Japan auds end 1999 at home

'Singing,' 'Mononoke' score year's top TV ratings

TOKYO — While the rest of the world was preparing for millennium mayhem, a huge chunk of the Japanese population stayed home on New Year’s Eve and watched a singing contest that was the top-rated show for 1999, ratings agency Video Research said.

Pubcaster NHK’s “Red and White Singing Contest” (or “Kohaku”) — in which the top pop acts and enka (a type of sentimental ballad) singers took to the stage and sang some of the best known hits for the year — was the top-rated show for the year, scoring a 50.5 rating for its second 90-minute portion. The first part of the show was the No. 2-rated program with a rating of 45.8.

“Princess Mononoke,” the Japanese movie that took in the most at the local box until “Titanic” sailed into town, was at number three in the yearly rankings as it scored the highest rating for a movie broadcast on television in 15 years. The animated feature scored a rating of 35.1% when it aired last January on Nippon TV (NTV), one of the producers of the film.

Fuji TV was able to score the remaining two spots in the top five with two programs that featured the five heartthrob members of the pop group SMAP.

Baseball also made a bit of a comeback this year as the Yomiuri Giants tried, but failed, to overtake the Chunichi Dragons in the Central League.

Among the networks, NHK and Fuji TV both had seven shows in the top 20, while NTV had five, TBS had two and TV Asahi had one. (There were three shows tied with identical ratings for the No. 20 slot.)

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