The business of building stars

When it comes to the creation of stars who will either make it to Philippine Tinseltown or fall along the wayside, let us count the many expensive experiments and gambles that have been made with no assurance of a return of investment.

StarStruck, the phenomenal reality-based artista search on GMA 7 and considered one of the shows that propelled the network to its number-one stature, dared teenagers and young adults “to dream, believe and survive.”

After seven seasons and 538 episodes, the remaining women standing are all from the original batch: Jennylyn Mercado with her contemporary Yasmien Kurdi, Katrina Halili and the “avengers” who transferred to ABS-CBN, Cristine Reyes and lone guy Paulo Avelino.

Mark Herras is now a character actor, and the “Bad Boy of the Dance Floor” tag he once had is nothing but a blast from the past. Rainier Castillo still possesses his killer smile, and that is still all he can offer.

Drei Arias.


John Heindrick


Celyn Favid


Patrick Roxas


NICKY Gilbert

On TV 5, Artista Academy propelled the careers of Sophie Albert and Vin Abrenica. They are married with a daughter, while their respective careers are best described as neither here nor there.

Of the three major networks, the most successful in talent manufacturing and nurturing is the network Goliath that is ABS-CBN. From Star Circle Quest, first runner-up Sandara Park produced a hit song, “In or Out,” and became an international singing sensation when she went back to Korea. From the Pinoy Big Brother House came, just to mention a few, Kim Chiu, Gerald Anderson, Sam Milby, James Reid and Maymay Entrata.

A-listers have also originated from ABS-CBN’s singing contests, such as Yeng Constantino, Angeline Quinto, Erik Santos, Darren Espanto and all the biriteras and balladeers that are regulars in the network’s Sunday noontime variety show that has outlasted all its timeslot competitors.

Giving new hope and perhaps the biggest push these days to fresh talents is NET 25, which recently launched its Star Center, with 32 talents comprising the Starkada.
These young finds had to undergo three months of training and workshops in acting, hosting singing and dancing. Multi-awarded actor and director Eric Quizon heads Star Center.

At the presscon that presented NET 25’s fresh faces to the public, the thrilling 32 performed solos, duet, trios and various other production numbers to show off their dancing and singing skills. They also hosted the presentation and showcased their acting skills in short films directed by esteemed actor and director Ricky Davao.

Of the 32, my ladies with an attitude favorites are Nicky Gilbert, who moves like a modern jazz dancer and is expensive-looking, with a beauty similar to GMA 7’s Max Collins. She would fit bida/kontrabida roles.

Sofi Fermazi is a true ingénue with a melodious voice that conveyed the stories of all the songs she sang during the launch. And Celyn David is a true standout beauty in the short film she was part of where she almost had no makeup. Her elegant face will remind you of the class of Sandy Andolong and the elan of Hilda Koronel.

For fellows with the perfect groove, my top pick is tall and handsome Drei Arias. Every inch of him screams leading man. John Heindrick registers handsomely as well on screen and in person, reminding us of the time when the likes of Gabby Concepcion, Albert Martinez, Alfie Anido and Matthew Mendoza were the crème dela crème of matinee idols. He can even pass for Eric Quizon’s son.

Patrick Roxas is the fresh prince of the Starkada. In the short film where he played lead, his eyes were not blank or devoid of emotions, but were expressive! Roxas is the truest embodiment of an eye candy.

To the 32 new stars of NET 25, your talent and luck factor are the basic reasons why you are “in.” To prolong the adoration and madness of the fans, protect your “in” status with television shows and films that will matter and make an impact. Love what you do, be kind to the people you work with, and make sure discipline and professionalism are what will bolster your star to stellar heights.

Longevity, respect and reverence in showbiz requires more than the usual good looks and sunshiny smiles. Dare to create your magic and pixie dust, sing your special songs and make your own kind of music. Dance as if there is no tomorrow, and act with sincerity and truth.