Hush-Hush: Pinoy version of USTV Gossip Girls

Peachy Vibal-Guioguio - The Philippine Star

Laurice Guillen whose accomplishments include steering Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival into prominence as the primary venue for independent filmmakers, takes on a new show for the revitalized TV5. As director of the new drama series, Hush Hush, direk Laurice as she is known in the film industry, ventures to the small screen in a Pinoy version of Gossip Girls aimed primarily at the youth televiewers.

Hush Hush (Wednesdays, 7 p.m.) follows the lives of several young celebrities as they experience the exhilarating highs and the disheartening lows of the entertainment business. It stars Valeen Montenegro, Krista Ranillo, Ina Feleo, Bruno Folster, Joem Bascon, Ana Feleo, Dominic Ochoa and Bernard Palanca. Italian/ Brazilian Bruno when informed of direk Laurice’s credentials as one of the country’s leading filmmakers had only high praises for her.

When asked about the challenges posed by her young wards in the set, direk Laurice’s reply was prefaced by a chuckle and statement to the effect that she was indeed having fun producing and directing the drama series. Her involvement in the show came about when she was asked by Tonyboy Cojuangco, owner of Associated Broadcasting Corp. (ABC), to pitch a story for the reinvigorated TV5 and its strategic partner MPB Primedia, Inc., which has entered into a long-term block time agreement.

It was actually direk Laurice’s daughter, Ina, who pitched the story concept to her mom. “I’m a loyal viewer of Gossip Girls (the hit teenage series in the US) but I felt that the Filipino audience will not be as interested in watching a program that delves into the lives of rich, young ladies,” Ina explains. But, she thought that Filipino audiences, no matter what social strata one belongs to, is always interested in showbiz gossip. Thus, it was this concept Ina developed and pitched to her mom.

Hush Hush includes Ina in a starring role but except for Dominic and Bernard, all members of the cast auditioned for their respective role. “I think I have a good cast and the right mix of talents,” says direk Laurice, who surprisingly, is doing her TV directorial debut with this series. “This is also my first time to produce a show for TV,” she adds. ”What I have learned as a producer for indie films, I apply it here. Pero mukhang lugi yata ako,” she says with a laugh.

But coming up with this drama series is no laughing matter as direk Laurice gathers a creative team that has a mix of “indie sensibilities and the taste and pulse of the young generation.” Incidentally, this is also her first time to direct her daughter, Ina, and disclosed that there was never “an awkward moment between us.” Direk Laurice attributes this to her working relationship with Ina in the acting workshops she conducts. “Sometimes, when I cannot handle a class because of another commitment, I let Ina take charge.”

Hush Hush is about young celebrities whose struggles to succeed in the world of show business is the focal point of the series. This plotline allows direk Laurice to take the viewers to the inner sanctum of the entertainment industry where people will see the real, and not only the reel, happenings in the world of showbiz. One can say that the show is an attempt to humanize a misunderstood, and often-maligned, sector of our society.

But being the producer and the director at the same time is a daunting task, that’s why direk Laurice has asked for the help of independent filmmakers Jade Castro and Jay Abella to help her meg the series. She remains as committed to her art and craft as an accomplished actress and multi-awarded film director. And it is to the credit of TV5 that an artist of her sensibility and prominence is on board for its new programming thrust that aims to tap the youth market.

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