Kento Kaku, Saito Takumi, MEGUMI: The Double-Edged Sword of Actor Producers in Full Bloom | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Kento Kaku, Saito Takumi, MEGUMI: The Double-Edged Sword of Actor Producers in Full Bloom

Serialization: The staff saw it all! Weekly "The other side of TV" Inside story of Television

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Kento Kaku (34) is producing and starring in the Netflix drama “House of Ninjas,” which has recorded a mega-hit.

“Due to not having conducted extensive advertising, it wasn’t particularly anticipated before its release, but thanks to its motif of ninja, which is widely recognized worldwide, it secured the top spot in the Weekly Global TOP10 (non-English series). The fact that Shohei Ohtani (29) revealed an episode of watching ‘House of Ninjas’ with his newlywed wife simultaneously in both Japan and the U.S. also added to its momentum.” (Movie Writer)

The idea was inspired by a ninja show he went to see with his children. He decided to produce the film at the COVID-19 crisis, saying, “It’s not just a job of waiting,” and “The House of Ninja” was born.

In recent years, there has been an increase in actors, like Kento Kaku, who actively engage in producing. A movie writer continues:

“MEGUMI (42) served as a film producer for the 2023 release ‘Zero,’ and she joined the film collective ‘BABEL LABEL,’ led by director Michihito Fujii (37), known for films like ‘Newspaper Reporter,’ as a producer. She is also involved in producing two late-night dramas on TV Tokyo.”

By the way, both Kento Kaku and MEGUMI share the common point of continuing to thrive even after leaving major talent agencies.

“MEGUMI originally aspired to be a singer but steadily increased her work through endeavors in gravure and other fields. Kento Kaku, at the time of his debut, was only known for being the nephew of Chigako Kaku (62), and he admits to feeling impatient as he struggled to make a breakthrough. Their experiences of hardship in their youth allow them to fully commit to behind-the-scenes roles. That’s their strength.”

In addition to them, actors like Takayuki Yamada (40) and Takumi Saito (42) have also ventured into producing. Entertainment industry insiders reveal the benefits of actors producing projects:

“Because they are known by their face and name, they attract attention. In the case of movies, it becomes easier to raise funds, and for dramas, it’s easier to get approval from sponsors, right? Being able to cast popular actors as guest appearances through personal connections is also significant. Many have heard that because they are actors themselves, they can understand the feelings of the cast members, which often leads to smoother productions on set.”

With the success of Kento Kaku and MEGUMI, advertising agency personnel assert that ‘Actor Producers’ will increase even more in the future.

“There are many actors like Masahiro Takashima (59) and Katsuya Maiguma (36) who originally aspired to be film crew or directors. There are plenty of talents who, given the opportunity, would like to try directing or producing. Currently, the television industry is in a recession. Some network executives and staff are considering using popular actors interested in behind-the-scenes work to attract sponsors. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.”

Of course, there are voices expressing concern about the drawbacks of the increasing number of Actor Producers.

“Easy funding based solely on an actor’s popularity and name recognition may lead to the realization of shallow projects. There’s a risk of mass-producing low-quality works. Some actors may act in a self-centered manner, causing trouble for the staff on set. If such individuals end up taking the lead, trouble is almost certain to follow.” (Previously mentioned Entertainment Industry Insider)

Managing Actor Producers and Actor-Directors effectively seems to be one of the challenges in the entertainment industry of the Reiwa era.

From theApril5-12, 2024 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO. Ichiro Takatsuka

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