Japan TV show
to be filmed here

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
For the first time in the nine-year history of "The Hotel," the show will film outside its usual Tokyo location, opting this season for Hawaii. The cast, shown in this poster, and crew will work and stay at the Kahala Mandarin.

The nine-year series ‘The Hotel’ will
be filmed at the Kahala Mandarin

By Tim Ryan

"The Hotel," a long-running Japanese television drama about the trials and tribulations of employees and guests at a luxury Hawaii hotel, will film its entire 1998 season -- 13 hour-long episodes -- at the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hotel beginning next month.

"The Hotel" is the first Japanese series that will film an entire season in the islands. It's the first time in the show's nine-year history that it's being filmed outside of its usual Tokyo Hilton location, said Takao Uno, president of U International, the show's producers. Each of the 13 episodes will cost about $300,000, he said.

About 80 percent of the filming will take place at the Kahala Mandarin from Feb. 15 to late May.

The series has been televised in Hawaii on KIKU-TV. The Hawaii episodes also may be aired here in the fall if contractual matters are worked out, said Mika Tanaka-Lee of KIKU and JN Productions.

The series stars Masanobu Takashima as Ippei Akagawa; co-stars are Hiroki Matsukata, Tetsuro Tamba and Akira Akasaka.

In "The Hotel," the Kahala Mandarin Oriental becomes the "Platon Hawaiian Resort," which, in the story line, had been taken over by the Platon group. But even with such an excellent location, sales have not been good. The manager of the Hotel Platon in Tokyo has been appointed general manager of Hawaiian Resort to find out the cause of unsuccessful sales and to make changes.

He comes to Hawaii with a few employees -- one of them the "famous" Ippei Akagawa, who works "diligently" to make Hawaiian Resort successful.

The series features lots of conflict among hotel executives in various situations: One dreams about great success, another left his wife and children in Japan, all face difficulties brought on by cultural differences. Dialogue in the show mostly is in Japanese to focus "on moments of happiness and sadness of Japanese people who work in and travel to foreign countries," Uno said.

The production company includes about 15 actors and 30 crew from Japan. About a dozen local crew will be hired as well as lots of extras, Uno said.

The Kahala Mandarin was chosen for the location because production officials felt "it's the best hotel in Hawaii," Uno said.

Kahala Mandarin officials agreed to the hectic four months of filming because "it's a great opportunity for exposure, especially to the Japanese market," said Suzanne Erler, the hotel's public relations manager.

Filming will be done in a way "to minimize guest interference," especially during peak hours in restaurants, the lobby or around the pool, Erler said.

So many guest rooms are required for the filming that the hotel set aside a less-used floor specifically for production, Erler said. Crew and actors from Japan will reside at the hotel during filming.

"The Hotel" will be broadcast on the TBS/Tokyo Broadcast System from April through June, reaching an audience of about 25 million, Uno said.

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© 1998 Honolulu Star-Bulletin