China's most famous comedian Zhao Benshan, pop diva Faye Wong and child star Lin Miaoke will all perform in the traditional China Central Television (CCTV) Lunar New Year gala to be broadcast live on Saturday night, among other A-list entertainers.
Zhao was expected to perform a short comedy piece featuring a skit donating money to poor students, with two proteges Xiao Shenyang and Wang Xiaoli, according to the program list of the last rehearsal released by media on Saturday.
Xiao Shenyang achieved overnight fame at last year's gala for his impressive performance also in a short comedy with Zhao. And some newspapers and websites were speculating that Wang Xiaoli, the new face this year, could duplicate Xiao Shenyang's success and become a household name after Saturday night.
The gala, starting 8 p.m. on the eve of the Lunar New Year and with a kaleidoscopic array of singers, dancers and comedians, has become an immensely popular show to mark the country's most important festival since its first broadcast in 1983.
As the gala enjoys top audience ratings worldwide among Chinese people, it is the perfect stage for entertainers to rise to overnight fame or to regain popularity.
Pop queen Faye Wong shot to fame quickly after singing a song at the 1998 gala, and she would sing another song titled "Legend" this year. Wong apparently came back to the stage last year after being in retirement since 2003, and is presently preparing for host of concerts in Beijing and Shanghai.
The 11-year-old star Lin Miaoke was expected to sing in a mixed show of children's songs. She rose to fame after her performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympic's opening ceremony, despite later reports confirmed she had lip-synched to the pre-recorded voice of another girl.
Other entertainers also on the list included Mandopop star Wang Leehom, popular TV actress Yan Ni, pop singer Eason Chan from Hong Kong, the "Little Tigers" group from Taiwan.
In recent years, it has been increasingly hard for the gala to maintain its popularity in the wake of many alternative choices including online entertainment shows and special galas produced by local TV stations.
The Lunar New Year, China's traditional and biggest family reunion holiday, falls on Feb. 14 this year, while its week-long holiday kicked off Saturday.