Wednesday, August 27, 2014

FIRED GENERATIONS CAST: SABC 'an embarrassment' says iconic John Kani; SABC and MMSV Productions want to 'dispose of actors like diapers'.

In an emotional speech, the iconic and highly respected South Africa actor, playwright, director and producer John Kani lashed the beleaguered SABC, calling the South African public broadcaster "an embarrassment", following the shocking sacking of the Generations cast by the SABC and Mfundi Vundla's MMSV Productions.

John Kani said the SABC and MMSV Productions is trying to "dispose the actors like diapers".

John Kani blasted the SABC and MMSV Productions, likening the SABC's actions to oppressive apartheid behaviour. "It [the firing] carries the residue of an apartheid-style master, servant relationship," he said. 

"I have stab wounds, I have evaded assassination and I spent time in detention. This is not what I fought for as an actor".

The shock firing of the principal cast of South Africa's biggest TV show and the SABC's biggest cash cow making hundreds of millions per year for the broadcaster, sent shock waves though the South African TV industry with very vocal criticism continuing to build from the industry demanding reform and regulations regarding actors' contracts and fees.

The Generations cast was dismissed last Monday after a weeklong stayaway when the cast demanded the long-overdue three year contracts the SABC's famously matricless chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng promised them in June 2013, as well as higher pay rates, and the payment of residuals for rebroadcasts as well as international sales of the show.

The SABC wanted to pay the Generations actors R3 000 once-off in residuals for a decade of Generations rebroadcasts but the cast, organised as the Generations Actors Guild (GAG) balked.

Yesterday in Newtown at the Barney Simon theatre the Generations cast, wearing black and white, took to the stage at a press conference, supported by highly respected industry heavy-weights like John Kani's whose own son, Atandwa Kani, was fired.

"Because the conditions we work under are still master and servant, we are disposable like diapers. The problem is the change of mindset. We are equal. Overseas series and soaps don't have this problem where actors are disposable," said John Kani.

"They know that the value of the series is dependent on these individuals, actors, continuing in their artistic excellence to create these characters".

"It's very sad for me to say that I've just done a series with iNkaba with Mzansi Magic and M-Net. I was treated with incredible respect. I don't know how the SABC and MMSV Productions don't understand that. Artists - lets know what we are worth," said John Kani.

"It's arrogance, it's stupidity to think you can tell these actors in one letter you are all fired. Come on guys, we didn't struggle for this? We didn't spent our lives in the struggle so that we could be treated like we're in apartheid."

"Lets make sure no-one walks on the set of Generations. I don't care whether its the script writer, the editor, or the boom carrier, technicians. We will block the doors. We will not continue this treatment," said John Kani.

"To our union: This is the time we block the doors of Generations. This is the time we stand up and make sure that these actors are taken back".

John Kani said he is "embarrassed by the Generations salaries". "I've worked for much more money since the 70s. An average of R55 000 for Generations is working for below a slave's salary. I wouldn't work for that for a day as an on-call actor on Generations."

"Lets do something. Because if you don't do anything, Muvhango actors will be fired tomorrow, 7de Laan actors tomorrow, isiBaya tomorrow, Zabalaza tomorrow. All of them would be fired tomorrow - because we did nothing," said John Kani.

"These Generations actors don't deserve to be treated with such disrepect.