Focus on the Philippines: Bailey May joins Simon Fuller’s new pop group

Plus: Filipino acts advance to Asia’s Got Talent semifinal; Pia Wurtzbach to judge at 2017 Miss Universe; Mindanao movie Women of the Weeping River wins in Toronto festival.

Filipino actor and singer Bailey May. Courtesy ABS-CBN Entertainment
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Filipino actor and singer Bailey May has been selected to join Now United, the new global pop group formed by Simon Fuller, the English producer known for creating the Idol reality singing competition franchise and managing the career of the Spice Girls.

The 11-member singing and dancing group, set to be launched in 2018, also features members from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, India, South Korea, Japan, Senegal, Finland, Russia and Brazil.

May, 15, flew to Los Angeles back in September to audition for the group. He was joined by Filipino actresses AC Bonifacio, Jane de Leon and Ylona Garcia, but the three did not make the cut.

In an interview with Urban Asia, Fuller said: “I have wanted to create a new pop music project for some time. However, I wanted to do something new and exciting, never seen before. I wanted it to be a celebration of singing and dancing and on a global scale. I want to create a music group where the fans are as important as the group itself, fully engaged and connected to every aspect of what happens.”

May rose to fame after appearing on the reality programme Pinoy Big Brother in 2015. He went on to star in the romantic comedy series On the Wings of Love and to release his debut album, titled Bailey, recorded under Star Music.

May posted on social media after Now United’s announcement: “Dreams come true. Thank you my family. Promise to make you all proud.”

Pia Wurtzbach to judge at 2017 Miss Universe

Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach will return as a judge in this year’s pageant, which will be held on November 26 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Joining Wurtzbach on the panel are Miss Universe 1998 Wendy Fitzwilliam, social media star Lele Pons and television personalities Jay Manuel, Ross Mathews and Megan Olivi.

Representing the Philippines is Rachel Peters, a 26-year-old Filipino-British model born in Manama, Bahrain. The Philippines has won the pageant three times in the past, with Gloria Diaz in 1969, Margie Moran in 1973 and Wurtzbach in 2015.

Contestants from 92 countries are participating in this year’s pageant, which will be hosted by Steve Harvey and Ashley Graham. Fergie and Rachel Platten are the featured performers.

Filipino acts advance to Asia’s Got Talent semi-final

Four Filipino contestants have made it to the semi-final round of the reality talent programme Asia's Got Talent, which features acts from all over the region.

During last week’s episode, Neil Rey Garcia Llanes impressed with his beatboxing skills.

Judge David Foster told him: “It's unbelievable. I think people need to vote for you. You killed it.”

Another Filipino contestant, gymnast Deniel Sarmiento, performed at the semifinal. “What you can do with that physique is just really impressive,” Indonesian singer Anggun told him. “It was such a beautiful moment.”

Two more Filipino acts are due to compete in the second semifinal round, which will air today, November 23: dance crew DMX Comvalenoz and 14-year-old singer Fitri Cerado. Only nine of the remaining 18 contestants will advance to the final, which is set to air in mid-December.

Asia's Got Talent also features Korean-American musician Jay Park on the panel. Filmed in Malaysia, the show follows the format of the global Got Talent franchise, which currently has 70 local versions produced around the world. The first season of Asia's Got Talent, which aired in 2015, was won by the Filipino shadow playgroup El Gamma Penumbra.

Mindanao movie wins in Toronto film festival

Filipino director Sheron Dayoc's latest film Women of the Weeping River took home the Fasken Martineau Best Feature Film Award at this week's Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival.

Featuring an ensemble cast of non-actors belonging to a Muslim community in the Southern Philippine region of Mindanao, the film chronicles land disputes between multiple generations of two families.

The Toronto Reel Asia festival’s jury, composed of producer Helen du Toit, director Albert Shin and critic Jason Anderson, praised Dayoc’s “distinct and profound cinematic voice”.

“The film quietly builds, methodically revealing new layers until, by the end, you’re left floored,” they said.

Women of the Weeping River also won the Best Director award at last month's Screen International Film Festival, held in Châlons-en-Champagne, France, and also screened at the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma in Montreal, Canada.


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