Sunday Noontime Live (SNL) director Johnny Manahan admits apologizing Piolo Pascual and Maja Salvador for having asked them to join the Brightlight/TV5-produced Sunday variety show as he was assured that it would air for six months.
Manahan said this in his exclusive interview with the Philippine Entertainment Portal (PEP.ph).
“Actually, they assured us dalawang seasons,” Manahan told PEP.ph. “One season is three months kaya hanggang March. Kaya hiyang-hiya ako sa dalawa. I talked to them and I said, ‘I’m so sorry for dragging you into this.’ Even if they assured us at least six months, nine months pa nga dapat, eh.”
He added that Piolo and Maja’s sole reason for joining SNL was because of him.
"Piolo is a sweet guy. I don't think he has to work. He only works when he likes it. He's a sweet guy. I knew he had reservations about the show because it's in another channel,” he said. “The same thing with Maja, she had reservations. But they did it because I asked. I said, 'I'm here. Maybe we can do something there at Channel 5.”
He even joked with them saying: “‘Might be fun going up against ABS-CBN!'”
He also made clear that Piolo, although hugely identified with ABS-CBN, had long been a free agent and that Maja’s contract with the network was already expired at the time of her entry to TV5.
“Kasi, they were free agents,” explained the Star Magic co-founder. “Si PJ (Piolo) naman matagal naman ‘yang... wala naman siyang contract. Free agent siya. And then si Maja, nu’ng nag-lapse... sakto lang na nag-lapse ‘yung contract niya last year. Sabi niya, ‘Let’s do this. Sama ako sa inyo.'”
In the same interview, Mahanan also said he thought ABS-CBN got “scared” when SNL went on the air, yet after a few months, TV5’s weakness began to show.
"You know what, for a while, I think they were scared — scared of little me, little us... For the first show, pinaghandaan talaga kami. They put up this huge show with all the talents, including, I don't know, Charo Santos, Lea Salonga... the whole shebang,” he said.
"We only had little Piolo, little Maja. But, I think for the first show, we rated higher than all those stars. Medyo kinabahan sila, first three shows. Then the weaknesses of Channel 5 began to show — their signal, some people didn't even know Channel 5 was on the air... They don't have everything, all the elements, in place, not like ABS,” he added.
He further lamented that he was asking Brightlight Productions for at least a week extension so they could say goodbye properly to their audience but to no avail.
“He told us late na. We were preparing na for the next cycle of taping. Tapos bigla na lang sasabihin we have to pack up the show. ’It’s a big loss. I’m bleeding money, blah blah.’” Mr. M recalls Albee Benitez, Brightlight Productions head, saying.
Manahan said after 30 to 40 years with the Kapamilya network, he said he wanted to take a break from the entertainment scene. However, his willingness to help retrenched ABS-CBN workers, especially from the show ASAP which he founded, was what he wanted more which made him agree to be SNL’s director and creative consultant.
Now, in a strange twist of fate, he and SNL were eased out to give way to his own ABS-CBN creation, ASAP Natin ’To, which will begin airing on TV5—on the SNL timeslot—on Sunday, January 24.
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