NHK executives must be feeling very thankful to singer Kuwata Keisuke (54, photo). He is being given much of the credit for the decent TV audience ratings announced for “Kohaku Uta Gassen” on New Year’s Eve. The show managed an average rating of 42.5% for the second half, the third year in a row that it has stayed above the 40% mark. In 2009, the main attractions were rare appearances from Susan Boyle (49) and Yazawa Eikichi (61), while this time around it was recent developments in Kuwata’s personal life that drew many viewers. The show was his first public appearance in almost six months, during which time he has been in a battle with cancer. His performance of two songs, including his latest release, “Sore Ike Baby!!” drew even higher ratings in some parts of the country, 48.1% in Nagoya and 49.6% in Niigata. NHK also announced that they had a 40% increase in votes from viewers on the song contest.
Other attractions on the show were a live hookup with the Yokohama Stadium, where actor/singer Fukuyama Masaharu (41) had his ponytail ceremonially cut off. He grew his hair for the lead role in last year’s NHK taiga drama series “Ryomaden.” And there was the 34th appearance by veteran Wada Akiko (60), despite the fact that she suffered neck and back injuries in a car crash during final rehearsals for the show.