Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Two crew members of Bomb Productions die while working on MultiChoice's second season of Shaka Ilembe.

by Thinus Ferreira

Two crew members, including a make-up artist, working for Bomb Productions on the second season of MultiChoice and M-Net's historical drama series Shaka Ilembe have died.

The names of the deceased crew members are not yet known. Their cause of death are also not yet known.

Shaka Ilembe, a precolonial reinterpretation of the Shaka Zulu legend and produced by Bomb Productions, will run for three seasons on M-Net's Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) TV channel and MultiChoice's Showmax video streaming service, with principal photography of the second season that has recently started.

Rumours swirled that the deaths are due to alleged food poisoning on set.

Portia Hlongwane, Mzansi Magic spokesperson, in a statement says "Mzansi Magic can confirm that there was no food poisoning on the set of Shaka Ilembe. The make-up artist in question was employed on the set for only one-and-a-half days. On her second day, she reported feeling weak with flu-like symptoms".

"She was promptly sent to see the medic and her next of kin was contacted to collect her. Regrettably, her condition worsened, and she passed away 3 days later at home. Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to her family and friends during this difficult time."

Raid the Cage SA for SABC2 from Primedia Studios inexplicably postponed as 260-episode Rose and Oaks Media produced game show will no longer start 27 May.

by Thinus Ferreira

After the SABC with great fanfare announced to advertisers and the media that it acquired the rights to a local version of the format and would do a South African version of Raid the Cage, the TV game show set to start on 27 May on SABC2, has quietly been postponed indefinitely.

In late March the SABC at a programming upfront in Johannesburg rolled out podcasters Sol Phenduka and Mac G on stage before stakeholders and announced them as the co-presenters of Raid the Cage South Africa that the public broadcaster said would start on 27 May on SABC2.

According to insiders, the SABC made the announcement about Raid the Cage and other shows without various contracts having been signed yet. 

Raid the Cage SA for SABC2 is another one of the shows acquired by Primedia Studios and done for the SABC and is one of the new crop of localised format shows produced by Anele Mdoda and Frankie du Toit's Rose and Oaks Media like The Masked Singer SA and Ready, Steady, Cook for SABC3. 

Raid the Cage SA, which will have 260 episodes similar to Ready, Steady Cook and Primedia Studios' Deal or No Deal SA, is now suddenly off the SABC2 schedule since an unexplained schedule change affected last week and the show will now no longer start on 27 May after it was suddenly removed and postponed.

Raid the Cage is an Israeli television series format that has also been adapted with an American version on CBS.

SABC publicity specialist Caroline Phalakashela confirmed that Raid the Cage SA has been removed from the SABC2 schedule. 

Asked on Tuesday why Primedia Studios and Rose and Oaks Media will no longer do the show from 27 May on SABC2 as was announced and what the new envisioned starting date is, she said she would find out. On Wednesday she was asked again but didn't respond with the reason. It will be added here if received.

In the American version of Raid the Cage with co-presenters Damon Wayans Jr and Jeannie Mai, contestants compete in pairs to answer as many trivia questions correctly as possible in order to retrieve prizes locked in a special cage.

Monday, May 20, 2024

The big media fail of TCL Electronics with its launch event for new TV sets and home appliances for South African market.

by Thinus Ferreira

TCL Electronics on Friday held a launch event for new TV sets and some of its other products, for the Middle East and Africa region in Istanbul, Turkey.

Unfortunately, TCL Electronics couldn't be bothered to communicate with South Africa's media beforehand that it would take place, and sadly couldn't be bothered - either during or after the event - to do PR and send out basic press releases about what happened there and about its latest product line-ups.

TCL Electronics presumably wants press coverage in South Africa for its products and for its event but failed to engage with South Africa's media beforehand, during, and afterwards to try and get any kind of reporting, or to keep journalists informed about what TCL would do, or has done.

Sunny Yang, TCL Middle East general manager, apparently spoke at the event. 

It's unknown what Sunny Yang said since TCL Electronics couldn't be bothered to issue any transcripts of speeches or organise that media in South Africa hear what was said.

Home appliances like washing machines, air-conditioners and refrigerators for the Africa and Middle East region apparently formed part of TCL's launch event.

BBC Studios shutters its BritBox video streamer in South Africa after 3 years.

by Thinus Ferreira

The BritBox video streaming service is shutting down in South Africa and exiting in August just three years after it launched in South Africa and forms part of the ongoing trend of global streamer operators closing the taps on their money-guzzling video-on-demand plans for the African continent.

BritBox SA, run by BritBox International as a joint venture between BBC Studios and ITV, launched in South Africa in August 2021 as the fifth territory and only African region it expanded to. 

Earlier this year BBC Studios bought out ITV's share and took over full ownership of BritBox, also shutting down BritBox as a standalone service in the United Kingdom. 

BBC Studios runs the existing portfolio of BBC branded linear TV channels like BBC Brit, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Earth and CBeebies on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service.

In a statement, BritBox SA says "Sadly BritBox will be closing. Subscribers can watch all their favourite shows until August". BritBox joins the list of failed streamer attempts in South Africa like Altech Node, PCCW's OnTAPTV, Cell C's Black, Telkom ONE and Vodacom's Video Play. 

BritBox SA's PR company in South Africa in response to a media query says "BritBox is refocusing on its more established markets and the areas of the business that will have the highest opportunities for growth".

"A large proportion of the content on BritBox has been exclusive to the service in South Africa; however, we expect some of this great British programming will find a new home on other platforms and channels in the territory in the future. There is also a suite of BBC Branded channels on DStv - BBC Earth, BBC Brit, BBC Lifestyle, BBC UKTV, CBeebies and BBC World News".

It's unclear with how many subscribers BritBox exits South Africa and why BBC Studios felt that continuing with the investment into BritBox for the territory wouldn't bear fruit.

A year after BritBox launched in South Africa, Reemah Sakaan, BritBox International CEO, noted that the company was pleased with the performance of BritBox SA, that it had "a really fantastic start" in the country and had "thousands and thousands" of users. 

The shuttering of BritBox SA comes after the abrupt exit of AMC Networks' Acorn TV, another British streaming service, from South Africa in November 2022 after four years.

The shuttering of BritBox SA is part of a larger trend of the ongoing funnel of investment into streaming services in South Africa and across the African continent being markedly decreased.

It follows after a reset and decrease in budgets for content spending for streamers in the United States and with these decisions rippling outwards globally.  

Earlier this year Amazon MGM Studios shocked producers in South Africa and elsewhere on the African continent when all further projects and all TV and film projects already under development for its Amazon Prime Video service were abruptly cancelled. Amazon also retrenched its South African and Nigerian content commissioning teams.

Last year Netflix also said that it's decreasing its investment on content spending for African Originals, while Disney+ - which is only operational in South Africa in sub-Saharan Africa - also saw the culling of already-commissioned and filmed projects for the EMEA region.

MultiChoice's relaunched Showmax streamer as a joint venture with Comcast's NBCUniversal and Sky is the one African streaming service that has upped its capital expenditure and content investment over the past year to try and radically increase subscriber acquisition on the continent.

Paramount Global, which is struggling and under immense financial pressure in the United States, took too long to launch in South Africa and shelved plans to launch Paramount+ as a standalone service in the country. 

Instead, it recently opted to partner with MultiChoice and become just a branded studio tile destination within the relaunched Showmax service. Warner Bros. Discovery is yet to indicate when or whether it still plans to launch its streaming service Max in South Africa.

Showmax, Netflix SA, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Apple TV+ are the main video streaming services aggressively trying to scoop up subscribers in South Africa. While battling each other, they also contend with smaller services like SABC+, eMedia's eVOD, PCCW Media's VIU, Marquee TV, PrideTV and CineMagic all trying to make inroads into the space.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Director and actor Adrian Alper dead at 51 after complications from tuberculosis.

by Thinus Ferreira

The director and actor Adrian Alper has died from complications with tuberculosis. He was 51.

On 14 May Actor Spaces announced that Adrian Alper had died.

After working as an actor, writer, comedian, presenter and voice-over artist, Adrian Alper moved into directing.

He studied at the United World College of the Atlantic from 1989 until 1991 and performed on stage in Wales after which he returned to South Africa where he continued to appear in plays, after which he transitioned to TV and film.

On TV, Adrian Alper had roles in series ranging from Gaz'lam and 7de Laan, to Generations, Isidingo, Isithembiso, Rhythm City, Plek van die Vleisvreters, Gwarra-Gwarra MunisipaliteitSterlopers, Trackers, Terug an EgipteSuidooster, Vetkoekpaleis, Roer Jou Voete and koelpixels to Zero Tolerance

In film he appeared in Seconds, Susanna van Biljon and Droomman.

Besides voiceover work and TV commercials he directed episodes of soaps and sitcoms like Isidingo, Backstage, Madam & Eve, Shado's and's Scandal!.

IN IMAGES. 2024 Suidooster Stormsterk: See the cast behind the concert in 34 photos.

by Thinus Ferreira  

Under the strobe lights the air was electric. And I was behind the scenes with kykNET's Suidooster soap cast recently on a Saturday afternoon just before the third Suidooster Stormsterk concert in Cape Town's Artscape.

For the third time, the cast of the hugely popular Suidooster soap on kykNET & Kie (DStv 145) took to the stage to wow the audience inside the Artscape as the absolute highlight of 2024's Suidooster festival.

On the Saturday afternoon the Artscape was packed with 1 500 people. 

With not an empty seat in the house, the Suidooster cast - with the help of backup dancers - dazzled the audience as they sang and danced their way through a carefully rehearsed repertoire of popular hits.

In between the actors gave the Suidooster audience exactly what they needed: Jokes, teasers about what will happen to characters in upcoming episodes, solos, duets and group numbers, all while entertaining the crowd with what they love most - simply seeing the well-known faces they see on television but in-person.

Just before the curtain lifted, I got exclusive access backstage as the cast arrived in their dressing rooms, got their makeup done, got dressed and did a final full-show rehearsal before this year's show-stopper.

From Jill Levenberg and Denise Newman to Annelisa Weiland, Richard September, Eden Classens, Simone Biscombe, Marco Spaumer and Irvine van der Merwe, to Theresa Sedras, Esther von Walsleben and Gantane Kusch were all there. 

"Nie, mar die Wade is lekker kwaai," said a dad as he filed out and walked out and down the Artscape steps at the end with his wife and kids in tow - speaking about Dean Smith who was the master of ceremonies. "Our tickets for next year moet ons sommer nou gaan koop."

Monday, May 6, 2024

South African fans slam Netflix SA's 'very embarrassing' Bridgerton Tour: 'Dear Gentle Reader, South Africa does it again, doesn’t get it right'.

by Thinus Ferreira

South African viewers again slammed Netflix's second tryout at doing a "Bridgerton Tour" on Saturday night, with those who looked and followed the spectacle, overwhelmingly dissing the lack of effort that South Africans who attended had put into the event - as well as their lack of knowledge and having not watched the show on Netflix.

After a "Bridgerton Affair activation" in South Africa two years ago that was widely pummelled by the public and the press for being off the mark and its lack of Indian representation, Netflix and Netflix South Africa tried again to get more traction for the upcoming third season of Bridgerton which will release in two parts starting in mid-May.

Like two years ago, Netflix once again flew people from elsewhere in Africa like Nigeria and Botswana to South Africa to play dress-up in old English outfits. Many however seemed clueless about what Bridgerton is, opting to over-focus on simply the fashion and photos.

Adjoa Andoh who portrays the character of Lady Danbury in Bridgerton, was also flown to Johannesburg and attended Saturday's event at the Memoire Events and Wedding Venue in Muldersdrift.

The PR company of Netflix South Africa, Eclipse Communications, didn't respond to media queries about the Bridgerton Tour in South Africa made last week and over the weekend.

On Saturday fans and viewers told Netflix South Africa in no uncertain terms that the people and what they saw as part of the Bridgerton activation on the night once again failed to impress - especially the lack of South African effort.

"Dear Gentle Reader, South Africa does it again, doesn't get it right," said Zamo Shangase. 

"The most known of society were in attendance but know the show, they did not. It's a shame that the creators and fans of the show were not in attendance. I wonder why? Anyways, I've heard that this was not the first, nor will it be the last where the people behind-the-scenes just miss the spot. Imagine Gentle Reader, meeting a DIY creator at a Maybelline event. Scandalous!"

Lazolala said it's embarrassing that Netflix SA "keep gatekeeping this event for celebs who don't even watch it and fans are left out in the cold".

Mtrinnisha told Netflix SA "the live was embarrassing. Most of the people there didn't know anything about Bridgerton", with Natasha Leigh who said "Half the people didn't even know the characters names or quotes. 

Talia Jadegov said "Just stop bringing this event to South Africa if you are only inviting people that don't even watch Bridgerton. How embarrassing!", while Kwezi Mshengu noted that "This is proof when South Africans go to an event they're going for food and alcohol".

Lucritia G said Netflix SA's Bridgerton event was "non-inclusive and people who seem not to have watched Bridgerton. Maybe listen to the feedback from your Dear Readers for once? Bridgerton is a global following and frankly this is very embarrassing for our local scene".

Nomkhosi Sabela said "That's what you get for inviting content creators instead of inviting fans - people who have watched the show. There's no way they were going to ace the looks because they know nothing about the show".

IamGrace said Netflix SA's event "was absurd. Most people couldn't answer the questions, indicating that they likely hadn't seen the series". 

Mitchie remarked: "Shout out to the Netflix team member who thought this was a good idea doing a live event - showing us what we had assumed with most Netflix events: Inviting a bunch of John Snow influencers who never truly appreciate the event that is organised".

M-Net's Queen Modjadji for Mzansi Magic - first offered to SABC multiple times - starts filming in secret location.

by Thinus Ferreira

Filming has started for M-Net's Queen Modjadji drama series which will broadcast on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) from July this year, with cameras that are rolling in a secret location in South Africa.

The Mzansi Magic drama series is inspired by the Balobedu legend of rainmaker Queen Modjadji whose bloodline ruled Southern Africa's Lobedu clan for centuries. The series is produced by Rhythm World Productions and Duma Ndlovu responsible for Muvhango on the SABC's SABC2 channel.

The City Press newspaper, which had a journalist who was part of a set visit by M-Net to the Queen Modjadji film set in late April, reported that produced Duma Ndlovu said he pitched Queen Modjadji to the SABC several times which didn't want to do the show.

Regarding the Balobedu royal family, Doma Ndlovu says "They are still very secretive - there are still certain things that we can't touch but the story is a universal story of a queen who could make rain and that's not a secret".

Rhythm World Productions wanted to film Queen Modjadji in South Africa's Limpopo province but couldn't find a suitable location. Set construction of a village started in January this year and took two months, after which filming started in March.

Some of the Queen Modjadji cast include Ndavi Nokeri, Shudufhadzo Musida, Helen Lepebe, Ngelekanyo Ramulondi, Thabo Bopape, Wiseman Zitha, Masutang Rasekele who is also one of the language advisors and script writers on the production.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Actor Mpho Sebeng dead at 31 after Potchefstroom car accident.

by Thinus Ferreira

Actor Mpho Sebeng died on Sunday morning after a car accident in Potchefstroom in South Africa's North West province. He was 31.

"The family of the South African entertainer, Mpho Sebeng, are saddened to confirm,to the public and media, that their son has indeed passed away," the family confirmed in a media statement on Sunday.

"Mpho met his untimely death in the early hours of Sunday 5 May 2024 due to a tragic car accident in Potchefstroom. Whilst the family appreciates the immense outpouring of love and condolences, the family requests some space to process the news," Oupa Morake, family spokesperson said.

"The details of his home-going celebrations will be communicated in due course and we request that you continue to hold the Sebeng family in prayer."

Born in Soweto on 1 December 1992, growing up in Witpoortjie, Randburg and studying politics and philosophy at the University of Witwatersrand, Mpho Sebeng became known for TV roles in series like Zero Tolerance, gang leader Slay in SABC1's Soul Buddyz, Justice for All, and M-Net's The Queen on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161). 

On he appeared in the drama series Z'bondiwe in 2015 and a year later in the telenovela Ring of Lies for which he got a Best actor nomination at the South African Film and Television Awards in 2018.

 Appearances in other's series included both its soaps Rhythm City and Scandal!

Appearances in other TV series included Bay of Plenty, Hush Money, Kokota, Saints and Sinners, The Throne, and M-Net's The Estate.   

In Netflix series he had roles in Savage Beauty, The Brave Ones and Miseducation.

In film Mpho Sebeng appeared in Mngani Wam', Thando, Man in Crisis, The Jakes are Missing, and 2011's Winnie Mandela.

In 2019 he tried to venture into rap music and released a debut hip-hop song, "Phuso Phala Anything".

The SABC in a statement said the public broadcaster "is saddened by the untimely passing of the actor Mpho Sebeng. His immense contribution to the entertainment industry will never be forgotten. The SABC extends its heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and fans".

The streaming service Netflix South Africa said "A life well lived. Rest in peace Mpho Sebeng".