Mr. M and ‘A Night of 100 Stars’

Starmaker Mr. M (Johnny Manahan) must be gearing to direct a film for GMA Films of the Kapuso Network. Or he has done one, though it’s still under wraps.

We’re sure you know that Mr. M has been working as a consultant executive for the EDSA-based network for more than a year now, after leaving ABS-CBN and followed by a brief stint with TV5. 

For all we know, the film that Manahan will do, or has quietly done, can trigger the Pinoys to swarm back to the movie houses and not get stuck on their Netflix, Vivamax and other streaming platforms.

We got suspicious about Mr. M helming a movie for GMA Films when we told one of Mr. M’s staff at the Kapuso network that television is what really sustains Pinoy entertainment these days, and no longer the movies. 

“Just you wait, we’ll soon have the press invited for a movie project,” the staff blurted to us. We were on the network’s Studio 7 for the media huddle for Sparkle Goes to Canada, a two-night concert in April of three top love teams of the network, to be directed by Mr. M. The staff and I knew each other since his ABS-CBN days.

On the other hand, the six Sparkle stars revealed at the huddle that they have been rehearsing their production numbers quietly for five months now. And they have never told any nosey showbiz journos and vloggers about those rehearsals. How obedient of them to management instructions! 

If they could “hide” a major project like a group concert abroad, that means they could be mum, too, about a movie they are doing — or have done — with Mr. M, who has helmed several films for ABS-CBN’s Star Cinema, aside from sitcoms and the Sunday musical variety, ASAP.

(FROm left) Ruru Madrid, Bianca Umali, Rayver Cruz, Julie Anne San Jose, Barbie Forteza and David Licauco. | photographs by Analy Labor for the Daily Tribune

The six Sparkle stars going to Canada next month are the love teams of Julie Anne San Jose and Rayver Cruz, Bianca Umali and Ruru Madrid, and that of Barbie Forteza and David Licauco. 

Mr. M is an amazing old man. He turned 77 last month. At the media huddle for the Sparkle Goes to Canada, he stood erect and towering at more than six feet (in literal height) and calmly replied to queries from the media. 

The Canada concerts will be on 5 April at Southview Alliance Church in Calgary and on 7 April at the Toronto Pavilion.

Misunderstood Rayver Cruz

Some netizens must dislike Rayver Cruz a lot. A few days after he and San Jose cheerily attended that mediacon about their Canadian gig, Cruz got the flak from netizens for touching his girlfriend’s hair in their livestream session together. It’s a habitual playful gesture of endearment between them as sweethearts but some rascal netizens insist that Cruz physically hurt San Jose. 

Cruz asserted that he would not hurt his girlfriend in any way because he fully loves her, he was well brought up by his mother and he respects his showbiz colleagues too much so he wouldn’t do anything that could put their ranks to shame.

During that livestream, Cruz also playfully answered a query from a fan how they usually prepare for their scenes together, such as for a concert or a duet as mainstays in the GMA 7 show All-Out Sundays. He cited what they do as a group and even during rehearsals. They form a circle, hold hands, close their eyes, feel each other’s presence and blurt out to each other, “Yeah, let’s do this, Brad!” He said it with all gusto and cheer and with so much laughter.

Some perhaps extremely serious netizens with overwhelming self-esteem seem to have found Cruz’s answer uncouth. They shot back by accusing him of being high from drugs or alcohol. They strongly advised the actor to go see a doctor.

On the other hand, San Jose, on her Instagram, lashed at her boyfriend’s bashers to stop accusing Cruz of being drug- or alcohol-crazed for his hyper behavior. She really didn’t say anything anymore about the hair touching by Cruz, a proof that she is used to it.

As of this writing, Cruz has dashed a letter of apology on his Instagram to one and all who were offended by his hyper behavior but firmly maintained he had no intention to offend and he was just being himself.

Reunion of stars

The flak-throwing on Cruz almost overshadowed the positive events that transpired in a tribute party that the stars, whom Mr. M molded through ABS-CBN’s Star Magic talent development and management, surprised him with at a posh hotel. Manahan headed that ABS-CBN division (which he co-founded) for almost three decades.

JOHNNY Manahan

At the party, Bea Alonzo and Julia Barretto practically kissed and made up. They previously tangled thru social media after Gerald Anderson “ghosted” Alonzo in favor of Barretto. Anderson was not at Mr. M’s party though, so he missed a “historic” sight.

Who turned up instead was Barretto’s ex, Joshua Garcia. That accidental reunion occurred while Barretto was chatting with Charo Santos. Barretto espied Garcia passing by, smiled at her ex and opened her arms to hug him. Garcia accepted the hug and smiled back to Barretto. 

No, he didn’t kiss her back after she kissed him. But that’s most likely because Santos got between them after blurting “Oh, my favorite love team. Kinikilig naman ako sa inyong dalawa, then proceeded to have a selfie with the two of them.

Aunt Claudine Barretto and niece Julia Barretto also hugged and kissed each other at that tribute event for Mr. M. Their gap of some years was just a result of the aunt shooting barbed social media posts against Julia’s mom, Marjorie Barretto, that stemmed from some incidents at the wake for the Barretto patriarch where then-President Rodrigo Duterte turned up to console with the Barretto family, especially to Gretchen who is known to have campaigned for Duterte. 

At that time, it was also already known that Anderson stopped seeing Alonzo in favor of Julia. To spite their niece from “stealing someone’s boyfriend,” Claudine and older sister Gretchen sent Alonzo flowers.

The videos of Julia conversing sweetly with Alonzo and Garcia at the party were posted on Instagram by seemingly non-showbiz people who had the fine luck to get into the tribute dubbed as “A Night of 100 Stars.” 

It’s not known if 100 stars did turn up and glitter at the venue, but Sam Milby showed up without girlfriend Catriona Gray. Milby hanged out with Piolo Pascual as they are both managed by one company, Cornerstone. John Lloyd Cruz, Kathryn Bernardo, Jericho Rosales, Luis Manzano, Darren Espanto and Dimples Romana were also espied there.

Bernardo and Rosales seemed to be hanging out together. Some people have been saying they have good chemistry even in photos and videos. Some showbiz company may soon cast them together, and we wonder how David Licauco would feel about it. The Kapuso star did a fan boy act over Bernardo by taking a selfie with her and allowing fans around them at a recent Bench fashion event to take snaps of them together. 

Their pics together seem to have gone viral and Licauco proudly admitted that he has always been a fan of the Kathryn Bernardo-Daniel Padilla tandem. He also declared that if things could be arranged, he is willing to do a movie with Bernardo.

Would ABS-CBN bother to “lend” Bernardo to GMA 7 if only for just one movie? After all, the Kapuso network “lent” the couple Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera to Star Cinema for Rewind, which became the highest grossing film in the country, after the Star Cinema-produced Hello, Love, Goodbye that teamed up Bernardo with the Kapuso network’s Alden Richards.

It could be the cross-over teaming up of the most shining stars that could entice the Pinoy multitude to trek back to the movie houses and not wait for the movies to stream in their homes. Or simply get stuck with well-produced TV series, original or adapted.

FLASH: We’ve finished writing this column when we stumbled upon in one showbiz website that Dingdong Dantes is all set again to star in a movie with Star Cinema — and with him co-producing the film tentatively titled Love After Love.

But, no, Dantes is not doing it with actress -wife Marian Rivera as they have just done in Rewind. This time around, it will be Charo Santos, the actor who rose to be ABS-CBN’s top production executive, a position she held for decades.

When we looked around some more, we found out that Love After Love was a movie Dantes and Santos were supposed to have done in 2021, but the Covid pandemic assaulted everyone’s life and business.

In 2021, the film’s screenplay was just finalized after three years. Irene Villamor was assigned to direct the film. She still will this 2024, though Dantes admits he doesn’t know yet the film’s other stars. He is also not sure if the film’s storyline is still the same as the one summarized for him by Villamor.

Let Love After Love be as successful as Rewind.