GMA open to ‘Balik-Kapuso’

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - With stars moving from one TV network to another and then back again like a merry-go-round, GMA is “never” closing its doors to established stars who wish to join (or rejoin) its stable.

Widely rumored to transfer to GMA are Ai-Ai delas Alas and Willie Revillame. Ai-Ai’s contract with ABS-CBN already expired last month and she was spotted recently at the GMA premises to accompany and lend moral support to her son Sancho who has signed up with the network’s talent management arm, GMA Artist Center.

Senior VP for Entertainment TV Lilybeth Rasonable said that while there’s nothing definite yet, “We like her (Ai-Ai), it would be nice to have her.”

If Ai-Ai makes the move to GMA 7, it will be a homecoming of sorts as the actress/comedienne had her first comedy show on the Kapuso station, the 1997 sitcom 1 For 3 with Vic Sotto.

On Willie, who’s been on a showbiz hiatus since the TV host wrapped up his TV5 variety-game show Wowowillie in 2013, Rasonable said, “(As for) Willie, we’re not privy to it (the negotiations). If there are (talks), we’re not included in them.”

“Magaling siya, that’s my opinion of him,” Rasonable added.

Another exciting development to watch for is the possible return of 2013 Miss World Megan Young to GMA. To recall, Megan was discovered as a StarStruck finalist in 2004 then went to ABS-CBN before becoming the first-ever Filipina to win the prestigious pageant.

“Yes, we’re talking to her,” confirmed Rasonable.

If ever, will Megan, who’s “on-call” for Miss World Organization projects, do a talk show or star in a drama series? Rasonable said, “We will announce in due time.”

Still, growing and nurturing homegrown talents remains the top priority of the network. “The doors are never closed to other stars who are established already. But the network really wants to create more homegrown stars,” Rasonable explained.

That’s why the network is reviving its artista search StarStruck after a five-year break.

Rasonable said, “It’s long overdue. (GMA) always wants to continue to search new talents who could be the next stars of the network. StarStruck has a proven track record. We felt it was high time to bring it back.”

StarStruck was born 12 years ago and had served as the springboard for the careers of some of today’s topnotch (and even controversial) stars like Jennylyn Mercado, Aljur Abrenica, Sarah Lahbati, Mark Herras, Kris Bernal, Cristine Reyes, Paulo Avelino, among others.

According to Rasonable, GMA takes pride in the show being the “single most successful, original star search. Nobody can contest that... That’s our competitive edge.”

She added that the reality show’s now-iconic tagline (Dream. Believe. Survive.) “really encapsulates the life of a star — you dream, you believe that it’s happening (and) that you’ll get there, but the last part (survive) is the most important. The past StarStruck winners and non-winners have gone through so many colorful (events) that really encapsulate the life of star.”

Major changes will be introduced in the newest edition, including online executions as a nod to the value of social media, which wasn’t as big of a deal then, during the time of the previous seasons, as it is today, in determining the next big stars.

Meanwhile, a lighter entertainment programming is in place on GMA and will continue through the summer. The network is also veering from its signature fantaseryes.

“You’ll see in the next few months other formats also,” said Rasonable. “We’re No. 1 in comedy, so we want to further strengthen that and increase our number of comedy programs and then later on, other formats like musical variety and talk. So it’s more balanced, not all drama.”

Even the shows of its top-tier stars, the recently-wed Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes, are of lighter fare.

VP for Drama Productions Redgie Acuña-Magno admitted that it was difficult to come up with projects for the newlyweds.

Of course, with the two so identified with each other — thanks to a romance that played out on and off-screen and sealed with a high-profile wedding last December — starring in a traditional love story might not exactly work as their next project.

Dingdong now stars as an unconventional parish priest in the religious-themed series Pari ‘Koy, which is airing primetime weeknights.

Marian, on the other hand, plays a lesbian in the upcoming teleserye, The Rich Man’s Daughter (inspired by a true story about a Hong Kong heiress). The series is written by Suzette Doctolero, who was also the screenwriter of the network’s 2013 gay-themed soap opera My Husband’s Lover.

Magno said, “It’s a story about family, relationship between father and daughter… It’s not entirely a story about lesbianism. It’s not too heavy (a drama). It’s not as serious as My Husband’s Lover.”

“I think we already have a track record of knowing how to deal with these sensitive issues that they don’t come across offensive, scandalous or vulgar,” said Rasonable of the forthcoming show’s choice of theme.

Asked if Marian made any requests or requirements before accepting the project, Magno said, “Actually, she welcomed the idea of doing something like this. She has done a lot of roles before, and this is challenging and interesting. (Her only request was) to be working with a director whom she’s comfortable with, because of the sensitive plot and story. Her director is Dominic Zapata (also of My Husband’s Lover.)”

Other lighter-themed shows set to premiere soon are InstaDad starring Gabby Eigenmann and Let The Love Begin (the TV remake of the 2005 GMA film of the same title) featuring the young love team of Ruru Madrid and Gabbi Garcia.



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