Shell movie before the movie even came out. So I think that the way these adaptations are viewed are quite different in Japan and the US. In the US, as we had mentioned earlier, series like Cowboy Bebop is very sacred in the hearts of a lot of viewers here and they don’t want to see it as a live action adaptation.

Sonoda: For me, I actually have no problem with the casting of Scarlett Johansson as Motoko in the live action Ghost in the Shell. However, I felt that it was rather awkward that Aramaki was being playing by Takeshi Kitano. He looks nothing like him and he doesn’t talk in the same sharp manner… I thought that was a much bigger problem that I was hoping they’d do something about. Chief Aramaki in Masamune Shirow’s original Ghost in the Shell was actually modeled after a character from the British police drama, The Professionals. Are you able to search on the internet right now? If you search for CI5, The Professionals… I forgot the name of the actor, but he’s the chief in that show. His hair is rather thin, but his face has a very sharp look to it. He’s a very cool looking character. If you can find any pictures from the series, you should be able to find a picture of two younger male agents and a slightly older gentleman who played their boss. I’m pretty sure that Masamune Shirow has mentioned this in other interviews before, but he really likes British police and military dramas and movies. He apparently really liked The Professionals and was highly influenced by it. Also, the same actor who plays the chief in The Professionals plays the lead in a movie called The Final Option. If I remember correctly, Masamune Shirow really liked that movie, as well.

Interviewer: One final question. The genre of anime seems to have changed greatly from the early 90s and 80s. Back then, you had Ghost in the Shell, Mobile Police Patlabor, and Akira, which are all rather serious works. Nowadays, the anime series that seem to be popular are about high schools, and the moe culture. I was wondering if you had any thoughts about these changes and if you noticed and trends and changes yourself.

Sonoda: I think there are still some rather serious and good series out there even now. It’s just that there are indeed a lot more moe genre series now as well. So I personally don’t think there’s anything to worry about. Even with the moe genre series or series that use pretty girls to try to catch the audience, a lot of them have a very solid story at their core and are made quite well. So basically they’re just sugarcoated with the pretty girls or moe, but beneath that surface, there is a great foundation. So if you look for them carefully, you should be able to find those more serious anime series that you were speaking of. For example, Kyoto Animation is known for using a lot of beautiful girls in their series, but they make very serious and excellent series.

Adding onto the last question, with the change of genre, the art style from the 80s and 90s and the art style now has changed. Do you think the art style will ever go back to the way it was in the 80s and 90s?

Sonoda: There are a lot more series that use a lot of CG now as well as computer-aided drawings. This aspect also makes it a lot easier to additional details into scenes. But what’s most important is the direction and the story. So I’m not sure if the key animation is indeed the most important aspect or not. Of course, there are works like the works by Makoto Shinkai where what you’re looking at is also very important. But then there are also series like Kemono Friends which I mentioned earlier. The visuals on that show are extremely cheap looking, but the actual story is extremely well made. It actually became rather popular on the internet. As long as the creators know exactly what they should be presenting, even if their budget is not very high, I don’t think they need to worry too much about what’s visually being presented.


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