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'PBB Connect' housemate selection: Personality, not political beliefs

Star Magic head and head director Laurenti Dyogi said political beliefs weren't considered in choosing cast members for the latest season of Pinoy Big Brother.

In a Rappler Talk interview that aired Sunday, January 10, Dyogi said that as an entertainment show, the focus is always on personality.

"Ang priority namin talaga nu'n is sa personality. At that time naman, hindi naman namin talaga tinatanong: 'Ano ba ang political leaning mo? Kanino ka ba naniniwala?' Hindi naman talaga namin tinatanong iyon. Although we check on their social media accounts because that’s standard naman… background check," he said.

(We prioritize the personality. When we were holding auditions, we weren't asking: 'What are your political leanings? Who do you believe in?' We don't ask those things. But we do check their social media accounts because a background check is standards.)

Addressing the two most controversial housemates thus far, Dyogi explained: "We didn't know about Russu [Laurente] saying those things. We really didn't know. Nu'ng napili na namin si Justin [Dizon], doon lang namin nalaman na ahh… very vocal siya, ganyan (It was only after we picked him that we found out about his being vocal on social media). But it wasn't part of our criteria."

Dyogi acknowledged how the events inside the house – and the selection of housemates – have caused a stir with viewers.

"Undeniably, maraming nasasaktan kasi nga, highly emotionally charged kasi 'yung situation eh. Polarized na polarized talaga tayo. And malungkot na ABS, nasa gitna kami nung nangyayari ito. But to be fair with everybody naman, it was not a conscious decision. Kasi may iba nagsasabi na nilagay iyan or pinagsama talaga itong dalawang ito. Wala po kaming ganun plano."

(Undeniably, so many were hurt, everything's highly emotionally charged because of the situation. We're polarized and it's sad that ABS-CBN is in the middle of it. But to be fair, it wasn't a conscious decision. There are those who say we cast this person or put these people together for whatever reason. We didn't plan that.)

Justin, who was the first housemate evicted in December, was known for speaking his mind on social media and had been controversial on Twitter prior to entering the Big Brother House. His comments on fellow housemate  Jie-Ann Armero's hygiene were also criticized as insensitive. He eventually apologized for his statements.

Russu admitted in the show that he had been in favor of the ABS-CBN shutdown. His admission did not sit well with a lot of viewers, calling for his eviction. He left the house on January 3 after getting the lowest number of votes.

PBB Connect was almost a no-go for 2020, had social streaming platform KUMU not pitched themselves as a platform for auditions, said Dyogi. Still, it was a huge departure from the way Dyogi was used to hold auditions. The ABS-CBN Entertainment Productions head was hands-on with the selection process and once sat through thousands of auditions for the reality show himself.

Over 170,000 entries were posted, all via KUMU. Dyogi said screening teams were made, with its individual members having to comb through hundreds of videos a day just to meet their deadline.

PBB Connect started in December and airs on free TV via A2Z channel, Kapamilya Channel on cable, streaming platform iWant TFC, and through ABS-CBN's social media accounts. – Rappler.com