“Popularity, talent, attitude.”
These are the top three things that GMA network president and CEO Felipe L. Gozon considers before adding an artist to the Kapuso roster.
While he did not discount the possibility of hiring more talents from other networks, Gozon said, “GMA 7 is developing a lot of in-house talents. We’ve put two people in charge of our Artist Center—Simon Ferrer for endorsements and branding, and David Fabros for development and recruitment.”
Gozon sat down to lunch with Inquirer on Wednesday after formally signing an agreement with Avon Philippines to produce the drama series, “Prinsesa ng Masa,” which stars Kris Bernal. The show premieres Sept. 23.
“I like the story of ‘Prinsesa ng Masa.’ It’s not hard sell,” Gozon said. “Avon came in after we approved the concept. But we’ve worked with the brand for a long time now. It just so happened that the products and the show seemed a perfect fit.”
Excerpts from our chat:
Were you surprised by the success of “My Husband’s Lover”?
I told our production people that what we needed was a show that was different from most. A few years back, we were successful with fantasy-adventure shows.
Actually, “Mundo Mo’y Akin” is faring better than MHL in terms of ratings. But people don’t talk about it so much. This only means maraming Pinoy na MHL (gay). Marami rin sigurong MWL, or My Wife’s Lover. (Laughs)
Seriously, we never thought it would be this successful. We approved it only because it was… different. No, we weren’t worried about how some people would react. From the start we agreed it would depend on the treatment.
We were surprised it was GMA 7 that did it.
Kami talaga ang gagawa n’on because we are risk-takers. We always try new things. MHL became popular because of its story line. Dennis (Trillo) and Tom Rodriguez aren’t real [gays]; that’s why audiences appreciate them. Lumalabas ang galing nila [in acting]. As I always say, it’s the program that makes an artist; not the station.
What’s your reaction to Ogie Alcasid’s transfer to TV5?
In fairness to Ogie, he spoke with us before leaving. We couldn’t match TV5’s offer—bibigyan pa kasi siya ng [executive position]. I wished him luck.
Because you thought he would need it?
You all know what’s happening there [at TV5]. How long can that go on? No offense; I’m just being frank. They have been incurring really big losses.
Does this mean a merger is out of the question?
What merger? I have not heard of any. Is MVP (Manny Pangilinan, TV5 chair) buying GMA7? You’ll have to ask him. As for me, I am not going to buy TV5.
How about Regine Velasquez?
She just renewed her contract with us. We’ve never had any problem with Regine.
Former GMA 7 executive Wilma Galvante has transferred to TV5 and is active again.
Wilma didn’t transfer; she retired. She joined TV5 a year [after she left GMA 7].
What’s Richard Gutierrez’s status?
He didn’t renew his contract.
Marian Rivera’s contract is also up for renewal.
Just wait, something will happen that I’m still not at liberty to say. And no, Marian [and boyfriend Dingdong Dantes] will not get married yet. ’Di pa ako kinukuhang ninong—biro lang.
I tell you, pag mag-e-expire na ang mga contracts ng halos lahat ng talents, may maririnig ka na kinukuha sila ng ibang network—that’s normal.
What’s in store for Raymart Santiago and estranged wife Claudine Barretto over at GMA7?
I don’t know if Raymart has an existing contract with us. We’ve never had any problem with him, either. Our contract with Claudine expired quite a while back and was not renewed.
What can you say about your daughter’s (Annette Gozon-Abrogar) performance as a network executive?
I’m her father so to answer that would be self-serving. With regard to the [Sarah Lahbati] issue, I know she can handle it because she’s a better lawyer than I am. It’s good that she can now practice law at ’di puro GMA 7 ang inaatupag.
How do you make your actors’ working environment more comfortable?
Most of them have vans where they can sleep or rest when they are not needed on the set.
What’s the latest on the network’s digitization project?
At this point, our concern is how to monetize our investment.
What digital TV model does the network plan to use?
We want to follow the European model, which is superior to its Japanese counterpart. The Japanese model offers a maximum of eight channels; the European model, up to 16.