Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Lani Lombard leaves a lasting legacy as M-Net's head of publicity exits after 25 years: Read the moving, touching and funny tributes.

by Thinus Ferreira

Say the name "Lani Lombard" and if you've worked in South African television or covered it as media over the course of the past quarter of a century, you know exactly who she is - the gatekeeper supremo and publicist to TV's biggest shows and stars who is exiting her apex position as publicist after 25 years at M-Net.

Lani Lombard started at M-Net in 1996 as scriptwriter in the marketing department. Remember the M-Net continuity presenters? She wrote what they told you. 

As the decades rolled by, first doing publicity for the myriad of M-Net's local shows of which Who Wants to be a Millionaire? was her first, then kykNET when that channel started to do its marketing and publicity, back to M-Net as publicity manager, then doing M-Net corporate communication as head of corporate communications, and eventually ascending to the pinnacle as head of publicity at M-Net, absolutely nobody's deep contact list, expansive industry relations, insider acumen or publicity star-making power even remotely compared to hers.

Lani Lombard has been the publicist in South Africa's television everybody working in PR aspired to be.

From her tour de force pitch-perfect press conferences, to her often-imitated but never equalled "Hollywood-in-SA" TV upfronts, press junkets and set visits, when it came to drumming up publicity for M-Net shows and stars, there has always been Lani Lombard - and then the rest.

South Africa's TV industry, the journalists and media covering it, and those who have worked with Lani Lombard over many, many years are weighing in with tributes:

Since joining M-Net 25 years ago, Lani Lombard has worked tirelessly to ensure M-Net – which now broadcasts the best international and local content - is widely recognised as the most thrilling and informative channel on DStv. 
Her role has been pivotal to the channel’s growth and positioning amongst its audience. We thank Lani for her tireless efforts and commitment to M-Net and MultiChoice over the years. We wish her all the best in her future endeavours.

Jan du Plessis, director: M-Net channels
Lani Lombard has been an integral part and driving force behind the M-Net Publicity machine.
Over the years she not only passionately protected the M-Net Brand, but was a shining example to the industry of the power of great, innovative and strategic publicity. 
She has also demonstrated great passion for our local productions, especially the Talent and is endeared in the hearts of many. Through her effortless work we all started to understand the true value of publicity’s contribution to the success of our content. I will personally miss her and wish her well.

Cathy Pinnock, CEO YIP Photography
Lani was our beacon of shining light at M-Net, I still remember the first time we met her, almost 20years ago in the first of her 25 offices in the Magic Centre building.
We had always worked on Idols and she had just come over from kykNET. She welcomed us with open arms and a big smile, after which followed many, many years of shows, interventions, syndications and fun times.
Lani Lombard is one of those people who everybody just lives. I'm sure her infectious laughter and incredible work ethic will be truly missed in the office. Lani, I have a feeling that you are going to be truly happy in the next phase of your life. Much gratitude for having had the opportunity to work with you for all of these years.

Lucia Poolman, tvplus editor
Lani Lombard leaving M-Net is a huge loss for the industry. I've worked with her for many years, and she's always been the perfect example of professionalism and elegance. Since my days as a young reporter at Beeld, she treated every media inquiry with the importance it needed. 
When I worked at Huisgenoot, we got to know each other very well when Nick Greyling, a SuperSport employee was kidnapped in Nigeria in 2010. 
Lani handled the complex situation expertly with the required sensitivity during my interview with his wife. Being editor of tvplus for the last couple of years, I’ve always known Lani Lombard was just a phone call away to clear up a situation or intervene when necessary. She was always on the ball and often pre-empted questions and avoided conflict. Her honesty was appreciated – something I will dearly miss.
I can speak for the whole team that we will remember her fondly, that she set the bar high and that we will always be grateful for her the way she conducted business.

Buhle Mbonambi, Independent Media Food & Drinks editor
Lani Lombard is an institution at M-Net. Few of us even know M-Net without her being part of the company. I guess we got a taste of it when she was on sabbatical a few years ago and it was rather strange. 
She has been a very impactful publicist and will go down in history as one of the best to do it in South Africa. 
I have been impressed by how professional she has always been. Whether it was the many on-set visits, media upfronts or just her sending a mail or a text to say thank you, she always made sure that she was professional and treated you with respect. 
Together with the team she worked with at M-Net, she has set the standard for TV publicity. I am confident that she leaves a very capable team of publicists who are already making sure that her legacy remains almost perfect. 
She will be missed. I personally am grateful for her years at M-Net and will forever treasure the working relationship we have built over the past decade.

Terence Pillay, TV & radio presenter Pillay Media
I met Lani Lombard under funny circumstances. I was writing a column for The Mercury in Durban and renamed an M-Net show, calling Project Fame, Project Shame, because I had such huge problems with the show.
“Get him up to a live show and let him experience it full-on,” she said to one of her minions. I was on the next flight out, and met her in person at the show, which I still ended up hating. But as they say, the rest is history. I was in awe of this woman who ran the publicity department at M-Net like a well-disciplined army!  
That was about 17 years ago. We bonded over all things television and she and I became not just work colleagues but really good friends. Soon after that meeting I began working on an M-Net show called Studio 53 and often saw Lani in the hallowed halls of M-Net. 
But I was also still writing and working on radio, so I would use these opportunities to pitch her exclusive interview ideas. It was a win-win. She would allow me room to conduct the interviews the way I wanted, but kept an eagle eye on it nonetheless.
Lani and I also travelled a lot on media trips, obviously with a media contingent, but she always managed to take care of each one like we were the only ones travelling together. This is why she so supremely good at her job. She understands the journalist as much as she does the importance of garnering good media and strikes a very genuine balance between the two. 
And of course she knows and  respects the deadline, which invariably saw us doing radio interviews while she was in a salon straightening her hair or at an airport racing to catch a connecting flight and once on a rickety bus hurtling down the streets of Lagos!
Lani is exceptional at what she does – and her job has not always been easy. She’s had to navigate some, let’s say, dubious, personalities in the media over the years, but always did it with such grace and professionalism.
I’m very sad that she will be leaving M-Net and I have to say, it’s going to be a huge loss. While they have some remarkable people in their publicity department, there can only be one Lani Lombard. I wish her colossal success in whatever she tackles next.

Yvonne Beyers, Huisgenoot editor
When I started working as a journalist one of the very first contact numbers I got and filed was the one of a certain Lani Lombard - then still the spokesperson for kykNET.
And what a wonderful contact and friend Lani became over all of the many years!
I once joked with her and said that when you'd call the M-Net office in the middle of the night, she would answer the landline - she was absolutely always busy with work, and so truly excited about the next big show or series. Lani talked about every new project like it's a great new adventure. She made it sound irresistible.
When I think of Lani, I think of the seriousness with which she listens, I think of her bright eyes, and I think of her specific laugh with which she would say: "I want to quickly tell you something else at M-Net, and it's very exciting".
I honestly wish her just the very best with whatever she does next and I know that as with everything she sets her mind to, it will be a great, big new adventure.

Louise MacAuliffe, multimedia videographer
I met Lani Lombard over a decade ago and my life has never been the same since. What an incredible woman. 
People talk about dynamite coming in small packages - well Lani explodes with that same amount of force, energy and enthusiasm, with regards to absolutely everything that she does. 
One of my high lights of spending time with her, was when we travelled to Survivor SA island, when it was being filmed in the Maldives. I was part of a group of journalists who were going to get to discover the true struggle of what it is like to survive there. It was truly incredible and quite funny too, as the journalists, besides one other and myself, all wanted to go home after just one night on the island. 
Lani has always been very gracious and just makes everyone around her feel very comfortable. She had her serious moments too when she had to pull in the reigns - always keeping it professional. 
It is hard to believe that she will not be around anymore when we are invited to activations regarding the future programming at M-Net. 
One thing I do know is that I definitely want to find a way to stay in touch with her. Lani will always be someone that I will go out of my way for. She never deserves to be let down. She formed many great friendships with many journalists in the time that I have known her - I hope that I hold a special place in her life, just like she does in my heart. 

Donald Clarke, director and showrunner
I first worked with Lani Lombard on the very first series of Survivor South Africa. 
We were out in the middle of nowhere, Panama to be exact, and she was very much out of her comfort zone but I soon realised that Lani was incredibly resilient. 
As a young director, I quickly learned to trust Lani's intuition about the audience, she knew the M-Net audience inside out and became really important in checking whether the editorial decisions were made were the right ones.
Since then I have come to have massive admiration for Lani and any cursory glance at her black book of media contacts would show that she is a formidable publicist. 
Lani Lombard knew every journalist by name, she knew where they came from and she knew exactly what they needed for their publications. And she managed to hang on to these relationships in a way that developed fierce loyalty from them and with everyone she worked with. 
Her press events and launches were clever, effective and fun. We're about to head into the next season of The Bachelorette SA and I shudder to think of doing it without Lani!

Barbara Hollands, journalist
I got to know Lani Lombard when she worked for kykNET many years ago and I was a TV writer for the Daily Dispatch.
Right from the start, I was drawn to not only to her extraordinary professionalism, creativity and helpfulness, but also her lovely friendly nature and lack of pretension, all of which reeled me in to become a devoted Lani fan.
Lani Lombard dealt with so many TV journalists over the years and made us all feel we were her favourite! But it was just that unique Lani magic casting it's spell on us. 
She is shy yet outgoing, confident yet vulnerable and these characteristics draw people to her - from the lowly journo to the smooth-talking TV star and cutting edge producer.
I have shared so many unforgettable M-Net moments thanks to Lani and her team. She is the ultimate publicist. I have never met another like her. I am so sorry to see you go, dear Lani. Whatever you do next will be injected with your magic.

INTERVIEW. ‘Pilgrim’ Erns Grundling on his latest Elders journey on kykNET and finding new hope hiking through SA.

by Thinus Ferreira

Despite Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa, Erns Grundling keeps on walking in the new third season of his Elders series on kykNET as he this time undertakes the Pilgrimage of Hope across 13 episodes in one of the most scenic parts of South Africa.

I spoke with him as he talks about this local pilgrimage route that's not that well known, the challenges of organising and filming it during the lockdown period, his fellow travellers who join him for part of the route, and finding new hope and inspiration along the way.

The title of the show is Elders: Pelgrimstog van Hoop, in Afrikaans with English subtitles. When I saw it, I thought the name was the show's choice but the Pilgrimage of Hope route really exists in South Africa. What is the Pilgrimage of Hope and how does the route work?
Erns Grundling: The Pilgrimage of Hope actually began in October 2014. A Stellenbosch theologian, Frederick Marais went to go and walk the Camino in Spain in 2012 with his daughter. 

He was so impressed and inspired by the Camino in Spain and he was looking to see if there isn't potential for a similar route in South Africa - not necessarily a copy of the Camino in Spain because you can't just copy-and-paste it.

He investigated a possible route through the Cape Winelands and Overberg that also snake past some of the oldest churches in the Western Cape - in Spain you also walk through towns filled with church buildings and cathedrals - and that was his guiding principle.

In 2014 he first recce'd and walked the route and he started in Robertson. But now you can start the route in either Stellenbosch or Robertson and hopefully eventually in Cape Point. The idea is that you walk over a period of 15 or 20 days, depending on your starting point, over 300km or 350km, and then you reach the endpoint at Cape Agulhas at the lighthouse.

When you walk in Spain you can nowadays also walk to Finisterre that is also by the sea and there's also a beautiful old lighthouse. So in a way the two routes are talking a bit with each other.

The past 5 years the Pilgrimage of Hope is been unknown and under the radar. Very few people known about it. About 100 and 200 people have so far completed the route but we hope that with the TV show it will bring it under the attention of more people who will undertake this journey in future because it's really a fantastic route.

How did you discover it?
Erns Grundling: In 2015 I walked the Camino in Spain myself and in 2017 my book Elders appeared. At the end of 2017 I went back and filmed Elders: Die Camino which was the first season and was on kykNET from January 2018.

During that period Frederick Marais invited me for coffee in Stellenbosch and in February 2018 he told me about this route and gave me a guide book and one of the red hats that is a symbol of the pilgrimage and I then already wanted to go and walk it and maybe do a magazine article about it.

Then I went to Japan for another Elders season and my whole plan with Elders has always been that it's more focused on overseas experiences and overseas hiking trails. 

Then Covid-19 and lockdown happened, and I thought again: Isn't now a good time to do the Pilgrimage of Hope especially in such a confusing year? So that's why I went and did it in June this year.

What were the challenges doing this and organising this during the Covid-19 pandemic and undertaking this project and journey?
Erns Grundling: Initially there were just challenges. When we got greenlit for the season we basically had 10 days to do the pre-production, so it was crazy because it was during May and it was still very much during Stage 4 lockdown during which we had to do our planning.

You call a guest house because I had a team of 4 with me - two camera operators, a director and a soundman. So the 5 of us have to at least sleep somewhere when we've been walking and working the whole day.

You can a guest house and initially, they're so elated that somebody wants to come and stay. Then they get scared because it's against the rules and regulations. Luckily we had our paperwork all set. We obtained an essential services permit to film and with it we had no problem to stay at places.

Luckily we also started filming on 1 June which was the first day of Stage 3 so it helped a bit. We had one support vehicle that Frankie Opperman, our director, was driving. But I don't think there was another kombi in the Western Cape at that stage with more masks and sanitisers inside than our crew.

The biggest challenge of this season was that not a single one of us 5 could get Covid-19 or show any symptoms. 

We had to be so extremely careful because the slightest symptom could have sunk the whole production. The further we went and the more we filmed ... later on we almost became paranoid at a stage thinking that if one of us were to fall ill we would have had to do 2 weeks of contact tracing and let everyone know that someone is ill. And we met so many people along the route.

Who will viewers meet who you walk with distance with and who do you talk to?
Ernst Grundling: With the previous seasons in Spain and Japan you always get fellow pilgrims and people you meet along the way which is part of the spontaneous nature of the show. You meet someone and you start a conversation.

Of course during the time Elders: Pelgrimstog van Hoop was filmed there was nobody else with a red hat on, on the route. So for content you had to plan because I couldn't walk alone for 13 episodes, you don't want viewer to fall asleep watching you walk on your own!

I invited a few people who've always inspired me and people who I know like hiking and walking. People who viewers might recognise and will know is TV presenter Kabous Meiring, the writer Dana Snyman, and the former newspaper editor and TV presenter Bun Booyens.

What's nice is that I could also invite people who had appeared in previous Elders seasons to come during lockdown to walk a bit and talk like Johan Symington the well-known reverend, the Springbok player Duane Vermeulen who I last saw in Japan who joined me in Hermanus, and singer and presenter Lynelle Kenned who've previously walked the Camino.

Rapper Hemelbesem met me in Genadendal that is also a famous and historical place as far as South Africa's history is concerned. It was wonderful to talk to him there.

The Elders: Pelgrimstog van Hoop season produced by Bonanza Films looks extremely cinematic with beautiful vistas and landscape shots. How did the filming technology change since you did Elders: Die Camino?
Erns Grundling: With all of the seasons we've been lucky to always have two camera operators that's a huge asset because you are somewhat limited with just one cameraman.

I definitely think being able to do some shots with a drone - especially given the landscape here in South Africa where we are so blessed with a landscape in the Overberg district that's very similar with the landscape in rural Spain - was wonderful to capture.

We had two very young cameramen - neither of whom are 30. One of them, Jaen Kleynhans, was also with me in Japan. They have some of the best camera equipment but I don't wear a fancy new GoPro when I jump into a dam.

What we also have for the first time with this Elders season is a dedicated soundman that enhanced the production values.

What new insights or perspectives about life, humanity, nature, the world of the Western Cape did you come to during this season?
Ernst Grundling: Often when you think about the world "elders" (elsewhere), you think of it as a place away from where you are; it's far away.

With previous season you go and find elsewhere in a faraway or a big historical place like the Spanish Camino, or you go to a more exotic and different faraway place like Japan. 

What really inspired me with the filming of Elders: Pelgrimstog van Hoop was just the wonderful treasure buried right in our own backyard - not just in terms of the nature of the Cape Winelands and Overberg but also the stories and the people that are incredibly inspiring especially during this lockdown period.

The historical legacy especially along this route also makes you think anew about what it really means to be a South African. 

That this route leads you all the way to the most southern point of Africa for me also led to a renewed reevaluation of the continent of Africa - the place where we live and where we find our way. It gives new hope - not just for me but for the whole of South Africa and its people.

For possible future Elders seasons is it something you'd consider - to tackle routes elsewhere in Africa or South Africa?
Erns Grundling: We still have one eye overseas. I would love to still go and do a season in Patagonia - there are wonderful routes there. Also China. I don't know if I'd be able to walk the whole of the Great Wall of China but maybe parts of it.

Given the uncertainty around travel now and into the future and the cost of flights I'm very open to look at hiking seasons within South Africa and maybe in neighbouring countries. 

It might not be so easy again to find a focused, existing pilgrimage route where you journey towards a specific place but there are so many wonderful 5-day routes that all have such amazing stories and characters along the way that I think there's definitely potential for further seasons.

Elders: Pelgrimstog van Hoop with Ernst Grundling starts on kykNET (DStv 144) on Wednesday 30 September at 20:00.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

MultiChoice and M-Net put Bolhuis back for broadcast on kykNET schedule after racism scandal.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice and M-Net have placed the show Bolhuis back on the kykNET (DStv 144) schedule with the canned show resurfacing a year after a racism scandal led the pay-TV service to abruptly drop its broadcast over highly offensive remarks and racist comments by the disgraced private detective Mike Bolhuis - including the "K"-word - that MultiChoice said was "unacceptable".

kykNET is suddenly once again going to broadcast Bolhuis, produced by Rian van Heerden, announcing that second season of the show will start on Thursday 15 October at 20:00.

It comes after a flurry of racist slurs and derogatory remarks made by Mike Bolhuis in audio recordings - including using the "k"-word - surfaced in mid-2019 from the private investigator and kykNET reality star.

Last year, just before the second season of Bolhuis was set to air, MultiChoice said in a statement that "Mike Bolhuis had conducted certain conversations in which he expressed himself in a discriminatory manner, which is unacceptable to MultiChoice".

"MultiChoice is committed to the building of a non-racial society and strongly condemns any acts of discrimination. In the circumstances, we resolved that programming in the second season of the Bolhuis series, in which Mike Bolhuis is the central figure would not be broadcast."

Bolhuis also disappeared from the DStv Now's Catch Up service and the Showmax subscription video-on-demand service run by MultiChoice's Connected Video division.

Now kykNET has quietly added Bolhuis back to its broadcast schedule with the programme and M-Net that will again earn money through it from DStv subscribers and advertisers, as well as further exposure to the detective.

kykNET in response to a media enquiry from TVwithThinus, asking why Bolhuis is now again going to be broadcast, said that "Following the public release of a voice note where presenter and private investigator Mike Bolhuis used derogatory language, he apologised to the public, the channel and the CEO of the MultiChoice Group".

Karen Meiring, director of M-Net's kykNET channels, says Mike Bolhuis "has taken steps in his personal life to not only reflect but use his platform to support and promote diversity and inclusion".

"One of these examples will be covered in an episode of the new season that will be broadcast on kykNET in October 2020. While the incident was indeed unacceptable and deplorable, his unconditional apology has been accepted."

In June this year kykNET was also in hot water when another reality star uttered the "k"-word which led to mom Jana le Roux's dismissal from the show after she uttered the racial slur in the Red Pepper-produced Kwarantyn Afrikaans reality show.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Veteran SABC Xhosa newsreader and producer Linda Gqomfa has died.

by Thinus Ferreira

The veteran former SABC Xhosa newsreader and producer Linda Gqomfa is dead after a brief illness.

Linda Gqomfa died on Saturday and the cause of death is not know.

Linda Gqomfa previously worked as a Xhosa news bulletin reader for the South African public broadcaster's TV news as well as its Umhlobo Wenene FM radio station as a news reader but was also a producer for children and female-focused programming for many years. 

Later she worked as a communication officer for the South African Police service.

South Africa's department of sport, arts and culture in a statement said that it sends "heartfelt condolences to the family of veteran SABC news reader Linda Gqomfa".

Linda Gqomfa studied and qualified as a teacher, decided to study further to become a nurse but never finished and then got a part-time job in 1972 at the then Radio Xhosa doing a children's programme, Qashiqashi.

Linda Gqomfa left Radio Xhosa in 1982 to go and work at the SABC's children and female programming division.

She left the SABC 2 years later in 1984 to go into teaching.

In 1988 Linda Gqomfa returned to the SABC and the SABC News division as a Xhosa news reader for the Xhosa news on the then TV2 channel.

Besides being a Xhosa TV and radio newsreader Linda Gqomfa also became a producer of children and female-focused programming at the SABC and left in 2002 to join the South African police where she became part of the visible policing department, working in the Social Crime Prevention division. She retired from the police service in 2012.

In an interview with the I'zolezwe Xhosa newspaper in October 2019 she revealed that years ago she had written several long-form stories that she wish she could have adapted for television.

"I wish I could translate them for TV before I die but I will be tired and self-conscious and I will stop," she said.

Actor and writer Chris Majiedt dead at 67 after losing his battle with lung cancer.

by Thinus Ferreira

The actor and writer Chris Majiedt died on Thursday after he lost his battle with lung cancer. He was 67.

The Citrusdal-based actor had roles in various Afrikaans films ranging from Jakhalsdans (2010), Black Butterflies, and 'n Saak van Geloof (2011) to Lenteblom (2013). 

In 2008 he appeared in the Afrikaans TV miniseries Riemvasmaak as Mr Allemans.

Chris Majiedt excelled as a voice actor the past 7 years in Afrikaans radio dramas on the SABC's Afrikaans radio station RSG like Maria, moeder van God, Laat vrugte and Gert Garries: 'n Baasiekel-blues in which he voiced the role of Gert Garries.

In theatre, he appeared on stage in Die ander Marta., Melkbospassie, Bacchus in die Boland, Blou Laberint and several others.

Chris Majiedt qualifiedied as a carpenter in 1980 after being in the printing industry for 6 years. He did carpentry for more than 33 years but was constantly involved in entertainment as an amateur amateur as his passion.

During the 1970s and 1980s Chris Majiedt was a freelance singer with Rockets. 

He formed his own drama group, Skim, in Mitchell's Plain and brought to stage various of his own productions ranging from Dis Alweer die Bure, Houtjie van die Galg, Kortpad na die Dood and Huisie van Geloof.

In 2013 he won the second prize in the RSG-Sanlam drama writing competition for Slang in die Gras in which he also voiced a role in the radio drama.

Friday, September 18, 2020

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read - 18 September 2020.

Here's the latest news about TV that I read and that you should read too:  

■ Do you speak Fox News (StarSat 261)?
How Donald Trump's favourite TV channel became a language.

■ Pedro Pascal allegedly went cray-cray during filming of season 2 of Disney+'s Star Wars The Mandalorian and suddenly demanded to film scenes without his helmet on so that he can be seen.

Staffers who worked for Ellen DeGeneres detail how they had to sign contracts from which they couldn't quit, had to work until 11pm and weekends, were "blacklisted and fired" if they complained, extra freebies for top execs.

Reality TV used as filler on TV channel's schedules.

No more hair and make-up for guests.

Says Bloomberg TV (DStv 411 / StarSat 264) still has value but that business viewers have moved away from linear pay-TV.

'A big, unpredictable Zoom meeting': Everything you need to know about 2020's 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards and coverage on E! and M-Net.

by Thinus Ferreira

With "red carpet" coverage done from inside a studio kilometres away from the theatre, no Ryan Seacrest, and with no stars really even on a red carpet or inside a theatre, nominees and stars zooming in from their Hollywood mansions and host Jimmy Kimmel who will have to pad with jokes and be ready with impromptu banter if there are technical difficulties, 2020's 72nd Prime Emmy Awards on Monday will look and feel very different this year. 

Jimmy Kimmel is joking that the Emmys this year will look like "a big, unpredictable Zoom meeting".

Here's everything you need to know about this year's ceremony:

South African viewers will once again mainly be able to watch 2020's Emmy Awards coverage on E! (DStv 124) doing coverage and adapted "red carpet" coverage given the limitations and changes because of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, and the actual ceremony live very early on Monday morning and again during primetime on M-Net on the same day.

Saturday 19 September 2020
19:05: Daily Pop
A "Live Emmy Special" featuring co-hosts Carissa Culiner, Justin Sylvester, and Morgan Stewart discussing the upcoming 72nd Prime Emmy Awards. 

Monday 21 September 2020
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic E! will be doing Emmy Awards "red carpet" coverage but it will look and be very different this year.

22:30 - 00:00: E! Countdown to the Red Carpet: The 2020 Emmy Awards* E! (DStv 124)
Oddly this pre-show doesn't appear this year on MultiChoice's DStv electronic programme guide (EPG) or the latest amended September 2020 schedule NBCUniversal issues to the media. 

It is however once again being done and produced as part of E!'s Emmy coverage package from 16:30 in the United States and one of two things might happen: Over the weekend either the E! schedule and DStv guide will be updated to add and reflect this pre-show, or the schedule won't show it although it will be broadcast. 

If you're interested in it, tune to E! from 22:30 on Sunday night anyway, or just set a PVR recording. Although the schedule show titles won't match, you might end up seeing this show.

In this pre-show done live from the Universal Lot in Universal City, California, the Nightly Pop co-host Nina Parker, E! style correspondent Brad Goreski, The Rundown presenter Erin Lim, and actress Laverne Cox will be the presenters. 

Included in this coverage will be their countdown of 10 of the most anticipated Emmy nominees and their biggest moments.  

00:00 - 02:00: E! Live from the Red Carpet: The 2020 Primetime Emmy Awards E! (DStv 124)
(repeat: 09:25 - 11:15)
As the stars virtually come together for the Emmys, Giuliana Rancic will once again headline E!'s Live From The Red Carpet: The 2020 Emmy Awards with Vivica A. Fox replacing Ryan Seacrest.

The red carpet coverage will be done from the Universal Lot in Universal City, California and the two will bring viewers interviews with Hollywood stars and Emmy nominees.

02:00 - 05:00: 72 Primetime Emmy Awards (live) M-Net (DStv 101)
There will be no beautiful people in tuxes or glam dresses and no real red carpet but there will still be a large production team at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, using the theatre as the "production base" from which to do the Emmys broadcast this year with Jimmy Kimmel as the host.

Over 130 cameras have been shipped out across America and across the world and set up in the homes of nominees and stars in 20 cities and 10 countries. 

Nominees were sent a ring light, a laptop computer, a boom mic and a camera. They haven't been given any dress code.

On Wednesday during a virtual media briefing with the press the Emmy producers said they fully expect and are prepared for things to go wrong since there are so many moving parts and say they will adapt in the best way possible in the moment, with Jimmy Kimmel that will take it in his stride as everyone work together to broadcast the Emmys in the best way possible under the circumstances.

There will be 26 categories.

21:30 - 00:25: 72 Primetime Emmy Awards (primetime) M-Net (DStv 101)
The "cleaned-up" recorded broadcast for primetime with proper breaks.

Tuesday 22 September 2020
14:40: Daily Pop E! (DStv 124)
Co-hosts Justin Sylvester and Carissa Culiner take a look back at the 72nd Emmy Awards, the looks, the interviews, the winners and snubs, with commentary about the big moments and newsmakers.

22:00: Nightly Pop E! (DStv 124)
Co-hosts Morgan Stewart, Nina Parker and Hunter March break down the 72nd Emmy Awards with their unfiltered views and commentary about the ceremony.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read - 16 September 2020.

Here's the latest news about TV that I read and that you should read too:  

■ The Crown on Netflix will show Princess Diana's heartbreaking battle with bulimia.
Could set up a clash between Netflix and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and their multi-million contract with the video streamer.

■ Donald Trump announces that he's getting weekly showtime on Fox News (StarSat 261) as bewildered Fox News hosts say it's fake news.

■ American anchor Jim Cramer on CNBC (DStv 410) calls Nancy Pelosi "Crazy Nancy" on TV ... in her face.
Meanwhile CNN (DStv 401) is getting sued.

■ Nigerian filmmakers are risking jail with their lesbian film Ike.
Nigeria's Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) is monitoring and trying to prevent producer Pamela Adie and director Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim from screening and releasing their Yoruba-language film in the West African country.

■ South Park tackling the Covid-19 virus with its first hourlong episode.

■ I'm not interested. Bye," is all he has to say about it: Idols judge Somizi Mhlongo accused of stealing the Dinner with Somizi show idea on 1Magic (DStv 103) from Hastings Moeng (subscription required).
Producer says he send concept to Somizi in July 2014, and met with him and Dinner with Somizi executive producer Legend Manqele in 2016 to discuss putting the show together. Somizi's comment on the report is "I'm not interested. Bye."

■ Netflix's Ratched is wretched viewing; drama has no story to tell with incoherent characterisation and limited vision.

■ WWE trying to see if it can host WWE Raw and WWE SmackDown seen on SuperSport at outdoor venues in order to get people back to attend wrestling matches again.

■ Zambia praises China's StarTimes for funding its public broadcasting switch from analogue to digital terrestrial television broadcasting.

■ The shocking departure of Anna Faris from Mom seen on M-Net (DStv 101) is a nightmare for the comedy series.

■ John Cena shows off his shocking physical change before his TV return as the new host of Wipeout.

■ Ellen DeGeneres: From sweetheart to degenerate - a timeline.
Is this the perfect time for Drew Barrymore to launch her own TV talk show?

■ 250 000 people less are paying their BBC TV licence fee in the United Kingdom as younger viewers flee to streaming services.

■ Jerry Harris from Netflix's Cheer under FBI investigation for soliciting sex from boys.

■ How reality TV shows find and cast the "right" people - a director explains.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read - 15 September 2020.

Here's the latest news about TV that I read and that you should read too:  

■ Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says marriage counceling revealed that he was a "systemic liar".
- Netflix vice president told him that he was unempathetic and don't encourage criticism.

■ An appearance on Rachel Maddow on MSNBC (StarSat 263) is very good for American book sales.
MSNBC and Rachel Maddow refused to talk to Associated Press, but literary agent says she helps make books "number one".

■ Snack with caution: A new study finds that watching TV while eating makes you become unaware that you're actually full.

■ Why "Cancel Netflix" is trending.
Netflix won't cancel Cuties in the United States but might have to internationally.

■ Netflix doesn't have TV commercials but that doesn't mean that it won't have ads in future.
Netflix takes the crown for spending on film and television.
Netflix argues for free speech in court fight with Indian businessmen.

■ After she's been let go from Primedia's EWN at 702, Gia Nicolaides joins eNCA (DStv 403).

■ M-Net West Africa is filming Enakhe as a new series in Nigeria for DStv's Africa Magic Showcase channel.

■ The bloated SABC has spent almost R3 million on catering as the struggling and overstaffed South African public broadcaster forges ahead with getting rid of hundreds of workers.

■ M-Net (DStv 101) picks up Race for the Cure documentary.

■ Coronavirus corruption: South African government offers Leanne Manas of SABC2's Morning Live tenders for personal protection equipment.

■ America's pornography industry headed for a major Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Aunt Flori Schrikker, other half of the Bonteheuwel TV show cooking duo Flori en Koelsoem se Kosse has died. She was 67.

by Thinus Ferreira

Florence Schrikker known as Flori, the other half of the famous Cape Town TV cooking show duo in Flori en Koelsoem se Kosse on VIA (DStv 147) has died on Saturday 12 September 2020 just 5 months after her friend Koelsoem Kamalie died in mid-April 2020. Florence Schrikker was 67.

Florence Schrikker died on Saturday afternoon in the Netcare N1 City hospital in Cape Town after her condition deteriorated, following complications after a dubble heart bypass operation that she underwent in early-August.

Flori Schrikker who suffered from Type 2 diabetes and who lost a limb in an amputation in 2011 because of the disease, is survived by her husband of 47 years Alfonso Schrikker known as Uncle Foni, 4 children and 10 grandchildren.

Angus McKenzie,Ward 50 Bonteheuwel councillor in Cape Town, in a statement said that "As a community we are conforted by the fact that they they will be serving the heavens with some of the best cuisines".

"Aunty Flori's passing is a huge shock to the community and in our sadness, we want to thank her family for sharing her, her talents, and her love with each and every one of us."

VIA was approached for comment about the death of Flori Schrikker on Monday. At the time of publication VIA didn't have any comment.

Together with Koelsoem Kamalie, Flori Schrikker co-hosted their own cooking show, Flori en Koelsoem se Kosse on VIA that was produced by Leroux Botha and Nina Swart from Afrokaans, over two seasons in 2016 and 2017.

They first rose to fame when the two shared their fascinating recipes and stories during the afternoon on Tjailatyd on the SABC's Afrikaans radio station RSG.

In 2017 their show won an ATKV Mediaveertjie-award for best magazine show and was based on their cookbook Kook Saam Kaaps that was released in April 2016 by LAPA Uitgewers.

Their second cookbook about desserts entitled Soettand was released in 2017.

Netflix South Africa now offers R39 mobile-only plan as a test in the country, undercutting MultiChoice's Showmax and its R49 mobile-only plan.

by Thinus Ferreira

As a consumer test Netflix is rolling out a new R39 Netflix mobile-only plan in South Africa that is much cheaper than its cheapest R99 per month subscription fee and that the subscription video-on-demand service (SVOD) says will only last if enough South African viewers respond to it.

The Netflix Mobile plan at R39 per month in South Africa is now undercutting MultiChoice's Showmax video streaming service, with Showmax Mobile that costs R49 per month.

In mid-2019 Netflix announced that it would roll out and test a "mobile device only" plan that launched in Indian in the third quarter of last year. The mobile only Netflix plan is priced significantly lower that Netflix's existing 3-tier plan structure but also limits users to streaming on mobile devices and with other imposed limitations like video quality as well.

South Africa - like India and African countries like Egypt where Netflix also tested its "mobile only" plan- is part of places where Netflix wants to test how many more users it could potentially sign up to use and sample its video service in markets where the penetration of mobile devices are high but data costs are still expensive and the availability of broadband internet is limited.

Netflix's R39 per month mobile-only plan limits the video stream to 480p and one viewing stream on a mobile device or tablet. Netflix's other three plans, Netflix Basic (R99), Netflix Standard (R139) and Netflix Premium (169) offer more options.

The streaming service has had the same 3 plans for over 5 years and Netflix says that in that time its membership base "has changed enormously - and mobile usage has increased significantly".

Netflix tells TVwithThinus that in keeping this mobile audience and people's device usage in mind, it is experimenting with new plans across the African continent - excluding Egypt where it was already tested - to give potential subscribers more choice.

Netflix however cautions that if it sees that users are not valuing these new plans that it won't be rolling it out more widely.

A Netflix spokesperson says that "We’ve had the same three plans for several years now and this test offer reflects significant usage of and preference for mobile in South Africa.  We’ll only roll this out longer term if people value the increased flexibility".

Sunday, September 13, 2020

SABC on the brink as South Africa's public broadcaster warns that it could collapse, urges need to 'reinvent' and creation of a redesigned SABC - report.

South Africa's struggling public broadcaster that is mired in financial problems despite another billion rand government bailout is facing possible collapse the City Press newspaper reported on Sunday.

The overstaffed and bloated SABC wants to get rid of thousands of workers and told parliament two months ago that the impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in South Africa has caused a predicted shortfall in revenue of at least R1.7 billion for its current financial year.

The SABC also told parliament last month that it needs and has applied for additional government funding relief to help make up for the revenue shortfall because of Covid-19.

South Africa's governing ANC political party and its current disgraced minister of communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, are against retrenchments at the struggling SABC and doesn't want the public broadcaster to lower its salary bill as its single biggest expense.

As the biggest cost driver at the SABC, a whopping 41% of the struggling broadcaster's expenditure goes to just paying salaries. Shockingly, the SABC only spends 22% on actual content.

"It is time for a collaborative approach by all stakeholders to deal with the huge cost base that threatens the the viability of the SABC," the broadcaster says.

According to documents from the SABC's board and executives, the public broadcasters is imploring that "We must collectively ensure that the SABC does not collapse under our watch".

According to City Press, the SABC held a virtual meeting with trade unions Bemawu and CWU on Friday "about measures to prevent a collapse".

The SABC describes its latest financial battle amidst Covid-19 in the document as "the most critical for the future and sustainability of this 84-year old institution" given "the dwindling advertising revenues in the industry and the SABC".

The SABC says it has looked at the role of MultiChoice and eMedia Investments that runs and the Openview satellite platform, online video streaming services like Showmax and Netflix, and evolving consumer behaviour and that the SABC will have to reinvent itself.

"Against this backdrop the SABC must reposition itself and get ready for the future with customer-centred business models. A target operating model provides an ideal framework for this."

"The proposed target operating model will give birth to a redesigned SABC that is modern, agile and is future-focused"," the SABC says.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read - 10 September 2020.

Here's the latest news about TV that I read and that you should read too:  

■ E! cancelled Keeping Up with the Kardashians after family's pay increase demands although ratings kept going down.
Wanted at least $40 million per season but E! couldn't keep paying the Kardashians the same or even more money for half as many viewers.
Keeping Up with the Kardashians on E! (DStv 124) couldn't keep up with itself - why the reality show got cancelled.
Kardashians: The reality TV family who reinvented fame.
How Keeping Up with the Kardashians changed everything from beauty to celebrity.

■ Ellen DeGeneres was a terrible person in her mansion to household staff: Allegedly took pleasure in firing staffers, ran it military-style boot camp, tormented workers over misplaced salt shakers, would leave passive aggressive notes about what's wrong, would lay traps, says ex-staffer.

■ South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) calls for investigation after EFF political party harassed reporter Nobesuthu Hejana TWICE.

■ Netflix subscribers upset over its 4K streaming quality.

■ Netflix CEO Reed Hastings: "Netflix isn't a media company or a technology company. It is an ..."
Says Netflix bundling isn't an option (subscription required).
Why Netflix will never have commercials.

■ Pearlena Igbokwe the new boss of NBCUniversal's global TV studio operations.

■ Netflix shocker: Bela Bajaria taking over to lead it's global TV operations with Cindy Holland exiting.

■ How MultiChoice's Showmax decides if and when a series will be acquired and placed on the video streaming platform.

■ Fox News style TV channel planned for the United Kingdom will only broadcasting during prime time, will have a comedy show.

■ Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death grips Indian with frenzied TV coverage.
India's TV news serves up celebrity death coverage to distract from the country's Covid-19 disaster.

■ Disney will move allof the content of its linear Disney channels to its Disney+ video streaming service in the United Kingdom when it ends its linear channels there.

■ Will The Walking Dead seen on FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131) end like the comics did?

■ The hunt for new TV in 2020 brings a last gasp of new shows - and perhaps a shift in old habits.

■ Ukonwa Ojo the new chief marketing officer for Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Studios.

■ Streaming television can eventually replace pay-TV.

■ Black Mirror predicted what reality TV audiences would look like during the Covid-19 pandemic.

■ After 18 years off-air, the godfather of reality TV has revived his passion project.

WarnerMedia and StarTimes sign channel carriage deal for TNT coming to sub-Saharan Africa and StarSat in South Africa.

by Thinus Ferreira

WarnerMedia and China's StarTimes pay-TV operator has signed a channel carriage agreement to add its TNT film channel to its StarTimes service in sub-Saharan Africa branded as StarSat in South Africa.

TNT is already carried on the DStv platform of the South African based MultiChoice on channel 137 along with some other WarnerMedia channels like Cartoon Network, Boomerang and CNN International.

Several WarnerMedia channels are also already carried on StarTimes elsewhere in Africa like Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Boing, WarnerTV, CNN International and TCM Cinéma.

WarnerMedia is already distributing Toonami on StarTimes in English-speaking Africa, including StarSat in South Africa.

TNT will go live on StarTimes and StarSat on Tuesday 15 September in 10 African countries, including Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and South Africa.

TNT will be available on StarTimes' Smart Bouquet on channel 186.

It will be pop, pop, pop on DStv from December 2020 with 3 new M-Net Movies pop-up film channels including James Bond.

by Thinus Ferreira

They gotta be strong and they gotta be fast and they gotta be fresh from the fight, and now you only need to hold out for a hero until December. That's when MultiChoice will launch three thematic M-Net Movies pop-up channels on DStv in succession until February 2021 all about heroes.

TVwithThinus can reveal that in December 2020 MultiChoice and M-Net will start with a Male action heroes M-Net Movies pop-up channel on DStv, with the exact channel name that is still to be announced.

The pop-up channel will be jam-packed with films featuring male action hero stars.

"Then we move on to females because female action heroes are also taking over the world," says Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice's head of content strategy and third-party channels.

This Female action heroes M-Net Movies channel name is also still to be revealed.

"In February 2021 we bring back the Bond, the lovely James Bond, and we know that's not going to leave you shaken ... but stirred," says Aletta Alberts.

February's James Bond pop-up channel of which the channel name is still to be revealed, will be the second time that MultiChoice and M-Net is running a James Bond pop-up channel on DStv.

It previously did so three years ago in February 2017 when MultiChoice showed every 007 James Bond film of Ian Fleming's suave British super spy for DStv Premium subscribers.

While the three M-Net Movies pop-up channels will again only be accessible for higher-tiered DStv subscribers it will be the first time that lower-tiered DStv subscribers will be able to get access to it through the new "Add Movies" bundle that the Randburg-based pay-TV operator just launched.

For R99 per month lower-tiered DStv subscribers can add 3 M-Net Movies channels that can be added to any of its lower-tiered DStv bouquets. With this, DStv subscribers get the repackaged M-Net Movies 1 (DStv 104), M-Net Movies 2 (DStv 106), and also the now-permanent Afrikaans fliekNET (DStv 149) channel.

However, when MultiChoice and M-Net now do M-Net Movies pop-up channels, these channels when they run on DStv, will now be made accessible as part of the Add Movies bundle, for free. 

That means that DStv subscribers who add the Add Movies bundle during December, January or February will actually get not get just the 3 movie channels on that add-on package, but also that month's M-Net Movies hero pop-up channel on DStv that will be included for free.