Monday, May 30, 2011

EXCLUSIVE. Backstage drama rocks M-Net's soap The Wild as executive producer and series producer are let go; replaced with Bobby Heaney.

You're reading it here first.

Backstage drama continues to engulf the struggling new M-Net soap The Wild with tension on the production that has now reached boiling point to where I can now exclusively reveal that the executive producer Bronwyn Berry and series producer Richard Nosworthy (''who've worked his $$$ off'', as sources tell me) is no longer with the show. Bronwyn Berry will immediately be replaced by Bobby Heaney from the Imani Media production company as the new executive producer of this weekday M-Net soap.

ALSO READ: M-Net responds to what is happening behind the scenes of The Wild: ''Teething problems are normal in new and big ventures such as these and we address them as they appear.''
ALSO READ: Wild drama behind the scenes of M-Net's The Wild as actor Tony Kgoroge departs the show.
ALSO READ: Putla Sehlapelo replaces Tony Kgoroge on M-Net's The Wild after backstage contract drama.

Bronwyn Berry did not immediately respond to media enquiries from TV with Thinus about The Wild's production upheaval. M-Net also didn't immediately respond to media enquiries but have now said questions can be emailed which TV with Thinus have done. As soon as there is a response from M-Net, it will be added to this developing story.
UPDATE: M-Net has now responded in full to questions addressing what is going on behind the scenes at The Wild. Find those RIGHT HERE.

I'm exclusively told that Bronwyn Berry is now definitely out as executive producer of The Wild after word about the major production changes started circulating towards the end of last week within the shocked South African TV industry. Bronwyn Berry will be replaced immediately with Bobby Heaney from Imani Media. Since Imani Media is a production company in itself and since The Wild has been produced in-house by M-Net's Magic Factory, its not at this stage clear whether The Wild will now be produced by Imani Media (since the EP usually brings in, or chooses his own directors, production managers and line managers).

I'm told Richard Nosworthy as series producer on The Wild is also out, although he will still be staying on for a few days or weeks, since the nature of his job and the sensitivity of the information he deals with is not like that of Bronwyn Berry. Both were brought in to the production of The Wild and will now be able to pursue other ventures.

I'm told by various sources - and I'm awaiting M-Net's response on this [UPDATE: Find M-Net's response RIGHT HERE] - that it is allegedly the tumultuous production environment of The Wild that has led to Bronwyn Berry and Richard Nosworthy's departures which comes after a string of resignations the past two months. These include the resignations of head of departments like the head of lightning on the soap over the past two months. (like Trevor Brown, head of lightning who left and took his entire team with him for instance) and others who simply didn't want to work on the soap anymore.

''With a traditional soap you shoot three months in advance. It's not happening with The Wild,'' says a scared on-set source. Regarding the actors - and I'm also checking this with M-Net and awaiting a specific answer - I'm told that several current actors are in the similar situation like Tony Kgoroge in that they haven't signed contracts yet, only letters of understanding. Incredibly, what that means, is that there's potentially more actors - now established faces in specific roles on The Wild - that could still walk. These actors are also from Moonyeen Lee's agency MLA, but also it seems actors not repped by MLA. (I won't mention names as this stage.)

The agency industry is also abuzz with chatter that Tony Kgoroge apparently plans to take M-Net to court now after last week's CCMA meeting which didn't resolve anything. Both Tony Kgoroge's representation and M-Net are still at loggerheads and neither side willing to budge on the issue of contracts and residuals. I've also asked M-Net about this.

Another source says ''M-Net is spending a huge amount of money on The Wild but is not taking a tough enough stance on people damaging the new soap. M-Net is investing so much money in The Wild after Egoli was cancelled. Sadly - because this could be a wonderful production - it appears as if its people with very little experience of actually making a soap are running it. People on set are not unhappy with the daily commute out of, and back to Johannesburg, the long hours on set, the food or the bad weather days. It's part of an on-location production. Everybody works so hard on this. It's just management and logistical issues that's been building up over months now that is causing people to crack up.''

I've also asked M-Net about how the pay broadcaster feels about The Wild's viewership. Egoli used to be tied for number one or number two most popular show on M-Net for many years. According to the latest viewership information (week 20's TAMS) The Wild does not appear as one of M-Net's top 10 shows.

Neither Bronwyn Berry not M-Net has responded immediately to media enquiries I've made about these new development bubbling out about The Wild, but as soon as there's any response I will bring it.
[UPDATE: Find M-Net's response RIGHT HERE.]

The Wild became the first South African local soap production to be picketed when actors who were unhappy regarding intellectual property rights and the way in which M-Net's contracts for the soap works, had a public protest during the show's media launch in April.

The past two weeks TV with Thinus received a lot of messages and email regarding The Wild which increased on this past Friday and Saturday. ''Bobby Heaney's a great director, but I'm not sure how good an executive producer he'll be,'' reads a bit out of one email I've received this past Friday, also saying: ''The behind the scenes on this [The Wild] is far more interesting that anything they've shown on the box.''

ALSO READ: M-Net responds to what is happening at The Wild: ''Teething problems are normal in new and big ventures such as these and we address them as they appear.''