Japanese television pioneered "reality TV" with evening programming content full of laughs, chatter and wild costumes - the more pies in the face or falls in water hazards the better. When told that a Japanese crew would be coming by at 10pm Saturday night to film some scenes at Rick's for a documentary on Casablanca we were ready for anything. The logistics scout knew the décor and musical ambience of Rick's would appeal to the Japanese audience, and our upstairs dining room with a framed film poster in Japanese would be a great set. A welcome sign in Japanese greeted the production team when they arrived, and we left the rest up to them. The following 90 minutes certainly kept us and our clients entertained, with a group of 5 "talents" including a young man dressed in Saudi Arabian robes and headdress, a TV sushi chef attired in a 40's dark suit and fedora (Bogart? Sinatra? George Raft?) together with a well known singer and two TV presenters. They made quite an impression with their entrance, gathered around the piano - the diva hummed along with "As Time Goes By" - before heading upstairs to the table in the film room. There they marveled at the resemblence to the film in our architecture, decoration and costumes. They ordered a round of drinks, the diva sampling the house special, Sour Jdid, the gangster a martini and the Saudi character a Margarita!! All joined in a hearty "Kampai", downed their drinks, wrapped up their final shots - with the sushi chef ordering a quick hamburger - and they were off. The documentary will be shown on Nippon-TV, Channel 4 in Tokyo on August 21 at 3pm.
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