Sunday, May 16, 2021

M-Net unveils the first character teaser for its new serial killer crime drama series Reyka starting 25 July in the Sunday night 8pm timeslot.

by Thinus Ferreira

On Sunday night M-Net (DStv 101) released the first character teaser for its upcoming new locally-filmed crime drama series Reyka that will start on Sunday 25 July at 20:00 on the channel.

For the second time, M-Net is once again delaying and pushing its Sunday night 20:00 movie timeslot for a locally-produced drama series - something it did first for Trackers in October 2019 that was a co-production with WarnerMedia's HBO.

The 8-episode Reyka, produced by Quizzical Pictures and Serena Cullen Productions as a co-production between M-Net and Fremantle and that is set in the KwaZulu-Natal sugarfields, stars Kim Engelbrecht in the title role as the brilliant-but-flawed criminal profiler Reyka.

In the drama series, Reyka investigates a string of brutal murders committed by a serial killer but viewers will first meet Reyka on voting day in South Africa in 1994 - the day of her abduction.

The Reyka cast is rounded out by the British actor Iain Glen as farmer Speelman, as well as Thando Thabethe as the by-the-book detective Nandi Cele.

Leeanda Reddy plays the forensic detective Alia Sewsunker, Hamilton Dhlamini is the policeman Hector Zwane, with Mavuso Simelane as his son Samuel Zwane.

Anna-Mart van der Merwe is seen as Reyka's mother Elsa Meyer, Nokuthula Mavuso is Portia, and Rashaan Stackling as Thuli Gama plays Reyka's daughter.

Gabrielle De Gama portrays the young version of Reyka in flashbacks who was abducted as a child by Speelman who, 20 years later, still has a mysteriously manipulative and charming hold on her as part of the backbone of the story - as does Reyka's relationship wth her mother Elsa.

Reyka is traumatised by her abduction experience but this also helps her to enter the minds of Africa's most notorious criminals.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Israel targets and bombs the bureau-building of Al Jazeera and Associated Press (AP) in Gaza, 'incredibly disturbing development' says AP, 'barbaric actions' says Al Jazeera.

 by Thinus Ferreira

Israel's air force on Saturday afternoon decided to target and bomb the 12-story Al-Jalaa building in Gaza where the region's news bureaus and offices of Al Jazeera (DStv 406 / StarSat 257) and Associated Press (AP) were located with several journalists who managed to escape alive after they were given an hour to flee before the building was attacked and collapsed.

Israel started a new bombing offensive this past week that saw the Al-Jalaa building, that also has residential space, flattened on Saturday in the shocking air missile attack.

Abu Husam, the owner of the Al-Jalaa building pleaded with Israeli officials not to bomb the building and to allow journalists of Al Jazeera, Associated Press and Middle East Eye to return to the building to collect gear and equipment but the building was bombed minutes later after his call and collapsed.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claims that the Al-Jalaa building allegedly housed "Hamas military intelligence assets and said on social media that "The building contained civilian media offices, which Hamas hides behind and deliberately uses as human shields".

"After providing advance warning to civilians and time to evacuate, IDF fighter jets struck a multi-story building containing Hamas military intelligence assets. The building contained civilian media offices, which Hamas hides behind and deliberately uses as human shields."

Al Jazeera's Safwat al-Kahlout, reporting from Gaza , said a resident of the building received a call from the Israeli army warning of the impending attack about an hour before it was hit.

Safwat Al-Kahlout, who was in the Al-Jalaa building at the time, said he and colleagues "started to collect as much as they could, from the personal and equipment of the office, especially the cameras". They then fled and watched as at least three missiles hit the building after which it collapsed.

Gary Pruitt, Associated Press (AP) president and CEO, in a statement says that "We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP's bureau and other news organizations in Gaza".

"They have long known the location of our bureau and knew journalists were there. We received a warning that the building would be hit."

"We are seeking information from the Israeli government and are engaged with the United States State Department to try to learn more."

"This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life. A dozen AP journalists and freelancers were inside the building and thankfully we were able to evacuate them in time. The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today."

Dr Mostefa Souag, acting director-general of Al Jazeera, in a statement says "We call on the international community to condemn such barbaric actions and targeting of journalists and we demand an immediate international action to hold Israel accountable for its deliberate targeting of journalists and the media institutions".

"The aim of this heinous crime is to silence the media and to hide the untold carnage and suffering of the people of Gaza."

"The destruction of Al Jazeera offices and that of other media organizations in Al-Jalaa tower in Gaza is a blatant violation of human rights and is internationally considered a war crime."

"We call on all media and human rights institutions in denouncing this heinous crime, and to stand with Al Jazeera and other media organisations targeted by the Israeli army, despite knowing their use of the building as their headquarters for many years."

"Al Jazeera condemns in the strongest terms the bombing and destruction of its offices by the Israeli military in Gaza and views this as a clear act to stop journalists from conducting their sacred duty to inform the world and report events on the ground."

"Al Jazeera promises to pursue every available route to hold the Israeli government responsible for its actions."

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says Israel's military is "deliberately targeting media facilities in order to disrupt coverage of the human suffering in Gaza".

"We demand that the Israeli government provide a detailed and documented justification for this military attack on a civilian facility given the possible violation of international humanitarian law."

"Journalists have an obligation and duty to cover unfolding events in Gaza and it would be illegal for the IDF to use military means to prevent it."

Netflix commissions a limited Bridgerton spinoff series that will tell a Queen Charlotte origin story together with a young Violet Bridgerton and Lady Danbury.

by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix has commissioned a limited spinoff series from Bridgerton, produced by Shondaland, and announced that it's adding Jess Brownell as showrunner for the 3rd and 4th seasons.

The second season of Bridgerton, based on the series of novels by Julia Quinn, is currently in production with showrunner Chris Van Dusen.

The as-yet-untitled Bridgerton limited spinoff series will be based on the origins of and tell the story of a young Queen Charlotte.

While the spinoff series will centre on the rise and love life of a young Queen Charlotte, it will also tell the stories of young Violet Bridgerton and Lady Danbury. Shonda Rhimes will write the series and serve as executive producer alongside Betsy Beers and Tom Verica.

Bela Bajaria, Netflix vice president of global TV, in a statement says that "Many viewers had never known the story of Queen Charlotte before Bridgerton brought her to the world, and I'm thrilled this new series will further expand her story and the world of Bridgerton".

"Shonda Rhimes and her team are thoughtfully building out the Bridgerton universe so they can keep delivering for the fans with the same quality and style they love. And by planning and prepping all the upcoming seasons now, we also hope to keep up a pace that will keep even the most insatiable viewers totally fulfilled."

Shonda Rhimes, CEO of Shondaland, says "As we continue to expand the world of Bridgerton, we now have the opportunity to devote even more of the Shondaland fold to the Bridgerton-verse".

"We've worked with Jess Brownell for over a decade and have long wanted to find the right project to place in her hands. When it came time to pass the baton, I knew this unique voice was vital to the future of the show."

Chris Van Dusen says "With Bridgerton, I set out to make the period show I always wanted to see. I never could've anticipated how much the rest of the world also wanted to see it".

"I'm deeply proud of this remarkable cast and incredible crew, and I'm so grateful for the enduring support of Shonda, who I've worked alongside for 17 years. Shondaland is where I learned how to make TV, craft incredibly complex characters and how to tell stories."

"And while it's been an incredible journey, I have my sights set on a few new stories to tell. To that end, I'll continue as showrunner - writing and producing season two of Bridgerton - and look forward to seeing Jess continue the magic in seasons three and four."

"I'd also like to thank Julia Quinn and her passionate fans - for embracing my vision for bringing these beloved books to the screen. See you in Grosvenor Square."

Jess Brownell says "It's been incredibly rewarding working alongside Shonda, Betsy, and Chris Van Dusen on the first two seasons of Bridgerton. And now, as these beloved characters are entrusted to me, I cannot wait to lend my unique vision to the next two seasons".

"I feel so fortunate to have found a home at Shondaland and to have the support of Shonda and Betsy as I move forward into this new chapter."

Friday, May 14, 2021

NFVF's SAFTAs jury removes Katlego Maboe as a nominee from Best TV presenter category for the 15th South African Film and Television Awards.

by Thinus Ferreira

The National Film and Video Foundation has dumped Katlego Maboe as a nominee from the 15th South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) in the Best TV presenter category following allegations of a cheating scandal.

The NFVF announced late on Friday afternoon that Katlego Maboe has been removed as a nominee from the Best TV presenter category at the 2021 SAFTAs where the winner is determined by public voting.

"After careful deliberation of concerns raised regarding the nomination of Katlego Maboe in the Best TV presenter public vote category announced on Thursday 29 April, the SAFTAs jury has decided to rescind his nomination," the NFVF said in a statement.

"The rescission is effective immediately and voting code 5 has been removed from the voting USSD line," the NFVF said.

Katlego Maboe was nominated as TV presenter for Tropika Island of Treasure Curacao, produced by Cardova Productions.

Katlego Maboe has been removed from S3's morning show Expresso, also produced by Cardova, after shocking allegations came to light, made by his estranged wife, who said that he allegedly damaged her womb after giving her a sexually transmitted disease.

The estranged couple is currently embroiled in a protracted legal battle in court.

The virtual 15th SAFTAs ceremony will be shown on Saturday 22 May on the SABC's S3 channel and MultiChoice and M-Net's Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) channel as a simulcast broadcast. It will start with a half-hour of red carpet coverage from 18:30, followed by the main awards show from 19:00.

First look: See He-Man, Skeletor and the entire Eternia in their new Masters of the Universe: Revelation series coming to Netflix from 23 July.

by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix and Mattel Television have revealed the first look of the "new" He-Man, Skeletor, Teela and a host of other characters in the next anime series chapter of the iconic 1980s animation series, Masters of the Universe: Revelation - and all the characters look exactly how they should.

Masters of the Universe: Revelation Part I that will have 5 episodes will release on Netflix on 23 July, produced by Powerhouse Animation with Kevin Smith as executive producer and showrunner, and will continue to tell the story of He-Man and the characters living in Eternia, that picks up where the original series left off in 1985. 

Chris Wood is the voice artist behind He-Man, while Mark Hamill is voicing Skeletor and with Sarah Michelle Gellar as Teela. Alan Oppenheimer who originally voices Skeletor returns to voice Moss Man in the new series.

The other voice artists include Lena Headey as Evil-Lyn, Liam Cunningham as Man-At-Arms, Stephen Root as Cringer, Griffin Newman as Orko, Diedrich Bader as King Randor and Trap Jaw, Alicia Silverstone as Queen Marlena, and Justin Long as Roboto. 

Alan Oppenheimer, who played Skeletor in the original Filmation series, is returning as the voice of Moss Man.

In the first episode of Masters of the Universe: Revelation viewers will find Eternia as well as the relationships between everyone fractured and the characters estranged. Teela tries to reunite her friends in order to save the universe.

"So much of this show has been possible because of the love and affection for this world at every level of production and the fandom surrounding this franchise," says Kevin Smith in a statement.

"So many of us were touched by these stories and these characters early in our lives and were so happy to come back to Eternia. But even if you've never watched a single episode of the show or don't know this universe at all, you can jump right into the story."

"It's a really classic, universal action-adventure epic about growth, discovery, magic, and power. This series explores destiny in a fresh way. There's a lot of reconciling with secrets, betrayal, trust, acceptance, love, and ultimately, loss."

"We're playing with the original mythology and characters, and revisiting and digging deeper into some of the unresolved storylines."

Rob David, executive producer of Masters of the Universe: Revelation and vice president of content creative at Mattel Television says in a statement that "Masters of the Universe: Revelation is the first piece of episodic content from the franchise to be produced in nearly 20 years. To celebrate the fans who have waited so long for its return, it was important to us to honor the original storyline".

"Fans who followed the adventures of He-Man and his friends in the eighties will feel like they are picking up the story where the characters left off. In our first episode, a cataclysmic battle between He-Man and Skeletor leaves Eternia fractured and the Guardians of Grayskull scattered throughout the land."

"Now it’s up to Teela to reunite the broken band of heroes and ultimately prevent the end of the universe."

"And just as the fans of the original have matured, so too has the world of Eternia. Masters of the Universe: Revelation features deeper themes, characterizations and harrowing battles than ever before, designed for the adult audience."

"Prince Adam/He-Man, Teela, Evil-Lyn and even Orko will all be very different at the end than they are at the beginning as they battle it out for the fate of Eternia. Alliances will shift, destinies will be met, secrets will be revealed."

'Still shining' 15th SAFTAs on 22 May will have a trio of hosts for the main awards show and highlight resilience of South Africa's TV and film industry during Covid-pandemic.

by Thinus Ferreira

The "Covid-safe" 15th South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) that will be held virtually this year on 22 May under the theme of "Still Shining" will have a trio of hosts this year, no in-auditorium guests, with the craft awards that will be streamed a day earlier on YouTube.

SABC3's Expresso presenter Graeme Richards, the comedian Mpho "Popps" Modikoane, and The Estate actress Dineo Langa will be the three hosts of the main ceremony this year.

The kykNET (DStv 144) Bravo! presenter Tracey Lange and the comedian Lesego Tlhabi, known as Coconut Kelz, will host the 15th SAFTAs craft awards on 21 May from 19:00 that will be live-streamed on the SAFTAs YouTube channel.

The 15th SAFTAs on 22 May, done by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), will be a simulcast broadcast for the first time ever and will be shown on the SABC's S3 channel as well as on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161), with the broadcast also switching back to SABC3 from SABC2 after 7 years.

It will start with a red carpet broadcast from 18:30, with the social media influencer LaSizwe and Lerato Khanyago as the hosts, that will also be live-streamed on the SAFTAs YouTube channel.

The half-hour red carpet coverage will be followed by the main 15th SAFTAs awards show broadcast from 19:00 that is executive produced by Anneke de Ridder.

Makhosazana Khanyile, NFVF CEO, says the 15th SAFTAs will be a hybrid-broadcast this year with pre-recorded and live elements, observing Covid-19-safe social distancing rules.

She says the awards show will focus on and highlight the resilience of South Africa's film and TV industry given the impact of the Covid-pandemic on the industry over the past year.

Friends: See the official teaser of Friends: The Reunion - or as the call it, 'The One Where They Get Back Together'.

by Thinus Ferreira

HBO has released an instantly-emotional, first official teaser for the TV special event, Friends: The Reunion - or as the show calls it "the one where the one where they get back together".

HBO also announced that Friends: The Reunion will become available on Thursday 27 May on its HBO Max video streaming service. 

Although WarnerMedia has not launched HBO Max in South Africa or anywhere else in the sub-Saharan Africa market, chances are that the TV special will end up on M-Net (DStv 101) that had the pay-TV rights for the comedy series throughout its run and with M-Net and MultiChoice that has an existing output deal for HBO content with Warner.

In the Friends: The Reunion official teaser, the older cast of David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox and Matt LeBlanc can be seen filmed from the back, walking, at dusk, away from the camera while the Friends theme song plays.

According to the HBO press release, they return to "the iconic comedy's original soundstage, Stage 24, on the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank for a real-life unscripted celebration of the beloved show".

The Friends: The Reunion video trailer is a clever play on one of the iconic Friends publicity images that was released while the show was in production showing the 6 friends, from the front, walking on the studio lot in formal wear.

The TV special will include several guest appearances, including BTS, Cara Delevingne, Cindy Crawford, David Beckham, Elliot Gould, James Corden, Justin Bieber, Kit Harrington, Lady Gaga, Larry Hankin, Mindy Kaling, Thomas Lennon, Christina Pickles, Tom Selleck, James Michael Tyler who played Gunther on the show, Maggie Wheeler, Reese Witherspoon and Malala Yousafzai.

The special is directed by Ben Winston and executive produced by the original Friends creators Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Ellen to end: Ellen DeGeneres to end her American daytime TV talk show with season 19 in 2022, 'ratings have tanked and she knows her time is up'.

by Thinus Ferreira

With plunging ratings of over 40% this year following revelations of bullying and a toxic workplace Ellen DeGeneres has announced that she is ending her American daytime talk show with season 19 of The Ellen Show in 2022 that will be the last.

Staffers at The Ellen Show were told on Tuesday and will discuss her decision in the episode that will be broadcast in America on Thursday with Oprah Winfrey as her sit-down guest.

According to sources who spoke to The Daily Mail who broke the news before Ellen was ready to announce it, "she has had enough and told her team that she's done". "The ratings have tanked and have been truly appalling this year and Ellen knows her time is up".

Ellen has lost millions of viewers in the United States in the latest 18th season that M-Net broadcast on VUZU (DStv 116) after shocking revelations surfaced of how staffers have been treated behind-the-scenes at the Warner Bros.'s Telepictures produced show.

Several top executives were fired after an internal investigation into the toxic workplace at Ellen.

The revelations severely damaged the reputation of Ellen DeGeneres known for her "be kind to another" public image, who opened her 18th season with an apology when she told viewers that "I learned that things happen here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously. And I want to say I am so sorry to the people."

On the episode of Ellen that was broadcast on Wednesday in America, Ellen said "Today I am announcing that next season, season 19, is going to be my last season."

Her audience laughed.

"So, the past 18 years, you have to know, has changed my life. You all have changed my life. And I'm forever grateful to all of you for watching, for laughing, for dancing, sometimes crying. This show has been the greatest experience of my life, and I owe it all to you."

"I want you to know that I've thought a lot about this decision. I sat with it for a while. I meditated on it. I talked to Portia. I talked to myself." 

Mike Darnell, Warner Bros. unscripted television president, in a statement says "Although all good things must come to an end, you still have hope that the truly great things never will".

"The Ellen Show started as the little programme that could and became an absolute phenomenon. Over the years, it established itself as the premier destination for both superstars and incredible heartfelt human interest stories."

"The show and Ellen brought comedy, joy, happiness, comfort (and dancing!) to countless millions every day for 18 years. It was and is an indelible piece of the television landscape, and it will be sorely missed."

American daytime soap Days of Our Lives seen on renewed for a further 2 seasons.

by Thinus Ferreira

The American daytime soap Days of Our Lives seen on has been renewed in the United States for a further two seasons.

Days of Our Lives got an additional pickup for season 57 and season 58. Production wrapped on season 56 in April and started again this week on season 57.

Season 56 saw the exit of Kristian Alfonso, Victoria Konefal and Greg Vaughan but marked the return of Alison Sweeney as Sami. 

Days of Our Lives is produced by Corday Productions in association with Sony Pictures Television and broadcast its 14 000 episode in America in December 2021. 

The soap is set in the fictitious Midwestern town of Salem and revolves around the families of the Bradys, Hortons, Carvers, DiMeras, and Kiriakises. 

"We couldn't be happier to bring our loyal fans two more seasons of Days of Our Lives and continue what has been an absolutely remarkable achievement in television," says Michael Sluchan, NBC executive vice president for scripted series & kids programming for NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, in a statement.

"A big thank you to executive producer Ken Corday and the cast and crew for their incredible passion for storytelling that continues to reach new generations of viewers."

Ken Corday says "After more than 55 years of bringing drama, adventure and romance to screens around the world, we are thrilled and honoured to carry on the Days of Our Lives legacy for another two years. We are thankful to NBC for their enduring commitment to the show and grateful to continue this wonderful journey with our fans for years to come".

Steve Kent, Sony Pictures Television senior executive vice president for programming, says "We are incredibly proud of the work being done by Ken Corday, the cast and crew".

"They continue to tell bold stories through these iconic characters captivating audiences around the world. We are thrilled to continue the legacy of Days of Our Lives and for viewers to enjoy two more seasons."

American family drama series This Is Us seen on M-Net to end with a 6th season in 2022.

by Thinus Ferreira

The American drama series This Is Us from 20th Television and seen on M-Net (DStv 101) will end after 6 seasons.

The Hollywood Reporter cited insiders saying that the Pearson family drama series playing out over several decades and that is currently in its 5th season starring Mandy Moore, Justin Hartley, Milo Ventimiglia and Sterling K. Brown, will conclude with in 2022 with no further renewals. 

When This Is Us was renewed for a further 3 seasons in 2019, insiders at the time said it would be the final stretch for the series and that it was at its "midpoint" of the story at the end of its third season.

In 2019 creator Dan Fogelman told the Hollywood trade he had a whole plan and structure mapped out for the series and how it will eventually conclude.

"We never set out to make a television series that was going to last 18 seasons, so we have a very direct plan. I have script pages I have written and I’m writing that really are deep, deep, deep into the future. We have a plan for what we’re going to do, and I know what the plan is," he said.