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 e.tv renewed for a further 2 seasons.


by Thinus Ferreira

The American daytime soap Days of Our Lives seen on e.tv 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.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu back as host of the 6th season of M-Net West Africa's Big Brother Naija.


by Thinus Ferreira

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu will be back as the host of the 6th season of M-Net West Africa's Big Brother Naija that will start within a few months in Lagos, Nigeria.

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu announced his return as the show's host on social media, saying "Well, guess who's returning as the host of the next season of Big Brother Naija. Let's go again, guys!".

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu who was a housemate in the debut season of Big Brother Nigeria in 2006, has been hosting the reality camera house show since 2017, with the upcoming 6th season that will mark his 5th time as host.

"We are strengthening our investment in quality content with another season of Big Brother Naija that has become one of the most anticipated TV events across Africa and this season promises to be even bigger and more entertaining," says John Ugbe, MultiChoice Nigeria CEO, in a statement.

Online auditions for the 6th season started on 3 May in Nigeria and will end on 16 May, with people who have to record a 2-minute video of themselves to explain why they should be picked as a housemate.

For the upcoming 6th season that will once again be done from Lagos, Nigeria, the Big Brother Naija grand prize money was upped from N85 million to N90 million (R3.11 million) although ironically the eventual winner will in reality get less money, given the fast-depreciating Nigerian currency.

The N85 million prize money for the 5th season in 2020 of Big Brother Naija was worth R3.66 million just 10 months ago.

M-Net West Africa will again run Big Brother Naija as a separate 24-hour channel, together with highlight shows on its Africa Magic channel, on MultiChoice's DStv pay-TV service in Nigeria as well as across sub-Sahara Africa.

MultiChoice will very likely also once again stream Big Brother Naija on its Showmax video streaming service as well. The Showmax offering will likely carry again carry its own additional customised shows for that service. 

Big Brother Naija continues to serve as a subscriber uptake driver for MultiChoice. 

With DStv, Big Brother Nigeria helps to combat churn and subscriber losses while it also promotes upselling to higher packages. 

With Showmax, leveraging of the reality series helps with the educational process of SVOD familiarisation under Africa's consumers, product marketing cross-promotion and boosting Showmax revenue and subscribers as well.

The 5th season of Big Brother Naija: Lockdown broke a Showmax video streaming record to become the most-watched entertainment live stream on Showmax in Nigeria, with a significant portion of the viewing also happening in South Africa and Kenya.


Grey's Anatomy seen on M-Net renewed for an 18th season while Station 19 gets a 5th season.


by Thinus Ferreira

The American drama series Grey's Anatomy and Station 19 both seen on M-Net (DStv 101) have both been renewed for respectively an 18th season and a 5th season for 2021/2022.

In a statement, America's ABC TV network says that Krista Vernoff as the executive producer and showrunner will "continue to helm both series", with the original Grey's Anatomy stars Ellen Pompeo,Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr. who will all stay on with new deals.

"Station 19 and Grey's Anatomy have done an incredible job of honouring real-life heroes by giving audiences an unflinching look at one of the biggest medical stories of our time," says Craig Erwich, president, Hulu Originals & ABC Entertainment, in a statement announcing the series' renewals.

"Krista and her team of writers have continued to deliver the compelling and compassionate storytelling that is a hallmark of these shows, and created some of the year's most-talked-about moments in television."

"We're so grateful to our talented casts and crews for their extraordinary work that connects with viewers everywhere, and we look forward to sharing even more defining moments with our fans next season."

Krista Vernoff says "The writers, directors, casts and crews of Grey's Anatomy and Station 19 worked so hard to bring these shows to life this past season".

"Keeping each other safe on set while paying tribute to the front-line heroes and first responders has been a challenge and a privilege. I've been truly blown away - particularly by our tireless crews - as they reinvented the TV-making wheel."

 Thank you to ABC and ABC Signature for the support and extraordinary partnership through this unprecedented season. We are so grateful for the opportunity to tell more stories."

Laverne Cox takes over as E!'s red carpet coverage host for American award shows.


by Thinus Ferreira

E! (DStv 124) has contracted Laverne Cox to take over interviewing and commentating duties as its new host for E! Live from the Red Carpet to cover American award shows from January 2022.

The appointment of Laverne Cox comes after Giuliana Rancic stepped down from her longtime role and is moving into a content development role as part of a new contract with NBCUniversal.

Laverne Cox is known for her role as Sophia Burset in Netflix's Orange is the New Black series in which she became the first openly transgender actress to be nominated for a primetime Emmy award in award and that made her the first trans woman of colour to have a leading role in a mainstream scropted TV series.

Laverne Cox just finished filming a new upcoming Netflix series entitled Inventing Anna and will also be the presenter of a series of celebrity interview specials for E! during 2022 that will spotlight trendsetters, tastemakers and those making an impact in the Hollywood community.

"Laverne Cox is a risktaker, groundbreaking pioneer and a fashion tour de force," says Jen Neal, executive vice president, entertainment live events, specials and E! News at NBCUniversal Television & Streaming,in a statement announcing the appointment.

"As we continue to evolve the way we cover Hollywood's biggest nights, Laverne's passion for, and extensive knowledge of, the fashion community resonates with our audience and we look forward to seeing her shine on the other side of the velvet rope."



Laverne Cox in the statement says "I'm so excited and deeply humbled to be hosting E!'s iconic red carpet coverage".

"For many years I would wake up early on awards show days, get my snacks in place and watch E!'s coverage all day long."

"I dreamed of walking red carpets. Now, not only have I had several fun and amazing personal red carpet moments, I also get to be a red carpet guide for E!'s discerning audience and chat with my colleagues and folks I deeply admire for these very special events in their lives. I can't wait to get started while hopefully serving up fashion fantasies for the ages, honey."


Monday, May 10, 2021

Giuliana Rancic exits as E! red carpet host after 18 years, will continue working on a content development deal with NBCUniversal.


by Thinus Ferreira

Giuliana Rancic is done with doing red carpet coverage for E! (DStv 124) after 18 years, announcing her exit that comes threemonths after Ryan Seacrest announced his departure after 14 years and two months after Jason Kennedy said that he was leaving E! in March after 16 years.

It means that the recent 93rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles marked Giuliana Rancic's final Live From the Red Carpet coverage duty at an American awards show since she started in 2003.

Linear American pay-TV channels like E! are struggling to remain relevant as the corporate groups they belong to are repurposing and moving content to their respective new video streaming services and are refocusing their content investment on creating shows for streaming as opposed to linear broadcasting. 

Giuliana Rancic announced her exit as E!'s red carpet host in a statement that she also posted on her Instagram account, saying that "I have decided to step out of my red carpet heels into a new pair of shoes. To my E! family, thank you for allowing me to make my red carpet dreams come true for the past two decades. It has truly been a highlight of my career and life."

Giuliana Rancic will continue to work with NBCUniversal, the parent company of E!, with the "new pair of shoes" that is in reference to a new content development deal that she has signed.

E! in a statement says that "While we will all miss watching Giuliana bring her iconic interview style, infectious humor and keen sense of fashion to E!'s red carpet, we are excited to announce a development deal across NBCUniversal where she will bring her passion projects to life".

"We look forward to collaborating with Giuliana in the future and we will always be her biggest fans - on and off the carpet."

Giuliana Rancic was a correspondent for E! News that saw her elevated to managing editor and co-host since 2005 until 2015 when she left. Giuliana Rancic returned in September 2018 and finally left again when E! News moved from Los Angeles to New York in January 2020 that got cancelled in August last year.

Giuliana also did a 7 season reality show Giuliana and Bill for the Style Network and E! with her husband Bill Rancic and she also served as a panellist of Fashion Police on E! with host Joan Rivers from 2010 to 2017.

Million rand realty reality TV coming to BBC Lifestyle from June in Listing Jozi as BBC Studios Africa expands its local content slate.


by Thinus Ferreira

Million rand real estate reality television is coming to BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174) from June when a brand-new show will track the stressful property buying and selling showdowns behind-the-scenes in a new series following some of Johannesburg’s top realty brokers in Listing Jozi.
 
The new series on BBC Studios Africa's BBC Lifestyle channel will pull back the blinds behind the extremely stressful process of selling and negotiating sales for prime property in the heart of Africa's gleaming concrete jungle of Johannesburg, South Africa.
 
Just like the well-known Million Dollar Listing franchise of NBCUniversal's Bravo channel in the United States where cameras follow realty brokers in New York and Los Angeles as they try to sell anything from megamansions to penthouse apartments for top dollar, the new local reality show will pull back the blinds on the property dealmaker princes and princesses who don't just smile and wave and the showhouse open but go on to clinch the top transactions.
 
Inbetween high-stress character interactions as brokers, clients, buyers and sellers try to do a deal, viewers get to gawk at eye-popping "property porn" that’s on sale in the city of gold.
 
Produced by AlternaTV, everything around Listing Jozi, including the episode order number, is still very hush-hush, although TVwithThinus can reveal that the series will debut on BBC Lifestyle on 16 June.

 
Listing Jozi marks the further expansion of BBC Studios Africa's localised content slate that over the past few years until now mostly revolved around format adaptations of food competition shows like Come Dine with Me South Africa and The Great South African Bake Off, as well as the restaurant-dating series First Dates South Africa.
 
According to insiders the Listing Jozi realty broker cast includes 3 men and 2 women from some of the top firms in South Africa with realtors whose selling prowess and interactions with clients and potential buyers and sellers lead to jaw-dropping moments. 
 
The million rand realtors followed by Listing Jozi include Lara Nathan from Pam Golding Properties, Ryan Kwan from Law Real Estate, Jabulile Mazibuko from Law Real Estate, Edgar Leopoldo Nche from Law Real Estate, as well as Grahame Diedericks from Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Skyworth TV South Africa silent on what data its smart TVs are collecting after the TV maker is caught spying on users in China.


by Thinus Ferreira

Skyworth TV South Africa is silent on whether Skyworth TV sets sold and used in the country are also spying on viewers and if that is the case what information these smart TVs are sharing.

The Chinese TV maker has apologised after reports revealing that Skyworth TVs have been spying on users with excessive data collection, with the company that abruptly ended its contract with the analytics firm Gozen Data that it used.

An online Chinese developer forum, V2EX who did a network traffic analysis, revealed how Skyworth smart TV sets gobbled up user data and sent it all to an analytics firm Gozen Data.

Skyworth smart TVs constantly scanned for other connected devices on the same local network every 10 minutes and scooped up all that information - including IP addresses, network latency and names of other Wi-Fi networks within range. 

"I felt that the TV was a bit slow before, and I looked at what background services were turned on. I found that there is something called GoZheng Data Service, and I don't know what it is," the user wrote.

"The TV is an Android system. I researched the packet and found that this thing scans my family's connected devices every 10 minutes, and sends back the hostname, mac, ip and even the network delay time. It also detects the surrounding wifi SSID names, The mac address is also packaged and sent to this domain name of gz-data.com."

Gozen Data calls itself a "home marketing company empowered by big data centred on family data".

Gozen Data in a statement apologised for "causing user concerns about privacy and security" and said that it will "improve our user privacy policy and ensure we are collecting information with users' consent and within the scope of legal compliance". 

Skyworth in a statement said that "We have immediately disabled the application concerned across all Skyworth TV products and conducted a thorough investigation into the incident".

Skyworth said that "The violations beyond this scope were not approved nor authorized by Skyworth TV. The violation is strongly against Skyworth TV's core value of putting users first. Skyworth has sent a written statement to Gozen Data and immediately terminated the partnership, as well as requested a full erasure of illegally obtained data of Skyworth TV users".

"Skyworth TV is grateful to the users who have brought this to our attention. Moving forward, we will implement more stringent reviews on the conduct of our partners and service providers to safeguard our users’ privacy, data, rights, and interests."

Skyworth also said that "Data security and user privacy are our highest priorities. We will continue to safeguard our users' privacy, data, rights and interests".

Skyworth South Africa sells several models of Skyworth TVs locally but it's not clear what consumer data Skyworth TVs collect from South African viewers and users. 

Prompted by the issue of discovering that Skyworth TVs were spying on users in China, Skyworth SA was asked this week what dat it is collecting from users and viewers in South Africa. Republic PR didn't respond to the media enquiry.

NFVF apologises for omissions to nominees list for 15th SAFTAs with film Griekwastad and The Animation School increasing their nomination tallies.

by Thinus Ferreira

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) is apologising for leaving the names of some nominees off the list for the upcoming 15th South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) with the Afrikaans film Griekwastad, The Animation School and Green Leaf Films all getting a further chance at possibly winning a Golden Horn statuette.

The 15th SAFTAs, with Anneke de Ridder as executive producer, will be broadcast on Saturday 22 May, with a virtual half-hour "red carpet" broadcast starting at 18:30 and the 2-hour live broadcast that will start at 19:00 on the night and that will be a simulcast show on the SABC's S3 and Mzansi Magic (DStv 161).

In the category for Best short film, Address unknown from Green Leaf Films joins the existing three nominees of Heirloom (Butterfly Films), The Stranger (TH Films) and Uxolile (Zinc Pictures).

In the category for Best Student Film, Fowl Goblin from The Animation School joins Binding Adventures, Flower in the Subway and The Boy and the Robin that are all The Animation School nominees as well, taking its overall tally from 3 to 4 nominations.

In the category of Best achievement in directing for a feature film, Jozua Malherbe for Griekwastad (kykNET, DStv 144) is also a nominee and joins Jenna Bass for Flatland (DStv BoxOffice), Sunu Gonera for Riding with Sugar (Netflix) and Louw Venter for Stam (DStv BoxOffice). 

The additional nomination of Griekwastad for Jozua Malherbe means that the film increases its tally from 6 to 7 and that kykNET adds another nod, as well as Jozua Malherbe who is also nominated in the category for Best achievement in cinematography for a feature film.

The NFVF was asked why how the mistakes happened and who is responsible for checking the final SAFTAs nominees list issued to the media but the organisation didn't answer the question.

Neo Moretlwe, NFVF spokesperson, in response to a media enquiry says that "The NFVF on behalf of the SAFTAs would like to extend a sincere apology for SAFTAs nominees that were not captured on the initial list shared. This was an unintentional error that we have since rectified".