“Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope this will lead to better things,” said actor Derek Ramsay, who once severed ties with ABS-CBN after he transferred to rival network TV5, but is now promoting a film under Star Cinema.
Derek plays lead in the romantic drama “Ex With Benefits,” by director Gino M. Santos. He also stars in the Toto Natividad action flick “Pangil,” which will be released by Skylight Films. Both Star Cinema and Skylight are movie production arms of the Kapamilya network.
“Looks like things are going to that direction,” Derek told reporters during a press conference for “Ex With Benefits,” which will open in
theaters on Sept. 2. He is set to promote the movie in four Kapamilya shows, Derek reported. “TV5 has allowed me to promote, too. (ABS-CBN and I) will limit our relationship strictly to the movies. This is out of respect for TV5.” He just renewed his contract with the Kapatid network early this year.
“I have to thank Direk Toto and Sir Enrico (Santos of Skylight) because they really fought for me. I guess they (ABS-CBN bosses) just figured that it was time. Both parties have decided to settle differences and just move on. When Direk Toto asked me to do ‘Pangil,’ that led
to other things. They realized that ‘maybe we should give Derek
“Ex With Benefits” is the story of former lovers, Adam (Derek) and Arki (Coleen Garcia), who went to school together and had a good relationship until Arki suddenly disappeared. A decade later, they reunite, with Adam already a successful doctor and Arki, a medical representative. The two try to work together as they attempt to forget the past.
How do you approach acting in a sex scene?
The challenge of every actor is to step out of who you are, get into character and then come back to reality. What I do is shut my entire system down, stop being Derek and become my character. To prepare for this, I meditate. I convince myself that I am Adam. Coleen will not respect me if I get carried away.
How do you avoid “mishaps” during shooting?
Accidents happen. During one scene, I was supposed to lift Coleen and then dip her. When I did, her boobs were in my face. Coleen and I carried on with the scene. I simply apologized and she said OK. I haven’t experienced feeling exploited on the set. Only Anne (Curtis in “No Other Woman”) got to touch my bottom, but it was under the instruction of the director and with my consent.
Did you get to talk to Billy (Crawford, Coleen’s real-life boyfriend) after shooting the love scenes?
Billy approached me to say that he was happy that the role went to me because he trusts me. It was kind of him to say that. It’s nice to know that I have a friend in the industry who looks at me that way and respects me.
Will you let your nonshowbiz girlfriend watch the movie?
She has no problem with it. She knows that this is what I do for a living. Before we got together, there were things in her life that some men might not accept—she has a child, but that’s a plus for me.
Joanne (Villablanca, 26) is a commercial model. Her daughter Sophie is 8. She calls me Tito Derek.
Have you had a chance to speak with Angelica (Panganiban, ex-girlfriend) after your breakup?
I haven’t seen her. I’d say hello to her if I bump into her but if she ignores me, I will not be insulted because that’s her take on things. I just hope that one day, we’d get to talk and let bygones be bygones.
How has your relationship with your 12-year-old son improved through the years?
I haven’t seen him since Christmas. He’s in school in Dubai…Our relationship is so much better than before, but it’s still a long way before we could have the kind of relationship I have with my father. I won’t stop trying, though. I went to Dubai recently, but didn’t get to see him. It will happen in God’s time. I will just keep trying. My son has been through enough emotional stress and I don’t want to add to it anymore.
The pressure that comes with working on “Marimar,” Megan Young admitted, is comparable to what she felt when she joined the Miss World pageant, which she won in 2013.
“Acting is my job, passion and life. This show is huge and important to me; it holds the same weight [as being a beauty titlist]. But I’m more excited than nervous,” she told reporters at a recent press conference for GMA 7’s second remake of the popular Mexican soap, which was originally top-billed by Thalia.
The Kapuso network’s first adaptation of the TV series aired in 2007 and starred a then-fledgling Marian Rivera and her eventual husband, Dingdong Dantes. This year’s iteration, on the other hand, has Megan in the title role with Tom Rodriguez as the leading man, Sergio.
The 25-year-old actress said she’s not one to do things half-baked, so she made sure to prepare well and her rigorous regimen included swimming and diving lessons, acting workshops and regular trips to the gym.
“I just don’t want to disappoint. The entire ‘Marimar’ team gives its all and I want to match that,” said Megan, who had to overcome her fear of open waters in playing her character, who lives in a small barrio by the sea and works as a pearl diver.
And so, naturally, she will bare some skin in the show. Just how sexy will her portrayal be? “The best thing about her is that she’s attractive to others, but she doesn’t realize it…There’s an innocence in her,” related Megan, adding that she isn’t on any kind diet. “I just train and eat healthy.”
On working with Tom, Megan—a “Starstruck” Season 2 alumna—said there was a little awkwardness between the two of them at first. But they eventually got over it, with the help of a “sensuality workshop.” “We tried to know each other better. Our roles require so much emotional commitment, so it helps that we’re friends,” she said.
The GMA 7 talent described Tom as an “attractive, good-looking guy,” but dismissed talks of a possible romance with her partner. “I try to keep my professional and personal lives separate. I’ve been like that ever since,” she said.
Meanwhile, asked if she thinks it’s too early to do yet another remake of “Marimar,” Megan said that the 2015 version will have considerable plot differences. “We have the same characters and the big moments will be there…But how we get there will be different. My character will be fiercer and more ambitious this time around,” she explained.
Directed by Dominic Zapata, the show also stars Jaclyn Jose, Zoren Legaspi, Lauren Young, Alice Dixson, Nova Villa, Tommy Abuel, Carmi Martin and Jaya. The series airs weeknights.
Love is “color blind.” That could well be the mantra of interracial couples. TV5 delves into the colorful and exciting world of intercultural romance in “Kano Luvs Pinay” (Saturdays, starting Sept. 5). It is a remake of Cine Filipino’s acclaimed 2013 comedy, Randolph Longjas’ “Ang Turkey Man ay Pabo Rin,” but with a twist.
It is top-billed by Tuesday Vargas (Cookie) and American actor Lee O’ Brian (Matthew). The role seems tailor-made for Lee since the dashing afam (foreigner) is truly in love with a local gal, comedienne Pokwang, off-cam.
Lee is an “accidental” actor. His first passion was sports. He has produced projects in various countries and has traveled the world but it seems his heart has found its home in Manila.
Here’s my tête-à-tête with Lee:
What made you decide to do the show?
The opportunity to show what it’s like when cultures mix and people from different backgrounds coexist, in this case an interracial couple. Second, I want to create a career around the world, so this is a great way to start…And obviously it’s a great excuse to hang around longer with my amazing girlfriend.
How are Filipino actors different from other actors you have worked with?
Between the movie “Edsa Woolworth” and this show, the major difference comes from the country’s culture, not necessarily the professional differences. When it comes to work, Americans, Filipinos, Indians and Latinos (I have worked with all of them) all focus well on the process of acting, working the script and delivering a great performance. I will say that the Filipino crews are amazing to work with and are very hardworking.
Tell us about your “Kano Luvs Pinay” experience so far.
This show is very different from other Filipino programs. The style is like a sitcom, yet it deals with many issues that both Filipinos and foreigners alike deal with when interacting. I am really excited to see the reaction from both local Filipinos and Filipinos abroad.
What’s your advice to interracial couples?
I believe each partner should practice even more empathy and compassion when dealing with each other. Many times there are challenges in interracial relationships only because one or both partners do not understand fully the culturally programmed reaction of the other partner. So it’s best to ask your partner what exactly is the problem and how they deal with it.
What stage is your relationship with Pokwang at?
We are at the “very serious boyfriend/girlfriend” stage where we want to be together all the time and for a long time.
What do you love most about Pokwang?
She has an enormous heart; she is hilarious; she has lived through experiences which have made her stronger and more compassionate—should I go on?
Are you open to the idea of working with her again?
I would love to work with her again and we both want to create lots of movies and TV shows together.
How do you feel about Pokwang’s miscarriage?
It happened, we mourned, we have since moved on and are both excited for the future together.
Do you have marriage plans?
We have been discussing that and there is a very good chance of it happening.
How’s your relationship with her daughter Ria Mae?
Her daughter is an amazing lady, who has welcomed me to her life and we get along really well. She is great, just like her mother.
Does Pokwang get jealous of your onscreen partner Tuesday?
Absolutely not. She considers Tuesday a friend in the industry. They started around the same time. They share life experiences and through that I think they both see a kindred spirit in each other. Walang jealousy, maraming respect. Tuesday is such a professional, on- and off-camera.
What makes foreigners fall for Filipino women?
Filipino women love you for you. They take care of you and are there for you. The sense of family is strong. They also have a sense of humor and are very open to other cultures.
If you were to entice Americans to visit the Philippines, what would you tell them?
Experience all of the Philippines: the people, the food, the islands and the culture—very few cultures have figured out how to be as comforting and welcoming as Filipinos have.
How Filipino have you become?
Balut for breakfast, adidas (chicken feet) for lunch and adobo for dinner. Now I just need to get a hold of the language.
It may be easy to associate Zac Efron with music because of his breakout movie, “High School Musical.” But now, the 27-year-old heartthrob is about to make ladies swoon as he spins EDM (electronic dance music) in his latest film, “We Are Your Friends,” from Viva International Pictures and MVP Entertainment Philippines.
Efron plays Cole Carter, a struggling DJ who spends his nights working on a track that may lead him to an illustrious career. In the movie, Cole says the DJ’s job is “to get the crowd out of their heads and into their bodies.” This is how he catches the attention of a charismatic older DJ, James (Wes Bentley of “The Hunger Games”) who takes him under his wing. But Cole falls in love with James’ girlfriend Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski of “Gone Girl”), and must choose between love and loyalty.
To make sure that Efron is convincing as a DJ, the actor was mentored by DJ Alesso, who first gained popularity in 2012, prompting pop icon Madonna to call him “the next big thing in dance music.”
In 2014, DJ Alesso ranked 15th on DJ Magazine’s list of Top 100 DJs.
EDM is also thriving here in Manila, with yuppies frequenting clubs and digging the hip arrangements. Viva talent Tom Taus, a former child actor, is one of the country’s top DJs who can truly bring the house down.
One of the highlights of last year’s 27th Tokyo International Film Festival was a special hour-long audience with filmmaker John Lasseter, the same animation wiz behind Pixar and the hit franchise flicks “Toy Story” and “Cars,” held at the EX Theater Roppongi.
Lasseter was invited to speak at the fest because an animated film that he executive-produced, “Big Hero 6,” was chosen by organizers as the opening film.
Lasseter’s audio-visual presentation, which consisted of clips from old movies and similarly dusty photos from his personal collection, quickly turned into a master class on animation and, at the same time, an affectionate love letter to Japan.
While preparing for his talk, Lasseter owned up, “I realized what a huge influence Japan had [on my life and career].”
Like any baby boomer, he grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons, he recalled. He was not aware then, but among his favorite animated programs at that time, “Astro Boy” and “Speed Racer,” were Japanese imports.
The teenager who did a book report on Bob Thomas’ “Walt Disney: The Art of Animation” later fulfilled a cherished dream and was hired by Disney studios.
He eventually became the chief creative officer of Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Disney Toon Studios. But we’re getting ahead of the story.
Back in 1977, the young animator watched “Star Wars,” “waiting in line for six hours,” like other fans.
It was akin to witnessing “a revolution in cinema,” he looked back.
“It had a profound effect on me. I wanted to do…what ‘Star Wars’ did to film…to animation,” he confessed.
In Hollywood, animation was widely regarded as kid stuff. Lasseter, however, had other ideas.
In 1981, he was introduced by Japanese animation producer Yutaka Fujioka of TMS Studio to the work of Hayao Miyazaki—specifically, “Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro.”
“I was blown away,” he remarked. “It was an animated film created with the vision to entertain people of all ages. It made me feel that I was not alone in the world.”
He showed an excerpt, a car-chase sequence, from “Lupin III,” which he described as “smart, clean…the greatest action scene ever put on film.”
It was a technical feat, he said. “Part of the scene is animated background, part of it is sliding painted background. It was exciting.”
He later admitted that he “wooed” wife Nancy with “Lupin III.”
A 1987 trip to Japan was another turning point. He recounted that he traveled to Tokyo for a lecture at Nicograph (a computer animation conference), but ended up immersing himself in the country’s colorful culture.
His snapshots from that trip were stored in a box labeled by his wife, thus: “The trip to Japan when John took way too many photos.”
He went crazy for the bright neon lights of Ginza, the curious vending machines on every street corner that sell everything from whiskey to instant noodles, plastic sushi displayed in restaurant shop windows, Tomy wind-up tin toys and, of course, the Bullet Train.
His memories of Tokyo eventually ended up in two films—one he directed (“Cars 2”) and another one he produced (“Big Hero 6”).
On that first trip, he made sure to visit Studio Ghibli and his idol Miyazaki and he commemorated the encounter with a souvenir photo. “That was almost three decades ago,” Lasseter said as his photo with Miyazaki was shown onscreen.
Miyazaki gave Lasseter a tour of the studio and showed drawings from the film the Japanese animator was working on then, “My Neighbor Totoro.”
In this year’s Busan International Film Festival, to be held in South Korea from Oct. 1 to 10, “My Neighbor Totoro” will be shown in the Open Cinema section.
“He puts his heart and soul in every film,” Lasseter said of Miyazaki. “It was my inspiration in making films.”
He would often visit Miyazaki-san, as the American filmmaker calls his idol, every time he was in Tokyo.
When Lasseter later showed Miyazaki his 1995 film “Toy Story,” he was initially apprehensive. “I was told he wasn’t a big fan of computer animation…but he saw past the medium and loved the story.”
Lasseter became Miyazaki’s staunchest supporter—helping promote his sensei’s films in the West and the rest of the film-loving world.
He showed another Miyazaki clip, from “My Neighbor Totoro,” and lauded its keen attention to detail, the distinct characterization of the two sisters and the awesome cat bus.
(The English version of “Totoro” features Filipino singer-actress Lea Salonga, who lent her voice as the mom of the kids voiced by Dakota and Elle Fanning.)
Slew of awards
Lasseter related: “I helped in doing the English version of ‘Spirited Away.’ I consulted Hayao about something…his response was: ‘If people want to understand my films, they will have to learn Nippongo.’”
“Spirited Away” later won a slew of awards, including the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Fest in 2002 and the Oscar for best animated film in 2003.
In November, Lasseter served as presenter when Miyazaki was given an honorary award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the 2014 Governors Awards.
Hannah Espia’s “Transit” won the Audience Award at the 11th Fest New Directors/New Films Festival held in Espinho, Portugal, in June. “I feel really blessed,” Espia told the Inquirer via Facebook Messenger. “It is our film’s first award in a European festival.” According to its site, Fest is “a unique celebration and gathering of young filmmakers.” “I believe that film is a shared experience so getting the Audience Award means that the film was able to speak to the viewers. I’m really happy that even though the film is already 2 years old, it continues to touch people all around the world,” Espia said. Bayani San Diego Jr.
Apart from its Philippine premiere at SM Megamall on Sept. 9, Jerrold Tarog’s “Heneral Luna” will have several screenings abroad.
After its special screenings in New York, Washington DC/Maryland and Dubai, the historical film will be screened in Los Angeles, 6:30 p.m., at the Krikorian Monrovia Cinema (for tickets, 626-782-1690), and in San Francisco, 7 p.m., at the Marina Theatre (for tickets, 415-336-9971).
It will also have a theatrical release in key US cities mid-October.
Students will be given 50-percent ticket discount in Metro Manila and nationwide (either as individuals or classes in a block screening) by all SM Cinemas, Ayala Cinemas and Robinson Cinemas (the country’s three biggest theater chains) upon presentation of the student’s ID.
The epic top-bills John Arcilla in the title role, with Joem Bascon, Alex Medina, Archie Alemania, Arron Villaflor, Mon Confiado, Epy Quizon, Nonie Buencamino, Mylene Dizon, and with the special participation of Paulo Avelino. The epic is produced by Ed Rocha and executive produced by Fernando Ortigas.
We’re heartened to hear that ABS-CBN is coming up with a new drama series, “Written in Our Stars,” in which the four principal players are “gray” characters—meaning, they aren’t the usual black-and-white, either completely good or bad people usually preferred by teleseryes.
This preference is due to the simplistic belief that local viewers want everything laid out for them clearly, with no contradictions to confuse them, because they aren’t bright or sophisticated enough to figure things out otherwise!
It’s great to see that some TV people no longer feel limited by this narrow view of human nature, and believe that viewers will be fascinated by having to understand and empathize with “flawed” characters who aren’t consistently “good” or “bad” from beginning to end!
“Written in Our Stars” top-bills Piolo Pascual, Jolina Magdangal, Sam Milby and Toni Gonzaga—a formidable stellar combination that should excite viewers.
In particular, the new show is a boon for Milby, who has been “missing in action” from the big and small screens for too long.
His new show should have him intoning Tagalog lines with no more concessions to his Filipino-American origins. After all, it’s been years and years since he launched his local career, so no more balikbayan roles and Taglish dialogue, please.
Focusing on Jolina, it’s great to see that the “returning” star has a follow-up vehicle to her afternoon series, “Flordeliza.” This proves that her old and new fans are supportive of her comeback bid, unlike other “mature” stars who try to make it in the biz again, but can’t quite generate the viewership needed to make their return permanent.
It’s also instructive to see that Jolina is acting without her “ka-love team,” Marvin Agustin. Her character in “Written” is “unconditionally” in love with Piolo—who however also gets “conditionally” involved with Toni—but they get separated, too—so, it isn’t clear who ends up with whom at the series’ final fade!
Well, that’s all to the good as far as keeping viewers productively mystified and interested goes—so, go for it!
While we’re happy to see that Jolina’s career is again on the up and up, we hope that ABS-CBN also has good on-cam plans for Marvin, even without Jolina. After all, he’s also successfully made his comeback by way of “Flordeliza,” so his follow-up stellar prospects shouldn’t get lost in the studio shuffle!
What about Toni? Her sticking point could be the fact that she’s now a married woman, and it isn’t clear just yet how viewers will “take” her in that new context, especially in a romantic drama like this new series.
Let’s hope that they’re now mature enough to be able to separate fact from fiction, and will not let her new status subject her career to—friction!
Finally, Piolo: He’s just had big-screen success with Sarah Geronimo in “The Breakup Playlist,” so this new drama series could end up as the “exclamation point” that enables him to make the 2015 season his career high!
We trust that his newfound edge, bite and texture as an actor will serve him in good stead in his latest TV drama series—the other leads of which will just have to play their best thespic game to keep up with him!