Beginning at 8:00 pm next Tuesday, China Central Television (CCTV), the leading television broadcaster in the country, will again serve up a grand visual and audio feast---- the CCTV Spring Festival Evening.
Gathering together, Chinese families will stay up late into the night for the traditional Chinese Lunar New Year.
This time the televised party is in four languages, with Chinese transmitted as the audio signals and English, Spanish and French as subtitles.
CCTV's Channel 1, Channel 4, Channel 9 and Channel 16 will all air the grand gala show live.
The multi-lingual addition is not the only surprise for this year's annual gala show. Beside some famous anchors, two cartoon figures will for the first time take part in hosting the party. Though animated, the new and slightly more colourful hosts resemble famous CCTV personalities Ni Ping and Zhao Zhong-
Designed with Flash, a kind of computerized animation, the "new" hosts are perceived as a method of drumming up more enthusiasm for the long-running TV special.
Numerous entertainment super stars will also bring their unique skills to the party. For instance, Jackie Chan will show his Shaolin kung fu, Zhang Ziyi will present a modern dance, Andy Lau will sing a new song and Zhao Benshan, the top Chinese comedian, a new stand-up routine.
Other honourable players include singer Mao Amin, who has been out of the spotlight as of late, crosstalk master Feng Gong, comedian Huang Hong, pop singers Na Ying, Han Hong, Jolin Tsai and many more.
Beside the old faces, the party is bravely utilizing many new stars, for instance, Dong Qing replaces Ni Ping, the successful anchor to host the party and Jiang Kun, the old crosstalk master makes way for new players Li Weijian and Wu Bin for the programme's "Consulting Hotline".
Olympic Games champion Liu Xiang and the Chinese women's volleyball team will also appear on the stage.
A live acrobatic show and Errenzhuan, a song-and-dance duet popular in the Northeast will be other highlights of the upcoming party.
Since 1984, when CCTV hosted its first holiday evening party, it has been an annual routine offering, which usually lasts about four hours, and is one of the most popular CCTV programmes.
Many Chinese families consider watching the party a tradition and essential entertainment.
The gala gathers many Chinese stars from the mainland and overseas, and contains various programmes of songs and dances, comic dialogues and sketches. It has been regarded as the best party on TV.
The 2004 Spring Festival Party captivated an audience of 0.5 billion people, nearly half of China's population, according to CCTV's marketing department.
But with the increasing expectations of the audience and their various tastes, the evening party becomes a tough job for CCTV staffers to prepare. More and more people have begun to criticize the party for lacking innovation and original designs.
As the only national TV station in China, CCTV now is facing challenges from some provincial TV stations such as Hunan TV, Jiangsu TV and Beijing TV, who are also preparing similar parties.
"The evening party should be something special to make people feel relaxed, since everyone has been working so hard for a whole year," said Lang Kun, the chief director of this year's party.
(China Daily 02/04/2005 page7)
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