Life! Television

Has the dust finally settled on ‘Eat Bulaga’?


Questions about the ongoing controversy surrounding “Eat Bulaga!” were discouraged at a recent press conference for Vic Sotto’s upcoming sitcom, “Open 24/7.”

Out of respect, no one dared bring up the topic at the event’s Q&A session. But as soon as parting messages were said and group shots with the cast were taken, show biz reporters—anticipating that Vic would be promptly whisked away by his minders—crowded around the stage in hopes of stalling the host and wringing out a comment from him.

Amid a gaggle of media people, the 69-year-old star inched his way out of the venue, which was a repurposed dining hall in a Quezon City hotel. At first, it looked like Vic was bent on keeping his lips sealed. But he couldn’t help but relent to the clamor and barrage of questions.

“Bossing, totoo bang bayad na?” he was asked in relation to Sen. Tito Sotto’s earlier revelations on a GMA 7 podcast that “Bulaga’s” producer, TAPE, Inc. —now mostly controlled by majority owner Romeo Jalosjos Sr. and his family—owed Vic and cohost Joey de Leon P30 million in unpaid talent fees for the year 2022.

“Basta bayad na. OK na,” quipped Vic, who finally stopped walking upon realizing that the press wouldn’t let up without getting a sound bite or two. “It’s not a joke,” he said, when asked if he was being serious and not just playing along. “Buti na lang na-media, nabayaran ako. ‘Di ko naman inaasahan ‘yun, pero thank you.”

Vic neither confirmed nor denied the P30 million figure quoted by Sen. Tito. “Secret!” he said. Whispers within the show biz beat, however, allege that Vic was actually owed more than P40 million.

‘No comment’

While he admitted that he feels more comfortable with the Kapuso network, Vic declined to talk about speculation that “Bulaga” is currently in talks with TV5 and NET 25 for a potential change in home base. “No comment. To be fair to GMA 7, this is a media conference for ‘Open 24/7.’ As much as possible, I don’t want to comment about another show,” he said. “Bali-balita lang ‘yan,” said the veteran actor and television host. In his closing message, Vic thanked a GMA 7 executive for pushing through with “Open 24/7 kahit na anong mangyari.” Asked by the Inquirer to elaborate on what he meant by that, he said: “Kahit anong mangyari naman talaga, sama-sama kami.”Vic also stressed that, for him, Sen. Tito and Joey—collectively known as TVJ—it was never about money. “We started out with ‘Bulaga’ na halos walang sinusweldo. Pero OK lang. Sabi ko nga, ‘di naman pera-pera ang usapan—mas mahalaga ang prinsipyo sa pera,” he said.

Amid persistent talks about the power struggle between the Jalosjos family and the “Bulaga” camp, Dapitan City Mayor and now TAPE chief finance officer Bullet Jalosjos gave an interview on “Fast Talk with Boy Abunda” last month, wherein he discussed his family’s alleged takeover, the show’s impending “rebranding” and financial situation. The “Bulaga” team is known for lying low amid issues or controversies. People within the group typically don’t comment or go to the press until matters are fully resolved. In fact, the Inquirer’s requests for comments or interviews with current and former “Bulaga” executives remain unreturned.

Unpaid talent fees

Needless to say, Mayor Bullet’s television appearance—and the “false” statements that were made—rubbed Sen. Tito the wrong way, prompting him to break his silence on the GMA 7 podcast, “Updated with Nelson Canlas.”

Sen. Tito was particularly incensed by Mayor Bullet’s remarks that TVJ “can’t live without ‘Eat Bulaga’” and that the pioneering hosts would be “retained”—as if they’re dispensable assets and not synonymous with the variety show itself. It was on the podcast that Sen. Tito revealed that TAPE still owed Joey and Vic millions in unpaid talent fees.

Meanwhile, when asked if the dust has finally settled between the “Bulaga” camp and the Jalosjos family, Vic said that he will “comment on that when the right time comes.” “Sa tamang panahon,” Vic—referencing the famous “Kalyeserye” catchphrase—said as he walked away.


Cebuano stars: ‘Eat Bulaga’ changed our lives

TAGS: Celebrities, entertainment, GMA
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