Willing Willie worked up a frenzied entrance last Saturday, October 23.
That day, the once sedate TV5 building along Quirino Highway in Novaliches, Quezon City, was mobbed by a throng that created a great deal of traffic and quite a din. Way after the network's 600-capacity Studio A was closed to the throng, long lines were left waiting at the gates and at least one fan fainted.
The show of Willie Revillame also made it to Twitter's top trending topics. At about 7:30 p.m, more than an hour after the show began, Willing Willie placed fourth in the world rankings. It was an indication that the Kapatid station's primetime offering had become hot topic among Tweeters.
This, at least, points to the strong promise of the TV comeback of the controversial host. Willie and his staff of course know that, hot as they are, controversy also pursues them. They say that the day before the show's debut, they all prayed hard for the favorable decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.
Willie's former home, ABS-CBN, had lodged an urgent petition for the court to release a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the show. But the QC Court found no urgent reason to release its decision before the launch date, saying it was attending to other earlier cases.
FROM WOWOWEE TO WILLING WILLIE. Willie Willie is not a new show—not in the strict sense.
It is Wowowee resurrected in spirit, except that it has entirely new games, new choreography, and bigger prizes which are supposed to be easier to win. But because the host remains Willie, and Willie is his own brand, Wowowee and Willing Willie are kin.
Willie himself says that the newly launched program is the rebirth of Wowowee, the hugely popular noontime show on ABS-CBN that bridged the gap between the network, once more-identified with elite programming, and the Pinoy OFWs and the poor who make up the greater number of the local population.
Wowowee first aired on February 5, 2005. It was an original concept by Willie himself, and it banked on the altruistic theme of giving hope to the poor.
Within a short span, Wowowee began going head-to-head with GMA-7's long-running and seemingly unbeatable noontime show Eat Bulaga! Advertisements also started pouring in, stretching the show to three hours, and turning Willie into a virtual emperor at Kapamilya land.
For along with the show's rising popularity rose Willie's fame, fortune, and power.
He was the regular subject of both good and bad press. He amassed property: several homes of no mean weight; more than a dozen cars all top of the line, except for service cars for staff and bodyguards; two yachts; a chopper, possibly two; and, pretty soon, two buildings, a big one that houses a mall and residential condos and a smaller one that will serve as the home of his new production company, Wil Productions.
No question, of course, that the man worked for it. The regular line said about him, even by Wowowee's director Johnny Manahan, is that he was the first to arrive at the studio and the last to leave. And no wonder, too, that Willie believed he was Wowowee and Wowowee was him.
All these came to an end on May 4, when Willie threatened the executives of ABS-CBN, on air, that he would not appear on Wowowee if they did not kick out a showbiz reporter who had reportedly been hitting him in the tabloids and on Kapamilya radio for at least a year.
Revillame was last seen in Wowowee after May 4. On July 31, his show was replaced with Pilipinas, Win na Win!