Soap Dish

Eriko Kitagawa announces her presence in the lofty lobby of TBS television network's headquarters in Tokyo as a timid, ruffled-bloused housewife would: a small side step, brief eye contact and a nervous giggle. Soft curls, a conservative skirt and subtle makeup complete her outfit. Is this the scriptwriter who single-handedly brought Japanese television drama to the world stage and at the same time empowered the typically demure female lead? We sit down to—what else?—tea, and instantly Kitagawa's sayonara-girl image snaps with her cocky first statement: "I always know what I'm writing will be a hit."

Confident, outspoken and...

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