What rates, what doesn’t

STARBYTES - Butch Francisco -

It’s so difficult to determine what the TV audiences want, especially now that there are a lot of choices — what with cable TV around. However, I’d like to think that I’ve done TV work long enough to have a feel of what viewers look for or discard when watching showbiz talk shows. Now, this did not come from formal research — just a plain observation (through the years) of what rates and what doesn’t... in entertainment talk shows, that is. Below are the non-rating topics and subjects:

Drug issues — Although it’s the biggest menace of society today, people who watch showbiz talk shows just don’t care about drug-related issues. Unless, of course, you do a listing and come up with names and names of celebrities who do drugs. But that can only be done if you have concrete evidence. In fact, even with solid proof, there is still the risk (big risk) of the show’s producer, hosts, writers and even the network owners doing nothing for the rest of their lives but attend court hearings Monday to Friday — 8 to 5 — with only a one-hour break for lunch.

The problem with drug issues is that nobody will admit and I find it useless for talk show hosts to be asking suspected celebrity guests if they’re into drugs. A drug user will never admit that to his family, to his friends (maybe not even to himself) — and certainly not on nationwide TV. Those who do will only admit when they’ve come clean, but that’s ho-hum just the same to followers of movie talk shows.

However, I would still encourage TV shows — not necessarily just entertainment programs — to continue featuring people who’ve done drugs (and how their lives were ruined) so that viewers (especially the young) would be constantly reminded about the danger and ill effects of substance abuse.

Religion — It’s always good to spread The Word — even on TV.  Unfortunately, showbiz-watchers are turned off by features about celebrities who embrace a new faith and have found the path to their redemption (most TV viewers like muck, remember?).

I guess in the case of Ruffa Gutierrez, viewers still watched with interest her being immersed in a pool (her baptism) when she turned Christian because visually it was star-studded (with Sharon Cuneta, no less) and that was at the height of her marital separation — when everyone wanted to hear what she had to say, what Yilmaz Bektas had to say and even what Annabelle Rama had to say (oh how we waited for her every statement).

The good thing about Ruffa was that after turning Born Again, she didn’t go around like some messiah preaching about her new religion. She may be a separated woman now, but at least, she continues to conduct herself with utmost respectability and decency. I think that’s the best way she can show how faith is best practiced.

Lawyers on TV — Most celebrities involved in legal cases are always accompanied by lawyers when they face the cameras these days. I don’t know why but let me offer a few guesses:

1) They want to impress the public that they can hire the services of the best legal minds in town and even send the message across to their detractors not to ever mess around with them.

2) They are too dumb and dense to understand (and therefore explain) why they are suing or are being sued.

3) Their lawyers insist on tagging along for the publicity (the lawyers’ own).

I can imagine it’s the third one. Heaven knows how many lawyers have offered their services — for free —  to Piolo Pascual, Sam Milby and Lolit Solis because this is one high-profile case.

It has worked wonders for some celebrity lawyers we have today, but I swear the ratings dip when you put a lawyer talking on behalf of a celebrity in showbiz talk shows.

Outright cheapness — Catfight on TV brings in the ratings — but it depends on who’s fighting. These days when stars are a dime per five dozen (every other person is a celebrity today, haven’t you noticed?), you don’t even know the personalities involved in these fights anymore. Madame Auring? She’s a hit and miss.

Generally, if the people fighting on TV are just one-film wonders are just some members of a nameless sexy group, viewers don’t bite. Somehow there is still a limit to how low we can get even in this now-cheapened medium called television.

(Next: What rates on TV)

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