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November 29, 2005

Leave it to Akko

Veteran singer and TV celebrity Wada Akiko gave her English skills a rare public workout on Sunday. Following a visit to New York last year, she took up the idea of helping encourage people of her generation to start learning English. She took English lessons at the Tameike Sanno branch of Nova for two months, and studied at home using a video/TV learning system. This was tied in with occasional features on her Sunday morning show "Akko ni Omakase" (Leave it to Akko) on TBS. But after six months, she began to lose interest and let her studies slip. Then two weeks ago producers proposed doing an interview with Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, soon due in Japan to promote his popular TV series "24." Wada spent the next two weeks studying and finally interviewed the star without the help of an interpreter. While waiting for Sutherland in a hotel suite, she grew increasingly nervous as she repeatedly went over her English notes and practiced her questions. Unable to calm her nerves, she started the interview with "May I smoke?" This had the unexpected benefit of also putting Sutherland at his ease as he is a heavy smokder himself. He was quite affable, despite the sad predictability of the questions (Can you use chopsticks? What do you think of Japanese girls?)
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