Willie Revillame really wants to be the producer of his own show. This is one huge reason, among many, that he gives for inking his multimillion-peso deal with Manny V. Pangilinan's TV5.
His own newly established company, Wil Productions, will co-produce his upcoming two-hour game show on TV5, Willing Willie, which he openly admits will have a lot of Wowowee in it.
The controversial host, indefatigable when talking about his primetime show, does hype: "Pero mas maganda ito, mas maraming premyo na mas malalaki, mas maraming matutulungan, mas maraming mapapasaya!"
Explaining the business arrangement to PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal), in an exclusive September 17 interview, Willie says: "The technical side—the studio, operation, lights, sound, stage, the security, sa kanila. Pero akin 'yong production people, 'yong creative, the director, dancers, prizes."
The show is given a set monthly budget by TV5 which runs into the millions, explains Wil Production's Business Unit Head Jay Montelibano, 48-year-old veteran of such shows as Eat Bulaga! and Magandang Tanghali Bayan, where he first worked with Willie in 1998.
Willing Willie's budget covers the set and its infrastructure, salaries of the crew, the games' logistics, unsponsored prizes, salaries of the dancers and all the other staff—excepting Willie's salary. The star of the show is given a separate budget by the network.
Whatever savings are made on the show's budget go to Wil Productions. These savings then go to a "kitty," adds Jay, and will eventually be distributed among the staff.
Essentially, Jay notes, "The bigger the staff position, the bigger the share of the pie, but everyone, including the seamstresses and the laundrywoman and the utility, will share."
Pressed by PEP for more information on the business deal between the two camps, Jay smiles and says TV5 is "a generous partner."
Indeed, according to Jay, their deal allows for this: "At the end of every year, whatever the earnings of TV5 over and above the target income, will be split evenly between Wil Productions and TV5."
In Wil Productions, Willie has for his partners: Viva boss Vic del Rosario, mistakenly referred to as Willie's "manager" in an official TV5 press release ("I have no manager," Willie clarifies); and well-known lawyer Alfonso "Boy" Reyno, whom Willie describes to us as "ang father-in-law ni Vicky Morales," referring to the GMA-7 anchor and host.
Willie says, "Ako ang CEO and chairman, Boss Vic is the president, and my legal is Atty. Boy."
It was in Atty. Reyno's Forbes Park residence that the September-7 contract signing between Manny V. Pangilinan and Willie Revillame took place. "Gusto 'ata ni MVP ang number 7, suwerte raw sa kanya at sa business, parang ganun," Willie mentions.
TV5 and Wil Productions signed a three-year contract.
MANY, MANY PLANS. During the interview with PEP, Willie's face would visibly light up at the mention of his latest venture.
As he puts it, "This is what I want talaga—to produce my own show. Kumbaga, ito na 'yong pinakagusto kong gawin, e. Gusto kong magpasaya at magbigay ng hope, pag-asa sa kanila."
But he says that Willing Willie is only a prelude of things to come.
The star, who turns 50 on January 27, 2011, says his immediate plans include producing a show that will discover talents. He doesn't have to be in the show, he adds, but he definitely wants to be its producer.
He enthuses, "We're hoping that by February, meron na kaming pinaplanong bago. With another production [outfit], gagawin yung Born to be a Star. Gusto ko bigyan ng break yung mga bata, yung mga nangangarap, 'tapos parang Sarah Geronimo, parang Charice Pempengco.
"The concept of the Born to be a Star is may category ang mga bata, may binatilyo, at meron din siyempre yung mga nangangarap. Dito, paglabas mo sa camera, star ka na kaagad. We will treat you like a star. So it's to up you if you wanna be a star..."
Then he's going up against Sharon Cuneta's Star Powerof ABS-CBN, which has a similar concept?
Willie answers, "Wala pa naman. Inaayos pa schedule, pero hindi naman ako magho-host nito. I just wanna produce that, para mabigyan ng break ang mga bata. Siguro kung maraming shows na ganyan, mas maraming mabibigyan ng break...
"Di ba, di naman lahat sa isang show makukuha mo [o] ma-accommodate mo? So if may three, four na ganyang [show], better! Meron at merong makukuhang talent."
The noontime show that made him famous, Wowowee, became a hit among subscribers of ABS-CBN's TFC (The Filipino Channel). Can he pull off his grand plans now that he has virtually no exposure abroad?
"Well, wala na..." he admits, but comes back with, "Pero I've talked to Atty. Ray Espinosa [president and CEO of TV5] during our contract signing with MVP. He told me na we'll have that early next year!
"So, I assume, maglo-launch sila ng international...ng TV5 international, which is, siyempre, napag-usapan na namin. Magtutulungan kami dun. We will do that, e, ilang months na lang naman yun."
INVESTMENTS IN THE OFFING. Prior to the birth of Wil Productions, Willie bought land to the tune of P47 million, just across the ABS-CBN studio entrance. This is where his Wil Tower Mall, a 38-story condominium and commercial establishment, will rise.
A joint venture with Senator Manny Villar, the tower's groundbreaking ceremony took place on May 13, 2009. It was attended by ABS-CBN top brass. They included the network's president Charo Santos-Concio, television head Cory Vidanes, entertainment production head Linggit Tan, Star Magic boss Johnny Manahan, and business unit head Bobot Mortiz. His former co-hosts in Wowowee—Pokwang, Mariel Rodriguez, and Valerie Concepcion—were also in attendance.
After Willie left ABS-CBN—undoubtedly, the network that made him a very rich man—rumors floated that the construction of his multimillion-peso Wil Tower Mall would no longer push through.
Willie now assures the public, "Natuloy na...Tinatayo na para may konting ano naman...Kasi they thought, di matutuloy. Nag-start na kami mag-pouring [ng cement] sa September 25...'Yong maglalagay na kami ng pundasyon. Yung first pouring kasi, may seremonya."
Beside the tower mall is where Willie plans to build his steel-cement-and-glass Wil Network. "Magtatayo ako ng sarili kong studio. Maybe after two years, meron na. Ita-transfer ko din 'yong [Willing Willie] show, e.
"Ang magiging ka-partner ko dun ay si MVP. Nag-usap na rin kami."
How does it feel to have his future building right across ABS-CBN, his home for nearly 12 years, or half of his showbiz existence?
He replies, with a trace of fatigue, "Well, e, ganun talaga. Siyempre, hindi naman ito because may competition, it's business. This is my business side, the Wil Tower Mall and my network.
"Siyempre, I bought that dahil may mga dreams din ako, may mga pangarap, at meron din akong mga taong gustong tulungan na makapagtatrabaho sa building na 'yan, sa studio na 'yan. So yun ang mga gusto kong gawin..."
Given all his plans, it almost seems like the breach of contract case—filed against him by the Kapamilya station last September 16 at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court—is farthest from his mind. What are his lawyers saying?
He gives what is now his standard spiel when the court case is brought up: "Ang sabi ng mga lawyers ko, pag meron nagtanong sa iyo regarding that, sila ang tawagan. Kaya sila na lang ho ang tawagan niyo. I don't know about that dahil sila na yun."
PERSONAL LIFE. More work means less time for other things, so before the launch of Willing Willie, the host plans to see his doctor.
The 24-year-showbiz veteran, who has been away from the cameras since May 5 of this year and has developed a visible paunch, says, "Magpapa-checkup ako. I feel, mag-i-start na ako, [kailangan] nagpapakundisyon."
It may be recalled that in July 2008, Willie made several trips to the hospital because, in his words, "may ulcer," "may scar yung intestine," "may nana yung colon," and "yung puso ko, may blocked na isang ugat."
His numerous problems have convinced him to draft his will.
If something happens to him now, he says, the will shall leave him worry-free about his kids. He has four children: the 27-year-old Meryll (with Bec-Bec Soriano), the four-year-old Juan Emmanuel (with Liz Almoro), the 21-year-old LA, and the six-year-old Marimonte Chanel (the latter two with non-celebrities).
"Oo, gagawa ako ng will... 'yong will na 'yan, gusto ko pantay-pantay. Siyempre anak ko yun, dugo ko 'yan, sa akin nanggaling 'yan, so hindi ako pupuwedeng si Meryll lang. Si Meryll naman ay very understanding 'yan. Kaugali ko 'yan, di ba?"
He adds, "Hati-hati ang trato ko sa mga anak ko. Si Meryll kasi, binigyan ko ng bahay, e. Pero... kapag patay na ako, hindi ko na alam ang mangyayari diyan, hindi ba?"
Happy to share the latest about his kid, Juamee, Willie says he has finally spent time with his only son.
"Di ba dapat babalik ako ng July 31 sa Wowowee? Mas maganda ang naging kapalit, kasi nakasama ko si Juamee. 'Yong anak ko, ipinadala sa akin. At nakasama ko pa 'yong apo ko, si Elijah. So, pumunta kami sa Shangri-La [mall], nilibot ko, ibinili ko [ng gamit]," he says.
He explains that a "sister-in-law," who happens to be a friend of Liz Almoro, put in the request for Willie. "Sila 'yong nag-usap. 'Tapos sabi niya [Liz], parang pumapayag siyang pag bumalik ako sa Wowowee, puwedeng manood si Juamee. E, hindi natuloy [ang Wowowee]. Sa akin, at least, nagkaroon naman ako ng time na makasama ko 'yong bata."
Spending time with his son seems like the utmost luxury for the businessman-producer-host, who has been separated from Liz since 2006. Liz invoked Republic Act 9262, or the "Anti-Violence against Women and their Children Act of 2004" law, to prohibit Willie from going near his son or even mentioning the boy's name in his TV shows.
In 2007, Willie and Liz became friends again for Juamee's sake. And although Liz's case accusing Willie of violence was eventually dismissed by the court, Willie has been unable to visit Juamee on a regular basis.
Willie says he hopes time will eventually heal the wounds: "It's only time na magpapabago ng lahat. At 'yong galit, mawawala sa panahon na tama."
Does he have time for love?
"Meron ba?" he asks with a naughty smile. Then, typically Willie, adds lines that to him are light and funny but which perenially get him into trouble with the women's movement: "Wala... In the service of the Filipino women tayo. Basta, in the service ako, any time. One text away, I'll be there para mag-enjoy."
PEP makes the mistake of following up with how many girlfriends he has, triggering more irreverent quips that are sure to get him into more trouble.
"Wala. Wala. Kung sinong available," he says, then quips, "kumpleto ang one week, may pang-holiday..."
More than seven?
He replies, laughing, "No, six-and-a-half."
But when the topic shifts back to his goals, he turns serious.
"Kung ano man ang meron ako, nakuha ko, naipon ko, isi-share ko sa kanila 'yon, dahil hindi ko madadala sa libingan ko. I'll give it to them.
"Tutal, ang mga anak ko naman, magiging establisado na rin 'yan. May inilaan na ako sa kanila, hindi naman magugutom ang tiyan nila. So, 'yong sobra ibabahagi ko na sa mga taong kapus-palad," he says seriously.