POTATO ON THE GO FEATURE (TV):
In early 2000, GMA made a phenomenon by introducing reality shows in Philippine TV programming. After Extra Challenge and Starstruck, the rest, as they say is history. Then networks began franchising foreign reality programs such as Big Brother, Survivor, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Project Runway and Fear Factor, among many others.
But while foreign franchise continues to give networks stable results in terms of ratings and income, GMA Network once again gambled to come up with its own via Protege: The Battle for the Big Break. But now, the reality singing search is transformed into an artista search. So after the success of Starstruck and Protege, here comes Protege: The Battle for the Big Artista Break.
Last Sunday, July 8, the five mentors of GMA's upcoming artista search, "Protege: The Battle for the Big Artista Break" held their final selection of proteges from among those shortlisted during a series of nationwide auditions held in 15 cities all over the country and online via GMANetwork.com/protege.
After several weeks of scouring Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao for potential stars, the five mentors in the search – Roderick Paulate, Gina Alajar, Jolina Magdangal, Ricky Davao and Phillip Salvador – finally trimmed down their lists of potential proteges to just four: two male and two female proteges.
In a recent blogcon hosted by GMA Network, TaDi was among the blogs given the chance to interview Direk Gina Alajar who is one of the mentors of the new Protege.
Direk Gina was asked if the industry is lacking actors and actresses hence the influx of talent search programs. She said that they are in search of the next superstar, the next Christopher de Leon, someone who will be adored by the masses. "Naghahanap kami ng bagong titilian, mamahahalin, and at the same time, magaling umarte," Direk Gina explained.
Direk Gina also shared that for this competition, they are looking for someone that is "artistahin na". They are looking for someone who when he enters the room, everyone will be looking at him. But when TaDi asked Direk Gina if they found someone charming but lacks talent, would they give the person a chance? Direk Gina answered, "This is an artista search, we're looking for glamor; looks first because that's the most important at this point. Mate-train naman yun, his talent can be honed, lalo na kung masipag yun. Kung pagalingan lang, wala yung looks, pupwede na yun."
When asked about the difference of Starstruck and Protege: The Battle for the Big Artista Break, Direk Gina explained that in Starstruck, the contestants are trained in a big group. In Protege, the participants are divided and assigned to mentors. And the success of the contestant also depends on how the mentor works. The mentors are competing as well.
Direk Gina also said that she was a little bit nervous considering that she will be competing with fellow high-caliber actor/mentors. From what she saw during the first Protege, there were disagreements and confrontations between mentor and another mentor, between a mentor and a protege, between protege and another protege, between protege and a judge, and between a judge and a mentor! In fact, she's also nervous because she will be competing with fellow mentor and long-time friend Roderick Paulate.
Gina and Roderick began in show business almost at the same time and since their first project, they have become “siblings” in the industry.
“Roderick calls me Ate Oreng because yun yung character name ko dun sa unang movie na pinagsamahan namin, and I call him Bong. So dun palang makikita na natin na secret code namin yun diba, tapos ngayon nandito kami para mag-compete sa isa’t isa at para mag-mentor sa mga bagong mga mag-aartista,” said Gina.
In a separate interview with Roderick, the veteran actor and comedian said that when the role of being one of the mentors of the search was offered to him, he hesitated since he knew that mentoring is a challenging job plus the fact that he will be competing with his fellow veteran actors.
“Mentoring is a difficult job. It’s so easy to be mentored pero yung magtuturo ka mas mahirap yun. You need to devote so much effort and time, mejo ninerbiyos ako ng konti pero natuwa rin ako kasi mga kaibigan ko sa industriya ang kasama ko sa pagme-mentor,” he said. Gina and Roderick’s friendship began decades ago when both actors were yet child stars.
“Si Roderick kasabayan kong mag-artista yan e -- 5 years old siya, 8 years old naman ako tapos halos dito lang sa industriyang ito gumagalaw ang buhay namin,” Gina recalled.
Gina added that she’s anxious about the fact that anything could happen on the show and the mentors themselves might come into conflict with one another.
“Mahirap kasi hindi ko alam kung magkakaroon ng lamat ang mga friendship na ito e. May kanya-kanyang style, may kanya-kanyang ideas yan e, at itong lahat ng mga mentors na ito walang kinatatakutan, they say what they say – kesyo masaktan ka – yun lang yung kinakatakot ko dun. Like ako, baka meron akong masabi na biglang ma-offend ang kahit isa sa kanila. Si Philip pa naman pikon yan (laughs). Pikon yan talaga. Pero maaring kimkimin niya yung galit niya sa akin, pero I think hindi maiiwasan yun e.
“Kaya nakakaba, mas nakakakaba yung labanan ng mga mentors kaysa sa labanan ng mga proteges kasi dun sa mga mentors yun yung magkakaroon ng feedback sa isa’t isa, baka magkaroon lang kami ng mga conflict – hopefully not – pero hindi maiiwasan, sa palagay ko hindi maiiwasan,” explained Gina. Only time could tell if Gina’s “predictions” are correct but one thing is for sure: it’s going to be a battle worth watching.
Director Bert de Leon, comedian Joey de Leon, seasoned actress Cherie Gil and GMA top honcho Anna Teresa Gozon-Abrogar are the judges who will scrutinize the performance of each protege (and mentor) during the live galas.
Protege: The Battle for the Big Artista Break officially begins on July 23 with a daily update dubbed "Inside Protege" hosted by Jennylyn Mercado, with webisodes hosted by Maxene Magalona.
The first weekly gala night of the search will air on August 5 (Sunday), hosted by Dingdong Dantes and Carla Abellana.
Photos courtesy of GMA Network, Inc. and Gina Alajar's twitter account.