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Grassroots performers ready for turn in spotlight
enorth.com.cn   2009-01-19 10:31


(Chinadaily)Camera clicks and flashes flooded the hallway as 5-year-old Huang Yifei walked out of a rehearsal room in Beijing on Friday.

It was just one of many times the boy enjoyed the spotlight over the past three days after arriving in the capital with his mother from their hometown of Tianjin.

"The boy knows how to pose before the camera and he will become a star," Huang's mother said, as she stroked her son's head and praised his talent for music and the stage.

Huang's mother said the boy had won several awards as a percussionist and modeled for a slot on Tianjin TV. But he was just one of more than 150 performers gleaned from around the country to take part in a private TV project touting itself as a "grassroots" alternative to State broadcaster China Central Television's (CCTV) annual Lunar New Year eve variety show. The CCTV extravaganza has long been a mainstay of Chinese families' Spring Festival celebrations.

With one week to go before it is streamed online for free, organizer Shi Mengqi told China Daily on Friday that the inaugural "Shanzhai (copycat) Spring Festival Gala Party" on China Countryside Television (CCSTV) is ready to roll.

Shi said the show, scheduled for online streaming for three hours on Jan 25, already has about 35 programs lined up. Its performers had to audition for their slots and have been put up at the Beijing Jiuhua Spa and Resort for the past week.

He launched the www.ccstv.cn website last year to promote his program and rented an office for it, with broadcasting equipment and computers sponsored by friends, individuals and organizations interested in his idea.

The program reportedly received widespread attention, with a number of TV stations even considering broadcasting it when it was first announced.

Shi said he has received many responses from websites offering to host his show, and has yet to accept any of them.

But more than 100 people will be able to see the gala live at the resort, the 36-year-old Beijing cameraman for a wedding planning agency said.

"We have various types of performances but folk art will feature prominently," Shi said.

Apart from Huang, a waterman from Hubei province has dreamed that one day he would become a singer.

Two decades ago, when the then 8-year-old boy first heard a popular song coming out of the window of his neighbor, he decided to become a singer, but the dream wasn't realized until he met Shi.

Now, standing onstage, the 29-year-old migrant worker said he can visualize a bright future, singing for thousands of people.

For Shi, helping these performers realize their dreams is the best award he has ever won.

Shi said most of the funds for his program go into the hundreds of lunch boxes he prepares for the performers every day. "Giving so many people happiness is not what money can count," Shi said.

An online survey conducted by major Chinese portal Tianya showed that among 62,835 respondents, more than three fourths were looking forward to the CCSTV show.


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Editor: Zhang Jialu

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