Speaking of poor Boy George, he'll no longer be singing the praises of shochu (a vodka-like drink) on Japanese TV. "He's been dumped," says a rep for Takara Brewery in Kyoto, "because of his drug arrest." The brewery has terminated its "highly lucrative" contract with Boy to "protect our image," the rep told us by phone. "And we might sue him for breach of contract.
But thirsty Japanese viewers can still watch John Travolta, Sheena Easton and Diane Lane pushing the trendy shochu , a powerful brew of rice, barley and potatoes.
Still other celebs are swigging Japanese booze for big bucks: "Japanese love watching famous gaijin (out-people or foreigners) praising our products," Hiroshi Sakuma, an exec at Dentsu Inc. (the world's third largest ad agency) told Outtakes by phone. "When Rambo drinks Kirin Beer, consumers buy."
Other Japanese favorites: Mel Gibson peddling Asahi Beer, Rod Stewart, Roy Scheider and Troy Donahue hawking Nikka Whiskey, Nastassja Kinski for Suntory Wine and Cheryl Ladd opting for Suntory Brandy.
Why the rush? "The money is very handsome. And stars can maintain their non-drinking image in the U.S. and not worry about overexposure," says Dentsu vice president Takashi Tanaka.