Thursday, June 07, 2012

My Story from the Philippines' TV5 Big Launch in Sanfo

Dish brings GMA, TV5 together
By Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star) Updated June 05, 2012 12:00 AM Comments (0) View comments

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Big Kapatid Manny V. Pangilinan (seated, rightmost) during the signing of the contract witnessed by, among others Kapatid stars Aga Muhlach, Nora Aunor, Willie Revillame, Ruffa Gutierrez and Derek Ramsay.
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Manila, Philippines -  No, this writer didn’t mean for Filipino heartthrob Derek Ramsay to shed a tear or for Superstar Nora Aunor to stifle a cry during yesterday’s press conference to formally launch Kapatid TV5 in Northern California at the Mandarin Oriental in San Francisco.

The boisterous press conference was highlighted by revelations and admissions that even had Ruffa Gutierrez taking to herTwitter account in the middle of the proceedings to tweet about an explosive revelation that may or may not have something to do with the acquisition of GMA 7 by the cash-rich TV5 management. Even a text message from Kris Aquino to TV5 chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, who is known simply as MVP, asking about the GMA 7 subject figured at some point during the press conference.

Perhaps, it was the presence of the surprisingly funny MVP, whose candor and humor brought a noticeable energy and enthusiasm in the room that highlighted the easy rapport between the Bay Area-based Filipino journalists and the superstars of TV5, who didn’t hold back from answering the questions that ranged from the mundane to the socially-charged commentaries about the role of Philippine television in the lives of Filipino expatriates all over the world.

Aside from Ruffa, Derek and Nora, the Philippines’ top TV game show host Willie Revillame, whose trademark knack for instantaneous and wry humor was in full display again, also graced the star-studded press conference along with newcomer Camille Villar and the eternally boyish Aga Muhlach who shared a bombshell of his own in a separate interview.

The good-looking actor who hosts Pinoy Explorer has finally admitted that he is almost certain that he will run for congress come next elections in the home province of his father in Camarines Sur.

“The governor is a good friend of mine,” shared Aga. “Pinag-usapan namin minsan, ‘Aga, you want to run?’ Sabi ko, ‘Ano ang gagawin ko?’ ‘There’s so much you can do,’ sabi nya sa akin. ‘It’s a poor district and konti lang na magawa mo, they will really appreciate it.’ I want to do it. I really want to do it!”

Aga explained that before he makes the official announcement, “I just want to make sure na meron akong gagawin na mabuti talaga so ang dami kong ginagawa ngayon. I want to make sure first kasi sabi nga nila tatakbo tayo, pag nanalo ka, ano ang gagawin mo? So, I want to make sure na kahit ngayon pa lang may magawa na akong maganda talaga.”

The decision to run will be Aga’s personal decision to make. “Whatever I decide, the family will support me, too. I spoke to them already. We talked about it already. I talked to my wife and sinabi nga nya sa akin, ‘My love, in case you decide, ipikit mo ang mata mo, kahit ano ang paninira na marinig mo, huwag mo nang pakinggan yun. Go back to your desire and the desire of helping.’”

Aga stated that, at this state in his life, he has realized that it’s about time that he gives back to the people and the community. He does not promise that it will be a lifetime career choice for him. He will not give up acting and, if after one term, he discovers that politics is not for him, he will willingly step aside for the next set of candidates who is willing to help his home province.

Willie, Aga’s ever-loyal friend, was most vocal about his support for Aga’s political ambition. But he insisted that he would never run for a political position ever.

The press conference was highlighted by the formal signing of the partnership agreement betweenKapatid TV5 and Dish Network, a leading provider of satellite television in the US. The Dish Network created a new programming brand aimed at promoting the combined channels of GMA Pinoy TV andKapatid TV5 called Dish ko ‘to.
The contract was signed by MVP and Dish execs Jennifer Lesley and Izabela Slowikowska, the director for international programming of the American network.

TV5 execs headed by Claro Ramirez and Bobby Barreiro were present for the occasion. Viva Entertainment president Vic del Rosario, who was asked if Sarah Geronimo would move to TV5 soon but only replied with a curious, “That’s always a possibility,” was also present. Sen. Manny Villar also flew to support his daughter Camille.

The Kapatid TV5 launch in the US had a grand kick-off in Los Angeles a week earlier with more than 5,000 people attending the Wil Time Bigtime show at the Shrine Auditorium. The two-week road show will be capped by another presentation of Willie’s hit TV game show at the Bill Graham auditorium in the heart of San Francisco on June 2. The final show promises to be bigger than the L.A. edition with prizes ranging from a house and lot in the Philippines, a car and a host of other electronic gadgets.

The show will mark Willie’s triumphant return to the Bay Area after an absence of a couple of years. It will feature the signature style that made Willie the most popular TV personality among Filipino audiences worldwide. Kapatid stars Rufa Mae Quinto and Mariel Rodriguez, both of whom missed yesterday’s press conference, will be performing during the show along with Nora, Aga, Ruffa, Camille and Derek.

The Q&A ran for more than an hour and when this writer was finally called to field the final question, I immediately asked my two-part question:

The first part of the question was addressed to MVP and I asked: “Apart from the acquisition of GMA 7, how do you plan on expanding the coverage of TV5 in the Philippines?”

The second part was addressed to the TV5 stars: “What is your level of commitment to TV5. What if there’s a new network that comes up and offers you better opportunity — creativity-wise and not money-wise — how is your commitment to TV5 going to be measured?”

MVP responded to my first question by emphasizing his commitment to always support the top-caliber talents that have made TV5 their new home: “I am very grateful to them, hindi namin sila tatalikuran, hindi namin sila pababayaan.”

He added that the board has just approved another P6B investment in TV5 to help the network finish the various studios being built for all its shows.

“I think the Philippine market is really quite small eventually for the talents and for any two or three television stations that’s why it’s important for the country to export its expertise and talents abroad.”

MVP is initially eyeing an expansion in Vietnam and Indonesia.

Among the stars, Ruffa was the first to offer her commitment to TV5: “I was among the first that moved to TV5 before Willie, Aga, Derek. So that goes to show my commitment. I said two years ago that the reason I moved to TV5 is because I wanted to be part of a growing network and because our boss is MVP and I know that everything MVP touches turns to gold and diamonds!”

For Aga, he stressed that it was not his nature to just switch channels on a whim. “Wala naman sa ugali ko na palipat-lipat ako and in fairness sa aming mga artista, marami ang naglalabasan na malaki ang binabayad sa amin kaya kami lumipat. I moved out of ABS before I joined TV5. I moved out of ABS because I wasn’t happy. I have nothing against them but nakita ko sa TV5 kung paano nila sinalo si Willie. Kung ano-ano ang mga ginawa kay Willie pero sinalo ng TV5.”

“Ang hirap lang kasi, we have so much to offer pero wala yung venue and TV5 came in. We are so happy that TV5 is here because we have the freedom to choose and act on our own,” Aga added before offering his thanks to MVP and the rest of the TV5 bosses in attendance.

The unexpected thing happened when Derek turned a tad bit emotional when he was sharing how he started in the business and how MVP played a big part in his showbiz break.

“Not a lot of people know this but I actually started my career, my name with Sir Manny Pangilinan,” he said. “He gave me the chance to be a Smart endorser a long time ago when I had no name. And another thing that many don’t know is that Channel 5 is actually the only network that’s given me a contract this long. Much longer than what ABS has given me. Yes, I worked with ABS for a majority of my career — it has been five, six years but I had no contract with them until recently.”

It was when Derek started recalling how MVP invited him and his parents to dinner at MVP’s house that his voice started to break. “To those who know me, my family is the most important thing for me, so the respect that they gave me — respect is very, very important to me. Yeah, they say that malaki ang bayad and it’s all about the money. I want to kill that already because it’s actually really annoying and I get very emotional when it comes to stuff like these…” he struggled to finish before finally addressing MVP directly by saying, “Boss, dito na ako sa’yo.” The room erupted in cheers in support of Derek soon after he finished.

Nora turned emotional, too, when she had her turn at the mike. She recalled the hardship she experienced in the US and acknowledged a few people in the room who helped her when she was practically begging for help. She thanked MVP and declared her commitment to TV5 as well. The honesty and candidness from the Superstar, along with her unwavering humility, earned her a huge applause from everyone in the room.

For someone who is relatively new in the industry, Camille said that she would stay in the network as long as she is welcome to stay. “Why will you be anywhere else than in the network that’s so filled with love and respect with the people that you work with?”

Willie was the last to speak and the unofficial TV5 goodwill ambassador reiterated what the others said but added that “there is no dictatorship in this company — walang diktador, walang faction-faction.”

The TV host-comedian related the instances when MVP would personally text him to tell that he was watching the show. “It is an honor,” he said. “It is an inspiration. Yung success ni MVP, success ng mga Pilipino!”

From a two percent market share a year ago to 16 percent this year, it won’t be a surprise if TV5 would lead the charge in revolutionizing Philippine television as it gears towards digital technology — an area that TV5 has clear edge with — and bring an era of high-quality digital television for the Filipino audience.

My Johnny Depp Interview

How do you make Johnny Depp blush?
By Raymond de Asis Lo L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star) Updated May 14, 2012 12:00 AM Comments (0) View comments

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‘Thank you!’ replied Johnny when Dark Shadows co-stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Bella Heathcote and Chloe Grace Moretz expressed their admiration for him
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MANILA, Philippines - This writer discovered how with just two questions during last weekend’s junket for Warner Bros.’ Dark Shadows, Johnny Depp’s latest movie with his favorite collaborator, the celebrated filmmaker Tim Burton, held at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles.

The handsome actor attended the press day along with the cast of the movie including four of his beautiful co-stars: The seemingly ageless Michelle Pfeiffer, the sultry French actress Eva Green, Aussie newcomer Bella Heathcote and teen sensation Chloe Grace Moretz, who most recently anchored Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning film Hugo.

It is no secret that Johnny is one of the most famous and hottest actors in Hollywood. Male actors want to work with him. Actresses want to date him. His eccentric and carefree personality coupled with his incredible good looks has earned him a multitude of female fans that have long harbored a crush on the actor ever since he graced TV sets on the hit 21 Jump Street during the late ‘80s.

And the fact that he has been attached to the same woman for more than a decade further adds to his appeal to women. Although there are rumors of marital problems, the actor has maintained that those gossips are untrue.

During the 45-minute international press conference, even if there were 11 other personalities in the panel, most of the questions were addressed to Johnny and Tim. Michelle and the rest of the ladies mostly kept quiet except for the occasional burst of laughter when a journalist would ask a curious and funny question or when another would mistakenly refer to the new movie that Johnny is currently filming for Disney as The Lonely Ranger instead of The Lone Ranger.

When this writer had his turn to ask a question, I had a two-fold question ready not for Johnny but for the ladies: “How was it like working with Johnny Depp and who among you has a crush on Johnny Depp?”

The room fell silent for a moment after I asked the question. The movie’s male screenwriter, Seth Grahame-Smith, who was present broke the silence and jokingly admitted that he had a crush on Johnny. Eva, Chloe and Bella who were sitting next to each other, were visibly giggling but not one of them wanted to speak out.

Michelle finally broke her silence and admitted that she had a crush on Johnny.

“I’ve always had a crush on Johnny Depp,” the lovely actress stated. “I will be the first to admit it… I am happily married by the way. Please include that in my statement about my crush on Johnny.”

“He’s great! We feel quite naughty. We are a fan club at the back,” Eva added, speaking on behalf of Chloe and Bella. “He is just wonderful and he takes lots of risks. He has very intense eyes and they go right to you and that’s quite something.”

For Michelle, working with the actor was also a revealing experience. “One never knows what to expect… you have preconceived ideas before you meet someone and I have always been a huge fan of his. He was really funny. He’s very fun-loving on the set, which I really like but when the cameras roll he’s very serious and always incredibly prepared and just really generous with the other actors.”

“It’s easy to get really intimidated by somebody of his stature. (I have worked with) some of the greatest actors and I think the most gifted ones have always been the most gracious and have this ability to put you at ease right away and he definitely has that in spades.”

Johnny tried to immediately reply but was tongue-tied for a few seconds after listening to Michelle’s glowing tribute to him. When he finally was able to speak, he managed a terse “Thank you!”

“If you could see through my hair, you would see me blushing,” he remarked. “The real question should be flipped around. Look who I got to work with! I have crushes on all of them!”

In Dark Shadows, Johnny portrays a vampire who was cursed and buried alive by a spurned lover only to reawaken 200 years later during the tumultuous days of the ’70s. The movie is a darkly comic update of the hit TV series of the same title with the flourish and inventiveness that’s typical of every Tim Burton movie.

This is Johnny’s ninth collaboration with the director. Do not ask what’s his favorite among the nine because he doesn’t watch any of his movies.

But ask him what animal he would like to transform to if he was a real vampire and he’ll give you a funny response: “The animal I would change into? I don’t know, Chihuahua? A Ferret? Maybe one of those frogs that if you lick the back you hallucinate.”

The 48-year-old actor surprised everyone with his wit during the junket. Asked if he was channeling the late Michael Jackson during one scene in the movie when his character stepped out into the sun wearing heavy sunblock, dark glasses, dark hat and a huge umbrella, he immediately quipped, “Well, I am actually always channeling Michael Jackson, even right now. So if you have any questions for him, feel free. He’s right here with me.”

He added that he will “moonwalk out at the end of the press conference” to huge laughter from everyone including Tim, who chimed in that he was also channeling Joe Jackson that same moment and did a riotous impression of Michael’s infamous dad.

“This has happened before, this kind of comparison to Michael Jackson,” Johnny replied seriously after the room has quieted down. “I actually thought the sunblock idea was pretty funny — we’ve never seen a vampire in the daytime so it was, kind of, the only route we could take.”

Johnny’s involvement in Dark Shadows extends beyond what he did onscreen. He also co-produced the movie. “I had a fascination since I was a kid with the show,” he revealed. “I would sprint home from school to watch it. It was always in there in my head on how great it would be to turn it into a film.”

And to his fans, this message: “I just hope that people like the film. I hope that they get it.”
Dark Shadows is now showing in theaters. - entertainment