The name of Jun Fukuda, president of the consulting company “Speedy” is being discussed as the president of the new agent company of the former Johnny’s (now SMILE-UP.), which will be established within November.
Initially, it was planned that Noriyuki Higashiyama, president of SMILE-UP, would also serve as president of the new company,
However, the plan was abandoned when it was pointed out that “governance was problematic.” Instead, Mr. Fukuda, who has “revived” the actress Nun, was given the job, but the question within Johnny’s is, “Who is that?”. A source with behind-the-scenes knowledge of the situation said,
“Fukuda was asked to be president only recently. Many people in Johnny’s heard Fukuda’s name for the first time in the press, and they asked, “Who is he?” “What kind of person is he?””
“The talent had heard that Higashiyama had declined to be the new president, but they had never heard of Fukuda’s appointment. The delay in communication has caused some to distrust the office.”
Fukuda’s side has yet to say whether or not he accepted the offer from Johnny’s side. According to the same source
“Mr. Fukuda’s side, through his lawyer, is presenting the former Johnny’s side with detailed conditions for accepting the offer. If he does not agree to them, then the offer will be shelved.”
The new president denies that he is a member of Johnny’s.
It is unclear what conditions he is offering, but given Mr. Fukuda’s history, his style should be a break with the old conventions of the entertainment industry.
Fukuda began his career at Tohoku Shinsha, a company involved in the foreign film business. From there, he worked at Sony Pictures Entertainment and then as president of Sony Digital Entertainment Services, an in-house startup. In 2017, he established ”Speedy” and worked as a brand consultant. He is also involved in art gallery management and publishing.
“He is also well versed in the American showbiz world. He has long held the view that the Japanese entertainment industry is ‘old-fashioned,’ and has argued that the rampant use of barter appearances and the abuse of casting rights by major production companies are ‘ruining Japanese entertainment.”
“The former Johnny’s had risen to prominence by taking advantage of these two factors, and accepting Fukuda’s views could lead to a denial of the past. Some people say, ‘Johnny’s will cease to be Johnny’s.'” (TV station insider)
For example, Nonn had trouble with her agency, Lepro Entertainment, and her exposure on terrestrial TV has been drastically reduced since then. Fukuda is not confined to television, but has built up his branding through foreign-affiliated companies, stage performances, and Internet-based programs, where the dynamics of the entertainment industry do not come into play.
“He often took on work directly, without going through a major agency. As he realized, NON’s exposure and income increased dramatically even after she dried up from television. Mr. Fukuda has such know-how.”
However, this time it was the former Johnny’s, which has a large number of popular idols. Since they need to be in the public eye, fans may not be satisfied if they see “less exposure” but still earning money.
A senior executive of a mid-sized entertainment company commented,
“What fans want is to see them performing as they have in concerts and on TV programs. How about incorporating them into a membership system or a service that charges a fee?”
Some of them say, “Why not incorporate it into a membership or charged service?”
At the former Johnny’s’s office, Kazuya Ninomiya of Arashi recently left and went independent. Former V6 member Junichi Okada has also announced that he will leave the company at the end of November.
The new company advocates a departure from Johnny’s, and many talents are feeling uneasy about it. Other production companies, sensing this atmosphere, have been in a behind-the-scenes battle to recruit the talents, asking, ‘Won’t you come to us? They are fighting behind the scenes to get them to join us. Some of Johnny’s most popular talents have recently been actively communicating with the presidents of major production companies,” said a reporter from a sports newspaper.
The appointment of a new president with no Johnny’s flavor may be the “beginning of the end”.
PHOTO： Kazuhiko Nakamura