Why Elpis, Starring Masami Nagasawa, Rejected by TBS, was Revived by Fuji?
The monthly drama series “Elpisu: Hope or Disaster” (Fuji TV), starring Masami Nagasawa, started on October 24. The drama, which tackles everything from TV station taboos to the dark side of power, has already sent shockwaves throughout the world.
The drama is set at a fictional terrestrial key station, Taiyo TV. The main character is Ena Asakawa (Nagasawa), an announcer who is said to be one of the best talents in 10 years but was kicked out of a GP news program due to a scandal, while rookie director Takuro Kishimoto (Go Atsushi Maeda), ace news reporter Shoichi Saito (Ryohei Suzuki), and others are trying to find out what happened. The film is a socially-conscious entertainment film that depicts how Takuro Kishimoto (Atsushi Maeda), a rookie director, and Shoichi Saito (Ryohei Suzuki), an ace reporter at a news station, regain their “self-worth” that they once lost while investigating the alleged innocence of a serial killer of teenage girls.
In a news program on Taiyo TV, the deputy prime minister, who wears a fashionable hat and speaks in a lisping voice reminiscent of Taro Aso, the deputy prime minister of Japan, appears. Before the live broadcast, I asked him, ‘What are they going to ask you? He said, “Roughly, it’s about the pledges. And I’m stopping the Moritomo matter. Some in the TV industry were surprised that this would be aired on a commercial terrestrial TV station in the GP zone.”
However, this program did not go off without a hitch. It took six long years from the start of the project to its broadcast.
It all began in the spring of 2004, when producer Ayumi Sano, who is in the midst of a booming career, visited Aya Watanabe, the scriptwriter of NHK’s morning drama “Carnation,” among others, and asked her to write a script for the show.
“When they discussed the romantic comedy project they were looking for, their conversation did not go anywhere. They learned that Japan is a country prone to false convictions and that there are people who have not yet been released from prison. I am convinced that Mr. Watanabe will be able to make a good film about an unsolved false conviction,” said a producer from a production company.
However, this project, which had the potential to antagonize the police, prosecutors, and courts, was rejected by TBS, where Sano P was working at the time, because the hurdles were too high. However, Sano P was not ready to give up and pleaded with Watanabe to work with him on the script, and after three episodes were completed, he made an offer to Masami Nagasawa.
After reading the script, Nagasawa readily agreed, saying, “I’d love to do it. However, although Sano P. was highly regarded by viewers and the industry at the time for his work on the masterpiece “Quartet,” he was unfamiliar with internal politics at the station and faced headwinds, and was transferred to the Overseas Business Department. Sano P, who was committed to the field and risked his life in the production of “Elpis,” left TBS with a broken heart.”
The “Elpis” project seemed to be dead. However, Sano did not give up.
After persistent sales efforts, “Elpis” was revived like a phoenix at Kantele (Kansai Telecasting Corporation), which recognized that “this is a work that should be done.
Sano P himself also moved to Cantele. Last year, he revived “Tomoko Soyada and Her Three Former Husbands” (produced by Kantele, Fuji Television) and decided to give it a shot in the Monday 10 o’clock slot.
Originally, “Tsuki 10,” which premiered in the October season last year, was a challenging slot. Avalanche,” starring Go Ayano, was directed by Michito Fujii, who won the Japan Academy Award for Best Director and Best Screenplay for his work on the film “Newspaper Reporter. The film exposes the “evil” that cannot be dealt with by law or justice, and exposes it to the public by broadcasting it live to the entire world.
By doing so, he strongly shook the hearts of viewers who had been tormented by a sense of helplessness and had given up, thinking that “nothing would change in this country. This film “Elpis” has already attracted a great deal of attention as it was screened for the first time in the world at the International Visual Content Fair in Cannes prior to its broadcast in Japan,” said a person involved in a wide-ranging TV show.
(A wide-show insider mentioned above.) Three unexpected events were the catalyst for the Elpis project, which is as good as Avalanche.
The first surprise is Aya Watanabe’s challenging script, inspired by a number of false accusation cases that have actually occurred, which thrusts a blade at the throats of those in power and the terrestrial TV stations that are subservient to them. The second surprise is the fearless action of producer Ayumi Sano, who broke the rules and changed jobs in order to make this project happen.
Another thing that must not be forgotten is the courage of the actress Masami Nagasawa, who willingly agreed to appear in the film in order to make this project a reality.
Ena Asakawa, played by Nagasawa, opens Pandora’s Box shrouded in darkness. What she sees is the light of hope (elpis) or a disaster? We will have to see this drama through to the end.
Text： Ukon Shima (Broadcaster, Video Producer)
He is involved in program production in a wide range of genres, including variety, news, and sports programs. He has also planned and published many books on female TV announcers, idols, and the TV industry. While working on documentary programs, he became interested in history and recently published "Ieyasu was dead in Sekigahara" (Takeshobo Shinsho). She is also publishing the e-book series "Ibun Chakurezuregusa.
PHOTO： Yusuke Kondo