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MANILA, Philippines — King of Talk Boy Abunda debuted Monday as co-anchor of ABS-CBN’s late night newscastBandila with an exclusive entertainment interview, new showbiz segments and his take on the day’s banner stories.
Abunda joined Ces Oreña-Drilon, Julius Babao and Karen Davila, delivering entertainment, lifestyle, and arts and culture stories. His entry is part of the show’s reformat and its move to an earlier timeslot.
The talk show host, talent manager and celebrity endorser has described the new format as a first of its kind merger of news and entertainment in local TV. It comes on the heels of the cancellation of his Showbiz News Ngayon (SNN) reportedly due to low ratings.
“Makasaysayan ang gabing ito dahil kabilang na po si Boy Abunda sa Bandila,” Davila told viewers. (This is a historic night because Boy Abunda is now part of Bandila.)
Not just a segment host
The new Bandila aired at 10:30 pm, almost an hour ahead of its rivals Saksi of GMA7 andAksyon JournalisMO of TV5. Before SNN was axed, Bandila was the last newscast to air, at times even past midnight.
Babao, Davila, Drilon and Abunda opened the show with live headlines — a departure from typical newscasts where the entertainment anchor appears and speaks much later in the program.
But in an apparent effort to distance the King of Talk from the journalists, the show’s producers seated Abunda behind his own table instead of the anchors’ desk.
Other than the set, new opening billboard, graphics and sound effects, the first part of the show seemed unchanged. The first gap was a solid news block packed with packages, live reports and exclusive stories on the aftermath of typhoons Pedring and Quiel, which hit Northern Luzon last week. The reports provided a big picture as well as on the ground people stories from the flood-hit provinces.
After a silence of about 20 minutes, Abunda got his share of airtime by introducing a report on a Filipino Superman fan who went under the knife several times just to look like his idol.
“Iba ang pamantayan natin ng kaligayahan,” Abunda said after the story aired. “My assessment is that he’s happy. Basta it’s an intelligent choice he makes, dapat hindi nangungutang sa kanyang pagreretoke, walang nasasaktan, it’s fine.” (We have different standards of happiness. As long as it’s an intelligent choice he makes and he doesn’t borrow money for cosmetic surgery and no one gets hurt, it’s fine.
Abunda then asked Drilon a “Miss Universe” question of whether or not she will change any part of her body. The experienced anchor-reporter replied by echoing this year’s beauty pageant winner, “I’m happy with what I have. Miss Angola!”
In between hard news stories, Abunda introduced his segments in his own parts of the set.
First was “Trending Balita,” which featured a report on Kris Aquino’s annulment case and her difficulty in making a stand on divorce. The report ended by saying that the actress is careful about voicing her opinions as a presidential sister and because of the heated debate on the reproductive health bill. It was unclear what the point of the segment was.
What followed was “Ikaw Na,” an interview with former Agua Bendita star Andi Eigenmann. The actress became the center of controversy after her mother, Jaclyn Jose, tearfully revealed that she was pregnant but refused to name the father. It was her first TV appearance since then.
In the one-on-one, Abunda asked the 21-year-old actress how she was doing, and what she felt and learned from her pregnancy. “When I entered showbiz, ang dami ko nang beses nakita ang sarili ko (there were many times I saw myself) on the verge of failing and this is the first time I really told myself, and I was able to assure myself hindi ako (I was not) made to fail. I was designed to be successful at something,” said Andi.
Viewers commenting online were unanimous in praising the show’s new schedule but they had opposing views on the inclusion of the celebrity host in the newscast.
Many Twitter users gave their congratulations. @Ellavie tweeted, “It’s very refreshing to see Mr. Abunda on the show. Gave me more reason to watch Bandila kapag nasa States na po ulit ako (when I’m in the States again).” @aeishaali was a fellow fan. “I’m watching bandila now, a marriage of serious business and a good laugh!”
@divastar_klao gushed, “I really love the new format with #boyabunda. It balances d news. Tito boy brings a diff flavor to d show. Good job!”
The new flavor, however, had a different taste for other viewers. Some felt three is a crowd and four is just too much.
@gersonsallo tweeted Davila, “Medyo I don’t understand the format of [the] new Bandila,nag-aagawan sa closing spiel? Medyo nakakahilo lang.. di pa siguro nag-aabsorb.” (I don’t quite understand the new format of Bandila. They talk over each other in the closing spiel? It’s dizzying. Maybe they haven’t absorbed it yet.)
@wana_o24 was also confused, tweeting “Tell me, am I still watching Bandila or is it The Buzz already?” @weju02 gave the reformat a thumbs down. “Seriously, mukhang showbiz talk show na ang Bandila instead of news. Credibility epic fail.” (Seriously, Bandila seems like a showbiz talk show instead of news.)
Others are worried about the political leanings of Abunda. @akosijeko said, “Sana pag may issue kay Pnoy, hindi obvious na defensive sya haha.” (I hope when there’s an issue about President Benigno Aquino III, it won’t be obvious that he’s defensive.) Abunda endorsed Aquino in the 2010 campaign, and is the best friend of his sister, Kris.
The anchors though seem to be taking the changes in stride. Davila tweeted, “Kung sa SNN, ‘Now Na!’ ang spiel, ngayon sa Bandila… ‘Trending Na!'” (If in SNN, the spiel was ‘Now Na’, now in Bandila, it’s ‘Trending Na!’)
With Boy Abunda and its mix of news and show business, Bandila started a trend. The question is whether or not the trend the show banners is welcome, and if it will catch on.