"Some good things never last...," croons Barbara Streisand.
The song is true even for television programs. Given the stiff ratingswar, the life span of boob tube shows often become just a flash in thepan. Once the viewers and advertisers start withdrawing their support,reformat or revamp is the solution for survival.
Only a few shows have successfully cracked the right formula. Some hada strong start, but were unable to keep the momentum. Others leveragedon the talent of the hosts or cast members, but the warm reception ofthe viewers was fleeting. A lot of variables constitute the longevityof a show, and up to now, television networks still practicetrial-and-error and mix-and-match methods to capture a bigger audienceshare and sustain viewers' interest.
How does a show keep up with the ever-changing entertainment trends andtastes of the viewers? While a good concept and a novel gimmick can dothe trick, history has proven that the effects are not for the longterm.
PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) counts the shows that have showntremendous survival instincts in the vast jungle called television.
EAT BULAGA. This noontime show has definitely become a showbiz institution. Eat Bulaga has time and again defied the changing seasons, shifting trends, stiff competition, and a slew of cast changes for 28 years.
The iconic show first saw the light of day on July 30, 1979, airedby Radio Philippines Network or RPN 9. The program's original coreconsisted of comic trio Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon (TVJ).Tapped to support the triumvirate were Chiqui Hollman and Richie Reyesa.k.a. Richie d' Horsie.
It definitely pays to be the first. Eat Bulaga introducedmany innovations and ideas that defined the concept of a variety showin Philippine television. In 1989, the show moved to ABS-CBN after RPNencountered problems brought about by its sequestration.
Right from the start, TAPE or Television and Production Exponents Inc. has been producing Eat Bulaga, making the program independent from the network. It is called a block-timer.
But with the dawning of the ‘90s, television networks saw the needto assert their power and influence as one corporate entity. ABS-CBN'sfallout with Eat Bulagawas triggered when the Lopez-owned corporation tried to exert muscle byproposing to buy the show's airing rights from TAPE. The bid wasrejected outright by its top brass Tony Tuviera and Malou Choa-Fagar.
In response, ABS-CBN made its Sunday variety show, Sa Linggo nAPO Sila, a week-long affair, and in the process, bumped the TVJ-led show from its timeslot. Consequently, Eat Bulaga was adopted by GMA-7, whose own efforts to topple EB with Lunch Date and Salo Salo Together all proved to be in vain.
Eat Bulaga made its debut under GMA-7 on January 21, 1995, via a grand broadcast at the Araneta Coliseum.
Outwardly, the newly christened ‘Sang Linggo nAPO Sila,fronted by the equally legendary musical trio of Jim Paredes, DannyJavier and Boboy Garovillo, seemed an equal match to TVJ. But despiteAPO Hiking Society's musical brilliance, their show succumbed to Eat Bulaga's mastery of the variety show genre, plus the collective force of its cult following.
Through the years, the show introduced and nourished a lot of talentsin show business—newbies who honed their chops and benefited greatlyfrom EB in terms of exposure and mass popularity.
The co-hosts of Tito, Vic, and Joey came and went—Coney Reyes,Christine Jacob, Rio Diaz-Cojuangco, and Toni Gonzaga. But TVJ managedto hold the viewers' interest and fascination. Of course, during thecourse of its phenomenal run, Eat Bulaga alsoexperienced a number of lows, as suggested by some rating slips. Butlike a true-blue veteran, the show has found ways to turn the tide backin its favor without resorting to drastic changes.
The debate on what makes the longest running noontime show inPhilippine television tick has long been put to rest. Critics andobservers say that Eat Bulagahas already been ingrained in every Pinoy's way of life. Add the factthat the masses have always identified with the show. It has indeedconquered the country from Appari to Jolo.
Pinoys here and abroad, and from past to present, have been quotedas saying, "Eat Bulaga baby ako, e," a proud affirmation of the show'slasting legacy in the hearts of its viewers.
MAALAALA MO KAYA. When Maalaala Mo Kaya premieredon primetime television in 1991, ABS-CBN revived a popular old conceptthat originated in radio-dramatizing true-to-life experiences thatpeople wrote in letters they sent in by mail.
Credit the late Helen Vela for making Sunday afternoons weepy for every household around the metropolis through her TV program Lovingly Yours Helen. When the popular host died, she left a void in television viewing.
Enter Charo Santos-Concio, the renowned movie actress who turned network executive.
While Charo may contest being compared to Helen Vela out of respectfor her legacy, it was ABS-CBN's Executive Vice-President who carriedthe heavy cudgels and ushered a new drama program catering to the thenburgeoning TV-celebrity obsessed viewers.
What made Maalaala Mo Kaya survive the test of time? Itsunflinching goal of presenting drama episodes with polished plots,excellent script, and topnotch acting all pulled the heartstrings ofsentimental, nostalgic viewers.
MMK set the standards for short TV drama by transformingrun-of-the-mill storylines into effective drama that could rival atwo-and-a-half-hour movie.
BUBBLE GANG. Filipinos smile and laugh easily in spite oftheir woes. But when it comes to comedy, they're very hard to please.Comedy King Dolphy couldn't have been more correct when he once saidthat Filipinos are innately happy people, but it takes a lot to makethem genuinely laugh.
Perfect timing, comic punchlines, and innovative ways of delivering jokes have made Bubble Gang a cut above the rest.
Inspired by the success of ABC 5's evening gag show Trupong Trumpo,GMA-7 came up with an idea that would turn out to be the longestrunning and perhaps the most successful gag show in local television.Incidentally, Bubble Gang's top mainstays, Ogie Alcasid and Michael V, originally came from Tropang Trumpo.
Debuting in October 1995, Bubble Gang had to go through all the growing pains before achieving enormous success in the field of TV comedy.After years of experimenting, Bubble Gang eventually found its voice and the kiliti of the masses, mainly through spoofs and parodies on events, people, and just about anything in popular Filipino culture.
The show effectively realized the importance of not overdoing a currentpopular segment so as not to wear the concept down. This was apparentwhen the show decided to pull out Ang Dating Doon-a spoof of the religious program, Ang Dating Daan-from its regular segments after it enjoyed tremendous popularity.
Bubble Gang also gave birth to popular characters such as theSexballs, Taong Grasa, Bel Tiongco, Michael Ricketts, to name a few.They also launched popular segments such as the "Myusik Tagalog Bersyonor MTB" where Michael V translates an English song into Tagalogliterally.
This year, Bubble Gang turns 12. And as a treat to the countless viewing fans of the gag show, they're releasing the movie DoSeNa.
THE BUZZ. ABS-CBN's showbiz talk show is obviously keento add more gloss to an already glittery industry like show business.For eight years now—most moms, young women, and teens have reservedtheir Sundays for chika.
Aside from exciting gossip, The Buzz boasts celebrity hostswho make the news. Remember Kris Aquino's "STD" issue? What about herwedding announcement and her visit to James Yap's hometown? And babyJames's baby diary? We all witnessed the highlights of the loquaciousformer host's life on The Buzz.
When Kris left to spend quality time with her family, viewers thoughtthey'd see less controversy, but they were wrong. No less controversialactress Ruffa Gutierrez was officially introduced as the new co-hostlast June 2007. The former beauty queen greeted the country with hermarital woes.
Of course, the show would not be complete without Boy Abunda, thehighly opinionated talent manager-turned-host and Cristy Fermin, aveteran reporter.
Last year, The Buzz successfully beat its long-time rival S-Files, which GMA-7 replaced with Showbiz Central.
STARTALK. For a show that struggled badly during its infancy, it's astonishing that GMA-7's StarTalk is still making loud noise every Saturday.
StarTalk's first airing took place on November 19, 1995. Itsfirst batch of hosts included Boy Abunda, Kris Aquino, and Lolit Solis.At first, the show fared miserably, but it gained ground when exclusivescoops and shocking revelations became part of their weekly showbizmenu. "Da Who" and "Tigbak Authority" segments were also launched,changing the conventional way of showbiz reporting. The program is nowdubbed as the "showbiz authority."
According to Wikepedia, StarTalk's turning point happenedin December 2005 when it made a scoop with the separation of GabbyConcepcion and Jenny Syquia. The alleged reason: wife battery. A stringof exclusive stories soon followed—the Jojo Veloso scandal and RosannaRoces's public admission about her real civil status. This year, one ofits finds, Hope Centeno—the woman who claimed she had an affair withKris Aquino's husband James Yap—became the talk of the town.
One of its original hosts, Kris Aquino, left GMA's fence and consequently, StarTalk. Rosanna Roces's entry to the show in 1997 bolstered StarTalk'scharacter as a talk show. Osang's candid comments and daring outfitsconsistently threw the MTRCB into a fit, which in effect, made theviewers curious and the show victorious.
In contrast to The Buzz, StarTalk's image is louder, confrontational and tabloid-like. It's very masa!
At present, the show is hosted by Butch Francisco, Lolit Solis, Lorna Tolentino, and Joey de Leon.
UNANG HIRIT. For a morning show to last more than fiveyears, its achievement is quite impressive. Why? Because viewers'attention span is short on such an ungodly timeslot. The marketconsists of moms preparing meals for the family or office peoplegetting ready for work.
GMA-7's Unang Hirit made its first appearance in 1999. Fora time, it seemed like it was destined to live under the lurking shadowof its competitor Alas Singko Y Medya. However, being able to find the right balance between serious reportage and a light magazine format, UH effectively turned the competition around, and from then on, managed to sustain its success.
Its tone is light and breezy, just right for a person who has justgotten out of bed. The reportage gives information without intimidatingthe viewers. Its hosts enjoy a tightly knit relationship that can befelt even outside the four corners of the studio. And its fun segmentscater to all age groups, making the versatile show exciting to watch.And let us not forget Unang Hirit's lucky charm Arn-Arn, the puppet who completes the entire package.
ASAP. Kapamilya's ASAP stands for "All-StarAfternoon Party." In line with the shifting direction of televisionprogramming in the ‘90s, the show aligned its concept to thepreferences and tastes of its target market-the youth and the so-called"yuppie" audience.
ASAP's initial telecast took place on February 1995. It waslaunched with veteran performers and a beauty queen—Martin Nievera,Pops Fernandez, Ariel Rivera, and Ms. Universe Dayanara Torres. Withits high-powered production numbers and showdowns, ASAP was able to assert its identity apart from the noontime shows.
But the variety show was not only about its party vibe image. In 1998,Martin tearfully resigned on air, confessing that his marriage withPops was floundering. So many changes have happened ever since.
Today, ASAP intensifies its concept by increasing thevisibility of younger performers, who also serve as co-hosts to Mr.Pure Energy Gary Valenciano and Divine Diva Zsa Zsa Padilla.
SOP. Sunday noontime variety shows drastically changed since German Moreno's GMA Supershow. Gone were the Belle Star Dancers as well as the foggy smoke effects that regularly infiltrated the stage.
GMA-7 launched SOP—meaning "Sobrang Okey, Pare"—in 1997 to compete with ASAP.The interactive musical variety show assembled a few of the country'sbest singers to become the hosts—Regine Velasquez, Cacai Velasquez,Ogie Alcasid, and Janno Gibbs. When Cacai left, Jaya entered the frame,and soon, Lani Misalucha also became part of the group. These singershave earned the show its "concert TV" tagline.
SOP also came out with controversies. For instance, Rufa MaeQuinto, who became a favorite target of the MTRCB because of her daringoutfits; and of course, the controversial couple Ogie Alcasid andRegine Velasquez.
In addition, SOP has served as a playground for GMA-7's growing stable of young talents.
All these shows enjoy success to the hilt. They survived the odds.They have achieved their common goals: to keep viewers updated andentertained. What made them click? The right people, a touch ofartistic creativity, a pinch of foresight, and a huge reserve ofinnovativeness.
And let's not forget the power of luck.