Inquirer Super

New ‘Super Random’ podcast revisits ‘That’s Entertainment’

By: Super Staff

The newest Inquirer Podcast, powered by PumaPodcast, explores the entertainment on the TV and the radio from the 1970s to the current the way only Super can

Growing up anytime from the 1970s to the 2010s, Pinoy kids were defined by the precise kind of pop culture that they absorbed. It got deep into their bones, so deep that grown men tear up about the idea of a giant robot defending the Earth, friends still argue which edition of “That’s Entertainment” was the best and why certain songs seem to be monumental radio hits in this country—and nowhere else on the planet.

As a section, Super has always been devoted to exploring all the corners of modern Pinoy pop culture, but now a new podcast will go back in time and dig deep to uncover what made such times so sticky in our souls.

“Super Random” is the freshest Inquirer Podcast, powered by PumaPodcast—the Philippines’ top podcast empowerer—and is hosted by super obsessive fanboy and Super associate editor Ruel S. De Vera.

“In a time when we are flooded with all the content possible, ‘Super Random’ picks out the truly fascinating, nostalgic and even prognosticating parts of our Pinoy pop culture. There’s nothing in the world like Pinoy pop culture, with its randomness, endurance and, most of all, its resonance,” he added. “I wanted to do this podcast because, as an obsessive about useless things, I found there were many people of different ages who either remembered these things or knew nothing about them.”

The first episode, “Super Random: This was ‘That’s Entertainment,’” premiered on Aug. 14 on Spotify, Anchoy and Apple Podcasts. In the episode, De Vera looks back at the red-hot success of the teen show that set the bar for everything that came after it.

German “Kuya Germs” Moreno

It was the Master Showman, German “Kuya Germs” Moreno, who decided to challenge the studio system started by LVN and Sampaguita, and perpetuated by Viva and Regal, of keeping a small stable of selected talent. Moreno blasted open the doors on that by launching a daily showcase of teen talent on GMA-7. “That’s Entertainment” would eventually feature five editions—Monday to Friday—with a competitive “Saturday Entertainment” that would battle each other through signature love teams for fandom support.

One of the original Wednesday entertainers, Jojo Alejar (now Jojo A.) remembers the fanatical following: “It was pandemonium. Talagang grabe. People were lining up as early as the night before. Tapos fans were battling it out physically, emotionally, mentally. Talagang away-away na sila don. They said it’s best to go to a bigger venue, no. Para ma-accommodate lahat,” which is why GMA had to move “That’s Entertainment” from the GMA Studios to the larger Broadway Centrum.

An early set of ‘That’s Entertaiment’ cast members; Jojo Alejar is on the bottom right

That iconic first 16—including future Broadway superstar Lea Salonga and the late Master Rapper Francis Magalona—soon found themselves in a whirlwind of popularity as the show got so big it was hard to keep track of just how many entertainers there were.

The show in its heyday

Professor Jose Wendell Capili, who teaches literature and creative writing but also conducts research on popular culture and fan culture at the University of the Philippines Diliman, noted that Moreno melded his vaudeville live show with TV. Talent manager Noel Ferrer added that Moreno was far more interested in discovering talent and giving them chances than managing their careers or getting a cut from their earnings. “It was a workshop on the air,” Ferrer said.

The Triplets: Kristina Paner, Sheryl Cruz and Manilyn Reynes

There was a time when “That’s Entertainment” was the biggest show out there (“GMA Supershow” was once a week; “That’s” was essentially six times that) but then it got too big. Too many people were joining the show, diluting the talent. How many members do you remember from the show? It took Wikipedia to have as complete a list as possible (the site lists a grand total of 327). How did it happen? Perhaps as a victim of its own success, “That’s” became too big, airing its final episode on May 3, 1996, after a mind-boggling 3,600 episodes. You know who was on that show? Judy Ann Santos—and some guy named “PJ,” now Piolo Pascual. More than that, “That’s Entertainment” established the production line of talent that allow TV studios to keep talents coming in and out that would define the network war to follow. Plus it made fans of everyone. “I pulled for the Tuesday Group,” De Vera said. “I had a crush on Manilyn Reynes.”

Three young entertainers: Robert Ortega, Billy Joe Crawford and the late Isabel Granada

For the nostalgia fans out there, Jann Gibbs recently uploaded a Zoom video called “That’s Quarantinement” that featured “That’s” love team members Kristina Paner, Ramon Christopher, Sheryl Cruz, Keempee de Leon, Manilyn Reynes and himself singing Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” a video that has, expectedly, gone viral. Check it out here from YouTube:

Speaking of the network war, resurgent ABS-CBN launched a little show called “Ang TV” in 1992, masterminded by one of Pinoy TV’s geniuses, Johnny “Mr. M.” Manahan, and that show would leave its own distinctive shadow on TV’s ability to develop young talent—and beyond just the “Esmyuskee,” “Nge” and “4:30 na!” But that is for another episode—Episode 2, in fact, coming in just two more weeks.

With humor, history and insight, “Super Random” will then go on to witness giant robots being dubbed by Filipinos and the phenomenon of songs by foreign artists that just won’t die on Philippine radio no matter how long it’s been on the air.

In the six-episode first season of “Super Random,” you can unleash your inner baduy—or perhaps discover it for the first time. You can let your robotic geek flag fly, and revel in that one song you will never forget, buoyed by analyses by experts and the people who were there, and the creators responsible for these cultural milestones. We will find out what happened before, during and after these events. “We hope our listeners will get a deep dose of the color, the diversity and the identity of contemporary Filipino life,” said De Vera.

Listen to episode 1 on Spotify:https://open.spotify.com/episode/4MN9hhZ7cDH8RI53FuqtyT?si=iihNYtAhQZapqyyVMyVx_Q

Listen to episode 1 on Apple Podcasts:https://podcasts.apple.com/ph/podcast/episode-1-this-was-thats-entertainment/id1527028224?i=1000488080167

“Super Random” is now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Anchor and other podcast apps starting Aug. 14. A new episode will be out every two weeks.