Saturday, June 12, 2021

Namibia's NBC News removes Elmarie Kapunda and Jessica Kaimu from their on-air roles indefinitely after cringeworthy fight with both to undergo 'on-air training'; says they won't 'be dismissed from the services of the NBC'.

by Thinus Ferreira

Namibia's National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) has removed both NBC News anchor Elmarie Kapunda and sports presenter Jessica Kaimu from the airwaves indefinitely following their eye-popping and extremely awkward on-air spat (see it here) during a live broadcast that got seen by millions.

The bizarre on-air fight between Elmarie Kapunda and Jessica Kaimu happened during a live news broadcast on NBC's Namibia News programme when Elmarie Kapunda introduced and switched over for sports news to Jessica Kaimu but angered her colleague when she dared to say too much for Jessica's liking.

"No, you're not going to do that. You're just going to greet me, and say, 'Take it away'," Jessica snipped.

Elmarie Kapunda deadpanned: "Jessica, we are live", after which both just stared silently until a technical director cut to commercial.

The cringe-worthy on-air moment was mocked and re-enacted by SABC News (DStv 404) presenters Sakina Kamwendo and Vaylen Kirtley (see it here) a day after the video clip went viral. 

Lazarus Jacobs, the chairperson of NBC's board, initially lied to CNN International, and said that Elmarie Kapunda and Jessica Kaimu wouldn't be removed from their positions. By Thursday they were gone from the airwaves on NBC although they remain employed.

Both presenters would apparently be undergoing further "on-air training".

Namibia's New Era daily newspaper reported that Namibia's NBC has dropped Elmarie Kapunda and Jessica Kaima indefinitely from their presenting roles. NBC management and senior staffers at the broadcaster saw the incident as "highly embarrassing".

NBC isn't responding to media enquiries.

NBC on social media in a curt statement said that "Due to numerous queries being sent to the NBC regarding the matter of the two presenters Elmarie Kapunda and Jessica Kaimu the NBC would like to officially set the record straight".

"These two colleagues are part and parcel of the NBC family. At no point was there ever talk of dismissing these colleagues from the services of the NBC. Their employment thus as anchors at the NBC is intact."

Shaleen Surtie-Richards on her money struggles in last TV interview: 'I just pray very hard that I won't get ill'.

by Thinus Ferreira

Shaleen Surtie-Richards (66) who unexpectedly died on Monday said that she openly wanted to talk about her financial troubles in one of her final TV interviews before she died and that she went through the "deepest, deepest waters" with most people and performers too ashamed to talk this struggle.

The iconic actress with a professional career stretching over 3 decades, unexpectedly died on Monday morning in a guest house in Edgemeade, Cape Town, where she just completed a few weeks of filming on a recurring role in kykNET's Arendsvlei telenovela.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday approved the request for a Category 2 Special Provincial Funeral for Shaleen Surtie-Richards. Shaleen Surtie-Richards' funeral will take place on Sunday, 13 June at 14:30 at the Durbanville Memorial Park in Cape Town.

The SABC didn't respond to a media enquiry on Friday asking whether SABC News (DStv 404) would broadcast or cover it. 

Newzroom Afrika (DStv 405) said that it would be covering the funeral proceedings on Sunday and that the news channel "We will be dipping in and out from 14:30 to cover it".

eNCA (DStv 403) spokesperson Sam Dube couldn't confirm whether the channel would possibly cover the funeral and said that "information on the broadcasting of Shaleen Surtie-Richard’s funeral will be shared on channel".

Known for her iconic roles like Fiela in Fiela se Kind and Nenna in Egoli, Shaleen Surtie-Richards in an interview on Hannes Aan Huis on kykNET (DStv 144) that was broadcast this week, said that she "wanted the opportunity to speak about her financial struggles openly" and that she had gone through "the deepest, deepest waters".

With the interview done inside her home, she told interviewer Hannes van Wyk that "I sat here without a cent to my name. My house - they wanted to put on the market. To tell you the truth my house was almost sold out from under me".

"I had nothing, nothing, nothing. And I thought: I'm going to talk about this. Not for people to feel sorry for me, but for people to know that a lot of us are sitting with this problem."

"People are too ashamed to say anything," Shaleen Surtie-Richards explained. "I haven't had food in my house. It was so bad there wasn't any food in the house." 

She also lost her medical aid. "I couldn't pay it any further and they took it away. So at this stage I just have to pray very hard that I won't get ill because I don't even have a medical aid anymore. I have nothing. I still owe on my water as well. I mean they don't cut it otherwise I'd be there as well."

Shaleen Surtie-Richards explained how work had dried up for a year. "You're paid according to the productions that you do. And if there isn't a production, there isn't money."

"I'm sitting here with a million awards behind my name that now absolutely means nothing to me."

Called the industry's "darkest secret", South African performers are still not receiving residuals for rebroadcasts of their TV and film work like what happens in other countries, with president Cyril Ramaphosa that after 15 months refused to sign the long-stalled Performers Protection Amendment Bill that has now been referred back to South Africa's National Assembly.

Friday, June 11, 2021

kykNET’s Saturday edition of Ontbytsake will be a special tribute to Shaleen Surtie-Richards: 'We tried not to cry,' says presenter Eloise Cupido.

by Thinus Ferreira

"We tried not to cry and to all hold it together," says Eloise Cupido, presenter of Ontbytsake on kykNET with the show that will do a very special tribute broadcast to Shaleen Surtie-Richards (66) all through Saturday's edition tomorrow morning following the unexpected death of the iconic actress on Monday.

Shaleen Surtie-Richards was booked and scheduled to appear on Ontbytsake this Saturday anyway when her untimely death on Monday sent shockwaves through the production crew and group of presenters who were looking forward to talking to her for her 7th time on the show.

"She would have been our guest in-studio, in person but Ontbytsake had to change it into a special tribute show," Eloise Cupido tells TVwithThinus just after the recording of Saturday's episode had wrapped on Friday afternoon.

"Viewers can look forward to a lot of video clips from all of the different series and films in which Shaleen Surtie-Richards had appeared over the years as well as clips from 2017 when she last visited us in-studio at Ontbytsake."

"My son was born just two months earlier before she visited us last so he was at work with me and we had such a great time with Shaleen. She spoke about so many things and we have about two or three clips from her last Ontbytsake visit."

Well-known friends of Shaleen Surtie-Richards also visit Ontbytsake to reminisce about Shaleen and to share their memories and what they think her contribution and impact was on South Africa's TV and film industry. 

"It's exceptionally beautifully done I think," says Eloise Cupido.

Special guests include Vinette Ebrahim, Kim Cloete, Gavin Prins and Lizz Meiring who will be talking about the impact she's had personally and meant to them and the film critic Leon van Nierop weighs in about what her impact was from an actors' and film perspective.

"Leon van Nierop is exceptionally insightful on Saturday's episode of Ontbytsake to distil the essence of Shaleen Surtie-Richards' impact on South Africa and whether we will ever see someone else who could fill her shoes and it's stunning."

"We all tried to - as far as possible - not to sit and cry. It was very difficult because Shaleen was a larger-than-life person. We tried to remember and highlight all of the aspects of her existence and humanity and to bring tribute to her life and career."

"Kim Cloete speaks in the programme to how all people of colour who entered South Africa's showbiz and who had contact with her - how Shaleen played a mentoring role. She provided perspective, she provided guidance. Shaleen didn't hold back to tell you when you've messed up and she also didn't hold back to praise you when she thought you did something great."

"It just underscored yet again how she was the same toward everyone. Everyone who talks on Ontbytsake knew her personally in their personal lives and visited each other in their homes. It's not just some superficial - it's people who worked with her and who were friends in her home." 

Ontbytsake is Saturdays on kykNET (DStv 144) from 07:30 with the week's same edition that starts 2 hours later on kykNET & Kie (DStv 145)

MultiChoice sheds another 100 000 premium DStv subscribers and with it comes further top-channels ratings share erosion - but that doesn't mean advertisers will pay less to reach these dwindling but sought-after viewers.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice has shed another 100 000 highly-prized premium DStv subscribers over the past year with customers who no longer see its expensive top-end bouquet as offering enough value for money as they switch to video streaming - an exodus that's also having an ongoing negative impact on the TV ratings share of top-bundled channels like M-Net, Discovery Channel, SuperSport Grandstand and kykNET.

Ironically, the top-channel ratings erosion due to a smaller percentage of premium DStv subscribers having and watching these channels doesn't mean that advertisers will be paying less to reach this ever-decreasing share of sought-after viewers.

MultiChoice continues to lose its most-valuable DStv subscribers - those who pay the most for the most expensive packages in order to access premium entertainment and exclusive sports channels - with the ongoing churn that led to another 100 000 DStv Premium and DStv Compact Plus subscribers who have abandoned these bouquets.

MultiChoice released its latest financial report for the year ending 31 March 2021 that indicates that although its overall pay-TV subscriber base grew thanks to an increase in its mass-market segment, its top-end customer segment in South Africa saw further erosion from 1.5 million to 1.4 million DStv subscribers - representing an 8% decrease.

MultiChoice's mid-market, comprising DStv Compact and DStv Commercial bouquets, grew by 3% from 2.9 to 3 million subscribers. 

The biggest growth came in the so-called mass-market bracket: DStv Family, DStv, Access and DStv EasyView bouquets.

This subscriber segment increased by 14% and roughly 600 000 subscribers in South Africa from 4 million to 4.6 million subscribers. 

MultiChoice now has 20.9 million active subscribers of which 8.93 million (43%) are in South Africa - that remains the pay-TV operator's country with the largest subscriber base - and with 11.93 million (57%) combined in the rest of Africa (RoA).

ARPU: Top end DStv subscriber revenue keeps falling
While MultiChoice is earning more revenue due to the ongoing growth of its overall DStv and GOtv subscriber base, MultiChoice continues to see a slide in what it makes per individual premium subscriber.

A breakout of MultiChoice's ARPU, or "average revenue per user" from within its latest financial report indicates that the ARPU of its premium subscriber segment taken over the past year shrank further from the 18% that it represented in the 2020 financial year, to 16% in the 2021 financial year.

ARPU from DStv Compact subscribers also slightly decreased from 34% to 33%. For the first time, ARPU from MultiChoice's combined mass-market segment represents more than half of the total - up from 48% in 2020 to 51% in the reported financial year.

Taking the DStv money shot from the point of average monthly subscription fee revenue, the ARPU derived from premium DStv subscribers fell further from R588 per month to R580 - a 1% decrease. The monthly DStv Compact ARPU increased by R3 from R298 to R301 - an increase of 1%.

The monthly ARPU of MultiChoice's mass-market subscribers grew from R88 per month to R95 - an increase of 9%.

Top-channels ratings pressure
Although not mentioned in MultiChoice's financial report, the 8% loss of top-end DStv subscribers translates to yet another 100 000 South African TV households who gave up access to premium TV channels ranging from M-Net and kykNET, to SuperSport Grandstand, Discovery Channel and others.

It means that these exclusively packaged channels are coming under ongoing and increasing TV ratings pressure.

These premium-positioned channels are losing viewers and ratings share - and at a much faster rate with their premium content offering that also costs more to produce - than what lower-tiered TV channels are gaining viewers with content that are not just cheaper to make but that's also the premium content that's later cycled down and scheduled across lower packages.

There is an in-built irony here in that the ratings share erosion of the top-end channels on MultiChoice's offering doesn't yet matter so much because of two still-valid-for-now reasons. 

Firstly, as a pay-TV operator, MultiChoice is less dependent on and less worried about ratings (and the ad income tied to those ratings) since its main source of income is derived from monthly subscriber fees that are paid irrespective of whether an individual watches or whether the TV and decoder is never switched on in a month. 

Secondly, DStv Media Sales spot pricing for TV commercials (can) remain stable and even increase despite decreases in audience share, since ironically the dwindling top-end audience makes reaching them even more important and desirable to certain advertisers.

To reach that extremely valuable, high-spending consumer segment - although it's a DStv viewer group getting smaller - advertisers are actually willing to spend the same, if not more, in highly-targeted ad campaigns to reach them with their commercial messages.

M-Net’s Survivor SA Immunity Island once again swarmed by pirate viewers.

by Thinus Ferreira

It took just two days after the broadcast of the first episode of the new 8th season of Survivor South Africa to once again become the country's most sought-after TV show with episodes of Survivor SA: Immunity Island that, like previous seasons, are once again pirated and illegally shared and watched by thousands of viewers worldwide.

M-Net is warning people not to steal the content and that illegally uploading, downloading, sharing and watching Survivor SA episodes anywhere in South Africa except than through DStv is damaging the local South African TV and film industry.

It took less than 48 hours after the premiere episode on 3 June of Survivor SA: Immunity Island for a high-definition version ripped from M-Net (DStv 101), as well as a lower quality version, ripped from 10play that is the video streaming service of Australia's Network Ten, to appear online on 5 June.

Survivor SA: Immunity Island, produced by Afrokaans, has been torrented and directly downloaded thousands of times already.

In online message boards - with some of the conversations that have been shut down and deleted - Survivor superfans from across the globe and in South Africa ask where they can find and illegally download or get torrent links to ripped copies of Survivor SA: Immunity Island episodes.

The same happened with previous seasons of Survivor SA, of which illegal torrents and links to episodes can also still be found online, with the show that consistently ranks as the most sought-after South African television production that viewers globally want to see and follow.

While the illegal sharing and downloading is an added bonus boost for the profile and exposure of the show and its in-show sponsors and advertisers, as well as South Africa's Eastern Cape province that helped with filming location access in the latest seasonbroadcasters - including M-Net - frown on the illegal sharing of its content that damages the TV industry ecosystem where channels lose out on ratings and revenue and content creators who earn money through selling productions are short-changed in the long run.

The latest season of Survivor SA has been trending on social media for both the past two Thursdays nights as a conversation topic although it is shown on M-Net as one of MultiChoice's most exclusive TV channels that is only available to DStv Premium subscribers.

In response to a media enquiry, M-Net says that it maintains the same stance as per previous seasons and that ripping and illegally sharing episodes of Survivor SA is wrong and damaging to the TV industry.

"Survivor is a global phenomenon and in recent years the South African version has gained vast popularity among fans abroad. M-Net is aware of the illegal downloading and sharing of the series, and strongly condemns it," M-Net tells TVwithThinus.

"Piracy negatively impacts the development of the local television and film industries and undermines the investment of broadcasters and sponsors. We encourage viewers to report illegal downloads or streaming to Bertha.Sekgothe (at symbol)".

Thursday, June 10, 2021

MultiChoice coins it during Covid and grows to 20.9 million subscribers although it continues to shed top-end DStv customers jumping to video streaming.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice continues to coin it during Covid and saw an ongoing surge in mass-market DStv subscriber growth over the past year with 7% year-on-year growth to 20.9 million active subscribers, although its base of DStv Premium subscribers continues to plunge as these top-end customers are switching away to online video streaming.

The MultiChoice Group released its results for the financial year that ended at the end of March 2021 on Thursday, noting that it grew its 90-day active linear pay-TV subscriber base by another 1.4 million DStv and GOtv subscribers of which 8.93 million (43%) are in South Africa that remains its country with the largest subscriber base, and with 11.93 million (57%) in the rest of Africa (RoA).

Of the 1.36 million new subscribers, about 500 000 were in South Africa, representing 6% growth year-on-year in South Africa.

In South Africa, the base of DStv Premium and DStv Compact Plus subscribers has plunged another 8% from 1.5 million to 1.4 million subscribers. 

The mid-market comprising DStv Compact and DStv Commercial bouquets grew by 3% from 2.9 to 3 million subscribers. 

The biggest growth came in the so-called mass-market bracket - DStv Family, DStv, Access and DStv EasyView bouquets - that increased by 14% from 4 million to 4.6 million subscribers. 

In the rest of Africa DStv's top-end subscribers dropped 10% from 1.2 million subscribers to roughly 900 000.

Similar to Britain's Sky pay-TV operator, MultiChoice and M-Net are pivoting to a new content strategy in South Africa as well as in the rest of Africa (ROA).

The Randburg-based pay-TV operator continues to lessen its spending on acquiring international content and is boosting its production spend on local content and African originals in an attempt to differentiate its content offering from global streamers like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and others like Disney+, Paramount+ and HBO Max that are not yet, but might launch their subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services on the African continent in future.

Despite production stoppages and travel restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, MultiChoice and M-Net produced 19% more content than during the previous financial year - a total of 4 567 hours. MultiChoice's total local content library now exceeds 62 000 hours, with 42% of the pay-TV operator's general entertainment spend that was on local content.

MultiChoice grew its revenue by 4% to R53.4 billion. 

"The Covid-19 pandemic taught us more about the art of the possible," says Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice Group CEO, in a statement. "We started the year confronted with severe disruptions to our programming schedules, bleak macro-economic forecasts for many of our markets and sharply weaker currencies. In the face of these challenges, our teams rallied together – this helped us deliver on all our key performance metrics."

MultiChoice says that to help manage US dollar-based costs, two major international content agreements and several smaller ones were renegotiated into South African rand (ZAR). 

MultiChoice also launched 11 new local language channels across sub-Saharan Africa, completed 5 new co-productions with global content producers and sold 16 of its series to international buyers.

MultiChoice renewed the rights to the English Premier League (EPL) and UEFA Champions League and also secured broadcasting rights to the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. On the international content front MultiChoice says that it maintains mutually beneficial relationships with its studio partners, and has successfully added access to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube on its DStv Explora Ultra decoder.

MultiChoice says that both advertising and commercial subscription revenues were significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Advertising revenues were down 34% year-on-year to R0.6 billion at the interim stage but recovered well in the second half as Covid restrictions eased, ending 11% down year-on-year at R2.8 billion.

Similarly, commercial subscription revenues started to recover in the latter part of the financial year but finished 35% lower than the prior year. The hospitality industry is expected to take some time to return to normal trading.

MultiChoice says that Connected Video users on the DStv app and Showmax continue to grow as online consumption increases. According to MultiChoice local content is also a key differentiator on Showmax, with local content viewership that is up significantly during the financial year and with 4 out of the top 5 titles on Showmax that are local productions. 

A record number of Showmax originals were launched during the year, including the first Kenyan and Nigerian original series.

"We are enjoying good momentum and are excited about our prospects for the year ahead," says Calvo Mawela.

"Our advertising business is recovering, and we have plans to further enhance our entertainment ecosystem. We look forward to an exceptional slate of local content and the meaningful return of live sport as we catch up on the events missed in this past year."

"We are however cognisant of ongoing consumer pressure in what remains an uncertain Covid-19 environment, continued macro-economic volatility in our markets and the need to absorb deferred content costs in the new year."

"We will look to counter potential headwinds through tight cost control and by driving operational excellence. Our strong balance sheet positions us well to withstand these uncertainties and deliver value to our customers and shareholders."

‘Sakina, we’re live’: The SABC's Morning Live presenters mock Namibia's NBC presenters Jessica and Elmarie after their awkward on-air spat.

by Thinus Ferreira

South Africa's public broadcaster, known for several of its own on-air gaffes over the years, on Thursday had some fun mocking its Namibian TV neighbour when the presenters of Morning Live worked in a skit and did their own version of a sensational video that went viral overnight of the awkward on-air fight between two presenters at the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC).

On Wednesday night a clip surfaced of the cringe-worthy interaction between Elmarie Kapunda, a news anchor on NBC's nightly TV news programme on Namibia's public broadcaster, and the sports presenter Jessica.

After Elmarie apparently "intruded" on the content or lines that Jessica wanted to say, Jessica started to scold Elmarie  with a "No,we are not going to do that! You're just going to greet me and say, 'Take it away", after which Elmarie had to remind her fellow presenter: "Jessica, we're live". 

Awkward silence, dead air and cold stares followed, after which the NBC News technical director cut to a commercial break.

Namibia's NBC has so far not released any statement about the incident and it's not clear whether any of the on-air talent has been suspended on taken leave.

On Thursday, Morning Live, broadcast on SABC2 and SABC News (DStv 404) reported about the incident in its daily trending topics. Later anchor Sakina Kamwendo and presenter Vaylen Kirtley had fun poking fun at their NBC colleagues' on-air moment.

Sakina Kamwendo and Vaylen Kirtley substituted their names and Vaylen had to tell her colleague: "Sakina, we're live", after which Sakina blankly stared into the Auckland Park TV camera for a few seconds - after which she cracked a smile.

On Wednesday night the SABC and SABC had its own on-air problem when anchor Vuyo Mvoko suddenly had to deal with an unexpected connection blackout during the The Watchdog timeslot:

INTERVIEW. Jason Brookstein is Survivor SA: Immunity Island's first man out: 'I was backed into a corner.'

by Thinus Ferreira

Jason Brookstein (27), an engineering draughtsman from Johannesburg became the first castaway in Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island on M-Net (DStv 101) to be cast away from the Zamba tribe in the first episode when he appeared oblivious to - and got blindsided by - the alliances being created all around him.

You didn't stay long but what was your experience like?
Jason Brookstein: The experience was absolutely amazing. Nothing less. The way that I had pictured it in my mind - I'm a very visual and artistic person and I picture things - and the way I pictured it and imagined myself in the situation, and when I got there ... it was just the right feeling it was amazing. It was good and bad.

You said during the end credits that you maybe made a mistake in asking too much information too quickly. Can you elaborate on what you think you did wrong?
Jason Brookstein: Look, the situation that I was dealt with being the fire challenge and the immunity challenge - that is just one personality. I was backed into a corner, I had to fight the way I did. I think I fought a pretty good fight. In terms of information, I think information is definitely key and how you use that information is very important.

I would say that you need to be a very good judge of information - it's a different type of aspect and a different type of thinking when you're in the game because there are so many elements that are being thrown at you at the same time. 

When you get information there are so many things to consider. I would say that my mistake was - or if I had to change anything of my strategy - it would be to speak less and listen more. 

Did you see Renier do the finger-pointing behind your back meaning "we're voting for him" or did you really not notice that, and when you watched the episode, what did you make of this?
Jason Brookstein: I really didn't! I really didn't!

You know, thinking about it now, when I saw that moment I thought that Renier was actually standing a little bit weird. It was a very odd position to stand in. I mean, are you relaxing, are you scratching your head, are you not agreeing with me? But not once did I consider that that was going on. It's funny to see something like that. It's a very bad moment but it's content. I see it. 

It was his opportunity to get information. You don't understand the timeframes you're dealing with - the pace you're moving at. It's so fast. It's not him being a bad person or anything. That's how fast things are moving. Things are moving that fast a pace. 

That little moment - he jumped, he took it. Listen, I commend it, I respect it. I'm a fan of the game, I can take it. Well done.

Some of the castaways also remarked that people shouldn't set forward as a perceived "leader" too quickly. Yet you took charge building the shelter being an engineering draughtsman. Do you think it made you a bigger target?
Jason Brookstein: I was aware of that. I was aware of that.

I will say this. Look, so as you can see, we have a relatively young cast. Some people's backgrounds crossed somehow and whatnot. 

It's crazy how there were yoga people and there were people like Survivor fans, and doctors. It's crazy and fun. It was interesting, for me it was an eye-opener in terms of "Sho, we need to put social media down and actually look around to see what's happening around us."

I don't know Dino but I was aware of him. I know he's a superfan because I'm a superfan, and I know of him but I don't know him. 

So, my thinking was that I thought that he would know that I was the structural engineer and draughtsman. That's not the role that I wanted to play. Yes, I'm a rough person, I'm an outdoors type of person. I have a nursery. I'm in the bush - that's me.

I understand that that type of role would have been given to me just based on my appearance and I understand that. But if I said that I wasn't a structural engineering draughtsman, I was scared that Dino would call that out.

So I kind of had to take that role unwillingly, and Renier spotted that. 

Looking back, what did you notice that was interesting?
Jason Brookstein: It was amazing - I wasn't really aware of the way that I think, if that makes sense.

It's fun to see that side of you because you become more aware. It was very clear to me that my personality and the way that I think - I mean I'm an achiever. That's what I do. I can see why I was cast. To see that side in the working, I've never had that opportunity and it was quite cool, I won't lie. It was amazing.

It also looked as if you struggled in the team challenge with the swimming once you got back out of the water and to just take the few steps to the Zamba castaways. You crawled to the line. What happened there?
Jason Brookstein: Yes! Yes! I would like to talk about that!

I would like to talk about that. I would love to talk about that. So. In that Survivor SA episode, I would like M-Net viewers to pause as soon as I come out of the water. I come out with one shoe.

I didn't tie my shoes properly because it's foreign for me to swim with shoes on. I know it's not an excuse but this is why I was tired and why I looked so drained. So I jumped into the water, with this sensation of trying to keep this shoe on, and then, okay, you know what, toss the shoe.

I thought I can do it without the one shoe. I carry on, get out without the shoe, and it's like - there's resistance in the water with the shoe and then there's a lot of compensating physically. 

I'm not unfit but that was a whole lot and it was really draining. As soon as I got out of the water I was finished. That's just how brutal these games are. But it was crazy but that was my fault for not tying my shoes properly. It is what it is.

Were you scared to go and take part in Survivor SA during a Covid-19 pandemic and South Africa in lockdown and to go elsewhere in the country, instead of elsewhere in the world, and what was your mindset around being selected and then going to take part in this?
Jason Brookstein: Look, getting the opportunity to play this game is one crazy achievement that I will hold dear to my heart forever. 

This is an amazing journey and I encourage anyone to do that if you think you've got what it takes - I encourage it because it's really amazing. 

It's so tough and brutal and you sat in the rain at tribal council, but you probably also made new friends although some stabbed you in the back and you'll be back for the reunion episode. What do you take away from the whole experience?
Jason Brookstein: Look, from my point of view I'm a fan of the game.

I really do understand how the outcome happened the way it did, watching it. I'm not mad, although it is a lot to take in. I've been pushing for this journey for forever. 

Listen, that's just my personality and no matter what happens to me, I'm always going to come out on top. I think that's also a reason why they cast me because in case I was the first boot - which I was - and nobody wants to be first and it's traumatic.

Let me tell you, it's kak - a blindside also - how do you take it from there? You need to carry on. You can only expect great things from me now. It's not the last you're going to see from Jason Brookstein, let me tell you that.

Survivor SA: Immunity Island is on M-Net (DStv 101) on Thursdays at 19:30

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Shaleen Surtie-Richards as Arendsvlei’s Muriel: Return-story got fully filmed and wrapped last week with character that will be on screen again on kykNET & Kie from September.

by Thinus Ferreira

Shaleen Surtie-Richards (66) who unexpectedly died on Monday during her sleep finished filming her last scenes as retired nurse Muriel Foster in Arendsvlei last week on Thursday and when the character returns in September the character's latest arc will wrap with a complete story.

South Africa's film and TV industry were shocked on Monday when news broke that the iconic actress had passed away, especially the cast and crew of the Penguin Films-produced Arendsvlei in Cape Town where Shaleen just days before still filmed scenes after she returned for on-screen work in a recurring role.

Shaleen Surtie-Richards made her first appearance in Arendsvlei in 2019 as the mother of Lionel Foster (Jody Abrahams) and returned in late May this year for another 3-week stint of filming.

DStv subscribers will see Shaleen Surtie-Richards again appear on kykNET & Kie (DStv 145) from September but Arendsvlei producers don't have to alter the script or do blunt editing - Shaleen filmed and completed her character's entire upcoming return story last week.

"She finished her last scenes on Thursday," Tarryn Joseph, Arendsvlei publicist told TVwithThinus.

"Shaleen's final filmed scenes haven't gone to editing yet, so it can still change but the character of Muriel will be seen in Arendsvlei on kykNET & Kie for roughly half a month."

"It is with the saddest heart we heard of the passing of our beloved Sharleen who has graced our screens and theatre boards with her extraordinary presence and talent over the years," says Penguin Films.

"Sharleen has just completed filming her part as Muriel Foster with us on Thursday in good spirits. So it was indeed a shock to hear of her passing. Sharleen tackled her role as Muriel with the same enthusiasm, generosity, and talent that she has tackled all of her roles, most noticeably as Fiela in Fiela se Kind and Nenna in Egoli: Plek van Goud."

"We wish her family and friends strength and deep condolences as we were all touched by Sharleen’s generous spirit. May her beautiful soul rest in peace." brings viewers a South African type of The Bold and the Beautiful with new fashion world-set House of Zwide that replaces Rhythm City as primetime soap from 19 July.

by Thinus Ferreira is replacing its cancelled primetime soap Rhythm City with a type of South African The Bold and the Beautiful, with House of Zwide that will start on Monday 19 July and revolve around a "fashionable" Johannesburg family and the high-drama and ruthless ambition that marks the cut-throat fashion industry.

Just like the Forresters of Forrester Fashions in Los Angeles, the Zwide family in Johannesburg and their rivals are in constant competition and would rather be caught dead than being out of fashion.

Produced by Bomb Productions and VideoVision Entertainment, House of Zwide replaces Rhythm City that recently filmed its final scenes. has not yet announced any new casting for House of Zwide.

"The show could not have come at a better time," says Helga Palmer,'s head of local productions.

" brings you a show of hopes and dreams to uplift and inspire viewers to believe they can achieve anything they put their minds to, in a world filled with uncertainty and despair. As Bomb Productions and VideoVision Entertainment are well-known for authentic storytelling, it will come as no surprise when the show takes South Africa by storm," Helga Palmer says.

Anant Singh, VideoVision Entertainment CEO, says "House of Zwide tells a thrilling rags-to-riches story set in the glamorous world of fashion".

"It is a timely, aspirational tale with many twists and turns that we believe will keep viewers glued to their television screens. We are excited to be partnering with Bomb Productions on this production which also marks our second series with"

Desiree Markgraaff, Bomb Productions executive producer, says "We acknowledge and are humbled to be following in the footsteps of Rhythm City which has blazed a trail in this time slot".

"We are very excited to be creating a new show for and hope viewers will welcome House Of Zwide. Covid-19 has been hard on everyone and we wanted to tell a story that reminds us that no matter the obstacles, we must never give up on our dreams."

Producer Diana Lucas on Shaleen Surtie-Richards’ final time on film in new bio doc: 'An intimate talk with a woman who was an amazing person.'

by Thinus Ferreira

It's pure Shaleen Surtie-Richards as you've never ever seen her before: Through the eyes and the stories of her friends who loved her and knew her best, says producer Diana Lucas, the woman behind the biographical docufilm Shaleen: I Am Who I Am that will debut tonight, Wednesday 9 June, on M-Net and thereafter on Showmax, as well as kykNET and kykNET & Kie.

Diana Lucas Productions completed work and was literally putting the last finishing touches on the months' long docufilm - an intimate insiders' perspective on the iconic South African actress - just as news broke on Monday morning of the untimely death of Shaleen Surtie-Richards (66). 

Diana Lucas describes Shaleen: I Am Who I Am as less of a documentary film and more "an intimate talk with a woman who was an amazing person". 

TVwithThinus asked her about how the film came to be and got completed in time to be shown this week and how Shaleen as the subject is brought out in the film through interview and anecdotes, as Diana reveals how the filmmaker and the actress - through the process (and lot and lots of photos) - became friends.

When did you start to work on Shaleen Surtie-Richards: I Am Who I Am as a documentary film?
Diana Lucas: M-Net gave me the project before the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 and then suddenly lockdown happened. I've never met Shaleen but obviously, I've heard about her and her role as Fiela and as Nenna in Egoli.

I spent a lot of time during lockdown phoning her and she wasn't totally keen about doing it initially - she just had so many things happening. And then we slowly started talking. Around August, early September, she said, when I met her, "okay, she'd do this". So that's really when it began. 

And why a film documentary about Shaleen specifically, what was the impetus for her as the subject?
Diana Lucas: M-Net wanted to do quite several documentaries about people, I know there's one about Derek Watts of Carte Blanche, there's one about Mark Shuttleworth. I think M-Net has chosen around 8 people that they thought worthy of biography-type stories.

What were you busy with when you heard about Shaleen Surtie-Richards' death on Monday?
Diana Lucas: Oh jeez, you know, I mean. I got such a shock. I was at home. And someone from M-Net was calling me and she called me again, and I just had this terrible feeling because she doesn't call me that often. 

It was a terrible shock. I didn't know Shaleen but I went through a whole list of people talking about her and her career and her acting. 

The most amazing thing was that not a single person that I asked - from Pieter-Dirk Uys to Marc Lottering to anyone - each and everyone said "If it's for Shaleen, I'll do it" and I don't think you often get that reaction. 

Everyone said "For Shaleen - whatever. Whatever time, whatever this, for Shaleen - absolutely". It was like my own discovery of all of these incredible stories that Shaleen Surtie-Richards had in her life - many that she told me obviously, but others that just came out as people like Pedro Kruger spoke about her - just these amazing, intimate pieces about Shaleen's life.

How far to completion were you with this docufilm before she passed away on Monday?
Diana Lucas: We're just completing it now, today (Tuesday). We had sort of completed it, it was just some of the final things. You know, the most wonderful thing is that I've actually showed it to her. And Shaleen loved it.

Just before the completion, about a month ago, she came in. And you know often people don't ... and she just came in and said she loved it. 

Even maybe some of the things that are - not critical but showing who is the real Shaleen and stuff - and she just said "I love it". I feel that in that way - you know, she had a healthy ego - I feel that I've made her happy.

And we'd sit and I'd found some stills and photographs in her house. I'd say "Shaleen, I'm coming for tea"  and I'd bring the cameraman and we'd sit there and she had tons - so many pictures and newspaper cuttings and she had album after album of her work and life. She was incredibly orderly actually. 

You couldn't choose and she'd just sit there and tell stories and it's in that weird time that I started to feel that Shaleen is my friend.

I'm just struck by the "divine intervention" of this documentary being made and just being ready to celebrate her life just as she died.
Diana Lucas: I know! The one thing is that I got to show it to her because that would have been my worst thing ever for her to never have seen it, but she loved it, and also I feel she was excited to see it.

Her friends were going to give her a big "talk" or event. We were going to go to Cape Town and watch it with her friends. 

How many hours of filming or how much footage did you amass for this film?
Diana Lucas: Weirdly enough her interview took just a day. She came and we did the makeup and that and it didn't take more than one interview.

But all of Shaleen Surtie-Richards' friends - I interviewed them for ages. At least I would say an hour each, maybe sometimes more, and about 10 people who are in the documentary who she considered close friends or people she'd worked with.

What surprised you from the content and the interviews or Shaleen herself during this process?
Diana Lucas: Actually, there's one thing that she is who she is - she's got not pretences, which is one thing she always said. But you never think that's really true. 

But Shaleen Surtie-Richards really was like that. She really would just say it like it is. Specifically sitting, she'd just tell you - and I'd think wow, a bit of a shock!

But what was also funny is you see that "stage" thing. She'd be sitting looking quite "small" in the interview because she had lost quite a lot of weight. And then she'd do this dramatic sort of pose. And you'd think: "Ah, the actress". Clearly, Shaleen had that mixture of being somebody who really did relate to anyone, and said it like it was.

Shaleen Surtie-Richards did know her own worth. And she did know that she was good. And she liked to talk. She liked to talk and chat and she's really funny. I think that's what surprised me - her funniness. She's funny.

The film is on Wednesday night on M-Net, from Thursday it's available on Showmax, and on Sunday on both the kykNET and kykNET & Kie channels. Why should people make sure they watch it?
Diana Lucas: You know why? Because I've done lots of interviews and even before I started this I searched every interview of Shaleen. But in Shaleen Surtie-Richards: I Am Who I Am this is a Shaleen where some of the stories some of her fans may have heard but it's got an amazing intimacy.

It's a feeling, it's stories, and it moves quite quickly. It's not too angst-filled - it's pure Shaleen. You're sitting down and you're talking to her and it's "blerrie this and that" and I think that it's something that you'll start watching and wonder "Can I watch 90 minutes?".

Then, because you engage with her you watch it all. And it's her friends telling all of these lovely stories, and they're all in showbiz as well so it's like an insiders' view.

And you want to see the pictures - young Shaleen and some pictures where sometimes I said to myself "My goodness, is that really Shaleen?" She has a very strange way that when she was younger she could look quite old, and when she was older she could look much younger. She has a very interesting face and there are so many photos and in each one, she could look totally different. 

It's not a "clever" documentary - it's more an intimate talk with a woman who was an amazing person. 

Shaleen Surtie-Richards: I Am Who I Am premieres on M-Net (DStv 101) on Wednesday 9 June at 19:30 and will become available on Showmax on Thursday 10 June 2021. 
It will be shown again as a simulcast on kykNET (DStv 144) and kykNET & Kie (DStv 145) on Sunday 13 June at 20:00. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Shaleen Surtie Richards: I Am Who I Am documentary scheduled for Wednesday night on M-Net as MultiChoice's TV tribute collection of content expands after iconic actress' death - latest programming listing across channels.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice, M-Net and kykNET are expanding the tribute collection of content this week scheduled to honour the on-screen legacy of actress Shaleen Surtie-Richards (66) who unexpectedly died on Monday, with the documentary Shaleen Surtie-Richards: I Am Who I Am that will be shown on several TV channels, a Carte Blanche insert, as well as a newly-added Saturday morning retrospective about her life on Ontbytsake.

Initially announced, her iconic film Fiela se Kind will no longer be shown this weekend, replaced with one of her latest films, Swirl that will be broadcast on fliekNET (DStv 149) on Sunday at 20:30.

South Africa's TV and film industry was shocked yesterday about the passing of the iconic actress who died in her sleep in a guest house in Edgemeade, Cape Town where she stayed while filming scenes for a recurring role on the Penguin Films produced telenovela Arendsvlei on kykNET & Kie (DStv 145).

MultiChoice will broadcast a never-before-seen documentary Shaleen Surtie-Richards: I Am Who I Am on M-Net (DStv 101) on Wednesday 9 June at 19:30.

Shaleen Surtie-Richards: I Am Who I Am on M-will again be shown - and simulcast - on kykNET (DStv 144) and kykNET & Kie (DStv 145) on Sunday 13 June at 20:00. 

Shaleen Surtie-Richards: I Am Who I Am will become available on MultiChoice's video streaming service Showmax on Thursday 10 June 2021.

"The documentary was commissioned to celebrate a South African icon and was in its final stages of post-production when the news of her passing was announced," says Diana Lucas, director and executive producer of the film.

"It was an honour for the team to pay tribute and spend time with Shaleen in the making of this film. Her incredible story is historically significant for the people of South Africa."

Shaleen Surtie-Richards: I Am Who I Am revisits Shaleen's life from her childhood in Upington and her first baby steps on the Upington school stage to far grander stages and greater audiences.

Marc Lottering, Sandra Prinsloo, Pieter-Dirk Uys, Brümilda van Rensburg, Katinka Heyns, Patricia de Lille, Bobby Heaney, Kevin Smith and others share their memories and stories of a woman who lived her life in defiance of stereotypes.

"I don’t have time for pretence in my life. So, if you ask me who am I. Then, I will tell you, I am who am," says Shaleen Surtie-Richards in the film.

Shaleen Surtie-Richards was also recently interviewed by fellow Egoli: Place of Gold co-star Hannes van Wyk for a special Kwêla: Hannes aan Huis episode which will be broadcast on Tuesday 8 June 2021 at 21:00 on kykNET (DStv 144).

On kykNET & Kie (DStv 145), the team of KLOP! will be paying tribute to the legendary icon with friends and colleagues such as South African actors Christo Davids, Zenobia Kloppers and her Arendsvlei co-stars. The kykNET telenovela Arendsvlei was the last production Shaleen Surtie-Richards worked on.

Here's the latest adjusted and updated Shaleen Surtie-Richards tribute programming for this week:

Tuesday 8 June
21:00 Hannes aan Huis kykNET (DStv 144)
Wednesday 9 June
19:30 Shaleen Surtie-Richards: I Am Who I Am M-Net (DStv 101)
20:30 KLOP! kykNET & Kie (DStv 145)
Thursday 10 June
Shaleen Surtie-Richards: I Am Who I Am will be available on Showmax
Saturday 12 June
Ontbytsake, kykNET and kykNET & Kie (DStv 144, DStv 145)
Sunday 13 June
19:00 Carte Blanche M-Net (DStv 101)
20:00 Shaleen Surtie-Richards: I Am Who I Am on kykNET (DStv 144) and kykNET & Kie (DStv 145)
20:30 Swirl fliekNET (DStv 149)