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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.
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Jul 20, 2018

‘THE BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB’ is based on the real life story of wealthy boys in Southern California in the early 1980s who formed an investment company that was actually a get-rich quick pyramid or Ponzi scheme with promises that are just too good to be true. It ended badly when their investor, who turned out to be a conman, swindled them. Five of the preppy members of the club later gained notoriety and faced trial for murder in a much publicized court case.

It was filmed before as a TV movie in 1987 starring Judd Nelson and Brian Mcnamara. The new version stars Ansel Elgort (“Baby Driver”) as the leader, Joe Hunt, with Taron Egerton (“Kingsman”) as his friend, Dean Carny, and Oscar winner Kevin Spacey as the con man, Ron Levin, who ends up being murdered.

The movie was made before Spacey became controversial and a persona non grata in Hollywood because of the sexual harrassment cases filed against by several men. So releasing the movie became problematic after Spacey was fired from Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World” and was replaced by Christopher Plummer.

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AFTER BEING introduced in the horror flick, “Spirit of the Glass 2”, Maxine Medina is now in the cast of two comedy films: “Pinay Beauty (She’s No White)”, an entry in the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, and “Kusina Kings” where she plays the leading lady of comedian Empoy Marquez. She was absent in “Kusina Kings” presscon but she made it to the presscon of “Pinay Beauty”.

So how is it doing comedy this time? “Ay, masaya po. Nag-enjoy ako. Kasi sa first movie ko, nakaka-tense ang mga eksenang takutan, sigawan. Dito, very light lang at talagang nakakatawa ang mga kasama ko.”

When she won as Bb. Pilipinas, she was then on with actor Marx Topacio who supported her all the way. But now, they’ve reportedly broken up. What happened?

“Within one year, ang daming changes sa buhay ko and I realize that, at 28, I’m not getting any younger so dapat mag-focus muna ako sa career ko,” she says. “I really want to make good as an actress and I guess we really need some space muna and love ourselves first para mas ma-appreciate namin ang isa’t isa. Parang we outgrew each other, pero maayos naman kaming nag-break at walang third party involved.”

So there might still be a possible reconciliation? “Well, why not. Friends pa rin naman kami, e. But everything remains to be seen. As of now, iba muna ang priorities namin at pareho kaming maraming ginagawa. Enjoy muna ko sa pagiging single and unattached so I can concentrate sa showbiz career ko muna.”

She says she can relate with the subject matter of “Pinay Beauty” as she herself is one. “As you can see, hindi naman ako mestiza. Noong bata pa ako, I was also bullied, tinutukso akong maitim ako. So I totally agree with the movie’s theme na hindi ka dapat ma-insecure if you’re morena. Hindi mo kailangang magpaputi kasi may sarili nilang ganda ang mga Pinay.”
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Jul 19, 2018

CHAI FONACIER gets her first starring role in "Pinay Beauty (She's No White)". "Pero di pa nagsi-sink in sa isip ko na lead role ako rito," she says at the movie's presscon.

She's a Cebuana actress who first got noticed as Jaclyn Jose’s lesbian daughter, Jude, in last year’s sleeper hit comedy “Patay na si Hesus”, directed by Victor Villanueva, also a Cebuano. She won the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) best supporting actress award for her role in that film.

Actually, she has done another indie film before that, “Miss Bulalacao”, an entry in Cinema One Digitals in 2015. She won best supporting actress but the movie didn’t register well with audiences. In 2016, she did the ToFarm Filmfest entry, “Pauwi Na”, as the daughter of Cherry Pie Picache and Bembol Roco. She then did the 2017 Cinemalaya entry, “Respeto”, for which she won the Eddy Award for best supporting actress in her role as Betchay, the feisty street urchin.

This shows that she may be a beginner but she has already won three best supporting actress awards. She’s now based in Manila but she’s the first to admit that she doesn’t fill the bill of the usual mestiza actresses in local showbiz.

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THE STARS of “The Cure” are understandably having separation anxiety now that their show is about to end and they will soon have their last taping day. One actor who says it's good while it lasted as he really enjoyed doing the show is Mark Herras. “Kakaiba kasi ang role ko rito, bida-kontrabida,” he says. “At ang dami ko ring ginawang action scenes na na-enjoy ko nang husto.”

The same goes for LJ Reyes, who played Katrina, a villain to Jennylyn Mercado in the story who tried to steal Jen’s husband, played by Tom Rodriguez. “We ran for one season and I’ll miss the people I’ve worked with, lalo na si Tita Jane (Jaclyn Jose), from whom I learned a lot while doing the show,” she says. “Marami kasi siyang magagandang kuwento about life na sine-share sa’kin habang naghihintay kami ng take. Masaya siyang kasama. At very professional din. Sayang nga kasi noong una, we’re always together sa tent namin, but ngayon, bihira na kaming magkasama kasi magkaiba na ang taping schedules namin.”

“The Cure” is memorable for her as it’s the first time she played an antagonist to Jennylyn. “Memorable sa akin yung confrontation scene namin kasi naging very physical. Nag-away kami talaga complete with sapakan, sakitan. I’m sure matutuwa ang viewers na finally, nakipagtuos sa’kin si Jen kasi marami na kong atraso sa kanya.”

So did they really hurt each other on cam? “Hindi naman. We were careful. Pinag-usapan muna namin at ni-rehearse kung saan kami kunwari magkakatamaan para realistic ang dating. Dito sa 'The Cure' kami talaga naging close kasi marami kaming eksenang magkasama.”

So what must viewers watch out for in the show’s final week? “Naku, maraming pasabog. Magugulat ang viewers sa malalaking eksena. At siempre, malalaman na nila kung ano o sino yung The Cure sa title, na siyang makakagamot sa mga taong infected sa epidemya caused by an experimental drug na nagdudulot ng monkey virus disease. Siempre, alangan namang matapos ang show na wala palang cure. Ang lungkot naman ng ganoong ending. Kailangan, may hope pa rin after yung mga trahedyang pinagdaanan ng mga tao.”
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Jul 18, 2018

THE CLASSIC SONG OF Aegis, “Halik”, is the now used as the title theme song of ABS-CBN’s newest teleserye starting August 13. This will be replacing Piolo Pascual’s “Since I Found You” with Empoy Marquez, Alessandra de Rossi and Arci Munoz that ran for four months.

The lead stars of “Halik” (whose former title was “Love Will Lead You Back”) are Jericho Rosales, Sam Milby, Yen Santos and Yam Concepcion, supported Amy Austria as Echo’s mom, Hero Angeles, Christian Bables, Precious Lara Quigaman, Lotlot de Leon, Romnick Sarmenta, Cris Villanueva, Allan Paule, Jane de Leon and Almira Muhlach.

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AHRON VILLENA says he’s been in showbiz for 14 years but he has never played a lead role. “I was discovered sa MTB You're D Man talent search in 2004,” he says. “Since then, I did several soaps and movies, pero laging supporting ang role ko, o third wheel. Kaya nagpapasalamat akong nabigyan ako ng chance na magbida rito sa ‘Harry and Patty’ with my good friend, Kakai Bautista.”

Some folks are accusing them of using their personal lives since they were linked before, had a fight, reconciled and were offered to do this movie. “Actually, when I was first informed about it, my reaction was: totoo ba ito? I can’t believe it until mag-meeting na kami and I said, totoo pala. Sa totoo lang, happy naman ako sa what I have achieved in the industry kasi tumagal ako ng ganito playing supporting roles. But dumating itong chance to play a starring role na title role pa, why will I not grab it? Not everyone is given this chance. Maganda rin ang role ko as Harry, mabait pero misteryoso. Yun ang aabangan nyo sa pelikula. Kung bakit siya misteryoso.”

Kakai is his closest female friend now. “Nagsimula ang friendship namin when we did a show sa Japan. Tapos, sa immigration, napagkamalan siyang nanay ko. We became good friends since then.”

He’s 31 and she’s 39, what are the qualities of Kakai that he likes? “Basically, yung she’s a good person. She loves her family, na naibili na niya ng bahay. Maasikaso siya. Kung minsan, galing ako sa gym, sasabihin ko, daraan ako dyan ha. At yun, ipagluluto niya ako. Matalino siya at maabilidad. Mas may mga raket siya at ako pang nagsasabi, sama mo naman ako diyan. Maganda ang boses niya. At makinis siya. Nakita ko na siyang naka-two piece at makinis talaga siya.”

People say he’s “pa-fall” or a teaser. How come he doesn’t woo her seriously? Can he fall in love with her? “Oo naman. Hindi naman ako tumitingin sa panlabas na kaanyuan lang ng isang tao. Mas maganda yung may mabuting kalooban. Pero ayokong magsalita ng patapos. Love can’t be predicted naman, e.”

Do they have a kissing scene in “Harry and Patty”? “Meron, but this is a kid-friendly movie, walang mga labutsingan. More than the kissing scene, mas dapat nyong abangan yung sampalan scene. Naka-six takes yun, so bale six times din niya akong sinampal. Sabi ko, sige lang, walang dayaan. Sumobra naman ang lakas ng pagsampal niya.”

“Eh kasi sobrang intense nung eksena,” says Kakai. “So kailangang itodo para realistic ang dating on screen.”

“Harry and Patty” is directed by Julius Alonzo for Cineko Productions, released by Star Cinema in theaters on August 1.
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NATALIE HART plays Empoy Marquez’s younger sister and Zanjoe Marudo’s leading lady in Star Cinema’s 25th anniversary comedy offering that opens on July 25, “Kusina Kings”. After her sexy and daring performance in “Sin City”, Natalie now goes wholesome in this laughfest which is said to be a passion project of Star Cinema that has been under development for six years now.

“Director Victor Villanueva and Enrico Santos have started this six years ago pa,” says Star Cinema exec Mico del Rosario. “We used to do a lot of comedies na panlalaki ang appeal, pero ang tagal nang wala so nahirapan kami sa casting, until now. Perfect sina Zanjoe Marudo, Empoy Marquez, plus Ryan Bang and the other comedians with them for this kind of male comedy. Puro lalaki sila, with Natalie as love interest ni Zanjoe and Maxine Medina as partner naman ni Empoy.”

How does it feel to be working with a largely male cast? "No problem kasi I have three brothers, so sanay na ako. At nakasundo ko naman agad rito sina Zanjoe and all the actors in the movie."

What can she say that the film has sexual innuendos, like her telling Zanjoe na “matigas pala”, then she added that she’s referring to his muscles? “Okay lang naman yun,” says Natalie, who’s the only girl at the “Kusina Kings” presscon since Maxine failed to show up. “Kapag sobrang clean kasi ng joke, sobrang boring naman. Mas nakakatawa ang dating kapag may double meaning and it’s up na to the audience how they’ll interpret it.”

It seems she’s really now with ABS-CBN as she also has a TV project with them. “Yes, I’m part of the cast ng ‘Blood Sisters’. Then I’m doing two other movies, one with Diether Ocampo, and another one is yung latest remake ng ‘Patayin Mo sa Sindak si Barbara’ where I’ll be playing Barbara. Sa Viva naman, I’m doing another movie with sina Cristine Reyes, Meg Imperial and Kylie Versoza. Pero hindi pa sure kung ano ang title, ‘Abay Girls’ or ‘Beach Wedding’.”

So how is it doing comedy with Zanjoe and Empoy? “Magkaiba naman sila, e. Pati si Ryan Bang, iba rin ang comedy niya. Very physical ang comedy rito at lahat sila, nakakatawa. Kung minsan nga, nade-delay ang shooting, kasi natatawa kaming lahat sa eksena. Thanks to Direk Victor Villanueva who allowed us na mag-contribute kaming lahat sa kabaliwan ng pelikula.”
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Jul 17, 2018

PRESS CONFERENCES during the heydays of local films in the 80s and 90s were light and happy affairs. At Regal then, the late Joey Gosiengfiao used to handle the promo of their movies. We, the invited writers, usually come on the appointed time, then the stars would come in and they quickly join us in our tables so we are able to interview them right away, even before they’re all later assembled at the presidential table for the usual Q&A. It was very convenient and productive. But everything has changed now. Not only has theatre attendance truly gone down as people no longer view the movies as the cheapest form of entertainment like they used to do (it’s now their cellphones where they can readily access social media), but because movie companies have employed events organizers.

Of course, it’s to be expected that these people would make their own “pakulo” for them to earn what the companies are paying them. But honestly, they often only get in the way of the press people who just want to interview the stars of a new movie or show.

What they do now is to collect all the stars first in one holding area while the writers who come to the presscon are waiting aimlessly for the presscon to start, wasting a lot of precious time in the process. The waiting usually takes anywhere from one to two hours, depending on how late some of the stars arrive at the venue. That’s why some writers deliberately come late because they know they’ll just be made to wait anyway.

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EDGAR ALLAN GUZMAN is one actor who has very good PR. He makes it a point to know most press people by name. At the launch of Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, the table of his entry, “Pinay Beauty”, was seated next to our table. Among the members of the cast, he was the only one who bothered to stand and approach us to greet the writers on our table that included Lolit Solis, Ronald Constantino, Allan Diones, Rose Fabregas, Aster Amoyo, among others, prompting them to say that EA really has good PR.

No wonder he’s blessed. He just had an entry in the recent CineFilipino filmfest, “Mata Tapang”, and now he plays the lead role in Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino’s “Pinay Beauty”, the first of the 8 entries to hold a general presscon.

“Nagpapasalamat po talaga ako dahil sunod-sunod ang blessings ko,” he says. “I also just won a number of awards for ‘Deadma Walking’. Tapos, I’m in a regular teleseryes, ‘The Stepdaughters’ sa GMA-7 where I play the role of Froilan, half brother ni Mikael Daez at kasabwat ni Katrina Halili na siyang main contravida in the story. I really cannot complain.”

In “Pinay Beauty”, he plays the role of Migs. “Boyfriend ako rito ni Chai Fonacier, who gets her biggest break here. We’ve known each other for a long time at na-in love ako sa kanya. Para sa akin, ang ganda-ganda na niya. But for herself, hindi pa siya kontento sa beauty niya so kung anu-ano ginagawa niya para gumanda siya, pumuti siya. Martir boyfriend ako rito kasi handa akong suportahan siya sa hangarin niyang magpaganda. Dahil dito, nabaon yung character ko sa utang at nanganib ang buhay ko.”

The film is directed by Jay Abello, a filmmaker from Negros who did indie films like “Namets” and “Ligaw Liham” (both Cinemalaya entries), “Red” with Jericho Rosales (a Cinema One entry) and “Flotsam” with Solenn Heussaff. We ask EA what the message of a film like “Pinay Beauty” can be?

“Sa totoo lang, very valid ang message ng movie about people na hindi makontento sa sarili nila. It says na dapat, kung ano ang blessing na binigay sa’yo ni Lord, makontento ka na at maging proud ka. Mas marami pang paraan para mapaganda ang sarili mo, lalo na ang character mo, not just your physical appearance.”
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DONNALYN BARTOLOME was victimized by intruders who belong to an Akyat-Bahay Gang in “Cry No Fear” with Ella Cruz. Now, she is a victim of rapists-murderers in “Jacqueline Comes Home, The Chiong Story”, which is now showing in theaters nationwide, along with Meg Imperial. So how is it being raped, even if only for the camera?

“Siempre, kinakabahan ako kasi first rape scene ko ito, e,” she says. “I told our director, Isabelle Peach Caparas, about my apprehensions, and she assured me naman na they’ll be careful. And in fairness, naging maingat ang rapist ko sa movie, si Ryan Eigenmann.”

So she didn’t feel she’s sexually harassed at all? “No, walang ganun. But during the take, I felt the pain nung mga babaeng ni-rape. Habang sumisigaw-sigaw ako sa eksena, I realized ganito pala ang ginawa sa kanila, dun sa victims na Chiong sisters. E, siempre, babae ako kaya naka-identify ako. Kaya lahat ng mga sigaw at iyak ko sa eksena, totoo lahat yun. Hindi fake. Hindi ko ma-imagine kung sa akin mangyayari yon. When Direk Peach said cut na, I really cried. Sobrang sakit para sa akin na may ganoong nangyari sa totoong buhay dito sa mundo natin.”

So her acting is pang-award? “Sana po, pati si Meg Imperial who played my Ate Jacqueline. Napakahusay rin niya rito. We really gave our best.”

The movie had its premiere night at SM Megamall last Monday and everyone who saw it are praising her and Meg’s performances as the tragic Chiong sisters. What advice can she give to young women to avoid such tragedies?

“Siempre, my advice is mag-ingat sila lagi. Ibang panahon ngayon, maraming masasamang tao so buti na yung always be careful. Ako nga, very protective sa mga kapatid ko kapag lumalabas kami. Ayokong nawawala sila sa paningin ko.”

How is it working with Meg as her sister and with a new director like Peach Caparas? “Si Meg, napakabait niya. Big achievement sa’king makasama siya kasi dati napapanood ko lang siya sa TV, sa movie. She’s very good to me kahit may karapatan siyang magtaray sa’kin. Si Direk Peach, hip and cool sa set. Millennial din kasi siyang gaya namin ni Meg at hindi nagkakahuli ang mga edad namin, so we can really relate with each other.”

Viva seems to like her a lot since she was just seen in “Cry No
Fear” and now she has a quick followup with “Jacqueline Comes Home”. She seems to have left Ella Cruz behind. “Ay, nakakaloka naman yang ganyang comments. That’s not true. Matagal na si Ella sa showbiz dahil child star pa siya. Beginner lang po ako. Itong ‘Jacqueline Comes Home’, kailan lang din naman ginawa at nagulat din ako kasi ipapalabas na agad. Kasi in time daw roon sa 21st anniversary ng krimeng pinapakita rito na nangyari noong June 16, 1997.”
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