Higashino and Yahagi Take Center Stage, as Big Names Steal the Spotlight in Matsumoto’s Absence | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Higashino and Yahagi Take Center Stage, as Big Names Steal the Spotlight in Matsumoto’s Absence

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The sudden announcement of the suspension of activities is causing a significant ripple effect. Each station is busy responding, but now the response policies of each company are becoming apparent.

Downtown star Hitoshi Matsumoto (60) announced his suspension from the entertainment industry after allegations of sexual assault against several women were reported in Shukan Bunshun (weekly magazine). The allegations, which have become a social issue that has shaken the world, have attracted much attention, and now the situation has entered a new phase. A sports newspaper’s entertainment desk explains the series of turmoil that has turned into a quagmire.

“Matsumoto has filed a lawsuit against Bungeishunju Ltd. and the editor-in-chief of ‘Weekly Bunshun’ in the Tokyo District Court, seeking compensation for damages and the publication of correction articles due to alleged defamation. The amount of compensation claimed is approximately 550 million yen. Attorney Masahiro Tashiro from the Yaesu Comprehensive Law Office, representing Matsumoto, stated, ‘We firmly assert and aim to prove that there are no facts of sexual acts as described, nor any facts that would qualify as sexual misconduct. In response, Weekly Bunshun released further reports, including interviews with former female talents revealing their names and faces. Testimonies such as ‘I have suffered from trauma for a long time’ and ‘He (Matsumoto) was the only one who treated me so badly’ emerged, leading to a direct confrontation between the two sides. Confusion within Yoshimoto Kogyo and various related parties is escalating, and the situation is becoming increasingly perplexing.”

It is not only the agency that is busy with responses. Various television stations, facing the need to adjust programs due to Matsumoto’s suspension of activities, are also experiencing widespread confusion. However, one month has passed since the initial report, and the policies of each station’s regular programs are gradually taking shape. One of the most unexpected choices has been made in the highly popular program Wednesday’s Downtown (TBS), among the regular shows. Insiders from the production company share the behind-the-scenes details.

“The original recording schedule was abruptly canceled, and as of the broadcast on January 24th, there were no remaining recorded segments featuring Matsumoto. In response, on January 20th, the first recording without Matsumoto took place. Hamada Masatoshi (60), the partner, served as the MC, and the replacement for Matsumoto was chosen as a duo. The first segment was taken by Higashino Koji(56), and the second segment was hosted by Downtown’s Ogi Yahagi (52), both successfully completed.

The recording site was enveloped in an indescribably solemn atmosphere. The staff encouraged, ‘It is a very challenging situation, but let’s overcome this difficult situation together as a cast and crew,’ lifting the morale of the team as they faced the situation. While the content of the program remains the same, the absence of Matsumoto’s unique jokes, retorts, and tempo inevitably created a sense of discomfort.”

 In addition, the response to other programs has also been broadly decided, according to a source in the entertainment industry.


“Downtown DX” and “Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!” (both on Nippon TV) are planning to revolve around Hamada as the central figure, much like “Wednesday’s Downtown.” For “Crazy Journey,” a TBS program where Matsumoto had a regular role, adjustments are being made with a hosting structure featuring Bananaman’s Shitara (50) and Koike Eiko (43).

Additionally, “Matsumoto to Nakai” (Fuji TV) announced a name change to “Dareka to Nakai” starting from the February 4th broadcast. Nakai Masahiro (51) remains, and another co-host is expected to be introduced. “Tantei! Night Scoop” (ABC TV) currently has rotating detective talents serving as acting station chiefs in the absence of a regular host. While observing the developments in the ongoing turmoil, there is speculation about the possibility of welcoming a new station chief with the spring reshuffling.”

On the other hand, the program facing the most difficulties is said to be Hitoshi Matsumoto No Sake No Tsumami Ni Naru Hanashi (Fuji TV). This is continued by the aforementioned entertainment industry insider.

“There have been discussions about centering the show around the two members of Chidori as an alternative, but considering that the program has thrived with Matsumoto and has attracted numerous talents due to his participation, there is still an undeniable sense of inadequacy. Currently, they are actively exploring additional alternatives. In the event that no suitable adjustments can be made, there is a possibility of temporarily closing the program and relaunching it as a new show.”

In addition to the future of the uproar, the future of the series of regular programs is also attracting a great deal of attention.

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  • PHOTO Ippei Hara

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