Hiroshi Sekiguchi is the MC of TBS’s “Sunday Morning”. This October marks the 35th anniversary of the long-running program, but recently, Sekiguchi’s mistakes and gaffes in the program have been frequently reported in the news (photo: Kyodo).
George Tokoro, 67; Shigenori Kanehira, 68; Hitoshi Kusano, 78; Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, 88; Hiroshi Sekiguchi, 78; Akiko Wada, 72; Ryuta Mine, 70; and Sanma Akashiya, 66. The names have just been listed, but what do these people have in common? Do you know the answer?
Actually, they all appear on TBS programs on Saturdays and Sundays. Even in these days when people are talking about the younger generation turning away from TV and the aging of TV programs, this is quite a remarkable situation. The lineup of 60- and 70- somethings is, for the lack of a better term, turning TBS’s weekend programs to a “land of seniors”!
To be clear, of course, the fact that the cast members are elderly does not mean that they are “bad”. In a sense, the lineup of elderly actors and actresses is a sign that TBS has a long-running and popular program lineup. It can also be said that the program lineup is so ironclad.
However, the fact that so many elderly people “stay on screen all the time” may not be a situation that can be admired at a time when television is undergoing a period of change. Within the industry, various opinions and negative effects about this situation are being heard. In fact, there are many cases in which “problematic comments” made by elderly performers on these programs often cause a stir on the Internet and lead to a firestorm.
Therefore, it has been decided to critique some of these programs from a critical and loving perspective, lest anyone say that “TBS’s weekend programs are turning into a land of seniors”.
There is a reason why veterans gather on Saturdays and Sundays.
Now, before looking at individual programs, let us examine why the cast of Saturday and Sunday programs tends to age. In general, TV stations are often very concerned about getting veterans to retire. This is because “veteran performers” are also “people of merit” for the station.
It is difficult to suddenly say “You are being laid off.” to someone who has done so much for the station. In this case, it is usually a case of “gradually fading out.”
For example, if a person is asked to step down as MC of a Monday through Friday band program, he or she is often replaced by an MC of a once-a-week but more prestigious program. Also, when a veteran is asked to step down from a “prime-time program,” it is best to gradually fade out by offering him or her a “program that is not a prime-time program but has a reasonably good time” in his or her place, so as not to create a conflict.
Then, where can one find “prestigious weekly programs” or “not prime but good time”? That being said, the most optimal time is Saturday and Sunday. Unlike weekdays, there is a special feeling to the Saturday and Sunday slots because these are “high advertising” hours that many people watch during the daytime. That’s why, for some reason, the stations tend to attract veterans on Saturdays and Sundays.
Deviating a little bit, let’s take a look at the Saturday and Sunday programs on TBS.
Good program, but a waste of time
First of all, “Hodo Special” (Saturday 17:30-18:50) is one of the programs that feels very disappointing. What is disappointing about it? Because it is a very “good” program. Its predecessor, “JNN News Special,” began in 1980 and is truly a “one-of-a-kind” full-fledged news program that provides in-depth investigative reporting and hard-hitting news commentary from an original point of view.
In line with the general classification of “Nittele and Fuji are right-leaning, while TBS and Teresa are left-leaning,” it is probably the most solid and worthwhile of the so-called “left-leaning news programs. TV Asahi used to have a competing program, Soichiro Tahara’s “Sunday Project,” but now that it has long since ended, it is truly one and only.
However, no matter how “hard-core” it may be, unfortunately, its image may be a little too much. The title of the program, “Special Report,” is written in Mincho font. In the studio, Shigenori Kanehira, 68, and Masaki Kusakabe, 62, are the two “tough-guy journalist guys” who are sitting there.
The reason is unknown, but they are always frowning and angry at the government, the Liberal Democratic Party, and conservative people. Whenever something happens, it is always Mr. Kanehira or Mr. Kusakabe who flies overseas. And the features are always slightly left-leaning.
This is not a good situation for young people, no matter how hard-hitting and worthwhile the investigative reporting is. It is no wonder that some young people may have the impression that the report is too “hard” and “a little scary”.
It is true that they are trying to soften the atmosphere of the program a little by using former NHK anchor Takako Zemba and other female announcers. Mr. Kanehira is a fine journalist, but it would be better to have a “young, approachable, and easy-to-understand” direction by, for example, having a “young, up-and-coming journalist” or placing him alongside Mr. Kanehira. Mr. Kanehira is a fine journalist, which is a shame.
Mr. Kanehira, please think about that for a moment.
Sunday Morning has turned into a kingdom.
Along with the “News Special,” “Sunday Morning” (Sundays from 8:00 to 9:54 a.m.) is another disappointment. As you know, Hiroshi Sekiguchi is the main MC of this hard-hitting information program, but recently, his and other old men’s comments have often caused controversy on the Internet. It is still fresh in our minds that not long ago Isao Harimoto made a comment that could be seen as disrespectful to women and subsequently left the program.
This program has the air of being “Hiroshi Sekiguchi’s show,” but in fact, it is not just an air or a feeling. The biggest problem felt with this program is that the entire program is too dependent on Mr. Sekiguchi’s company.
Hiroshi Sekiguchi is the chairman of his own talent agency, Sankatsura Inc. And the majority of the cast of Sunday Morning is made up of talent affiliated with Sankatsura. Of the cast members listed on the program’s website, Hiroshi Sekiguchi, Noriko Hashitani, Yumi Karahashi, and Yuri Nakanishi all belong to Sankatsura, and with the exception of TBS announcer Mayumi Mizuno, only one other person is affiliated with another company.
In addition, among the commentators who often appear on the program, Kang Shonaka and Taniguchi Mayumi are also affiliated with Sankatsura. In the past, program directors and other production staff also belonged to Sankatsura. It may be said that this is like the “Sekiguchi Kingdom,” but there are no words to reply to such a statement.
Of course, Sunday Morning is also making sure that its programs are well produced, but it is inevitable to say that the program staff would not be able to stop whatever the king says, and that they would be probed painfully.
Furthermore, this program once received further criticism for “having the female assistant apologize, but not Mr. Sekiguchi or Mr. Zhang,” when apologizing for Mr. Zhang’s gaffe that could be seen as disrespectful to women.
Why is it that both the news specials and Sunday morning programs have the “top guy & assistant girls” as their cast members? A female producer colleague made the harsh comment, “This makes it seem as if they are listening to what the women have to say, but in fact they are treating the women in a subordinate position as assistants.”
It can’t be helped but feel that this “reigning power” has done more harm than good. After all, perhaps it is time for Mr. Sekiguchi to consider giving way to the next generation.
“Hitachi Sekai Fushigi Hakken!” with no prospects for renewal
There is one more program to be examined. It is “Hitachi Sekai Fushigi Hakken!” (Sat. 21:00-21:54), featuring Hitoshi Kusano and Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, two industry giants. However, what is needed to be emphasized about this program is not the age of the actors. Rather, it would be better to see Hitoshi Kusano and Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, “treasures of the Japanese TV world”, to continue to be active and healthy. The problem with this program is that the producers are also quite old and seem unwilling to pass the torch to their successors.
The team in charge of the production of “Hitachi Sekai Fushigi Hakken!” is TV Man Union, a long-established production company in the TV industry. In fact, the general producer of the said show has been the same person all along. He is 81 years old and the head of TV Man Union. He is Yutaka Shigenobu, chairman, general director, and director of TV MAN UNION Inc. He has been the producer of “Fushigi Hakken” since its inception, and it is said that he will probably continue to be the producer for a long time to come.
He is a major figure in the TV industry, so to say that he is a great producer would be an understatement, but as one can imagine, it must be difficult for the producers at TBS and below. As a rival program, Nittele’s “Itte Q!” could be mentioned, but unfortunately, in terms of novelty and appeal to the younger generation, it is safe to say that “Itte Q!” is more appealing.
In the world of chess, one has heard the term “Eternal Meijin,” but not “Eternal Producer.” This may sound like troublesome talk, but it is felt that it would be more interesting if the program production system were rejuvenated in various aspects.