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Entertainment

Sharon Cuneta shares more details about int’l projects, daughter KC’s acting comeback

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Sharon Cuneta shares more details about intâl projects, daughter KCâs acting comeback
Sharon Cuneta will star and executive produce the fi lm adaptation of the Palanca prize-winning novel The Mango Bride authored by Marivi Soliven. The movie will be a Filipino and American co-productio
STAR / File

Sharon Cuneta is starring and executive-producing the feature film adaptation of the Palanca prize-winning novel The Mango Bride by global media company 108 Media with US-based production outfit Bold MP.

Written by US-based Filipina author Marivi Soliven, The Mango Bride tells the intersecting lives of two Filipinas who migrate from Manila to the US — the socialite Amparo and the mail-order bride Beverly. The book was first printed in 2013 in English by Penguin Random House, in Filipino by National Book Store and in Spanish by Grupo Planeta.

As first reported by US entertainment news outlet Variety in February this year, Filipino-Canadian filmmaker Martin Edralin will serve as director. His previous work Islands, which touched on the migration issue, was nominated as Best First Feature in the Canadian Screen Awards. Adapting The Mango Bride as a screenplay is Rae Red, writer and director of Babae at Baril, one of Gawad Urian Best Films of the Decade.

Sharon’s daughter KC Concepcion replaces Toni Gonzaga as lead star of the US fi lm Asian Persuasion.

Variety further stated that Justin Deimen and Micah Tadena will produce for the Singapore and London-headquartered 108 Media. Also named as executive producers are Anna Liza Recto and Michael Kaleda of the Los Angeles-based talent management and production house Bold MP, with Kevin Balhetchet and 108 Media’s Ryo Ebe and Abhi Rastogi.

In a recent one-on-one with The STAR, Sharon revealed more details about the production, which starts filming later this year.

Filipino-Canadian fi lmmaker Martin Edralin will direct The Mango Bride

“Our main executive producers are Singapore-based. They have produced Hollywood movies already. I have yet to meet them in person. And then, my other co-executive producers — one is actually my manager (Anna), who has been producing movies in Hollywood for 20 years already, and then her business partner, Michael, who is American and then me, salin pusa lang ako,” she said on the sidelines of the press launch for her Iconic concert with Regine Velasquez in June.

It was Soliven who helped pick the Megastar for the film project. The latter is also hands-on in putting together the cast. “Because this is a Palanca award-winning novel that I read a long time ago and I’m re-reading now because it’s different when you know which character you’re playing. You’re imagining this person to be… So, we’re trying to make a nice cast also. It’s teamwork everytime I make a movie. Everyone has to be good in their role,” noted Sharon.

That the director Soliven chose was also part-Filipino was “important because my manager and co-executive producer is also Fil-Am. So gusto namin maipasok ang values ng Pinoy para makilala ang Pinoy,” the veteran actress said, adding that “it was so important to us that the story becomes — si Marivi kasi is so knowledgeable because she lived it. She had the experience of being a Filipina living in the States and as an immigrant working as a translator.”

More importantly, Sharon shared that 95 percent of the international production’s cast and crew is Filipino, if not Filipino-American.

“Even the story is (so) Pinoy. For me, it was the best project to present to the global audience that is about and made by Filipinos,” she further told The STAR.

“Because delayed na tayo, we’re long-overdue. Tayong nag-i-English dito di ba? Magaling tayo. In Asia, I think we’re like India, we’re the only ones that speak good English or kahit sinong Pilipino kausapin mo, kahit broken English, nakakaintindi ng English. So, you know, it’s well-spoken here in the country, it’s much-used,” she added.

The Mango Bride explores the Filipino diaspora in the US and other related subjects.

Sharon talked more about the story: “So, the two younger leads who we are waiting to say yes to our offer are the ones in America. Yung isa, anak ng character ko. Yung isa, anak ng amo ko kasi nagtatrabaho ako sa pamilyang mayaman, na ako na yung (parang) nagpalaki dun sa mga bata. Now this one character, na anak ng amo ko, pinaalis for bringing shame to the family. My child will also go to America for another reason — perhaps for a better future. And for some reason, they will meet there and they become important to each other.

“It will touch on the immigrant experience, domestic violence and abuse, and just how Filipinos struggle also in America from the point of view of someone who has lived it with some dramatic elements that she didn’t experience but she had seen,” added Sharon, whose last migration-themed movie was the 2008 hit Caregiver.

Meanwhile, it was also Variety that announced she was joining the cast of Concepcion.

“Concepcion is a TV series, they’re pitching it now. That may come later. Concepcion is the family name,” said Sharon before jokingly referring to her ex-husband’s last name, “Sige magtawa kayo Concepcion ang title (laughs). Di ako ang pumili nun, na-offer lang sa akin.”

As per Variety, “All Rise’s Reggie Lee will team up with Yellow Rose and Lingua Franca co-producer Jeremiah Abraham and ABS-CBN for Concepcion, a drama series in the works from creator Craig Obligacion Wilson.

“Written by Lynn Harrod who serves as co-showrunner with Wilson, Concepcion follows the lives of an Asian-American kingpin and his extended crime family that lords over Historic Filipinotown (‘HiFi’) in Los Angeles.”

ABS-CBN’s head for international production and co-production Ruel S. Bayani previously told The STAR that part of the reason Sharon was tapped for a major role in Concepcion was because of Reggie, who is a longtime fan of the star.

The Fil-Am film and TV actor starred in Prison Break, Grimm, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, The Dark Knight Rises and The Fast and the Furious.

Sharon confirmed, “Reggie’s a good friend. Yeah, I read in an interview of Reggie before na fan daw siya of (Christopher) Boyet de Leon and ako. Nuon pa yun sinabi niya, more than a decade ago. Then, one day, I saw a movie starring him, hinanap ko siya sa Instagram and I messaged him, ‘Hi Reggie, this is Sharon. I just wanted to say thank you because a long time ago, I read this interview and sorry, this is long-overdue. I really appreciate it because I’m kilig.’

“And then, he answered and we just kept on communicating. Whenever I’m there (in the US), he would never miss any of my shows and kasama siya sa Concepcion, which is also backed by the makers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

She further shared, “It’s about a Filipino crime family based in America. And my role, if it pushes through, would be that of a matriarch. Parang mga Sopranos na hindi, kasi kami yung mga Concepcion.”

Sharon also expressed her pride over daughter KC Concepcion’s return to acting. She recently got cast as female lead of the romantic-comedy, Asian Persuasion, replacing the previously announced Toni Gonzaga and starring opposite Fil-Am Hollywood actor Dante Basco.

The film is led by multi-Tony Award and Grammy-winning producer Jhett Tolentino.

“Sa akin dumaan yun (offer) because Jhett Tolentino who is a Grammy and Tony Award-winning producer offered me also a movie before. But unfortunately, we had trouble finding people to finance it because he wanted me to star with A-list American actors. So, it was so hard but it was a beautiful concept,” Sharon shared.

“And then, he came up with this project that he will direct himself. He asked me, there’s this (project) and I think people know that Toni Gonzaga couldn’t do it because of her schedule. So, he said, ‘I’d like to talk to KC.’ So I told him, this is how you’re going to get in touch with her, then he said, ‘Baka di ako pansinin.’ I said, ‘No, no. I’ll message her to wait for your message and then you message her.’

“So nag-usap na sila. KC is, you know, a full-fledged adult so she makes decisions on her own. Obviously, she accepted it and I’m very happy for her. She’s in good hands.”

KC’s last film was the 2013 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry Boy Golden: Shoot to Kill, the Arturo Porcuna Story, which won her MMFF and FAMAS acting awards. Asian Persuasion has also commenced shooting in New York.

After two years of the pandemic, Sharon is also set to return to the concert stage via the continuation of her Iconic series with Regine on June 17 and 18, 8 p.m. at the Marriott Grand Ballroom.

The Iconic concert, which was first mounted in 2019, sold out at that time and won the Aliw Award for Best Collaboration in a Concert.

Under the musical direction of Louie Ocampo and Raul Mitra, and show direction by Paolo Valenciano, the upcoming show is produced by Full House Theater Company and with ticket prices ranging from P2,800 (Bronze) to P15,470 (SVIP Zone 1). For more details, call Ticketworld at (02) 8891-9999 and SM Tickets at (02) 8470-2222. You can also check out www.rwmanila.com or @rwmanila on Facebook and Twitter, and @resortsworldmanila on Instagram.

SHARON CUNETA

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