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Richard KC are new Box-Office Loveteam

Curtain-raisers:

• I might as well, so to speak, let the cat(s) out of the bag. I want to make it clear that the “big guns” of the News and Public Affairs Department of a network, referred to in the other day’s Curtain-Raiser “blind item” are not Korina Sanchez and Karen Davila. The “big guns” reported to be in a “head-on collision” are Maria Ressa and Luchi Cruz-Valdez, two of the department’s so-called (powerful) “Tres Marias” (the third being Chari Villa). The latest word? Maria has slapped Luchi with a “preventive suspension pending the outcome of an investigation.” It seems that the issues swirling around the controversy have “serious implications” on the network. “I’m not yet free to talk about it,” said the Funfare DPA. “I will...in due time.”

• Steve O’Neal Promotions has scheduled to hold a welcome lunch/presscon for Gary Lewis and the Playboys who are starring in a series of concerts next week. It would have been held at a yacht which would cruise around Manila Bay. But here’s the rub: The venue has been abruptly moved to a five-star hotel after a wealthy TV host bought the yacht (to the tune of, hold your breath, P50 million!!!) where he will “relax like a king” during his off days. Wow, talagang bigat-10!

• The fans of a sexy actress have been wondering how she’s sustaining herself abroad. Somebody who knows says, “No problem. Habang may telefonong malapit sa kanya, hindi siya mawawalan ng trabaho.” Oh? Figure that out.

* * *

As I’ve been saying, the turnover/takeover in showbiz is fast and furious.

Only a week ago, the reigning “Box-Office Loveteam” was John Lloyd Cruz and Sarah Geronimo on the strength of their smash-hit starrer, Star Cinema’s A Very Special Love (still showing nationwide).

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Last Wednesday when their first starrer together, (also) Star Cinema’s For the First Time, opened across the country, Richard Gutierrez and KC Concepcion easily dislodged John Lloyd and Sarah from the “throne.” The movie is said to be a record-breaker, grossing more than P14 million (according to Star Cinema sources) on opening day and getting stronger at the tills every day.

Some said that A Very Special Love, directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina, is “a bit more interesting” than For the First Time, directed by Bb. Joyce Bernal. But who cares? The box office is the final verdict; it has the final say.

The box-office success of For the First Time (the “second time” will come in February next year when the second Richard-KC starrer, this time produced by GMA Films in an “exchange deal” with Star Cinema; Richard is a contract star of the former and KC of the latter) has rendered moot and academic the “feud” between Richard’s mom Annabelle Rama and GMA exec Wilma Galvante who has been accused by Annabelle of “sabotaging” the movie when the Let’s Celebrate birthday show of GMA contract stars Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera was staged at the Big Dome on the night of For the First Time’s opening day.

Like the movie, the Big Dome show was a success.

There you are. Star Cinema and GMA should be both happy, and Annabelle and Wilma should kiss and make up. Showbiz is such a small world for everybody to be fighting with everybody.

Lea pays West Side Story a visit

Fresh from the CCP run of Cinderella (and preparing for its Asian tour), Lea Salonga paid a surprise visit at the first rehearsal of the cast of West Side Story (WSS) with daughter Nicole Beverly, her brother Gerard and the FILHarmoniKA early this week at the Ambient Media Building in Alabang.

West Side Story will open on Sept. 5 at the Meralco Theater with Christian Bautista, Joanna Ampil, Karylle and Gian Magdangal playing lead roles. At the helm is debuting stage director Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo. 

“Lea’s presence was definitely a moral boost to all the cast and staff,” Christian’s manager Carlo Orosa quoted Audie Gemora, WSS excecutive producer, as saying. “At this time where very few theater productions are staged because times are really hard, it feels so good that we are able to support one another,” said Audie.

“I wish Menchu only the best on her first directorial endeavor. Menchu has a very young and dynamic cast. It’s about time that she starts directing,” said Lea.

(Note: Tickets to West Side Story are available at Ticketworld 891-9999 or STAGES 818-1111 loc. 225.)

Ginebra has reason to cheer

More than 23,000 fans trooped to the Big Dome for the Game 7 of the PBA finals between Ginebra San Miguel and Air 21, a record-breaking attendance for Araneta Coliseum. For the players, it was one of the most exhausting finals ever in their basketball careers. For the thousands upon thousands of fanatics, it was one of the most exciting and thrilling battles they’ve seen in years.

“It broke existing box-office records in the PBA, and in terms of crowd attendance and paying fans, the PBA never had it so good,” reported Nap Gutierrez. “At the end of the final buzzer — the team that almost 95 percent of the filled-to-the rafters crowd supported, cheered for, and “died for” came out triumphant, posting a hard-earned title-clinching victory for a team that miraculously recovered from injuries which plagued its players midway in the tournament.” 

“Kung hindi dahil sa inyo, wala rin kami dito ngayon,” said MVP of the Finals Ronald Tubid.

From the hardcourt, the celebration continued for hours at the Big Dome dugout.

“I’m so happy we’ve got the title. We worked so hard for this, we made a lot of sacrifices, we overcame so many trials, and in the end, hard work really pays off. We thank all the fans who came to support us. The support was just tremendous, it inspired all of us to keep on playing our best,” said Jayjay Helterbrand, the Best Player of the Conference.

Here’s the rest of Nap’s exclusive report:

Ronald Tubid seated at the bench for most part of the tournament because of an injury, but when the doctors finally gave the go-signal for him to play midway in the Finals, he was like a lion roaring to his best play ever in his entire career. “I really wanted to play and help the team early on in the finals. You know how it feels when you like to play and you just couldn’t play. I had sleepless nights, really praying that one day soon, I’d be able to play for the team. Kaya nung pinayagan na ako, you can just imagine the fire in my eyes. Inspired na inspired talaga ako.”

If there was one cager who has been struggling his way to his old form, it was Eric Menk. For so long, he’s had so-so games after recovering from an injury, and many basketball fans thought his career is over. But at the end of the finals, he, too, was named Finals MVP.  

“I thank my coach for believing in me, for keeping the trust and faith in me. I knew I had bad games, but then I also knew I’d be able to recover and prove my worth again. And what a perfect timing to recover,” Eric said with a smile.

Most basketball fans agree that without Eric’s fiery performance in Game 7, Ginebra would have lost that game to Air 21.

San Miguel big boss Henry Cojuangco said it all: “I’d like to congratulate Air 21 for beautiful Finals series. I’d like to thank the Ginebra fans for staying with us til the end, and I’d like to congratulate all our coaching staff and players for a job well done.”

After all the shouting at the dugout, the group proceeded to Kamayan Saisaki in EDSA where the Kings were joined by hundreds of hungry and exhausted, but very jubilant Barangay Ginebra fanatics.

(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph or at entphilstar@yahoo.com)

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