China's hugely popular Lunar New Year television galas aim to woo even more viewers this year with foreign megastars including Celine Dion and "Gangnam Style" pop sensation Psy, state media said Thursday.
Watching the China Central Television (CCTV) variety show has become a tradition for families gathering on New Year's Eve and it is set to draw a billion viewers this year, according to the China Daily.
The show, which will air on Saturday for more than four hours on multiple channels, typically features a range of performances ranging from comedy sketches to folk songs to ballet dances.
For 24 years it featured Peng Liyuan, a soprano who holds the rank of army general and is married to the Communist Party's new leader Xi Jinping, but she retired from the show shortly after her husband joined the Politburo in 2007.
This year it will see Dion performing her global hit "My Heart Will Go On," from the Hollywood blockbuster Titanic, which became extremely popular in China. She will also sing in a duet in Chinese, the China Daily reported.
The CCTV programme faces growing competition from local stations.
Psy, the South Korean performer who shot to global fame with his "Gangnam Style" music video last year, will do his dance on Shanghai-based Dragon TV, the Global Times said.
The Global Times praised producers' efforts to create the best shows possible but also questioned the reliance on international stars, especially if they required hefty fees.
"While some netizens are excited about such famous foreign figures coming to China, others wonder why the Spring Festival galas in China today have to depend on big-name foreign stars," it said.
The CCTV gala has previously featured foreigners such as Mark "Da Shan" Roswell, a Canadian who became well known in China for his fluent Mandarin, but it lacked the worldwide celebrity of this year's foreign lineup.