Albee Benitez: Stop the network war!
Some of the Kapamilya stars taken by former Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez’s Brightlight Productions for its TV5 Kapatid Network shows, upper row, from left: Billy Crawford, Beauty Gonzales, Alex Gonzaga, Korina Sanchez-Roxas, Piolo Pascual, Maja Salvador, Catriona Gray and Ian Veneracion; and, lower row, also from left: Donny Pangilinan, Sue Ramirez, Dimples Romana, Miles Ocampo, K Brosas and Jake Ejercito
Albee Benitez: Stop the network war!
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - October 10, 2020 - 12:00am

First, let’s call the roll (in random order).

Korina Sanchez-Roxas, Piolo Pascual, Catriona Gray, Billy Crawford, Maja Salvador, Ian Veneracion, Donny Pangilinan, Sue Ramirez, Beauty Gonzales, Dimples Romana, Alex Gonzaga, Miles Ocampo, Jake Ejercito, Bayani Agbayani, K Brosas, KC Montero, Jane Oineza, RK Bagatsing, Ariel Ureta, Edgar Mortiz, Wacky Kiray and Gloria Diaz. There’s more where they are coming from.

They are some of the Kapamilya stars recruited after the ABS-CBN shutdown by former Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez’s Brightlight Productions, the new big-time blocktimer on the TV5 Kapatid network with more than 18 hours of airtime every week.

Albee with Korina...

Brightlight is set to launch (initially) five big shows next week, kicked off by the Sunday noontime show on Oct. 18, directed by Johnny “Mr. M” Manahan, hosted by Piolo, Catriona, Maja and Alex; followed the same day by the light drama I Got You, starring Dimples, Beauty, Jane and RK; and the gag show Sunday Kada Sunday directed by Edgar Mortiz. The next day, Oct. 19, the daily noontime show Laugh Out Loud (LOL, Monday thru Saturday) will premiere, also with Mr. M at the helm; and on Saturday, Oct. 24, Korina’s top-rated magazine show retitled Rated Korina (from Rated K).

Why the preference for Kapamilya stars?

Explained Albee, “One of Brightlight’s objectives is to give work to displaced ABS-CBN stars,” as announced by TV5 big boss Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP) that the network, true to its name (Kapatid as in brotherhood), welcomed talents left jobless by the non-renewal of the Kapamilya franchise.

Catriona

“In fact,” added Albee, “what I am thinking is not to tie down stars to exclusive contracts. Dapat walang nang ganoon. It deprives contract stars the chance to work for other channels if their mother network is not giving them projects. Lugi ang artista at ang industry ay hindi lumalago, hindi lumalaki, di ba?”

In retrospect, networks should lend or borrow each other’s stars.

“The network war should be stopped,” stressed Albee. “It’s not healthy for the industry. Dapat wala na ‘yang network war na ‘yan.”

In short, networks should be generous in sharing their stars and not let them waste away as “frozen delights.”

Alex

Noted Albee (who knows the entertainment industry inside out, having started co-producing movies before he decided to put up his own company), “For instance, some stars would wait years before they are given projects. What happens is that tatalian mo ng exclusive contract and then make them wait and wait for a project. That’s not fair! They could have done projects for other channels or other producers. Makikinabang din ang public na gustong mapanood ang kanilang favorite stars. The norm should be puedeng maghiraman. That would also create a healthy environment for the industry.”

Maja

But Albee admitted that that idea might be hard to implement since networks are possessive with their contract stars.

Known for his friendship with several actors, would Albee enlist the services of, say, his good friends Gabby Concepcion (who is with GMA) and Albert Martinez (still under contract with ABS-CBN)?

“If they are okay, if they are free, then why not? Then, again, there’s the issue of baka hindi payagan. It’s not beneficial to the viewing public, is it? We would welcome stars from GMA to work with us...kung papayagan.”

Albee deserves a pat on the back for bringing Mr. M to Brightlight. According to Funfare sources, Mr. M was retired but was not taken in as consultant, considering his big contribution to the network by creating Star Magic that houses the biggest stars in the country, all of whom look up to him as their mentor. Until end of this year, Mr. M’s partner Mariole Alberto is taking care of Star Magic and will be replaced by Laurenti Dyogi (director of, among other network shows, Pinoy Big Brother/PBB). Albee begged off from people’s impression that he’s “malakas” with Mr. M.

“It’s not really because of me, it’s more of his (Mr. M’s) belief that priority should be given to the stars. You know, kung may trabaho, bakit mo pipigilan, bakit hindi mo kukunin, di ba? Ever since, Mr. M has been looking out for his talents. His priority is the welfare of his talents.”

With Brightlight now in the game, along with GMA and ABS-CBN (blocktiming on Zoe Channel 11 now known as A2Z channel), there must be (hopefully friendly) competition given the “not normal” situation caused by the pandemic.

“Eh, di masaya!” said Albee in his down-to-earth, self-effacing manner. “Hindi talaga mawawala ang competition and, again, I would say that it is healthy for the industry.”

Meanwhile, Albee is “waiting and seeing” if the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) would be pushed through under the “new normal” (online?) situation.

“It’s not sure if by December the movie houses will be allowed to open again, and if people will start returning to movie houses,” said Albee whose company has an entry, Magikland The Movie (inspired by the theme park he built in Bacolod City), “we are exploring other alternatives. My (movie) company goes on. In fact, we have two projects on pre-production.”

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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