The media expressed great surprise that singer Wada Akiko will be taking part in this year’s Kohaku Uta Gassen, NHK’s annual New Year’s Eve song spectacle. The surprise is largely because she’ll be taking part as a member of rap trio “m-flo Loves Akiko Wada.” The gimmick act, featuring “Akko” and popular rap duo m-flo, released one single earlier this year, “Hey!” And though Wada is a popular star, the single was her first time in 33 years to make the Oricon Top 10. The move is seen as yet another attempt to revive the struggling ratings of the once-mighty jewel in NHK’s crown. Another was last month’s announcement that “king of the emcees” Mino Monta would be given that role for the show, the veteran’s first venture onto the public broadcaster. Other first-timers scheduled to appear include folk veteran Matsutoya Yumi (51), sexy club queen Koda Kumi (22), and WaT, the duo of Wentz Eiji (20) and Koike Teppei (19) who made their major label debut just last month.
• Actor Sakaguchi Kenji (30) and actress Ito Misaki (28) have been awarded this year’s “Best Dresser Award”. Sakaguchi was dressed in a black suede jacket and jeans for the award ceremony, but said he only has two jackets altogether. The actor, who spoke briefly for the first time about his split from girlfriend Koyuki (28) earlier in the year, said, “I can’t easily describe what I’ve been through this year,” adding that the award was both an honor and pressure. Ito wore a camisole-type long white dress. Other winners were music producer Matsutoya Masataka (54) and Cyber Agent CEO Fujita Susumu (32).