After the success of GMA-7's prime-time series Onanay, which ran from August 2018 to March 2019, Nora Aunor returns to television via the remake of her 1989 movie, Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit.
For the first time, Nora top-bills a TV show that is a remake of her movie. This also marks the first time that the Superstar is tapped to lead the cast of an afternoon teleserye.
In the original movie, Nora played both the female leads: Magnolia dela Cruz and Maggie dela Cruz.
This time, Mylene Dizon plays the role of Magnolia, while Kyline Alcantara is tapped to play Maggie.
The creative team and the producers of GMA-7's version of Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit gave Nora a new role in the 2020 remake.
Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit's program manager Anthony Pastorpide told PEP.ph (Philiippine Entertainment Portal) in an exclusive interview how they made sure Nora will still be part of the remake.
According to him, the creative and production staff welcomed the idea of conceiving a character for Nora.
In the end, they decided to use the character Cedes, played by Perla Bautista in the movie.
Pastorpide narrates, "Ang challenge is ano ang gagawin ni Nora kasi sa original, dalawa siya, papaano ano gagawin namin ngayon? Kaya nagdagdag kami ng another layer.
"Meron talaga doon sa original movie na Cedes, si Perla Bautista.
"Tapos, since hindi namin siya malalagay doon sa Magnolia dela Cruz na original niya, so doon namin naisip na dagdagan pa ng another layer, idevelop pa more yung character ng nanay niya sa original movie.
"We come up na meron siyang balat, may iba siyang tatakbuhin na kwento, paano siya magme-mesh ulit doon sa family niya."
Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit premiered earlier today, February 24, in GMA-7's third afternoon slot, replacing Arra San Agustin's Madrasta.
PEP.ph had an interview with Pastorpide during the press conference of Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit on February 11.
NORA AUNOR: REMAKE IN THE AFTERNOON SLOT
According to Pastorpide, they did not have a hard time to get Nora as part of the show when they offered the project to her.
He recalls, "When I told her kung ano yung role niya, na-excite naman siya kasi makikita niya yung ginawa niya dati, pero hindi siya gaganap, iba yung role niya.
"Gusto niya kasi part pa rin siya noong project na dating movie niya.
"Excited siya na alam niya yung story, alam niya yung movie, alam niya yung tatakbuhin as far as the whole project is concerned pero yung detalye, it's all new."
This is also the first time that Nora is seen doing a show for the afternoon slot.
Her past teleseryes since 2002 in all TV networks were shown in the prime-time block, particularly her last two shows: Little Nanay (2015) and Onanay (2018-2019).
The only time she did a daily afternoon program was when she hosted the afternoon drama anthology Modern Romance sa Telebisyon, aired in 1994.
Pastorpide says that the timeslot was not an issue for the Superstar.
He says with a smile, "Unang una nga kasi, bago na ire-remake niya ang movie niya, okay siya. Walang hinihingi na kung anu-ano!
"At si Ate Guy, hindi naman basta basta artista lang dito, alam mo yung hirap din niya na lalagyan mo ng prosthetics, medyo challenge din sa kanya."
Pastorpide, who was also the program manager of defunct Kapuso afternoon dramas My Special Tatay and Hanggang Sa Dulo Ng Buhay Ko, still considers the timeslot of Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit as a challenge, especially since it airs on the third slot.
He says, "Ito yung hindi mo alam kung pagod na manuod ng soap ang afternoon viewer kasi nakadalawa na siya, baka ito na yung naghahanda ng hapnunan, paano mo sila papa-stay-in."
This is the reason why they decided to cast prime-time stars in the show, such as Nora, Mylene Dizon, Zoren Legaspi, Isabel Rivas, Ina Feleo, and Gabby Eigenmann.
They are also introducing the new love team of Kyline Alcantara and Yasser Marta in the series.
They also tapped Ika-6 Na Utos director Laurice Guillen to helm the program.
Pastorpide explains, "Add all the necessary ingredients, ano ba yung mga yun? Trade secret na namin yun sa afternoon!
"So, ano pa pwedeng idagdag doon? That's why you can see from director to cast, kailangan bongga ka. Cast alone, prime-time level na. E, paano pa yung project pa mismo!"