Freeman Cebu Entertainment

TVJ announces Eat Bulaga’s departure from TAPE…to move to TV5?

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — “Eat Bulaga!” pillars Vic Sotto, his brother Tito Sotto, and Joey de Leon announced yesterday that they are parting ways with Television and Production Exponents Inc. (TAPE).

Confusion first arose when during reruns of “Eat Bulaga!” aired Wednesday, the feed suddenly cut to the show’s production area. The three hosts were standing in the middle while other co-hosts and staff were taking their places in preparation for the announcement.

Tito began by saying they arrived to do their regular work, but were not allowed by new TAPE management to air a live show.

Joey then recalled that he and the Sotto brothers have been on the variety show for 44 years since starting it in July 30, 1979. “Lubos ang aming pasasalamat sa mga naging tahanan namin, unang-una ang RPN-9 for nine years, and ABS-CBN for six years, at ang GMA for 28 years.”

Vic offered his gratitude for all the advertisers that teamed up with the show since 1979, then Tito continued by thanking fans, and TAPE Inc. co-founder Tony Tuviera.

After calming down the voices inside the studio, Vic said: “Hindi na namin iisahin ang laman ng aming puso at damdamin. Ang hangad lang namin ay makapagtrabaho ng mapayapa, walang naaagrabyado, at may respeto sa bawat isa.”

Vic then confirmed that beginning May 31, 2023 that he, Tito, and Joey would be parting ways with TAPE Inc.

“Karangalan namin na kami’y nakapaghatid ng tuwa’t saya mula Batanes hanggang Jolo at naging bahagi ng buhay ninyo. Marami-maraming salamat sa inyong lahat, hanggang sa muli, saan man kami dalhin ng tadhana, tuloy ang isang libo’t isang tuwa,” ended Vic, raising his fist as his elder brother followed suit.

The trio’s co-hosts who were present – Paolo Ballesteros, Maine Mendosa, Jose Manalo, Wally Bayola, Allan K, and Ryan Agoncillo – all gave them embraces as Vic and Joey said one more time before leaving the stage area, “We love you, bye-bye.”

- ‘Just taking a day off’ -

A reliable source confirmed to Philstar.com that “Eat Bulaga!” is in talks with Bacolod City Mayor Albee Benitez for a transfer to rival network TV5.

Benitez is the founder and owner of Brightlight Productions, the TV production company behind Eat Bulaga’s former rival noontime show “Lunch Out Loud” which was later reformatted into the now defunct “Tropang LOL”, as well as Korina Sanchez’s “Rated Korina” and variety show “Sunday ‘Kada” – both still airing on TV5 and ABS-CBN’s affiliate platforms.

Last month, Tito alleged that TAPE owed Vic and Joey at least P30 million each for the year 2022 alone, although Vic said in early May it was a much bigger figure.

“Pero sa’min ni Joey, wala ‘yun. Ganu’n namin kamahal ang ‘Eat Bulaga’," Vic said at the time, stressing that he and Joey do not mind getting their pay postponed.

In a statement, GMA Network said it was “saddened” by the “unexpected turn of events.”

“GMA has been the home of Eat Bulaga for many years and we still have a block time agreement with TAPE until the end of 2024 for the noontime slot,” the statement read.

“Together with all the Filipino fans, we pray for a smooth and swift resolution of their issues.”

Minutes after their bombshell, Joey posted on his Instagram account that they “are not signing off…we are just taking a day off.”  — Philstar.com

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