Impact of Johnny’s Office on Entertainment Agencies Amid Decrease in Winter Drama Barter Appearances | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Impact of Johnny’s Office on Entertainment Agencies Amid Decrease in Winter Drama Barter Appearances

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Nakamura Tomoya debuted as an actor in 2005 with the film “The Innocent Seven,” but he struggled in the background for a long time. His breakthrough came in 2019 when he appeared in “Hajimete Koi wo Shita Hi ni Yomu Hanashi” on TBS.

With the completion of dramas for the January period, one “change” has become a topic of discussion in the industry.

“When the late Johnny Kitagawa’s sexual misconduct issue was brought to light, not only power harassment and sexual harassment but also the intervention of major talent agencies in casting began to be questioned. Perhaps due to this influence, the practice of having young talents from the same agency appear as barter alongside the main cast has drastically decreased,” says an advertising agency insider.

While productions involving former Johnny’s affiliated companies are separate, such as Japan TV’s “Shin-Dora” slot and TV Asahi’s “Oshi-Dora Saturday” slot, the absence of former Johnny’s talents in barter roles can be seen in prime time (7-10 PM) dramas like “Mars – Zero no Kakumei,” starring Shunsuke Michieda (21) from “Naniwa Danshi” (TV Asahi), which traditionally should have featured a theme song sung by “Naniwa Danshi” but instead features a song by the rock band “SUPER BEAVER.”

“Since the lead roles are often decided more than a year in advance, it may have been difficult to make changes. There were also suspicions within TV Asahi about whether Johnny-san’s sexual misconduct had occurred within the station. Until the controversy is resolved, there seems to be a desire to minimize the Johnny’s influence as much as possible,” says a key network producer.

On the other hand, some see the reduction in barter as a temporary phenomenon.

“Dramas are easily monetized through streaming, so each station is increasing their drama slots. Popular actors who can draw in viewers are wanted by every station, so the dynamic of not bowing down to talent agencies remains unchanged. Right now, talent agencies are avoiding overt barter negotiations due to the harsh scrutiny from viewers, but once things settle down, barter will likely make a comeback,” says a senior executive at a talent agency.

The aforementioned key network producer also adds that “barter itself is not inherently bad.”

“For example, Nakamura Tomoya (37) struggled to gain traction initially, but through repeated barter appearances, he gradually made an impact and eventually achieved a breakthrough. The original purpose is to promote young talents or hidden gems who are recognized for their potential, but the problem lies in the practice of talent agencies’ top executives pushing their favorite talents through barter arrangements,” says the source.

Behind the normalization of barter arrangements lies the circumstances on the TV station’s side.

“Despite the increase in drama slots, production budgets have been decreasing, leading to exhaustion among the production staff. There’s no spare time or energy to scout for actors for supporting roles or one-off appearances by going to theaters or holding auditions. Many staff find it easier to just use the talents recommended by talent agencies,” says a director from a production company.


However, this director continues, “While it may be easier, reducing barter arrangements is a positive for the drama industry.”

“Popular actors are in high demand, and it has become common for them to appear in multiple seasons or have overlapping roles. Viewers are getting tired of seeing the same faces repeatedly. With fewer barter arrangements, there’s a higher possibility of new stars emerging. Tomisaka Drum (31) from ‘VIVANT’ (TBS) is a prime example. If stars are discovered internally, like Tomisaka, they can be more flexible, such as being involved in events. There are benefits for the networks as well,” the director explains.

Beyond the reduction in barter arrangements lies a bright future for the drama industry?!

From the March 1-8, 2024 issue of “FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Yusuke Kondo

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