Saturday, March 31, 2012

DStv's ESPN versus TopTV's Fuel? News Corp. is deciding on whether to turn Fuel into a strong sports channel to rival ESPN.

TopTV's lack of any actual real mainstream sport (due to an inability and unwillingness to pay for sports shows and sport channels) could possibly be partially remedied soon through no action of the South African pay TV provider - It could be ESPN (DStv 230) versus Fuel (TopTV 225) soon if News Corp. goes ahead with plans to change Fuel TV into a mainstream sports TV channel.

News Corp. is considering taking on The Walt Disney Company's ESPN TV network by upgrading and changing Fuel TV, the TV channel that belongs to Fox but is currently a niche channel focused on extreme outdoor sports and surfing.

ESPN is dominant in American football rights as well as American baseball. News Corp. however already owns a lot of sport rights and have signed up multiple other sports events still coming up to 2022. According to the credible Bloomberg financial news service, News Corp. wants to take on ESPN and is currently deciding on whether to use Fuel to do it.

Fuel could change into a much better sports channel as soon as by the end of 2012. As telling? The lack of comment from everybody involved as the plan starts to leak.

Andrea Catherwood gone from Bloomberg Television and The Last Word without so much as a word.

Andrea Catherwood is gone without a word from the business channel Bloomberg Television (DStv 411). She was the presenter of The Last Word done from Bloomberg Television's London bureau.

Bloomberg Television didn't put out any statement.

The African Movie Channel (AMC) starts broadcasting op TopTV's channel 120 as a replacement for the defunct Hi Nolly channel.

The African Movie Channel (TopTV 120) has started broadcasting on On Digital Media's (ODM) TopTV platform in South Africa as a replacement for the Hi Nolly channel TopTV lost 4 months ago in November 2011 when HiTV went bankrupt.

TopTV follows Vuku TV and other pay TV operators who replaced the Hi Nolly channel with The African Movie Channel (AMC) in February  on their bouquets. The African Movie Channel specialises in Nollywood and other African produced movies.

The African Movie Channel went live on TopTV on Friday as TopTV promised earlier this month would be happening before the end of March.

''It is a real coup for TopTV that, following our successful negotiations, we have secured a channel of the caliber of The African Movie Channel for our platform,'' says Eddie Mbalo, the interim CEO of TopTV in a statement. ''We are confident that our subscribers will find value in the broadcast and picture quality, and enjoy the 24 hour entertainment on offer.''

''The African Movie Channel is very excited to have enterred into this partnership with a major player in the South African market such as TopTV,'' says Lola Onigbogi, a founding director of the African Movie Channel; quoted in the same statement.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

FIRST LOOK. The 'new' (young) Carrie Bradshaw - AnnaSophia Robb in the pilot episode for the new drama The Carrie Diaries.

The first image has been released of The Carrie Diaries - a possible new TV drama if the show about the teenage years of the young Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City - gets picked up.

A pilot episode is currently being filmed in New York by Warner Bros Television also responsible for The Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl. The Carrie Diaries is based on Candace Bushnell's Sex and the City novel which became the iconic HBO series that South African viewers saw on SABC3.

The Carrie Diaries - if deemed good enough and a fit for the CW network in America, will be a prequel to the Sex and the City series and will be set in the 1980's when Carrie Bradshaw asks her first questions about love, sex, relationships, friendship and the nature of family and work.

Gossip Girl will wrap up with a shortened 6th season next year and the CW network is also looking at creating new hit shows. Warner Bros Television is also working on a pilot episode of a new possible new show entitled Green Arrow with Stephen Amell about the hooded green superhero.

Monday, March 26, 2012

BREAKING. The new AfricaMagic channels from M-Net to debut its new look and genre-specific content from 16 April.

Here is the brand-new AfricaMagic logo when the current AfricaMagic channels on DStv changes and expands from 16 April in the rest of Southern Africa to genre-specific channels - something M-Net is also planning for the M-Net channels within South Africa later this year (around September I'm told by sources).

The roll-out is very impoartant since the AfricaMagic change is the precursor and the template of how M-Net will be changing and expanding the set of M-Net named branded channels within South Africa.

AfricaMagic will become the flagship channel as a general family entertainment TV channel from 16 April. The M-Net channel as seen in Southern Africa will focus on international movies and series

Magic World will also be changing and become part of the AfricaMagic ''group'', being the rebranded AfricaMagic World channel.

 I'm waiting to hear, but it seem that this change will affect the Magic World channel (DStv 112) as seen in South Africa on DStv. I'm also waiting to hear how, if at all the current two AfricaMagic channels - AfricaMagic (DStv 114) and AfricaMagic Plus (DStv 115) - will change. Will DStv only change their logos, or not? Or are South African viewers perhaps losing both these channels, as well as Magic World? I'm waiting on an answer.

AfricaMagic Movies will be a new TV channel (not seen in South Africa), willrun for 24 hour a day, have a heavy focus on Nollywood movies and African movies with a strong traditional feel. 
Then there's AfricaMagic Movies 1 (yes, oddly enough not AfricaMagic Movies 1 and AfricaMagic Movies 2) which is also another new TV channel M-Net is doing for Africa. AfricaMagic Movies 1 will shown contemporary Africa movies with the latest stars.

AfricaMagic Entertainment is another brand-new channel as I've said before, which will now house allof the local productions, like the soaps,drama series, lifestyle and talk shows as well as comedy. Shows such as Big Brother Africa, Tinsel and Jacob's Cross will henceforth be seen on AfricaMagic Entertainment, and moves away from the M-Net channel.
The region specific English language AfricaMagic channels - AfricaMagic Hausa, AfricaMagic Swahili and AfricaMagic Yoruba - will continue to be shown in the different regions as it is now.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

BREAKING. Mark Steines suddenly leaving Entertainment Tonight after 17 years, will be gone at the end of his current contract.

Mark Steines is out at Entertainment Tonight, leaving ''the world's most watched entertainment news magazine show in the world'' in a shocking exit of on-air talent that's continuing to hammer the show and could drive viewers to rival news magazines.

The longtime Mary Hart left Entertainment Tonight (SABC3, Fridays, 21:30) last year, followed earlier this year by Samantha Harris; now Mark Steines who used to be the co-anchor together with Nancy O'Dell, is also out the door at Studio City in California where the show is produced.

Mark Steines who's been with Entertainment Tonight for 17 years (8 of which as co-host) and who is an avid photographer gave the usual ''leaving to pursue other interest'' reason to The New York Post which broke the news. ''He has been a beloved member of Entertainment Tonight for 17 years, and we fully support his decision,'' an Entertainment Tonight spokesperson told the newspaper.

It's highly likely that Entertainment Tonight which cut Mary Hart's pay which basically forced her to leave, also didn't come to terms with Mark Steines about money for a contract extension with both sides doing the obligatory ''play nice'' sentence platitude. Nobody just leaves a show or a job like this.

Mark Steines will  be leaving at the end of his current contract.

Programming note: Carte Blanche on M-Net this evening at 19:00 coming from the World Trade Centre in Morningside with great stories.

Carte Blanche, M-Net's weekly investigative magazine show on Sundays at 19:00 will be coming to viewers this evening from a brand-new location: the 20th floor of the World Trade Centre in Morningside (possibly still the highest building in Africa?).

Carte Blanche this evening on M-Net will be looking at Lesotho Horse Pounds with Chantal Rutter Dros and Julie Lauranz as producer. Farmers describe the situation along South Africa's border with Lesotho as ''chaotic'', with stock theft as serious as ever. Despite the government's undertakings to build a new border fence and to patrol farmers say that plans have come to naught. Carte Blanche follows the path of stolen cattle ending up in pounds, dying, starved and traumatised. The show follows the trail of a horse called Toffalux and uncovers shocking details.

Carte Blanche will also be looking at racial quotas at universities this evening and their admission policies with presenter Bongai Binga, producer Sophia Phirippides and journalist Tshediso Sesioana.

The show also looks at animals shelters. Carte Blanche visits a smelly haven and the ''no-kill'' policy after the owner of an animal ''rescue'' centre in Walkerville - once hailed as a ''saviour'' has refuelled the debate on the uncontrolled breeding of domestic pets. Este de Klerk is the producer with Bongani Bingwa as producer.

The show also investigates a new form of rat control - actually a very old method making a comeback, with Chantal Rutter Dros presenting and Liz Fish as producer.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Programming Note: Our Blood is Red a new specially produced local documentary on race relations on the eNews Channel.

You're reading it here first.

A new locally produced special documentary, Our Blood is Red, starts on the eNews Channel (DStv 403) today at 16:30, with repeats over the weekend and on Monday.

Our Blood is Red was produced by Annika Larsen who've left M-Net's Carte Blanche and is a senior reporter at the eNews Channel. Our Blood is Red is a documentary regarding race relations in South Africa, interviewing several different South Africans over the course of a few weeks.

Our Blood is Red will be on the eNews Channel on Friday 16:30 and 20:30, Saturday (24 March) at 07:30, 12:30, 17:30 and 21:00; Sunday (25 March) at 08:30, 11:30, 19:30 and 22:30, and Monday (26 March) at 10:30 and 15:30.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

BREAKING. The Travel Channel sold to Scripps Networks Interactive for £65 million; promises of better programming.

Scripps Networks Interactive is buying the Travel Channel (DStv 181), the international version which is seen in South Africa, for £65 million.

The channel seen in South Africa and the rest of Africa as well as Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific was previously independently owned but all 46 employees of the channel with its headquarters in London will become part of the larger Scripps Networks Interactive.

''Scripps Networks Interactive is the natural home for Travel Channel International,'' says Richard Wolfe, the chief executive of the Travel Channel in a statement. ''Combining the Travel Channel's reach and resources in our territories with those of Scripps Networks Interactive's American Travel Channel creates a new worldwide brand with powerful synergies in programming and advertising.''

''We are looking forward to integrating the Travel Channel into Scripps Networks Interactive's portfolio of popular lifestyle networks,'' says Kenneth W. Lowe, the chairman, president and chief executive officer of Scripps Networks Interactive.

''The Travel Channel brings unique value to us as we establish our brands in the global media marketplace. We're enthusiastic about sharing our lifestyle programming expertise internationally, engaging a new set of passionate media consumers overseas, and increasing our footprint.''

Bloomberg Television cuts staff by 30 as it keeps shifting to a fully digital business news channel.

Bloomberg Television (DStv 411) has fired 30 reporters, producers, associate producers and editors as the business TV channel is moving towards a digital newsroom.

TVNewser first reported the Bloomberg Television cuts.

According to TVNewser, Bloomberg Television wants to create a Digital Video Desk that will be focused on generating video content for web platforms, tablets, smartphones and computers.

Discovery working on 3 new shows: One Car Too Far, World's Toughest Expeditions with James Cracknell and Freddie Flintoff Goes Wild.

Discovery Networks International is creating a new 5 part show entitled One Car Too Far that will drop a former soldier, a motoring expert and a small car into difficult situations from which they must escape.

One Car Too Far will place a former British special forces operative, an American car expert and a small red car into incredible landscapes where they must survive and ultimately escape. The show will be seen in South Africa and Africa as well as Europe and the Middle East from later in the year.

The factual entertainment network has also commissioned two other survival programmes to presumably make up for the loss of Bear Grylls who will no longer be doing anything for Discovery after a big falling out between him and the network. These shows will also be seen in South Africa and Africa from later in the year and in 2013.

There will be 4 hour long episodes of World's Toughest Expeditions with James Cracknell which will see him retrace the footsteps of some of the world's greatest explorers such as the Zambezi River similar to dr David Livingstone 150 years ago and Colonel Fawcett's fatal quest for the Lost City of Z.

Freddie Flintoff Goes Wild will also have at least 4 hour long episodes and places the former British cricketer close to some of the most dangerous and most threatened animals on the planet.

Charlie Foley the new senior vice president of development at Animal Planet.

Charlie Foley is the new senior vice president of development at Animal Planet (DStv 264) in America and will be reporting directly to Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of the channel.

Kurt Tondorf and Andy Berg both join Animal Planet as vice presidents od development and will in turn report to Charlie Foley.

Charlie Foley has been with Animal Planet since 2007 and developed the shows such as River Monsters and Whale Wars for the channel.

BREAKING. Saktyd, a new local reality show, coming to kykNET later in the year with magazine Huisgenoot searching for a worker.

Photo: Huisgenoot

Disclaimer and full disclosure first - in the past the person on the left was one of my previous magazine editors; in the past the person on the right was one of my previous magazine editors.

And they look very stern and cross on this posed photo but they're not really - only if that Sibo brings the circulation figures on a Friday and a bad Smallville or Vania's Backstage cover story had a circ number falling slighty below 135 000. Sigh. Those were the good ol' (funny) days.

Both gave me a lot of free reign and scope to bring my ideas and to suggest how to execute it, and in turn I worked myself into a stupor digging up all the news about television and getting the inside scoop to take and excitedly share every new day. Now someone else can maybe get that chance too.

I want to spill that a new local reality TV show entitled Saktyd is coming to kykNET (DStv 111) later in the year with the reality cameras that will follow people who want to work at the red top Huisgenoot in Cape Town. That's where Izelle Venter (left) and Wicus Pretorius (right) have been working with Haidee Muller (in the middle) who's one of the journalists.

People can now enter to be on Saktyd and has until 20 April to do so. Successful candidates will be put through their paces in an environment not unlike Jane By Design and Ugly Betty (once I laughed when one of these previous editors said dryly in the office: ''This is not Ugly Betty''. Actually, I think it always is.)

Get ready for stres and insanity if you're a finalist, but if you really have what it takes, you actually live for deadlines and this kind of ''news and scoop'' environment.

Anyway, Saktyd which will have 13 episodes will follow in the footsteps of the disappointing Style Intern reality show of 2010 which was set inside Fair Lady - another magazine within Media24's publishing division.

Sources tell me Homebrew Films in Cape Town will be the production company behind Saktyd, Homebrew Films also produces Roer and the new Bravo! for kykNET, Shoreline for SABC3 and All Access Mzansi for Mzansi Magic (DStv 107) as well as other productions.

Perhaps Saktyd will be better in pacing, structure, contestant selection, actual drama and judges not afraid to be a bit like Simon Cowell? Everything and everyone in Style Intern was too nice which made it bland and boring. The show limped along and faded away like a previous month's old magazine.

For this reality show I'm told a pilot was shot; I hear one of the working titles was Die Nuuskantoor, which seems to have changed now to Saktyd.

Izelle Venter was once on television on TV1 as one of Saartjie's friends; Wicus Pretorius was on television in an episode of SABC2's Revlon Supermodel as a judge - viewers are surely going to see a lot of them in Saktyd since they're editor and deputy editor. The witty popular culture expert Haidee Muller weighed in on local celebs in kykNET's 10 Uit 10 vox pop culturati show. 

Contestants don't need to have any journalism background, but I would strongly suggest you get and start watching Ugly Betty DVD box sets. Because you don't want to walk in there and have the receptionist ask: ''Are you the before?'' No. You want to be the ''after''.

The winner will get guaranteed work for a year at the magazine.

BREAKING. A further 2 seasons of Tropika Island of Treasure planned; 5th version likely heading for the island of Jamaica.

You're reading it here first.

If the stars are aligned, there should be a further at least two seasons of the advertiser-funded production (AFP) Tropika Island of Treasure on, sources tell me.

The 5th season of Tropika Island of Treasure produced by Stimulii is apparently destined for Jamaica; the 6th season will copy what Survivor did first (take a guess).

Below is South Africa's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers embarrassing remaining contestants in the penultimate episode of the current 4th season in Cancun.

Programming note: Bravo! starting tonight at 19:30 on kykNET is another attempt at a local entertainment news magazine show.

Bravo!, another new local weekly entertainment news magazine show starts tonight at 19:30 on kykNET (DStv 111) and whilst publications who don't care for facts says Tammy-Anne Fortuin will be a part of the show, I can tell you she won't.

Precious little information about Bravo! exists although it starts today - is the show another rush job in a notoriously difficult TV genre to do and do really well? Henre Pretorius, Hannes van Wyk and Tracey Lange from Good Hope FM are the three main presenters; experience and history indicates that it might change and sooner than viewers might think, as the show evolves.

The Afrikaans half hour Bravo! which I was told a few months ago is basically replacing Glitterati on kykNET as a new attempt to bring some much-needed glam content to the channel, is produced by Homebrew Films also responsible for the similar weekly All Access Mzansi on Mzansi Magic (DStv 107).

It used to be that red carpet interviewers and presenters doing profile pieces had some pedigree - not anymore with Bravo! which just like Flash! on SABC3 and the horrid string of SABC1 also-ran'sseemed to have picked people that makes you shake your head in confusion. Only Henre Pretorius has bona fide experience within this genre as the first co-presenter of the youth magazine show Jip.

Insiders gave me several names of people who auditioned for the presenter role that eventually went to Tracey Lange. Tammy-Anne Fortuin is busy studying and networking in New York and won't do inserts for the show sources tell me.

Also as per usual and although it exists, specific episode information - let alone the latest real actual announcement that Bravo! is starting - isn't/wasn't send to the press. The first episode tonight as far as I can tell will feature inserts of the new magazine launch of Grazia and the recent Fiestas where the Bravo! cameras were seen.

Welcome, take a tour through the Capitol of Panem and marvel at the design of the distopian future which is The Hunger Games.

Not strictly television; but creatively beautiful. So I'm sharing and telling.

As iconic as a Coruscant, as geniusly fully-developed as a Gummi Glen, and as detailed as Diagon Alley is the Capitol - the place where a part of the new upcoming movie The Hunger Games is set and which starts on Friday in America.

Part of what makes it wonderful: The fact that the Capitol is this ultra-lux futuristic place, although the reality is that it's actually a very post-apocalyptic world. In the future, America is gone and there is this oppressive empire where young people fight (it televised, it's popular, it detracts the masses). This annual fight is viscious and barbaric and is called ''The Hunger Games''. There's only one winner.

Lionsgate has gone live with a beautiful website to promote the movie, called The Capital Tour. If you've loved the stylistic look of Bladerunner, The Fifth Element; think Gene Rodenberry was genius with the set design of the Enterprise D, or somehow wished you could see even more of the sad inside of the dwarf kingdom we only glimpsed inside Gimli's mountain in The Lord of the Rings, I promise that you will love this.

The website gives visitors the experience of ''arriving'' in the Capitol as a resident of one of the ''districts'' - a place which is obviously a whole world removed from how the real citizens in the wider world of what is left of what was once America, live now. (What used to be America is now called Panem, hence the .pn instead of .com)

The holographic sheet glass avatar - an interactive visitors' guide - reminds me of the future New York Metropolitan Museum's encyclopedic helper in the updated The Time Machine. Of course you can't not get the impression of New York's Grand Central Station as well.

The clothes and somewhat anachronistic fashions - especially the vivid colour and elaborate headgear - reminds me of The Fifth Element, Doctor Who, Star Wars' Coruscant and places like where Alice in Wonderland finds herself: a society that's actually a distopia [the opposite of an utopia], a place supressing people and actually disguising its true nature under a thin veneer of over-exuberance expressed in apparent cheerful art, style and design.

Besides an honours degree in psychology and a journalism degree I also dabbled post-graduately in science fiction and looking at the representation of different utopian and distopian visions of the future. Simply because i wanted to. I just love this kind of stuff and can honestly talk and dissect it for hours.

The website is cool and contains hidden features. Try and keep the sound on to get the full effect.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why Carte Blanche's Derek Watts is looking at his watch - and why the respected M-Net TV presenter is absolutely allowed to.

If you blinked, you would have missed it, but Carte Blanche's Derek Watts Sunday night at 20:00 on M-Net looked down and looked at his watch to see what time it is live on the air just before the credits rolled.

It was either a ''is this show finally over?'', ''quick-quick, I must get somewhere'' or a ''did we manage to finish this episode at exactly the right time or did we go over?'' moment. And it was wonderful.

While looking at your watch on television is and has always been a super strict no-no in television production protocol, if there is one TV presenter in South Africa who can gladly do it, it's Derek Watts. His affable, real, very natural and completely at ease demeanour on live television in Carte Blanche is as enjoyable to watch as it is earned. After so many years, he gets a free pass and is gracefully allowed.

The majority of TV personalities, especially on live or live to tape TV shows fail to just be unflappably themselves. They are either dreadfully boring like news readers, overly express with too dramatic facials like Top Billing, or they look as if they're going to burst from hyped up fake-friendliness like YO.TV presenters who need some Ritalin.

Derek Watts is and remain just completely normal. He's like your highly trusted friend at the weekend braai who stands and tells you stuff you didn't actually know - and who you absolutely believe when he tells you what's happened the past week.

Who haven't stood around a braai, wondered if you still have time to tell or listen to one more story, and then looked down at your watch? Look at your watch all you want Derek Watts. You've long ago earned the right to do so.

[By the way, Derek Watts on Sunday night in Carte Blanche willingly shared that he's lost 8kg on the ''diet'' - or more aptly called the ''eating plan'' - of prof. Tim Noakes of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa in Cape Town.]

TopTV's interim CEO Eddie Mbalo says previous CEO Vino Govender 'had no broadcasting experience' and TopTV needs cash.

TopTV's previous CEO Vino Govender had no broadcasting experience and the struggling pay TV operator needs cash but is not ''cash-strapped''.

Eddie Mbalo, the interim CEO of TopTV who took over from Vino Govender told Jeremy Maggs of Maggs on Media on the eNews Channel that ''this was someone who had no background in broadcasting television at all''.

''Maybe we should not have launched at the time when we did. Launching at that time came with its own challenges. The response from the public was great and I think we got overwhelmed. Vino [Govender] was great for the launch but I think now we've got to take it to the next level.''

Eddie Mbalo said TopTV currently has ''about 360 000 decoders out there. We have about 140 000 to 150 000 paying subcribers on a daily basis''.

Asked about MultiChoice he said he doesn't see MultiChoice's DStv platform as competition, although he believes that MultiChoice is not playing fair.

''I don't even see MultiChoice as our competitor. We look at a specific segment of the market and that is not MultiChoice's market.''

On Maggs on Media he accused MultiChoice of not playing fair saying ''the regulator and the government allowed for a second pay TV operator and then they used their dominance to actually try and crush any other player''. Jeremy Maggs asked him to explain and he said MultiChoice tried to crush TopTV by launching the cheap DStv Lite bouquet. ''We think that was trying to anticipate our launch'', saying that ''that wasn't fair play''.

Eddie Mbalo said that TopTV is looking at MultiChoice's content acquisition strategies, their sports acquisitions, ''at how they've managed to close access to content, locally but also internationally.'' He said TopTV is however not talking to the Competition Commission. ''We are at the moment looking at our own business, we're looking at the weaknesses, and the opportunities that exist and that is our focus at this time.''

''Content is what keeps people watching. People are excited to buy the decoder but once they tune in, if the content doesn't appeal and resonate with their emotions, then we have to relook. We should become an alternative to what is available.''

For TopTV porn is possibly still an option despite the negative publicity and shareholders who threatened to disinvest.

Jeremy Maggs asked Eddie Mbalo whether TopTV have thoroughly researched subscribers about the need for the pornographic channels TopTV planned to launch but the application which was denied by the broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

''We're getting feedback. We have not gone out to do scientific research but we're looking at the feedback we're getting. People want choice,'' said Eddie Mbalo.

He said the TopTV board and shareholders will decide if TopTV is again going to try and make a push for the porn bouquet and appeal the Icasa decision. ''That decision will be made by the board''.

Eddie Mbalo said ''pursuing commercial advertising should not be our focus at this point in time. Our focus at this point is to acquire more subscribers and to retain the ones we have.  If we provide current subscribers the content that they want to see …  the truth of the matter is South Africans want to see more of themselves, so local content is an area where we are going to be competitive.''

Asked about the financial health of TopTV, Eddie Mbalo said ''we need cash at the moment. We are not in a cash crisis, but moving forward we might have to go to our shareholders and ask for more money.''

BREAKING. New local reality cooking show with Justin Bonello, Ultimate Braai Master, coming to SABC3 from September.

A new local reality cooking show is coming to South African television with Ultimate Braai Master which will start on SABC3 in September with Justin Bonello and South Africans who would now be able to enter for the show.

The original reality TV cooking competition will start on SABC3 on 13 September with 15 teams of two contestants each consisting of a Braai Master and a Braai Buddy. In Ultimate Braai Master contestants will battle it out over 52 days in a culinary adventure that includes 13 location based challenges over 8 000km.

Justin Bonello already has 5 seasons of Cooked under his belt as well as four best-selling cookbooks and says he wants to produce a local reality TV show that will ''showcase the beauty, diversity, unique flavours and local delicacies that characterise some of South Africa's best off-the-beaten track locations''.

''But Ultimate Braai Master isn't going to be a picnic,” he says. ''To earn The Ultimate Braai Master title, teams will have to sign up for a 52 day road trip, during which time they'll be expected to occasionally catch their own food, source their ingredients under the toughest conditions, and cook to a standard of culinary excellence that will thrill our judges and raise the bar on the kinds of meals that can be produced on an open fire.''

Ultimate Braai Master is open to all those food lovers who consider themselves above average cooks, aged 18 years and older, with a valid driver's license. Contestants will be able to enter online at from Monday 26 March until Monday 27 April.

Shortlisted contestants will be put through their paces at three regional auditions in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg in May, where Justin Bonello together with the Ultimate Braai Master judges will select the final 15 teams.

Filming for Ultimate Braai Master will start in July and the finale of the show starting in September will be shown on SABC3 on 6 December.

BREAKING. Dr Michael Mol getting his own TV talk show, The Dr Mol Show, on SABC3 with a live studio audience from 6 April.

Dr Michael Mol of Top Billing fame and the medical magazine show Hello Doctor on SABC3 is getting his own TV talk show, The Dr Mol Show on the same channel with a live studio audience when the show also moves from Sundays to Fridays from Friday 6 April at 15:45 with a repeat on Sundays at 16:00.

Hello Doctor which started a year ago on SABC3 will change to The Dr Mol Show with Michael Mol still dispensing medical and healthy lifestyle advice as well as talk to personalities, but from now on in front of a live studio audience and with more specific topics.

I can reveal that Michael Mol recently visited Dr Mehmet Oz in New York - his talk show also shown on SABC3 and which will be reduced from 5 days a week to 4 to make space on Fridays for The Dr Mol Show - to hear from him how to do a successful medical talk show.

''His advice to me was - and he said he was told it by Oprah herself - is that people respond emotionally. Instead of a lot of charts and diagrams and lots of points - rather focus on less points and lists, choose one or two things, explain it visually and tell a story around it, since that is when people remember it,'' Michael Mol says.

The Dr Mol Show will be recorded in Cape Town sharing studio space with SABC3's morning breakfast show Expresso in the same Seapoint building. He jokes that he will deliver the pregnant Kia Johnson's baby live on air who is currently an Expresso presenter.

The Dr Mol Show will basically be more dynamic as Hello Doctor changes from a full magazine show to a talk show with magazine show elements.

''The interesting profiles of people sharing their own stories, struggles and challenges will still be there as inserts but having a studio audience brings a liverier dynamic to the show and people to interact with,'' says Michael Mol.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Oprah Winfrey goes insane! Starts physically attacking guests and throwing punches in a hilarious Jimmy Kimmel skit.

Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey went ballistic, punching a guy out, breaking a vase over his head, head-butting a woman and physically attacking several more whilst screaming madly.

Oprah Winfrey in a physical fight is one in a set of hilarious comedic sketches which are part of a funny skit from the American late night host Jimmy Kimmel who had the talk show host on as a guest recently.

Jimmy Kimmel suggested show ideas for Oprah Winfrey's struggling Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), and she gleefully played along enacting the various hilarious send-up show ideas such as Oprah Repos Her Favorite Things (in which audience members who cried when they got free stuff cry again when Oprah goes to take it back).

In Oprah's Book Club Fight Club she starts to fight with her guests in similar physical style to The Jerry Springer Show in a way viewers have never seen her do before.

The Jimmy & Oprah Interview had both of them interview celebrity guests (in this case Jennifer Aniston) which turns into a fight over her attention and asking her questions at the same time.

In Oprah After Dark, which plays like a seedy porno, Jimmy Kimmel, complete with porn-stache walks in with just a towel (which he drops) while Oprah is taking a bath.

He also suggest - following in the footsteps of Dr Oz and Dr Phil - his own doctor show, Dr Vajayjay and Two and a Half Stedman - before Oprah Winfrey presses a secret red button on her desk and launches Jimmy Kimmel like a rocket out of her office.

The video has since gone viral.

More iCarly, The Fairly Odd Parents, SpongeBob Squarepants and other shows as Nickelodeon renews and announces new shows.

Nickelodeon (DStv 305) announced several renewals of shows and new episodes of estabished kids hits, as well as several new shows and made-for-TV movies for the coming year.

Nickelodeon in America unveiled plans for 650 new episodes of existing shows as well as new productions - most of which will eventually be seen on Nickelodeon in South Africa as well.

Highlights include the new animated series The Legend of Korra; a stop-motion SpongeBob SquarePants Christmas special; original primetime TV movies; Hollywood Heights (formerly known as Reach for a Star); an original animated series based on the Raving Rabbids video games and of course the return of the brand-new CG-animated TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) series on Nickelodeon.

''Kids have a ferocious appetite for new content and it is our intention to serve them more, innovative work than ever before,'' said Cyma Zarghami, the president of Viacom's Nickelodeon Group in a press statement. ''We are tapping into new sources and proven hit-makers to maintain our position as the top entertainment brand for kids and families.''

Nickelodeon has new episodes of returning hit series including SpongeBob SquarePants, T.U.F.F. Puppy, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, The Penguins of Madagascar, The Fairly Odd Parents and The Winx Club.

There is also The Legend of Korra in which the mythology of the beloved animated franchise from Avatar: The Last Airbender continues. The series centers around a new Avatar named Korra, a 17-year-old girl who is on a quest to become a fully realized Avatar in a world where benders are under attack.

Monsters vs. Aliens is the new animated television series marking the third partnership between Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation for 26 episodes and based on the popular characters from the 2009 blockbuster film. Robot & Monster also has 26 episodes and is set in a unique world where gangs of Howling Cyber Monkeys roam the streets at night, everybody loves bacon, and robots and monsters live side by side, but don't get along.

There's also more episodes of iCarly, Victorious, Big Time Rush and Supah Ninjas on Nickelodeon. There will be a 3rd installment of the Fred movies – Fred Goes to Camp, as well as a further 28 additional 11-minute episodes of Fred: The Show.

Rags is a music-infused modern-day fairy tale two-hour original TV movie about Charlie Prince (Max Schneider), an orphan living with his acerbic and unloving stepfather and spoiled stepbrothers, whose dream of being a singer might come true once he meets pop star Kadee Worth (KeKe Palmer).

Britain's ITV Studios to follow the successful Downton Abbey with another period drama, Mr. Selfridge.

The United Kingdom's ITV responsible for the brilliant Downton Abbey which South African viewers can see currently on BBC Entertainment (DStv 120, Sundays, 20:30) is making another British period drama entitled Mr. Selfridge that's based on Harry Gordon Selfridge, the entrepeneur who created the department store Selfridge's.

Mr. Selfridge is a ITV Studios production and is set in London in 1909 when a new consumerism swept Britain and women started frequenting shops and department stores with disposable income.

The TV drama is based on the book Shopping, Seduction And Mr Selfridge by Lindy Woodhead. Production on the show will start next month with Kate Lewis as the executive producer.

The first season of Mr. Selfridge will have 10 episodes.

FIRST LOOK. The new Green Arrow with Stephen Amell which could become a new TV drama.

The very first image was just released of the new Green Arrow as he will be seen in the new pilot episode of Arrow, which could maybe become a new TV show.

The publicity photo from the CW network shows actor Stephen Amell who will play the title role, should the show be picked up. The character was of course made famous the past few years by Justin Hartley in Smallville.

Greg Berlanti is the writer. The drama will follow the comic book character's lore book as billionaire playboy Oliver Queen who got marooned on an island and who returns on a mysterious way a few years later with a new (mysterious) purpose - as well as new skills to fight crime as a caped crusader.

BREAKING. Mark Thompson, the director-general of the BBC, leaving after the 2012 Olympic Games.

Rumoured for a few months to happen and probably tht worst kept secret in the British television biz, Mark Thompson, the longest serving director-general of the BBC told the British Broadcasting Corporation's personnel today in an open letter serving as a statement that he will resign and leave after the 2012 Olympic Games.

''This morning I told Lord Patten that I believe that an appropriate time for me to hand over to a successor and to step down as director-general of the BBC would be the autumn of this year, once the Olympics and the rest of the amazing summer of 2012 are over,'' Mark Thompson writes.

He became director-general of the BBC in 2004. ''I've always been on the side of change because I believe that, in the middle of a media revolution, change is the only way of safeguarding what is so precious about the BBC. But change always brings disruption and uncertainty in its wake – and I do want to say a particular thank you to everyone who has worked with me in the difficult task of transforming the BBC,'' he writes.

''Now more than ever, to audiences at home and abroad the BBC is the best broadcaster in the world. It's been a great privilege helping you to keep the BBC in that top spot over the past eight years.
I’m not off just yet though and I'm looking forward to working with you over the coming months, as we prepare for the amazing summer of 2012 – as well as for the long-term future, and continued success, of the BBC.''

BREAKING. Pierre Cloete is M-Net's new Director: M-Net Movie Channels from April in newly created executive position.

You're reading it here first.

Pierre Cloete is M-Net's new director for all of M-Net's current (and soon coming, and expanding, genre specific movie channels - read that story here) movie channels.

M-Net just announced that Pierre Cloete is the pay TV broadcaster's new director: M-Net Movie Channels - a newly created job which M-Net advertiser in December. Pierre Cloete is currently the channel head for the M-Net channel (DStv 101) and M-Net HD (DStv 170).

Since Pierre Cloete applied for this new position, he's basically being promoted. He will take up the job on 1 April. I'm told that the position of M-Net channel head will now be vacant; M-Net will be advertising for that position now.

M-Net insiders told me recently the new high-level job has been created in part for the major expansion of new M-Net movie channels coming - the first of which are envisioned for September. This will form part of a major realignment of ''genre''-fication of the existing and to-start movie channels to follow the Sky model in channel clustering in Britain. The position has been created specifically because of the much greater product offering and wider scope for which M-Net will require a specifically responsible executive.

''Pierre Cloete will be spearheading a brand new M-Net business unit, which will focus solely on the acquisition and scheduling of movies for the M-Net family of channels,'' says M-Net in a statement.

''M-Net is delighted to welcome this dynamic television expert to our executive team,'' says Patricia Scholtemeyer, M-Net CEO in the statement. [Note that Patricia Scholtemeyer is the person quoted in the press release; when I wrote about this in December, I said the person in this new position which M-Net is creating is going to be an executive who will be directly answerable to her.]

''He has excelled in the fields of both marketing and channel management and has proven to be a respected leader in our business. We are confident that he will take one of M-Net's bigger properties – our movies – to the next level,'' says Patricia Scholtemeyer.

Pierre Cloete who started his TV career in South Africa as a promo producer for Rapid Blue on the SuperSport account joined SuperSport in 1996. In 2006 he became M-Net's marketing manager for local productions and in 2008 his portfolio increased to include the marketing of M-Net's international programming, as well as M-Net Movies 1 and M-Net Movies 2. From there he became channel head of M-Net and M-Net HD.

''I am honoured to have been part of M-Net's magical history for 15 years and look forward to the next chapter in my career. M-Net viewers love their movies and this new movie division will invest plenty of energy to enhance everyone's viewing experience.''

[Editor's note: I've come to know Pierre Cloete as I've did several M-Net executives over the past years, he always says yes for interviews whether it's official or whether I ask him if I can ask him a few questions and record him when I run into him at a cocktail TV biz party. He always handles all my toughest questions beautifully and will always answer. I saw him as recently as this past Thursday in Johannesburg at the MasterChef South Africa press launch; I think he's very professional, he definitely struck me as an executive who knows his stuff and television long ago; I think it's a great appointment. Congratulations, Pierre Cloete.]