To say that top television host Boy Abunda has come a long way is an understatement. Dubbed as the “King of Talk” for his riveting questions and intelligent discourses, he continues to lord over the TV genre even as most showbiz talk shows have gone of the air in the last few years.
For the information of millennials, especially, it should be noted that the 60-year-old is more than just a television host. Abunda—or “Tito Boy” as the younger generation has come to know him—is publicist and talent manager as well.
Twenty-five years ago, he built his company Backroom Inc. as a talent management and public relations firm, which continues to handle the careers of some of the most famous artists in the entertainment industry. Among them are Ai-Ai de las Alas, Gretchen Barretto, Dawn Zulueta, Mariel Rodriguez, Drew Arellano and Bianca Gonzalez, to name a few.
It therefore came a surprise on Thursday during his launch as brand ambassador for Swiss watch brand TechnoMarine’s Cruise Medusa model, that one of the most prominent talent management companies in showbiz is soon folding up.
“Backroom is slowly closing down. I’ve turned over its operations to my most senior employees [over the last so many years], and with this, I’ll be absorbing some of them while others will go to Asian Artist Agency.”
Asian Artist Agency, or AAA, according to Abunda, is a platform in creating Asian superstars. Like Backroom, it will act as a unified talent and booking agency, but the difference is that it will cross borders to manage and market the careers of Asian artists, including directors, writers, performers, singers, athletes, actor to different parts of the world.
As part of the group organizing AAA, Abunda related, “We are hoping to launch by 2017, but now what we are doing is sort of the infrastructure of the organization. In Asian Artist Agency, we are not buyers, since we don’t have much resources for that. Right now, we visit different countries, and we’re building relationships because we want to find out what their respective showbiz industries really need. Be it model or a singer, we will look for who you want. It’s sort of like a trading model, except we bring to them are talents.”
Asked what will happen to Backroom’s current roster of talents, he assured, “We will maintain our Philippine Asian Artists, including Indonesian Asian Artists. I feel really excited. What will be the result? I don’t know too but what I know is that will try our best to do this.”
Celebrity drug tests
Despite the demanding schedule his latest undertaking demands, Abunda said that he continues to actively manage the careers of his current brood of artists. This despite the breaks he took to focus on his aging mother’s health, and when he suffered a severe liver condition in 2014.
“My mother is stable now, and I’m in the pink of health, so I’m continuously managing my artists. I can’t leave this part of my career because I like doing it, and because it’s part of my life,” he explained.
“Unknown to most, I spend a lot my time in handling the contracts of Kris Aquino, Dawn Zulueta, Gretchen Barretto, Ai-Ai delas Alas, Bianca Gonzalez, Drew Arellano, and Mariel Rodriguez,” he enumerated.
With his manager’s hat on, Abunda took questions on his views about the drug issue in relation to celebrities, he said, “Celebrities should be treated as any regular citizen. If different sectors of society are being investigated for drugs or taking drug test, celebrities should be and should do too.
“Sometimes, showbiz complains, why are we being singled out? But why should we expect special treatment? So if drug tests need to be done among artists, why not. That is my stand.”
Abunda continued, “In my opinion, what is done to one sector should be applicable to all. Let us not impose anything that we cannot impose on ourselves. So if the fight is fair, it has to be fair. What I just hope is that there will be vetting process when it comes to investigations—they should be carefully done.
“I haven’t been able to talk to my talents about undergoing drug testing but for sure if they really require it, I will tell them to do it—including the talents from Asian Artist Agency,” he vowed.
Pinned down by the press, Abunda was unable to escape talking about his best friend and talent Kris Aquino, whom The Manila Times Entertainment first reported to have signed on with TAPE, Inc., a known ally of GMA Network. [Showbuzz by Lhar Santiago, August 19, 2016].
Apparently kept in the dark about her decision until she had officially signed a contract, Abunda said of the surprise his “Krissy” pulled, “My relationship with her never changed. I still handle her contracts. We still talk everyday about everything and nothing. I also want to be clear that it is not true that I quit as her manager.
“What I just can’t comment on is the new relationship she entered with APT and Mr. Tony Tuviera because none of them have said anything. Kris is not talking, nor Tony. ABS-CBN is also not saying anything about the situation so why would I say anything about it now?” he explained.
“I can only say that they indeed had a meeting. I’m not privy to many things, like how extensive were the discussion, the dialogue—I don’t really know. The whole narrative will all be out as soon as they speak. I’m just really shy to speak up or say something before them because I’m just in the peripheral in this story.”
Abunda further clarified that he never negotiates TV shows for Aquino in the first place.
“I only represent Kris when it comes to her endorsements. Many were surprised [about her move]but it did not affect our friendship. In fact, before going to this press con, we talked on the phone, but we didn’t talk about business,” he ended.