‘Iskul Bukol’ remake: Keempee faces pressure
MANILA, Philippines—Keempee de Leon has admitted to feeling the pressure of playing lead in a remake of a TV series his father helped popularize in the 1980s.
Keempee takes part in the “reimagining” of “Iskul Bukol,” the situational comedy show that aired on IBC 13 from 1977 to 1988. It featured comedians Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon (collectively known as TVJ) and centered on their lives as students (Tito and Joey Escalera and Vic Ungasis) of the fictional Wanbol University.
“There’s definitely pressure to do good, not just on me but on the producers of this show,” Keempee told Inquirer Entertainment during a recent media gathering. “This happens to be one of the most successful sitcoms on local television. That’s why we’re trying to make sure everything is perfect, especially the script. We took pains in rehearsing before each taping.”
Unlike the original show, which centered only on three characters, the new version revolves around seven personalities: the good-looking but nerdy Rude Valentino (Frederick Lo), the youngest professor to teach at Wanbol University; the often notorious Balidosa twins, Easy (Sam YG) and Chill (Alwyn Uytingco); the “closet gay” son of the dean, Wacky Roque (Keempee), who works as a teacher’s assistant; the student janitor Itor (Jerald Napoles); sporty chic Shawie Cunanan (Erika Padilla); and the ultra-conservative province lass Barbie Que (Regine Angeles).
Keempee said the show’s producers, Archangel Media Inc., “requested” him to join the cast. “I had planned to take a break from doing more gay roles. This was why I agreed to host game shows, but I just couldn’t say no to doing ‘Iskul Bukol.’”
Keempee hosts “Lucky Numbers” on TV5 and “Eat Bulaga!” on GMA 7.
“TVJ had to agree to the remake first. After all, this was their show.” One of the producers is reportedly the son of Tony Tuviera, the man behind the longest-running show, “Eat Bulaga!” where the three comedians are hosts.
“A lot of people are expecting this to be the same as the original, but it’s not,” Keempee said of the remake directed by Dante Nico Garcia and Soxy Topacio. “If we opted to just copy it, we might as well hire the old cast. The show introduces new characters, new faces.”
To also make every episode of “Iskul Bukol” a worthwhile watch each week are characters like Bongbong Bing (Joel Saracho), the university’s prefect of discipline; the cafeteria owner Aning Francia (Tess Antonio) and her assistant Pet Jacobo (Lao Rodriguez).
Keempee was 14 when “Iskul Bukol” first aired on TV. In 1999, he joined his dad in the sequel, “Back to Iskul Bukol,” which ran for two seasons.
Joey’s advice to his son? “Try everything—do drama and comedy shows; learn dancing, singing and hosting. Dad said only then would you know kung saan ka talaga nababagay. I’m glad I took after him and was able to develop all these skills.”
One innovation on the show is the Wanbol University’s coed dormitory, where the characters encounter comic misadventures and develop unexpected friendships.
“There’s also a plan to invite TVJ to appear as guests,” added Keempee. “I don’t think they can turn this offer down. The episode with them would be like a reunion of some sort, but the script has to be really good for the three of them to agree.”
“Iskul Bukol” will premiere on Tuesday, after “Nagbabagang Bulaklak” on TV5.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.