Codename:Asero management of celebrity problems

MANILA, Philippines—How did the Kapuso network keep singer-actress Regine Velasquez, one of its top talents, from transferring to rival ABS-CBN?

“We kept her busy. We made her feel that she’s useful,” said Wilma Galvante, GMA 7 senior vice president for entertainment TV.

When Inquirer Entertainment visited Galvante at the GMA 7 offices in Quezon City last week, Galvante revealed how she takes care of big-name stars in her turf.

During this chat, the Kapuso boss let us in on the secret to heartthrob Dingdong Dantes’ successful acting career. She also revealed that drama actor Dennis Trillo needed a major image make-over.

Lastly, Galvante shared tips on how to keep top actors Robin Padilla and Richard Gutierrez happy and content with GMA 7.

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News of Regine’s transfer to rival network ABS-CBN circulated in February. She was reportedly offered the local version of the Latin soap, “Betty La Fea,” plus a weekly musical-variety show. The contract purportedly totaled P25 million. ABS-CBN denied the existence of such a contract.

“She almost said goodbye to us,” Galvante recalled. “I was abroad at the time. When I came back, I presented our offer to her, and the network prevailed upon her to stay.”

Regine eventually accepted the title role in “Kim Samsoon,” the Pinoy adaptation of the top-rating South Korean series. She is also set to host the second season of the reality show “Celebrity Duets.”

Dennis Trillo

Dennis Trillo made headlines last year after rumored girlfriend Cristine Reyes and beauty queen Carlene Aguilar, the mother of his son Calix, figured in a public squabble over him.

“This posed a serious problem to his career. It affected how the public perceived him as a person,” said Galvante. “We sat down with Dennis and ordered a major make-over for him.”

So Dennis, once known for his boy-next-door projection, now sports a brusque look in the drama series, “Magdusa Ka.”

“It’s important for the artist to cooperate with the network,” Galvante stressed. Now Dennis’ career has picked up.”

Robin Padilla

Robin Padilla is a true-blue action star, Galvante observed.

“He is very passionate about the image he has created for himself. This is why we always make sure his next project is better than the one that just ended,” the network exec said.

Robin’s action-adventure series “Joaquin Bordado” aired its final episode last week. He is scheduled to work on the TV adaptation of another Carlo J. Caparas graphic novel, “Totoy Bato.” The actor is also set to star in another GMA Films production.

Dingdong Dantes

“We are pleased with the way Dingdong successfully reinvented himself,” said Galvante.

Dingdong first joined show biz as a member of an all-male dance group. He was with the youth-oriented series “TGIS” and was director of a number of TV shows for GMA 7.

But everything changed when he played the role of Sergio Santibañez in the local version of the Mexican hit series, “Marimar.” According to Galvante, Dingdong did so well as Sergio, that he is now regarded as one of local show biz’s hottest leading men.

Dingdong currently plays Fredo, Marian Rivera’s love interest in “Dyesebel.”

“These shows wouldn’t have been successful if he wasn’t part of them,” Galvante said. “Dingdong had no problem with the fact that he does not play the title role. Stand out pa rin s’ya. For that he was most admired.”

Richard Gutierrez

Richard Gutierrez is the network’s telefantasya star, Galvante said.

“He made his mark in this genre with the success of ‘Mulawin,’ ‘Lupin’ and ‘Kamandag.’ If there’s an action-fantasy show, we automatically give it to Richard,” Galvante said. Richard is the lead actor of the network’s newest TV series, “Codename: Asero.”

Galvante said Richard practically grew up with GMA 7. “This was why kahit anong ipagawa mo sa kanya, gagawin n’ya. At one point, he was told to dress up like a girl in one of his earlier shows. We made him play supporting roles in a few drama shows. We heard no complaints from him.”

Galvante continued: “With hard work and diligence, Richard was able to find his niche in this industry.”

Heart Evangelista

Being out of work for quite a while changed Heart Evangelista, said Galvante.

“She has become appreciative of the fact that she was tapped by GMA 7 to play major roles in the shows that it’s producing. We see her renewed passion for acting. She’s a professional.”

A talent of ABS-CBN since she joined show biz in 2001, Heart recently moved to GMA 7. Her first Kapuso project was to play the role of belly dancer Emily San Juan in “Codename: Asero.” The actress is also expected to play the lead in the local version of a popular Koreanovela.

“There are actors that I would readily let go, but these talents, I’d do everything to keep,” Galvante said, adding, in jest, “Kahit sakit pa sila ng ulo ko.”