MARIAN Rivera and Dingdong Dantes just came in back to the country after a personal trip to Spain. And media gossip is about Marian and the former girlfriend of Dingdong, Karylle Padilla, finding themselves together in a recent event. Was there a scene?

The news didn't even have a video of the two in that same occasion and the story barely tried to conclude that they met. There were individual interviews after, of course. That was long ago, Karylle said, referring to her affair with Dingdong. I could hear the director say, “Okay, right there, hold it!”

Now, Marian and Dingdong are said to be it, but… What if the two women did meet on that day…?

Gossip is a media commodity, right?

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Take another “commodity”--the reality show. It, of course, actually started in Western television in the ‘40s, like “Candid Camera.” It's a show of what is real at this full or empty moment; a slice of life, raw, unscripted.

From the point of view of the television user, it’s like watching life through a keyhole. The participants are put under pressure in competition or in an air of artificial stress. It, in fact, is like a human experiment.

The Big Brother is now world-wide but was first created by John de Mol, a Dutch millionaire businessman who earned much from the television programs he developed in the 1990s.

The show was first put up in 1999 in the Netherlands. A UK television picked it up the next year, turning it into a sensational program. The participants are 15, or less, who are “holed up” together in a house for some months.

One interesting aspect of reality shows is the choice of participants. The television station could certainly use one or two who, without the person knowing it, can effectively kindle conflict.

It must have inspired the psychological show called “Starting Over” released in 2003-2004 where women with problems they want to share are gathered in one roof to live together for from 6 to 12 weeks. They call themselves roommates, with the guidance of “life coaches” or consulting psychologists. It's a daily one-hour real-life show where the roommate who is finally healed leaves the house “in a sweet parting.”

In the “Pinoy Big Brother” show, the 12 participants are in one house. They are strangers who deal with each other right out from the blue. They live in one house without any connection to the world outside---not with the family nor with friends. There is no telephone, no newspaper, nor radio or television. They only talk to “god,” who is behind the 26 cameras and microphones stuck somewhere and everywhere in the house.

The viewer can see these young people breaking down or winning over their own selves. There's prize money for the housemate judged as one who can relate best with the rest. So it's like you have a life-size drama beating like a live band.

Talent shows are also a media commodity.

In the “American Idol” show, imagine a scene like this: the young singer holds on to life as the judges reveal whether a contestant is finally in or out after weeks of artistic rehearsals and stress. Kara Dioguardi would say, “You sing very well, you are an artist….” The contestant feels warm, his heart softly swinging. Ellen de Generes would then say without a smile in her face, “That is why, the way we feel about your performance….” Now the contestant falters, his heart shakes and begins to drop. “….that is why we’re glad you’re in, congratulations!” The heart shoots up too fast, the contestant faints!

I watched the revelation of winners of StarStruck, which isn’t just a talent contest but also half a reality show where the contestants interact in a common place and are rated for their skill not only in singing, dancing or acting but also in relating with each other. As they’re rated by the judges, the camera zeros into the women’s faces and waits patiently for the tears to drop.

All these could kindle a fire, kill a spirit, or set a dream flying before its time.

(ecuizon@gmail.com)