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Only a few standouts in first live exam of ‘Artista Academy’

After auditions that attracted more than 12,000 wannabes at the Araneta Coliseum, that huge number has been reduced to 16 prospective stars who will be trained in singing, dancing and acting at TV5's "Artista Academy."

The Best Actor and Best Actress of the Academy will share P20 million in prizes, the biggest prize ever in the history of talent search contests.

Last Saturday, I watched the 16 contestants or scholars, as they are called, in what the Kapatid network billed as their first live exam.

The first thing I noticed was that six members of the group were half-Filipinos. Alberto Bruno and Jon Orlando are both Fil-Italians. Akihiro Blanco is Fil-Japanese. Mark Neumann is Fil-Croatian while Stephanie Rowe has a Brit for a dad.  Malak So Shdifat's father is Palestinian.

I was reminded of the Bb .Pilipinas beauty pageant where several contestants came from abroad.

Is this an indication that we are lacking in homegrown talents? Maybe TV5 should have widened the search to include the provincial areas.

Nicknames 'downgraded' contestants?

For reasons that I do not understand, the scholars were given nicknames that may have downgraded some of them. Certainly "Talented Sweetheart" "Artistic Chick" and "Class Leader" sound better than "Dancing Cutie" (Does that mean she can't sing?), "Athletic Beauty" (Is she aspiring to be the muse of a basketball team?), "Mysterious Force," "Miss Congeniality" (Everyone likes her but can she sing, dance or act?)

Their live exam consisted of singing and dancing in groups and walking down the ramp like fashion models.

I could not evaluate their musical and terpsichorean talents as they performed in groups. Besides, the numbers were quite simple. There were no acting exams so I suppose these will come in future episodes.

'Ganda, galing at dating'

The judges or critics as they were called were Talent Center Head Mac Alejandre and actresses Lorna Tolentino and Gelli de Belen. There seemed to be no criteria issued to them so each one had his or her own basis for evaluating the scholars.

Alejandre was looking for "Ganda," "Galing" and "Dating." Lorna T considered attitude as an important element aside from charisma and talent. (I don't know how she judged the scholars' attitude.) Gelli de Belen added "handa magtrabaho." (Again, I don't think this could be evaluated in last Saturday's show.)

The exam ended with emcee Cesar Montano announcing the judges' choices for the day's live exam: Top Male — Mark Neumann and Vin Abrenica (each one got an average grade of 92%) and Top Female—Julia Quisumbing (92.33%).

When asked by Cesar earlier what grade she would give herself, Julia shyly replied, "85". Mark was more assertive when he shouted, "100 percent!" Monday, one of the 16 will be sent home for getting the lowest grade

Agreed with choices

Mark got my vote too for his boyish charm that will appeal to teens while Vin had a strong stage presence that will serve him well as a drama actor.

It was kind of disappointing, though, to hear their comments after their names were called. Julia merely said, "Thank you," while the guys muttered, "Sobrang masarap." They have to be more expressive than that in future shows.

I fully agree with the critics' choices but I would also give good grades to  Shaira Mae, Chanel Morales, Malak and Brent Manzano.

Speaking of Montano, the director should remind him that he's hosting a TV show so there's no need to project his voice to be heard. He was obviously relating to the studio audience when he should be more concerned with the bigger audience at home. Otherwise, he did a good job.

Too early to pass judgment

It's too early to pass judgment on this group of wannabes because they really didn't do much.

The succeeding episodes where there will hopefully be individual performances and acting exams should give a better idea of possible names who have a good chance of bagging the P20 million.

I'm also glad that text votes from the audience will only account for 20 percent of the student's grades. The scores of the critics and Asian Academy of Television Arts director Wilma Galvante will account for the bigger percentage of the final grade.

Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed.

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