Poet of Millions is currently sweeping the Arab region. A singing contest that can be likened to our very own Tawag ng Tanghalan where talent was honed, where prize money was secondary and where prestige was the primary concern, the Arabic talent search version is supported by the government of the United Arab Emirates and is being currently appreciated by the other Arab countries in the region.
But amid the cultural flavor being espoused by the show, Poet of Millions is still a Money Show. With an eliminations and final round, contestants have the chance to win big prize money. And being a Money Show, the so-called Gulf Singers try to outdo each other for the money… and fame as secondary motivation only.
Tawag Ng Tanghalan can be considered as the first Money Show in the Philippines. Money Show is loosely translated as a television, radio or stage show which gives out money as prize for a contest. And that contest can be anything, from talent search or a simple parlor game or a mere raffle. Interestingly, Pepe Pimentel, the impresario of Kwarta O Kahon, the most popular Money Show in the Philippines during the Black and White TV era, was the first champion of Tawag Ng Tanghalan.
Being a Money Show is the focal point of the local noontime shows. With the fierce rivalry of the networks, Money Shows on television are getting to be too generous for comfort. Where it used to be in thousands, the prize grew to hundred thousands and now it is in millions of pesos.
The Itaktak Mo portion of Eat Bulaga promises to give away a sports vehicle plus one hundred thousand in cash, depending on the luck of the contestant. Wowowee, the rival noontime show, wouldn’t be left behind with its own brand of giving away money to contestants from all walks of life. Noontimes shows, probably in their fervent desire to outshine the competition, sometimes make the contestants look silly but still game and hopeful – just for the love of winning the prize money and a little TV exposure maybe.
Since Money Shows are focused on the prize money, compassion (or exuding a semblance of compassion) is cultivated to the fullest. Psychologists say that the audience watch Money Shows for the entertaining aspect, i.e. seeing the contestant win hence game show hosts have that common virtue called generosity at the expense of the show’s producer and to the anxiety of their sponsors.
In the On the Spot segment of Eat Bulaga exclusively for Artists, the question for the grand prize was “What is the most expensive painting?” Since Rio, the contestant, is an artist from Angono, he knew the correct answer – Starry, Starry Night which was painted by Vincent Van Gogh. Unfortunately, the writers of Eat Bulaga have the wrong answer in Mona Lisa. And fortunately, Vic Sotto whispered to Rio, “Babae yun, babae yun!” Rio, whose wife was still in the hospital that time after giving birth to their firstborn, immediately changed his answer to Mona Lisa. And although factually, it was the wrong answer, Mona Lisa had earned him one hundred thousand in cash. “Actually tseke po pero hindi naman tumalbog,” intimated Rio who paid P5,000 for the transportation of all artists who went to the studio, donated P5,000 to the Angono Artists Guild and shed off another P3,000 for the merienda blowout to his co-artists. (Rio was personally interviewed by the author last August 10).
“Ninety-two na po kayo?” blurted Willie Revillame to an old lady standing as contestant to the Bigaten portion. “Opo,” declared the old woman who, she confessed, lives alone in her shack and who survives just through the doleouts of neighbors. Truly a tear-jerker of sorts, the elderly contestant expectedly failed to win the draw and was eventually eliminated but later on gained prize money when the compassionate TV host asked the audience for donations. After passing the hat around, the 92-year old losing contestant was all smiles with the countless peso and dollar bills in her hand. That incident makes it a Money Show within a Money Show!
Slingo is a new Money Show by Joey De Leon. Quite complicated with the elimination round, Slingo requires little knowledge but a lot of luck from the contestants. Questions can be answered by elementary students but the final round bingo is conducted via random lottery of numbers. Unlike Slingo, Game Ka na Ba?, now hosted by Edu Manzano, is purely an IQ game where contestants should have an encyclopedia in their heads. But past winners proved to be no geniuses at all, “Natyempo lang po na nasa review ko ang mga tanong,” said one who had earned P300,000 for three days of being champion.
Tok, Tok, Tok is another new Money Show with Paolo Bediones at the helm plus the charisma of the Sex Bomb Dancers to soothe the apprehension of the contestants. A very complicated game, Tok, Tok, Tok, is a mixture of an IQ game, fear factor and it’s more like a Truth and Consequence game. Similar to this is Celebrity Duets where the contestant is paired with a real singer where the objective is to render a good singing performance. Shall We Dance, hosted by Lucy Torres and Dominic Ochoa, has the same concept where the winning duo could bring home half a million pesos in prizes. Tirso Cruz III and partner Mia Pangyarihan of the Sex Bomb Dancers were the first couple to win the championship.
A psychologist postulated that Money Show contestants have the inclination to become actors in front of the camera. “Kung ordinary person ka lang, hindi mo naman kayang mag-isip pag alam mong nakatutok sa iyo ang camera dahil conscious ka na sa dami ng taong nakatingin sa iyo.” Indeed, there are some contestants who suffer a mental blockout and tend to forget the answer to even the simplest and most common question. That may be the reason why Money Shows have dynamic hosts so as to deaden the stage fright of the contestants. “Actually kahit mga artista na talaga ay nasisira pa rin sa harap ng camera pag contest na ang pinag-uusapan. It’s something like you are putting your brain in the scrutiny of the audience.”
Understandably for All Star K: The Videoke Challenge, celebrity contestants almost always fail to get a perfect score in the song lyrics. And being a teamwork game, the management rarely gets a scare for the one million jackpot prize. Unlike other Money Shows, All Star K involves knowledge in songs, not really music, and also requires a little talent in singing. So being a good singer is not a passport for winning the Videoke challenge of Allan K and Jaya.
“The only show which gives away the biggest prize money,” so goes Kris Aquino’s spiel in her high-rating game show Deal Or No Deal every weeknights. With the studio contestant having the probability to win P3 million and to count the P1.5 million possible winnings of the home partner, that’s a total of P4.5 million to be given out in one fateful evening. In one episode where the choices left were two numbers containing either P2 million or P3 million, the banker’s offer was a high of P2.25 million. The contestant didn’t take the offer for a “no deal” and let Kris open the remaining briefcases. As luck would have it, the contestant’s briefcase had P2 million thereby losing P250 thousand more in the process. But still and all, the P2 million won by that contestant and the P1 million won by the home partner can be considered the highest in Philippine Money Shows on television. Can you beat that?
Based on simple mathematics, a one-minute commercial spot can be sold to a sponsor for P150 thousand to P180 thousand, and a one-hour show with ten minutes of commercial gaps can have a revenue of around P1.8 million. How come some shows can give away more than a million in prize money? And to think that they have a very high overhead for the talents and the studio and the equipment and the… Figures are not that too important for Money Shows as long as the viewership shows good figures. Networks are willing to invest in the viewership up to the extent of spending more than the projected revenue. But in the long run, the high rating of the show gives them a marketing edge when it comes to soliciting sponsors.
Prizes galore on Philippine television has become a standard for variety shows. Games are getting more complicated but more entertaining and more rewarding. And considering the cash prize plus the TV exposure that one gets, the long line of contestants for Money Shows will always be there. As they ask, “Game ka na ba?” and the catchy reply would be “Itak, itak, itaktak mo!”
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