Much ado about booboos

‘Yung nag-oversleep lang ako last Friday up until the weekend tapos pagkagising ko, Twitter peeps were all over Ricky Lo because of his palpak interview daw with Anne Hathaway.

For those of you who missed it like me when it actually aired, here it is. Let’s hope it doesn’t get taken down:

Well, what do you think? Disaster or not?

Let me share my take on it by explaining a tad bit first about how things are run here in the country.

See, the thing here in the Philippines is that they have no separation of showbiz and the entertainment industry. Before you say “Come again?” let me explain that. When we say showbiz, we obviously pertain to the business side of the glitz and glamor they usually sell to us and shove down our throats, like these celebrities are there to be glorified, to be worshiped like stars in the night sky, where they twinkle each time they have a new film, TV show or music album to promote and flaunt. And when they have lows in their lives, we are also still there to snoop around, as entertainment media shoves down our throat these small and seemingly insignificant details of these celebrities’ personal lives, packaged and sold as gossip in many palatable dishes we could choose from over the internet, in TV showbiz talk shows and wherever else these things get published/aired these days.

Now let me get back to that other term I mentioned: “entertainment industry.” Yes, folks, believe it or not, this entertainment beat is actually a fully legitimate industry where people actually go to work every single day and earn a decent living and they also get taxed. Now the difference here lies in the way this particular industry is treated by many people, especially its supposed sister industry — the media industry, particularly news media, or hard news to be exact. At least here in the Philippines, the local news media sometimes — sometimes, okay, sometimes (depending on where you work) — makes us feel some sort of hierarchy exists, that other “beats” worth reporting about are not given as much recognition or even respect, like they are seen as just a part of the whole newspaper, finished, or part of the package as “light news” so let’s get on with it and publish something to counter the latest heavy political headlines of the week. It’s just fun. Fun fare.

But you know, fun could also be serious, factual and informative. Like what this Fil-Am dude does, known as Manny The Movie Guy. Watch how he presents a festival recap:

Also, I’m not really so sure just how communication programs in schools treat the entertainment beat in general. But there is such a thing as entertainment journalism. Sometimes people might think that just because they know pop culture or they could talk to celebrities or circulate in these fun fun fun industries, then that’s just all you need to report about it. News flash. Entertainment journalism is also kinda like traditional journalism, you know. This is like following all those ethics and codes and stuff like that in order for proper reporting to be considered as good journalism. And that should supposedly apply in the entertainment beat as well. But I don’t know. I don’t think even my own alma mater regularly offers courses on entertainment journalism and studying entertainment beat reporting properly. When I started teaching there, I actually wanted to teach this, if they let me, since I believe there are many things that future journalism majors are not ready for if they dabble into reporting about and within the entertainment industry. It’s not all about fun fun fun.

And maybe this is why some of the entertainment press also act this way: that they are just there merely to cover fun, to report on fun, to search for intrigues and dirt in between the fun, and that’s just it. But then again, there are also formidable members of the entertainment press who actually seek to do a better job of reporting about the entertainment industry as a viable industry, like how the beat reporters who cover finance report about banking industries and the like. You know what I mean.

Now the thing with us Filipinos is that we love to gossip. And sadly, that’s where the entertainment news have been focused on. And then most publications center around this industry with this kind of gossip framing, and sometimes, nothing else. Which is sad. Sure, there are the traditional news reports out there about entertainment highlights of the day as recapped in between traditional news shows. But after that, what else?

When I transitioned to become a journalist back in the early 2000s, I witnessed firsthand how this so-called entertainment press covered many things about the entertainment industry, because I became part of it. As an entertainment editor of a small national newspaper, I had the time of my life there. That was fun. But when I first got there, I inherited the entertainment pages in that showbiz/gossip-oriented fashion. At first, I just tried maintaining it and see first how the entertainment writers of the paper ran their business.Do as the Romans do at first. Prior to that, I was working on the other side of the entertainment industry as part of the marketing division of a film company that actually invited the entertainment press to press conferences and media events when we had new films to promote. Oh, the funny ways some details of my life come in full circles sometimes… but I digress.

But soon, I got tired of being such a Roman. I know that there are others out there who, like me, are seriously looking for entertainment news that are actually written and presented as news, not a gossip columns or whatever. And if there are gossip-like stories, I’m sure they could still be written in a straight-up informative news manner, without malice and hype. So when I did an overhaul of the way we presented the entertainment section, the publisher/newspaper owner actually commended me for it in a not-so-subtle way. One day, she arrived at the office with a young boy, a relative of hers, and she proudly introduced me to her because apparently, the boy was a fan of reading the entertainment section and he wanted to meet who ran it. And the publisher introduced me proudly to the cute boy with her approving you’re-doing-a-good-job smile.  Hehe sorry babaw moment but that was a life highlight for me.

Now where does the Ricky Lo thing fit into this picture? Well the thing is, many see this guy as an entertainment writer/columnist who writes exposes about celebrities’ personal lives and such. And then he advanced into television eventually but his style of presentation still remained that way. Sometimes, I read his columns when there is a topic of interest to me or if someone points out errors in his facts. Yes, that’s the thing with the entertainment section sometimes — editors give the columnists, especially those who appear they already have clout, this kind of “freedom” that they don’t check facts. Like one recent booboo of his is naming the author of Twilight as the author of a new book which was actually written by JK Rowling. You know, facts! Simple, Google-able facts! I mean, isn’t that the first qualification of a journalistic piece: presenting facts! Yes, sometimes, they slip that way.

So I’m not totally surprised anymore that someone like him — who was obviously reared and circulates in that kind of showbiz-instead-of-entertainment journalism type of entertainment news presentations would commit such blunders in that huge way when faced with so-called Hollywood A-list actors. Maybe his head is still up in the clouds whenever he encounters Hollywood actors. Maybe he needs to be reminded that it’s a job he’s actually doing, sitting down and interviewing these people, these celebrities. Yes, these celebrities are people, too, just like you and me. They just have a different job. And how you treat people in general should also be a good guide in order to pull off a good job.

Like compare now how Manny The Movie Guy interviewed Anne in a similar press junket for Les Miserables:

Do you see the difference? Manny was fun fun fun but he was also down to business, asking the proper questions that were obviously borne out of doing good, quality research before sitting down with Anne. Like that tidbit about the 3-hour audition, that was cool. And he was also able to make Anne at ease so she just volunteered information freely, like slipping in that “I got married” thing. That’s a gem.

Yes, it’s all about doing the job properly. I don’t know what Lo’s excuse is for appearing too awkward in his Anne interview. But no amount of name-dropping will save him from that awkwardness. Like it’s not even proper for him to namedrop “I have a friend, her name is Lea Salonga” and then proceed to talk about Lea in front of Anne. I mean one word teh: NKKLK! Nakakaloka ang strategy ni koya. There are so many things that you could ask and discuss with Anne Hathaway! He was doing good at the beginning, being able to recover a bit from that weight loss quip which Anne wanted to dismiss. But after the Lea thing, downhill from there, dude. I mean he’s lucky it’s someone like Anne he’s talking to. You could extract so many things in 5 minutes. Imagine if you had to interview someone suddenly and you have no prior knowledge of who they are.

That happened to me once. After working in the film industry and before working as an entertainment editor, I had a brief stint as a section editor at an IT company who was about to launch an information portal. So since I was identified with the entertainment industry, the chief sent me to grant a request of this music company. They were promoting some American singer dude that time whose only claim to fame was that he had a duet with then selling-like-hotcakes talent Britney Spears. And I don’t think Google even existed during that time so the usual search engines of the early 2000s didn’t turn up anything cached about this American singer dude.

Anyway, sometimes all you need is courage coupled with wit to pull off some jobs. Glad I got an ample supply of both. I ended up sitting down with this guy and asking him basic questions that were provided for in that one-page press release they handed to us before the sit-down. But a good journalist should learn how to ask beyond PR information, so I ended up asking him about his family, where he grew up, and how these childhood and family stuff affected his decision to become a musician and how it seeps into his music and other such chenelyns. And hey, it worked! The session went well, it was a good device to learn more about him without appearing like I didn’t do my homework heheh, and he was pleased with the outcome. So pleased that he wrote that when he signed my copy of his freebie giveaway cd copy:

Abilidad lang ang nakapagtawid nito hahaha! But still. Gujab!

Abilidad lang ang nakapagtawid nito hahaha! But still. Gujab! And oh, he recently made news in the US gay media because he came out. ‘Yun na.

And then it also helps if you try to avoid the questions that make your subject feel iffy, and move on and talk about other things that haven’t been discussed yet. So sometimes, a 5-10 minute interview could stretch to 30-40 minutes because the subject is very at ease in talking about many aspects, and it might actually sometimes surprise you that he or she will share many things that are not usually written about, but they want to talk about it anyway, off the record. That’s what happened to me before in a more recent interview with a more recent celeb — Angel Locsin for Mega.

IMG-20130120-02744

IMG-20130120-02745

That was really a fun gig. Very insightful, this girl. The make-up people had to interrupt us because it was time for her to do the photoshoot already, and she was still talking to me about her future dream roles and her civic engagements which she didn’t want to be written about daw.

Anyway, yeah, so what’s the Lo-down, pun intended? Disaster to the nth. Stars like Anne could be nicer, sure, but you could also see she was a bit irked already with the way the guy was asking questions. I mean haller, ask about how a “life of luxury” girl like Anne could “relate” to a poor character like Fantine? Anubehhhh. Ang tawag nga doon eh “acting” koya. Get the memo. Or no, get the memo and read it, please. Thoroughly. Tumbling!

Oh well papel, just another day in Philippine showbiz. Okay will get back to sleep debt payment now. Wake me up when there’s another booboo na lang k?

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~ by leaflens on January 20, 2013.

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