19 July 2013

Can’t Be All Fun in Show Biz

Now, we have all seen this bank commercial showing the actor Luis Manzano emoting half-naked in a supposed winter wonderland. When the director shouts for a cut, Manzano immediately starts shivering and tells everyone, “Hirap kayâ kumita ng pera!”

That commercial always makes me smile; but its humour apart, the commercial is actually an insightful commentary on life in show business.

Most of us just see the vain and glamorous side – actors looking their best for their adoring fans. But there is the other side that we seldom are privy to – the side that requires grit, professionalism and just plain hard work.

Just the other night, in the primetime series ‘Juan dela Cruz,’ a scene called for Rosario (played by Erich Gonzales) to slap Agustin (played by John Medina) hard on the cheek after the latter called her father Pepe (played by Joel Torre) an aswang.


Showbiz can be a treacherous profession; and that’s putting it mildly. You just never know when your adoring fans will stop wanting to see your face. That is why, I suppose, those in the business work their butts off while they are in the limelight.
Ooohhh that must have hurt!

Medina’s eyes were glassy afterwards; and I rather suspected this was more from the force of the slap than any emotions that the scene called for. I could not help but admire the discipline to resist the urge to slap back!

I once read an article in an American entertainment magazine that said that Hollywood actors rehearse scenes that call for physical contact – such as facial slaps – so that these are done convincingly without any real physical contact taking place.

Gonzales’ slap across Medina’s face, that was real, make no mistake about it! I understand that in the local entertainment industry, the actors accept that physical contact is just one of the hazards of the trade that is required for realism onscreen.

Cinematographer Gary Gardoce, who played football for me back in the eighties, once told me that the scenes which directors hope to wrap up quickly are those which require the actors to cry. Because it’s one of the most difficult things that actors are sometimes required to do.

For some actors, it’s a gift that can almost be turned on and off. For instance, when I watch the actor Coco Martin do his increasingly frequent crying scenes on ‘Juan dela Cruz,’ I instinctively watch his nostrils for any signs of uhog.

His tears never look like they are eyedrops; and that is why, perhaps, Martin is regarded as among the most talented actors of his generation.

Judy Ann Santos, in a recent talk show interview, gave her own insights on the crying that some scenes call for; and most especially in the soap operas that Santos became renowned for.

Those in the industry refer to a ‘pinaghuhugutan,’ a life experience that the actors turn to during a scene to draw out the tears.

But these days, Santos said, she is perfectly happy with her family, her career and her life in general. All well and good; but returning to a soap opera as she was at the time of the interview, she expressed concern about where she would draw the emotions required for the crying scenes that the new series was certain to call for.

But so much more is sometimes required of actors and entertainers than mere acting skills.

Recently, almost the entire cast of the noontime show ‘It’s Showtime!’ flew out to Hawaii for a special engagement for the benefit of the state’s expatriate Filipinos. The show was scheduled for a weekend.

The entire cast was still present for the Saturday show; which meant that they all had a 48-hour window to fly to Hawaii, perform in the show and then fly back to Manila for Monday’s edition of ‘It’s Showtime!’

A direct flight to Hawaii takes about 8 hours one way. Deducting the required minimum combined 16-hour travel time, that left the entire cast and crew just 32 hours to rehearse and do their sound checks, perform and see a bit of the islands as they could. That’s not much.

I was half-expecting a taped show the following Monday. But no, everyone was back live and looking none the worse for wear. It must have taken real effort not to look tired; and I could not help but admire everyone’s professionalism.

There was more of this professionalism from Vice Ganda who one time everyone expected to be absent but suddenly popped up onstage to join the cast in the opening salvo. He said he was actually on the way to the hospital but decided to report for work, anyway.

Billy Crawford mocked him, “Immodium lang ‘yan!” I took it from the comment that Vice was probably having a bad case of diarrhea.

Vice actually missed the whole of last week with a throat infection. Make what you will of that, but this is more evidence of Vice’s professionalism.

He reported to the studio almost having lost his voice weeks ago and then continued to appear each noontime despite being hoarse. I thought then that he ought to have been taking a rest already. That it took his health only until last week to give in is something that one just has to admire.

It was even worse for Vice’s good friend Coco Martin, who as I understood it collapsed on the set of Juan dela Cruz from sheer fatigue. In fact, when Martin made a surprise appearance at Vice’s concert a few weeks back, it was reported that he was just recovering after being confined at the hospital.

Showbiz can be a treacherous profession; and that’s putting it mildly. You just never know when your adoring fans will stop wanting to see your face. That is why, I suppose, those in the business work their butts off while they are in the limelight.

Luis Manzano could not have said things better in that bank commercial, “Hirap kayâ kumita ng pera!”

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