Mr. M: Tips on how to be a star

And finally, after days of rigorous rehearsals involving dozens of stars, the grand show Kapamilya: ABS-CBN at 50 will be mounted starting at 7:30 tonight at the PICC Plenary Hall, highlighting the golden anniversary of ABS-CBN.

One person who will be heaving a huge sigh of relief (but maybe only after curtain call – hopefully with no aberya, knock on wood!) is none other than Johnny Manahan, a.k.a. "Mr. M," who’s directing the show.

Mr. M is the head of the company’s 11-year-old Talent Center which is the training ground of most of today’s biggest and brightest young stars, including Piolo Pascual, Claudine Barretto, Rica Peralejo, Victor Neri, Carol Banawa, Diether Ocampo, Marvin Agustin, Muñoz brothers Leandro and Carlo, Jolina Magdangal, John Lloyd Cruz, Jericho Rosales, Kristine Hermosa, Roselle Nava and many others.

These and other stars are among the performers in tonight’s grand palabas. They will be tracing the progress of Philippine Television from 1953 to the present in colorful dance and song numbers, showcasing the fashion styles of the past half a century from, for instance, the dancing attire of the late Nida Blanca and Nestor de Villa of The Nida-Nestor Show fame to the bell-bottom pants in vogue in those eras.

Mr. M will be watching from the sidelines biting his nails, keeping track of every movement of his star-performers, for sure quietly proud of having honed them from raw gems to the polished (well, almost!) performer/actors that they are now.

If he wasn’t limelight-shy, Mr. M should take a bow with the Starry Batch at the end of the show, but it would require three men to bodily carry him into centerstage. Yes, Mr. M is that self-effacing, that low-key. He’d rather be "seen" through his creations than "being there" physically (although he was once persuaded upon to play a villain in the Richard Gomez/Rosanna Roces Regal starrer Ang Babae sa Bintana a few years ago).

Here’s a brief history of the Talent Center:

In 1992, then ABS-CBN Executive Vice President and General Manager (now President and COO) Federico M. Garcia, a.k.a. FMG, recognized the need for the station to establish a means of finding and developing a pool of its own film and television stars if the company was to maintain its edge in the industry. It was with this as the primary directive that the Talent Center was born and given a two-fold mission to develop both on-camera talents and behind the scenes personnel.

The early years of the Talent Center had it concentrating on star-building through its initial project, Ang TV, "alma mater" of many of today’s popular stars likeJolina Magdangal, Roselle Nava, Rica Peralejo, Gio Alvarez, Victro Neri, Angelu de Leon, Camille Prats, Paolo Contis, Lindsay Custodio, Kaye Abad, Carol Banawa and Marc Solis

Soon, Talent Center expanded into other endeavors, including Star Cinema, Star Records and Star Circle which has so far launched about a dozen batches, thoroughly trained before each batch was presented to the media and, finally, dispatch to centerstage, so to speak.

"In the beginning," recalled Mr. M, "more than 5,000 showed up to audition for Star Circle Batch 1 but we chose only eight, launched in Nov. l995, including Jolina Magdangal, Regine Tolentino, Victor Neri and the late Rico Yan. Since then, we have lost count of the number of aspirants who come forward starry-eyed for auditions."

Thousands upon thousands come but only a few are chosen.

"If two or three out of the dozen we launch every now and then turn out to be really talented, and with star quality, that’s good enough."

The hardest to find, conceded Mr. M, are aspirants with "it."

asked Mr. M for l0 tips on how to be a star (and any Star Circle aspirant should bear them in mind before daring to enlist for an audition). Here they are:

1. Look closely at the mirror. If you have the "x" factor, develop it.

2. Keep an open mind.

3. Get enough sleep. Work out! Remember, your face and your body, besides your talent, are among your capital.

4. Eat the right food.

5. Be humble; keep your feet firmly on the ground. Don’t let success, not even a semblance of it, go to your head.

6. Keep on learning.

7. Learn from the veterans but don’t copy them.

8. Be professional (includes being punctual).

9. Try to get along with people, including your co-workers and your fans (if you have "it," they will come)

10. Save. Spend your money wisely. In showbiz, money comes easy and, if you don’t know how to handle it, goes just as easily.
Limp Bizkit Also Coming
The bad news is that Mariah Carey is definitely not coming. Negotiations for her concert here by two different local promoters have bugged down. The latest word has it that Mariah has cancelled her whole Asian concert tour. Better luck next time.

But Mandy Moore is coming middle of November for the MTV Philippines event, while Brian McKnight has agreed to do a concert on Dec. 5 and 6 at the Big Dome, to be produced by Viva Concerts.

Here’s more good news: Limp Bizkit is also coming for a concert on Dec. 7 at the Ultra Football Field, also with Viva Concerts as producer.

Since emerging from Jacksonville, Florida, in 1995, Limp Bizkit has become one of the most influential bands in the heavy music scene and has sold close to 30 million records worldwide. The group’s breakthrough 1999 disc Significant Other (which featured the hits Nookie, Break Stuff and Re-Arranged) sold almost 7.5 million in America alone. That same year, the band received two MTV Video Music Award nominations (for Nookie).

The group has just released its fourth album last Sept. 23, entitled Results May Vary (featuring the single Eat You Alive which is currently rocking the airwaves).

(E-mail reactions at [email protected])

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