MVP sees ‘Artista’ kids as TV5’s futureBy Allan Policarpio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
HONG KONG — For the past few years, TV5 has focused on signing up established stars like Nora Aunor, and acquiring celebrities from rival networks such as Willie Revillame, Derek Ramsay, Aga Muhlach, Sharon Cuneta and the late Comedy King Dolphy.
But it’s an expensive practice and doesn’t always work, according to business tycoon and TV5 chair Manny V. Pangilinan. Sooner or later, he said, TV5 will have to start discovering and developing new talents “that are distinctly TV5, and will grow along with the channel.”
Piolo Pascual, John Lloyd Cruz and Kris Aquino are synonymous with ABS-CBN, as Richard Gutierrez, Michael V and Marian Rivera are identified with GMA 7.
So, what exactly does “distinctly TV5” look like?
Pangilinan couldn’t particularly describe it. But one thing’s for sure: “It shouldn’t be the face we see on channel 2 or 7. I don’t want to be a clone,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer and select members of the press in an interview in Hong Kong last Sunday.
For Pangilinan, the face of TV5 could very well come from the remaining contestants of its reality talent search, “Artista Academy,” from which two winners will emerge—best actor and best actress.
Earlier that day, hopefuls Akihiro Blanco, Alberto Bruno, Benjo Leoncio, Mark Neumann, Vin Abrenica, Chanel Morales, Nicole Estrada, Sophie Albert, Marvelous Alejo, Shaira Mae and Stephanie Rowe, as well as eliminated contestants Chris Leonardo, Brent Manzano and Jon Orlando, staged their first out-of-town show in this port city.
Girl contender Malak So Shdifat failed to make it to Hong Kong due to passport problems.
As Pangilinan watched intently with the other TV5 execs and “AA” director Mac Alejandre, and “principal” Wilma Galvante, the “students” delighted the thousands of OFWs at the Chater Garden with group and solo productions. They opened with a quirky dance number to the K-Pop hit “Gangnam Style,” which they followed up with a series of song and dance routines that showcased their respective strengths.
The crowd cheered and applauded loudest for Chanel, who exuded immense presence during her dance solo, and Brent, the latest student to be eliminated from the contest. He displayed his vocal chops in his rendition of Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be.”
“They’re good and I’m quite pleased. At least we have a future!” Pangilinan said. “I wish all of them would succeed their own way. Their careers will follow different trajectories, some will move faster than the others. But I’m sure they’ll all be given a chance to shine.”
Asked what qualities he’s looking for in a potential TV5 star, Pangilinan said: “To each his own. Some will be good in singing, dancing or acting. I don’t know if you can combine all the skills in one person, so it’s a matter of identifying where they’re good at and developing it.”
More than the chance of traveling and performing in a different country, Pangilinan believes that sending the kids to Hong Kong could be a life-enriching experience for them.
“I want to open their eyes to something other than the Philippines. When you focus on the Philippines, you don’t know what’s better for you,” said Pangilinan, who was based in Hong Kong for 22 years.
Pangilinan seemed to genuinely enjoy the kids’ company. In his chat with the students during the two dinners he hosted for them, Pangilinan talked about the question everyone was asking: “Why is Hong Kong so clean?” To which he replied: “If they can do it, why can’t you do it?
Before their Hong Kong trip, the kids paid Pangilinan a visit to his PLDT office, where they discussed the latter’s success story, among other things.
Pangilinan even explained how his potential acquisition of GMA 7 could affect the aspirants’ future careers. He clarified to them that the two networks would operate separately.
“Talents should be able to migrate between the two stations. So, who knows? One of you boys might team up with Rhian Ramos or Marian Rivera, while the girls can team up with Dingdong Dantes,” Pangilinan told the kids.
Of all his business ventures, Pangilinan considers TV5—which posted a P4.14 billion loss in 2011—as one of his biggest challenges. He likened it to “a child that needs special care—the one that occupies most of your attention.”
He added: “We’re still losing money. At some point you have to turn it around. You have to be grateful to the people who joined and took the risks with us at the start. You have to show continuing faith and confidence in them that they can do the job. Walang iwanan dito (No one will be abandoned) … We’re going to tough it out.”
Though hopeful that the new crop of homegrown TV5 talents and a buffed-up programming lineup will help TV5 turn its losses into profits soon, Pangilinan reflected on the network’s prospects.
“It would take a long time. We just have to be patient,” he said. “It will take a while before we reach the break-even point, since it will take a number of years for the [“AA”] kids to achieve star status. And that’s fine.”
As for his planned acquisition of GMA 7, Pangilinan said that he was advised not to talk too much about it. He did say, though, that he was doubtful he would be able close the deal by the end of this year. “We still need approvals from Congress and the National Telecommunications Commission … It would take a bit of time. I think it will be beyond December if we sign an agreement with them [GMA 7],” he said.
Teased about the possibility of him entering politics, Pangilinan said, with a laugh: “We’ll have to turn around TV5 first!”
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