INSTEAD of getting kicked out, controversial TV host Willie Revillame and his game show have received a ?gift? worth millions from the home network.
According to Jay Montelibano, business unit head of the reformatted program, now called ?Wil Time Bigtime,? TV5 spent P16 million for the LED (light-emitting diode) flooring that premiered on the show Saturday.
?That doesn?t include the software and the [LED screens] mounted on the center wall, which cost P12 million, and those on the sides, another P6 million,? Montelibano told Inquirer after the show.
?Wil Time Bigtime? is a coproduction of TV5 and Revillame?s Wil Productions. TV5 senior vice president and COO Roberto Barreiro said, ?We?ve long thought of improving the show?even before the controversy. While the show was off the air, we took the time [to install the new equipment].?
The game show formerly called ?Willing Willie? stopped airing on April 9 following protests because of its March 12 episode, where a 6-year-old did the ?macho dance.?
The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board ordered a 30-day suspension of the show, but counted the period of the show?s voluntary suspension.
Montelibano said the production team ?felt vindicated? on account of TV5?s support. ?This kept us going,? he said. ?MVP [TV5 chair Manny Pangilinan] said he didn?t want Willie to quit. He said Willie?s pain was also his pain; Willie?s strength was also his strength.?
Revillame?s cohost, Valenzuela councilor Shalani Soledad, said Pangilinan and TV5 ?took [good] care of us? We [were paid] even while the show was not airing.?
But Pangilinan wasn?t around to watch on Saturday, as he did on October 23, when the show premiered. Barreiro said the chairman was in California. ?Before he left,? Barreiro said, ?he told production, ?Paghusayan, pagandahin at mag-ingat.??
The controversy had resulted in ad pull-outs. Montelibano said negotiations with advertisers began last week. ?I?m confident that most of them will come back,? he said. ?I personally met with them. They?re very responsive to the changes.?
On Saturday, it was as if nothing happened. Revillame was back to his confident self. He even kissed rumored girlfriend Soledad?s hand.
Prayers were said five minutes before airing at 5 p.m. The opening number featured the 18-member Bigtime Girls, formerly WW Girls, as well as hosts Sugar Mercado, Aimee Hart and Baby Saya.
Revillame exchanged jokes with guests Rico J. Puno, Nonoy Zuñiga, Marco Sison and Richard Gomez during the ?Wil Time Bigtime? segment, which also featured young actresses Carla Humphries, Ritz Azul and Arcee Munoz. This was the same segment where Jan-Jan Suan, 6, performed a macho dance.
During the show, Revillame announced an upcoming world tour as part of the promotion for TV5?s international channel to be launched later this year. He thanked those who supported him ?when I doubted myself.?
?The show?s new title has an international [ring] to it. It would be easier to promote when we go abroad,? explained Montelibano. ?Since we changed 85 percent of the content, we thought of changing the title as well.?