Thursday, January 23, 2020

Disney drops the official trailer for the final spectacular-looking 7th season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars - but South African viewers won't get to see it.

Disney has dropped a fantastic official teaser for the final 12-episode 7th season of the revived animation series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars announcing that it will become available on its Disney+ streaming service from 21 February, with a new episode released on a weekly basis.

South African and African viewers watched Star Wars: The Clone Wars first on WarnerMedia's Cartoon Network (DStv 301) and then followed it to the Walt Disney Company's Disney XD (DStv 304) channel, and then to Netflix.

Now however there will be no legal way for them to see the final season's episodes when it debuts on Disney+.

Disney isn't making its streaming service available in South Africa or anywhere on the African continent which means that viewers who had invested their time in watching it, can't see how it ends.

After its cancellation, Star Wars: The Clone Wars that has now been revived, will seamlessly resume where the unresolved storylines left off.

In the final and 7th season viewers will see with the same characters like Ahsoka Tano (Ashely Eckstein), Captain Rex (Dee Bradley Baker), Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter), Obi-Wan Kenobi (Arnold Taylor) and Darth Maul (Sam Witwer), using the same voice actors and taking place at the same time period in that galaxy far, far away.

The show is set between the period of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith with the final episodes that will overlap with the events transpiring in Revenge of the Sith and that ends with the Jedi order being decimated through Order 66.

The official trailer shows what looks to be a spectacular duel between the failed Jedi padawan Ahsoka Tano and Darth Maul on the planet of Mandalore.

E.K. Johnston's novel Ahsoka revealed that the Siege of Mandalore was brought to an abrupt end by Order 66, which means that the season might very well show how Ahsoka gets forced to break off her fight with Darth Maul to escape the Stormtroopers who will suddenly turn on all Jedi.

TV REVIEW. In sci-fi television's dark universe Star Trek Picard on Amazon Prime Video adds a speck of inner light.

In an unsure, unstable world of Trump, Twitter, climate change and coronavirus outbreaks, the return of a character like Star Trek's Jean-Luc Picard in Amazon Prime Video's new Star Trek: Picard understatedly underlines just how much - just like Oprah - certain people are desperately needed back on television.

Although somewhat changed by time, Patrick Stewart's measured, thoughtful Picard is still one of the characters deeply needed on television, once again embodying an inner, collective moral consciousness in a galaxy where few care to care, or to listen.

"Let's behave like civilised men," says the former-Captain-then-Admiral-now-retired "Jay-El", once again elegantly portrayed in the 10-episode, first season of Star Trek: Picard.

The new series throws the well-known, well-worn, trusted Starfleet captain - as well as viewers - back into a tumultuous, angst-riddled, scared and gridlocked galaxy where everybody is unsure of themselves and their place in the world, and therefore scared of each other.

Set in 2399, the world and galaxy of Star Trek: Picard is still the one from The Next Generation, DS9 and Voyager, but in the 18 years since the Star Trek: Nemesis film in 2002, 18 years also passed in Gene Roddenberry's universe.

In the way that our lives changed over two decades with iPhones, airport screenings and an increasingly more unstable world, so Picard's world changed with LCARS morphing into hologram displays, now drinking his tea "Earl Grey decaf", the creation and banning of "synths" (androids) after they attacked Mars, and the Roluman homeworld that got destroyed by a supernova.

"I never dreamed that Starfleet would give in to intolerance and fear," Picard remarks during the 3 first three episodes made available for review, with viewers who get to discover how and why Picard left Starfleet as he is lured back to a new space-bound adventure.

"You need a crew. Riker. Worf. LaForge," suggest a character for Picard's latest mission  - to which he says "no".

It's exactly because they would help that he can't risk asking or taking them. This isn't "All Good Things" - the final episode of The Next Generation - but a new mystery and challenge that might bring proper closure and redemption for the story of the beloved Data android character in a clever and inventive way.

While The Expanse which dropped its fourth season last month (co-incidentally on Amazon Prime Video as well) remains the very best science fiction on television in the current zeitgeist, Star Trek: Picard could move itself to second place depending on how the season's story plays itself out.

Star Trek: Picard is what Star Trek: Discovery should have been and what a lot of flim-flam so-called "genre television" these days try to do but don't because of a lack of budget, and talent behind and in front of the screen.

Star Trek: Picard feels Next Generation-ey in a way that Star Trek: Discovery has never yet felt like Star Trek except for Anson Mount as Captain Pike.

Created by executive producer Alex Kurtzman and the screenwriter and novelist Michael Chabon, Star Trek: Picard has the TNG-genes but poured into a current day mould.

There are the familiar yet slightly adapted uniforms but newly fitted around a political intrigue story, transporter technology sparkling around new questions about legacy, appearance and reality, "Borg cube reclamation", secret assassins and interplanetary spy games.

"I've never cared for science fiction. Just never got it," Jean-Luc quips in one of several in-jokes.

Longtime fans of The Next Generation will have little to complain about. Yes, it's not as brightly lit. It's not as clean. Starfleet is no longer so perfect (was it ever, Pegasus?). Yet with the growing existence and investigation of synthetic beings, Star Trek: Picard feels even more human than Gene Roddenberry's utopian world.

Eagle-eyed fans will spot several small mistakes (will aircon outlet grills at convention centres really be the 2020-style in 2399?) but it's probably to be expected from a start-up show with a smaller budget than the syndicated TNG in its 1990s heydey.

Design-wise the production could have done more to include more Next Gen familiarity, but again, they probably didn't have the budget.

With interweaving character setting, setup and the time taken to assemble the new group of travelling stargazers, the first three episodes of Star Trek: Picard might feel a bit drawn out until it gets to "engage" at the end of episode 3.

Viewers who stick around for the new setup to be established will find it worth the wait.

In an era of antihero-filled television an older, wiser, and slightly more unsure Picard is a lot of things but not disappointing and not a sell-out. With a lot of dark television around Star Trek: Picard adds a speck of inner light.

The review is based on the first 3 episodes of season 1 of Star Trek: Picard.

Star Trek: Picard is available on Amazon Prime Video.

ALSO READ: Engage! Here's everything you need to know and see before you start to watch the new Star Trek: Picard on Amazon Prime Video.

South Africa's MultiChoice Talent Factory film academy ropes in film biz experts for a 3-day workshop in the Eastern Cape for emerging filmmakers.

MultiChoice and its MultiChoice Talent Factory South Africa (MTFza) film academy held a workshop in the Eastern Cape this week from Tuesday to Thursday to help upskill young and emerging filmmakers in the country.

Emerging filmmakers were chosen by South Africa's department of arts and culture to attend the 3-day film workshop that took place at the East London International Conference Centre.

The training workshop consisted out of a series masterclasses, led by industry experts in the field of video entertainment and covered various elements of filmmaking, including, scriptwriting, producing, directing, sound, lighting and cinematography.

Industry experts who helped to present sessions included Mzansi Magic (Dstv 161) commissioning editors Sanele Shiba and Wanda Sondiyazi; the film director, screenwriter and producer Darrell Roodt known for producing Sarafina; as well as Phathutshedzo "Phathu" Makwarela, the scriptwriter and co-founder of Tshedza Pictures.

"The sustainability of the video entertainment industry in the country and on the continent depends on our ability to attract and develop fresh young talent," says Joe Heshu, the MultiChoice group executive for corporate affairs.

"Opportunities such as this, and particularly with the support of regional government and other key industry stakeholders, provide the perfect platform to identify and nurture aspiring young filmmakers."

"Our intention is to immerse participants in the world of filmmaking so that they leave with a better
understanding of the commitment and skills that are required to take this journey to the next level."

Phumeza Skoti, chief executive of the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council (ECPACC) that runs the Eastern Cape Film Office, says "The masterclass has been very informative and inspirational in our journey to develop the film and television industry in the Eastern Cape".

"The specialist skills and experiences shared by renowned industry players will go a long way in empowering local film makers to take up space and seize opportunities that exists in the industry."

Fezeka Bayeni, the Eastern Cape MEC for sports, recreation, arts and culture, says "Film has great potential to contribute to the development of the Eastern Cape economy and as such, we have made it one of the priorities of the department".

"The Eastern Cape has a rich heritage, great stories to be told and amazing locations for film. This partnership with MultiChoice is therefore a very important platform in helping to develop and train filmmakers as part of our effort to grow the film industry in the province."

Engage! Here's everything you need to know and see before you start to watch the new Star Trek: Picard on Amazon Prime Video.

by Thinus Ferreira

Make it so! With the first episode of the new Star Trek: Picard series diving right into the action and intrigue without explanation, existing Star Trek viewers and new ones need to know the following and should watch the following 6 old episodes and 2 films to fully enjoy the story of Captain-then-Admiral-now-retired Jean-Luc Picard's next exciting chapter.

Star Trek: Picard, taking place 18 years after the final Star Trek: The Next Generation film, Nemesis (in which the android character of Data died) is becoming available on Amazon Prime Video this Friday.

The 10-episode first season, with Patrick Stewart once again reprising his iconic role, will release episodes weekly and the series has been renewed for a second season.

Episodes of Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: DS9, as well as Star Trek: Voyager are all streaming on Netflix South Africa, although the new Star Trek: Picard series is on Amazon Prime Video for South African viewers and all viewers outside of the United States and Canada.

Jean-Luc, or "Jay-El" as one of the characters now refers to him and who has been quietly living on a wine farm in France, is quickly drawn into a brand-new mystery involving a possible Starfleet conspiracy and cover-up, a nefarious Romulan plot, a strange young woman seeking his help, and a new crop of androids now called "synths".

Since Starfleet doesn't want to help him, Jean-Luc assembles a new rag-tag crew aboard a new ship (although the iconic USS Enterprise NCC-1701 D does make a surprise appearance) to boldly go and solve the latest mystery.

Former Star Trek characters Brent Spiner (Data), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine), Jonathan Del Arco (Hugh), Jonathan Frakes (William Riker) and Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) all appear.

It's important to watch certain essential previous Star Trek episodes and films that provide all of the important background, character development and story to understand precisely who the characters are, and how they and the story fit together.

Before you zoom off at warp speed with the latest tale, watch these 6 essential episodes and 2 films:

Conspiracy (Star Trek: TNG, season 1, episode 25)
See how Captain Picard discovers that officers at Starfleet Command on Earth are acting strangely, eventually finding a big conspiracy.

The Measure of a Man (Star Trek: TNG, season 2, episode 9)
Dats is put on trial and defended by Picard when a scientist, Bruce Maddox, wants to dismantle and experiment on him to create android replicas.

The Offspring (Star Trek: TNG, season 3, episode 16)
Data creates an android daughter Lal and tries to raise her.

The Best of Both Worlds I & II (Star Trek: TNG, season 3, episode 26)
Picard battles the Borg.

I, Borg (Star Trek: TNG, season 5, episode 23)
The Enterprise crew meets the severed Borg called Hugh.

Scorpion I & II (Star Trek: Voyager, season 3, episode 26)
The introduction of the Borg character, Seven of Nine, who gets severed from the Borg collective and rejoins humanity.

Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
A bad film and the movie end of The Next Generation crew but it contains important background as to what happened to Data, Picard, and the Romulans. Data sings the song "Blue Skies" that features in the new series, as well as B4 (another android version like Data) that features in the film and in the new series. Data also makes a sacrifice that echoes into the new series.

Star Trek (2009)
Not part of the "real" Star Trek but set in the so-called "Kelvin timeline", this reboot film with Chris Pine as Captain Kirk is however important to see, since it deals with a supernova destroying the planet of Romulus. While this event happened in the new Star Trek parallel universe of J.J. Abrams, it also happened in the classic Star Trek universe.
The Picard of Star Trek: Picard references and deals with this aftermath from "his/our" side and the fact that original-version Starfleet chose not to help.

ALSO READ: TV REVIEW. In sci-fi television's dark universe Star Trek: Picard on Amazon Prime Video adds a speck of inner light.

SABC done with Zaziwa; once-hot music talk show with Pearl Modiadie that saw its big ratings destroyed by SABC1 finally cancelled for good.

by Thinus Ferreira

The SABC is done with its once-hot Zaziwa talk show with the Pearl Modiadie-fronted music magazine programme on SABC1 that has finally been cancelled for good despite earlier promises from the broadcaster that it would return.

The SABC tells TVwithThinus that a decision was taken not to renew Zaziwa for another season.

"SABC programmes are subjected to a review exercise for recommissioning with the intention of ensuring that the channels are able to deliver and become competitive platforms. Therefore, following a review of Zaziwa, a decision was taken not to recommission the show for another season," says Mmoni Seapolelo, SABC spokesperson.

"SABC1 is however exploring other content ideas and formats in the timeslot, allowing room to curate a diverse offering to viewers."

The once popular Zazizwa drew between 3.5 and 4 millions of viewers to SABC1 as a ratings hit in its original Thursday night prime time slot of 19:30 until SABC1 executives decided to uproot it and destroyed its viewership in what became a self-inflicted wound.

In February 2017 SABC1 ripped Zaziwa from the schedule and transplanted it to Sunday nights at 20:30 - a lifestyle television "death slot" where, as predicted, viewers abandoned the show by the millions.

In August of the same year SABC1 quietly decided to dump Zaziwa from the schedule entirely to make space for yet another old rerun of Shaka Zulu, planning to bring Zaziwa back in a few months' time.

Nobody from SABC1 told a flabbergasted Pearl Modiadie that her show is off the schedule and off the air, with the Zaziwa presenter who had to hear from the media and not the SABC that Zaziwa has abruptly been shelved from its struggling Sunday evening timeslot.

Then SABC1 said that Zaziwa would return to a weekday and its erstwhile 19:30 timeslot but on Wednesdays, although it didn't materialise. 

On her Instagram page Pearl Modiadie in 2019 when she was asked if Zaziwa will ever return to SABC1, said that "When it does, I will put it out there right now I don't know. I've enjoyed it for the past 5 years, let's wait and see what happens next".

Rami Chuene exits Ferguson Films' troubled The Queen on Mzansi Magic, says 'I won't be getting into details as advised by my legal team'.

by Thinus Ferreira

Actress Ramu Chuene is exiting Ferguson Films' The Queen on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) as the latest on-screen talent to leave the apparently troubled drama series, following alleged behind-the-scenes rancour with the producers.

On social media, the actress, known for her role as Gracious Mabuza, said that her stint on The Queen has come to an end.

"Unfortunately, I won't be getting into details as advised by my legal team. I still have to finish shooting and I'm hoping to execute as excellently, exceptionally and professionally as I always have."

There's been no public comment from Ferguson Films.

Rami Chuene joins 4 other actors who have been axed and left The Queen over the course of the last year, including Stembiso Khoza, Khanya Mkangisa, Khayakazi Kula and Moshe Ndiki, while veteran actress Vatiswa Ndara was involved in an acrimonious exit from iGazi, that was also produced by Ferguson Films.

According to reports there had allegedly been a breakdown in the relationship between Rami Chuene and the Ferguson producer-couple Connie and Shona after the actress showed support for actress Vatiswa Ndara who wrote an open letter to the minister of arts and culture.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

TV REVIEW. 2020's most jarring, jaw-dropping and crowded new reality show on VIA is selfish ... and must-watch insane.

by Thinus Ferreira

The craziest, most crowded, brand-new reality format show of 2020 has started on South African television with Trap! Dis My Huis! on VIA (DStv 147) at 20:30 on Wednesdays, pushing 50 strangers into a small house Big Brother style to see who copes best without food and toilet paper for the chance to win R1 million.

In reviewing the first episode of Trap! Dis My Huis!, an Afrikaans version of the international reality format Get The F*ck Out Of My House, it's immediately clear why only Cher and cockroaches will survive an apocalypse.

That selfishness will be the end of humanity is on full display in the Afrokaans produced show, as 50 contestants who've never met all storm the small home at the same time, each armed with one transparent, plastic crate with their personal belongings to find some space inside the tiny two-person dwelling for the chance to win R1 million in cash.

With only food for two people, one toilet and bathroom, the 50 people from across South Africa storm the house and immediately selfishly start to scavenge and steal everything from the toilet paper and sugar to the small piece of cheese; some even drinking the milk straight out the bottle and someone feeding on the yoghurt while as a fake courtesy walking around spoon-in-mouth asking everyone "Do you want some yoghurt?"

Filled with several low emotional intelligence (EQ) contestants, the brash, rash and loud contestants in the intensely crowded space so quickly becomes too much that by the end of the first episode there's already someone who bailed voluntarily and couldn't take it anymore, in addition to those contestants getting eliminated.

The camera-filled little house that includes roving cameramen moving among the contestants capture clever details with South Africa's latest Big Brother done in a small space that is utterly fascinating and television and gives a compelling look at how ordinary South Africans behave when they're stuck in too close quarters with one another and no way out.

The usual rambunctious exuberance and initial friendliness when reality show contestants enter a show quickly make way for fighting, accusations and open animosity, extremely selfish behaviour, some irritated contestants stirring the pot who start to scheme and play a political game, and what reality TV does best: tears.

While watching Trap! Dis My Huis! is hypnotic and true must-see television, the weakest part is the curtseying co-presenter duo of Amalia Uys and Zoe Brown, with the former 7de Laan actress and former breakfast show presenter who both seem to "over-present" with just that bit of extra and too much fake enthusiasm.

Especially Amalia comes across as trying too hard to try and relate on camera to individual contestants yet also seems slightly guardedly distant. Both use too much hand gestures and are too "kindergarden teacher" like in conveying the simple instructions and rules as well as telling viewers what happened during challenges.

It's not necessary for the presenters to really do much; the bunch of contestants make for arrestingly interesting television from the moment they set foot inside the house with those stepping over the red line who are disqualified immediately.

One quickly ends up shown on the loo without the most important paper. People who dislike each other somehow find a way - and a direction - to divert direct eye contact, as the extroverts take over and overpower the introverts "Lord of the Flies" style.

A woman remarks that she wishes a man took the lead and was the leader while a gaggle of couch potatoes become the gossip queens who quietly observe, bitch and moan.

Some steal sugar and honey and from Kuilsriver to Potchefstroom and Fresnaye the contestants who are cussing start to suss each other out as they jockey for position while showing a range of human behaviour from extreme selfishness to cooperative teamwork - this is humanity caught and shown in its suburban natural habitat.

Couch potato psychologists, sociologists and observers of human behaviour will get huge enjoyment out of watching the deftly done reality show.

Clever camerawork and editing smartly shows that even in the most crowded of close quarters humans still find spaces and places to hide their emotions.

Even though they modify their external behaviour, cameras still capture unguarded feelings, looks and actions with delicious dramatic irony that other housemates, often crouched or standing right beside them, are not always aware of.

Besides voting for a house captain which is a popularity contest (and who ends up making house rules), the housemates also get weekly challenges which could earn them money to buy either the food or supplies like toilet paper that they need.

One hidden door reveals a bedroom and additional bathroom for the house captain (powerful leverage since the person can invite other people in to share the space), as well as a pantry with hugely expensive food and supply prices.

The show is utterly fascinating and if the meltdowns, tears and bickering continue through the rest of the first season, Trap! Dis My Huis! which is already more than worth the watch, will be hypnotic viewing.

Watch Trap! Dis My Huis! on VIA (DStv 147) on Wednesdays at 20:30, starting Wednesday 15 January 2020.

Frozen 2 becomes the biggest animated film of all time at the South African box office as Walt Disney Studios now holds first and second animation records in SA as well as top 4 highest-grossing film records.

by Thinus Ferreira

Frozen 2 has now become the biggest animated film of all time at the South African box office following its debut in December.

Since its release on 6 December 2019 in which the core characters venture beyond Arendelle, and following its debut as the biggest opening weekend for an animated film in South African box office history, this week Walt Disney Animation Studios' long-awaited Frozen 2 clinched another record as it became the biggest animated film of all time according to cinema sales. 

 Over 718 000 people visited cinemas across the country since Frozen 2 released in December, delivering a box office total of over R53 million so far in South Africa, surpassing 2018’s DisneyPixar's Incredibles 2 that was the previous record holder. 

"With this record, Walt Disney Studios now holds the number 1 and 2 all-time highest-grossing animated films records in South Africa, as well as the top 4 highest-grossing films of all time in South Africa with Disney’s The Lion King as well as Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, Avengers: Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War."

"We are thrilled at the response of families and fans of all ages towards this breath-taking and sweeping animated adventure of Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven," says Christine Service, senior vice-president of The Walt Disney Company Africa.

"We are excited to share more magical animated, as well as live-action stories, with South African cinema-going audiences in 2020 including two releases from DisneyPixar with Onward as well as Soul, two from Marvel Studios with Black Widow and The Eternals, as well as brand new adventures from Disney studios in the form of Mulan, Jungle Cruise and Raya and the Last Dragon to name but a few." 

 Worldwide Frozen 2 now ranks as the 11th highest-grossing film of all time - and climbing - with a global box office haul of $1,4 billion.

Fantasy drama series The Witcher with Henry Cavill becomes Netflix's most-watched new series as the streamer adds another 8.76 million subscribers in late-2019.

by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix announced that the fantasy drama series The Witcher with Henry Cavill has become its most-watched new series ever - although the streaming service is changing its ratings measurement metric - as it revealed that its fourth quarter (Q4) subscriber numbers that surged by another 8.76 million.

In its Q4 2019 investor report that it released on Tuesday night Netflix said that it added another 8.75 million subscribers of which 8.33 million internationally and 420 000 within the United States.

Netflix managed to beat its forecast of gaining 7.6 million subscribers in Q4 and projects to add 7 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2020.

Its fourth quarter subscriber growth brought Netflix to 167.1 million subscribers worldwide at the end of 2019 of which 61 million were in the United States and 106 million in the rest of the world.

Netflix said in its investor letter that "Our low membership growth [in the United States] is probably due to our recent price changes and to United States competitive launches," noting the launches of new streaming services like Apple TV+ and Disney+ in late-2019.

Netflix noted that it had record subscriber additions in the Africa, Europe and Middle East (EMEA) region during the fourth quarter, adding another 4.42 million customers in this region.

"Many media companies and tech giants are launching streaming services, reinforcing the major trend of the transition from linear to streaming entertainment. This is happening all over the world and is still in its early stages, leaving ample room for many services to grow as linear TV wanes."

"We have a big headstart in streaming and will work to build on that by focusing on the same thing we have focused on for the past 22 years - pleasing members."

In a footnote in its earnings report Netflix said that it is changing its ratings system and how it reports viewing numbers, something which will increase viewership data for Netflix programming which isn't independently measured. Netflix notoriously doesn't release detailed ratings information.

While Netflix previously counted a view when a subscriber watched 70% of an episode or film, it now counts as little as 2 minutes of viewing time as a subscriber having watched that content. Netflix now counts a view when a subscriber "chose to watch and did watch for at least 2 minutes - long enough to indicate the choice was intentional".

"As we've expanded our original content, we've been working on how to best share content highlights that demonstrate popularity," Netflix noted.

"Our new methodology is similar to the BBC iPlayer in their rankings based on requests for the title, most popular articles on The New York Times, which include those who opened the articles, and YouTube view counts."

Netflix is making the change to its ratings methodology so that "short and long titles are treated equally, levelling the playing field for all types of our content including interactive content, which has no fixed length".

"Given that we now have titles with widely varying lengths – from short episodes to long films, we believe that reporting households viewing a title based on 70% of a single episode of a series or of an entire film, which we have been doing, makes less sense. We are now reporting on households that chose to watch a given title."

"The new metric is about 35% higher on average than the prior metric. For example, 45 million member households chose to watch Our Planet under the new metric vs. 33 million under the prior metric."

Netflix said that the Henry Cavill-led new fantasy drama series that had its first season become available on 20 December 2019 is now the streamer's most-watched new TV series ever with 76 million customers who've watched (some of) it.

Netflix already renewed The Witcher for a second season and said that "As a testament to how our hit content can penetrate the global zeitgeist and influence popular culture, the show’s launch drove up sales of The Witcher books and games around the world, and spawned a viral musical hit".

Netflix noted that the third season of Brit-drama The Crown was watched by 21 million households with 73 million households worldwide that have watched at least 2 minutes since the series launched.

Klaus, Netflix's first original feature-length animation film to be nominated for an Oscar, was seen by 40 million households in the first month of its release.

The second season of You was viewed by 54 million households during its first month of release and 83 million households watched the Michael Bay film 6 Underground starring Ryan Reynolds.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Amazon Studios reveals the cast for its New Zealand set The Lord of the Rings series.

by Thinus Ferreira

Amazon Studios has announced the multi-generational, and global cast for its still-to-be-named The Lord of the Rings drama series that will be on the Amazon Prime Video streaming service.

Production on the first season of 8 episodes, based on J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings novels, will start in February, with filming of the Amazon Original that will take place in New Zealand where the series of movies were also made. The series has already been renewed for a second season.

In a press statement Amazon Studios says "the first group of series regulars" include Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Budge, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, and Daniel Weyman.

The showrunners and executive producers of the series are J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay with J.A. Bayona who will be directing the first 2 episodes and who will serve as executive producer, alongside his partner Belén Atienza; with executive producers Lindsey Weber, Bruce Richmond, Gene Kelly, Sharon Tal Yguado, Gennifer Hutchison, Jason Cahill and Justin Doble.

"After undertaking an extensive global search, we are delighted finally to reveal the first group of brilliant performers who will take part in Amazon's The Lord of the Rings series," say J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay in the press release.

"These exceptionally talented women and men are more than just our actors: they are the newest members of an ever-expanding creative family that is now working tirelessly to bring Middle-earth to life anew for fans and audiences worldwide."

The series will be set during The Second Age of Middle-earth and explore new storylines preceding J.R.R's "The Fellowship of the Ring."

In March 2019 Amazon revealed a Middle-Earth map that contains the later-sunk "lost island" of Númenor, which indicates that the island and its inhabitants will very likely feature in the TV series.

In the Tolkien mythology, the Second Age was the time period when the Rings of Power - including Sauron's One Ring who himself was still human - came into existence.

In late-2019 a global casting call went out looking for people as extras who are extremely short, extremely tall, missing teeth or are toothless, wrinkled, very hairy, have an "androgynous look" or are stocky, mean-looking bikers.

National Geographic renews Running Wild with Bear Grylls, Brain Games for further seasons; makes Chris Hemsworth a healthy living 'guinea pig' in new longevity series Limitless.

by Thinus Ferreira

National Geographic (DStv 181) has renewed Brain Games and Running Wild with Bear Grylls for further seasons and has commissioned a new health and longevity series with Chris Hemsworth who will be the "human guinea pig" presenter.

"Brain Games and Running Wild with Bear Grylls are emblematic of our unscripted programming strategy - highly entertaining, personality-driven premium programming that lives up to the National Geographic brand," says Courteney Monroe, National Geographic Global Television Networks president in a statement.

"We are thrilled to greenlight the continuation of these franchises."

Keegan-Michael Key will be back as host of Brain Games. Along with world-famous mentalist Lior Suchard and field correspondent and neuroscientist Cara Santa Maria, each episode delivers shocking revelations on the science of our brains and surprising explanations behind why we do what we do, making it a television event for the whole family.

Meanwhile National Geographic has commissioned Limitless with Chris Hemsworth as presenter. The new series, produced by Nutopia and Protozoa Pictures will follow Chris Hemsworth on a mission to discover how to live healthier, smarter and longer lives.

Chris Hemsworth will try to transform himself in Limitless by training for 6 extraordinary challenges, showing how to fight ageing at every stage of life.

In each of the 6 episodes of Limitless Chris Hemsworth will investigate another scientific topic related to longevity ranging from regenerating damage, maximizing strength, building resilience, shocking the body, supercharging memory and confronting mortality.

Chris Hemsworth will meet with leading longevity scientists who believe that the key to staying young lies in rooting out and reversing the damage of time before they take hold, learning secrets from superhumans who demonstrate the mind-blowing extent of human potential.

"I was somehow convinced to volunteer myself as a human guinea pig and endure a series of mental and physical challenges across the globe, all for the sake of science," says Chris Hemsworth. "We’re hoping to shed some light on new ideas and emerging science with the focus on extending a healthy life span."

Courteney Monroe says "We are so fortunate to have Chris Hemsworth at the centre of this series and to tap into his genuine curiosity and real-life superhero powers to push his own personal limits".

Meanwhile a second of Gordon Ramsey: Uncharted will start in mid-2020 on National Geographic. Produced by Studio Ramsay, new episodes will feature Gordon Ramsay continuing his journey across the globe, embarking on exhilarating missions to unearth world cultures through food and adventure.

Gordon Ramsey: Uncharted follows Gordon Ramsay as he meets with indigenous people around the globe to learn about the cultures, dishes and flavours unique to each location.

Every ingredient he harvests and dish he tastes will inspire a new recipe from scratch, created to represent the heart of that culture.

Each episode concludes with Ramsay challenging himself with a local food legend by his side - putting his newfound skills to the test as they cook a feast together for the natives. For Ramsay, food is the gateway to culture, and every adventure is a portal into the soul of the people and place.

CNN International is in Davos, Switzerland covering the 2020 World Economic Forum (WEF).

CNN International (DStv 401) is in Davos, Switzerland to cover the 2020 World Economic Forum (WEF) this week.

Richard Quest, Julia Chatterley, Fareed Zakaria, John Defterios, Max Foster and Hadas Gold will be on the ground in Switzerland, alongside other journalists from the CNN Business team.

They will be joined by CNN's Jim Acosta, Jeremy Diamond and Nina dos Santos. CNN International will broadcast interviews and analysis with TV coverage across the week on CNN International.

Besides Donald Trump as president of the United States, other high-profile delegates who are set to attend include Greta Thunberg, Angela Merkel, Prince Charles, Christine Lagarde, Deepika Padukone, Winnie Byanyima, and Ursula von der Leyen.

ViacomCBS Africa boss Alex Okosi jumps to YouTube to lead Africa as VCN Africa ups Monde Twala and Craig Paterson to general managers for the African continent.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Africa boss of ViacomCBS Alex Okosi has jumped to YouTube forcing ViacomCBS Networks International Africa (VCN Africa) into a top executive shake-up that is filling the gap by upping Monde Twala and Craig Peterson as co-general managers for the continent.

Alex Okosi who is exiting VCN Africa at the end of February 2020 is becoming the managing director of emerging markets for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region from April 2020 at YouTube, while Monde Twala and Craig Peterson are becoming general managers at ViacomCBS Africa from March.

Before jumping to YouTube, Alex Okosi was a long-serving TV executive and held the fort as executive vice president and managing director of ViacomCBS Networks International Africa and BET International.

In his new job Alex Okosi will be responsible for running YouTube's business and partnership teams across emerging markets in the EMEA region, including Russia, the Middle East, as well as North and sub-Saharan Africa.

Alex Okosi will report to the head of YouTube for EMEA, Cécile Frot-Coutaz and he will relocate to London in the United Kingdom.

"YouTube is a game-changing platform that plays an increasingly important role in our lives today through the dynamic content and innovation that it delivers," says Alex Okosi in a statement. "I am very excited to be joining Cecile’s leadership team to continue empowering creators and elevating value for viewers and partners across the region."  

Cécile Frot-Coutaz says "I look forward to welcoming Alex to our YouTube EMEA leadership team. He brings a wealth of experience in the content industries and has a track record for building businesses and audiences in established and new markets".

"Alex will be leading our existing teams in Russia, sub-Saharan Africa, Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa to drive further expansion in these key markets."

Meanwhile ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI) announced that the departure of Alex Okosi will be filled by Craig Paterson and Monde Twala who are named as co-general managers of ViacomCBS Networks Africa.

"Alex has made an immeasurable impact on our business in Africa," says Raffaele Annecchino, President of ViacomCBS Networks Europe Middle East, Africa and Asia, in a statement.

"Since launching MTV Base in 2005, Alex has spearheaded the development of our business on the continent, which now delivers more channels to Africa than any other international network – reaching 100 million viewers in 48 territories across MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and BET."

VCNI says that Alex Okosi took over leadership of BET International in 2017 and has continued to advance the value of the brand internationally "delivering double-digit distribution growth and improving profitability and margins".

In a VCNI statement, Alex Okosi says "I am proud to have had the opportunity to build our Africa business from the ground up".

"This has played a pivotal role in transforming the music and content space and changing the narrative on Africa. Leading our Africa and BET International businesses to success is testament to the extraordinary teams, colleagues and partners that I have worked with throughout my tenure. ViacomCBS has been my home for more than 20 fantastic years, and I leave behind incredible creative and commercial talent that will continue to deliver growth."

David Lynn, president & CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International, says "I’m immensely grateful to Alex for his contribution to the success of VCNI, including his role in developing such a strong team of successors. Alex’s leadership has been essential to our success in Africa and to the continued growth of BET International".

From 1 March 2020 Monde Twala and Craig Paterson will take over as general managers of VCN Africa. 

Monde Twala, senior vice president & general manager, editorial VCN Africa (pictured left), will focus on content, creative, editorial and marketing across all VCNI brands.

Monde Twala is currently the vice president of ViacomCBS Networks Africa’s BET, youth & music brands.

Monde Twala who joined the company in 2016 is responsible for driving the development and growth of iconic music, youth and entertainment brands BET, MTV, MTV Base and MTV Music24, across the African continent. 

Craig Paterson, senior vice president & general manager, VCN Africa (pictured right), will be responsible for all corporate functions, including business development and strategy.

Craig Paterson is currently senior vice president, business operations for ViacomCBS Networks Africa and is responsible for driving strategic growth and business opportunities in Africa.

Prior to this role, Craig Paterson was responsible for operations and finance for multimedia brands MTV, MTV Music24, Nickelodeon, Nick Toons, Nick Junior, MTV Base, BET and Comedy Central on the African continent. 

He spent nearly five years at Viacom beginning in 2011 as vice president of operations and finance in Africa and returned to the company in 2018 as senior vice president of business operations in Africa. 

"I am delighted that Craig Paterson and Monde Twala will take over leadership in this important market," says 
Raffaele Annecchino.

"Both have worked with Alex for years, which coupled with their expertise will ensure a seamless transition. Craig and Monde are experts in their respective areas and in addition to incredible business acumen, have demonstrated leadership and collaborative excellence throughout each of their careers and tenures with the company."                    

Disney moves up Disney+ launch date for Western Europe; remains silent over when its streaming service will come to South Africa and Africa.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Walt Disney Company is moving up the launch date of its streaming service Disney+ in Western Europe where it will now launch on 24 March 2020 while the Mouse House remains silent about its streamer plans for Africa.

Disney on Tuesday announced that instead of 31 March it will now launch Disney+ across several Western Europe countries on 24 March, a week earlier than originally announced, following its success in late-2019 with its launch in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands.

Disney+ will now become available in the United Kingdom and Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Spain and Italy on 24 March and bring with it Disney original series like Star Wars The Mandalorian and its buzzed-about "Baby Yoda", along with High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.

Disney+ will launch in Belgium, the Nordics and Portugal later this year.

Disney gave no reason for the changed time-table. In these countries Disney+ will cost subscribers £5.99 or €6.99 (R112.80) per month or £59.99 and €69.99 (R1129.48) for an annual subscription.

After Disney signed up 10 million subscribers in the United States on Disney+'s launch day there, the company said that it now projects to have between 60 to 90 million Disney+ subscribers worldwide by 2024.

On Tuesday morning The Walt Disney Company Africa was again asked what the plans are for Disney+ to launch in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa and when it would be. A Disney Africa representative said there is "nothing from our side yet" and that "news will follow once we have any".

Viewers in Africa and South Africa have been forced to make use of illegal means, for instance torrent sites, to watch hit series like The Mandalorian with Disney that isn't distributing any of Disney+ Originals through its existing international distribution network to traditional pay-TV operators like MultiChoice's DStv.

Showmax releases 'max-ed out' Christmas season 2019 information, still not giving out any actual viewership and ratings stats.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice's video streaming service Showmax has released some information regarding popular programming watched during the late-2019 Christmas period but is still not releasing any viewership or ratings statistics.

According to Showmax South Africans watched "over 100 years worth of video on Showmax over the holiday season" although MultiChoice and Showmax didn't provide any numbers regarding either subscribers or ratings tallies for individually mentioned shows.

According to Showmax the streamer saw a 30% increase in viewing hours compared to the average seen in prior months. Showmax didn't specify either the average number of viewing hours, or what the viewing hours spiked to.

"More people than ever before got on the streaming bandwagon, and those who were watching streamed more than usual," says Showmax.

"For our most popular series, once people had locked on they watched on average more than 30 episodes of the same show over the holiday period. The peak binge by a single account was more than 200 episodes of the same show".

According to Showmax 26 December 2019 saw a peak in viewership although what it was isn't mentioned. Showmax says evenings were the most popular time to watch TV but that the peak over the holiday period saw it start earlier than for the rest of the year at 18:00.

The most-watched local genre was reality TV "with a particularly strong showing from The Real Housewives of Johannesburg". Showmax once again didn't add ratings data for what the "strong showing" entails.

Showmax says comedy, medical drama and crime drama were all popular binge destinations with subscribers apparently watching multiple successive episodes. The River on 1Magic (DStv 103) and the kykNET (DStv 144) series Binnelanders and Getroud Met Rugby "stood out in terms of the number of successive episodes watched".

According to Showmax "people watched way more movies than usual, which could be a reflection of having more opportunities to sit still for several hours at a time".

"South Africans clearly take their leisure time seriously, with average hours per viewer up 21% compared to normal activity, while in Nigeria that increase was just 10%, and in Kenya an even smaller increase of 7%," says Showmax.

Without providing any viewing statistics, Showmax says the top 10 most-streamed international series for 2019 on its streaming service were:

  • HBO’s Euphoria
  • HBO’s Game of Thrones
  • HBO’s Chernobyl
  • Younger
  • HBO’s Big Little Lies
  • Vikings
  • Billions
  • The Girlfriend Experience
  • Siren
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
In 2019 the 10 most-streamed South African series on Showmax were:
  • Trackers
  • The Real Housewives of Johannesburg
  • Being Bonang
  • The River
  • The Queen
  • Die Spreeus
  • Die Byl
  • The Girl From St Agnes
  • The Bachelor SA
  • Boer Soek ‘n Vrou

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Forensic report finds that shocking corruption and irregular discounts by ad reps in the SABC advertising sales division has cost public broadcaster at least R1.5 billion over 18 months.

by Thinus Ferreira

Irregular discounts given by several reps inside the SABC's advertising sales division has cost the beleaguered, cash-strapped and technically insolvent South African public broadcaster at least R1.5 billion over 18 months a forensic investigation into its corrupt SABC Commercial Enterprises division has found.

On Sunday the City Press newspaper reported that a forensic investigation by Nexus Forensic Services uncovered corruption totalling at least R1.517 billion between January 2018 and June 2019 inside the SABC's advertising division.

The investigation that concluded in October 2019 scrutinised the top 35 advertisers at the SABC who were responsible for the bulk of the R6.6 billion in advertising income the struggling broadcaster receives.

At least 17 junior account executives and senior managers at the SABC's sales department gave discounts to advertisers as high as 85% of rate card rates while they all ignored several rules pertaining to how much and when discounts for airtime could be granted.

"These discounts and added value devalue the rate card rates and have significantly impacted on the revenue collected by the SABC," states the forensic report.

The shocking corruption and irregular sales discounts were so bad that one SABC sales representative allegedly provided confidential SABC information to his wife, who was running an agency that advertised with the SABC.

The person was able to spend millions of rand on beachfront properties and 20 vehicles.

Nexus Forensic Services says "We recommend that the SABC consider instituting appropriate disciplinary action against the employee,” recommended the investigation findings.

in December 2019 the SABC fired the former SABC Commercial Enterprises executive Tshifhisa Mulaudzi after he was found guilty on a variety of charges including corruption, dishonesty, and failure to act in the best interest of the SABC.

Tshifhisa Mulaudzi also received an international trip to China in May 2018 as well as a job for his wife from a company with a big advertising contract with the SABC. Disciplinary hearings have also been brought against three other employees. Malaudzi denied any wrongdoing.

The SABC in a statement says "Tshifhisa Mulaudzi faces 11 charges of misconduct, including fraud, corruption and doing business with his wife's company without declaring this to the SABC."

"He was found guilty on all 11 charges and the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing recommended his immediate dismissal from the corporation."

Friday, January 10, 2020

TV news channel eNCA finally switching to high definition (HD) on DStv with new curved LED video wall as part of its latest studio make-over.

The South African TV news channel eNCA (DStv 403) will switch to a high definition (HD) feed on Monday 13 January, utilising a new curved LED video wall that it says will be the biggest in-studio screen for a TV channel on the African continent.

eNCA's switch to HD comes 11 and a half years after the channel from eMedia Investments launched on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform. eNCA will be carried on DStv as a HD news channel in South Africa and the other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.

The new HD studio is eNCA's latest studio revamp coming six months after the Hyde Park based TV news channel's last "white-wash" studio make-over in July 2018 that received a lukewarm reception from viewers and the industry. 

 Competing South African TV news channels, SABC News (DStv 404) and Newzroom Afrika (DStv 405) have been HD channels on DStv for some time already.

eNCA's new curved video wall measures 12 x 3 metres with live in-studio visuals that will be captured by 6 HD cameras which include 5 robo-controlled cameras and one jib.

"Our use of this technologically advanced equipment in the new HD studio is exceptional and will provide a sharp and refreshing feel to all our programmes," says Rose Rogers, group technical general manager in a statement.

"The semi-circular set shape will allow for an increase in camera angles compared to the previous U-shaped set design. It took us months of work to ensure that the new studios are a perfect fit for the upgraded broadcast quality."

 Joe Heshu, MultiChoice's head of corporate affairs, says "In line with our purpose of giving and delighting our viewers with great quality content and entertainment, eNCA’s launch of the high-tech HD studio on our platform is just one more way of ensuring we can play a role in supporting the growth of the local TV industry and creating lasting partnerships with local stakeholders which will guide the success of the industry."

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Gay farmer Damian arrives man alone at Boer Soek 'n Vrou reunion show; gets applause 'for guts he had to do what he did' from other farmers for taking part in 12th season.

The 12th season of the Afrikaans farmer dating reality show Boer Soek 'n Vrou ended on Thursday night on kykNET (DStv 144) with three couples who managed to stay together and pitched up for the reunion show - although gay farmer Damian arrived "man alone" but in the end received applause from all of the other farmers.

Damian Engelbrecht (37), a cattle and sheep farmer from Bapsfontein, made history earlier this year when he became the first-ever gay farmer who took part in the farmer-wants-a-lover reality format show, produced by Marche Media.

He made the list of top 5 shortlisted farmers after he garnered the most letters from potential love interest out of all of the farmers, although his inclusion and journey through the season wasn't without controversy.

On Thursday night Boer Soek 'n Vrou concluded the 12th season with a special reunion show that saw all of the farmers back - although some arrived alone.

As expected, all three of the remaining couples were still together: Hentie and Hantie, Graham and Ilne, as well as Willem and Sanel, while Brandon arrived with Llani who he met while visiting the United Kingdom.

Damian, Theunis, Albert, Rohan and Gerrit all arrived alone without anybody in hand.

Albert said that he is seeing a woman who couldn't make it for the recording of the reunion episode, while Rohan said there is someone in his life although he doesn't want to expose her on television since they're taking things slowly. Gerrit said that he has met someone.

Farmer Franco arrived with Nicole who he and presenter Leah initially phoned, although they're not officially a couple - yet.

Damian, as the show's first gay farmer, was asked what his biggest lesson was from taking part in Boer Soek 'n Vrou.

"What's being said out there and the ideas that people have of you - to just start to cut that out because people's opinions are not your reality," he answered.

"I think and hope that a lot of people will look with new eyes at people who don't fit in into their framework but that they'll also see that we're not doing harm to anyone. Why do you want to crucify people who don't fit into the same frame that you're moving in?"

Presenter Leah asked the farmers who surprised everyone the most over the course of the season.

Farmer Albert said "We've had this discussion already and I think everyone can agree with it: I think that what Damian did, and the guts he had to do what he did on national television, I take my hat off to him."

"It's well done," said Albert as all of the farmers spontaneously started to applaud.

532 original American shows in 2019 - and counting - as 2020 will see the number of scripted TV series continue to increase.

Feel like there's nothing much to watch? The FX Networks in America released its annual list of how many original scripted TV series were in production with new episodes in the United States and said on Thursday that it topped 532 in 2019 - a number that just keeps growing.

John Landgraf, FX CEO, in December 2018 predicted that 2019 would see more than 530 original and ongoing drama, comedy and limited series shows.

This prediction came true, with FX's research division that tracks all original shows in production and announced that it came to 532 in 2019 - up 7% over 2018's 495 shows.

The number of original scripted series more than doubled over the past decade from "just" 216 series in 2010 to the 532 of last year - an increase of 153% - and continues to grow. This number excludes reality shows, soaps and children series which would easily increase the 532 to over 1000 ongoing, original shows.

FX made the annual announcement at the 2020 Winter Television Critics Association (TCA) two-week press tour currently taking place in Pasadena, California in the United States.

What it means is that South African viewers are spoilt for choice with over 500 American series to watch that continue to roll out new episodes and new seasons, besides the original South African productions also being made, in addition to shows from the United Kingdom, Australia, India, South America and the rest of the African continent made available to free-to-air and pay-TV viewers.

This number will increase even further in 2020, largely fuelled by the so-called "streaming wars" of over-the-top (OTT) direct-to-consumer subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services like Netflix constantly making more shows to attract more viewers.

"Given that the streaming wars are now at hand, that total will increase substantially this year, which to me is just bananas," John Landgraf said.

In 2020 The Walt Disney Company continues to ramp up production on original series for its Disney+ streaming service that it's busy rolling out globally, as Netflix continues to invest heavily in scripted originals.

Meanwhile Apple relaunched its Apple TV+ streaming service, NBCUniversal is getting ready to launch its new Peacock service in April in the United States and WarnerMedia set to launch its HBO Max streamer in May.

2020's Emmys gets a date, Oscars going hostless for a second time.

America's 72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place on Sunday 20 September 2020 the Television Academy announced, while this year's Oscars will go hostless for a second year in February.

The 72nd Emmy Awards will once again be broadcast live on M-Net in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa on Monday morning 21 September, with a prime time rebroadcast later the same day, with the ceremony that's set to take place inside the Microsoft Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, California.

The Television Academy hasn't yet announced whether the Emmys will have a main host this year which went hostless in September 2019 for the 71st Emmy Awards.

In a separate announcement, this year's 92nd Academy Awards will definitely be hostless for a second year after it had no host in 2019 when Kevin Hart withdrew two days after he was announced as the would-be main host when several of his homophobic tweets from earlier years resurfaced.

The 92nd Academy Awards which will also be broadcast by M-Net, will take place on Sunday 9 February 2020 from inside the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and shown live in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa early on Monday morning 10 February.

At the current two week Winter 2020 Television Critics Association (TCA) tour taking place at the Langham Huntington hotel in Pasadena, California, Karey Burke, entertainment president for America's ABC network, said that the Oscars again won't have a host.

"Together with the Academy, we have decided there will be no traditional host, repeating for us what worked last year. The Oscars will have huge entertainment values, big musical numbers, comedy and star power."

"We expect that we’re going to have a very commercial set of nominations and a lot of incredible elements have come together that make us think we are going to have a very entertaining show again."

Wednesday, January 8, 2020 cancels local drama series Isipho after 5 months following dismal ratings. has cancelled its local drama series Isipho that won't return in 2020 following extremely dismal ratings.

The local supernatural drama series produced by Herbvision Multimedia and The Ntintili Factory pulled a meagre audience during its 5 and a half months on-air and failed to make the top 20 most watched shows on during any time or any month of its short run.

The last episode of Isipho was broadcast on on 19 December 2019 which turned out to be the series finale.

Isipho that started in July 2019 on the channel in the hugely competitive timeslot against SABC1's popular Skeem Saam, was supposed to run until at least June 2020. didn't explain why Isipho, filmed on Mulderdrift in Gauteng, was cancelled but Marlon Davids, managing director says it was a "mutual decision" between and the producers to can the show.

"It is with sincere regret that we end a locally produced drama series; however, following lengthy discussions with our partners, the decision was made to end the series. continues to look forward to fulfilling its mandate of producing exceptional and relevant local content," says Marlon Davids.

Herbert Hadebe and Busisiwe Ntintili, Isipho co-executive producers, say in a prepared statement that "This has been an amazing and breath-taking journey for us as independent local producers. The opportunity to tell stories that uplift South African audiences and create employment for South African families is our mission".

"This fantastic experience has given us, as young companies, great courage to continue with the vision of upskilling our people and contributing to the growth of our film and television industry."

Monday, December 23, 2019

MultiChoice and ViacomCBS Networks International Africa opening the Nickelodeon and NickToons channels for DStv Compact and DStv Access subscribers for a month from 27 December 2019.

MultiChoice and ViacomCBS Networks International Africa (VCNI Africa) are opening the Nickelodeon (DStv 305) channel to DStv Compact subscribers and the NickToons (DStv 308) channel to DStv Access subscribers from 27 December 2019 until 19 January 2020.

Nickelodeon has Sunday movie marathons and will broadcast Rufus 2 on 29 December at 20:05 - a tale about a dog who turns into a human and meets a girl named Kat who has a secret of her own.

Lost in the West (Part 1, 2 and 3) is broadcast on Nickelodeon on 5, 12 and 19 January 2020 at 20:05 in which stepbrothers Chip and Dave go back in time and get entangled in a Wild West adventure. They team up with two local girls to face off against the town's evil mayor.

A Henry Danger Musical is broadcast on 5 January at 12:45.

NickToons has a Peppa Pig marathon (no scheduling information provided by VCNI Africa), followed by a King Fu Panda marathon (no scheduling information provided by VCNI Africa), as well as ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks (no scheduling information provided by VCNI Africa) and Chop Chop Ninja (no scheduling information provided by VCNI Africa).

NickToons will broadcast SpongeBob the Musical: Live on Stage on 11 January 2020 at 13:15.

Nancy Matimu appointed MultiChoice Kenya managing director, replaces Eric Odipo as pay-TV operator's first female boss in the East African country.

MultiChoice has appointed Nancy Matimu as MultiChoice Kenya managing director from December 2019 and is replacing Eric Odipo who took up the position in June 2017 and left.

Nancy Matimu was the vice-president, head of mark development for sub-Saharan Africa at MasterCard and becomes the first female managing director to head up MultiChoice Kenya.

"I am delighted to join Kenya’s leading video entertainment company and to be the first female managing director of the business. I’m looking forward to leading this business at what is an exciting time for the industry and the MultiChoice Group," says Nancy Matimu in a statement.

Maharage Chande, MultiChoice Africa northern region director, says "Our strategy is to continuously provide customers with more of their favourite content and thus providing unmatched value. This new appointment will play a major role in delivering the experience our customers deserve, core to our corporate culture".

"We are also excited to welcome our first female managing director to head up our business. Nancy brings a wealth of experience to the role."

Nancy Matimu has an MBA in Strategic Management from Strathmore University, a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Kenyatta University and a Post Graduate Diploma (CIM) in Marketing.

Nancy Matimu is also a graduate of the Advanced Management Program (AMP) & Chief Executive Program (CEP) from Strathmore, IESE and Lagos Business Schools.

MultiChoice Kenya is a joint venture with the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.