Eiichiro Funakoshi (62), the “king of two-hour dramas,” has been cast as the lead in the drama series “Teo’s Long Holiday” (Fuji TV), which started on June 3. The actor, who used to be a regular in two-hour suspense dramas but has been out of work for more than a year since the two-hour drama slot was eliminated, has become a viral recently.
“In fact, there are many veteran actors who have lost their jobs since the disappearance of the two-hour drama slot and the TV stations’ emphasis on core ratings (ratings among men and women aged 13-49),” said a producer at a major TV station.
The “Asami Mitsuhiko” series (currently on TV Tokyo), which has been broadcast across stations since the 1980s, has had Gosuke Iwata (34) in the lead role since 2010. The actors have been rejuvenated.
The new series of “Asami Mitsuhiko” has regulars from the two-hour dramas, such as Rino Katase (66) and Yuko Natori (65), and was well received by former fans. However, even now, only the leading actresses of these dramas are getting offers, and some of the veterans who supported the two-hour dramas from the side have completely stopped getting offers as actors, and have turned to the leadership side.
The popularity of dramas distributed over the Internet has prompted key terrestrial TV stations to increase their drama slots, and BS Shochiku Tokyu, which opened last year, is also producing original productions, increasing the number of opportunities for actors.
“However, most of them are young actors,” he said. “BS has a high viewer age range, so veterans are asked to work on variety shows, but dramas are cast to appeal to the younger generation, just as they are on terrestrial TV, because they are designed for distribution. The number of slots available for veterans is one or two at most. The competition is fierce.
With the demand for veteran actors decreasing, what is making the difference between life and death?
One factor is the pay. Those who are still being used today are generally getting paid less. More and more companies are producing story-based commercials these days, so more and more actors are pitching to ad agencies. If the spouse is also an actor, some find a place on TV by selling sets as a couple or by accepting open location shoots at home. Some veterans are returning to drama productions after making their presence felt in variety shows.
One would think that production companies with veteran actors would have a tough time, but the entertainment industry executive says, “Rejuvenation itself has more merit.
Thanks to the TV stations’ emphasis on core ratings, the demand for young actors, who have had difficulty in the past, is increasing. The number of drama slots itself is increasing, so even veterans can find work as long as they are not obsessive about their positions or pay.
In the end, what is important is cooperation.
In the end, it is cooperation that counts, he says. “It’s not Pinko Izumi (75), but demand will decrease for difficult people who complain to the producers. We live in an age when Yuji Oda (55) appears in supporting roles in dramas. Actors who are too particular will not survive.
The days of being able to appear with an old name are long gone.
From “FRIDAY” June 16 and 23, 2023
PHOTO： Takero Yui