They say I have a glamorous job—and why not? I get invited to events promoting movies, TV shows, theater productions, and consumer products with celebrity endorsers. I get to talk to and exchange text messages with showbiz stars. I get to have Facebook friends and Instagram followers with recognizable names. I get to visit the rich and the famous in their homes, sit in their sofas, check out their bedrooms and bathrooms, and dine with them as they share private details about their lives and loves.
But all of the above are just perks of being an entertainment writer or a journalist covering the showbiz beat.
My job is to get the story while attending those events, doing those interviews, and making those house visits. I have to listen, record, and take down notes. I have to interview not only the actors, but also the people involved in their projects, careers, and personal matters. I have to do a research, the range of which depends on the type of assignment I’m working on. Then, I have to write a newsworthy item, an interesting feature, or an in-depth piece. If needed, I have to do a follow-up interview and a fact-checking session.
If you think that’s still a breeze, imagine trying to get Derek Ramsay open up about his legal battle with his estranged wife or obtaining official records on the Vhong Navarro case.
Speaking of official records, many of those are hard enough to gain access to and harder still to navigate the rules of law that say which is and which is not public information. The Family Court, which hears petitions of, to name a few, marital annulment and of violence committed against women and their children, have very strict laws. The names of the involved minors aren’t supposed to be mentioned in media reports and their faces shouldn’t be seen in print or onscreen. Information and details gleaned from affidavits and testimonies are classified as confidential. So I’ll have to find other ways, other sources that will corroborate my primary materials, and make sure that they have enough credibility and much trustworthiness.
Trust, just like time, is of the essence in entertainment journalism (you already know that there are deadlines to meet, but you may not know that there are times when interviews are set just a few days before the deadlines). This is especially true when my assignment involves sensitive issues or requires specific details. My source or sources, such as the stars and other people in the know have to trust me and the publication that I represent that I will write the story with accuracy and objectivity.
And I must trust them that after the story comes out, they will stand by their statements and not deny anything. So it really pays to get the facts right, ask pertinent questions, and, when in doubt about the answers, request for a clarification. Most importantly, respect their wish to remain anonymous or to keep some remarks off-the-record.
One rare complaint I’ve received was from the PR person of a talent agency known for coddling its uniformly wholesome young stars. I wrote about two of their talents who make up a popular love team for a light feature on them and their TV show. The guy had a habit of cursing. He let loose with a volley of P.I.’s and other curse words during our interview. But I decided to use in one his quotes the word putsa, which he uttered as a mere expression. The PR person said I shouldn’t have mentioned putsa in my article. I told the PR person that the male young star said many curse words, but I opted for the mildest and least offensive. The PR person was unconvinced. I let it pass. Recently, that male young star got into trouble for unruly behavior, including cursing some female colleagues.
Going back to what this little essay is all about, well, I have to be up-to-date with what’s new and happening in the entertainment world. Not only the chismis, mind you. But the current craze on TV, in the movies, and in other platforms like traditional arts and social media. Thankfully, I have a genuine interest in knowing why, for instance, AlDub and the rest of Eat Bulaga’s kalyeserye are driving a big chunk of the TV-viewing public in and out of the country crazily entertained.
I also try to watch the latest small screen fare, either during its original broadcast or later online, and the most recent big screen offerings at the cinema. This way, I know, for example, the history of JaDine love team, from their first hit movies Diary ng Panget and Talk Back and You’re Dead, to their current top-rating teledrama On the Wings of Love.
The bottom line is just like any job, mine entails patience and hard work—although, of course, not everybody gets the chance to be tightly hugged by a shirtless Dennis Trillo during a photo shoot or to stay overnight in one of Willie Revillame’s posh digs for a two-day shoot. As a bonus, I slept in the same bed slept in by Tricia Centenera on the eve of her Tagaytay Highlands wedding to Gab Valenciano.
What’s really gratifying about my line of work is having the privilege of interviewing iconic stars like Vilma Santos, Eddie Garcia, and Tirso Cruz III, and learn firsthand from them the secret to their stellar success and staying power. Ditto for revered thespians like Joel Torre, Ronnie Lazaro, and Pen Medina, and discuss with them the craft and discipline of acting. They are great artists yet they are so humble and giving.
PHOTO: Pixabay; GIFs: Giphy