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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.
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Oct 22, 2020


           LOUIS HUNTER & BELLA DAYNE as Paris & Helen in 'TROY: FALL OF A CITY"

WE FIRST fell in love with world literature when we became acquainted with the Greek classics the Iliad (about the Trojan War) and the Odyssey (the travels of Odysseus), epic poems written by Homer. 

But we learned about them first from the movies that we saw in grade school.

We saw the Iliad in “Helen of Troy” (about the forbidden romance of Helen, wife of Menelaus of Sparta, and Paris, a prince of Troy) directed by Robert Wise in 1956 starring stunning Italian actress Rosanna Podesta and French actor Jacques Sernas.  

We became familiar with the Odyssey through “Ulysses” in 1954 starring Kirk Douglas as Ulysses or Odysseus, the king of Ithaca who got lost at sea after participating in the Trojan War, and Silvana Mangano as his patient wife, Penelope. 

In 1994, there was an epic reboot of Iliad in “Troy”, with Brad Pitt as Achilles, Orlando Bloom as Paris and Diane Kruger as Helen. There are other versions but these are the more popular ones.

Now, there’s an 8 episode miniseries co-produced by BBC and Netflix, “Troy: Fall of a City”, and they made many changes from the versions we saw before. 

The story starts with Troy’s queen, Hecuba (Frances O’Connor), giving birth to their youngest son, Alexander, but the baby boy was taken away because of a deadly prophecy and he grew up with shepherds in the mountains as Paris. 

Later, his parents are able to trace him back due to a birthmark and the long missing Prince Alexander (Louis Hunter) is tasked to sail to Sparta to bring some gifts to King Menelaus (Jonas Armstrong). 

He meets the king’s wife, Helen (Bella Dayne), and they fall in love. When Alexander boards his ship to return to Troy, he doesn’t know that Helen has hidden in a trunk to join him for good. 

Of course, Menelaus is outraged and calls on other Greek kings to help him get back his perfidious wife. And thus begins the Trojan War that raged on for 10 long years.

What differentiates the TV series is that it incorporates the Greek gods and goddesses that are omitted in the previous versions. For instance, in the very first episode, an encounter of Paris/Alexander with the gods who appear as human-like characters seals his fate with Helen and the city of Troy. 

He favored the goddess of beauty Aphrodite or Venus and she predicted his meeting with Helen. 

The gods have a fairly big role at the start of the show but Zeus tells them to stop meddling in human affairs so their participation is lessened, but in the Iliad, they didn’t listen to Zeus at all and did as they please.  

Another great change is in casting black actors David Gyasi in the role of Achilles and Hakeem Kazim as Zeus, roles that are usually played by white actors. 

A big alteration is in the interpretation of Helen, usually portrayed as demure and submissive. The Helen here is more empowered in claiming her place in a society dominated by men. 

Also totally changed is the matter of the Trojan Horse. In the past movies, Odysseus devised a way for Greek soldiers to entry the walled city of Troy by hiding in a giant wooden horse which became known as the Trojan Horse. 

The Greeks hid inside and the Trojans brought it inside their city thinking it’s a peace offering. When the Trojans went to sleep, the Greek soldiers then massacred them. 

Here, the Trojan Horse contained grains for food so the starving Trojans excitedly brought it inside their fortified city. 

It’s Helen who connives with Odysseus (Joseph Mawle) and Menalaus to open the gates of the city to let the marauding Greek soldiers in. 

This series ends with a last shot of Odysseus on board the ship that will take them back to Greece. But those familiar with his story in the Odyssey know that he will be wandering for ten more years before he gets finally back home to his wife Penelope and their son, Telemachus, by then a grown up. 

In “Troy: Fall of a City”, it is shown that Odysseus is cursed by Andromache (Chloe Pirri), the wife of Hector (Tom Weston), for killing her infant son, so he is punished by the gods. 

Maybe the producers of this series are thinking that they’ll make the Odyssey as a follow up, but “Troy” didn’t really click with audiences in spite of the obvious expense in making it. 

Maybe today’s millennial audiences who enjoyed “Game of Thrones” more  can no longer connect with such an old tale from Classic 101, which has actually been told and retold many times before. 

At 8 episodes, you can also really feel they’re just stretching it. After this, we can expect no more remakes of this very familiar story in the near future. 

One of the survivors in the Trojan War is Aeneas, who will later on have his own story in “Aeneid”, the Latin epic written by Virgil. 

If “Troy” clicked with today’s audiences, they’d probably make a series about the wanderings of Aeneas (also played here by another black actor, Alfred Enoch.) 

We’re thinking another reason “Troy” didn’t sit well with modern viewers is because of the lackluster cast that are mostly nameless. 

The actor chosen to play Paris has dynamic star quality to be a romantic hero, but the actress chosen to play Helen doesn’t look like she can really launch a thousand ships. 

Her acting is also so wooden. In that scene where Menelaus is killing Paris right in front of her, she looks so expressionless. 

Also, when Paris meets her, she already has a teenage daughter, so that means she’s older than him. You’d really wonder why Paris would fall for her. 

The best Helen for us is still the flawless Rosanna Podesta of our childhood days. Wonder whatever happened to her after appearing in other sword and sandal costume films like “Fury of the Pagans”, “Slave of Rome” and “The Golden Arrow”.

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SUPERSTAR NORA AUNOR is back before the camera as they resume the taping of her hit GMA-7 soap, “Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit”. Lock in taping has started today in a resort in San Mateo, Rizal.  

Ate Guy plays Mercedes and she’s with co-stars Mylene Dizon who plays her daughter Magnolia and Kyline Alcantara who plays her granddaughter Maggie. 

“Nakakatuwang makitang muli ang mga kasama ko sa show, pati na si Direk Laurice Guillen,” says Ate Guy. “Bale pitong buwan ding natigil ang pagte-taping namin dahil sa pandemya and we’re all glad na nagkita-kita na kami uli sa pagpapatuloy ng aming taping.”

“Bilangin” is loosely based on a movie made by Ate Guy in 1989 with the same title, where she played the dual roles of Magnolia and Maggie. 

But the story has now been expanded for the TV series to be the story of three women from different generations and their respective struggles in life, with Ate Guy as the grandmother, Mylene as the mom and Kyline as the granddaughter.

Wasn’t Ate Guy afraid of the virus and her health as she goes back to work? 

“Siempre, hindi maiiwasang mag-alala lalo’t may asthma ako, but then, magaling naman ang GMA management sa pag-aalaga nila sa kanilang mga artista at staff,” she says. 

“Talagang we are all doing all the necessary health protocols para masiguro ang kaligtasan naming lahat sa lock in taping. Naka-mask kami and face shields lagi, may kanya-kanya kaming quarters, may health workers around to monitor us, so confident kaming we’ll all be safe while we are working on the set.”

Also part of the drama series are Zoren Legaspi, Gabby Eigenmann and Yasser Marta as the men in their lives. Hopefully, if all would go well, they would be able to finish their lock in taping in two weeks and ardent followers of “Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit” can expect the show to be back on the air by late next month. 

Before this, their pre-program in Afternoon Prime, “Prima Donnas”, has also resumed their taping with Direk Gina Alajar, lock in style, and it lasted for three weeks. Now, also undergoing lock-in taping is the primetime show, “Anak ni Waray vs. Anak ni Biday”.

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IAN VENERACION says life in showbiz really turns like a wheel. 

“When I started as a child actor, ako yung son sa title ng ‘Joey & Son’,” he says. “Now, in my new show sa TV5, ako na yung dad sa ‘Oh My Dad’. Ican say that I’ve come full circle, haven’t I? 

"And since I don’t intend to retire from the industry, baka dumating yung araw na magiging Lolo naman ang papel ko. Hahahaha!”

In “Oh My Dad”, he’s a former top cager who stayed in the States for a while and when he returned home, three young people showed up to claim he’s their long lost dad: Sue Ramirez, Louise Abuel and Adrian Lindayag. 

“I was sowing my wild oats as a younger man and hindi ko alam, may mga naging anak pala ako,” he says.

In real life, is he also a ladies man? 

“No, not at all. I’m a faithful husband to Pam, my wife of 26 years. But like in the show, I also have three kids, pero iisa lang ang mother. I cannot imagine myself having kids with different mothers. Good boy po ako, maniwala kayo’t hindi. Hahahaha!”

As a teen actor, he was built up by Seiko Films as an action star and when he matured, he did dramas in soaps. How is it doing a sitcom like “Oh My Dad”? 

“Okay lang, hindi naman ako nanibago. Unang-una, ang director namin, si Jeffrey Jeturian, was also my director in ‘Be Careful with My Heart’ which ran for several years. Kaya sanay na ako sa kanya. He’s really one of the best directors we have today and I trust him all the way. 

"Tapos, the script by Allan Habon is really funny at ang gagaling ng mga kasama ko, from Sue. Louise and Adrian as my kids to Dimples Romana, Gloria Diaz and Ariel Ureta. So, saan ka pa? 

"Ang gagaling nilang lahat and I feel so lucky being able to work with all of them. Mabilis ang trabaho namin, lalo na nga’t lock in taping kami na magkakasama kami lahat sa isang resort, Fontana, where we stayed in their own villas and we were able to tape several episodes right away. Alagang-alaga kami ng aming producer, Atty. Joji Alonso of Quantum Films.”

“Oh My Dad” will start airing this Saturday, October 24, at 5 PM on TV5. Don’t fail to see its rollicking pilot episode.

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Oct 21, 2020

JENNYLYN MERCADO will be seen this Friday night in the finale of “Truly. Madly. Deadly” in GMA-7’s “I Can See You” drama anthology. 

By Monday, October 26, she will be seen anew in the continuation of her internationally-acclaimed series, “Descendants of the Sun Ph", whose telecast was disrupted by the pandemic. 

“Abangan nyo ang last episode ng ‘Truly. Madly. Deadly’ this Friday night dahil pasabog talaga ito,” says Jen.  

“Madugo ang climax at salamat sa mga nakagusto sa story, lalo na sa kissing namin ni Rhian Ramos na isang lesbian ang role dito. At sa Monday naman, abangan nyo ang pagbabalik ng ‘DOTS’ namin ni Dingdong Dantes na matagal nang kinasasabikan ng viewers who keep on asking us kung kailan ang balik nina Big Boss and Beauty.”

The return of ‘DOTS’ this Monday will start with a review of past episodes to refresh viewers with the events that happened before the pandemic intervened in our lives. 

This will go on for more than one week and the fresh new episodes taped on a lock in setup in Tanay will start on November 5. The show will also stream live on Netflix starting November 13. 

GMA issued an official statement about this: “DOTS is the first GMA program to be streamed on Netflix. The local adaptation of the well-loved South Korean drama of the same title will soon be available on the popular streaming site in the Philippines.

“The 65-episode series will be streamed on Netflix on eight consecutive Fridays beginning Nov. 13, 2020. 

Headlined by two of the biggest names on Philippine TV – Kapuso Primetime King Dingdong Dantes and Ultimate Star Jennylyn Mercado – the series revolves on the fickle love story of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Special Forces Captain Lucas Manalo a.k.a. ‘Big Boss’ and cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Maxine Dela Cruz, or ‘Beauty’.

“With both of them having dangerous and demanding jobs, timing was never on their side. But the more they tried to distance themselves from one another, the more that fate found a way to bring Lucas and Maxine together – surviving and making it through one disaster after another.

“Last August, Descendants of the Sun Philippines brought honor to the country as the first local TV program to receive the Most Popular Foreign Drama of the Year award in the 15th Seoul International Drama Awards. 

Its lead actor, Dingdong Dantes, was also awarded the prestigious Asian Star Prize in the same annual global festival.

“Descendants of the Sun Philippines premiered on February 10, but production was temporarily suspended due to the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Relive the story of Big Boss and Beauty in Descendants of the Sun Philippines streaming this Nov. 13 on Netflix Philippines.”
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      SACHA BARON COHEN is so effective as YUPPIE AGITATOR Abbie Hoffmann

WE JUST SAW our first movie this year that is of sure Oscar calibre, Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of Chicago 7”, first released by Netflix in theaters last September so it can qualify in the Oscars, and now available for streaming. 

We became a solid admirer of Sorkin as a screenwriter after watching his “The Social Network” (2010), which is about how Facebook was born. We’ve seen it several times and for this, he won both the Oscar and Golden Globe award for best screenplay. 

His film debut as a director is “Molly’s Game” (2017) with Jessica Chastain in the engrossing real life story of an Olympian who became an operator of an illegal pokers game for celebrities. 

He now writes and directs “The Trial of the Chicago 7”, a legal drama based on the true story of the anti-Vietnam war protesters who were arrested and charged with conspiracy for inciting riots that turned violent and bloody in the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. 

Richard Nixon won the election and his new Attorney General ordered his lawyer to prosecute the leaders of the protest, charging them with conspiracy and inciting to riot, to set an example. 

The 7 defendants are Abbie Hoffman (played by Sacha Baron Cohen, “Borat”), Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong of “Succession”), Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp), pacifist dad David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch) and two fall guys who didn’t know at all why they were included in the lineup, Lee Weiner (Noah Robbins) and John Froines (Daniel Flaherty).  

Black Panther Part leader Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul Mateen of “Watchmen”) is also part of the group as the 8th member, even he if was not at all in the riots, but he is later separated from the rest due to a case of mistrial.

If you’re familiar with Sorkin’s work starting with “A Few Good Men”, you’d know his specialty are highly charged courtroom scenes and they are on full display here during the trial scenes. 

The trial ran for almost half a year but the film has an engrossing narrative structure that alternates the courtroom scenes with scenes showing what led to the riots, all masterfully edited to make a gripping and compelling narrative.

The film has a huge ensemble cast and Sorkin does a good job of juggling all of them. All the 8 defendants are given time to shine, but those with the biggest roles are Sacha Baron Cohen who gets to steal his scenes with some choice funny lines as flamboyant Yippie agitator Abbie Hoffman and Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden, the student leader who’d later become a U.S. senator and husband of Jane Fonda for 17 years. 

Abdul Mateen is also given the chance to stand out in several scenes with him attacking his role as the wrongly black political activist with much conviction and ferocity, specially after the prejudiced judge ordered that he be beaten up.

Outside of the defendants, the stand outs are Mark Rylance as William Kunstler, the dedicated lead defense attorney whose been cited for contempt several times; 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Richard Schultz, the assistant federal prosecutor who believed from the start that they have a weak case; 

and Frank Langella as the Judge in charge of the case, who’s obviously so hostile and biased against the defendants. 

Also splendid is Michael Keaton as the former Attorney General Ramsey Clarke who testifies that it’s actually the police who instigated the riots. He appears only in two scenes but really makes his mark.

The film’s final scene when Tom Hayden is called to give his closing statement in court, and he uses the opportunity to recite the names of the American soldiers who died in the Vietnam war since the trial began, was so emotionally shattering for us. 

We can’t hold back our tears as the end credits is shown for the film's brilliance and an epilogue that tells us what happened later to all the characters involved in the trial, including the repulsive judge. 

The movie is so timely and relevant today as what happened then is still happening now, with authorities stopping at nothing to foil any opposition, even constitutional protest, and later covering up their misdeeds. 

Sorkin as writer-director is a master storyteller who unfolds the narrative with much conviction, making the whole thing so compelling and satisfying, but sprinkled with amusing moments of dark humor. 

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Oct 20, 2020



FORMER NEGROS OCCIDENTAL CONG. (for three terms) Albee Benitez had lunch with some press people. 

His Brightlight Productions produces several shows for TV5. We notice most of them have Kapamilya stars.

“Because it’s really one of Brightlight’s objectives to give work to ABS-CBN stars who lost their jobs,” he says. 

“I believe it’s not right to tie down stars to exclusive contracts kasi it deprives them the chance to work with other networks when they have no projects with their mother studios.”

He believes the network war is not really helping the industry. 

“The network war should stop. It’s not healthy for the industry at lugi ang stars sa ganoon kasi frozen delights sila. Networks should be more generous in sharing their stars kasi yung iba, matagal bago nabibigyan uli ng bagong projects. 

"Itatali mo yung artista sa exclusive contract tapos they wait and wait for their next project. That’s not fair. They could be doing projects for other producers at mas makikinabang din ang viewers na gustong mapanood ang paborito nilang mga artista. 

"Kung puede maghiraman ng stars, it would be a healthier environment for the industry as a whole. We would also welcome stars from GMA-7 to work with us, kung papayagan sila.”

He is married to Dominique Lopez Benitez and they have two kids Javier (who’s now in showbiz and has just finished an action movie, “Kid Alpha One”) and Bettina. In 2014, he put up his own TV show, “Game Changer”, on ANC which he co-hosted with Javi. Does he have plans to revive it on TV5? 

“None. Right now, our work sa Brightlight is to be a content creator and provider for TV5. It’s a new challenge for me. 

"Our company has also completed three new movies: ‘Magikland’, which was inspired by the theme park we put up in Bacolod and nag-qualify na sa Metro-Manila Filmfest; then the action movie ‘Kid Alpha One’ with my son Javi and Sue Ramirez; and a comedy based on a true story about a transgender na nabilanggo at hindi alam kunsaan isasama, sa mga lalaki ba o sa mga babae. 

"As of now, wait and see muna kami kung kailan uli magbubukas ang mga sinehan.”

He thinks theaters should bring down ticket prices to entice people to return to cinemas. 

“It has become so prohibitive dito sa atin. Yung price ng isang ticket, kita na ng isang ordinary worker natin sa buong araw. Siempre, uunahin mo ang food on your table bago ka magbayad sa panonood ng sine.”

Is he happy with the way the first week of their new shows “Sunday Noontime Live”, “Sunday Kada”, “I Got You” and “Lunch Out Loud” turn out?

“Yes. We don’t expect it to soar in the ratings right away. Sa ngayon, what we’re doing is to make the viewing public aware muna na TV5 is producing quality entertainment shows. Kasi hindi sila sanay manood sa TV5, e. 

"Ratings will not go up overnight. People will have to be excited to watch our new shows first and so far, happy naman kami kasi maganda ang feedback as a whole. 

"Pinag-uusapan ang ‘Sunday Noontime Live’, ‘Lunch Out Loud’ at ‘Sunday Kada’. Maraming nagandahan sa ‘I Got You’. So now, this weekend, magsisimula naman ang ‘Rated Korina’ and ‘Oh My Dad’ and I guarantee everyone na magugustuhan nila ito.”

It’s common knowledge his son Javi is now playing beautiful music with Sue Ramirez on and off cam. What can he say about it?  

“Magaling si Sue. I saw her in ‘Oh My Dad’ and she’s very good as Ian Veneracion’s daughter.”

How about her relationship with Javi? 

“I can see they get along very well. At the end of the day, it’s between them. As long as they’re happy together.”

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      cong. albee benitez of brightlight products wth korina sanchez of  RATED KORINA
          korina with her twin kids: pepe and pilar 
korina sanchez with press people interviewing her while having lunch at cong. albee's conference room

KORINA SANCHEZ is back on the air this Sunday, 4 to 5PM with “Rated Korina” on TV5. She says her pilot episode in her new home is something not to be missed. 

“We have four exclusive stories,” she beams. “First is about a remote barangay in Cebu. From the airport, we have to travel pa by land for five hours. We discovered 28 cases of people na nakakulong sa hawla or nakatali sa puno. Yung isa, 30 years na siyang nakatali sa puno. We talked to the commission on human rights nga about it.”

And where exactly is this strange barangay? 

“Well, you have to watch on Sunday to find out. Our next story is about someone na ang best friend niya is a doll. Kasama niya sa work, sa pagtulog, pinaliliguan niya. You’ll find out if that is sane behavior. 

"Then meron kaming segment na parang Guiness Book of Records. Compilation ng taong may pinakamahabang buhok, may alagang 100 na pusa, mga gan’on. The last segment is about stars and their babies, siempre kasama ang kids ko, Pepe and Pilar.”

So how is it to be a mom to her one-year old twins? 

“Noong una, Mar (Roxas, her husband) and I were asking, kaya ba natin to? But now, we can say, it’s double the joy. Sa bagay, high school pa lang, malakas na ang maternal instincts ko. I love children. Sa hospitals, I go to the nursery to watch the babies.”

She’s a doting mom but she doesn’t want to spoil them. 

“From the start, I told Mar, I want to train them to be emotionally independent, not clingy. Like gusto niya, sa bed namin matulog ang mga bata, sabi ko, no. I believe the best thing you can teach your child is to train them to be able to adapt well to change. Right now, things change so fast, with the pandemic, with technology, lahat ang bilis magpalit, dapat marunong ka ring mag-adjust agad sa lahat ng changes.”

We tell her she doesn’t age at all. What’s her secret? 

“I think it’s in my genes. I also eat healthy, I go to a wellness clinic, I have blood test regularly para kung may problema sa health ko, maremedyuhan agad. And nakapasok talaga sa isip ko na I’m forever 27 years old.”

Is it true Mar is no longer running for public office? 

“For this coming election, parang wala talagang balak. He wants to take fatherhood seriously and, also his mom, she’s getting on in years at gusto niyang alagaan. Tamang-tama naman kasi ako ang mas focused ngayon sa trabaho. Alam nyo naman, ever since, hindi ako humihingi ng pera sa asawa ko. I earn on my own.”

How does she feel when haters bash her for leaving ABS-CBN? 

“Inuunawa ko na lang sila. Pero hindi naman ako basta nang-iwan. Nagpaalam ako nang maayos. Basta sa ngayon, nandito ako sa TV5. And I feel very blessed na even before I got worried, dumating itong offer to do a show for them at andami kong kasama ritong mga nawalan ng trabaho when ABS lost its franchise.”

She’s now helping a lot of people who are working for her. 

“I’m glad to help them kasi meron diyang may babayarang renta, tuition fee ng mga anak nila, andami kong natutulungan. Also, I’m really active in various platforms. I’m also in youtube, Facebook and Instagram. Mine-maintain ko ang mga yan at full production sila lahat to give jobs to more people.”

Don’t miss the initial episode of “Rated Korina” on TV5, 4 to 5 PM, this coming Sunday, pre-program to “Oh My Dad”.

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Oct 19, 2020


GABBY CONCEPCION has been staying a lot in his farm in Batangas during the lockdown but he returned to Manila last weekend to join the “Bawal Judgmental” segment of the longest running noontime show, “Eat Bulaga”.  

And it’s worth the trip as he won P50,000, making him the first showbiz personality to get a perfect score in that popular contest. 

He was made to guess who among the singers in the line up of guests have won in an international television show and he guessed it correctly. Gabby is truly so lucky these days. 

After Marian Rivera backed out from their long delayed project, “First Yaya”, the heartwarming soap, which is about the romance of the president no less with his kids' yaya, is finally pushing through.

And his leading ladies are getting younger and younger since he joined the Kapuso Network. 

He’s turning 56 on November 5, but he gets romantic partners who are even younger than his eldest daughter, KC or Kristina Cassandra, who turned 35 years old last April.

He was first paired with Carla Abellana in 2015 in “Because of You”. Carla was then 28 years old. 

Then he was paired with Sunshine Dizon and Ryza Cenon in “Ika-6 na Utos” in 2016 and it was such a big hit it ran for almost two years. Sunshine was then 33 and Ryza was 27.

He was last paired with Jennylyn Mercado in the romcom “Love You Two” last year when Jen was 32 years old. 

Now, instead of Marian Rivera, who’s now 36, he will be paired with Sanya Lopez, who is only 24 years old. Sanya then will be his youngest leading lady and his age now is more than twice than hers. 

Gabby’s edge is that he has managed to preserve his youthful good looks so well and we’re sure he will similarly have a good on screen chemistry with Sanya, just like he did with his past leading ladies. 

The lock in taping of "First Yaya" is scheduled to start in mid-November in a yet undisclosed location.

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MAKE WAY FOR CASSY LEGASPI, the 19 year old daughter of Carmina Villaroel and Zoren Legaspi who is now going into acting and she’s very thrilled about it. 

She will play Nina, the teenage daughter of Gabby Concepcion in “First Yaya”, with Sanya Lopez as her yaya and Pilar Pilapil as her lola. 

She also has her own love interest as she’s paired with teen actor Joaquin Domagoso, the teenage son of Mayor Isko Moreno who’s now a Kapuso artist. Does she feel any pressure about going into acting?

“In a way, yes, because it's really my first time to act. Iba ito sa ginagawa ko sa ‘All Out Sundays’ and “Sarap Di Ba?’ Both my parents are actors so I’m sure people can’t help but wonder if I’m as good as them. 

"Pinaghahandaan ko naman. I took some acting workshops and I also have two acting mentors right at home, di ba? So I feel so blessed and fortunate. 

"I’m really working on my acting and I think I’m improving naman. Sa November 19 pa ang start ng taping namin, so I have enough time to prepare. In the meantime, I also work out and eat healthy kasi lock in taping kami kaya I really have to boost my immune system. 

"First time ko rin mahihiwalay nang matagal from our family kaya may feeling of sepanx din, kahit papaano.”

She has gone ahead of her twin brother, Mavy, who has not tried acting in a regular soap yet. 

“Yes, I’m lucky kasi I’m acting with no less than Tito Gabby Concepcion as my dad and I really look forward to doing scenes with him. “

Cassy now has her own youtube channel which she started late last month. 

“It’s not easy to have your own youtube channel kasi we cannot go out to explore because of the pandemic. But it’s a nice way to connect with the fans kasi they can ask me their questions directly. 

"I also try to speak a lot in Tagalog kasi we’re used to speaking in English, so my Tagalog is not that fluent. It’s a real challenge for me, but I’m getting there. 

"Nawawala na yung accent ko. I just continue to practice and I know I can accomplish it.”

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FORMER “Downton Abbey” star Dan Stevens plays the title role in “The Guest”, a thriller about a war veteran named David who pops up unannounced to visit the home of a family, the Petersons, in rural New Mexico.  He claims that their late soldier son, Caleb, was his good friend in Afghanistan. 

He says that he’s just passing by and only wants to let them know that Caleb loves them very much. 

Very courteous and with a disarming personality, he quickly charms the mother, Laura (Sheila Kelley), who is still grieving and insists that he stays with them for a while.  He also quickly earns the trust of the dad, Spencer (Leland Orser), who even offers their guest some beer. 

The Peterson’s other children are Anna (Maika Monroe) and Luke (Brendan Meyer).  

Luke comes home with a bruised face and when David learns it’s caused by bullies in school, he helps Luke get back at his tormentors and beats them all up. He later goes with Anna to a party where he rescues her friend, Kristen (Tabatha Shaun), from her abusive boyfriend. 

Anna’s boyfriend, Zeke (Chase Williamson), is a drug pusher and David frames him up so he’d be arrested. 

Anna becomes suspicious and calls up the military base where David says he comes from and she is told that David is already dead. A military officer called Major Carver (Lance Reddick) learns about this and assembles a special team of soldiers to get the fake David from the home of the Petersons.

Things get very complicated for the Petersons from here on and soon, both Anna and Luke have to defend themselves from David who becomes a predator wanting to kill their whole family. 

The true identity of David is revealed and it seems he’s really programmed to kill anyone who might reveal who he really is. 

At barely an hour and a half, the film is fast-paced and gets to the point right away. At first, you’d really think that Dan as David is the good guy, but as things get ugly, you realize that he is turning out to be the main antagonist. 

The script by writer Simon Barrett properly establishes the mounting suspense and Director Adam Wingard (“You’re Next”) surely knows how to make his sure-footed way around it. 

Dan Stevens is just amazing in the title role. He drops his English accent for a Southern one and it's seamless. 

He starts polite and well mannered with his baby blue eyes, but eventually becomes the sinister, truly menacing interloper with his compelling presence. He’s definitely far from the wholesome heartthrob from “Downton Abbey” that made lots of female viewers swoon.

The production design gives the movie a campy flavor, what with the story set just before Halloween so we see much spooky decor around like ghosts and jack-o-lanterns. 

The climax itself happens in a haunted house kind of setting with a hall of magic mirrors that’s meant to make you scream with fright. Perfect viewing for this coming Halloween season.

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