By: Alwin M. Ignacio

The most phenomenal reality based artista search on TV, Starstruck, is back. After a hiatus of five years, it is now celebrating its sixth season, giving young hopefuls the chance to make it big in the celluloid world.

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It has been more than a decade since this search opened doors to young men and women, who had artista aspirations. These juveniles, literally plucked from obscurity, were transformed and their metamorphosis, transpired in front of the TV audiences eyes. The teens and the challenges they underwent – acting, dancing, singing and hosting – were chronicled to the delight of the public.
          Starstruck was one of the shows credited in helping GMA 7 achieve its number one status.  The “Originals” of the first batch, the male and female grand victors were Mark Herras and Jennlyn Mercado. The first prince and princess were Rainier Castillo and Yasmien Kurdy. The 35 new artista hopefuls are all set to enamor and hopefully beguile the audiences to support and love them. In fairness to this season’s contenders, majority of them already are artista looking. The young men that seemingly have a lot of promise are Kyle Vergara, Prince Clemente, James Teng and Avery Paraiso.
And how about the young misses? Well, let us just say that they are pretty, young things. This season’s hosts are Dingdong Dantes (the original host since the very first incarnation) and the very first Filipina Ms. World, former StarStruck Avenger and the new Marimar, Megan Young.
Making up the StarStruck Council are Dantes, Jennylyn Mercado, Regine Velasquez-Alcasid and Joey De Leon.11998560_10153702670522323_704839593_n11995637_10153702670702323_2044505864_n Segment hosts are Mark Herras (original male winner and survivor, known as the Bad Boy on the Dance Floor), Kris Bernal (season 4 grand female winner), Miguel Tanfelix (1st runner up of Starstruck Kids and now a certified Kapuso cutie) and Rocco Nacino (last season’s second prince and the last man standing from his batch).
With its comeback, some serious questions and situations that the reality based artista search should and must address.
Steven Silva and Sarah Lahbati were the victors of the last Starstruck incarnation. Sadly, the two did not become major, major stars and now they are no longer under contract with the Kapuso network. Will they be given participation or be mentioned at all during this season’s run? Or will they share the same fate of Rainier Castillo, the Original First Prince, whose name and image were not shown nor mentioned because Castillo, for a certain time, became a member of the Kapatid (TV 5) network.
And how do they solve a problem like Alden Richards? He did not even make it to the final cut, and yet, he is the biggest star of the moment. Even if you combine all the pixie dusts used and supposedly artista powers of all the former male grand victors – from Mark Herras, Mike Tan, the late Marky Cielo, Aljur Abrenica, Mart Escudero and Silva — they are no way near the popularity, love and support being enjoyed by the “Pambansang Dimples.”
Being the talent of APT, his career nowadays is truly a stellar. Richards is assured of proper guidance and judicious career planning and path. He is now eminently shining and he is here for the long haul. Is Alden a clear case of “TAMANG PANAHON”?
How about Cristine Reyes and Paulo Avelino who are both StarStruck avengers? How can they explain the reality that when the two became Kapamilyas, their names and stature became bigger, and they had their fair share of hit movies and most watched teleseryes? When they were under the network’s management, their careers can be best described as in the “neither here, nor there” category. How come they struck gold as ABS-CBN talents?
Of all the Starstruck graduates, it is only Jennylyn Mercado who really achieved stellar status and yes, she is without any doubt, a BANKABLE female star. Aside from being proclaimed as the sexiest Pinay alive, she already has a best actress trophy. My Faithful Husband, her new soap with Dennis Trillo, is figuring prominently in its primetime slot, and English Only Please, made a box-office killing during its MMFF run last year.
And what have become of the former winners? In the case of Herras, the public only became curious of him when he and Martin del Rosario played secret lovers in Karelasyon. Mike Tan? His presence did not at all help in making The Rich Man’s Daughter an LGBT guilty pleasure. Ryza Cenon? She was last seen as a co-host in Wowowin. She also became an FHM cover girl but it did not stir the male populace arousal. Jackie Rice has become one of those decorative belles in Kapuso TV shows and those who are planning her career are in all time high state of confusion; they do not know if Jackie is “pambida” or “kontrabida.” Jewel Mische, who is really a great beauty, has found her happily ever after with Alister Kurzer.
What we expect from the StarStruck council now is to choose the ones who are drop dead handsome and beautiful. The other artista requirements, such as acting, hosting, singing at dancing are skills that can be learned. The things that are not seen by the naked eye – charisma, the ability to make people giddy, unexplainable X factor, the wow factor and that special trait that can make someone oooh and aaah because of one’s virility and sexual machismo for the males and that femininity and sex kittenish vibe for the females – these are some of the ingredients that the Council must be conscious of so that would be winners can sustain the public’s curiosity and support.
Aside from looks and talent, a great manager, network backing and string of projects, we must also factor in “luck” and “prayers.” Dreaming and believing are the easier steps; it’s the “surviving” in the entertainment industry that great divide happens between stars, starlets and the real superstars.

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