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Sunday, Aug. 27, 2006

CHANNEL SURF

TBS's "Message," TV Tokyo's "Dawn of Gaia" and more

Aug. 28 marks the 53rd anniversary of the very first broadcast of a television commercial in Japan, and as a way of commemorating the event TBS has produced a special two-hour drama, "Message" (Monday, 9 p.m.), about Toshi Sugiyama, who is considered the most innovative TV commercial director in the history of Japanese media.

Sugiyama, who worked in the 1960s and early '70s, is credited with inventing the "image" commercial, which did much more than promote a product or service. It created an image for the company being advertised. He won numerous awards, including an international advertising prize at Cannes.

The drama, which stars Naoto Fujiki, shows mainly how Sugiyama worked and his relationship with his brother, who was his cameraman. Sugiyama committed suicide in 1973 at the age of 37. He left a cryptic note saying that his job was to "sell dreams," but that he in fact "had no dreams to sell."

During the storied "bubble era" of the 1980s, high-class resorts and country clubs were built throughout Japan. When the bubble burst, many, in fact, were left unfinished. Others went out of business. This week's edition of the business documentary show "Dawn of Gaia" (TV Tokyo, Tuesday, 10 p.m.) will look at these resorts, which are now being reassessed as the value of the land they sit on goes up.

With Japan's economy finally rebounding, more money is being invested in real estate. However, people learned something from the bubble era and are being more cautious about over-developing. The program looks at an unfinished golf course in Okinawa, which a developer plans to convert into a luxury vacation resort. It also reports on a group of residents on Ishigaki island who are protesting the construction of resort condominiums.

Back in the early 1980s, Masahiko Kondo, known by the nickname "Matchi," was one of Japan's biggest boy-idol singers. He later made a name for himself as a race-car driver.

This week, he makes his first TV drama appearance in 8 years and joins the ranks of the two-hour suspense drama actors when he stars in "The Kurashiki Murder Case" (Fuji, Friday, 9 p.m.) as chief police inspector Okabe, a character created by popular mystery writer Yasuo Uchida.

The murdered corpse of a man is found in Shinjuku. Upon investigation, the police learn that he was a respected member of the community who ran a facility to help children who were unable to go to school due to emotional problems.

Inspector Okabe receives a mysterious long distance phone call from a woman who says she knew the victim, and shortly thereafter another murder occurs in the western Japan city of Kurashiki that seems to have something to do with the Shinjuku killing. Okabe and his assistant take off for Kurashiki.



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