Friday, January 29, 2021

Skeem Saam not cancelled but production on the current season is ending soon and it hasn’t been renewed yet, SABC1 will continue to broadcast new episodes until June.

by Thinus Ferreira

The SABC says Skeem Saam isn't cancelled although production on the series that hasn't been renewed yet will soon shut down. New already-filmed episodes of the current season will however continue to broadcast on SABC1 until at least June.

The South African public broadcaster told TVwithThinus on Friday that it is refuting rumours on social media that the longrunning series has been canned.

However, a gap between shutting down production and with no renewal in place, has the dangerous potential that cast and crew members could jump ship to other productions as they seek new work, which could make them unavailable to return if or when filming resumes.

Skeem Saam on SABC1 is the latest longrunning, big-budget and locally-produced SABC now getting a possible question mark behind its future after the financially struggling public broadcaster, that is also going through a retrenchment process, recently forced Danie Odendaal Productions responsible for SABC2's 7de Laan, as well as Word of Mouth Productions responsible for SABC2's Muvhango, into production cuts.

SABC2 reduced both longrunning hit series from 5 to just 3 episodes per week on the schedule, meaning production budget adjustments on both series and with their casts and crews who will be getting less work and therefore earning less money. 

With Skeem Saam that has just a month of production left before shutting down and with no renewal in place, the danger is that current crew and cast members might not all be back and could jump ship to other productions in the period where it's not filming and before the SABC recommissions the youth drama series.

Like Muvhango that is SABC2's most-watched series with 9.55 million viewers in December and 7de Laan as the 6th most-watched series on SABC2 in December with 2.72 million viewers, Skeem Saam has been a perennial ratings heavy-hitter on SABC1.

In December Skeem Saam lured a strong 4.4 million viewers (11.72 ARs) as the third most-watched show for the month on SABC1, also making it the fourth most-watched show on all of South African television after Uzalo (SABC1), Generations (SABC1) and Scandal (

Although production on Skeem Saam will be shutting down with no word on when it might resume, Skeem Saam will remain on-air, uninterrupted on SABC1, until June.

"The SABC refutes allegations that Skeem Saam is cancelled," says Mmoni Seapolelo, SABC spokesperson. "Skeem Saam remains a successful pillar of SABC1's schedule and is the 3rd-most watched programme in South Africa."

"The SABC has duly fulfilled its contractual obligations in relation to the production of Skeem Saam for the current season which is scheduled until June 2021".

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Leandie du Randt will be the presenter of Love Island South Africa as M-Net sexy up it's late-night schedule.

by Thinus Ferreira

M-Net (DStv 101) has announced actress and presenter Leandie du Randt as the presenter of Love Island South Africa with the pay-TV channel that is sexy-ing up its late-night schedule from 28 February with the first localised version of the reality show.

Love Island SA that will also have an announcer who hasn't been announced yet, will have a single presenter in the form of Leandie du Randt who will dole out the tasks to the sexy, single men and women who will compete to hook up and stay that way - or otherwise get ousted from a luxury Cape Town villa.

Love Island SA will start with a special 90-minute premiere episode on Sunday 28 February at 20:00 in the place of the usual Sunday night movie premiere (the premiere will return to its usual timeslot the week afterwards).

The show will kick-off to introduce the sexy singles who will live in the mansion, with new men and women who will be introduced as contestants in the days and weeks afterwards. Love Island SA will wrap sometime in April.

After the Sunday premiere episode, new hourlong episodes of Love Island SA will be broadcast on M-Net on weeknights at 21:30, with a roundup of Love Island SA "Unseen Bits" broadcast on Sunday nights after the 20:00 movie.

"Hosting Love Island SA is one of my biggest privileges in my life and career so far. It has always been on my vision board to host a big show in South Africa and this is the perfect opportunity to see this come to fruition," says Leandie.

"I'm also very excited to meet the beautiful contestants in the villa."

Leandie du Randt was runner-up in the 7th season of Strictly Come Dancing SA with partner Brandon Eilers le Riche in 2014 and she has been the reality weight-loss programme Slank on kykNET, and the co-host of the weekend music request show Kom Ons Jol on kykNET (Dstv 144).

She appeared in the role of Ivanka in the kykNET soap Binnelanders and Mieke in Getroud met Rugby. She also had roles in the Afrikaans drama series Vlug na Egipte and the follow-up series Terug na Egipte.

Her filmography includes roles in movies ranging from Meisies wat Fluit and Last Days of American Crime, to Semi-Soet, Klein Karoo, Die Windpomp, Mooirivier, Strikdas, Hollywood in my Huis, Vuil Wasgoed, Thys & Trix as well as Deon Meyer's action movie Jagveld distributed in English as Hunting Emma.

M-Net acquired and showed a a season of the British Love Island in 2018, again in 2019 on weeknights, and followed it up with a season of the American version of the show, Love Island USA.

M-Net then broadcast the 6th season of the British Love Island since mid-April last year that was filmed at the beginning of 2020 in Constantia, Cape Town with presenter Laura Whitmore.

Besides the British version, Amazon Studios also filmed the French version, Love Island: France last year in Cape Town in South Africa. Unfortunately because of the Covid-19 pandemic, production on the season abruptly ended in mid-March 2020 with an online finale.

Rapid Blue - responsible for The Bachelor SA and the first season of The Bachelorette SA that will broadcast on M-Net soon, and that also produced the various overseas versions of Love Island in South Africa - is producing the South African version for M-Net.

The cast of Love Island SA will be announced at the end of February as they make their way into the villa. The Love Island format is owned by ITV Studios and Motion Content Group Ltd and is distributed internationally by ITV Studios. 

Love Island SA will be the 20th localised version of the Love Island format. 

Netflix SA replaces degayed Elton John biopic Rocketman version in South Africa with the original theatrical release after error.

by Thinus Ferreira

After users of Netflix South Africa noticed a censored version of the Elton John biopic Rocketman that deleted scenes like the kiss between actors Taron Egerton and Richard Madden portraying Elton John and his manager John Reid, Netflix has now replaced the degayed so-called "airline version" with the proper theatrical release in South Africa.

Netflix SA subscribers who watched the 2019 biographical musical film based on the life of the flamboyant British musician Elton John, realised that the film felt oddly different. 

They then discovered that the censored film, already carrying a 16+ age restriction on Netflix in South Africa, was scrubbed of several of the overt gay content, although Elton John's sexuality is interwoven in his life story.

A kiss in the closet between Elton John and his former manager is for instance cut from the film version Netflix made available to viewers in South Africa, with Taron Egerton and Richard Madden in Rocketman only seen walking out of a building and never locking lips. 

The Netflix SA version, therefore, has a shorter running time that its theatrical release and DVD release and when it was broadcast on M-Net (DStv 101) and on DStv BoxOffice, and also looks and feels different. 

After users asked this week about the discrepancy and apparent censorship of the LGBTQI content in the film version for South Africa, TVwithThinus made a media enquiry to Netflix where its licensing division discovered that a different, censored version of Rocketman was accidentally supplied and received from the studio and loaded on Netflix's catalogue.

Netflix SA doesn't have any official comment on the Rocketman mistake but according to insiders the video streaming service is grateful that subscribers spotted the mistake, with Netflix that has corrected and replaced the censored version with the original version of the film.

In 2019 after Rocketman's theatrical release, Shana Krochmal, at the time the digital director of Entertainment Weekly, noted on Twitter how America's Delta airline showed a version of the film that was "stripped of almost every gay reference".

The airline blogger The Points Guy in November 2019 noted how censored airline versions of films often differ from the theatrical release - and not just if its a film containing a scene of a plane crash in it.

According to Jovitah Toh, CEO of Hong Kong's Encore Inflight Limited, quoted in the article "Each airline will provide the distributors with their censorship guidelines and distributors work with them on the edits - for example, nudity, implicit sex scenes, religious representations, plane crashes, competitor airlines' logos, swear words and images or mention of pigs or pork for Muslim carriers are the general items that are edited".

As a distributor, Toh said "We offer the airlines the choice of a theatrical/broadcast version or an in-flight-edited version".

For some reason, such a censored "inflight" version of Rocketman was the version of the film that Netflix got and loaded.

This Netflix mistake is ironic since Elton John, who wrote in The Guardian newspaper in May 2019, noted how he had to fight with the producers to keep some scenes in the film in order to accurately portray his life's story.

"Some studios wanted to tone down the sex and drugs so the film would get a PG-13 rating. But I just haven’t led a PG-13 rated life."

"I didn’t want a film packed with drugs and sex, but equally, everyone knows I had quite a lot of both during the 70s and 80s, so there didn’t seem to be much point in making a movie that implied that after every gig, I’d quietly gone back to my hotel room with only a glass of warm milk and the Gideon’s Bible for company," Elton John wrote.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

M-Net Movies explains how the playout really works after the confusing schedule chronology of its 007 James Bond pop-up channel on DStv leaves viewers shaken and stirred.

by Thinus Ferreira

M-Net is explaining what's going on with its somewhat confusing M-Net Movies 007 James Bond pop-up channel on DStv after M-Net said that the spy film series will be shown in chronological order - although discerning viewers discovered that it's not quite the case.

The M-Net Movies 007 James Bond pop-up channel - the third time that M-Net Movies is doing a Bond pop-up channel on MultiChoice's DStv pay-TV service - runs until 31 January and is showing every 007 film ever made, as well as some related documentaries like Bond Girls are Forever and Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007.

The Bond film channel features all 7 charming actors who have played the iconic 007 role, from Pierce Brosnan to Sean Connery, Roger Moore and current Bond Daniel Craig. All of the films will also be available on DStv Catch Up until Tuesday, 28 February 2021.

When M-Net announced the channel, it said that the 007 James Bond pop-up channel would broadcast the various Bond films chronologically, starting with the first film in the series released 59 years ago, Dr. No (1962), to the latest Bond film and box office hit, Spectre (2015).

Since the channel started, DStv subscribers  - mostly highly-invested fans to whom the details matter - have been complaining that the 007 films have not really been shown in chronological order, saying that it creates confusion and that it leads to anxiety about there is shown on the channel that they might possibly have missed.

In response to a media enquiry about the issue, M-Net Movies now tells TVwithThinus that "A significant majority of the films are scheduled in chronological order".

"However, the prime-time slot is always prioritised for recent or popular films. Also, in between the titles, different TV movies, documentaries, and repeats often tend to 'disrupt' the channel's flow in order to provide variety and a better viewing experience," M-Net explains.

"Therefore, you will find that on the schedule that three or more titles may play chronologically until the order has been disrupted by the above-mentioned factors. Then the sequencing, often, proceeds to pick up the next day, airing the next three films on the chronology of yesterday."

"For instance, if you look at the schedule when the channel aired on Friday, 22 January, the following movies were played in this order before the flow was disrupted: Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, and You Only Live Twice (Diamonds are Forever was excluded)."

"Then the next day, another three (On Her Majesty'S Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die) aired chronologically, picking up from the order of the day before, before the 'disruption'".

M-Net Movies says that the pop-up channel "plays titles chronologically, without 'disruption' on Wednesday, January 27 (The Man with The Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, Never Say Never Again, and A View to A Kill)."

"Also, on Friday, 29 January, from 12:05, the majority of the Bond movies will play out chronologically, with one TV movie airing in between titles."

The embattled former morning show presenter Katlego Maboe is not returning to SABC3's Expresso.

by Thinus Ferreira

Katlego Maboe won't be back on Expresso with SABC3 saying that claims circulating on social media about the return of the channel's former presenter who is mired in scandal, are all unfounded rumours.

Katlego Maboe was arrested on 2 January for contempt of court and appeared in court on 6 January in the Goodwood Magistrate's Court in Cape Town.

It's part of an ongoing court case after the acrimonious and highly-publicised split in late-2020 between Katlego Maboe and his former lover and mother of his child, Monique Muller.

In a sensational video, Katlego Maboe, dressed in a gown, sheepishly confessed to Monique about an extra-marital affair and sex with another woman, with Monique who said that that Katlego gave her a sexually-transmitted disease (STD) and damaged her womb, affecting the chances of her having another child.

In another video Monique said that Katlego Maboe allegedly physically abused her as well, saying that "When the first physical attack happened I got a protection order against him".

In a statement, Katlego Maboe said that "I was unfaithful to my partner during a very important time of our lives - an act I regret to this day. We are currently undergoing an unfortunate and painful separation which is being resolved through legal proceedings".

Earlier this month a "Home of Celebs" page on Facebook created a false rumour, claiming that "Katlego Maboe got a second chance. Yes, Kat is back on Expresso. After a massive fight and petitions to bring him back with gender-based violence (GBV) allegations, Mr Maboe can breathe a sigh of relief as Expresso morning show renewed his contract."

This is completely false. Cardova Productions that produces the morning show for SABC3 from its studio in Tokai has not renewed any contract with Katlego Maboe. He will definitely not be back on Expresso soon and his contract has not been renewed.

In response to a media enquiry to SABC3, Patience Stevens, owner of Cardova Productions says "the rumours circulating on social media is fake news".

Patience Stevens said that the statement that Cardova issued on 23 October 2020 still applies.

In that strongly-worded statement, Cardova Productions said that the SABC3 morning show "condemns any acts of violence and mistreatment, especially against women and children and take such allegations very seriously".

"Certain serious allegations have been posted on social media about Katlego Maboe and, last night, a video was leaked showing Katlego Maboe seemingly admitting to cheating on his partner. We have been informed that a legal process relating to the allegations is currently sub-judice."

"We condemn any acts of violence and mistreatment, especially against women and children, and therefore take such allegations very seriously. Until such time as the matter has been fully investigated, and pending the outcome, Katlego Maboe will not be appearing on The Expresso Morning Show."

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

'An attack on us as loyal fans and viewers': Furious fans sign a fast-growing 7de Laan petition to try and save the reduced SABC2 soap.

by Thinus Ferreira

Saying that it is an attack on them as loyal fans and on the Afrikaans community as well, 7de Laan fans are furious over the SABC's shocking decision to cut down SABC2's only Afrikaans weekday soap from 5 to just 3 episodes per week with a fast-growing online petition that has already racked up over a 1 000 signatures by Tuesday afternoon.

The financially struggling and embattled SABC that is going through an acrimonious retrenchment process in a shocking scheduling move on Friday night confirmed that it's cutting back 7de Laan on SABC2 from 5 episodes per week to just 3 from April.

SABC2 is also cutting down its Venda language weekday soap Muvhango that is getting reduced from 5 episodes to just 3 from August.

Well-placed insiders told TVwithThinus on Monday that staff working on both shows - on-screen talent as well as crew and writers working behind-the-scenes - are extremely worried since they're set to lose work and income due to budget cuts on both series produced by Danie Odendaal Productions and Duma Ndlovu's Word of Mouth Productions.  

Merlin Naicker, the SABC's head of TV, in a statement says cutting down on 7de Laan and Muvhango "is part of our longterm plan to invest in quality local content" since SABC2 wants to bring viewers more shows.

"Serving a diverse South African audience, it is imperative that we come with innovative and exciting content, which will not only draw the viewership, but bring in the revenue required to keep the public service broadcaster financially sustainable".

7de Laan is getting replaced by a new Afrikaans telenovella entitled Die Sentrum on Thursdays and Fridays from April in the 18:00 timeslot, while Muvhango is getting replaced from August on Thursdays and Fridays in its 21:00 timeslot by the second season of Giyani.

Neither the SABC nor SABC2 is giving any explanations for why the new shows are replacing dedicated primetime soap timeslots. Previously SABC2 scheduled the first season of Giyani at 21:30 airing it as the Muvhango lead-out.

SABC2, last year saying that it specifically developed the new local drama series Melody and The Riviera "in an endeavour to expand the drama and comedy offering to a broader Afrikaans demographic" broadcast those shows in the 19:30 timeslot in 2020.

Now the dedicated 7de Laan viewer Jermaine Christians from Lavender Hill in Cape Town has started an online petition at against SABC2's scheduling move, with the petition that has grown to over a 1 000 signatures since he started it on Saturday under "Keep 7de Laan on-air for 5 days #Save7deLaan".

Jermaine Christians says that "as fans and viewers we are highly, highly unhappy about this decision that was taken".

"Our goal is to stop this from taking place so that they keep 7de Laan on-air for 5 working days".

The petition that is against the axing of 7de Laan weekday episodes, states that fans and SABC viewers find it "unacceptable and we highly condemn this action as loyal viewers and as SABC TV Licence payers we have the right to say what we do and don't want to watch".

"It is sad that we weren't even approached as fans regarding this matter, as we are partially the reason behind the success of the longrunning, multicultural soapie. This comes after the soap just recently achieved the milestone of airing their 5 000th episode and are part of our households for over 20 years.".

"This is not just an attack on us as loyal fans and viewers but on the Afrikaans community as well," says the petition. 

"This is the soap that taught thousands of us how to speak Afrikaans since a young age. This soapie is known for its large roadshow campaigns to interact with fans and viewers and the soapie is also known for its internship opportunities to help create jobs and boost the country's economy."

"We don't foresee 7de Laan only being on-ar for 3 days and later totally off from our screens because ultimately that's what it will lead to when viewers lose interest. We highly condemn this and will fight this fight until the SABC decides to leave our soapie on-air for 5 working days!"

Among the over a thousand who have signed already are Yvonne Roux who said "Been watching since it started, why remove the Afrikaans programmes?" and Janke Jordaan who said "I've been watching 7de Laan since the age of 2, I can't imagine not watching it. Even though I moved across the country and live in the United States now, I watch 7de Laan every day".

"The SABC should stop making unilateral decisions. This soapie has been part of our lives for too long," said Peter Lucas, with Nasreen Davuluri stating that "If I have to wait 4 days to watch Monday then I'll be really sad. In my personal opinion 7de Laan will lose viewers!".

Michelle Jacobs chimed in saying that 7de Laan "is the only programme I keep my TV on for. Otherwise I can cancel my SABC TV Licence and just not watch".

All the elven fantasy TV news fit to whisper: From Netflix's The Witcher spin-off and possible Harry Potter series to Game of Thrones and Amazon Studios' Númenor-set Lord of the Rings prequel series.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Witcher prequel series on Netflix is casting, Game of Thrones will chronicle a new Westeros war, there will be familiar and new characters like Sauron in Amazon Prime Video's The Lord of the Rings series, and the sorting hat might be dusted off to sort a new class in a Harry Potter TV series on HBO Max. 

In an announcement, Netflix said that Jodie Turner-Smith has been cast in the role of Éile in the upcoming series The Witcher: Blood Origin spin-off.

This limited, 6-episode, live-action series is set "in an elven world" 1 200 years before the events depicted in The Witcher, which is busy filming its second season in the United Kingdom with Henry Cavill in the lead role as Geralt of Rivia.

According to Netflix, The Witcher: Blood Origin will "tell a story lost to time – the creation of the first prototype Witcher, and the events that lead to the pivotal 'conjunction of the spheres', when the worlds of monsters, men, and elves merged to become one".

Netflix's character description states that Jodie Turner-Smith will "play Éile, an elite warrior blessed with the voice of a goddess, who has left her clan and position as Queen’s guardian to follow her heart as a nomadic musician. A grand reckoning on the continent forces her to return to the way of the blade in her quest for vengeance and redemption".

Declan de Barra serves as executive producer and showrunner of The Witcher: Blood Origin with Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, creator of The Witcher series, as executive producer, together with Tomek Baginski and Jarek Sawko from Platige Films.

Besides this limited spin-off, Netflix is also working on an animated film titled The Witcher: Nightmare Of The Wolf, that will tell the origin story of Geralt’s Witcher mentor Vesemir.

More Hogwarts and Westeros
As the video streaming wars continue to ramp up and studios are scouring their intellectual property catalogues that they could potentially build out into new content to set them apart and lure viewers, the Hollywood trades are reporting that WarnerMedia executives, in early discussions, are thinking about developing a live-action Harry Potter TV series for its HBO Max video streaming service.

In an official statement, Warner Bros. and HBO Max say that "there is no Harry Potter series in development at the studio or on the streaming platform".

Obviously, this statement is technically true - a series isn't in actual "development" - but it is only true insofar as everything that Professor Albus Dumbledore ever said to Harry Potter was technically true, although it wasn't at times all of the truth that was available.

According to the Hollywood reports, HBO Max and WarnerMedia execs have been and are talking about the possibility of developing a Harry Potter TV series and they see "expanding the world of Harry Potter as a top priority", similar to the way in which HBO's Game of Thrones fantasy series is being expanded with several prequel spin-off series.

Besides the already-announced House of the Dragon series that will debut in 2022 and that will chronicle the start of Westeros' Targaryen civil war, HBO is now also developing a George R.R. Martin Game of Thrones spinoff book series as a new Tales of Dunk and Egg TV series.

This spinoff drama series, with hour-long episodes and set 90 years before the existing TV series, will revolve around the adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall (known as Dunk) and a very young Aegon V Targaryen (known as Egg).

HBO Max is not available in South Africa or sub-Saharan Africa and WarnerMedia doesn't want to talk about a possible launch date for the country or the continent.

However, last week Christina Sulebakk, the boss of WarnerMedia's HBO Max for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, announced her senior executive team specifically for this region - a strong indication that HBO Max will eventually make its way to South Africa similar to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+.

A Sauron origin story
Amazon Prime Video has released an official description for the New Zealand-filmed Lord of the Rings prequel TV series, confirming that it will be set during the Second Age of Middle-earth, will include the island of Númenor and the elf-capital Lindon as locations, and that viewers will see "characters, both familiar and new" which means a young Sauron.

The as-yet-untitled Lord of the Rings series, the world's new most expensive TV series ever, is only expected to be released on Amazon Prime Video in late-2021, or during 2022 with Amazon that hasn't given a definite release date yet. 

While the prequel series takes place thousands of years before the events depicted in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films and books, several of the inhabitants of this world have long lifespans like the dwarfs who live for several centuries and elves who are immortal. 

According to Amazon Prime Video's new official synopsis for the series, "Amazon Studios' forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth's history".

"This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness."

"Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth."

"From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone."

The Second Age is of course when Sauron rose to power and corrupted the human leaders living on Númenor, leading to the fall of the Nine Kings. 

The series cast includes Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Budge and Morfydd Clark as a young Galadriel.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

SABC2 reduces weekday soaps 7de Laan and Muvhango to 3 episodes per week in a shock scheduling shake-up.

by Thinus Ferreira

In a shocking scheduling move SABC2 is cutting back its iconic Afrikaans weekday soap 7de Laan, as well as its Venda weekday soap Muvhango, scaling the episodes of both back with almost half and reducing both longrunning primetime soaps from 5 to just 3 episodes per week.

SABC2's dramatic scheduling changes to its 18:00 timeslot from April for 7de Laan, and its 21:00 timeslot from August for Muvhango, come as the financially struggling and bloated South African public broadcaster is currently going to an acrimonious retrenchment process to axe 303 SABC workers.

While still a big show, 7de Laan, produced by Danie Odendaal Productions and that just passed and broadcast its milestone 5 000-episode earlier this month, is struggling with waning ratings and has shed millions of viewers over the past few years, mostly due to multiple SABC2 timeslot changes and the exit of many of the show's stars and their iconic characters in quick succession.

It's not yet clear what the impact of the SABC's reduced episode order will hold for the show and its complement of cast and crew that will have to absorb a production budget cut.

7de Laan that was originally only broadcast on Tuesdays on SABC2, then twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and eventually expanded to 5 days a week, is now being reduced by 40% and cut back from 2 and a half hours per week to just one and a half hours per week.

From Monday 5 April 7de Laan will just be broadcast on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

7de Laan, filmed at Sasani Studios in Highlands North in Johannesburg, is removed on the SABC2 schedule and replaced on Thursdays and Fridays in the 18:00 timeslot with two episodes of a new Afrikaans telenovela entitled Die Sentrum.

SABC2 says it's cutting back 7de Laan to "make more room for drama" on the channel.

"As a South African family entertainment channel, SABC2 continues to make room for more drama, bringing the best in local content, increasing viewer choice, reflecting and celebrating diverse realities," says Caroline Phalakatshela, SABC2 publicist.

It's not clear why SABC2 chose the early primetime shot of 18:00 to schedule Die Sentrum and not in the other existing Afrikaans drama timeslots.

Danie Odendaal Productions in a statement says that "7de Laan confirms that there has been a scheduling change implemented by the SABC. 7de Laan will now broadcast three days a week on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 18:00 on SABC2."

"We wish to reassure you of our unwavering commitment to continue producing relevant, informative and entertaining content."

The production says "until a time comes when we get to see you all on our roadshows again, we will enjoy engaging with you on all our social media platforms where we will continue to give you additional insights into our world."

In December 2020 7de Laan lured 1.44 million viewers (3.72 AR), making it the 6th most-watched programme on SABC2 for the month.

Muvhango swapped for Giyani
SABC2 is also scaling back on Muvhango from August and plans to reduce it by two episodes per week that are replaced by a second season of the Xitsonga telenovela Giyani that will have two episodes per week.

Like 7de Laan, Muvhango, produced by Duma Ndlovu's Word of Mouth Productions, has also shed millions of viewers over the past few years.

Muvhango will now only be shown on SABC2 from Mondays to Wednesdays from August at 21:00, with the timeslot on Thursday and Friday nights going to Giyani.

In December 2020 Muvhango lured 3.69 million viewers (9.55 AR), making it the most-watched programme on SABC2 for the month and the 10th most-watched show overall on all of South African television for the month. 

Again it's unclear why the SABC decided to schedule Giyani, produced by Tshedza Pictures, in Muvhango's 21:00 timeslot and not in other drama timeslots or the 21:30 timeslot on SABC2 where it was broadcast previously for its first season.

About Die Sentrum and the second season of Giyani, Merlin Naicker, the SABC's head of TV, says "is part of our longterm plan to invest in quality local content".

"Serving a diverse South African audience, it is imperative that we come with innovative and exciting content, which will not only draw the viewership, but bring in the revenue required to keep the public service broadcaster financially sustainable".

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Lady Whistledown's Society Papers reveals that Bridgerton on Netflix has been renewed for a second season with production starting in March 2021.

by Lord Thinus Featherington

Breathless news that will surely set the TV ton abuzz, is that Netflix has officially renewed its romance period drama Bridgerton for a second season, with production that will start in March.

The drama series, currently second most-popular on Netflix SA, was watched globally by 63 million people within 28 days; the global video streaming service's 5th biggest original series launch.

Bridgerton was created and produced by Shonda Rhimes' Shondaland and is based on the series of novels by Julia Quinn set in Londen's high-society Regency era, with Phoebe Dynevor as Daphne Bridgerton and Rege-Jean Page as Simon Bassett, the Duke of Hastings.

Earlier this week in its 2020 fourth quarter investor letter, Netflix set hearts aflutter across the television promenade when it noted that Bridgerton "has proven immensely popular and we’ll have some exciting news about Bridgerton later this week".

On Thursday Netflix released a written message from Lady Whistledown, the anonymous, resident gossipmonger keeping tabs on high-society scandals and romantic entanglements and dishing up scintillating secrets through her despised, yet well-read Lady Whistledown's Society Papers.

Netflix didn't announce when the second season will be released, but did note that production will start during the American spring, meaning March 2021, and that Bridgerton's second season will largely revolve around the romantic intrigue of Lord Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey), the eldest Bridgerton sibling.

Here is Lady Whistledown's message:

"The ton are abuzz with the latest gossip, and so it is my honour to impart to you: Bridgerton shall officially return for a second season. I do hope you have stored a bottle of ratafia for this most delightful occasion.


The incomparable cast of Bridgerton will return to production in the Spring of 2021. This author has been reliably informed that Lord Anthony Bridgerton intends to dominate the social season. I will have my pen ready to report on any and all of his romantic activities.


However, gentle reader, before you set the comments section alight with requests for more sordid details, know that I am disinclined to report on the particulars at this time. Patience, after all, is a virtue.


Yours Truly,

Lady Whistledown"

ALSO READ: Netflix passes the 200 million subscriber mark globally with 203 million subs, teases renewal for its Bridgerton period drama from Shondaland.

WarnerMedia's HBO Max boss for Africa and Europe announces senior executive team for the region, says it will launch HBO Max into 'many territories across EMEA in the years to come'.

by Thinus Ferreira

Christina Sulebakk, the boss of WarnerMedia's HBO Max video streaming service for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region has announced her senior executive team for the region.

Christine Sulebakk who took over as HBO Max EMEA boss in late-2020 and who is reporting to Johannes Larcher as HBO Max International boss, will be responsible for the rollout and expansion of HBO Max across Europe, the Middle East and Africa as HBO Max general manager.

WarnerMedia and WarnerMedia Africa has not made any announcements or given any indication of when HBO Max would be made available in sub-Saharan Africa as a video streaming service. 

MultiChoice recently added both Netflix SA and Amazon Prime Video as two of the available global streaming services to its DStv Explora Ultra decoder, although Disney+, Discovery+, Peacock and the to-launch Paramount+ still remains unavailable.

Christine Sulebakk says her HBO Max EMEA team will launch HBO Max into "many new territories across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in the years to come.”

The HBO Max EMEA senior executive team now includes Line Mykland leading the HBO Max content experience division that will develop and implement the editorial strategy with a focus on local audiences. 

Lance Mykland previously worked on the rollout of HBO Nordic and then the launch of HBO Europe.

Roberto Soto is leading the growth marketing division and is in charge of commercial strategy and business development, including HBO Max subscriber acquisition and publicity.

Brett Horowitz is leading data, insights and planning while Tobias Andersson is shifting to become EMEA legal lead. Andreas Ferdinand is now in charge of overseeing the HBO Max product experience in EMEA.

The HBO Max EMEA team will be working with the rejigged WarnerMedia International team including Priya Dogra, WarnerMedia EMEA & Asia president, including Hannes Heyelmann (programming), Antony Root (original production), Pierre Branco (affiliate sales) and Vanessa Brookman for kids.

"With this strong group of executives, their great experience from decades of working within the direct-to-consumer business and their highly skilled teams, we are more than ready to upgrade our HBO-branded services across Europe to HBO Max, while also planning, preparing and launching in many new territories across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in the years to come," says Christine Sulebakk in a prepared statement.

"Supported by all our WarnerMedia colleagues and as part of a best-in-class global HBO Max team, I couldn’t be more excited about the ambitious plans for HBO Max and the journey ahead of us."

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

National Geographic rolls out 10th Big Cat Month on Nat Geo Wild in February 2021 with 7 premiere specials including Tiger Queen of Taru.

by Thinus Ferreira

National Geographic is doing its 10th Big Cat Month in February 2021 and will again broadcast a lot of special appointment programming on its Nat Geo Wild (DStv 182 / StarSat 221) channel, featuring various big cats in the wild, including 7 premiere specials.

Besides the specials, National Geographic's month-long event will include several interstitials that will be broadcast in-between programming, featuring National Geographic Explorers who are working to protect big cats around the globe.

"Big Cat Month is an exciting television event for us every year and a firm viewer-favourite. This year is particularly special as we will be broadcasting no less than seven premieres highlighting the incredible lives led by these ferocious felines, to many of whom, Africa is home," says  Evert van der Veer, vice president, media networks, The Walt Disney Company Africa. 

"Even more remarkable is that many of the filmmakers are actively involved in wildlife conservation themselves, including  Aishwarya Sridhar, who makes her debut on the channel with the premiere of Tiger Queen of Taru".

The National Geographic Society is partnering its Big Cats Initiative with National Geographic Wild for Big Cat Month.

Nat Geo Wild's Big Cat Month starts on 7 February 2021 with the premiere of Jade Eyed Leopard, narrated by actor Jeremy Irons and directed by the acclaimed local big-cat filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert.

In this one-hour special National Geographic cameras capture the story of a young leopard, Toto, during the critical first three years of her life. 

Viewers getto follow this cub with deep aquamarine eyes – an exceptionally rare trait – and experience her challenges and triumphs firsthand as Toto learns the fundamental skills of survival and makes her passage to adulthood. 

Cecil: The Legacy of a King, premieres Sunday, 14 February at 18:00. This special follows the life and legacy of one of the world's most famous lions - Cecil. 

The ultimate big cat king, Cecil was a warrior, a father and a loyal brother. But his untimely death at the hands of an illegal hunt in Zimbabwe - spelt the end of his extraordinary reign; evoking feelings of fury and sadness to all who hear his tale across the globe. 

Still in Africa, Serengeti Speed Queen tells the story of cheetah Nzuri, the speed queen of the Serengeti – for whom being fast isn’t enough – on Sunday, 21 February at 18:00m.

She is constantly bullied by hyenas on the grassland and hunted by lions in the marsh. When two of her cubs are killed, the family is exiled to the forest. There, she learns to adapt her hunting methods and adds strategy to speed in order to outwit her enemies and steer her remaining cubs successfully to adulthood.

Nat Geo Wild's Big Cat Month 2021 culminates in the premiere of Tiger Queen of Taru, by filmmaker Aishwarya Sridhar on Sunday, 28 February at 18:00. 

This unique special that was filmed over six years tells the story of Maya the tigress in a tiger reserve in Tadoba, Central India. 

Here, Bengal tigers chase wild dogs, fight sloth bears and feud among themselves over bloodlines and territory in never-before-seen footage. Maya writes her own rules when it comes to raising a litter, yet motherhood doesn’t come easy. However, one thing is clear, Maya will do whatever it takes to secure her bloodline within the Kingdom of Taru.  

"We partnered with the Jouberts 11 years ago to create National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative to shed light on these vital and vulnerable wild felines," says Colby Bishop, senior director of wildlife programmes at National Geographic Society.

"More than a decade later, the initiative continues to make major strides in its mission to protect big cats in the wild, including the removal of 13 000 life-threatening snares from their habitats; building more than 2 100 livestock enclosures to reduce human-wildlife conflict with big cats, and providing funds for grantees to work in more than 300 communities."

"National Geographic Wild is the perfect platform to premiere Jade Eyed Leopard as part of Big Cat Month 2021 and to inspire further protection for these majestic creatures around the world," says Colby Bishop.

Netflix passes the 200 million subscriber mark globally with 203 million subs, teases renewal for its Bridgerton period drama from Shondaland.

by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix announced that it has surged to over 203 million subscribers in 2020 and on Wednesday night teased that it would announce a renewal of its popular new period drama Bridgerton for a second and maybe more seasons later this week, likely Friday.

In its 2020 fourth quarter results, the world's biggest video streaming service announced that it had added another 8.51 million paid subscribers worldwide, more than the 6 million it predicted, bringing its total to 203.7 million subscribers worldwide.

This means that Netflix added a whopping 36.6 million subscribers worldwide during the whole of 2020 - its biggest annual gain and surpassing its previous record of 28.6 million new subscriber additions in 2018.

Netflix said that 83% of the new subscribers added in 2020 were from outside the United States and Canada, and that the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region accounted for 41% of its full year's new subscribers in 2020.

After last week when Netflix announced its 2021 film slate with 71 new titles that it will release this year with a new movie every week, Netflix said in its Q4 results that it has more than 500 titles "preparing to launch" or in the post-production stage (including the 71 films).

Netflix is facing a growing surge of competition in the subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) sphere, both in the rollout of new streaming services that are expanding their availability footprint globally, but also in the massive investment that streamers like Disney's Disney+, Discovery Inc.'s Discovery+, Amazon Prime Video, ViacomCBS' Paramount+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock and others are making in creating new content and stocking their library carousels.

"Discovery recently launched its streaming service. Disney+ is expanding in new countries and with more content. ViacomCBS will be unveiling its plans for Paramount+ in 2021. Combined with the launch of Apple TV+, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, and NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming services, this signifies that these companies all recognize the future is streaming entertainment, a vision we have been working towards since inception," says Netflix,

"Our strategy is simple: If we can continue to improve Netflix every day to better delight our members, we can be their first choice for streaming entertainment. This past year is a testament to this approach," Netflix said in its Q4 shareholder letter.

"The big growth in streaming entertainment has led legacy competitors like Disney, WarnerMedia and
Discovery to compete with us in new ways, which we’ve been expecting for many years. This is, in part, why we have been moving so quickly to grow and further strengthen our original content library across a wide range of genres and nations," Netflix said.

"Season four of the critically acclaimed The Crown was the biggest season so far and drove new watchers of prior seasons. In its first 28 days, more member households chose to watch season four of The Crown than each of the prior seasons, helping to grow the number of member households that have chosen to watch this series to over 100 million since its initial launch."

In its shareholder letter, Netflix teased an announcement regarding its new period drama Bridgerton from Shonda Rhimes' Shondaland that is currently the second most-watched show on Netflix South Africa.

"The title has proven immensely popular and we’ll have some exciting news about Bridgerton later this week," Netflix said about its 5th most-watched original series globally.

Looking ahead Netflix projects that it will add roughly 6 million new subscribers in the first quarter of 2021. 

Contributing to this subscriber number would be things like the new partnership between South Africa's MultiChoice that added streaming service functionality for Netflix SA and Amazon Prime as apps to its new DStv Explora Ultra decoder in late-2020.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The former Xitsonga SABC News TV and radio presenter Ernest 'Mamba' Nkanyane has died.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Xitsonga SABC News TV and radio presenter Ernest "Mamba" Nkanyane has died. He was 75.

SABC News reported that Ernest Nkanyane, who was born and raised in Olifantshoek, Limpopo had died. His cause of death is not yet known.

Ernest Nkanyane joined the SABC in the mid-1970s as an announcer on the then Radio Tsonga. After several years he joined the SABC News TV show as a journalist.

Ernst Nkanyane became the first executive producer for the SABC News' Xitsonga TV news bulletin in 2003.

Ernest Nkanyane is credited for advancing the Xitsonga language in South Africa and mainstream media. He retired in 2005.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Katlego Maboe arrested.

by Thinus Ferreira

Katlego Maboe has been arrested with the former Expresso presenter on SABC3 and face of Outsurance commercials who has appeared in court in the continuing case against his former lover Monique Muller.

On Sunday the Rapport newspaper reported that Katlego Maboe was arrested just after New Year's Day and appeared in court on 6 January 2021. All of the specific charges are not yet known.

Lerato Maleswena, Katlego Maboe's new publicist, told Rapport that the Monique Muller's charge is false and an attempt to harass and victimise him and to inflict emotional, reputational and economic damage.

According to the newspaper, Katlego Maboe allegedly ousted Monique Muller from the Seapoint flat in Cape Town they once shared before the shattering of their relationship and also stopped paying full rent.

The newspaper also reports that a complaint has been laid against Katlego Maboe's lawyer, Ellen Louise at South Africa's Legal Practice Council over alleged text messages from her to Monique Muller's family and that family members claim to be hurtful and that have been sent to the council.

The Western Cape branch of the Legal Practice Council confirmed that they're investigating the case and are waiting for reaction from Ellen Louise against the allegations.

In late-October the public image of Katlego Maboe abruptly turned toxic when Monique Muller, his former lover who is the mother of his 2-year old son, in a video accused him of allegedly giving her a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that damaged her womb.

In another video Monique Muller claimed that Katlego Maboe allegedly physically abused her as well, saying that "When the first physical attack happened I got a protection order against him".

In the video, Katlego, dressed in a gown, sheepishly admits to having cheated on her with another woman identified as Nikkita Murray who has since locked her social media accounts.

Mired in public scandal, Katlego Maboe then disappeared from the public eye, and said in a terse statement that "I was unfaithful to my partner during a very important time of our lives - an act I regret to this day. We are currently undergoing an unfortunate and painful separation which is being resolved through legal proceedings".

"In light of the comments made against me, I would like to state that I have never abused my partner".

The disgraced Katlego Maboe was immediately let go from SABC3's Expresso produced by Cardova Productions and was also dropped by Outsurance as the face of its commercials  and replaced by Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp.

Katlego Maboe was summoned to appear in court in November 2020 on charges of harassment of Monique Muller after he had allegedly violated the court's protection order not to stay away from her.

In South Africa, a protection order aims at preventing the reoccurrence of alleged domestic violence or sexual harassment by stating what conduct the alleged offender must refrain from doing. 

Katlego Maboe allegedly broke the stipulations of the protection order that Monique Muller obtained on 3 September in Seapoint, Cape Town. The case was postponed due to a docket that was not delivered to court on time. Katlego Maboe is disputing these charges as well.

In other new revelations during November a close confidant of Monique Muller revealed to YOU and Huisgenoot magazines that Katlego Maboe was allegedly not the man that viewers saw on TV.

Monique in July 2020 discovered that Katlego Maboe allegedly gave her an STD, according to insiders.

He apparently travelled to Kiev, Ukraine to watch a soccer match while he was a brand ambassador for Lay's Chips where he later admitted to Monique that he kissed one of the women who won the competition on a dancefloor. He later allegedly had sex with this woman in a hotel room.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Meet the first 5 men who are taking part in the first season of The Bachelorette SA on M-Net.

by Thinus Ferreira

On Thursday M-Net (DStv 101) revealed the first 5 contestants in the group of men taking part in the first season of The Bachelorette South Africa that will start on Thursday 11 February at 19:30.

With the localised version of the format of Warner Bros. International Television Production (WBITVP) produced by Rapid Blue, and with Qiniso Van Damme as the bachelorette looking for love, M-Net hopes to replicate the success of the first two seasons of The Bachelor SA.

Ten Naidu (36), Durban
Height: 1,86m
He spent 9 years travelling to 90 countries to teach, pray and find love! He wants to share the world and visit his 100th country with that special someone. Ten left SA in his early teens and has returned to find love where he grew up.

His philosophy is to embrace every experience and enjoy every moment. Ten is open, true and witty. He had a brief relationship with someone that reminds him of Qiniso and feels perhaps it foreshadowed this opportunity. He considers Qiniso more worldly than most ladies he has met and secretly hopes she makes for a great salsa partner.

Ten is a qualified I.T. Trainer and School Teacher specialising in English, Information Technology, Math and recently began modelling overseas. He is in touch with his emotions and has a charming confidence that is fun to witness.

Ruan Meyer (26), Bloemfontein
Height: 1,80m
The Bloemfontein native relocated to Pretoria four years ago to study Architecture at TUT Pretoria. This move broke up his relationship of three years with his high school sweetheart. He comes from a big family after his parents divorced and one remarried.

Ruan runs his own fledgeling construction company while furthering his studies. He admits to having used his likeness to Game of Thrones John Snow, to win over the ladies, but he doesn't like it when the conversation does not move past his likeness.

He has a strong Afrikaans accent and comes across as a small-town boy making it in a big city.  He has travelled parts of Europe and says he would take Qiniso to Italy on a romantic date. Still working towards his Architectural qualification.

Kganya Rapoo (23), Johannesburg
Height: 1,79m
Kganya can be described as a lovable geek with a smile that lights up a room, true to his name. A trainee chartered (not boring) accountant who is also a lecturer and a master’s student, his maturity will make you forget his young age.
He is an extrovert who enjoys going out and having a good time. He has plenty of energy, loves PDA and considers himself to be very sentimental. He is a peacemaker, a sounding board, energetic and lively!

Bradley Newton (29), Johannesburg
Height: 1,78m
Bradley works in the banking and insurance industry. A trained athlete and avid hip-hop dancer, this is a man with a life plan. He considers himself to be mature and a tad calculated.  His answers are textbook but that is him - well planned and direct.

For Bradley, everything needs to be executed with perfection. Because he is a sportsman and allrounder he has high awareness and confidence. He has a portable studio where he does Hip Hop recording past time. He travels the world and enjoys exclusive clubs and parties.

He loves hip hop and has a recording studio.

Dylan Heneck (28), Cape Town
Height: 1,87m
Dylan lives in a converted BnB with eight of his friends. He completed a  BusSci degree, however ended up in the music industry. He is a chameleon, as he has many sides to him, but is generally laid back.  He loves the spotlight and is a bit of a troublemaker. Dylan spends winters overseas and is a digital nomad!

He has had many grand gestures in love, but never found the one. He has been through a lot of introspection as he has been a solo flyer for a long time. Women want commitment which he runs from! "Commitment is not my strong suit!"

Born in the United States of America, living in South Africa since 2006 when he was 14.