Three years ago, Willie Revillame left ABS-CBN on a sour note and signed with TV5. The young network owned by Manny V. Pangilinan was looking to freshen up and provide alternative programming away from the established giants ABS-CBN and GMA 7, and he sought out Revillame to lead the budding product. This led to Willing Willie, which made its debut shortly after Revillame signed his contract.
Unlike its fellow weekday variety shows at the time, Willing Willie aired on the early evening timeslot dominated by news programs and teleseryes. From the beginning the show proved to be controversial, as evidence by a reported feud among Revillame’s dancers, a copyright infringement suit from ABS-CBN, and the now-infamous ‘macho dance’ involving a six-year-old child. It was the latter event that caught the attention of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, leading to the program’s month-long hiatus in April 2011. MTRCB subsequently suspended the program retroactive to the planned hiatus.
Revillame then resumed hosting on a nightly basis, this time renaming his program as Wil Time Big Time. However, by then the controversies surrounding him took its toll on the program’s ratings. Worse, the live airing of the program affected TV5’s other programming, notably their teleserye and reality shows. With the variety show ineffective in the evening timeslot, Revillame had no choice but to finally move to the traditional afternoon slot. Wil Time Big Time was finally pulled on January 5, 2013.
Just 21 days later, Revillame returned to the afternoon slot with Wowowillie. The show’s title was a partial tribute to Revillame’s former ABS-CBN program Wowowee, again featuring mostly the same elements used from that show. However, like Revillame’s previous TV5 programs, it was a ratings failure. This time it couldn’t beat out ABS-CBN’s Be Careful With My Heart and Showtime, and GMA 7’s Eat! Bulaga. Worse, Revillame had to endure another controversy after a cleavage shot of one of his dancers was taken notice by the MTRCB, and subsequently slapped a three-month probation. In addition, Revillame fired Ethel Booba after a backstage incident between the two.
Then came his announcement that he will pull his show off the air once his contract with TV5 expires in October. It was a relief that he allowed himself not to go back hosting again after all the bad things that he has done to the national viewing audience. For TV5, it was a big signing gone wrong, and they regret it.
From the start Revillame has been a public relations nightmare. Just recall the Wowowee tragedy of 2006, then the infamous six-year-old boy’s dance five years later, and you take a look at how Revillame was never able to recover from the pitfalls that he endured since becoming the lead dog in his programs. The eight years of Willie Revillame the solo artist has been one of the worst periods in history of variety show programming. Luckily we have Vice Ganda, Vhong Navarro, Anne Curtis and Kim Atienza on Showtime, and Tito, Vic, Joey and pals on Eat! Bulaga to keep us entertained.