‘We stopped at the right time’: Boy Abunda explains why ‘The Buzz’ format wouldn’t work today

Boy Abunda interviews Kim Chiu in April 2013 on ‘The Buzz.’ ABS-CBN

MANILA — Over the years since “The Buzz” concluded its 16-year run in 2015, showbiz fans would still clamor for the return for the iconic talk show, whenever controversies involving celebrities would erupt.

The secret wedding of Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Guidicelli in February 2020, for instance, would have made for explosive television, if it had been given “The Buzz” treatment, fans said at the time.

Similarly, the supposed “love triangle” among Bea Alonzo, Gerald Anderson, and Julia Barretto had TV viewers who grew up with “The Buzz” imagining sit-down interviews of those involved, whether separately or face-to-face.

A semblance of that finally did happen last week, when original “The Buzz” host Boy Abunda interviewed Anderson, resulting in his confirmation of being in a relationship with Barretto.

The 20-minute exchange was reminiscent of Abunda’s exclusive interviews on “The Buzz,” last seen six years prior, prompting fresh demand for a revival of the talk show.

But for Abunda, “admittedly, we stopped at the right time.”

“We were pushed to obsolescence by social media, I will admit that with humility,” he told ABS-CBN News during a virtual press huddle ahead of the March 20 premiere of “The Best Talk,” Abunda’s talk show on Kumu.

He explained: “Gone were those days when you were looking for an exclusive story, you would go to ‘The Buzz.’ You were looking for a scoop, you would go to ‘The Buzz.’ Today, the landscape has changed. Important moments in [celebrities’] lives, they would post it on Instagram. Social media has pushed us — I don’t know if it’s cruel — to obsolescence, to a certain extent.”

First aired in 1999, “The Buzz” was a Sunday showbiz talk show that saw A-list stars and up-and-comers revealing their relationships, confirming personal milestones such as engagements and pregnancies, and addressing intrigues, ranging from workplace conflict to rivalries in love.

When “The Buzz” ended in April 2015, social media had already boomed in the Philippines, with many personalities opting for a controlled, one-off statement to respond to a controversy, slowly but surely — as Abunda now recalled — making talk-show appearances less vital as a venue for the same purpose.

“I think storytelling has changed in so many ways,” Abunda said. “So if ‘The Buzz’ comes back, instead of doing exclusives, I think there should be more commentary, there should be more analysis, there should more confirmatory news. Mababago ‘yung texture. ‘Yung panlasa iibahin mo. And that’s the only way to survive.”

Abunda, dubbed local showbiz’s “King of Talk,” would continue hosting a number of talk shows after “The Buzz” — including “Inside the Cinema,” “The Bottomline,” “Aquino & Abunda Tonight,” and most recently “Tonight with Boy Abunda.”

Beyond those TV offerings, Abunda has started establishing his online presence. Aside from “The Best Talk” on Kumu, he launched his eponymous YouTube channel during the pandemic.

“We have to embrace the powers of social media,” he said. “Everybody has become a reporter, a broadcaster. Everybody has become what we do. So what do you do in a situation like this? Level up, and discover your equity in a landscape that has so much parity between hosts and interviewers and performers.”

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