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No Surprise: Aljur Abrenica Joins ABS-CBN

It was a transfer three years in the making.

On Monday, July 31, former GMA contract artist Aljur Abrenica officially joined ABS-CBN in a deal that was of no surprise to everyone. Welcoming him on the Kapamilya camp are ABS-CBN executives and producers Laurenti Dyogi, Deo Endrinal and Cory Vidanes.

A GMA contract artist and a ‘StarStruck’ alumnus for 11 years, Aljur’s tenure with the network has had some ups and downs. While the early part of his career was a fruitful one with a few successful projects, the last few years saw his stock drop dramatically.

In 2014, Aljur filed a petition to rescind his contract with GMA Network in hopes of restarting his career. Although Aljur and GMA settled the dispute nearly two years later, it was clear that his popular appeal was waning.

Proof of that was Aljur’s final GMA project ‘Once Again’. Paired alongside Janine Gutierrez, Aljur’s swan song turned out to be a bust, as ‘Once Again’ lasted only 59 episodes and was completely overwhelmed by the LizQuen-starred ‘Dolce Amore’.

Aljur was given no further projects by the network following the failure of ‘Once Again’, and his contract officially expired in March 2017. A few months later, speculation run rampant when Aljur suddenly appeared inside the ABS-CBN compound, hinting at the possibility of joining the network.

Although Aljur has yet to ink an exclusive contract with ABS-CBN, the network said a few projects and appearances are lined up for the actor. That said, it is likely that Aljur will be seen on ABS-CBN noontime shows ‘It’s Showtime’ and ‘ASAP’, and talk shows such as ‘Tonight with Boy Abunda’ while his upcoming projects are being planned.

There is also a possibility that Aljur and brother Vin will be seen together, but that will be for another time. In any case, Aljur’s decision to join the network should help resurrect his career, given that ABS-CBN has had a reputation of reviving an artist’s declining fortunes.

It remains to be seen if Aljur will be the latest in a series of Kapamilya reclamation projects, but with the right mindset, he could be on the path back to success. Good luck.

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Legally Blind Concludes This Friday

So long, ‘Legally Blind’.

The finale of this tension-filled GMA Afternoon Prime drama will air tomorrow afternoon, 83 episodes after the story of blind lawyer Grace (Janine Gutierrez) began. But while its episode total is more than enough by typical teleserye standards, ‘Legally Blind’ proved to be anything but a success.

When ‘Legally Blind’ first premiered, it had to face stiff competition against ABS-CBN’s ‘The Better Half’, an equally dramatic series starring Shaina Magdayao, Carlo Aquino, JC de Vera and Denise Laurel. While the former earned some victories against the latter, on average, ‘The Better Half’ scored 15%, 2-3% better than ‘Legally Blind’.

On April 24, 2017, ABS-CBN premiered another kabitserye in ‘Pusong Ligaw’, which stars Beauty Gonzalez, Bianca King, Joem Bascon and Raymond Bagatsing. But instead of replacing ‘The Greatest Love’ in its vacated timeslot, the network decided to place ‘Pusong Ligaw’ opposite ‘Legally Blind’.

As it turned out, ‘Pusong Ligaw’ became even more dominant than ‘The Better Half’ was in its original timeslot. A new opponent spelled doom for ‘Legally Blind’, as ‘Pusong Ligaw”s 18% average ratings were 4-5% better than the former.

It also didn’t help that viewers who watch the surprisingly successful lead-in drama ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ failed to turn out in droves to support ‘Legally Blind’ on a majority of occasions. Such is the cruel fate for GMA’s teleseryes.

Still, for Janine Gutierrez, ‘Legally Blind’ turned out to be a much better outing for her than the short-lived series ‘Once Again’. Notwithstanding its shortcomings in the ratings, its 83-episode run was nothing to be ashamed of.

The finale of ‘Legally Blind’ should be a very gripping one. Now that Grace (Janine) has regained her sight, will justice finally prevail, or will she end up behind bars?

Viewers can only hope that this impending finale will make a lasting impression. This is ‘Legally Blind”s last chance to stand out, and they look to go out with a bang.

UPDATE: For some unknown reason, GMA extended ‘Legally Blind’ for another two weeks. Thus its finale will now be aired on Friday, June 30.

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A New Opponent for The Better Half One Week Into Its Run

After only five episodes, ‘The Better Half’ finds itself with new competition.

The now-ongoing ABS-CBN afternoon drama series premiered last Monday against the GMA Afternoon Prime series ‘Hahamakin ang Lahat’. As it turned out, however, ‘The Better Half’ did not have enough time to warm up, as GMA announced that ‘Hahamakin ang Lahat’ would end during that week.

Nevertheless, ‘The Better Half’ premiered strongly with a 16.8% national rating, which is 3.1% higher than ‘Hahamakin ang Lahat”s 76th episode. While figures for the remainder of the week remain unavailable at the moment, it is safe to say that ‘The Better Half’ got the best of the departing ‘Hahamakin ang Lahat’.

Next up for Shaina Magdayao, Carlo Aquino, Denise Laurel and JC de Vera will be the upcoming GMA afternoon drama series ‘Legally Blind’. The series will mark the return of Janine Gutierrez to the small screen, several months after starring in the ill-fated primetime series ‘Once Again’ with Aljur Abrenica.

In ‘Legally Blind’, Grace (Janine) is an aspiring lawyer who lost her sight after she was raped by an unknown culprit. After successfully earning her stripes as a lawyer, she met Edward (Mikael Daez), a rich businessman who not only helps her in the search for justice, but also falls in love with her.

Along the way, Grace’s plans will be put to the test by people who doubt and despise her. Whether it’s her envious younger sister Charie (Lauren Young) or her ex-boyfriend Joel (Rodjun Cruz), Grace’s hopes for attaining justice will not be easy.

The series will also star Lauren Young, Marc Abaya, Rodjun Cruz, Chanda Romero, Therese Malvar, Lucho Ayala, Ashley Rivera and Camille Torres. It will be directed by Ricky Davao.

For the rest of the first quarter and deep into the second, ‘The Better Half’ and ‘Legally Blind’ will go up against each other. But for the latter, beating the former will not be easy given its potential track record after just five episodes.

That said, GMA’s brass can only hope that Janine Gutierrez will redeem herself after a so-so performance in her last series. For ‘Legally Blind’, it is all about finding the right formula for Janine to thrive on.

‘Legally Blind airs weekdays after ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ on GMA Afternoon Prime.

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FTT Year 2016 in Review: The 20 Stories That Define the Year in Media (Part I)

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2017, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article looks back at the 20 moments that define the Philippine media this year.

Here is Part I of the four-part series. These stories are arranged in no particular order.

The Return of Tawag ng Tanghalan

‘It’s Showtime’ was on the brink of waving the white flag when rival ‘Eat Bulaga”s Kalyeserye segment (starring AlDub) became wildly popular in the second half of 2015. So in order to get back on track, they decided to revive a singing competition that was successful in the era of black and white television.

Thus on the second day of 2016, ‘Tawag ng Tanghalan’ was brought back as a segment of ‘It’s Showtime’. The segment would set the tone for ‘It’s Showtime”s renaissance, as it recaptured the ratings lead from ‘Eat Bulaga’ by the third week of January.

Speaking of ‘Eat Bulaga’…

Kalyeserye Concluded, Revived, Then Concluded Again

The long-running Kalyeserye segment had been on a roll since its debut on July 16, 2015. Unfortunately, the return to form of ‘It’s Showtime’, coupled by the presumed seven-month suspension of Paolo Ballesteros (a.k.a. Lola Tidora) and fans’ apparent frustration over repetitive and predictable storylines, led to a decline in popularity for the segment.

Along the way, Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza took time off to record and promote the film ‘Imagine You and Me’. With the desire to push the duo to new territory, ‘Eat Bulaga’ decided to end Kalyeserye on September 3, although they revived the skit from October 15 to December 17 with a new chapter.

Both Alden and Maine are scheduled to star in the upcoming GMA teleserye ‘Destined to Be Yours’ beginning next year, putting Kalyeserye’s future in doubt.

KathNiel, LizQuen and JaDine’s Reign on Primetime Continues

ABS-CBN’s ‘Big Three’ love teams continued to roll in 2016. The year began with ‘Pangako Sa ‘Yo’, starring Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, reigning on the 8:40 timeslot, followed by its replacement ‘Dolce Amore’, starring Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil, which debuted on February 15.

Unfortunately, although James Reid and Nadine Lustre began the year with the highly successful ‘On the Wings of Love’, they failed to keep the momentum going when ‘Till I Met You’ premiered on August 29 to a rather lukewarm reception in the ratings. As a result, on September 19, ABS-CBN moved the series’ timeslot to 9:30 p.m., which eventually paid off.

But for every successful pairing, there are some love teams that did not click at all, as seen in this next entry.

AnBie, AlNine and ElNella: The Lost Love Teams

Barbie Forteza and Andre Paras were paired in the long-running afternoon drama ‘The Half-Sisters’, which finally came to an end on January 15. Two weeks later, they received a primetime push with ‘That’s My Amboy’, but the series ended in late April with just 68 episodes and little fanfare.

Its successor, Aljur Abrenica and Janine Gutierrez’s ‘Once Again’, did not even come close, clocking at only 59 episodes from May to July. Over at ABS-CBN, Janine’s ex-boyfriend Elmo Magalona was paired with Janella Salvador in ‘Born for You’, but the series made little impact either, lasting 65 episodes from June to September.

It remains to be seen if the three love teams will have a chance to redeem themselves next year. But in the meantime, let’s move on.

Sexy Time in 2016

The trend towards sensually mature programs continued in 2016. On ABS-CBN, ‘Pasion de Amor’, ‘Tubig at Langis’ and ‘Magpahanggang Wakas’ stood out, with Coleen Garcia, Ellen Adarna, Arci Muñoz, Isabelle Daza and Cristine Reyes emerging to showcase their newfound abilities in a more raunchy setting.

Over on GMA, ‘Sinungaling Mong Puso’, ‘The Millionaire’s Wife’ and ‘Hahamakin ang Lahat’ provided a new dimension for stars Rhian Ramos, Andrea Torres and Joyce Ching to show their chops. But perhaps their greatest contributions were ‘Juan Happy Love Story’ and ‘A1 Ko Sa ‘Yo’, both of which feature a mix of comedy and sensuality.

If 2016 set the tone for more sexual themes with SPG ratings all over the place, then what else is in store come 2017? Find out soon.

In the meantime, Part II of this four-part series is coming up tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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Farewell, Dolce Amore

ABS-CBN is calling tomorrow’s episode of ‘Dolce Amore’ ‘ The Most Beautiful Finale’.

And why not? After all, for over seven months, viewers were enthralled by the long-distance love story surrounding Tenten (Enrique Gil) and Serena (Liza Soberano). Their relationship may have some highs and lows as the story wore on, but come this Friday, all of that ‘kilig’ will finally pay off for good.

‘Dolce Amore’ first burst into the scene on February 15, replacing another hit drama in ‘Pangako Sa ‘Yo’. The series, which was taped in Italy early in its run, became an immediate hit, and in the process, dispelled the notion that LizQuen were a ‘one-hit wonder’ on television.

Along the way, ‘Dolce Amore’ prevailed against GMA’s own love teams in AnBie (Andre Paras and Barbie Forteza of ‘That’s My Amboy’) and AlNine (Aljur Abrenica and Janine Gutierrez of ‘Once Again’). As a result of ‘Dolce Amore”s thorough domination, GMA gave up the fight and placed the Koreanovela ‘Descendants of the Sun’ as a last resort.

Overall, ‘Dolce Amore’ lasted 137 episodes, which is ten episodes more than the combined total of rivals ‘That’s My Amboy’ (68 episodes) and ‘Once Again’ (59 episodes).  This was a testament to the success and enduring popularity of the LizQuen tandem, not to mention the storytelling magic of Cathy Garcia-Molina.

As ‘Dolce Amore’ enters its finale tomorrow night, one thing is certain. For the last time in the series, the magic of LizQuen will be on display, and viewers hope that this will be a memorable and unforgettable ending.

While tomorrow will be the end of the love story between Serena and Tenten, the story of LizQuen will go on. An upcoming film starring the love team is in the works, and is expected to be released later this year.

Coming up next on ABS-CBN’s Primetime Bida will be ‘Till I Met You’, starring another popular love team in JaDine (James Reid and Nadine Lustre). More on that tomorrow.

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GMA Koreanovela to Oppose Dolce Amore

The high cost of running ‘Encantadia’ is currently felt throughout GMA Telebabad.

As director Mark Reyes earlier revealed, ‘Encantadia”s production budget is ‘roughly equal to two primetime shows or three non-primetime shows‘. As a result of these huge expenses, GMA was left with no choice but to resort to two Koreanovelas as a cheap alternative on their Telebabad block over producing another local drama.

One of these Koreanovelas happen to be the next opponent of ABS-CBN’s ‘Dolce Amore’. The latter series, starring Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil, has given GMA a lot of problems, having defeated ‘That’s My Amboy’ and the short-lived ‘Once Again’ by big margins.

It is clear to GMA that they can no longer beat the more popular tandems of ABS-CBN. With that in mind, their only course of action now is to stop chasing either LizQuen, KathNiel (Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla) and JaDine (James Reid and Nadine Lustre), and air a Koreanovela in its place, which is exactly what they’ll do tonight.

Enter ‘Descendants of the Sun’, the hit Korean drama that starred Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo. The series’ plot revolves around a love story between a doctor and a soldier stationed within Greece and the Balkans.

‘Descendants of the Sun’ ran for 16 episodes in its native Korea. In the Philippines, however, it is expected to air for roughly 20-25 episodes, which is still a typically short run for a GMA Koreanovela.

The other Koreanovela in question is ‘The Healer’, which unlike ‘Descendants of the Sun’, will only air three times a week. The series will star Ji Chang-wook, Park Min-young and Yoo Ji-tae.

In its native Korea, ‘The Healer’ ran for 20 episodes. This equates to roughly 30 episodes once it airs in the Philippines.

As two Koreanovelas permeate the Telebabad lineup, GMA is now feeling the sting of frustration. After the rough start that the new ‘Encantadia’ endured, it won’t be long before GMA admits its mistake of investing heavily on the fantaserye over more important projects (e.g. digital and high-definition broadcasts).

That said, two Koreanovelas on Telebabad could only be a short-term solution to compensate for the heavy expenditures of ‘Encantadia’. But as far as GMA is concerned, these two may not be enough to solve its ratings and broadcast issues.

‘Descendants of the Sun’ airs after ‘Encantadia’, while ‘The Healer’ airs after ‘Juan Happy Love Story’ on GMA Telebabad.

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