entertainment, Philippines, talk show, television

1995 Flashback: Startalk Takes a Bow

1995 was a memorable year in Philippine television. As part of a year-long special, From the Tube will look back at a year full of historical debuts, unforgettable moments, and celebrated feats in the history of television in the country.

The final episode of ‘Startalk’ will air tomorrow afternoon.

After nearly 20 years of leading the showbiz talk show circuit, GMA realized that the time has come. Like ABS-CBN did when ‘The Buzz’ went off the air last April, GMA knows that the changing needs of its audience (e.g. social media, internet) would become a huge factor, and as result, they finally decided to let go of an institution that has served them well.

‘Startalk’ debuted on October 8, 1995 as a Sunday afternoon talk show, with Boy Abunda, Lolit Solis and Kris Aquino as its hosts. For the next three years, the show competed against ‘Showbiz Lingo’, but it became clear that ‘Startalk’ would never make its presence felt if it were to face another showbiz talk show.

Thus, in June 1998, ‘Startalk’ moved to Saturday afternoons (after ‘Eat Bulaga’), and it would remain that way for nearly 16 years. By then Kris Aquino left for ABS-CBN, and after Dawn Zulueta briefly filled in, ‘Startalk’ hired sexy star Rosanna Roces, and with her controversial antics, the show finally won the hearts of viewers nationwide.

‘Startalk’ suffered a slight dip in its audience when, in May 1999, Boy Abunda joined Kris Aquino at ABS-CBN to host another long-running showbiz talk show in ‘The Buzz’. They quickly recovered, however, when Butch Francisco replaced Boy, and for the next five years, the trio of Butch, Lolit and Osang would lead ‘Startalk’ to unprecedented heights.

Osang’s tenure came to an end in June 2004 after a series of controversies that culminated in a well-publicized feud with co-host Lolit Solis and Dra. Vicki Belo. After that, Butch and Lolit would be joined by the likes of Lorna Tolentino, Joey de Leon, Ricky Lo and Heart Evangelista for the remainder of the show’s run.

At almost the same time, ABS-CBN tried to counter ‘Startalk’ with a variety of showbiz talk shows on Saturday afternoons, none of which were able to win. It became clear that a rivalry between ‘Startalk’ and ‘The Buzz’ was something viewers would like to see, and in January 2014, ‘Startalk’ moved back to Sunday afternoons in order to face ‘The Buzz’ (albeit under the name of ‘Buzz ng Bayan’).

The experiment was a disaster, however, and after ‘Buzz ng Bayan’ reverted to ‘The Buzz’ name in May 2014, ‘Startalk’ moved back to Saturday afternoons, this time cutting the show’s duration by 45 minutes.. The declining ratings would only continue from there, and GMA realized the end was near.

On September 12, GMA announced that ‘Startalk’ will air its final episode. The said episode will feature a list of 20 questions submitted by netizens on ‘Startalk”s official Facebook, during which the hosts will answer each of them throughout the show.

‘Startalk’ will always be remembered as ‘The Only Showbiz Authority’, as well as the longest-running showbiz talk show in the country. But with the show finally taking a bow, it marked the end of an era, for ‘Startalk’ was the benchmark in which all other showbiz talk shows were measured.

A new era beckons in the showbiz industry. Thanks for the memories, ‘Startalk’.

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entertainment, news, Philippines, talk show, television

The Buzz Bids Farewell, For Now

‘The Buzz’ officially bade farewell last Sunday afternoon, after a run of nearly 16 years. (Photo credit: ABS-CBN)

An unexpected announcement awaited the viewers of ABS-CBN’s ‘The Buzz’.

On Sunday, April 5, host Boy Abunda announced that ‘The Buzz’ would go off the air and take a long and indefinite hiatus, citing changes in showbiz reporting, production staff and the viewing public. The cancellation ends the show’s initial 15-year run.

First airing on June 13, 1999, ‘The Buzz’ became one of the network’s top-rated and long-running shows. The show’s lineup of hosts would change over the years, but ‘The Buzz’ will always be identified with the duo of Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda.

‘The Buzz’ lengthy run is only rivaled by ‘Startalk’, now entering its 20th year. The two shows briefly faced off early last year, with ‘The Buzz’ (then called ‘Buzz ng Bayan’) prevailing in the ratings.

As ‘The Buzz’ takes a break of sorts, expect ABS-CBN to counterprogram against GMA’s upcoming game show ‘Wowowin’ and its succeeding program ‘InstaDad’. It is possible that ‘Kapamilya Blockbusters’ will take over ‘The Buzz”s slot from April 12 onwards, but no confirmation is made at the moment.

It should also throw the network into a state of uncertainty. Even though ‘The Buzz”s hiatus was intended to be a temporary one, there also remains a possibility of a new talk show taking the place of ‘The Buzz’ instead.

Another likely scenario will be the tweaking of schedules on ABS-CBN’s weekend afternoon lineup. Declining ratings of ‘The Buzz’ in recent months may play a big role in convincing the network to change their programming approach on weekends.

Any of these possibilities may come into play, but for now, sacrifices will have to be made on the Kapamilya camp.

For nearly 16 years, ‘The Buzz’ stood tall for its credibility, balance and truthful showbiz reporting, one that gave the show high ratings and numerous awards. But with the show now taking a much-needed break, viewers can only wonder when and what time will it return.

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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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drama, entertainment, news, Philippines, public affairs, television

Thanks to Ipaglaban Mo, Startalk and Wish Ko Lang Switch Timeslots

The success of the legal drama ‘Ipaglaban Mo’ on ABS-CBN has forced GMA to tweak anew their Saturday lineup, with ‘Wish Ko Lang’ and ‘Startalk’ switching timeslots. (Photo credit: ABS-CBN)

GMA’s weekend programming instability continues.

Last Saturday, the Kapuso network decided to switch the timeslots of ‘Startalk’ and ‘Wish Ko Lang’. As a result, the former now airs at 3:45 p.m. while the latter follows suit.

There is a reason why GMA made another change on Saturday afternoons, and that is the ratings success of ‘Ipaglaban Mo’ on ABS-CBN. Since the legal drama returned to the small screen this past June, it has managed to dominate ‘Startalk’ in both the TNS Kantar and the AGB Nielsen ratings.

This marked ‘Startalk”s third timeslot change this year, compared to only two in their first 18 years. In January, ‘Startalk’ moved to Sunday afternoons in order to compete against ‘Buzz ng Bayan’, only to move back to Saturdays in May following the revival of ‘The Buzz’ and the reunion of Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda.

The latest change now sees ‘Startalk’ airing at a similar timeslot as its rival ‘The Buzz’, only at a different day and on a running time of 45 minutes to an hour. In addition, ‘Startalk’ will now face ‘Failon Ngayon’, another of ABS-CBN’s highly-rated programs.

For ‘Wish Ko Lang’, it marked their third timeslot change in their 12-year history. Typically a late-afternoon program on Saturdays, ‘Wish Ko Lang’ has once moved to early primetime, and now it airs in the mid-afternoon slot.

While ‘Wish Ko Lang’ was a dominant program early in its run, beating similar rivals on ABS-CBN such as ‘Willingly Yours’, ‘Simpleng Hiling’ and ‘Nagmamahal Kapamilya’, the introduction and subsequent success of ‘Failon Ngayon’ saw its viewership numbers gradually decline. Now GMA management can only hope that ‘Wish Ko Lang’ will fare much better against ‘Ipaglaban Mo’.

In all, it was another tweak to GMA’s rather feeble lineup of weekend programs. But it gets even more interesting come this weekend.

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Startalk Moving Back to Saturdays is a Bad Move

The move of ‘Startalk’ back to Saturdays was basically intended to avoid competing against old friends Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda.

Tomorrow, GMA’s long-running showbiz talk show ‘Startalk’ will move back to Saturday afternoons after a near five-month experiment with a Sunday timeslot. However, the return of ‘Startalk’ to the Saturday slot is just one of several moves made by the network’s management in hopes of reinvigorating its weaker weekend lineup, one in which I will discuss in another article.

Now here’s the big question: Did GMA make the right call in moving ‘Startalk’ back to Saturdays, or did they make a serious mistake?

Back in January, ‘Startalk’ was moved to Sundays in order to challenge ABS-CBN’s ‘Buzz ng Bayan’. GMA hoped that the move of ‘Startalk’ to Sundays will give ‘Buzz ng Bayan’, then formerly known as ‘The Buzz’, some serious challenge, as GMA’s previous Sunday showbiz talk shows like ‘S Files’, ‘Showbiz Central’, and ‘HOT TV’ were unable to match the success of ‘The Buzz’.

Then on May 18, the Kapamilya network decided to bring back ‘The Buzz’ in time for the show’s 15th anniversary. In addition, original hosts and ‘Startalk’ alumni Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda returned to host the show, and were joined by Toni Gonzaga. For the first time ever, the two original ‘Startalk’ hosts in Boy and Kris were up against the program they used to host, now with Butch Francisco, Joey de Leon, Ricky Lo and Lolit Solis as the hosts.

But after just two weeks, GMA decided to move ‘Startalk’ back to its familiar Saturday slot, effective May 31. Perhaps it is the fear of getting upstaged by Boy Abunda and Kris Aquino, whose egos are as big as their hosting skills. Or perhaps it is because ‘The Buzz’ had been a consistent ratings winner against ‘Startalk’ in its timeslot, even during the period where some viewers were upset about the format and the hosts of the now-defunct ‘Buzz ng Bayan’. But whatever the reason, ‘Startalk’ seems to be at its best on Saturdays, and for GMA, they seem fine with it.

And while some folks agreed that moving ‘Startalk’ earlier would give them a head-start in reporting the latest showbiz news, the fact is, ‘Startalk”s departure leaves a big hole in GMA’s Sunday afternoon lineup. Not even the upcoming dance show hosted by Marian Rivera, as some of the tabloids have reported, would seriously contend against ‘The Buzz’ or any other Kapamilya show on Sundays.

In short, it was a big mistake for GMA management to place ‘Startalk’ back to the Saturday slot. They not only refused to compete against Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda’s show (in the process surrendering to them too soon), but also left its Sunday afternoon slot prone to ABS-CBN’s consistent dominance.

The decision to move ‘Startalk’ back to Saturdays is something that GMA would like to regret. Instead of giving ABS-CBN a more competitive program, they simply retreated. Where is the ‘Puso ang Una (Heart comes First)’ that the station talks about?

In the end, this only shows that GMA, despite the fact that they are called the ‘Kapuso network’, have little heart whatsoever in making their programs as competitive as possible. Now whether or not ‘Startalk’ will be better off airing on Saturdays remains to be seen. But one thing’s for sure: as long as Boy Abunda and Kris Aquino are with ‘The Buzz’, ‘Startalk’ will never go head-to-head with that said program.

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ABS-CBN Brings Back ‘The Buzz’

Looks like ABS-CBN forgot to use the phrase ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.

As announced this week, the Kapamilya network decided to rename ‘Buzz ng Bayan’ back to ‘The Buzz’. The rebranded program will be hosted by original hosts Boy Abunda and Kris Aquino, and are joined by Toni Gonzaga, who was Boy’s final co-host of the first version of ‘The Buzz’, which ended on October 13, 2013.

The first sign of ‘The Buzz”s return came via Kris Aquino’s Instagram, stating that ‘true love has a habit of coming back’, and mentioning the date ‘May 18, 2014’. Moreover, her recent contract with ABS-CBN also stated that Kris has a list of three programs, two of which (‘Kris TV’, ‘Aquino & Abunda Tonight’) are currently on the air.

Soon after, teasers for the upcoming return of ‘The Buzz’ aired during ABS-CBN’s commercial gaps, as seen in this short video below.

The return of ‘The Buzz’ came at just the right time, as ABS-CBN’s flagship Sunday showbiz talk show enters its 15th year. In addition, the rebrand means that viewers will finally see the long-awaited rivalry between ‘The Buzz’ and GMA’s ‘Startalk,’ which has been halted by ‘Startalk”s initial foray into Saturday afternoons, and the launch of ‘Buzz ng Bayan’.

Despite the fact that ‘Buzz ng Bayan’ earned higher ratings than ‘Startalk’ since the latter’s return to Sundays, it was clear that the audience had a hard time recognizing its concept that emphasized on a panel discussion and audience interaction. And while Carmina Villaroel and Janice de Belen decently played their roles well, viewers were not receptive to them either.

In the end, ABS-CBN decided to bring back ‘The Buzz’ for good reason. The program has had the longevity and the popularity that ABS-CBN’s other showbiz programs never had. And hosts Boy Abunda and Kris Aquino had great chemistry.

In other words, ABS-CBN should have KEPT ‘The Buzz’ rather than reformatting it. ‘The Buzz’ is always an icon and a symbol to the Kapamilya network’s afternoon viewing pleasure, and should never be changed even as it ages.

‘The Buzz’ returns this Sunday afternoon on ABS-CBN.

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