Monday, March 8, 2021

BILLY CRAWFORD Explains the Circumstances of His LEAVING ABS-CBN for TV5


When ABS-CBN went off the air, there was speculation on what will happen to its massive stable of talent, from actors to singing artists to hosts and more. While a solid portion of Kapamilya stars remained on the network even as it was forced to shop its programs to cable channels to continue broadcasting, others did go on to find work in the other active stations. Prominent among these “transferees” is heartthrob singer-host Billy Crawford, who would successfully host on TV5 particularly for “The Masked Singer Pilipinas” and their weekday noontime show “Lunch Out Loud.” Amid questions on what spurred him to cross over, Crawford decided to speak on it.

According to The Manila Bulletin, Billy Crawford has set the record straight regarding the circumstances of his moving from ABS-CBN to TV5. In a recent interview with national radio network DZRH, Crawford shut down murmurs that he had parted on bad terms with the Kapamilya network following the latter’s shutdown of its channel. In his statement, the singer-host noted that the expiry of his ABS-CBN contract merely coincided with them going off the air. And with the uncertainty of his getting something to do with the network’s diminishment, Billy decided to sign up with TV5.

“I did not burn any bridges or somehow,” says Crawford. “It was just that, just before the franchise of ABS-CBN lost effectiveness, or just before they could move to renew their franchise actually, my own (talent) contract had also expired.” He had wondered if he had anything to return to at the time when the network shutdown was finalized, and he felt the talent pool and production staff was left in limbo, unsure about what the government decision about the Kapamilya network will turn out.

Billy Crawford also refuted assertions of ABS-CBN fans that he should have stuck it out with the other Kapamilya stars that were determined to stick it out with the network and its limited production output. “For the people upset with me, I suppose it’s normal,” says the 38-year-old. He noted that he has been a channel-hopper for much of his career anyway, and his decision to go Kapatid was in consideration for his family. “For me, if you understand what a person needs, that is what a person should prioritize. I must feed my family.”

Crawford continues hosting “Lunch Out Loud” on TV5. It is uncertain when “The Masked Singer Pilipinas” will start its second season on the Kapatid network, and if he will return as the host if so.

Image courtesy of

Ending the Homage and Story in “WANDAVISION”: “THE SERIES FINALE”


All good things come to an end, and as of last Friday, the Disney+ streaming series “WandaVision,” set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has just concluded. Apropos to its episode title “The Season Finale,” the ninth episode of this sometimes-funny, sometimes meta show wraps up all plot threads while still managing to keep a road open for a future movie or series in the franchise. Much of a deal has been made regarding the “Scarlet Witch,” a figure in witchcraft sought by Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn), who is fully convinced that Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) is the one she seeks.

Harkness read of the Scarlet Witch from a tome called the Darkhold, which Marvel TV viewers might recall from ABC’s “Agents of SHIELD” and Hulu’s “Runaways.” According to the Darkhold, the Scarlet Witch is prophesied to destroy the world, which Harkness plans to stop by siphoning the powers off of the still-confused Wanda. This gets complicated when The Vision, or the body of Vision (Paul Bettany) reactivated by SWORD director Heyward (Josh Stamberg), appears and tries to kill Wanda. She is saved by Vision as manifested inside Wanda’s Hex over Westview. A two-front battle rages, and Agatha springs her gambit.

She removes the spell the Hex has over the people of Westview, causing their real personalities to surface from the sitcom roles imposed by Wanda. Their anger at her causes Wanda to open the Hex so they can leave. This enables Heyward to enter, but causes Vision and his and Wanda’s Hex-generated sons (Julian Hilliard, Jett Klyne) to begin disintegrating. A panicked Wanda reasserts the Hex, and though she struggles against Harkness’ magic she is overcome and her powers drained. Heyward springs in to eliminate Wanda and her family, only for Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) to intervene with her powers.

Initially held captive upon re-entering the Hex by the alleged Pietro Maximoff (Evan Peters), Monica begins gaining conscious control over her Hex-granted ability to disable him. Here is the big letdown of this show, of sorts. It was assumed that Wanda’s powers caused an alternate-universe version of her dead brother to appear. The reality is more banal. “Pietro” is an actor residing in Westview, who was brainwashed by Agatha first into standing as husband for her “Agnes” alias and then to impersonate Pietro for Wanda. Realizing her power of energy absorption and manipulation, plus intangibility, Monica saves the Maximoff kids from Heyward, who is then detained by Darcy (Kat Dennings).

Vision and “The” Vision’s battle concludes when the former uses his power to reboot the latter, restoring his memories before being deactivated in “Avengers: Infinity War.” This causes The Vision to escape Westview. Over with Wanda, she seemingly, futilely tries to battle Agatha with blasts of magic. When Harkness suddenly loses the ability to spell-cast, Wanda reveals her “errant” magic blasts actually inscribed runes in the borders of the Hex, similar to Agatha’s earlier rune use to disable Wanda. That done, Maximoff reabsorbs her chaos magic from Harkness, fully awakening herself as the Scarlet Witch.

With Harkness now too weak to keep fighting, Wanda punishes her by trapping Agatha underneath her Agnes personality, noting that she will only reawaken her at times she needs advice about her new nature as the Scarlet Witch. Upon reuniting with Vision and their sons, Wanda returns home, bids the kids to sleep, then gradually collapses the Hex so that she and the Hex-created Vision could have one last talk and farewell, along with a promise to meet again someday.

In the denouement, Heyward is arrested by Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) and the police for overstepping his authority, but the people of Westview remain hostile to Wanda for trapping them. Monica advises Wanda to leave and she does, hiding from the public once more. She is not idle though, as Wanda took the Darkhold with her. While reading through its pages however, she hears her illusionary sons calling for help.

Where things will go after “WandaVision,” we can only speculate. We know that it ties into Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness,” with Agatha revealing that as Scarlet Witch, Wanda is stronger magically than Dr. Strange as Sorcerer Supreme. There is also the scene of Monica being contacted by a (male) friend of her late mother, which might lead to “Captain Marvel 2” for 2022 since Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury is in space. Then again Monica could also pop up in another Disney+ MCU series, “Ms. Marvel” starring Iman Vellani. She too is crossing over to “Captain Marvel 2.” Her show could premiere in late 2021. The possibilities are just endless. But as for “WandaVision” itself, it was a nice look back in the milestone ages of TV sitcoms, with an MCU story in the bargain; unique and also a blast.

Image courtesy of The Guardian

Sunday, March 7, 2021



There has been observed some conflicting perspectives on the part of the British public regarding the former Meghan Markle, now Duchess of Sussex and wife of Prince Harry. On the positive side, he was after all marrying the younger son of the Prince of Wales, and was an American. On the negative, Meghan was mixed-raced with dark skin from her African-American mother, and divorced to boot. The later turn towards the worst in reception for her was cited as a factor in the Sussexes stepping back as Senior British Royals and moving to California. After laying low in 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan were interviewed by Oprah Winfrey this past Sunday, with some heavy reveals.

CBS News has the best bits of information gleaned from “Oprah with Meghan and Harry,” a CBS Primetime Special that aired March 7. First the legendary talk show host spoke with Meghan one on one, before Prince Harry accompanied his wife for a joint interview, all set at an open venue in Santa Barbara, California. There were several topics discussed: many of them ranging from shocking to grim, pertaining to how the British press and more importantly the Royal Family has treated Meghan and Harry.

Some tough statements regarding UK media were expected, but more attention-grabbing were the inactive Royal Couple’s opinions on how the House of Windsor approached their situation. Meghan recalled being secured in Kensington Palace with no means to go out if not for Royal Duties, nor non-approved communication. She also noted not being taught extensively in Royal protocol. More alarming was the reveal that during her pregnancy with Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, family members discussed how he would not be given a title, nor security detail, and worries that he would have prominently dark skin from his mother.

One major bombshell was Meghan’s admittance that she had entertained suicidal thoughts in the wake of her isolation and lack of meaningful support outside of her husband. For his part, Prince Harry was growing concerned that Meghan’s life with the Royal Family was echoing beats to that of his late mother Princess Diana, spurring their eventual decision in January 2020 to step back from Royal Duties, a move made permanent by the Royal Family the following month. Eagle-eyed observers would spot that Meghan was wearing on her left arm a bracelet famously worn by Diana.

Not all was doom and gloom during the interview however. The Sussexes opened up on how their actual marriage ceremony was officiated three days before the May 19, 2018 Royal Wedding, with their signed vows now framed at their home. Next, Meghan confirms that her current pregnancy is a girl. In the wake of the “Oprah with Meghan and Harry” special, the Duchess has gained support from prominent African-American celebrities appalled at the racial tension in the Royal Family. Amanda Gorma, inaugural poet for President Joe Biden; tennis superstar Serena Williams; Martin Luther King’s daughter Bernice King; and others have spoken out in supporting Meghan against the storm. The interview will air in the UK via ITV Monday, March 8.

Image from NBC News