Online Uproar over Reiwa’s Erika-sama Intensifies Amid Grueling Publicity Battle | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Online Uproar over Reiwa’s Erika-sama Intensifies Amid Grueling Publicity Battle

Serialization: The Staff Saw It All! Weekly "Behind the Scenes of Television" Inside story of Television

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The blunders of actors during the promotion of spring dramas have become a hot topic.

“Hiroki Hasegawa (47), who stars in the Sunday drama ‘Antihero’ (TBS), was late for his appearance on the same network’s show ‘THE TIME,’. Ryuya Wakaba (34), who is a main cast member in Kansai TV’s ‘Unmet: A Neurosurgeon’s Diary,’ participated in a series of promotional appearances on information programs, commonly known as airwave hijacking. However, he appeared to be in a bad mood, causing an online uproar and earning him the nickname ‘Reiwa’s Erika-sama,'” reported a sports newspaper journalist.

Hiroki Hasegawa (47), who had been limiting his work to support Kyoka Suzuki (55) during her illness, is now showcasing his exceptional acting skills in his comeback role in the Sunday drama “Antihero” (TBS).

It’s been a long-standing practice for actors to appear on information and variety shows as part of promoting their dramas or movies. While it used to be common for them to make token appearances and announce their projects at the end, in recent years, there has been an increase in cases where actors actively participate, even taking on challenging segments.

“As soon as they started making token appearances, they began to be teased by the sharp-tongued comedians. Plus, actors can earn a fee for these promotional appearances, so more of them are seeing it as enjoyable and profitable work,” says a key network producer.

With more actors embracing promotional appearances, the blunders of Hasegawa and Wakaba have become more noticeable. Entertainment agency executives are offering support to both.

“While the shift to a better work-life balance has reduced the hectic schedules where there was no time for sleep, the burden on main cast members who have to promote their dramas while filming remains significant. Especially for Wakaba, appearing regularly on commercial TV dramas is rare, and he has openly stated that he is not suited for variety shows. Was it the fault of the drama staff for pushing him into promotional appearances, knowing he’s not inclined towards them?” asks an industry insider.

On the other hand, some from the variety show production side argue, “If you’ve accepted the job, it’s unprofessional to slack off.”

“You just need to play the role of a promotional actor. If you think you can slack off because it’s not your main job, you’re underestimating variety shows,” says a production company director.

Opinions are divided, but the prevailing sentiment on the ground is that promotional appearances don’t necessarily translate into higher drama ratings.

“In the end, viewers won’t keep watching if the drama itself isn’t interesting. If you want to showcase the charm of the production, it’s better to upload clips of the standout scenes on YouTube, which could lead to higher ratings. Promotional appearances often seem like self-indulgence for production staff who want to boast to their higher-ups about how much promotion they did,” says the aforementioned entertainment agency executive.

“There are many TV professionals who don’t see it as worthwhile, considering the effort required to get main cast members to appear,” adds a TV industry insider.

“Promotional actors are usually lead actors, so they appear in many commercials. There are so many confirmatory procedures, like checking if the sponsor’s products are available at the locations they’ll visit during street shoots. It’s many times more meticulous than usual,” says the aforementioned production company director.

However, as the aforementioned producer says, “Promotional appearances won’t disappear.”

“If they stop, the dramas on the channels that continue will stand out. There’s a chance of them becoming a hot topic, so there’s no way to step back from it.”

The war of attrition is likely to continue.

From the May 24 , 2024 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Nishi Keisuke

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