Kusanagi’s grass challenge; new faces, new lives; CM of the week: Suntory Torys Whisky

Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, the SMAP member whose drunken, naked midnight lark in a Roppongi park several years ago gave him an extra layer of notoriety, seems more than willing to suffer for his art, whatever that is, on the three-hour TV Asahi special “Neo Variety Matsuri: Kusanagi Tsuyoshi no Tame ni Naru” (“Neo Variety Festival: For the Benefit of Tsuyoshi Kusanagi”; Tues., 7 p.m.).

Viewers are advised to take the term “variety” here with a grain of salt, since the entire special chronicles the outcome of Kusanagi’s pledge to subsist on nothing but grass for four days prior to a big SMAP concert. The “kusa” in the singer’s name means “grass,” and, in fact, he will be given this challenge by veteran announcer Futoshi Kusano, who also has “grass” in his name.

Who says variety shows are running out of fresh ideas?

In the new drama series “Face Maker” (Nihon TV; Thurs., 11:58 p.m.) Masanaru Nagai plays Dr. Kirishima, a “genius plastic surgeon” who gives his patients brand new lives.

The premiere episode is about a woman named Kayoko (Tamae Ando), who has been dumped by her boyfriend. Believing that the breakup was caused by the boyfriend’s dissatisfaction with her appearance, Kayoko visits a cosmetic-surgery clinic and tells the receptionist nurse that she wants to “change into an entirely different person.”

The nurse directs her to the basement of the clinic, where Dr. Kirishima’s office is located. He listens to her story and then takes out a collection of masks and arranges them on a table. He tells her to choose the one she likes the best.

CM of the week

Suntory Torys Whisky: The continuing high-ball (whisky and soda) craze is exploited to revive Suntory’s beloved bargain brand of whisky, Torys, which was popular during the lean years after the war. A new ad campaign for Torys features the angular, bald, red-jacketed cartoon character who shilled for the beverage back in the day, as well as perky young actress Yuriko Yoshitaka, who is obviously being used to attract a much younger demographic.

Exactly how much younger isn’t clear. Though Yoshitaka is 22, she looks and acts closer to 13, and in the two related TV commercials — one for the standard bottle, the other for a new canned high-ball concoction using Torys — she mugs like a sixth grader who has broken into her parents’ liquor cabinet. For further insight into the campaign, you can go to Suntory’s website and watch outtakes from the making of the commercials. Yoshitaka just gets weirder and weirder — or drunker and drunker. One bit of direction offers the situation of “a day when you can’t help but want to drink and drink.” As the kids say, she’s totally up for it.