Mr. M On 'Shadow Talent Center' in ABS-CBN: 'In My View, It's a Big Crime'

Johnny Manahan, AKA Mr. M, trends on Twitter after revealing his sentiments about 'shadow talent center' in ABS-CBN.

Johnny Manahan's revelation about what he calls "shadow talent center" on ABS-CBN trended all day on Twitter early this week. Manahan AKA Mr. M. is known in showbusiness for shaping the country's most famous celebrities when he managed Star Magic, the talent-management arm of the Kapamilya network. He was the chairman emeritus of Star Magic before his departure from ABS-CBN was reported in September 2020.

On January 20, there were over 25,000 tweets related to the name Mr. M. The internet was surprised because, in Mr. M's over 35 years with the Kapamilya network, it was always rare for the respected star builder and TV director to speak out.

In an exclusive interview with Summit Media's editors, Mr. M was asked about the reason for his departure from ABS-CBN. He calmly answered about the inner workings of the network, including the existence of what he calls shadow talent management.

The management is said to be outside of Star Magic, which is recognized as the only talent-management arm of the Kapamilya network. He said, "There's a shadow talent center in ABS-CBN, and they have their own managers and they manage their own stars."

According to Manahan, it was a Star Magic mandate to discover and train of ABS-CBN's own pool of talents. When Star Magic was formed in 1992 by Freddie M. Garcia (aka FMG, president and CEO of ABS-CBN from 1998-2003), it would clearly become the territory of Star Magic, originally called the Talent Center, the network's talent management.

Mr. M relayed that FMG told him that they each had their own "raket," which means they will respect the different territories within the business. This way, he said, each boss will be responsible for his managed turf.


Star Magic (then Talent Center) launched open calls for those who wanted to audition and dreamed of entering showbiz. It had basic, advanced, and masters level workshops on acting, singing, dancing, and hosting for aspiring stars. Rahyan Carlos was made Star Magic Artist Training and Workshop head, bringing the Ivana Chubbuck acting method to the Philippines.

The talent service also includes advising on their personal finance planning and teaching knowledge related to the industry, including scriptwriting, under mentors such as veteran writer Ricky Lee.

For those who are already in the roster of talents of Star Magic, the agency is the one that negotiates the contracts of their TV shows, movies, concerts, tours, endorsements, and any other projects inside and outside ABS-CBN.

Overall, Star Magic will manage the career path of a talent.

But, if Star Magic was the only in-house talent-management arm that could provide talents for network shows back then, it appears that in recent years, other business units in ABS-CBN have formed their own pool of talents.

In the Kapamilya network, there are six to seven business units, or BUs, for TV. The common scope of TV BUs' work is to make teleseryes, reality shows, and variety shows. But, some business units have already crossed over to scout and train potential talents or even manage bonafide stars themselves.

Within the network, two units are already doing this: Raymund Dizon's unit held by PBB and Star Hunt; and Roldeo "Deo" Endrinal Dreamscape's unit, which manages the careers of select stars—the principal of Coco Martin's career.

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All BUs on ABS-CBN, including many BUs outside of TV entertainment, are under Cory Vidanes, the network's Chief Operating Officer.

According to Mr. M, he tries to understand that business units do this to make it easier to handle the artists they want for their produced TV shows for the network. However, he did not shy away from believing that this practice is offensive, not only in the scope of Star Magic's work as a talent manager, but also in the eyes of Star Magic artists themselves.

"In my view, it's a big crime," said Mr. M. "It's the easy way out. Sana yung kanila na lang, dun na lang sila. But they try to expand it pa. Yung PBB [winners], ginawang talent nila. That should have been ours. Dapat aminyan, eh. Raket naminyan. Sabi ni Mr. Garcia, 'Kanya-kanyang raket.' Nobody listened."

He added, "Because they have their own stars, the suspicion [is] that they favored certain people. You know, our stars began to take it that way. ‘Bakit sila pinapabor? What will happen to us?’ Hay, the only way is to fight harder."

This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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