Shanzhai CCTV Spring Festival gala to go online

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"We have spent months collecting programs from all over the country," he says. "Some acts are recommended by Netizens. Our gala will feature grassroots performers instead of big stars. They charge nothing more than a platform to showcase their talent."

Compared with the CCTV gala, Lao Meng's shanzhai show will be more casual, natural and funny. He plans to turn it into a variety show without anchors.

All of the acts will be performed in a studio seating several hundred people in Beijing from 8pm on February 13. Netizens can interact and share their own ideas about celebrating the New Year.

The gala could be a stepping stone into musical entertainment for some ordinary folks, including a nondescript 40-year-old woman, described as a Chinese counterpart to instant celebrity Susan Boye from the UK, and a man in his 20s with a severe spinal condition.

"In addition to their performance, their touching stories will be told for the first time in our gala," Lao Meng says.

The gala has received sponsorship from some enterprises in Beijing. Lao Meng doesn't elaborate, except to say that it takes a lot of money to host a gala like this.

"We are trying to make our online parody a long-term brand," he explains. "All proceeds will fund future shanzhai galas. I hope that these folk Spring Festival galas will become another tradition for ordinary Chinese people, as common as guessing lantern riddles and dragon boat racing."


The only live performance alternative on New Year's Eve is Lao Meng's online shanzhai gala.

The next day regional television will broadcast their own shows.

For the first time, Beijing Television Station will collaborate with to host a pre-recorded star-studded Internet gala throughout the week. Since its launch two months ago, organizers have collected many ideas from Netizens.

Comedian Xiao Shenyang, Hong Kong singing powerhouse Jacky Cheung and grassroots Michael Jackson imitation teams will perform and have online chats with Netizens.

Additionally, a hilarious video collection has also been launched on By February 10, Netizens can upload their funny, original mini shows or video parodies of celebrities and stars. Based on Internet vote, winners can receive up to 10,000 yuan (US$1,465) in cash.

CCTV standard

Compared with new online and regional TV galas, CCTV hasn't changed its show, except this year it will be broadcast on the video Website

Shanghai stand-up comedian Zhou Libo has declined an invitation (he only performs in Shanghainese), and many of comedy skits will be performed by well-known northern Chinese actors such as Huang Hong and Zhao Benshan.

Highlights include singer Faye Wong, the Taiwanese band The Little Tigers (who return to the stage after an absence of more than a decade) and Lu Chen's magic performance.

According to Yuan Dewang, a former chief director of the gala, it's a dilemma to highlight both tradition and innovation in such a big project.

"Most of the candidate acts go through five rounds of screening from veteran CCTV producers and government officials to ensure the high quality of the gala," Yuan says. "Even the director himself doesn't has the right to change the repertoire. It is always a team production.

Expert view

Media and culture experts say the emergence of grassroots online galas can help inject vitality into the Lunar New Year's celebration.

Professor Wu Gang, a media expert from East China Normal University, says many people have been disappointed by the CCTV gala's glitzy but stale programing over the years, but they had no alternative.

"To cater to a big nationwide audience, the gala is actually a medley that simply repeats its schemes and design year after year," Wu says. "Now the ritual gala faces big challenges from folk and Internet shows.

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