by Chris MaGee
It's been a few months since SMAP member and actor Tsuyoshi Kusanagi got picked up by authorities for running around nude and drunk out of his mind in a Tokyo park (Read our full coverage here). The media furor that followed Kusanagi's arrest had his TV shows being yanked or temporarily suspended from Japanese networks and lucrative endorsement deals being canceled. The juiciest deal that the 34-year-old star had at the time of his naked romp was as the spokesperson for the Association for Promotion of Digital Broadcasting who are gearing up for the switch to full digital television broadcasts in Tokyo by 2011. For a short time the Association considered replacing Kusanagi with some kind of costumed mascot, but now that both Kusanagi and the Japanese media have had time to sleep the scandal off the Association has changed their minds. Kusanagi will now return as the spokesperson for the switch away from analog TV service, but at a price - not to the Association, but to himself. Kusanagi has agreed to endorse the campaign without pay, forfeiting his usual ¥50 million price tag that he would normally charge for appearing in a single commercial. With that kind of figure there's not telling how much money he would have gotten for a full endorsement deal.
Personally I'm glad to see Kusanagi back in front of the cameras again if only because someone can only be punished and embarrassed for so long. Oh, and speaking of that... As I was searching out an image to accompany this story I cam across a full gallery of computer animated recreations of Kusanagi's naked romp at this Hong Kong website. This is pretty funny stuff. I wonder if there's actually animated footage of this.... Must investigate.
Thanks to Japan Today for the details on Kusanagi's return to the spotlight.