CLIPPINGS- PAGE 4
CLARION-LEDGER (Jackson, Mississippi), August 21, 1979
Japan's Pink Lady Tough On The Rock Charts
Pink Lady is the largest selling female recording group in the world. More precisely, Pink Lady is the teaming of two stunningly attractive young Japanese singers, 21 year old Mie ("Me") and 21 year old Kei ("Kay"). Since forming little over two and a half years ago, the girls have become national heroines in Japan, while compiling a string of musical achievements not only unprecedented but n the history of Japanese music but staggering for the entire international music community. In their meteoric rise to superstardom in Japan, Pink Lady has already grossed more than $72 million in record sales and have sold more than 17 million records. In concert appearances alone, they have grossed over $12 million.
In Japan, the second biggest music market in the world, Pink Lady has had ten consecutive number one albums in succession. All of the duo's singles have sold more than one million copies. Pink Lady was the 1978 winner of the prestigious Japan Popular Song Award, considered one of the top three music awards presented in the world. They received the award for heir single recording of "UFO" which sold over 1,750,000 copies. In the past two years, Pink Lady has also captured every other major Japanese music award presented to the media music press, television and radio including: the Cable Radio Broadcasting Award, NTV Music Festival Award, and the Record Award.
In additional n to Pink Lady's staggering recording no success, the response to their live performances has been equally phenomenal. Last summer, Pink Lady performed for some 140,000 fans for two outdoor concerts at Korakuen Stadium, home of the Tokyo Giants baseball team, and this past Christmas set a new attendance record by performing five sold out concerts at Tokyo's 16,000 seat Budokan Hall. Mie and Kei have wasted little time since attending junior high together. They participated in the same theatrical group in high school, took vocal lessons from the Yamaha School of Music, and in February 1976, auditioned for a network program called "Star Is Born".
After winning top honors for the show, Pink Lady was quickly signed to Japan's Victor Records. Their first single, "Pepper Keibu" was released in August 1976, and the rest is history---almost. One of Pink Lady's biggest ambitions has been to record in the United States, and this past year that dream had come to fruition. The duo were brought to America by radio impresario Paul Drew. Drew signed the group to Electra Curb, and arranged for veteran writer/producer Michael Lloyd to compose songs and produced the group. Lloyd, who has helped mold the sound of Shaun Cassidy and Debbie Boone, has written and produced Pink Lady's debut single, "Kiss in the Dark" which was released in late April. Their debut album, "Pink Lady" will be released this summer.
Pink Lady's achievements in the past two years have been amazing, but it's only the tip of the iceberg....next stop....America!
MUNCIE EVENING PRESS (Muncie, Indiana), September 1, 1979
PINK LADY - (Elektra) - Two Japanese girls have shown that the homeland can do more than export cars and cameras. Their disco hit, "Kiss in the Dark" put Japan's imprint high on the U.S. record charts. "Kiss" is on this LP, along with some other very danceable songs. Pink Lady has the same type of appeal as ABBA.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE (Chicago, Illinois), September 2, 1979
'American Audiences The New Frontier For Foreign Musicians
by Lynn Van Matre
A year or so ago, I did an interview with an Egypt-born, French-settled singer named Demis Roussos. A beefy, expansive chap given to big meals and other forms of consumption (his cat, he mentioned, ate caviar for breakfast from a solid silver bowl), caftans and Henry VIII getups, the 30 year old Roussos had sold 30 million records in Europe, and had come to conquer America.
There was, he figured, no reason at all why Americans wouldn't fall under his spell, no reason at all why they wouldn't buy his first United States album release, which he was touring to promote, and no reason at all why American women wouldn't find him the superstar "sex symbol" that says me of their European sisters did. (A curious phenomenon indeed, given Roussos' avoirdupois, but, he assured me, a genuine one)
"Women always want to find out what is beneath my caftan," he explained, along with how America was his "next big ambition. I have got to live in the United States for a time in order to internationally recognized. An artist needs to conquer America if he is to be a world star. And it is only a matter of time before Americans accept me."
Maybe so. And then again, perhaps not. Some things, Roussos has since found out, take l ne'er than others to happen; and when it comes to performers who hope to parlay pop success in their own country into similar success in the U.S., sometimes things never get off the ground.
As it turned out, the interviews with Roussos has yet to see print. I stashed away my notes (actually my cassette tape of the proceedings), figuring to do the story once he becomes better known here. The tape has been in my desk drawer for more than a year now. Next to to it is another tape containing an interview I did earlier this year with a singer named Gilberto Gil, an immensely popular performer in his native Brazil who was also seeking to make it here.
Gil's album, a pleasant but unmemorable affair with a sound reminiscent of Sergio Mendez, went nowhere. As for Roussos, his album, a potpourri of pale pop and rock, attracted scant attention, nobody showed much interest in getting into his caftan, and he more or less sank out of sight, like a caftan-clad stone. So it goes. What sizzles in one country isn't necessarily hot stuff at the box office in another.
But Roussos was right about one thing. When it comes to pop and rock, the U.S. is by far the major market, the big leagues in terms of big bucks and prestige; and the potential audience is large, relatively affluent, and definitely worth wooing. Currently, two pop groups are preparing for just such an all-out courtship: Swedish group Abba and a Japanese duo called Pink Lady.
Co-ed quartet Abba (the name is an acronym made up of the initials of the performers' first names) is, of course, not really an unknown quantity in the U.S.,they've had a number of hit singles and two gold albums (500,000 units shipped) here, and their 1978 release, "Abba: The Album" was certified as platinum (1 million units shipped). Still, that's pretty small potatoes for a group that's supposed to be, according to its advertising campaign, "the largest selling group in the history of recorded music" (according to its management company, Abba has now sold 100 million records worldwide, beating out such folks as the Beatles), a band that reportedly is the biggest moneymaking corporation in Sweden and has been known to request its royalties in oil, sports equipment and other goods that it then sells on home turf.
Clearly, there is more to be done in the U.S., and while the band doesn't really need U.S. adoration or dollars as some groups do...well, it can hardly hurt to make an attempt at raising the pop audience's Abba-awareness level. Toward that end, Abba is undertaking its first U.S. tour this fall, a three week long, 18 show affair (including some dates in Canada) that will bring them to Chicago September 30 for a show at the Auditorium.
Whether the band's tour will spawn American Abbamania or not, "Voulez Vous" (Atlantic Records) already qualifies as a commercial success, having just moved into the no. 19 spot on the list of current best selling albums. As with the previous five Abba efforts, the overall sound---smoothly produced, if shallow, pasteurized pre-fab pop, with an undeniably insistent, danceable beat---is what sells the product. The lyrics, most of them about love an all written by Abba's Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus (who also produced the album), are often pretty sappy ("Kisses of fire, burning, burning, I'm at the point of no return" from "Kisses Of Fire" is typical).
Abba may be "the largest selling group in he history of recorded music," but according to Elektra Records, which just released their first album, "Pink Lady" when it comes to the "largest selling female recording group in the world", Pink Lady gets the nod. Here, Pink lAdy may be a drink; in Japan, it's also a pop singing duo consisting of Mitsuyo "Mie" Nemoto and Keiko "Kei" Masuda, both 21. In the last two years, the pair---chums since junior high school---has walked off with all of Japan's major pop music awards and sold more than 17 million records, not to mention the Nippon Hams, hot dogs, and fried noodles they hawk in Japanese television commercials.
Now Pink Lady is giving America a shot, but whether Americans will have the same yen for the, that their countryfilk do remains to be seen. For their maiden U.S. Release, their managers put them in the hands of composer-producer Michael Lloyd, whose track record includes successful associations with Shaun Cassidy and Debby Boone; and the results are as calculatedly and commercially pop and disco-pop as possible. The results are also so superficial, childish, and plastic flat that it is difficult to imagine anyone swallowing it all with much relish except those with an inordinate appetite for bubble gum and Pop-Rocks; that they made their U.S. television debut earlier this year on a Leif Garrett special comes as no surprise.
The young women sing in high, chirpy voices devoid of any sort of feeling whatsoever---which could, of course, have something to do with the fact that their English is almost nonexistent and they learned the songs phonetically. Obviously, it's difficult to conquer a country when you don't speak the language, a fact that has been taken into account in the current Pink Lady game plan. Right now, in fact, the duo is back in Tokyo, enrolled in a crash course in English.
As for the business of rallying the U.S. under the Pink Lady flag, "We may have them come back to the States in October to do some promotional stuff and perform" according to an Elektra staffer, "or we may have them wait around until around January or next year. It all depends on how well things go at Berlitz."
GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE (Green Bay, Wisconsin), September 9, 1979
Mitsuyo Nemoto and Keiko Masuda - Pink Lady (Elektra 6E-209)
Can Japanese disco idols Mie (Mitsuyo) and Kei (Keiko) make it in America? Maybe. Their sound is certainly slick and catchy. Behind the gloss, though, you can tell their English is not so hot. But since when did the disco crowd listen to words? "Pink Lady" is fluffy frolic.
LOS ANGELES TIMES (Los Angeles, California), September 30, 1979
"Pink Lady" Pink Lady. Elektra 6E-209. Pink Lady already conquered Japan, the world's second biggest music market, with record sales exceeding $50 million. Unfortunately, the appeal has lost plenty in translation. Mitsuyo Nemoto and Keiko Masuda may be pert and personable---as their album cover attests---but musically, they're too bland and saccharine for Americans accustomed to truer grit. Part of the blame goes to writer/producer Michael Lloyd, the navigator behind Shaun Cassidy and Debby Boone. He's cluttered the album with too many nondescript tunes: Pink Lady's love ballads are pristine and passionless; their best disco track, "Kiss in the Dark" ends before it really gets started. It's back to the drawing board for this duo unless. They want to remain cute, campy novelties.
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), February 26, 1980
Parks' Guest Appearance Is Swicthed To 'Pink Lady'
Bert Parks, a "hot" attraction because of all the hullabaloo over is recent firing as Miss America Pageant host, was announced as a guest for the premiere (postponed from tonight to next Tuesday) of one NBC variety program, "The Big Show", instead, he's been shifted to the debut, Saturday night at 10, of another, "Pink Lady". Parks, 6, joins a high-powered guest list that includes the rock group Blondie, with Deborah Harry, and former Philadelphian Sherman Hemsley of CBS' "The Jeffersons" (the latter is a replacement for Erik Estrada of NBC's "CHIPs")
The stars of "Pink Lady", to begin weekly Friday at 9 airings March 14 are Mie Nemoto and Kei Masuda, Japanese singers known jointly as Pink Lady, and comedian Jeff Altman. The Misses Nemoto and Masuda, both 21, are international recording stars, but have just begun to learn English. "Part of the show's uniqueness," says Brandon Tartikoff, president of NBC's entertainment division, "will be the gradual Americanization of these two girls right before our eyes." Thus the first "Pink Lady" program will be teaming two prospective American Misses and the man associated for 25 years with Miss America.
Parks will appear in several skits, but not one spoofing another NBC series, Johnny Carson's "Tonight". After Parks' firing, Carson instituted a "Bring Back Bert" crusade. Parks has volunteered to appear on "Tonight" to thank Carson and "Tonight" viewers for rallying to the "BBB" cause ---but, Parks says, Carson "told me he didn't think the time was right." Interviewed by Ann Marie Lipinski of the Chicago Tribune, Parks said he told Carson, "John, you always said you admire me as a man who works one day a year. Now, because of you, I'm gonna work my butt off!"
So many projects havee resulted from what he calls "the South Jersey Crisis" Parks said. that "if half of them come through, I'll be busy for the next five years." He has already completed stints in "The People's Choice", "Love Boat" and "WKRP In Cincinnati".Among several non-TV sources of income are t-shirts bearing his likeness and the words, "I Want Bert". "For me," parks reported, "they're going to make me one that says, "I Am Bert".
ARGUS LEADER (Sioux Falls, South Dakota), March 4, 1980
Jeff Altman Might Do Well Without Pink Lady
by Marshall Fine
I've seen a lot of strange things on television. I've seen young women swear that the sun rises in the west in their neighborhoods on (on "The Newlywed Game"). I've seen an elderly woman tapdance and sing in a bathing suit, while playing a tuba ("The Gong Show"). I've seen mothers reincarnated as cars, chimps that substituted fro children and friendly dolphins, lions and bears that substituted for sidekicks. But I don't recall anything as mystifying as "Pink Lady and Jeff" which had its premiere showing Saturday night on NBC.
This is obviously a network in big trouble. Just look at their ads for new series including "The Big Show" which looks like Ed Sullivan's worst nightmare. And then look at the series the network is putting on, under the direction of Fred Silverman. I'd be fascinated to see the market research that went into the concoction of "Pink Lady and Jeff": who did the network talk to? I'd like to know who proclaimed himself ready and anxious to watch an unknown comic do Sonny and Cher stand up routines with two young Japanese women who barely speak English.
True, the network hyped this pubescent duo to the skies as Japan's hottest musical act. But, so what? A quantum leap was made somewhere in the research concerning the correlation between Japanese and American tastes which escapes me. Is American television so hard pressed for talent that it must look abroad? Does popularity in one country translate to similar success in another? I don't know, you'd have to ask Charles Aznavour.
As for Pink Lady's musical abilities, they don't translate particularly well either. These women may do fine singing Japanese pop, but English is a different matter. The top hits of today sound diluted when other American singers offer them; in broken English, a tune like Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" sounds like a bad parody of someone mimicking a Japanese accent. The show's saving note is the titular "and Jeff", actor Jeff Altman. His face should be familiar to regular sitcom viewers; his most familiar part to me was a dishonest record promoter on "WKRP in Cincinnati" last season.
Altman is very funny, when he isn't forced to exchange self-depreciating banter with Pink Lady. That dialogue usually runs along the line of "We're big stars in Japan, so what are we doing on TV with an unknown like you?" When Altman breaks free of those standardized exchanges, he can be hysterical. His disco Nixon impression was fresh and funny. He offered another turn as pitchman Art Nuevo, hustling a trailer full of art: "We've got Gainesburger's 'Blue Boy'. We've got it in red, we've got it n beige, we've envelope got it in black velvet."
Indeed, the blackout sketches on the show, dominated by Altman, were the brightest notes. The program gave the impression of being of two minds: the corporate mentality, which welded Pink Lady into the deal, and the creators, which apparently envisioned a free swinging comedy-variety show, a touch of "Saturday Night Live" that was ready for prime time. Well, they were half right, in choosing Altman. One gets the feeling that he could handle a show of his own. Altman isn't a big enough name, apparently, to warrant that and thus he's stuck with his Oriental partners. Saddled with Pink Lady, however, this show will sink like a stone and become another trivia answer of the future.
THE DES MOINES REGISTER (Des Moines, Iowa), March 9, 1980
Mie and Kei and Jeff and Sid and Marty
By Kathy Schmid
TV producers Sid and Marty Krofft, otherwise known as "Kings of Saturday Morning" are at it again. The brothers are unveiling a prime time comedy-variety series starring Japan's hot, hot Pink Lady. There's a bonus. Pink Lady is not just one lady, but two -- Mie (pronounced Me) and Kei (Kay). The Kroffts stirred in Jeff Altman, a comedian discovered in Los Angeles' "Comedy Store" and named the show (you guessed it) "Pink Lady and Jeff". It premieres s a limited series at 9p.m. Friday.
Just how hot is Pink Lady? Well, they made $100 million last year. They play to sell out crowds, and they have three (3) television shows on the air in Japan. How about Altman? How hot is he? Sid Krofft put it this way. "He's very young, very good looking and very funny. He reminds me of Johnny Carson and Jack Benny --- he's got those two qualities. Yeah, but how did Mie and Kei and he find each other? It all started six months ago when NBC President Fred Silverman approached the Krofft brothers with a Pink Lady tape.
"You guys are the only guys who can produce these girls," Silverman told the Kroffts. "They don't speak English, but see what you can come up with."
"We saw their tapes and couldn't believe what we saw," Sid says.
The Kroffts did not fly immediately to Japan to meet Mie and Kei, maybe because they had heard the duo was busy enough already. Instead, they settled on a format for a show, then patiently waited until the end of Pink Lady's heavy tour commitment.
"Let's face it," said Sid. "If you're makes no such a financial killing on tour --- at that point, who needs U.S. television.
In the back of Pink Lady's minds, however, was a dream the Kroffts didn't know about. Mie and a Kei had always wanted to be TV stars in America. Months later, Mie and Kei and Sid and Marty fought Bally got together in the Kroffts' Hollywood office.
"When the arrived in our office, looking so beautiful, I just couldn't stand it," Sid said. "The girls (aged 21 and 22) came in and bowed a lot. My brother spoke very slowly, and they nodded a lot. After he had been speaking for about 20 or 30 minutes, he then asked if they understood. The girls both looked at him and said --- "NO".
So much for the beginning. But, not to worry. Mie and Kei solved the communications gap by collecting three men --- two who followed them around to interpret and watch over them, and a dialect coach, Jonathan Lucas, who went to work on their English through the interpreter. After a week of rigid drilling, Mie and Kei were able to do a 15-minute promo for NBC. They spoke English, but they had no idea what they were saying.
"We put Jeff Altman at n the middle of those two loveable girls, and it's great," Sid says. "Let's face it, television does not stem on what the sets look like or what the costumes look like or almost not even what the people say. You've got to like the people. In shows like 'Laverne and Shirley', it's not what they say that makes them successful. That's corny as hell. It's that you love the characters. That's the important thing."
You loved 'Donnie and Marie' (another of the Kroffts' shows) because they were they were the boy and girl next door. When we produced the show, the idea was to do the show a little bit amateurish. That way little girls could say 'Gee, I can put on her makeup like that. I can comb my hair like that'. You've got to relate."
"You've got to love the people the people (on television) and be comfortable with what you're watching in your liv no rock m. That's what we feel television is all about," Sid says.
Sid and Marty Krofft have a number of successful programs under their belts. Many are geared to children, including "Puff N' Stuff", "Land of the Lost", "Lidsville", "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters" and "Far Out Space Nuts" --- all Saturday morning shows. The list seems endless. To what do they owe such success?
"It was actually Billy Graham who really put us on the map," says Krofft.
It's true. John F. Kennedy was supposed to open the Seattle World's Fair in 1962, but, because of a national crisis, Kennedy couldn't make it, and Graham stepped in. Graham toured the fair and saw the Kroffts' puppet show titled "Le Poupee Paris". That evening, is n front of a rally of 21,000, Graham announced that the fair was incredible. "But don't go see the show called 'Le Poupee Paris' because the women don't wear bras," Graham said. He neglected to say the Stars of the show were puppets.
"The next day, we were an overnight smash," Sid says. "We hit Time, Life, Look and every paper in the country. They aid, 'Just think of it --- a dirty puppet show! Only it wasn't dirty."
After the success of "Le Poupee Paris", the Krofft brothers began numerous other projects, some successful, some not. They stared America's first disco called "PJ's", and idea imported from Paris. They established theaters at all the Six Flags parks and a theater in Atlanta called "The World of Sid and Marty Krofft". They went to children's entertainment because they felt hat children had been completely forgotten.
"When we came out with children's programming, the only competition was Disney, who came out with a movie once or twice a year."
Now dominating Saturday morning programming, the Krofft brothers have gone back and forth from adult to kids entertainment.
"In the past, we have tried to reach the kids, and through them, bring in an adult audience," Sid says. "With the 9 p.m. time slot for Pink Lady and Jeff, we're doing it for adults. They can pull the kids in front of the set and say, 'We're going to have a good time'. It's adult humor, not dirty, but more like a 9 p.m. 'Saturday Night Live'. It's special and funny."
With the rash of comedy-variety shows popping up, why will Pink Lady and Jeff work? It will because, "It's so different and people are ready for something different," Sid says. "They're tired of situation comedies, and I think the timing is just right."