Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pinoy Mano Mano: The Celebrity Boxing Challenge

Here's the story.

Whenever a television show finally up and dies, you get to see something strange. Writers, segment producers, researchers, and the like start scampering away from that festering corpse like plague-bearing rats on a sinking ship. The objective is painfully simple: find another show and survive. Sounds easy, sure, but the reality is not so peachy. About one-third of the rats will find themselves begging bosses for gainful employment. And about half of that will move on to other fields because the process of natural selection in this business is a nasty cunt.

Sometime around late 2006, the Nginiiig! shows gave up the ghost (snicker) and I found myself out of a job. Being a proud bastard, I refused to go begging and set out on my own to find writing assignments. I spent the rest of that year doing odd episodes but never settled in any one show. The pickings were slim, you might say, and by the beginning of 2007, I decided to stay mostly at home and play houseband to my newly-employed wife. About once a week I went to Quezon City to meet up with old buds and cook up concepts for new shows. Worked wonders on my self-esteem, but that's not the point of this tale.

It was during one of these meetings in a cafe along Tomas Morato that actor and director Richard Arellano pitched a germ of a concept: film and television actors bloodying each other in the boxing ring. Nginiiig! associate producer Ryan Evangelista and I immediately leapt upon that thought. It was very mainstream and very interesting. Admittedly, I knew nothing of boxing at that time but the mere idea of television celebrities duking it out on national TV seemed to me a fucking entertainment goldmine.

The short of it is that we fleshed out that concept and made an AVP out of it. Along the way, we had other brainstorming meetings for other concepts but the celebrity boxing show seemed to have the most promise. By March I was called upon to develop some new shows for ABS-CBN, Ryan was busy with various shows, and Richard was preoccupied with other projects. The celebrity boxing AVP was shelved. When pitching day came around some months ago, we decided to take out the AVP and present it to ABS-CBN's pantheon. We immediately got the green light. And that's how Pinoy Mano Mano was born. Hey, look, I don't have any pretensions that Pinoy Mano Mano isn't a rip-off of Stallone's boxing show, The Contender. On the other hand, Sly Stallone didn't have Justin Timberlake knocking Heath Ledger's teeth out. We have TJ Trinidad busting up Jordan Herrerra's nose. And that was just during a test episode. So y'all watch now, hear?

As the show gears up for our pilot episode on October 27, things are getting pretty hectic around the office. What I noticed amid this hubbub, however, is how the official story of who did what is getting muddled. Of course, I've always expected that when the network picks this baby up, I'm going to get pushed into the sidelines. Producers have a habit of doing that to writers. Not out of malice, though. It's just that writers aren't important enough in the scheme of things. People are starting to conveniently forget that there were three of us who fornicated with each other's brains and begat this mewling thing. Look, I'm not too much of a credit whore-- not more than most writers, at least-- but it'd be nice to hear my name once in awhile in press conferences instead of just the director. Realistically speaking though, it would be too much to expect. Hey, we made you head writer, right? What else do you want, a fucking medal?

Just watch the goddam show. Pinoy Mano Mano, hosted by Cesar Montano and Bayani Agbayani, airs on October 27, 2007 8:30 PM over at ABS-CBN.

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