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Willie Revillame says new show has blessings of Joey de Leon, Sharon Cuneta

Willie Revillame speaks at the press conference for "Wowowillie' on Wednesday. Also in photo are three of his co-hosts, Grace Lee, Mariel Rodriguez, and Lovely Abella. (Analy Labor/InterAsyon)

A mellow and relaxed Willie Revillame told media on Wednesday that “Wowowillie” has the blessings of Joey de Leon and Sharon Cuneta — two colleagues who might have something to say about his new variety show on TV5, set to debut on Saturday.

Joey, of course, is one of the pillars of “Eat Bulaga”, Philippine television’s noontime champ for over three decades, with whom Willie famously feuded in 2007 when he was still hosting “Wowowee” on ABS-CBN.

The two have since mended and enriched their friendship, so Joey’s sentiment was one of Willie’s first concerns when TV5 president and CEO Atty. Ray Espinosa first broached the idea of a return to the noontime slot (11:30AM to 2:30PM).

“Nasabi ko naman ‘yun kina Atty. Ray. Ayoko kasi na may masabi rin sa akin sina Joey. Yes, there was a time, nabanggit ko nga, hangga’t maaari hindi kami magsasalubong sa same time slot,” Willie told media at a press conference on Wednesday at his nightclub Wil’s Events Place.

Willie decided he needed to reach out to Joey. He spoke to him two weeks ago shortly after “Wil Time Bigtime” — his second TV5 show in the early evening slot — went off the air.

“I called him up. Out of respeto. Sabi ko sa kanya, I have to tell you, magkakaroon ako ng noontime show. And you know naman Joey, he’s very gentlemanly in every way. Okay naman sa kanya,” he related.

Willie said Joey — who is also a Kapatid because he co-hosts TV5′s Sunday noontime variety show “Game ‘N Go” — even quipped that they’re too old for petty rivalries and, who knows, they might even end up together in one show someday.

Willie had also been exchanging text messages with Sharon, whose talk show “Sharon: Kasama Mo, Kapatid” was terminated recently, paving the way for “Wowowillie” to take over its venue — TV5′s Delta Theater studio on Quezon Avenue.

“Magka-text kami ni Shawie. Wala pa siya ngayon dito, nasa Amerika pa ‘ata pero dapat kasama siya sa almost a hundred stars na guests sa Saturday. Kami, walang sama ng loob sa isa’t isa,” he said.

Willie noted that Sharon’s current negotiations for her own new program are a private matter between her and the TV5 bosses: “Sila ng TV5 ang nag-uusap. Kaya, hindi ko sila puwede panghimasukan.”

Ever since he transferred to TV5 in 2010 and hosted “Willing Willie”, he always found the remote location of its studio in Novaliches to be a liability.

“Ang mga matatanda o senior citizens nagbi-biyahe pa ng malayo para lang makapanood ng programa. Jeep-jeep, truck-truck nandiyan sila sa gilid ng studio, dun pa sa TV5. Nagpa-park sila sa SM Novaliches. Nakikita namin ang efforts nila,” he shared.

Needless to say, he is very excited about planting his roots on fresh ground. Willie said TV5 spent over P100 million and his own production company chipped in P35 million to expand and refurbish the theater. The result, he believes, should give the “Wowowillie” studio audience the illusion of being in a Las Vegas theater.

Willie said it was not his but TV5′s idea to return to noontime and go up against “Eat Bulaga” and “It’s Showtime”.

“Wala naman sa isip ko ang noontime. Kasi by October tapos na dapat ang kontrata ko. And now, they are asking me kung gusto ko pa itong ituloy ng three to five years. Saka ko na muna iisipin ‘yun dahil ang focus ko eh, nandito ngayon sa big day namin sa Sabado.”

That big day also happens to be his 52nd birthday. As he turns a year older and begins another chapter in his career, he does not feel the pressure of competition this time around.

“Kung sasabihin na pressured ako, wala. Sa akin, there is no competition right now. More on nakatutok ako sa content ng show. Hindi sa numbers game. Kailangan ko munang palakihin ang show, pagandahin at pasayahin ang mga taong manonood nito,” he said.

Willie vowed to give away more meaningful prizes to contestants, the kind that would have a lasting impact on their livelihoods. He also revealed his plan to provide houses to his own staff, many of whom placed their fortunes on his hands when they joined him when he left ABS-CBN for TV5.

And finally, he expressed his hope that “Wowowillie” would further boost TV5′s ascendant status in the ratings game, if only to make the network bosses, especially TV5 chairman Manny V. Pangilinan, happy.

“Siyempre, gusto nating matulungan din ang istasyon. Kasi dito naramdaman ko ‘yung pagmamahal. Imagine, big boss tine-text ka, kinukumusta ka, tinatapik ka sa balikat for a job well done. Very inspiring na amo. At sasabihan ka ni MVP ng ‘Your pain is our pain, your fight is our fight.’”