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A Reaction to the Promotion of Sen. Tito Sotto to the Senate Presidency

Welcome to the ‘Tito Sen’ era.

Monday afternoon marked a changing of the guard at the Senate, as erstwhile Senate President Koko Pimentel relinquished his position in favor of Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III. The long-time senator/entertainer will now take on a more arduous task of leading the Senate for the next several years.

It also means that ‘Tito Sen’, as his co-hosts at ‘Eat Bulaga’ call him, will no longer join his fellow Dabarkads at the said noontime show for an indefinite time period. Given the many responsibilities of a Senate President, it was only fitting for Sotto to leave ‘Eat Bulaga’ since he would stay busy even during days without Senate sessions.

Sotto, nearing 70, has served a total of four terms as Senator. He had been elected to the Senate on four different occasions: 1992, 1998, 2010 and 2016.

The selection of Tito Sotto as Senate President earned mostly negative reactions from netizens. Most of them cite some of Sotto’s most controversial moments as both an entertainer and senator; namely the Pepsi Paloma rape scandal in the 1980s, the plagiarized RH Bill speech in 2012, and the ‘na-ano’ statement to Judy Taguiwalo in 2017.

But in the defense of some, Sotto has a track record that is more than enough to justify his ascendance atop the Senate. Aside from his four terms as Senator (this made him the longest-tenured current Senator by service time), he also served as Quezon City Vice Mayor from 1988-92, and was part of the Dangerous Drugs Board from 2008-09.

In addition, Sotto belongs to an influential family, some of whom also dabbled into politics. His grandfather, Vicente Yap Sotto, served at the Senate from 1946-50, his children Gian and Lala currently serve as Quezon City councilors, and nephew Vico (son of Vic Sotto and Coney Reyes) is currently a Pasig City councilor.

The negatives that come with Tito Sotto may be an overreaction to his recurring role as an entertainer. After all, politicians with showbiz backgrounds tend to carry greater scrutiny than those who come from other fields (see Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada).

However, in the case of Tito Sotto, these controversies were just minor bumps to an otherwise distinguished mark in public service. People may like it or not, but until another changing of the guard takes place, the Senate Presidency will belong to one Vicente Sotto III.

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TV5/VIVA Partnership Updates

‘Tasya Fantasya’ is one of several TV5 and VIVA-produced programs lined up this year. (Photo credit: TV5)

The partnership between TV5 and VIVA Entertainment is off to a flying start.

Four programs will highlight the first few months of the TV5/VIVA collaboration. They are: ‘Born to Be a Star’, ‘Ang Panday’, ‘Tasya Fantasya’, and ‘Bakit Manipis ang Ulap?’.

‘Born to Be a Star’ is VIVA’s latest attempt in discovering future talents. Premiering February 6, the talent search show will be hosted by Ogie Alcasid, alongside Yassi Pressman and Mark Bautista.

Judges for ‘Born to Be a Star’ are Pops Fernandez, Aiza Seguerra, Andrew E and Christian Bautista. The show held auditions recently, with the hope of finding the most promising voices in the country.

‘Ang Panday’, starring Richard Gutierrez, is the latest made-for-TV adaptation of the Carlo J. Caparas classic. It will also star Bangs Garcia, Alonzo Muhlach, Regine Tolentino, Jack Reid, Christopher de Leon and Jasmine Curtis-Smith, with its premiere date still to be determined.

‘Ang Panday’ is no stranger to both film and television. Fernando Poe, Jr., Bong Revilla and Janno Gibbs have starred in the film adaptations, while Jericho Rosales starred in the TV adaptation that ABS-CBN once aired.

‘Bakit Manipis ang Ulap?’ marks the return of Claudine Barretto to teleserye genre in nearly a decade. The upcoming series is a made-for-TV remake of the 1985 film starring Chanda Romero, Tommy Abuel and Janice de Belen.

Also included in ‘Bakit Manipis ang Ulap?’ are Cesar Montano, Meg Imperial, Diether Ocampo, Dindi Gallardo, Roxanne Barcelo, Samantha Lopez, Bernard Palanca, Janelle Jamer, Bret Jackson, Issa Pressman, Mariel de Leon and Nathalie Colipano. The series is scheduled to premiere February 15.

And finally, ‘Tasya Fantasya’ will introduce viewers to budding VIVA star Shy Carlos. Like ‘Panday’, it was created by Carlo J. Caparas, and has also been made into a film and TV series, starring Kris Aquino and Yasmien Kurdi respectively.

‘Tasya Fantasya’ will also star Mark Neumann in his latest project for the network. Also included in the series, which premieres February 6, are AJ Muhlach, Ara Mina, John Lapus, Candy Pangilinan, Donnalyn Bartolome, Giselle Sanchez, Malak So, Arvic Romero, Jasmine Hollingworth, and Kim Molina.

Aside from the programs, VIVA and TV5’s satellite TV affiliate Cignal also joined forces in the launch of the Sari-Sari Network. The said channel features purely entertainment content, and also handles production responsibilities for TV5’s entertainment group.

It will be a very busy period for Vic del Rosario and company as far as content is concerned. That said, it’s up to TV5 to try and make an impact this year.

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FTT Year 2014 in Review: GMA

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2015, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article will focus on the GMA Network, who endured yet another frustrating year.

Positives

In a year where anything could go wrong, only a few bright spots remained on the corner of EDSA and Timog Avenue.

GMA’s Afternoon Prime emerged as the network’s top performer on weekdays, with ‘Villa Quintana’ and its successor ‘The Half Sisters’ leading the way. Also enjoying impressive performances were ‘The Borrowed Wife’, ‘Yagit’, ‘Innamorata’ and ‘Ang Lihim ni Annasandra’.

Afternoon Prime’s predecessor ‘Eat Bulaga’ remained a force on noontime, gaining some notoriety for its ‘Suffer Sireyna’ segment. Fellow long-running programs ‘Bubble Gang’, ‘I-Witness’ and ‘Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho’ also continued to impress viewers.

Perhaps the most welcome sight on the Kapuso network this year was the return of the Sunday TV Mass after a four-year absence. In response to criticisms that GMA was biased towards Catholics, they got the services of Society of Divine Word – Mission Communications Foundation, Inc. (SVD-MCFI) to broadcast the weekly mass every Sunday morning, thus appeasing their Catholic viewers for now.

And finally, GMA earned numerous awards in both local and international award-giving bodies. GMA News and Public Affairs, in particular, continued to garner praise for its excellent journalistic work by winning another Peabody Award, in addition to numerous New York Festival awards.

Negatives

If there is one network who deserves much of the blame for its failures, it is GMA. And 2014 was just another tough year for the No. 2 network.

GMA Telebabad continued to be an underwhelming performer for the Kapuso network. Virtually every teleserye GMA threw at its disposal failed to make an impact, including the four-week long historical drama series ‘Ilustrado’, who performed badly against its rivals from Mother Ignacia.

The 19-year old ‘Startalk’ also underperformed this year, with timeslot changes to blame for its poor performance. Neither a return to Sundays (vs. ‘Buzz ng Bayan’/’The Buzz’), nor a transfer back to Saturdays (vs. ‘Ipaglaban Mo’ and ‘Failon Ngayon’) helped ‘Startalk”s performance this year.

An ongoing purge to GMA’s weekend programming proved to be not as tense as last year, although the slumping ‘Sunday All Stars’, a clear candidate for cancellation, moved to a later time to avoid ‘ASAP’. Three movie blocks on Sundays, along with ‘Asian Horror Stories’ on Saturdays, did not help GMA at all.

Being the king at answering ABS-CBN’s every move, GMA countered ‘Meteor Garden’ and other Kapamilya throwback Asianovelas by re-airing ‘Jewel in the Palace’, ‘Coffee Prince’ and others, none of which were successful. GMA also countered ABS-CBN by airing ‘Marian’, ‘Bet ng Bayan’ and ‘Don’t Lose the Money’ versus its rival’s programs, again to negative results.

Controversy also affected GMA in 2014. Both Aljur Abrenica and embattled GMA employees under the name ‘Talents Association of GMA’ filed lawsuits against the network for various complaints, while Sen. Bong Revilla’s arrest due to the PDAF scandal prompted the network to cancel ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ to avoid any negative publicity.

Overall, it was an abysmal year for GMA, both in terms of ratings, financial performance, and standards of quality.

Outlook

Ramon Ang may have taken some of the shares, but GMA’s fortunes continue to revolve around their aging pair of owners in Felipe Gozon and Gilberto Duavit. So expect another difficult and trying year on the corner of EDSA and Timog Avenue.

‘Second Chances’, a long-overdue series, will kick off GMA’s slate of new programs this 2015, but it remains to be seen whether or not will there be second chances for the said network this year. One thing’s for sure: a wild ride continues for the men and women inside the GMA Network Center.

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Imbestigador Moves Back to Saturdays; Kap’s Amazing Stories Cancelled

Mike Enriquez’s long-running program ‘Imbestigador’ will now be aired on Saturday afternoons. (Photo credit: GMA Network)

After three years, ‘Imbestigador’ returns to its most comfortable perch, sort of.

GMA has announced that ‘Imbestigador’ will return to the Saturday slot starting July 12. But instead of airing in the evenings, as it has been the case since 2000, it will now be seen in the afternoons.

During its three-year run on Sunday nights, ‘Imbestigador’ saw its ratings sharply decline. This was mainly due to the popularity of opposing program ‘Gandang Gabi Vice’, and its shift from a reality documentation format to a dramatization-based format. It also didn’t help that ‘Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho’, its preceding program for the past several years, was extended from 60 to 90 minutes.

The move to Saturday afternoons should give ‘Imbestigador’ less pressure to perform. Instead of facing Vice Ganda, it will now face ‘SOCO: Scene of the Crime Operatives’, whose format may have inspired ‘Imbestigador”s new approach, and ‘Failon Ngayon’, whose format was similar to the ‘Imbestigador’ of old.

Still, it remains to be seen if the new timeslot will result in better ratings for Mike Enriquez’s long-running program.

Kap’s Amazing Stories Finally Cancelled

With host Bong Revilla still incarcerated for his role in the PDAF scam, GMA has decided to cancel ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ after nearly seven years.

The cancellation of ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ is intended to avoid any negative publicity in the light of Bong Revilla’s involvement in the PDAF scam. The senator was arrested on June 20, but ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ continued to air reruns until July 6.

But instead of creating a similar program on Sundays, GMA decided to add a fourth movie block in its timeslot. This new movie block will feature animated movies, and in typical GMA fashion, it will be dubbed in Filipino.

Clearly, GMA has shown a lack of proper direction in their programming. With five movie blocks and a pair of horror-based series, it is understandable why advertising has sharply declined for the network. And it didn’t help that rival ABS-CBN’s dominant weekend lineup has become a huge burden to GMA’s.

Unless they get rid of these movie blocks one by one, and replace them with more reliable programs, GMA’s programming problems will only continue. And Ramon Ang’s minority ownership won’t help matters.

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‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ in a Crisis; ‘Ismol Family’ and ‘Marian’ Debuts

Senator Bong Revilla’s educational show ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ is now facing a crisis after the senator was accused of graft and plunder in relation to the PDAF scam.

After airing for several years, GMA’s educational program ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ is now facing a huge crisis. This is because the show’s host, Senator Bong Revilla, is currently being linked to the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

Just recently, Senator Revilla, along with fellow senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, PDAF mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, and numerous other co-accused, were issued hold departure orders by the Sandiganbayan in relation to the scam. Senator Revilla, in a recent interview, has said that he will face the plunder and graft charges brought against him.

As Senator Revilla faces the prospect of arrest and jail time, the status of ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ has now become uncertain. Given that the show has been on the air for several years, and with numerous educational stories along the way, it will not be easy for the network to give up on ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’.

But with Senator Revilla currently involved in a controversy of national interest, it is time for GMA to make a difficult decision. Either they replace ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ with a similar program for the sake of credibility, or keep the show, but with a new host, for the sake of loyalty. It is up to the braintrust of the Kapuso network to decide the show’s fate.

Meanwhile, ‘Ismol Family’ will make its debut on the said network this Sunday, replacing ‘Picture! Picture!’ on its timeslot. The new sitcom will star Ryan Agoncillo and Carla Abellana, with supporting roles from Carmi Martin, Mikael Daez, Mike ‘Pekto’ Nacua, Miguel Tanfelix, Kevin Santos, Bianca Umali, Marc Justine Alvarez, and Natalia Moon.

The series, directed by Dominic Zapata, will now be GMA’s third sitcom in its current lineup. The others are ‘Vampire ang Daddy Ko’ and ‘Pepito Manaloto’, both of which star preeminent comedians in Vic Sotto and Michael V.

And finally, ‘Marian’, the self-titled dance show hosted by Marian Rivera, premieres this Saturday after ‘Vampire ang Daddy Ko’. Marian’s first guests on the program will be Maricel Soriano and Vilma Santos, both of which had their own self-titled dance shows in the late 1980s.

Joining Marian on the show are Paolo Ballesteros, Christian Bautista, Mark Bautista, and Julie Anne San Jose. Louie Ignacio will direct the show.

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Another Weekend Shuffle on GMA

Sen. Bong Revilla’s ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ is moving to the Sunday morning slot, one of several changes that GMA implemented on its weekend lineup.

GMA’s ‘Startalk’, the longest-running showbiz talk show, returns to the Saturday slot at 3:30 p.m. today. However, the move of ‘Startalk’ is just one of several lineup changes made to GMA’s weekend slate of programs.

Suspense series ‘Tales of Horror’ will air every Saturday and Sunday. The series is basically similar to another GMA program in ‘Asian Horror Stories’ (formerly ‘True Horror Stories’), in which horror flicks are featured. ‘Tales of Horror’ airs every Saturday after ‘Eat Bulaga’ and before ‘Startalk’, and every Sunday after ‘Asian Horror Stories’ and before ’24 Oras Weekend’.

Sitcom ‘Vampire ang Daddy Ko’ will now air after ’24 Oras Weekend’, as the game show ‘Picture Picture’ moves to Sunday nights following the said newscast. An earlier timeslot for ‘Vampire’ means that the ABS-CBN sitcom ‘Home Sweetie Home’ will now face the Vic Sotto-starred sitcom every night, while ‘Picture Picture’ will be up against ‘Goin’ Bulilit’.

Movie block ‘GMA Blockbusters’ moves from Saturday afternoons to replace both ‘Picture Picture’ and ‘Reporters’ Notebook’. The movie block airs after ‘Vampire ang Daddy Ko’ and before ‘Magpakailanman’. Meanwhile, ‘Reporters’ Notebook’ was moved to Thursday afternoons in GMA’s ‘Afternoon Prime’ block, leaving ‘I-Witness’ as the sole Saturday night public affairs program.

And finally, the educational program ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ has found a new timeslot. The Bong Revilla-hosted program will now be seen on Sunday mornings, as part of a quartet of educational programs that include ‘Aha!’, ‘Born to Be Wild’, and ‘I-Bilib’.

Looking at GMA’s weekend programming lineup, there are some strong and weak points to consider. Moving ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ to Sunday mornings will be a huge boost for the program, as it will now attract young and informative viewers. And with ‘Aha!’, ‘Born to Be Wild’ and ‘I-Bilib’ preceding it, viewership of ‘Kap’s’ will definitely help its cause.

Over at the nighttime slot, an additional hour of ‘Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho’, while not favorable to some, will benefit a portion of the viewers who are in need of more intelligent programming. ‘KMJS’, one of GMA’s stronger programs, is up against ABS-CBN’s ‘The Voice Kids’, ‘Rated K’, and ‘Pinoy Big Brother: All In’.

Meanwhile, ‘GMA Blockbusters’ and ‘Tales of Horror’ are intended to by the network as ‘stopgap programs’, meaning they currently air on a short-term basis while a new program is in the works. In the case of Sunday’s edition of ‘Tales of Horror’, its possible replacement may be an upcoming dance program featuring Marian Rivera.

And then there is ‘Sunday All-Stars’, now relegated to 1:50 p.m. after the transfer of ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’. Having reduced its airtime and crew, it is clear that ‘Sunday All-Stars’ is nowhere close to the level that ‘ASAP’ currently enjoys. And a later timeslot only makes the situation even worse.

In what has become a recurring theme in the last few years, GMA restructures its weekend lineup in hopes of gaining viewers’ interest. And again, will this new lineup pay off? Only time will tell.

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