RAZZLE-DAZA Pat-P Daza – The Philippine Star

October 18, 2021 | 12:00am

Lunch Out Loud, more popularly known as LOL, will celebrate its first anniversary this week. The lunchtime show has been steadily attracting viewers, thanks to its wholesome entertainment concept and exciting prizes.

Co-produced by Albee Benitez’s Brightlight Productions and TV5, LOL is hosted by Billy Crawford, Alex Gonzaga, Bayani Agbayani, Ariel Rivera, Kaye Brosas, KC Montero, Wacky Kiray, Jeff Tam and Laboching. For its anniversary week, a brand-new car and a cargo tri-motor vehicle are up for grabs, not to mention several livelihood showcases, a hundred cellphones, dozens of appliances and hundreds of thousands of pesos. So, what sets LOL apart from other noontime shows or variety shows out there? I went straight to the source and picked the brains of producer Benitez, and here’s what I got:

You served three consecutive terms as the representative of Negros Occidental’s third district from 2010 to 2019, and you’re now hoping to be elected mayor of Bacolod City in 2022. What made you decide to produce a lunchtime show?

“It was MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan) who broached the idea. MVP and I have been friends from way back and we’ve been together in the badminton association. In one of our conversations, he asked me if I’d like to produce some shows for TV5. That was the time that ABS-CBN had just lost its franchise and so I said I’d take a look at it. In the end, I was awarded the noontime slot, which I think, is one of the most difficult timeslots. But I took on the challenge and here we are, one year after.”

How did you put the show together?

“When the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN was denied, a lot of employees were displaced and wanted to work. I talked to several people who had experiences mounting a lunchtime show. It was a series of endless Zoom meetings, putting the creative team together, finding the right hosts, thinking of the segments, etc. We barely had two months to put the show together.”

How did you come up with the segments?

“We’re still in a pandemic. I wanted to help ease the burdens of our kababayan. A lot of them have lost their jobs and have no capacity to pay for utility bills like electricity, water or even rent. That’s where the segment Sagot Mo, Sagot Ko came about. Perfect timing also that Billy Crawford, our main host, is a first-time dad. And so, we christened him Daddy Bills, to help pay off the bills of the lucky phone-in contestant.”

What challenges did you face from the inception of the show?

“There were several challenges that I had to hurdle. First and foremost was teamwork. How well will the people who I got together work together? Will they gel? Second, how do you get viewers to watch your program? How do you get the ratings up? These were some of the challenges I faced initially. But now, I see the passion of the people in LOL. They all want it to succeed and that’s what drives everyone to give their best. That’s probably why we are where we are now.”

What were your defining moments in LOL?

“The first time I walked into the studio and saw the set, I was so happy. The set was so beautiful, I said to myself, I hired the right professionals. Then when the first episode was aired and Billy opened the show with a very heartwarming spiel and prayer, that tied everything together!”

How is LOL faring now?

“LOL is gaining ground, most especially in the provinces…Visayas and Mindanao particularly. I come from Bacolod and when I go around, I see their television sets tuned in to LOL. Then you hear people talking about LOL, how it’s making them happy, how the program has helped them, etc. Hearing this makes me feel good.”

What other challenges do you now face with LOL?

“Competition is inevitable. We are now the second most watched noontime show in the Philippines next to Eat, Bulaga. But Eat, Bulaga has been there for over 40 years. There lies the challenge, how to maintain it and eventually, how to get to the level of Eat, Bulaga.”

What fulfillment do you have producing LOL?

“When I see everyone enjoying their work, the camaraderie shared by the staff and the cast, it’s like we’re all family. This makes me think we probably did something right in producing LOL.”

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