Thursday, July 18, 2019

Vinette Ebrahim exits SABC2's 7de Laan and the iconic role of Charmaine Meintjies after 19 years, last on-screen appearance will be on 24 October 2019.

Actress Vinette Ebrahim is the next veteran actor exiting SABC2's Afrikaans weekday soap 7de Laan, and is leaving her iconic character role of Charmaine Meintjies, and her sometimes identical twin sister Vivian, after 19 years.

Vinette Ebrahim's character will still be seen on 7de Laan until 24 October 2019.

Vinette Ebrahim's exit comes close on the heels of Annelisa Weiland who played Hilda and who will be switching to kykNET's (DStv 144) Suidooster soap.

"In long-running television series, it often happens that a character's journey comes to an end. After evaluating past and current storylines of 7de Laan it has transpired that all potential stories around Charmaine and Vivian have been exhausted. In long-running television series, it often happens that a character's journey comes to an end," says Danie Odendaal Productions in a statement issued on Thursday evening.

"Charmaine is a character deeply invested in family values, friendship and service to others. Her personal and familial dynamics, challenges and family issues have kept South Africans entertained for over 19 years," says the soap.

"The time has however come for her to bow out with grace and flair."

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Netflix is doing its version of the BBC's Blue Planet teaming with Blue Planet 2 creator, James Honeyborne for its own underwater natural history series, Oceans.

Netflix is doing its own version of the BBC's Blue Planet, with the creator of Blue Planet 2, James Honeyborne who will now be doing the underwater natural history series, Oceans, for the video streaming service.

Oceans, produced by Freeborne Media, will tell the stories of the planet's oceans that span 70% of the globe.

"Each episode will focus on a different ocean, combining the disciplines of oceanography, geography and earth sciences to experience these characteristics in new ways," says Netflix.

From the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean to the raging wildness of the Atlantic Ocean, and from the deceptively peaceful waters of the Pacific Ocean that are surrounded by a ring of fire, to the freezing isolation of the Southern and Arctic Oceans, Oceans will celebrate the diversity of Earth's greatest habitats through the experiences of the creatures that live within them.

Production will start later this year.

UPDATE: Thursday 18 July 2019 18:30 - The first sentence was altered indicate that James Honeyborne is the creator behind the BBC's Blue Planet 2 series, and not Blue Planet.

Ugly Betty is back - this time in the new 2019-telenovela on Telemundo on DStv, Betty in New York, with Elyfer Torres as Betty and some changes to the story.

Ugly Betty is back - this time as an irresistible soap, Betty in New York, that you will love to laugh with on Telemundo (DStv 118) about an "ugly" and socially-awkward young woman who goes to work at a fashion company and eventually shows the ugly people there true inner beauty.

The English-dubbed Betty in New York (Betty en Nueva York) is a brand-new 2019 version that started on Monday and will broadcast on weekdays at 20:00 and an omnibus on weekends.

Betty in New York is similar to the beloved and well-known 4-season American ABC drama series Ugly Betty that was broadcast on M-Net, SABC3 and The Sony Channel with America Ferrera in the title role.

Like that series, the new telenovella is also based on the original Colombian telenovela, Yo soy Betty, la fea.

In this version, produced by Telemundo Global Studios, Elyfer Torres portrays Betty Rincón, who is, in keeping with the story, deliberately "ugly-fied" by the producers.

In the Colombian original and in the American version, as well as the new Telemundo one, the producers know that viewers will get the in-joke of deliberately dressing a woman in ugly non-matching clothes and black spectacles that's perpetually worn skew.

Some changes in the new version include Betty not going to work at a glossy magazine, but rather finding herself working for Armando (although there is a Daniel there) at a Bold and the Beautiful-type fashion company, V&M Fashion, as his assistant after Armando is made president.

Living in New York, Betty will slowly start to win hearts and overcome prejudices in a materialistic world where external image is everything.

Ridiculed and humiliated daily for not "looking the part" although she's far more competent and qualified than anybody there, Betty will not just climb the corporate ladder but maybe also find true love.

Erick Elias is Armando Mendoza and Rodolfo Salas is Daniel Valencia, with Sabrina Seara as Marcela.

Telemundo placed half of the first hourlong episode online on YouTube for sampling:

Netflix deletes graphic suicide scene from its 13 Reasons Why youth drama after backlash.

Netflix is deleting a graphic suicide scene from its 13 Reasons Why youth drama after public backlash against its depiction.

The controversial show has been renewed for a third season but is now removing the suicide scene of the protagonist at the end of the first season which depicts Hannah (Katherine Langford) slitting her wrists in a bathtub, after medical experts told Netflix it's harmful.

The entire lengthy suicide scene is axed, leaving only the part thereafter where her parents find her body.

American research by the Nationwide Children's Hospital in America showed that suicides among 10 to 17 year old boys in the United States spiked by 30% in April 2017 the month after 13 Reasons was first released on Netflix.

On social media on Tuesday Netflix said that it had decided to delete the suicide scene.

"We've heard from many young people that 13 Reasons Why encouraged them to start conversations about difficult issues like depression and suicide and get help - often for the first time. As we prepare to launch season 3 later this summer, we’ve been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show," Netflix said in their statement.

"So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we’ve decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season 1,"

"Netflix has finally acknowledged the harmful impact that explicit content, such as the graphic suicide scene in 13 Reasons Why, is capable of inflicting on children," said America's Parents Television Council (PTC) in a statement.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, as well as the American Association of Suicidology welcome Netflix's alteration of the episode.

In a statement creator Brian Yorkey said "It was our hope, in making 13 Reasons Why into a television show, to tell a story that would help young viewers feel seen and heard and encourage empathy in all who viewed it, much as the bestselling book did before us".

"Our creative intent in portraying the ugly, painful reality of suicide in such graphic detail in season 1 was to tell the truth about the horror of such an act, and make sure no one would ever wish to emulate it."

"But as we ready to launch season 3, we have heard concerns about the scene and have agreed with Netflix to re-edit it."

"No one scene is more important than the life of the show, and its message that we must take better care of each other. We believe this edit will help the show do the most good for the most people while mitigating any risk for especially vulnerable young viewers."

If you or someone you know needs help with suicide, anxiety or depression, call the South African Depression and Anxiety Group's 24-hour helpline at 0800 456 789, the Suicide Crisis helpline at 0800 12 13 14, or Lifeline SA at 0861 322 322.

Monday, July 15, 2019

TV CRITIC's NOTEBOOK. After MultiChoice took a gaggle of press to the Big Brother Naija house in Lagos Nigeria, the first story finally appears ... 2 weeks later.

More than two weeks after MultiChoice took a bunch of journalists from various African countries - South Africa excluded and left out - to the new Big Brother Naija house in Lagos, Nigeria, for a weeklong press junket, the first actual first-hand reporting and story of how it was inside, finally appeared.

This is the failing level and standard of entertainment reporting and reporting about television in Africa that companies like MultiChoice Africa either want, or are fine with, since the same scenario regarding press group access keeps repeating itself over and over again, with the same (non-)results.

The disgusting waste of MultiChoice and M-Net money, time, resources and on-set access - including making top-level executives available and doing Q&A sessions - of which there's basically no return on the investment (ROI) in terms of press coverage, is staggering and appalling.

Almost none of the invited journalists filed or reported stories from the press junket beforehand in the days leading up to the broadcast launch of the 4th season of Big Brother Naija, despite getting massive access and living it up in a luxury hotel with internet. 

Was it America, or a different set of focused, professional and experienced journalists covering TV and entertainment, there would have been a flurry of reporting right from day 1 of press tour.

It's now actually extremely likely that nothing will appear - no interviews, photo articles, or stories with the MultiChoice or M-Net executives or Big Brother Naija producers, nor anything from any of the other shows and sets from SuperSport to Tinsel the press group got access to during their Lagos media week.

Journalists and influencers from Kenya, Uganda, Ghana , Zambia and Nigeria spent a night in the new Big Brother Naija house.

The questions is: Where is the coverage?

Was the business lounge of the Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel on Victoria Island in Lagos where media stayed closed or under renovation? Their phones definitely worked, since it wasn't too much actual work to post and do food, fun and fashion selfies.

By some miracle Hilary Kimuyu finally managed to type something up by 14 July 2019. Big Brother Naija started on 30 June.

How are DStv subscribers and people working in, and interested in the broader TV industry and MultiChoice and M-Net's production activities served by non and late coverage?

What value gets unlocked for either MultiChoice that invited media, or the press if none of them actually do what they were invited for, which is to report stories?

Besides hitting the liquor hard, champagning it up and eating a lot, where are the multiple stories about the information and what was said at the media session with John Ugbe, MultiChoice Nigeria CEO; Femi Odugbemi, the West African director of the MultiChoice Talent Factory and students; and Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu, M-Net West Africa channels director?

Where are the on-set images and new stories after the studio and set visits of SuperSport and M-Net's prime time soap Tinsel of which there shouldn't just be one, but several?

This is the first time in 13 years since 2006 that a Big Brother production has been done from inside Nigeria.

There should be more, comprehensive and incisive coverage in the form of multiple news articles spanning a range of subjects, as well as perspective stories about it from the invited media who MultiChoice chose to give access to Big Brother Naija. Where is it?

Instead, media and influencers that MultiChoice Africa took on a press junket, went, saw, took, lavishly lived in leisure ... and did little besides what in essence amounts to a cross-country,  self-indulgent holiday and strutting on the red carpet - something they should never be on in the first place.

That is not what journalism is. That is not what it means to be a journalist. It's sad and disgusting that irresponsible people who don't care for television, nor for covering the TV industry in Africa, are given access to things, people and places they don't and won't cover.

The problem isn't that African Television - so big and bright, vibrant and growing - doesn't have media that can and want to and try to cover and report on it.

It's that when MultiChoice gives access to press for something like Big Brother, those getting it/in, can't bother.

ALSO READ: TV CRITIC's NOTEBOOK. Journalists from across the continent on a Big Brother Naija TV junket with MultiChoice Africa showed off their dazzling feeding frenzy as they 'selfie'd just about everything - except for actually reporting the news and about the business of Big Brother.

VIA commissions format reality show, Trap! Dis my huis, with 50 people living in a 2-bedroom house until there's one left, from Afrokaans.

Media24's Afrikaans lifestyle reality channel VIA (DStv 147) has commissioned Trap! Dis my huis, an Afrikaans reality version of the international TV format, Get the f*ck out of my house for broadcast on the channel in January 2020.

Trap! Dis my huis, is produced by Afrokaans, also responsible for Survivor South Africa on M-Net and the upcoming new format bodycam dating reality show, Hoor My, Sien My, Soen My for M-Net's Afrikaans kykNET (DStv q44) channel.

In Trap! Dis my huis 50 stranger compete and start out living in the same cramped space as housemates in a 2-bedroom house as they're whittled down to a final winner getting R600 000.

The 50 have to share food, toiletries, and bedding for only two people for three weeks.

Filming of Trap! Dis my huis will take place during October 2019 and is based on an international TV format that has already been done in the Netherlands, Germany, and Brazil.

Housemates who feel overwhelmed by the experience have the option of leaving the house and, in the process, the competition at any time. Contestants are also frequently voted out of the house by their fellow housemates.

For the three-week period, the housemates must get by on supplies for only two people, but they will also have the opportunities to obtain more food, toiletries, and bedding for the house. 

R1 million is saved in the house’s money pot and contestants have the option of using this money to buy supplies for the house. Supplies can also be won by means of mini-competitions and games.

"We're ecstatic about this new format," says Izelle Venter, VIA channel head. "We decided it's well-suited to our current zeitgeist – the world is a bit wild, confusing, and an unexpected adventure. And so is this format! What’s more, the concept of privacy gets pushed to the limits."

Clover and Cardova team for a 9th season of Tropika Island of Treasure on SABC3 in 2019, set in Curaçao.

Clover will do a 9th season of its Tropika Island of Treasure advertiser-funded programme (AFP), produced by Cardova Productions, for SABC3, in 2019, this time using the Dutch-Caribbean island of Curaçao as backdrop for its multi-ep marketing reality show.

The 8th season of Tropika Island of Treasure Maldives was broadcast from February 2018 on SABC3, with no broadcast date yet known for Tropika Island of Treasure Curaçao.

Tropika Island of Treasure Curaçao will include Simphiwe Ngema, Kay Sibiya, Nadia Japhta, Siphesihle Vazi, Ntando Duma and Bouwer Bosch, as well as 6 viewers who will once again have to pay to enter by first buying Tropika.

"We’ve got an amazing group of celebrities who’ll join us for the ride on an entirely new Caribbean island, with a whole new set of challenges and fun.," says Barbara George, Tropika brand manager. 

CANAL+ acquires Nigeria's ROK film studio and channels business for undisclosed amount.

France's CANAL+ has acquired Iroko's ROK, the Nigerian film studio and TV channels business, for an undisclosed amount.

ROK's debut TV channel was launched in July 2016 by the Lagos-based studio, renowned for its original TV series and Nollywood movies, followed by ROK2 and ROK3 which are carried on satellite pay-TV services like MultiChoice's DStv, with a differing channel selection in various African countries.

The CANAL+ acquisition comprises ROK's production, content distribution and publishing channels.

As part of the transaction, Iroko Ltd will also take full control of JV Iroko+, a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service available in French-speaking Africa. 

The acquisition comes as the CANAL+ group looks to strengthen its content production reach in Nigeria and across Africa. As part of the acquisition, ROK founder, Mary Njoku, will continue in a leadership role as director-general of ROK Productions SAS, and will maintain a material shareholding in the company.

According to a statement "ROK will produce thousands more hours of Nollywood content to deliver movies and original TV series for CANAL+ group’s audiences in French-speaking Africa."

"As part of the acquisition, CANAL+ group will continue to collaborate with Iroko Ltd, with non-exclusive content distribution of ROK content through the IrokoTV SVOD app." 

Iroko started developing the ROK channel since 2013.

"ROK has captured the imagination of millions of movie fans, and they have truly supported us as we’ve grown the company to celebrate and enjoy our African culture," says Mary Njoku.

"I’m excited to be taking our platform on the next stage of its journey with CANAL+ group, who share our passion for creating original content, supporting new talent and together, we have ambitious plans for the future."

Jacques du Puy, CEO of CANAL+ International says, "Through this acquisition CANAL+ group is very happy to develop and enhance the catalogue of Nollywood contents and expand the ROK brand inside and outside the African continent."

Sunday, July 14, 2019

M-Net renews The Bachelor South Africa for a 2nd season; single women now able to enter love-seeking reality show until 20 August.

Despite a disappointing first season M-Net (DStv 101) has renewed The Bachelor South Africa for a second season that will film between October and December this year, and is set for broadcast from February 2020, with women who will once again get the chance to enter to try and find everlasting love with a handsome, eligible bachelor.

The first season of The Bachelor South Africa on M-Net ended on 9 May when the bachelor Lee Thompson ended up picking Gina Myers over Jozaan Dique, although a late season finale "plot twist" revealed that the relationship fizzled out.

Viewers were shocked to see Dique, a 28-year old lawyer, get dropped first after which some viewers started to guess from the body language between Myers, a 32-year old make-up artist and Thompson that the relationship fizzled out.

Now a second season awaits. Jason Greer will be back as the host of the second season of The Bachelor SA that will once again be produced by Rapid Blue as a local version of the dating show format of Warner Bros. International Television Production (WBITVP).

No single bachelor has yet been chosen for the second season, with M-Net that is still considering options, although the identity of the man will be revealed to the public and the women before filming starts in October.

The second season of The Bachelor SA will air from February 2020 with single women who are interested who can now enter until 20 August 2019 at midnight when entries close. Entries must be done online.

"Even though our first season did not have the 'happily-ever-after' fairy-tale ending everyone wished for, we continue to believe in the power of love," says Lani Lombard, M-Net's head of publicity.

"The show did exceptionally well for M-Net. Our viewers were swooning over all the drama and were swept off their feet as our dapper bachelor whisked off the ladies on adventurous dates and to exotic locations."

"We can't wait to meet the bevy of beauties, whom our audiences will be rooting for, to receive the final rose."

About the man for the second season, M-Net says "We have not pinned down our man of the moment yet and will still consider more options".

"The hottest-of-hot single men who are ready to bare their souls on television in order to find the love of their life and settle down are indeed part of a scarce, elusive species. Drop us a hint if you’re the one or know the man. No chancers, please!" says Lani Lombard.

Women who want to enter must be over 21 and single – either never married or divorced – and meet the show's requirements, and must be available for filming between 5 October and 5 December 2019.

SABC2's Muvhango actor, Macdonald Tshifhiwa Ndou, arrested and in jail on charges of alleged extortion, corruption, theft and kidnapping.

The actor Macdonald Tshifhiwa Ndou appearing in the SABC's Venda prime time weekday soap Muvhango on SABC2 has been arrested and is in jail after he was arrested on Friday on charges of extortion, corruption, theft and kidnapping.

The Sunday World on Sunday reported that Macdonald Tshifhiwa Ndou, who plays KK in Muvhango, was arrested on Friday by the Hawks, along with two other men.

The three men allegedly impersonated police officers and tried to extort a bribe of R100 000 from a Gauteng businessman, threatening to arrest him for illegal diamond trading.

The arrests came after businessman Mark Howard, CEO of Isisele Technologies, went to the police after the incident at his house on Wednesday this past week where he was supposed to meet a Namibian businessman known only as "Lillo" for a diamond business deal.

Instead of "Lillo" three men showed up, claiming to be police officers who demanded R100 000 in order for him not to be arrested. Since he didn't have enough money, they agreed that they would return on Friday, when they were arrested by the real police.

The Hawks spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mulamu, told Sunday World that "We can confirm that we arrested three suspects Friday for extortion, kidnapping, theft, corruption, aiding criminals and impersonating police officers".

In 2014 Macdonald Tshifhiwa Ndou and Sydney Ramakuela who plays Mulalo on the Word of Mouth Productions soap were arrested in Johannesburg for allegedly driving under the influence.

Carte Blanche on M-Net (DStv 101) recently covered a similar story of how "Namibian businessmen" who are con-artists lure unsuspecting people into a trap and then hold them hostage to withdraw large sums of money at ATMs.

TV REVIEW. Blood & Treasure on M-Net as a new global skullduggery and conspiracy drama series is the closest to a successful archaeology adventure show since Relic Hunter.

With the TV museum littered with the remnants of failed and cancelled "Indiana Jones"-like archaeology-inspired, artefact-hunting series, the new American series Blood & Treasure on M-Net (DStv 101) on Saturdays at 20:00 is the best in the genre since the Canadian Relic Hunter was on SABC3 two decades ago.

The drama series that was renewed for a second season snuck in under the radar. I've never heard of it, haven't read or seen anything about it, saw it pop up on the M-Net schedule, and then watched it.

Then I kept watching more and more of it because it's good.

Perfectly scheduled by M-Net as Saturday night fare, with above-average production values and doing familiar swashbuckling adventure-seeking tropes, themes and subject matter in surprisingly and interestingly enough new ways, Blood & Treasure is vastly better than previous TV attempts.

For DStv subscribers who feel burnt by trying trash like the embarrassing drek that was Hooten & the Lady on ITV Choice (DStv 123), or the abysmal and cardboard-thin The Librarians on Universal TV (DStv 117) that never really went anywhere, Blood & Treasure is finally something in the genre that is worth watching.

(As a sidenote, John Larroquette of The Librarians cameos in the 2-episode pilot of Blood & Treasure as the billionaire funder of one of the two leads, and again later in the series.)

Blood & Treasure won't make you feel cheated for having tried it.

What makes Blood & Treasure worthwhile is that it starts off with an interesting premise and actually develops it further, along with revelations in every episode.

The first season has 13 episodes and is currently ongoing in the United States with M-Net that just broadcast episode 2 in South Africa.

The show has character development that feels earned, has some more emotional moments that resonate (especially as the story unfolds in later episodes) because they were created properly out of properly established character motivations; and also has just the right sprinkling of humour, mixed with dramatic moments.

In short, the Blood & Treasure plot revolves around a former FBI-agent Danny McNamara (Matt Barr) who is an antiquities expert, who teams up with an archaeologist Lexi Vaziri (Sofia Pernas) trying to trace the whereabouts of Cleopatra's sarcophagus while they battle Karim Farouk (Oded Fehr) an Egyptian terrorist leader with a diabolical plan.

That's very oversimplified and the story is much more complexed and layered but to explain more would be to risk spoiling some of the revelatory fun inherent in watching it unfold.

Blood & Treasure, telling a season-long story, runs much more like a Dan Brown Da Vinci Code and a National Treasure story and if you enjoyed the first season of Condor that was on M-Net earlier in the year, you'll like this as well.

While the format feels and is familiar, the story is not. Blood & Treasure on M-Net is fun and filled with escapism-joy since you won't be able to predict the progression and outcome of every episode as the story unfolds.

While a lot of the show is set-based, it cleverly manages to make it feel less so with some sumptuously shot scene-setting set-pieces. Blood & Treasure makes the viewer believe that the globetrotting characters really are in different places around the world.

Within it's stock-and-trade genre, Blood & Treasure manages to tell its story in a way that makes it feels new and unexpected - which is difficult if you sell fast-food hamburgers and have to come up with something not yet done to it before, or are still writing Destiel and Wincest Supernatural slash fiction.

Subsequent episodes after the pilot become more original series MacGuyver-y with riddles to be solved, places to be discovered, and more backstory being revealed bit-by-bit, similar to The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

As a viewer you want to find out where the story will lead to next, making Blood & Treasure also very binge-watch-eable (it's clever and irresistible "nesting doll" narrative makes it perfect as a show that could have lived as a Showmax-only title).

Blood & Treasure takes the narrative and production values failings as well as the pacing and acting problems of the quite similar but cancelled 2013-series Zero Hour (a hunt for a holy relic involving a where-was-it-hidden-next chase since the time of Nazi Germany) and improves on all of it.

With cool cliffhangers and just the right bit of heart from the star-crossed lovers ("She/I'm not his girlfriend"), Blood & Treasure as an action-adventure and treasure-seeking series got me hooked until the end to see where the leads.

The review is based on having watched the first 8 episodes.

The first season of Blood & Treasure is on M-Net (DStv 101) on Saturdays at 20:00.

Discovery Inc.'s Real Time added to MultiChoice's DStv in the rest of Africa as well.

Discovery Inc.'s Real Time channel will be added to MultiChoice's DStv and GOtv satellite pay-TV service in the rest of Africa as well from Monday 15 July 2019.

The channel addition comes after Real Time was added to DStv for subscribers in South Africa, and to China's StarTimes in Africa and StarTimes' StarSat brand in South Africa.

Real Time is an entertainment channel featuring programmes based on real lives, nature, crime and medical lives targeting a female audience.

"We are incredibly excited to present Real Time to an even wider audience in the market, and further expand and diversify our local portfolio offering," says Amanda Turnbull, vice president and general manager for Discovery in Africa and the Middle East, in a statement.

"With an already successful suite of pay-TV brands, Real Time affords us the chance to bring our world-class content to even more audiences across Africa, in the form of a channel designed to provide much-needed 'me time' to the modern African woman and her wider family."

Yolisa Phahle, The MultiChoice Group CEO of general entertainment, says in a statement that "MultiChoice is excited to welcome this new channel which will give viewers access a wide variety of compelling television shows from Discovery Inc. on our platforms".

Troubled SABC's massive latest survival plan includes axing a third of its staff, closing 5 regional bureaus and dissolving SABC Sport as part of latest turnaround plan - report.

The embattled and financially gutted South African public broadcaster's latest dramatic survival plan includes getting rid of a third of its total workforce including axing thousands of workers, closing down 5 of its regional SABC offices, shutting down the SABC Sport division and reducing management by 37% in order to try and save it.

Last week during the SABC's appearance in parliament before the portfolio committee on communications, the details of the SABC's turnaround plan was not shared with the South African public with SABC executives that said that the details were "commercially sensitive".

With South Africa's national elections over which saw the SABC's retrenchment plan put on ice due to political pressure, the SABC that is on the verge of financial collapse is once again looking at a dramatic cut of personnel costs as part of its latest turnaround, The Sunday Times reported on Sunday in a front-page story.

Although the SABC plans to decrease 30% of its personnel, it's actually less and the percentage trimmed in order to try and get the support of the department of communications and from treasury.

The SABC wants to get rid of 19 general manager positions, and wants to reduce management by 37%.

Other proposals in the turnaround plan include axing a quarter of all SABC News staff, getting rid of 233 staffers of the current 936 - something that will save R62.23 million on the SABC's wage bill.

Of the SABC's 300 independent news contractors, a third - 100 - will have to be cut. Another 101 will have to be let go from the sports division, with 86 let go from the media and technology unit. This will save the SABC a further R77.5 million per year.

The SABC wants to shutter 5 of its regional offices in Montague Gardens, Cape Town, Tshwane, Ulundi, Kimberley and George that will save R25.5 million a year.

Closing down regional offices was also part of the SABC's earlier turnaround plan in 2018.

According to The Sunday Times, the turnaround plan's implementation will start in August, when, during the first week of that month, the SABC's group executives will have to

The Sunday Times said the plan will take effect in August, when SABC group executives will present their plans on how they will reduce employee costs by 30% as part of massive job cuts to slash the SABC's bloated operational expenditure.

"Phase 1" of the SABC's turnaround strategy includes "a report to the shareholder on pending retrenchments". The "shareholder" is the South African government.

The SABC had no comment when asked for a response by The Sunday Times.

The SABC was asked for comment late on Saturday night by TVwithThinus and will be added here when or if received.

UPDATE Sunday 14 July 2019 - 09:30:

The SABC in a statement on Sunday morning said that it "refutes the claims made in the story".

"The SABC would like to put on record that it does not have any new plans to retrench staff, and the journalist only enquired about the 11 pre-conditions in relation to the SABC’s application for funding to National Treasury."

"There was no discussion around the issue of retrenchments.In addition, it must be reiterated that on 31 January 2019, the corporation announced that it had aborted the process of Section 189 of the LRA and would not renew the notice to invoke Section 189."

"This followed constructive and extensive engagements with various stakeholders, including the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications, organised labour and our own employees."

"Currently there is a skills audit underway, under the auspices of the department of communications and following this process, the results of the skills audit in relation to staff optimisation will be fully engaged with all stakeholders, including organised labour and employees of the SABC."

"The SABC requests that the process of the funding application be allowed to be finalized, in order not to create panic and uncertainty amongst SABC employees and the public at large."

UPDATE Sunday 14 July 2019 - 11:15:

Bemawu president Hannes du Buisson, told SABC News (DStv 404) on Sunday morning in an interview said that "we have been assured by SABC that there are no new plans to get rid of SABC staff".

"We did enquire this week to ask about that 11-point plan, we were told by the SABC executive that they are not currently in possession of that plan. It seems this morning that they now have that plan but it seems to be confidential."

"So we will engage the SABC one more time and ask them to please provide that so that we can make sure that that is not part of that particular plan."

Hannes du Buisson said that "if the SABC has any plans to close down any offices, we need to see those plans because it would have an impact on staff, and of course the communities who should and will complain".

"The SABC's core business is news and information - and that is in fact where they should get more people, not be cutting down on people there."

UPDATE Sunday 14 July 2019 - 13:00:

Aubrey Tshabalala of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) on eNCA (DStv 403) on Sunday morning said that "the personnel that is at the SABC is needed in our view. Why do you have a massive number of freelancers at the SABC that work excessive time? It shows that we need those people."

He said that the SABC "can be one of the great employers, instead of the retrenchers".

Saturday, July 13, 2019

M-Net's amazing The Amazing Race take-over: Here are the 11 teams of two, racing from Sunday through 9 countries.

M-Net (DStv 101) that stepped into the breach and rescued the amazing reality show, The Amazing Race for South African viewers, will start the 8-episode, 30th season this Sunday, 14 July at 18:00 with 11 teams of two racing across nine countries.

M-Net scooped up the first-run broadcasting licensing rights from Disney Media Distribution to the reality competition show, The Amazing Race, after Sony Pictures Television Networks shuttered The Sony Channel, and with SABC3 showing older seasons in a highly-erratic schedule due to financial problems.

Phil Keoghan remains the host of the reality show race around the world.

At M-Net we take pride in bringing ‘the best of the best’ in international series to our viewers, and with over 10 Emmy awards and numerous other accolades under its belt, The Amazing Race was always a must have for the channel," says Tracy-Ann van Rooyen, senior manager for acquisitions and scheduling series at M-Net.

"The opportunity to add this much loved series to M-Net’s Sunday night line-up was serendipitous and an awesome addition the channel’s already impressive slate of international reality series competition shows."

Here are the 11 teams taking part on season 30 of The Amazing Race:

1. Kristi Leskinen (36) and Jen Hudak (30) (#TeamExtreme)
Connection: Former professional freestyle skiers
"Besides winning, I hope to reignite my inner competitor, to fight hard for something again, and to work as a team toward a common goal! My competitive ski career ended short because of injury and I left some things on the table - I don’t want to let that happen ever again!" says Jen.

2. Trevor Wadleigh (31) and Chris Marchant (33) (#TeamWellStrung)
Connection: Musicians part of string quartet Well-Strung
"I'm excited to do this race with Trevor. He and I push each other in life, both musically and intellectually. I want to put all the skills we've been using in life together to the test in The Amazing Race."

3. Joey Chestnut (33) and Tim Janus (41) (#TeamChomp)
Connection: Competitive eaters
"I want to show myself and the world that competitive eaters are the best at solving problems and have a blast beating people," says Joey.

4. Henry Zhang (22) And Evan Lynyak (22) (#TeamYale)
Connection: Dating management consultants
"I think Evan and I, though young, have a serious relationship, and running the race, I'm hoping to learn lots more about her and about us. Also, it'll be an awesome travel experience!" says Henry.

5. Eric (33) and Daniel Guiffreda (33) (#TheFirefighters)
Connection: Twin brothers and firefighters/paramedics
"It's a chance to reconnect with Eric outside of the work environment - we work at the same place - and to put everything we have into accomplishing the same goal," says Daniel.

6. Dessie Mitcheson (27) and Kayla Fitzgerald (26) (#TheRingGirls)
Connection: Instagram models
"Besides winning, I would like to experience different cultures and places around the world that I haven't yet and experience more adventures with my best friend. I'm a foodie so I'm also excited to get to try and experience different foods around the world that I normally wouldn't," says Kayla.

7. Cody Nickson (32) and Jessica Graf (26) (#TeamBigBrother)
Connection: Dating former American Big Brother contestants
"I fell in love with Jess on Big Brother and we made an incredible team. I want to compete with her by my side again," says Cody.

8. Cedric Ceballos (48) and Shawn Marion (39) (#TeamSlamDunk)
Connection: Former NBA players
"Maybe [doing this] opens more doors and opportunities for future endeavours," says Shawn.

9. April Gould (39) and Sarah Williams (39) (#TeamGoatYoga)
Connection: Goat Yoga owners
"The Amazing Race has always been a dream of mine, so being able to race is literally a dream come true! I am excited to go to different places, meet new people, and soak in the whole experience!" says April.

10. Alex Rossi (26) and Conor Daly (25) (#TeamIndyCar)
Connection: IndyCar drivers
"We are always seeking adrenaline-filled experiences outside of a race car and I hope to have lots of those experiences on The Amazing Race," says Alex.

11. Lucas Bocanegra (35) and Brittany Austin (31) (#TeamOceanRescue)
Connection: Dating lifeguards
"Besides the money for a beautiful wedding and home renovations, I hope to learn to work better with Lucas, improve our communication, and have his undivided attention," says Brittany.

Reality husband who appeared in SABC3's Married in a Flash show arrested after allegedly killing his wife with poison cocktail of anti-freeze and cranberry juice.

Megan Doorsamy (29) has been arrested for allegedly killing and poisoning his wife, Devashnee Naidoo in Durban with vehicle anti-freeze.

In late-2017 the couple appeared in the local reality show, Married in a Flash on SABC3 after they got married in November.

The series gave couples 3 days to plan a wedding and R75 000 who then had to execute it on a limited budget and time.

Devashnee Naidoo (30), a former primary school teacher, was found dead in her flat in Berea on 5 July, with Megan Doorsamy who was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Megan Doorsamy, who recently quit his job as a truck driver, allegedly killed Devashnee Naidoo with a poison-cocktail of anti-freeze and cranberry juice and stayed with her dead body for 4 days.

According to police reports  Devashnee Naidoo's body was also severely beaten up.

Megan Doorsamy appeared in the Durban Magistrate's Court with the case that has been postponed to 6 September.

Nigerian Muslim group calls for 'satanic' Big Brother Naija and its 'immoral inmates' on MultiChoice's DStv to be banned; viewers react with hilarious comments.

A Muslim group in Nigeria has called on the West-African country's government to ban the latest season of the Big Brother Naija reality show broadcast on DStv across across Africa, describing the contestants as "immoral inmates" and saying "the satanic TV show" is a platform of "nudity, shamelessness and open promiscuity".

In an open letter on Friday to Nigeria's national assembly, the Muslim Rights Concern's (Muric) director, Ishaq Akintola calls for the 4th season of the reality show to be banned that is shown on MultiChoice's DStv and GOtv satellite pay-TV platform in Nigeria, as well as across sub-Sahara Africa, including South Africa.

Within Nigeria, the group is known for its outrageous claims and often outlandish arguments. After its statement, other Nigerians, including Muslim viewers, quickly voiced their opinions saying they don't support Muric's statement.

As before, Big Brother Naija carries an 18 age restriction, with DStv and GOtv decoders that come with a parental PIN lock mechanism on the subscription television service.

In March 2017 a Nigerian doctor and DStv subscriber unsuccessfully tried to get a court interdict against MultiChoice and M-Net when he wanted the "obnoxious broadcast" on DStv to stop because his kids and family couldn't stop watching the "repugnant" reality show.

On Friday Muric in its statement said that "We are being forcibly dragged to a world of nudity, shamelessness and open promiscuity. Inmates of Big Brother Naija kiss, romance, and engage in sex openly. Big Brother Naija is Bohemian, anti-social, crude and immoral," says Muric in its statement.

"This reality show is dragging our children into a life of moral debauchery. It is deleting the word ‘shame’ from their vocabulary. Big Brother Naija has alienated our youth from the elders. A yawning lacuna now exists between the young and the old. Irreversible social crisis looms."

"The daughters of Jezebel are here already. Unless the authorities move with the speed of lightning, human dignity in Nigeria is going, going, going! Do we not realize that for every single Big Brother Naija inmate who wins a big amount of money and a car, more than 50 million young people are misled?" said Ishaq Akintola.

"Already, the desperate quest for wealth, by all means, has gripped Nigerian youth like hay fever. It has railroaded them into Yahoo Yahoo, ritual killings and a museum mentality for the collection of female panties. Where exactly are we going?"

"This development calls for serious concern and we are deeply concerned. Muric calls for an immediate and total ban on this satanic television show. We charge the ministry of information and culture to move swiftly against Big Brother Naija before moral debauchery becomes Nigeria’s middle name."

"Nigerian youth must be protected from themselves and the time to do so is now. We invite the national assembly to intervene immediately and we appeal to traditional rulers to add their voices to this campaign."

Hilarious reactions
On social media Nigerians told Muric to stop interfering with their pay-TV show which is voluntary to watch.

“When will Muric tell Buhari to stop northerners from marrying toddlers and teenagers?” asked one.

Another said “Big Brother Naija is a paid TV station, if you don't like it watch Nat Geo Wild. Some of our moral leaders are assaulting women and getting protected. Muric, where is this energy when there is suffering and killing in the land?”

“I’m a Muslim,” said Adeleke, “a very proud one to be exact, but the truth is that we have some very annoying conservative Muslims like Muric,this Big Brotjer Naija thing is a choice, that's why its being showed on DStv, not local stations, Nigeria is not an Islamic country”. 

Boboye said “People that are proud of watching Big Brother Naija can only write tweets about it. But Muric watched enough to write a 4 page essay because they hate it”.

Udo Enyi said “Dear Muric, more Nigerians die from hunger and depression and many more have no access to TV talk more of cable TV. Direct this energy at pressuring this government to make good policies that will have a positive impact on the people. Big Brother Naija is the least of our problems”.

The new Beverly Hills 90210 revival series, BH90210, coming to M-Net, drops a new teaser and unveils 'splashy' new key art.

The actors of the original Beverly Hills, 90210, appear in the latest teaser trailer for the BH90210 reboot coming to M-Net (DStv 101), with the show that also dropped new key art showing the cast of the 90's series literally jumping for joy.

The upcoming parody-drama series, BH90210 will reunite on-screen the former cast of the 1990's American drama series.

Produced by CBS Television Studios and distributed by CBS Studios International, it will start on 7 August in the United States on FOX, although an exact broadcast starting date for the revival-series on M-Net in South Africa isn't yet known.

The original series' Gen X stars - Jason Priestley, Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Brian Austin Green and Tori Spelling - will all appear, playing heightened versions of themselves, inspired by their real lives, as they try to get a new version of their former TV show off the ground.

In the new clip, Jason Priestley (Brandon), Shannen Doherty (Brenda), Jennie Garth (Kelly), Ian Ziering (Steve), Gabrielle Carteris (Andrea), Brian Austin Green (David) and Tori Spelling (Donna) can be seen reminiscing about their youth years.

Donna and David can be seen walking into the group's iconic hangout place, The Peach Pit, and share a kiss.

At a hotel resort sitting in a gazebo they all also share drinks and clink glasses, while Andrea once again holds an egg together with Steve like when she tried to gain access to a secret party, and Kelly on a plane says "out of control girl".

On Instagram Jennie Garth posted a new key art poster for BH90210 showing the cast all jumping into the air, captioning it with the words "I can't believe this is happening!!".

Shannen Doherty on her Instagram posted a photo of herself, Gabrielle Carteris, Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling sitting on a newly-recreated Peach Pit set, writing "Wait what???? Flashback photo or present day? Guess you'll have to tune in to see....".

Friday, July 12, 2019

Star Trek's William Shatner boldly going to Comic Con Africa 2019.

William Shatner (88) is beaming down to Comic Con Africa 2019 and will attend the second annual gathering of South Africa's fantasy and science fiction obsessed in late-September.

On his Twitter the iconic Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise who've visited South Africa before in 2012 to film a local insurance TV commercial, announced his return, saying "South Africa, I'll be in your neck of the woods at Africa Comic Con on September 21 - 23 at the Gallagher Convention Centre!"

Other stars set to appear at Reed Exhibitions Africa and ReedPOP's Comic Con gathering include Anthony Mackie who plays The Falcon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and voice actors Troy Baker and Nolan North.

About 45 000 people attended the first Comic Con Africa in 2018.

Tickets for Comic Con Africa 2019 cost R160 a day, or R500 for a 4-day access pass.