Thursday, December 31, 2009

The 9 biggest stories in TV in 2009.

Who and what made waves in 2009 in television in South Africa? What stories from the world of television fascinated, captivated and became larger than life? Of course the SABC imploded, M-Net had a scandal with Idols and Oprah announced she's done talking. But what else mattered?
 I chose the 9 biggest TV stories of the past year.

Click on READ MORE below to see what they are - and why they stood out.

Programming note. All Access special New Years Eve show.

You're reading and seeing it here first.

Last week I was FIRST right HERE to spill about All Access doing a very special music episode. That episode of All Access goes out tonight at 19:30 on M-Net. The special New Years Eve episode of All Access has all the presenters (Bridget Masinga, Jason Greer, Tammy-Anne Fortuin, Ewan Strydom, Koula, Mark Bayly and Pabi Moloi) all glammed up and together in the studio.

Click on READ MORE below for 4 more photos from tonight's show that you can see here EXCLUSIVELY.

BREAKING. Tyra the Tyranosaur?

After the news of her announcement earlier this week that's she'e ending her talk show after 5 seasons at the end of 2010, scared (and ANGRY!) staff on The Tyra Banks Show are now spilling their guts to The New York Post.

Here's some of the juicy quotes from staffers on Tyra's talk show who are NOT happy at all:

''There had been high turnover of employees for years. It was pretty difficult to work for Tyra. ''She and the higher-ups on the production staff could be extremely brutal. She really is a diva."  - past crew member

"Everything had to be done Tyra's way." - source

It seems that Miss Tyra didn't tell her staffer that she's ending the show which moved from Los Angeles to New York a few years ago. They had to find out about it in the news. The 4th season of The Tyra Banks Show will start on 11 January at 11:25 on SABC3.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Survivor SA Santa Carolina: The rich and famous finally return!

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Survivor SA Santa Carolina starting on 20 January at 19:30 on M-Net will finally see the rich and famous return to where the rich and famous partied decades ago.

I've dug up more super surprising info about the mysterious island at Bazaruto and can bring you exclusively and FIRST wonderful photographs of the Santa Carolina island (now known as Paradise Island). If you want to see how it looked THEN and NOW, then click on READ MORE below right now!

New show highlights on DStv in January 2010.

DStv invited me to the annual year end party for media and journalists covering television in Johannesburg earlier this month which was (as usual) a very swanky affair with lots of bubbly at a beautiful mansion. DStv gave a little sneak peek to the exclusive viewing ahead in 2010 and now I'm ''dish''-ing.

If you want to see a comprehensive summary I've made of the best new shows on all the DStv channels who has specific programming info available for their channels starting in January 2010, click on READ MORE below.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

BREAKING. ASTV's website back online after hacker attack.

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The website of the new start-up free Afrikaans satellite channel ASTV is back on after the TV channel's website was hacked by ''Elemento'', a story I was first to report HERE yesterday. Their website at is now back online.

BREAKING. M-Net goes inside the White House with Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

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One South African TV channel that's very definitely NOT on holiday is M-Net. The pay channel just secured the rights to the once-off special, Christmas at the White House: An Oprah Winfrey Special and will broadcast this special THIS SUNDAY, 3 January at 18:00 on M-Net.

In the hour long entertainment special that was shown just before Christmas in America, Oprah Winfrey visits the White House to chat with Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. In an exclusive sit-down interview The White House couple shares personal Christmas stories with the talk show host, tour the official American presidential residence and show what's happening behind the scenes as the White House prepares for Christmas. Even the White House dog, Bo, has a Christmas stocking!

While the cameras are rolling, president Barack Obama, also a recent Nobel Peace Prize winner, makes a surprising disclosure about how he would grade his performance in office thus far.

BREAKING. Survivor SA Santa Carolina commands a massive R33 500 per ad spot on M-Net.

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The Santa Carolina Island (otherwise known as Illha Santa Carolina and aptly referred to as Paradise Island off the coast of Mozambique) is known as ''the physical jewel of the Bazaruto archipelago''. This is where filming just wrapped for the 3rd season of Survivor SA, known as Survivor SA Santa Carolina.

Now it seems the show will be a physical jewel on M-Net's broadcast schedule in January as well when it debuts on M-Net on Wednesday, 20 January at 19:30. Based on the perceived monetary value of the show as a money-spinner when Survivor SA Santa Carolina starts in January, M-Net thinks that it has a surefire hit on its hands.

While Carte Blanche still commands top dollar for ad spots on M-Net on Sundays (R59 000), Survivor SA Santa Carolina will cost an advertiser R33 500 per ad when the show starts in prime time.

Besides Carte Blanche, only Grey's Anatomy, the brand new FlashForward that also starts in January and Brothers & Sisters are more expensive shows (and perceived at this point to be more popular in terms of viewership that what Survivor SA Santa Carolina will be).

2010: A Space Oddysey awaits sci-fi lovers on South African television!

Fans of science fiction and fantasy television can step through through 2 different stargates, meet up with Merlin, hang out with Harkness (that's Captain Harkness for you), take a bite out of a delicious new vampire drama and get a flash of the future! Fantastic brand new sci-fi viewing awaits in the first quarter of 2010 on South African television with shows like FlashForward, Stargate Universe, Merlin, The Vampire Diaries, Torchwood and more!

Click on READ MORE below to set your astro-logical calendar with complete details, starting dates and times for 2010. . . A Space Odyssey!

Monday, December 28, 2009

BREAKING. Tyra Banks ending her talk show in 2010.

The Hollywood Reporter just broke the news a few minutes ago that Tyra Banks will be ending her talk show.

I was FIRST with the news HERE on 8 December that SABC3 will show the brand new 4th season in South Africa from Monday, 11 January at 11:25.

According to The Hollywood Reporter Tyra Banks will end The Tyra Banks Show at the end of the 2010 season. She wants to start her own movie studio, Bankable Studios to produce films.

UPDATE (Monday 28 Dec, 20:06) - On her website Tyra Banks writes: ''This will be the last season of The Tyra Show. I've been loving having fun, coming into your living rooms, bedrooms, hair salons for the past five years . . . [Your] love and support is always felt by me and it's given me the courage to take more exciting steps in my life. So I thank you for that.''

BREAKING. Dirk de Villiers dies, was ''The Godfather'' of South African film industry.

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The veteran South African filmmaker and TV director Dirk de Villiers has died earlier today.

Dirk de Villiers became known as ''The Godfather'' of South African film industry over the past 40 years as he revolutionized the South African film industry and established his production company, Ad Astera in Cape Town. He produced more than 28 movies among them My Broer se Bril, Kalahari Harry, Tant Ralie se Losieshuis, and Die Geheim van Nantes. He produced 25 local TV shows for South African television under which Arende and Meeulanders and made several TV documentaries.

Dirk de Villiers was 85.

BREAKING. M-Net Action has V – get ready for the alien lizards in 2010!

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I can be first to exclusively confirm that M-Net Action (DStv 106) has snagged the broadcasting rights to V. M-Net Action bought the hugely buzzed about, brand new remake of the 1980's sci-fi show about disguised lizard-like aliens living on Earth with plans to take over mankind. Only 4 episodes of V have been produced and broadcast in America so far (I've watched them all) and all I can say . . . BRILLIANT!

V should start sometime in August on M-Net Action (DStv 106).

In the show the Visitors (hence the moniker ''V'') ''suddenly'' arrive Independence Day style in their huge space ships above the major cities of the world. (Meanwhile they've been here for decades).
I won't give anything away, but the first episode gives immediate payoffs in terms of plot and storyline and viewers will discover how the lizards aliens, disguised as humans are actually already living among us.

We meet the sceptical priest, the mom who is an FBI agent looking for terrorists, her son who will fall in love with a lizard girl, the TV journalist who has to decide whether he wants access or the truth to the new alien race and the couple who are getting engaged and are having a baby . . . but everything (everyone!) is not what they seem.

BREAKING. ASTV's website hacked by ''Elemento''.

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ASTV's website has been hacked by a cyber hacker who calls himself  ''Elemento''. It couldn't come at a worse possible time for the nacent TV channel who planned on starting broadcasting on 2 November, had to push it back to 4 January next year, and will now probably also miss that date.

Elemento hacked ASTV's website at and just left the message:

''Deface Não É Crime !!!!''

on a white background, with a email address.

BREAKING. SABC News International now broadcasting on DStv!

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SABC News International has quietly slipped onto DStv and can now be seen as a free to air channel on the satellite broadcaster! The public broadcaster's local 24 hour news TV channel that could previously only be seen on Sentech's limited Vivid decoder platform, can now be seen as a free channel as part of MultiChoice's DStv platform.

The beleaguered SABC News International which had a limited reach and audience because of the limited amount of Vivid decoders that had been sold, will now have a much wider potential audience and reach. SABC News International now broadcasts free, and can be seen 24 hours a day on channel 43, on the Public Bouquet channel grouping on DStv.

I immediately asked the SABC this morning why the switch, how it happened and when. The STUNNED SABC didn't know about it, and didn't have any official answer. When I get one, you'll get one here, FIRST.

UPDATE (Monday 28 Dec 2009, 16:30) -  I just heard back from the SABC regarding this issue:

''I've checked and there is no contract between the SABC and DStv,'' Kaizer Kganyago, SABC spokesman, tells me. Mmmm.

BREAKING. Survivor SA Santa Carolina leaves holidaymakers, tour operators and fishermen very upset.

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Overseas holiday makers at the luxury Indigo Bay Island Resort and Spa where the production crew from Survivor SA Santa Carolina also stayed are complaining bitterly about how they were refused visitation rights to Paradise Island off the Mozambique coast where the 3rd season of Survivor SA was filmed.

Also complaining are tour operators in the area of the Bazaturo island, as well as several local fishermen as well as vacationing fishermen whose fishing expeditions were disrupted because of the production ann the noise.

Click on READ MORE below for more on my story!

BREAKING. Class Act coming to SABC1 as a brand new reality show in March.

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Class Act is a new reality show that I can exclusively and first reveal, will start in March on SABC1. Class Act will look for a new action star hero.

The local reality show which is billed by SABC1 as ''South Africa's Toughest Film Audition'' will have 13 episodes. It will start in March 2010 on SABC1, but only I know that auditions will start on 31 January, 2010.

The producers will be looking for ''a leading man with a passion for acting'' and a guy who is ''an undiscovered talent''. ''Whatever your first language we want to see you,'' says the producers. Okes who are older than 18 can enter and the only exclusion is that if you've already had a leading role in a film or TV production, you won't be able to enter Class Act.

BREAKING. ASTV off the air as it ''go to black''.

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The Afrikaans satellite channel ASTV (still busy with test broadcasts after it initially promised to start broadcasting a few months ago - and postponed its launch to 4 January 2010 the day before it was supposed to start ) - will MOST PROBABLY HAVE TO DELAY IT AGAIN!

ASTV says the channel had to ''go to black'', ''which means we can't broadcast until Telkom completes the laying of the cables''.

ASTV says ''after much asking nicely, pleading and even threats Telkom FINALLY decided to make us a priority. They are busy with laying the fibre optic cables. That's the good news. The bad news is . . . we have no idea how long it will tke.''

ASTV says the Afrikaans channel will ''hopefully be back on air within a week or two. We can't put a date on it, but will keep everyone advised. Therefore we will broadcast ons of these days directly from Rustenburg.''

That means that ASTV will most likely not be ready to broadcast from it's restated launch date of 4 January, 2010.

DIARIZE! DStv turns 15 in 2010.

Guess who's turning 15 in 2010? I can tell you first.

MultiChoice's TV platform DStv will be turning 15 years old on 6 October, 2010.

Survivor SA Santa Carolina's haunting, secret (and sad!) island past REVEALED!

Survivor SA Santa Carolina has a haunting, secret, sad and fascinating island past that I can reveal RIGHT NOW!
You're reading it here first.

When I broke the news first of the setting of this 3rd season of Survivor SA with THIS STORY right HERE on 16 November, I did a huge amount of research right away on the exotic island locale. I was immediately fascinated by this wonderful place.

Survivor SA Santa Carolina starts on Wednesday 20 January 2010 at 19:30 on M-Net and is set on Ilha Santa Carolina or now better known as Paradise island off the coast of Mozambique.

Paradise Island is FULL of secrets of its own, a SAD history, an abandoned hotel (you can see it in the picture above), a lonely famous piano, an abandoned airstrip, beautiful unspoiled beaches and is filled with mysteries and a rich adventurous history that even includes a drug smuggler . . . and a new hope for the future!

Click on READ MORE below for your Survivor SA Santa Carolina HISTORY LESSON 1 - The ghosts of Paradise Island!

BREAKING. BBC coming to Cape Town in 2010.

The BBC is coming to Cape Town in 2010 and setting up shop with a specially built studio on top of the Somerset Hospital from which the BBC will broadcast from before, and during the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa.

The BBC will construct a main presentation studio in Cape Town on top of Somerset Hospital in Green Point from where the BBC will broadcast from 6 weeks prior, and during the course of the Soccer World Cup held in South Africa next year.

The BBC will broadcast 32 live soccer games and present from the Cape Town studio, giving viewers a view of Table Mountain, The V&A Waterfront, Cape Town Stadium and Robben Island.

This includes live links and inserts from Cape Town. BBC Radio, BBC Africa and BBC Online Services will also be based in Cape Town. ''Our production set-up in Cape Town next year will be our biggest to date taking into account all previous Soccer World Cups,'' says Phil Bigwood, the BBC's executive producer of sport.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

HUNK QUIZ. A hot bod on Survivor SA Santa Carolina!

This im-pec-cable hot bod belongs to one of the male celebrity contestants on Survivor SA Santa Carolina.

Can you guess who he is?

I'm not going to reveal the name just yet . . . but who do you think this hunk is? Below is another picture of the same dude who, of course sports a much better tan now after spending time on Paradise Island off the coast of Mozambique.

Survivor SA Contestant 1: Cindy Nell

Survivor SA contestant 2: Christina Storm

Survivor SA Contestant 3: Sandi Schultz

BREAKING. Christina Storm creates a storm of temper tantrums on Survivor South Africa Santa Carolina!

Rapport newspaper has a story about Christina Storm HERE today about the celeb contestant on Survivor SA Santa Carolina

I identified Christina Storm as one of the celebrity contestants HERE FIRST more than a month ago.

Rapport's story today is about Christina getting herself voted off during the first week amidst massive temper tantrums, moaning and complaining about EVERYTHING and giving the rest of the contestants as well as the production crew A VERY HARD TIME.

What can I say. . . ALL ABSOLUTELY TRUE!

I heard exactly the same stuff from several sources from the severly leaking TV production WEEKS AGO and how apparently difficult Christina Storm was and how she botched the production right from the beginning by WANTING TO VOTE HERSELF OFF to the distress of the producers! Of course she can't talk because she signed a 47 page confidentiality agreement with M-Net.

Here is what else I can tell you: ALL the contestants were supposed to remain in Mozambique right up until the end (in posh living conditions which I'll tell you about tomorrow) BUT THAT WASN'T GOOD ENOUGH FOR CHRISTINA!

NO! Christina Storm wanted to come home IMMEDIATELY! M-Net had to fly her back to Cape Town and agreed to not keep her to her contract which stated that she had to remain with the production until the end.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

BREAKING. Survivor SA Santa Carolina is what M-Net is naming the 3rd Survivor SA.

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The 3rd season of Survivor SA on M-Net will be known as Survivor SA Santa Carolina, or Survivor South Africa Santa Carolina.

Here is you're first look at the official logo for the 3rd local South African version of the Survivor reality show.

Compare the beautifully designed official show logo to the one below which I took when I attended the DStv year end function. (That's the logo that gave away to me that the show was set in Mozambique. If you go and look at every country's flag in Africa, do a little homework, notice the Mozambique star and remember that M-Net said it's along the African coast, it made it immediately quite obvious where the show was taking place.) So I was first to write about where the show was set HERE on 16 November.

I've known for a while that the show's subtitle for this season with its 18 local celebrities would be ''Santa Carolina'', but I decided not to reveal it . . . yet.

However . . . I just saw a promo earlier this evening for Survivor SA Santa Carolina on M-Net - which means it must be okay to write about it, although I didn't get any official word from M-Net about it. So let me be the first journalist to write about it then.


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I can EXCLUSIVELY reveal that Sandi Schultz is a SURVIVOR SA CONTESTANT.

Sandi Schultz is a fire dancer and known for playing the role of dr. Jennifer Adams on Binnelanders in M-Net. Sandi has a new clothing line out by the way, called Sass Designs.

I've known since middle November, when I broke the news about Cindy Nell and Christina Storm (see the links below). Now entertainment journalists who were invited to the production in Mosambique at Inhassoro and Paradise Island off the Bazaruto coast, and who signed confidentiality agreements not to talk or write about what they've seen and heard, are BLABBING.

When people tell ME stuff that I've known waaay before THEM (that they are supposed to keep quiet about because they signed agreements to keep the information secret) I can't hold back any longer. I haven't signed ANYTHING by the way, and when I know that other people know too, it becomes very dicey. Either I have the news out first, or a competitor will.

Survivor SA starts on M-Net on Wednesday, 20 January at 20:00.

FYI - Idols contestant Graeme Watkins also made the short list but decided to rather continue with his countrywide tour and performing on stage than go to Mozambique for another reality show (which M-Net still hasn't confirmed the location of by the way which I broke the news of right HERE, first).

Survivor SA Contestant 1: Cindy Nell

Survivor SA Contestant 2: Christina Storm

Friday, December 25, 2009

BREAKING. Henrico Coetzer a finalist in Supersterre on SABC2.

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Henrico Coetzer is a finalist in the 3rd season of Supersterre that will start on 19 March 2010 on SABC2.

I broke the news here earlier this week that Supersterre will return to SABC2 next year for another season of the reality talent seeking TV show produced and starring Patricia Lewis.

Henrico, a 16 year old tenor from Pretoria who has been singing since he was 5, just sang several Josh Groban songs (among them ''You Raise me Up'' and ''Noel'') during the Christmas morning church service that I attended in Port Alfred. That's where I got the got the exclusive gossip!

I think he also entered for SA's Got Talent that was broadcast on SABC2 earlier this year.

Merry Christmas from TV with Thinus.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

TV stars share their Christmas wishes.

I asked a few local TV stars how they will be spending Christmas day tomorrow, and for their special Christmas wishes.

''Christmas day I will be spending with my parents in Cape Town. They will be coming over to my place and it's always a big responsibility. The stres will be high in the kitchen, but like everything else I'll get through it. I had such a crazy year. I don't want anything for Christmas - I think I already have everything. To have the people you love with you is all that is important on Christmas. For readers I want to say everything that is good and great and love. Enjoy the day with your family and for those not with family, be with your friends, because they're your family too.''
- Tammy-Anne Fortuin, All Access presenter on M-Net

''It remains a tradition to spend Christmas time at home. This year were privileged to have my mother in law from Europe here to visit us and on Christmas Eve we will have a family dinner at my brother in law. On Christmas morning I will be playing the organ at church after which we will throw some meat on the coals and swim with my two year old grandson in the swimming pool. A new Mercedez-Benz would be welcome (a guy can dream can't he!), but I think we all share a wish that crime, poverty and unemployment will end. It's my hearts wish that all South Africans will treat each other with respect which will make South Africa an even more beautiful country.''
- Riaan Cruywagen, SABC2 news reader

''On Christmas day my wife Christi and I will be spending the day with family in Gauteng. Most people jet off to Cape Town but we flew to Gauteng. I think 2009 was a long and a tough year, so for me the biggest gift is to just have some time off to rest. My biggest wish is for the children of South Africa and the children who might not get a gift tomorrow, or might not be sitting around a tree, or might not have a warm meal. I want every child to know that they are precious and wonderful and matter, because Christmas is about children.''
- Nico Panagio, Survivor SA host on M-Net

''I'm with my family in Cape Town with my mom who turned 80 this year and with my children and my brothers - also my brother visiting from London, the one who plays in Kumars. We are going to have a delicious family feat, also with friends. My biggest wish is for peace and joy in this country. And that crime will go down - we're all tired of crime now.''
- Vinette Ebrahim, Charmaine in 7de Laan on SABC2

''Christmas day we will be spending as a family. We're on holiday at the south coast and it's all about family. My wish for people is that they will carry and remember the message of Christmas in their hearts and will remember why we're really celebrating Christmas when they gather around the Christmas tree.''
- Michael Mol, Top Billing presenter on SABC3

''On Christmas day we will have a massive Italian feast cooked by me. I'm actually a very good cook I'll have you know! It will be in our garden and the whole family will be there. It's what we do every year. My wish is for a new kitchen and then also to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. I hope to do that this year. My wish for South Africa for 2010 is for more jobs and that we can leave the recession behind us and just less poverty in our country.''
- Debora Patta, 3rd Degree presenter on

BREAKING. Discovery HD Showcase finally added to DStv's website.

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DStv has finally added the existence of it's new high definition (HD) channel, Discovery HD Showcase, to its website.

After the new high definition HD TV channel started broadcasting this past Monday on channel 172 on DStv the channel has finally joined the channel line-up on DStv's website where is was completely absent from earlier this week.

Now Discovery HD Showcase has joined the line-up of channels under the DStv Premium banner.
Discovery HD Showcase also shows up under the TV Guide selection, and a programme guide is finally available for the first time when you select a TV guide for the channel.

It took DStv several days to get this functionality added, and even the on-screen EPG only showed programmes until Monday at 17:00 on the first day the channel started.

You can peruse the Discovery HD Showcase TV guide at DStv's official website HERE.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

BREAKING. CNBC Africa turns 1 January 2010 into a brilliant business doccie day.

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CNBC Africa (DStv 410) has decided to turn 1 January 2010 into a brilliant doccie day from 07:00 until after midnight. With markets closed the local business TV channel has jam-packed the schedule with really good quality American business documentary programming like Coca-Cola: The Real Story behind The Real Thing, The Fastest Growing Companies of 2009 and many more.

The shows produced by CNBC in America, although geared towards business minded individuals, have very high production values and can be enjoyed by casual TV viewers as well who are interested in the inner-working of companies, market movements and economics.

Click on READ MORE! below for a brief rundown that I have compiled of the awesome doccies you can see on 1 January, what they are about, and what times they will be on.

FIRST LOOK! M-Net's New Year's Special 2010.

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It's the silly season so I was just kidding in my earlier post today HERE about Elana Afrika getting her own M-Net talk show. Actually I just wanted to draw you TV watchers' attention to the M-Net New Year's Special 2010 that will be broadcast on Friday, 1 January 2010 at 20:00.

Elana Afrika is the presenter of the two hour special which was recorded last night at M-Net.

Performances include the 1st Project drumming group, Brandon October and Andriette Norman (doing a duet as well as solo performances), Louise Carver, Flash Republic, Graeme Watkins, Freshlyground, Arno Carstens, Zebra and Giraffe and Lira like in the picture above!

M-Net also has the exclusive TV debut of Arno Carstens’ first single off his brand new album, entitled ''Dreamer''.
Viewers will also see New Year's wishes from celebrities such as PJ Powers, Patricia de Lille, Liezel van der Westhuizen and Randall Abrahams, amongst others.

Click below on READ MORE! to see more brand-new photos from the special here first.

BREAKING. Hallmark Channel's planting trees.

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The Hallmark Channel (DStv 108) is not sending members of the press covering television, any gifts this year. Instead The Hallmark Channel is planting trees.

The channel is planting trees in the local communities of Orlando and Eikenhof with the Carl Sithole Centre in Soweto and the Amazing Grace children's home in Lenasia that will both get two wild olive evergreen trees from The Hallmark Channel to celebrate the beginning of 2010.

The channel also has two new shows starting in January that I can tell you about.

First up is Wild at Heart that starts on 10 January at 20:00 op The Hallmark Channel about the American Trevanion family living on the Leopards Den game park. The 3rd season of Sea Patrol starts on the channel on 25 January at 19:10

BREAKING. New talk show for Elana Afrika!

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Is TV star Elana Afrika becoming South Africa's newest talk show star?

Seems so. I'm first to show you these photos first of the lovely Elana chatting up a storm during last night's recording at M-Net with couch guests like Lira, Louise Carver as well as Brandon October and Andriette.

Elana is obviously very comfortable with the microphone in the hand and she even sports ''Oprah hair''.

I know everything, and will spill the goss a bit later this afternoon! But if you really want to know more and see Elana in action with these local stars, you have to tune into M-Net on Friday, 1 January at 20:00.

BREAKING. TV Information Forum coming to make sense of TV ratings in 2010.

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The South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) who compiles TV ratings in the country is holding a TV Information Forum early in 2010 to discuss very important industry information regarding TV ratings and the new factors influencing TV viewership.

''The television scene in South Africa is changing rapidly,'' says SAARF CEO, Paul Haupt. ''In order to aid the industry in unpacking the implications of these factors, an TV Information Forum will be held.''

The TV Information Forum (attendance is free, but registration is necessary) will take place in Johannesburg (20 January), Durban (21 January) and Cape Town (22 January).

Paul Haupt calls the TV Information Forum ''a crucial session'' and says that it's essential for key senior industry players to attend ''to understand the various factors'' that is now having a far reaching influence on TV ratings in South Africa.

Some of the factors that will be discussed and that's having a seismic impact on TV ratings (AR's) are:
* More TV viewers switching from the free to air channels to pay TV (especially because of MultiChoice's cheaper DStv Compact offering).
* The growth in the amount of TV households who watches and uses a PVR (digital personal video recorder) which enables time-shifting and fast forwarding over ads.
* The transition to digital terrestrial television (DTT) and the process of digital migration in the country.
* The effects of heigtened airtime demand pre- and post the Soccer World Cup tournament in 2010.
* A possible dip in the amount of female TV viewers during the middle of the year because of an ''overload'' of soccer programming, as well as normal program schedule disruption by broadcasters.
* TV rate pricing through 2010 and 2011.

The TV Information Forum will be held from 12:30 to 15:30 where broadcasters, agencies and researchers can collaborate and try to get a better understanding of the changing scenario regarding TV planning for 2010.

People interested in attending can phone SAARF at 011 463 5340, fax 0866 353 592 or send an email to

BREAKING. American Idol will eventually have 24 top contestants when it starts on M-Net.

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I was first to break the news HERE on 10 December that America Idol will be moving back to M-Net and be seen here a week after it shows in America. M-Net will start showing American Idol from 17 January, super close to episodes going out in America.

Now the Fox Network in America has just issued a press release saying that instead of 36 top candidates, the show will have 24 top candidates. Here is some of what the Fox Network just said:

''The wait is almost over for the return of TV's No. 1 show! American Idol is set to return for its much-anticipated ninth season with extraordinary talent and outrageous new auditions.''

''This season on American Idol, the good, the bad and the awful audition for their shot at stardom. In the audition cities, Ryan Seacrest hosts, and Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi will be joined by rotating guest judges Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, Kristin Chenoweth, Neil Patrick Harris, Joe Jonas, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry and Shania Twain.

According to the press release in ''The “Hollywood Round” dreams will come true ''for 24 contestants, as Simon, Randy, Kara and Ellen announce the Top 12 male and Top 12 female semifinalists. It will then be up to America to decide who moves forward in the competition.''