Bringing Major League baseball games to Japan takes a lot
of organization and planning, as Peter Miller would tell you.
Miller is the Japan and East Asia representative of the Major
League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) and he assists
in organizing international baseball events such as this weekend's
Aeon Major League Baseball All-Star Series at Tokyo Dome,
as well as negotiating fees, schedules, and other contractual
conditions, and keeping good relations among the many organizations
whose cooperation is necessary for these events to take place.
Miller, who is based in Kamakura, has lived in Japan for 23
years, but there is more to his life than baseball.
What's so good about being based in Kamakura?
Fresh air, hiking trails, the ocean, and it's only
an hour from Tokyo, so meetings here or there are convenient.
What brought you to Japan?
I came to Japan as a consultant for Honda.
And the MLPBA?
The MLBPA needed its own presence in Japan, to look after
players' interests, so in 1990, the current MLBPA Executive
Director, Don Fehr, asked me to help and of course I agreed.
Did you play baseball when you were younger?
Enough to acquire a great respect for anyone who can hit or
throw a 140km/hour fastball.
Will we see more international baseball events in Japan?
That depends on the fans, the players, owners and sponsors.
Japanese players have strengthened and diversified Major League
baseball, creating a great deal of interest in MLB among fans
here in Japan.
What do you think of Japanese baseball as a business?
Traditionally it has been more of an advertising ornament
than an independent business. Perhaps the economic difficulties
of Kintetsu and Orix will stimulate thought about how such
enterprises can operate successfully on their own.
What else do you do besides your MLPBA work?
I teach a course in American Culture at Ferris University
in Yokohama and I have a photogravure etching workshop, known
as The Kamakura Print Collection. It's the only one
of its kind in Japan specializing in this nearly lost 19th-century
art form. SK
Photo credit: Sachie Kanda
In Collateral, director Michael Mann returns to his favorite
location-the urban jungle
By Chris Betros
Whenever Michael Mann goes to Los Angeles to make a movie,
the municipal authorities know he's going to ask big
favors. When he made Heat in 1995, they closed off a few blocks
for him in downtown LA for a famous bank shootout scene. This
time, he wanted to close down some blocks and part of the
rail system for night scenes in his urban drama Collateral.
"It's difficult, but we get it done,"
said the director, who is known for painstakingly shooting
scenes over and over again. "In Chicago, where I'm
from, they let you do anything. In LA, the hardest thing to
get permission for is to film on freeways."
Taking place in the course of one night, Collateral tells
the story of a contract killer (Tom Cruise) who forces a taxi
driver (Jamie Foxx) to drive him around town while he carries
out a series of hits. Mann used specially developed high-resolution
digital video cameras to bring the night alive during ten
hours of shootouts, high-speed car chases and other mayhem.
"Night in the big city has a lot of emotion and poetry
if you know how to see it," he said.
Mann's biggest challenge occurred before filming even
began-convincing Cruise to make a major career shift
by playing a villain for the first time. "We spoke
about it on the phone. Tom was doubtful about whether he should
play a villain," said Mann. "I told him that
Al Pacino, De Niro, McQueen had all done it and it was his
turn now. He's 42, so if he didn't do it now,
when would he? The good thing about Tom is that he is artistically
very ambitious, as am I. So we created a whole life for his
character of Vincent to show how he might have ended up the
way he did. In the end, I think Tom's work was extraordinary.
He does things fearlessly without any self-consciousness."
Living up to his meticulous reputation, Mann put his actors
through their paces time and time again. Cruise used up 15
suits and several taxis were wrecked. "I take what
I do very seriously, but that doesn't mean I'm
no fun," said Mann, who got his start writing scripts
for '70s TV shows such as Starsky & Hutch and Vegas.
After directing a TV movie in 1979, he helmed his first big-screen
feature, Thief, in 1981, then spent 1984-90 as executive producer
of the TV series Miami Vice. In the '90s, Mann churned
out a series of hits such as The Last of the Mohicans, Heat,
The Insider and Ali. "I'm not sure what's
next," he said, "except that it has to be something
I have never done before."
Photo credit: Chris Betros
Tokyo Designers Block
International creators and innovators paint the town red
during the annual design extravaganza
from top left: the bad boys of designersblockUK; TDB founder
Teruo Kurosaki with designers Silas Hickey and Marc Newson;
a performance by butoh troupe Dairakudakan; Jerszy Seymour,
Michael Young and Harry Allen; and the Havaianas Swell
installation at Spiral
Photos courtesy of Tokyo Designers
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