Thursday, April 7, 2011


Celebrities are part of our everyday lives. They influence our decision on buying items in the grocery or in the mall. They shape our fashion and sense of projection. They are hot icons that tickle our senses especially whenever they plunge into different controversies. 

Apart from the massive fortune, their popularity is like a pedestal who most people would love to attain. And in that factor, it is no surprise that a lot of "fanatics" push themselves to be like their  idols.

Interestingly, before celebrities rise to fame, some of them start their way from Star Searches. With the boom of reality talent searches across the globe, the road to stardom has never been packed with thousands of hopefuls. 

Apparently, what most people don't know, these talent shows or star searches are far more dramatic and chaotic when the lights and camera shut off.

Star Search in the Philippines have been part of the Pinoy’s celebrity-craze culture. Whether it’s a talent show or some simple singing contest, Filipinos would definitely take time to watch Star Searches. Especially in today’s format of ala-reality TV wherein all the secrets of the contestants are revealed, star searches are definitely a hit in a Pinoy’s heart. 

Apart from thousands of televiewers and screaming fans, a lot also aspire to be in the boob tube. But, have you ever wondered, how a star search begins? What if you want to audition? Is that easy to be star in today's instant fame culture?
The Making of a Show and The Auditions
I was once a producer and a writer of some talent search in the Philippines. I was also a part of a popular idol search. With this experience, I would like to share to all of you the "magic" behind these star searches.

The auditions. Take for example you want to audition for a talent show. Believe it or not, the moment you fall in line during the auditions and fill up you form, the producers are already checking on you. They start judging if you are could be considered an “eye candy” or simply a “clown”  for the show.

An eye candy is someone who is handsome and beautiful. It always boils down to the physical as television is a visual medium. On one hand, sexy and hunky individuals are used to tease the viewers. They are positioned as sex object (in subtext).

The "clown" are those personas that the show use to attract fun or entertainment for the show. Sadly, it has been a tradition in star searches to put "funny" people as an object of entertainment. The producers will milk out the "fun" in them by shooting crazy sitners and even weird dramatizations. Any outrageous footage shall be aired to rake in ratings. 

Most of the time, producers get sitners. Sitners are video clips that are inserted in the VTR. The VTR, is the short video that you see on television.

Sitners are required to be attractive and definitely unique. In a talent search, most producers look for weird looking people. The more you dress loudly, the more you’ll get the producer’s attention. But hey, getting their attention won’t get you to pass into the auditions. Sadly, some producers use your character for the show to rate (as mentioned a while ago). Too bad, right?

Then you fall in line packed with confidence. Once the audition starts, you get goosebumps. Then it;s your turn. Soon, the judges will give their comments. Lucky you if you pass, but if not, that’s sad. Perhaps you may ask, why you didn’t pass?

From a producer’s perspective, there are different things in looking why you didn't pass.

First, you are plain and you don’t have the star factor. That’s what judges always say, right. Star Factor is defined as a character or uniqueness. It’s a wow factor. Moreover, star factor is defined by the judges as “saleable.” Meaning to say, if they will put you on cam and be in the show, would you make money for them?

Sad reality, star factor is always (sometimes) based on the physical. As I've said, television is a visual medium. It is also a discriminating medium especially in the field of entertainment media. 

Second, you don’t look mestiso or mestisa. Sadly, producers are psyched to get only those mestiso and mestisa. Believe it or not, even those with little talent are brought to the next round. Yes, just because they're maputi and matangos ang ilong.

Third, you don’t have a good story. Producers look for those iyakan stories. They want devastation. They want poverty. They want drama. If in the beginning, you don’t have that drama, forget about auditioning (which should not be the case, right?). 

Sadly, producers bank on this because of the ratings game. If you will observe, the story of a contestant’s life is what the producers highlight during the show. And soon, you’ll get to see taglines like “Ang babaeng palaban” and a lot more taglines. 

Fourth, you don’t have a manager who takes care of you. Believe it or not, some who audition are backed up by talent managers. These managers take care of them, from physical to emotional confidence. What’s sad, some managers have connections among the producers of the show. And so, they get in. Too bad, right?

Fifth, there are too many passers in your area. Yes oh yes, now that the competition is going national, most producers would want to get contestants from different regions. Unfortunately, if you’re late and there are already a lot of passers in your region, you may no longer take the cut.

Sixth, you are gay. Sadly, gay people are cut out during auditions. Although some of them pass, still, they become an object of spectacle during production. A manly looking person who reaches a high key girly song would definitely be a talk of the town. That’s what producers want. Unfortunately, ethically, that’s abusive. And in today’s time, star searches bank on that to rake in profit from advertisers. The more viewers, the more advertisers to get in and more money for the show. 
To avoid ridiculous and lambasting remarks on sexuality, gay people would tend to hide their real sexuality just to be in. Discreetness among handsome gay people are encouraged (talk about a homophobic culture). This is no wonder why there are closet celebrities. They just want to protect themselves from being thrown out in the spotlight.

Lastly, you don’t have a potential to kiss ass. There are a lot of stories that an aspiring star slept with a talent handler or a producer just to be in the competition. Some may be true but some may just be a rumor. Sadly, in this game of instant glitz and glamour, some abusive producers take advantage of their position just to deceive some aspiring celebrities. 

To be continued...

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