SHANGHAI - Actress Zhang Ziyi is crossing over to television as a judge on a new Chinese version of Britain's The X Factor singing reality show, and that has riled some quarters.
Singer Na Ying delivered a stinging salvo about Hunan TV's choice of her as judge for its debut season of The X Factor: China's Strongest Voice last Saturday while she and Zhang were attending a Dior event in Shanghai.
The Chinese diva said she will resume her judging duties on the second season of a competing show, The Voice Of China, and she did not mince words when asked by reporters about Zhang joining the fray.
"I can't fathom why the station asked her," she said on the red carpet, before adding, "Perhaps they want her to comment on the contestants' look."
Liang Bo, a contestant on Zhejiang TV's The Voice Of China, won the competition last year under Na's guidance, and Na was asked if Zhang could pull off a similar feat. "No way she can bring out a champion," Na, 45, replied. "My best wishes to her... but every profession has its skills. For music outsiders, being a music coach is very difficult and pressurising."
Zhang, 34, met her comments with seeming equanimity.
"I had planned to learn from her on how to be a good music coach," a Xinhuanet.com story quoted her as telling reporters. "I may not know music, but it's been smooth-going," she said, referring to the tapings so far of the show, which reportedly debuts this month and which will also see Hong Kong singer Eason Chan, Taiwanese singer-songwriter Lo Ta-yu and Chinese rock singer Zheng Jun as judges/mentors. "As a judge, I can say anything I like. It's fun."
Media reports have criticised her performance at the tapings, saying her comments to contestants had been mostly about their expression and look. But she said: "There can be no improvement without scepticism."
The Chinese talent show arena might see the entry of yet another star as a coach - singer Faye Wong, 43, on The Voice Of China.
Na, who is Wong's buddy, as good as spilled the beans on this after being queried by reporters. But a spokesman for the programme said no one on the judging panel had signed up formally yet.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.