Cutting ties and loyalty change: from a Kapuso to Kapamilya and vice versa

by Nickie Wang

It’s not surprising that one talent jumps from one station to another. Oftentimes, it’s the most logical and practical decision to do. Take for example Heart Evangelista, before she moved to GMA-7, her star was already waning in ABS-CBN.

Heart is a classic example of an actor that made a good and practical decision. Her loyalty change favored her generously. But this is not the same fate that happened to Claudine Barretto and Cesar Montano. When they cut their ties with their mother network and decided to jump ship, it became more obvious that they are no longer at the top of their respective careers.

Another in showbiz recent history, Angel Locsin, who was GMA-7’s prized star for headlining top-rating series, made a controversial move in 2007. As opposed to the public’s speculation, Angel’s career didn’t die, although competition in ABS-CBN is stiffer than in GMA-7 for major projects. Angel has been able to maintain her status as a star and remained very much in the loop. Angel’s fate in Kapamilya network, on the other hand, is not the same as that of Jewel Mische’s. After she moved to ABS-CBN, she has only been given one lead role in a miniseries. Now, she is only seen doing bit roles.

Now here comes another Kapuso star that cut his ties with his mother network and decided to ink a more lucrative contract with ABS-CBN. Twenty-three-year-old Paulo Avelino is now a certified Kapamilya.

The young actor, who has a son with LJ Reyes, started in the reality talent show StarStruck (the same batch as Aljur Abrenica and Jewel Mische). As Kapuso, he became part of more than a dozen shows. His last project was a series called Alakdana where he played one of the lead roles. Sure the Kapamilya network offered him a much better deal, because amid of constant promise that he would be given more and better projects in GMA-7, he still decided to leave.

According to Paulo, he decided to switch network because he believes it will help him grow not just as an actor and as an individual, “I want to explore out of my comfort zone and reinvent myself as an actor and as an artist.”

And that’s what we have heard from all the other talents who had switched networks. We just hope he made the right decision.

The prize of being an exclusive talent

We can easily identify whether an artist is a Kapamilya or a Kapuso or a Kapatid contract artist. Each station has its own lineup of big stars that headline programs and series pitted against each other colorfully creating a virtual war for ratings supremacy. But who benefits from the network war, and does being an exclusive talent to a television network do any good in someone’s career? 

Healthy competition is undoubtedly an alien word to any network. All they want is to claim the top spot in terms of viewership, audience share, ad loads and ultimately, revenue. But what the media consumers are being left with are programs with poor quality and mindless content. Television remakes and adaptation, for example, reinforces television networks’ inability to come up with new concepts. 

In the middle of this complacency are the television stars that are either remembered for their role or easily forgotten for not making an impact on the viewers. The reality is, being an actor in this generation is difficult compared to the previous decades. Television has an overflowing supply of actor wannabes. One is lucky enough to have an exclusive network because it guarantees paycheck or honorarium every month (until the contract expires). Some contract artists are even more fortunate for having an exclusive and guaranteed contract, which will give salary with or without projects. 

Once an artist’s contract ends, the option of moving to a different television station is one of the available options. We often hear a big star has decided to shift loyalty as he or she finds a better opportunity in a different management. Then again, moving from one network to another is not an assurance the star will have the same success. There are many ABS-CBN stars that transferred to GMA-7 and vice versa (or recently to TV5), who instantly lost their career. 

Cutting ties with a network is not an easy decision but it’s a gamble, a few artists where able to maintain their stars and some even made their stars shine brighter. It depends if their fans, which are usually more loyal to the channel than the stars, would follow their appearance in the rival station. 

In a bigger picture, being an exclusive talent has its own pros and cons. For one, it limits the artist’s potential to grow a fan base, but his or her being an exclusive star can keep his or her bank account alive with constant activity. 

In South Korea, the home of the popular television dramas and series which take the whole region by storm, talent management is not exclusive to a television network. There are separate agencies that supply actors to television stations. Best examples are YG Entertainment, SM Entertainment and JYP Entertainment. These independent agencies also produce music record album, build up artists for movies and television, and other major entertainment events. The talents from these agencies then can have all the exposure they could get because they are not subject to network exclusivity.

YG Entertainment, SM Entertainment and JYP Entertainment and three other agencies in South Korea joined forces to create a huge Asian management agency, a joint investment that aims to develop an industry that will be acting as the global agency for artists planning to advance, or currently promoting, overseas. So that explains why Korean wave is almost everywhere now.

If only local talent management agencies and television networks have a similar perspective in developing Filipino artists, then it wouldn’t be hard for them to introduce more local artists in global stage. Unfortunately, this will never happen. They are more focused in claiming being the number one station having all the top-rating programs and series.

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