Friday, July 30, 2021

CORONAVIRUS. Ferguson Films owner, producer and actor Shona Ferguson (47) has died from Covid-19 complications.

by Thinus Ferreira

The filmmaker, producer, actor and owner of Ferguson Films in South Africa, Shona Ferguson, has reportedly died from Covid-19 coronavirus complications. He was 47.

See INDUSTRY REACTION lower down in the article.

Shona Ferguson, who was married to co-producer and actress Connie Ferguson, died on Friday afternoon at the Milpark private hospital in Johannesburg after he was admitted a week ago suffering from chest pains and struggling to breathe.

Sunday World reported that Shona Ferguson died on Friday afternoon, citing uncited sources, after he was in ICU.

This report couldn't independently be verified by other sources that TVwithThinus called, messaged and asked for several hours on Friday, hence the lack of any other reporting whilst seeking confirmation of the single-source story.

On Friday afternoon News24 cited Conrad Mwanza, a Ferguson Foundation spokesperson, confirmed the news of the death of Shona Ferguson.

"Shona Ferguson passed away at noon today and all the family is asking for at the moment is just to mourn in private," Conrad Mwanza said. 

He said that Shona Ferguson died from Covid-19 related complications.

In a statement issued later on Friday afternoon by the Ferguson Foundation, the Ferguson family said that Shona Ferguson died from Covid-19 related complications.

"It is with great sadness that we confirm the passing of Shona Ferguson. He passed away at noon today (Friday, 30 July 2021). Shona Ferguson’s untimely passing was due to Covid-19 related complications, and not a heart operation as reported in the media. We ask that you give the family time to process this painful loss and respect their space during this time."

Born as Aaron Arthur Ferguson in Botswana on 30 April 1974, he started his entertainment career in Lesotho as a club DJ at The Palace Hotel Night Club in 1992. 

After moving back to Botswana his focus shifted to the corporate world and he ended up in the IT business after which he got a role and started his acting career in SABC1's Generations, produced by Mfundi Vundla.

In 2006 he joined SABC2's Muvhango in the role of Dr Leabua and went on to portray the role of Itumeleng on The Wild on M-Net (DStv 101) and also appeared in SABC3's Isidingo, as well as Scandal! on

Along with Connie Ferguson they started Ferguson Films and appeared together on screen in their first locally-produced series Rockville on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161). 

The couple has two daughter, Alicia Angel Ferguson and Lesedi, as well as a grandson Rori.

Connie Ferguson on Saturday night on her Instagram account wrote: "This day, 20 years ago (31 July 2001), was the day God brought you into my life, and we haven't looked back since!"

"Ours is a once in a lifetime kind of love. We joked about how we were going to be in our old age. How we would take turns supporting each other and being strong for each other. The irony is we have already been doing that for the past 20 years!"

"Oh how God has loved me to give me you! We were already planning our 20th wedding anniversary in November, assuming that we had time. You and I were joined at the hip, now I feel completely off balance, incomplete, without my other half! My soulmate!"

His daughter Alicia Angel Ferguson wrote on Instagram: "Words can not express how I'm feeling right now. My worst fear became a reality. You fought your fight dad, and I'm so proud of you for making it this far".

"You've not only touched our lives as your family, but you've touched many others as well. You've left a legacy behind that I will carry on, as I did make this promise when I was little to you. Thank you for everything that you've done for me my doppelgänger."

"You made a promise to me that you'll always be there when I need you, so I believe you will always be there even in spirit. I'm going to miss being your personal photographer. I'm going to miss tickling your feet and you shouting at me for it. I'm going to miss smelling your perfume around the house."

"I'm going to miss a lot of things, but most importantly, your hugs. You gave the best hugs on this earth Fa, and I cherish each hug you've given me. I know you are protecting us from up there in heaven. I miss you and words can not express how much I love you Fa. Rest In Peace My Twin."

Shona Ferguson also made an appearance in 2014's The Gift, another series produced by Ferguson Films. 

Other series from Ferguson Films produced for MultiChoice and M-Net's DStv channels like Mzansi Magic and 1Magic (DStv 103) included The Queen, The Throne, IgaziThe Herd, The River and The Imposter, and Unmarried and Step Up to a Start-Up on which he was an executive producer.

Shona Ferguson received the Golden Horn award at the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) in the Best Actor in a TV soap category, and won another one for Best Achievement by a Lead Actor in a made-for-TV movie.

The 6-episode drama series Kings of Joburg was produced for Netflix by Ferguson Films in 2020.

Ferguson Films recently announced plans to open The Ferguson Film School for aspiring filmmakers.

In June this year Shona Ferguson shared on social media how he also went to Hollywood looking for fame and a career, as well as many doors in South Africa's TV and film industry that were shut in his face - and that he was so poor once that he couldn't afford toothpaste.

"An agent told me it wasn’t going to be easy to get me jobs because I didn't have the right “look”. A veteran actor, loved and respected by millions told me I am not memorable and so did a lot of producers. Many actors criticized me and made bets I would never make it in this industry," Shona Ferguson said.

"I've given most of these folks, agents and naysayers work opportunities regardless. Some are on my payroll and some would rather starve than work for me and that's okay. I'm not for everyone and not everyone is for me."

"There was a time in my life I couldn't afford toothpaste and I brushed my teeth with sunlight bar soap. Had bogobe le cabbage for years because I couldn't afford meat. We were so broke we couldn't afford paraffin for the lamps. We didn't have much but God was with us."


MultiChoice and M-Net in a statement in response to a media enquiry on Friday afternoon told TVwitThinus that "M-Net is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of actor, film producer and philanthropist, Shona Ferguson".

"Together with his wife Connie Ferguson, he founded Ferguson Films, and they both starred in the production company’s M-Net first series, Rockville, in 2013."

"This was followed by other successful productions, such as The Throne and The Queen, in which Shona played the role of Jerry Maake. His latest appearance was on Rockville Season 5, which aired on Mzansi Magic in June 2021, where he took on the role of JB."

"Shona previously starred in a number of popular local TV series, including Generations, Muvhango and M-Net's The Wild. Recently, Shona and his wife Connie launched the Ferguson Foundation, an independent programme dedicated to supporting and empowering disadvantaged individuals in navigating the film industry."

Nomsa Philiso, director of local entertainment channels at M-Net, says "Shona has left an indelible mark on the South African television and production industry. He will be greatly missed by the M-Net family and his fans."

"M-Net extends its heartfelt condolences to the Ferguson family and Shona’s friends and colleagues. May his loved ones find strength and peace during this difficult time."

Netflix South Africa, where Shona Ferguson produced Kings of Joburgsays "We are saddened to hear the news of the passing of Shona Fergurson. As a fixture in the entertainment industry and a hero of black stories he will be missed. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Once a King, always a King".

Roberta Durrant of Penguin Films in a statement says, "It is with great shock and sadness that we have learnt today of the passing of Shonda Ferguson. We wish Connie and other members of his family and close friends deep condolences and prayers over this time of loss".

The SABC in a statement said that it is "deeply saddened by the passing of Shona Ferguson "and sends heartfelt condolences to the Ferguson family, his colleagues and his friends". 

Merlin Naicker, SABC group executive of SABC video entertainment, says "The industry has lost a great filmmaker and actor. He has left an indelible mark and his work will remain part of the South African film and television's rich archives, and will serve as a great well of knowledge for aspiring filmmakers and actors".

Duma Ndlovu, executive producer at the Word of Mouth Pictures production company, in a statement says "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ferguson family and fans during this difficult time, we are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear brother",

"We have lost a dedicated contributor in the film and television industry, who has been doing remarkable work. We remember him for his unmistakable dedication and passion."

SABC shocks as public broadcaster parts ways with veteran sportscaster Robert Marawa; Vaylen Kirtley exits after 20 years to jump to Newzroom Afrika.

by Thinus Ferreira

As usual, since it's Friday, the SABC shocked when it suddenly announced that the South African public broadcaster has parted ways with the popular veteran sports presenter Robert Marawa whose Marawa Sport Worldwide show is apparently done and not returning to SABC radio, and with the popular TV presenter Vaylen Kirtley who is exiting after 2 decades with the SABC as she jumps to Newzroom Afrika.

Robert Marawa and his latest Marawa Sport Worldwide, has been hugely popular and a drawcard to bring large swathes of listeners to SABC radio stations, as has been previous programmes he fronted for the SABC on radio and television.

Likewise, Vaylen Kirtley has become a mainstain in the mornings on SABC2 and SABC News on Morning Live over years, while she also appeared on other SABC Sport programming. 

Insiders told TVwithThinus on Friday that Vaylen Kirtley is joining the South African TV news channel Newzroom Afrika (DStv 405). Newzroom Afrika has not yet made any announcements regarding her hiring.

Robert Marawa on social media on Friday said that he has once again "been shown the door by the SABC and unceremoniously told not to do my last show tonight".

Robert Marawa said that "after serving the public broadcaster through time, I am sent yet another text from a person in an acting position informing" him that his last show won't be broadcast on Friday after the issuing of a press release by the SABC, with the SABC apparently fearing what Robert Marawa might say in his final show.

In a terse statement lacking transparency and giving no reasons at all for either departure, the SABC, mere minutes before noon on Friday, announced that Robert Marawa and Vaylen Kirtley are no longer with the public broadcaster.

The statement contained no quotes attributed to either Robert Marawa or Vaylen Kirtley and their exit comes as the SABC is trying to bolster the content and talent of its SABC Sport brand and digital terrestrial TV channel run by SABC Sport boss Gary Rathbone.

"The SABC would like to announce the departure of renowned sports broadcasters Robert Marawa and Vaylen Kirtley," the SABC statement reads.

"Robert Marawa departs following the conclusion of the MSW (Marawa Sport Worldwide) which Robert Marawa presented on both Metro FM and Radio 2000 simultaneously."

"Vaylen Kirtley presented the sports segment of the SABC's television current affairs show, Morning Live and was also an anchor for SABC Sport programming. She joined the SABC 20 years ago and started with junior sports programmes at the time."

"The SABC would like to wish Robert Marawa and Vaylen Kirtley well in their future endeavours and appreciates their contribution to SABC Sport programming."

Netflix acquires feature-length documentary Schumacher that will release 15 September, offers 'deeply personal portrait of Michael Schumacher that will inspire and touch fans'.

by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix has acquired the worldwide rights to Schumacher, a feature-length documentary about the legendary Formula One racer Michael Schumacher that the video streaming service will release on 15 September, featuring interviews with the driver's family, and prominent figures in motor racing.

The Formula One racer's career was cut short when, after being hailed as the greatest Formula One driver of all time following 91 race victories and seven world championships, Michael Schumacher suffered a severe brain injury after a skiing accident in 2013. He has since been in recovery.

Schumacher, produced by Benjamin Seikel and Vanessa Nöcker from B|14 FILM GmbH and with Hanns-Bruno Kammertöns, Vanessa Nöcker and Michael Wech as directors, features interviews with Michael Schumacher's family - including his wife Corrina, father and brother, as well as the couple's two children, Gina and Mick Schumacher.

The documentary also talks to prominent figures of the motorsport world, including past peers and opponents such as Jean Todt, Bernie Ecclestone, Sebastian Vettel, Mika Häkkinen, Damon Hill, Flavio Briatore and David Coulthard.

"Michael Schumacher has redefined the professional image of a racing driver and has set new standards. In his quest for perfection, he spared neither himself nor his team, driving them to the greatest successes," says Sabine Kehm.

"He is admired all over the world for his leadership qualities. He found the strength for this task and the balance to recharge at home, with his family, whom he loves idolatrously. In order to preserve his private sphere as a source of strength, he has always rigorously and consistently separated his private from his public life."

"This film tells of both worlds. It is his family's gift to their beloved husband and father."

Benjamin Seikel, producer, says "The documentary was a big challenge and needed a lot of time and sensitivity, considering the pressure that was put on the production from the outside. But thanks to a great team and a really great collaboration with the family, we didn't let ourselves get rattled."

"We're grateful that it's finally getting underway and excited about its global release on Netflix. The film was always intended to be an international documentary and we're confident it will be embraced as such." 

Vanessa Nöcker, producer and director, says "The greatest challenge for the directors was certainly to find the balance between independent reporting and consideration for the family".

"Corinna Schumacher herself was our greatest support in this. She herself wanted to make an authentic film, to show Michael as he is, with all his ups and downs, without any sugarcoating."

"She was great and brave enough to let us do what we wanted, and so we respected and kept her boundaries. A very inspiring, warm woman who made a lasting impression on all of us."

Kai Finke, director for the Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) TV licensing division at Netflix, says "This deeply personal portrait of Michael Schumacher will inspire and touch his fans that followed his career, and introduce this iconic personality to our members worldwide who may not be familiar with the star’s huge Formula 1 accolades".

The Londen-based Rocket Science is representing sales and distribution of the film worldwide and facilitated the partnership with Netflix.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Jodie Whittaker quits the BBC's Doctor Who as Thirteenth Doctor along with showrunner Chris Chibnall, will be seen in season 13 and 3 film-length specials in 2022.

by Thinus Ferreira

Jodie Whittaker is leaving the British science-fiction series Doctor Who after the end of season together with showrunner Chris Chibnall who revealed in a BBC press release on Thursday that they both decided years ago that they will both quit after three seasons.

Jodie Whittaker will remain as the Thirteenth Doctor in season 13 and 3 feature-length specials in 2022.

The first of the three Doctor Who specials will be released on 1 January 2022, followed by a second episode a few months later. Jodie Whittaker's final appearance will be towards the end of 2022 to coincide with the BBC's Centenary celebrations. 

Jodie Whittaker joined Doctor Who in 2017 as the Time Lord for the 11th season that was filmed in Cape Town and the surrounding area when MultiChoice's Showmax took over the African rights of the series from BBC Studios' BBC Brit channel on DStv, along with big hype for her first season in 2018.

After that BBC Africa and Showmax suddenly fell completely silent as the series completely disappeared after all the manufactured PR fanfare due to underwhelming viewership figures on Showmax, leaving fans stranded without answers or any options to continue watching it.

Jodie Whittaker was cast as the first female Time Lord by Chris Chibnall who in return replaced Steven Moffat’s shoes as the Doctor Who showrunner four years ago.

Chris Chibnall added Tosin Cole (Ryan), Mandip Mandip Gill (Yaz), as well as Bradley Walsh (Graham) as her new companions, and eventually also Sacha Dhawan as The Master and Jo Martin as the Fugitive Doctor.

"Jodie and I made a three series and out pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast. So now our shift is done, and we're handing back the Tardis keys. Jodie’s magnificent, iconic Doctor has exceeded all our high expectations," says Chris Chibnall in the BBC press release announcing that he's quitting Doctor Who - an open secret inside Doctor Who fandom for months.

"Jodie's magnificent, iconic Doctor has exceeded all our high expectations. She's been the gold standard leading actor, shouldering the responsibility of being the first female Doctor with style, strength, warmth, generosity and humour."

"She captured the public imagination and continues to inspire adoration around the world, as well as from everyone on the production. I can't imagine working with a more inspiring Doctor – so I'm not going to!"

Olly Alexander has been widely rumoured to take over as the next Time Lord in Doctor Who when Jodie Whittaker's take on the doctor renegerates.

"Jodie Whittaker says "In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them."

"My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life".

"I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories. We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side, and pass on the baton together. So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had. I don't think I'll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I've learnt forever."

Piers Wenger, BBC drama director, says "Over the last four years Chris and Jodie have made Doctor Who history and their time on the show is indelibly marked on our memories".

"From Rosa Parks to Ascension of the Cybermen, Chris and Jodie have given Doctor Who some of its most life-affirming and tear-jerking moments to date and we are beyond excited to see what they have in store for us in the new series this autumn."

"Jodie's final adventure to mark the BBC's Centenary in 2022 is set to be a Doctor Who Special to remember. I'd like to thank them both for their incredible work on the show."

Netflix renews science-fiction drama series Sweet Tooth for an 8-episode second season.

by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix has renewed the science-fiction drama series Sweet Tooth for an 8-episode second season.

The series following the hybrid part-deer, part boy Gus (Christian Convery) is based on the DC Comic book series by Jeff Lemire, who left his home in America looking for answers about his origins together with a wandering loner Jepperd (Nonso Anozie), as they're searching for answers as to what plunged human civilisation into a post-apocalyptic world, 10 years after an event known as "The Great Crumble".

Jim Mickle returns as showrunner, writer, director and executive producer of Sweet Tooth of which the first season was released worldwide on 4 June. A premiere date will be announced later.

Sweet Tooth is produced by Team Downey and Warner Bros. Television.

"It's been equally thrilling and heartwarming to experience how people around the world have been falling in love with our deer-boy," says Jim Mickle in a Netflix press release announcing the second season renewal.

"We couldn't be more excited to continue our collaboration with Netflix and keep following Gus and his friends on their extraordinary journey."

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The actor, comedian and director Clive Scott (84) who was one of South Africa's first TV stars has died.

by Thinus Ferreira

The legendary and prolific actor, comedian, director and palm-reader Clive Scott known for roles on stage, in film and on television in series like The Villagers, Isidingo and Life Begins at 40 died on Wednesday. He was 84.

His daughter, Gudrun Scott Cleghorn, confirmed the death of her dad on Facebook. Clive Scott was also a lecturer and film producer and starred in a plethora of South African TV commercials over several decades. His cause of death is not yet known.

"Clive, our beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle and brother met Archangel Azrael at 14:30 today, surrounded by the love and light of loved ones who had passed before him. Our hearts are broken and our lives will never be the same again. He touched so many lives and was loved by so many. A truly remarkable life lived."

"My brother's Tom, Luke, Lufuno and I are deeply grateful for the outpouring of love and for the exceptional care our father experienced in the last moments of his life," she wrote.

TV trivia buffs will remember that Clive Scott played the character of the barman Ted Dixon in
The Villagers, South Africa's very first locally-produced TV drama series on the SABC's TV1 in 1976.

He then popped up, as Ted Dixon again in Isidingo on SABC3, 23 years later, reprising the role of Ted Dixon, since Isidingo was created by producer Gray Hofmeyr and was based on The Villagers - that was also created years earlier by Gray Hofmeyr.

Clive Scott toured throughout South Africa doing many stage shows, was a voice actor in numerous SABC Radio series. He and Gordon Mulholland also took their own stage productions around South Africa.

Born in Johannesburg on 4 July 1937, Clive Scott, born as Robert Clive Cleghorn, worked in banking for two years but he left to go work in the former Rhodesia and then left Zimbabwe for the United Kingdom where he stayed for 12 years and studied acting at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art where he had roles on stage across Britain and also on television in episodes of Doctor Who and The Last of the Baskets.

Clive Scott returned to South Africa in 1970 and starred in films like My Way, The Baby Game, Bait and Sell a Million. He became a household name after his 3-year role as Ted in The Villagers and one of South Africa's first TV stars.

Clive Scott had roles in films in every decade since the 1970s like Home Before Midnight, Skelms, Magic is Alive My Friends, Blind Justice, Killer Instinct, Sweet Murder, The Fourth Reich, No Hero, Live Wire 2, Operation Delta Target 3, Traitor's Heart, Operation Delta Force 5, Sumuru, Citizen Verdict, Stander, Beat the Drum, Duma, and was judge FL Rumpff in 2011's Winnie Mandela.

He appeared in 2016's Kalushi: The Story of Solomon Mahlangu, with his last film role that was in 2019's French-African film Black Snake.

In South African TV series Clive Scott appeared in shows ranging from Oh George! in which he was George and John Ross: An African Adventure.

He also had roles in Miss Candida, River Horse Lake, The Adventures of Sinbad, Blind Justice, 1989's Barney Barnato, Tropical Heat, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, Rhodes, The Devil's Whore and the sitcom Life Begins at 40.

He was in 2009's Wild at Heart and played a principal in the 2018-miniseries Liberty.

In one of his last TV soap roles he appeared in Binnelanders on kykNET (DStv 144) as an elderly man with Alzheimers.

His roles in made-for-TV movies ranged from Where Angels Tread, Dark Desires: Diana, Mauwie, Pride of Africa, Red Water to Der weisse Afrikaner.

He directed and played the lead in The Moon is Blue at the Brooke Theatre in 1977 and also performed on stage in A Community of Two, Let Sleeping Wives Lie, Odd Man In, Night and Day, Happy Birthday, Towards Zero, Till Debts Do Us Part, was Major General in The Pirates of Penzance in 1986, Double Act, The Little Foxes, The Sum of Us, Don't Dress for Dinner, 1994's Oliver!, Funny Money, and Pieter-Dirk Uys' Auditioning Angels in 2003 at the Grahamstown Festival.

In his Warts and All one-man performance at Foxwood House that he started in 2014, he shared humorous anecdotes and stories about his life and career.

Clive Scott had a prolific career appearing in numerous South African TV commercials over decades, appearing as a funny face for every conceivable homegrown South African brand ranging from Mrs Balls chutney to MultiChoice's DStv.

Clive Scott leaves behind his wife Margie, and his children Gudrun, Thomas, Luke and adopted son Brian/Lufuno.

CORONAVIRUS. Ster-Kinekor reopens its South African cinemas; press screenings back for film critics with pressure review schedule.

by Thinus Ferreira

Like Nu Metro, Ster-Kinekor is also reopening its cinemas in South Africa following Monday's move from Level 4 to an adjusted Level 3 of lockdown in the country, with in-person press screenings for media that will resume from August although film critics will have less than 16 hours in some cases to craft reviews.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday night that South Africa is moving back to an adjusted level 3 lockdown with cinemas, casinos, gyms, theatres, museums and libraries that are allowed to open and with restaurants that can once again cater to sit-down patrons.

Nu Metro told TVwithThinus on Monday that the cinema chain will reopen its movie theatres on Friday 30 July, including its specialised cinema formats like 4DX, VIP and Xtreme. 

Nu Metro will initially only have its cinemas open on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

Ster-Kinekor told TVwithThinus on Wednesday in response to a media enquiry that it has now opened 19 of its cinemas since Tuesday and will reopen its remaining 33 venues on Friday 30 July.

Sterk-Kinekor is currently in business rescue and in June implored the government to allow cinemas to reopen since the mandated closure of cinemas meant a "devastating blow" to South Africa's movie theatre industry.

Ster-Kinekor says all its cinemas countrywide will continue to operate with "all Covid-19 safety procedures" and that "each theatre will be permitted a maximum of 50 guests per auditorium".

"Ster-Kinekor will continue to screen all our staff before we open the cinemas each day, as well as at each shift with regular sanitising breaks during their shift."

"We will wear face masks and gloves where required and our staff have been trained on safe work practices to ensure safety for themselves and for our guests. We will continue to sanitise the cinemas before and after each show and have increased our cleaning times between every show to make sure all our seats and surfaces are clean and safe."

Ster-Kinekor will return Fast & Furious 9 for only its second week on circuit after the film had a successful opening weekend prior to the adjusted level 4 lockdown restrictions which were implemented on 27 June.

The Looney Tunes gang in Space Jam: A New Legacy will be releasing 30 July, while Ster-Kinekor will be pre-release screening Disney’s Jungle Cruise on Saturday 31 July ahead of the national release on 6 August.

James Gunn’s DC movie The Suicide Squad will flicker onto Ster-Kinekor's digital projectors from 6 August, long after the film has already been released in East and West Africa as well as other parts of Southern Africa, and will be in IMAX theatres in South Africa from 13 August.

Ryan Reynolds in Free Guy will release on 20 August, after which Hardin and Tessa return for a third installment of the "After" franchise in After we Fell , releasing at Ster-Kinekor cinemas on 3 September.

Film critics chasing time
After all film screenings for media were abruptly cancelled on 16 July, South African film critics and journalists in Cape Town and Johannesburg will be able to return to cinemas with their notebooks and glow-in-the-dark pens from August but with a catch.

With the severe disruption of the press screening schedule for films, distributors have had no other choice but to drastically reduce the lead time between screening dates and the release date of films. 

Instead of weeks, and sometimes even a month in advance, South Africa's film critics will now have less than 16 hours, just a day, or only 48 hours to watch some films and then churn out their reviews.

In some cases, what in industry parlance is referred to as the "review embargo date" - the pre-determined studio first date by which publications and critics are allowed to publish possible reviews - are not even relevant anymore since the review embargo date now falls even before the press screening date.

It means that South African film critics would theoretically be able to walk out of a cinema's press screening and immediately be able to share their views and opinions on films like Disney's Jungle Cruise, Marvel Studios' Black Widow and even 20th Century Studios' Free Guy since review screenings are scheduled after embargo dates that no longer apply.

Actress Sindi Buthelezi (32) known for her role as Zinhle in Generations has died.

by Thinus Ferreira

Actress Sindi Buthelezi known for her role as Zinhle Mathe in SABC1's Generations has died. She was 32.

The cause of Sindi Buthelezi's death is not yet known and her sister Nonhlanhla Sikhakhane confirmed her death.

Born and raised in Ratanda on the East Rand in Gauteng, Sindi Buthelezi started her acting career at a local community hall.

Unable to afford drama studies at AFDA she studied towards a PR qualification at the University of Johannesburg and left the PR industry after two years, getting a role in a short film entitled Babe Come Duze on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161).

She joined Generations in 2013. In 2014 Sindi Buthelezi was picked up by SABC1's Soul City for the role of Ntombi and in 2016 she appeared in's telenovela Ashes to Ashes as Patience Khumalo. She also played a reporter in Mzansi Magic's Isibaya.

CORONAVIRUS. MultiChoice Zimbabwe closes Harare branches as Covid-19 cases surge.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice Zimbabwe has closed its branches in the capital of Harare as cases of Covid-19 infections are surging in the struggling Southern African country.

MultiChoice Zimbabwe closed its offices and branches in Harare in Avondale and Joina City on 22 July and will only reopen them on 2 August due to the surge of Covid-19 infections in the country and in the city.

MultiChoice Zimbabwe is telling DStv Zimbabwe and GOtv Zimbabwe subscribers to make use of the pay-TV company's digital platforms or to use the MultiChoice Zimbabwe call-centre numbers to phone for assistance.

Zimbabwe is currently in a Lockdown Level 4 as it's struggling to cope with the massive surge in Covid-19 cases fuelled by the much more contagious Delta-variant.

CORONAVIRUS. MultiChoice opens a building basement Covid-19 vaccination site at its Randburg complex for pay-TV group's Gauteng staffers.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice in South Africa has started a Covid-19 vaccination programme for its South African employees and has created a vaccination site in the basement of its MultiChoice Explora building in Randburg for staffers of the pay-TV company who want to get vaccinated there.

South Africa is battling a devastating third wave of the global Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic with the country that shifted back to an adjusted Lockdown level 3 since Monday this week.

MultiChoice's vaccination site in Randburg is staffed by health professionals from the Wits Health Consortium.

"The goal of the national vaccine campaign is to significantly reduce the spread of the virus in a bid to return our society to normality. Vaccinating our employees will help increase the number of South Africans that are vaccinated and make a meaningful contribution to this goal. We want to play our part in the fight against COVID-19," says Nyiko Shiburi, MultiChoice SA CEO.

MultiChoice's vaccination site follows the South African government's age group-based rollout, starting with people aged 35 years and older. 

MultiChoice staffers who have already received their first Pfizer jab as part of the government rollout can receive their second jab at the MultiChoice vaccination site. MultiChoice will also make regional vaccination sites available later in provinces outside of Gauteng.

Showmax to stream The Buzz twice weekly as a commentary show for the 6th season of Big Brother Naija with Nigerian radio personality Toke Makinwa as presenter.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice video streaming service Showmax will stream The Buzz on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 3 August as an additional twice-a-week companion show alongside the 6th season of Big Brother Naija with the Nigerian radio personality Toke Makinwa who will be the presenter of the opinion and commentary-driven show.

The Buzz will stream on Showmax on Tuesday and Saturday evenings with Toke Makinwa who will share her opinions and insights into the show that is produced from MultiChoice and M-Net West Africa's studio complex in Lagos, Nigeria.

"This is almost like the unfiltered version of Big Brother where we bring you weekly highlights so I'm looking forward to them messing up, I’m looking forward to them creating more drama because that way my show gets even more interesting," Toke Makinwa says.

TVwithThinus asked Showmax last week what Big Brother Naija content the streamer would carry but a Showmax spokesperson said that the service isn't willing to release programming details yet and would do so this week but by Wednesday at the time of publishing of this article there was no information issued yet.

Besides The Buzz, Showmax is also carrying daily and weekly highlights of the 6th season of Big Brother Naija as additional content for viewers, including the Head of House challenge, and diary room rant sessions from the housemates.

Big Brother Naija is broadcasting as a 24/7 linear TV channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service on channel 198 in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa, and on DStv channel 197 in South Africa.

Big Brother Naija highlight programmes are also running on various Africa Magic channels that differ whether viewers are watching from Nigeria and the rest of Africa, or from inside South Africa.

What there is to binge-watch on BritBox like a new Charles and Diana wedding documentary.

by Thinus Ferreira

When Britbox launches on 6 August in South Africa viewers will be able to watch thousands of hours of classic British TV content, as well as new seasons of shows, exclusive new series, and a new feature-length documentary, Wedding of the Century, with carefully restored HD footage of Prince Charles and Diana's 1981-wedding with new interviews.

Britbox as a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service will launch on 6 August as the latest international video streaming service to become accessible to local audiences at a cost of R99.99 per month and can be accessed at on Android and Apple mobile devices and tablets, FireTV, AppleTV, Samsung Smart TV and LG Smart TV sets.

New content for South African viewers on BritBox will include series like Annika starring Nicola Walker, Deadwater Fell with David Tennant and The Larkins with Bradley Walsh, as well as Michael Apted's multi-award winning documentary series Up, from 1964's Seven Up all the way to the most recent 63 Up.

BritBox will also have the second season of Manhunt with Martin Clunes, Unforgotten season four, Endeavour season eight, Vera season 11, Grantchester season six and The Syndicate season four. 

Classic library series on BritBox will include Blackadder, Absolutely Fabulous, Inspector Morse, Top Gear, Poldark, Fawlty Towers, Keeping Up Appearances and Midsomer Murders.

The 6th season of the police drama series Line of Duty will be on BritBox in which Kelly Macdonald is guest-starring as DCI Joanne Davidson, the senior investigating officer on an unsolved murder whose unconventional conduct raises eyebrows at the AC-12 anti-corruption unit. 

Expect cliffhangers and plot twists as cast regulars Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar return in their quest to bring "bent coppers" to book while fighting their own flaws.

Professor T is an exclusive new drama series on BritBox, with Ben Miller as Professor Jason Tempest, a brilliant but unorthodox criminologist at the University of Cambridge, and Emma Naomi as DI Lisa Donckers, a detective facing an uphill battle to get the eccentric professor's help with a challenging case.

South African BritBox subscribers will also be able to watch Wedding of the Century, a feature-length documentary about Prince Charles and Princess Diana's 1981-wedding, showcasing carefully restored high-definition footage with interviews with key professionals from behind the scenes. 

"We're really excited to be bringing BritBox into South African homes and are confident viewers are going to love our programming, which offers a mixture of brilliant classic and contemporary content, plus the biggest collection of British box sets, all in one place," says Neale Dennett, BritBox International's new markets launch director.

BritBox CEO Reemah Sakaan says "It's quality content that's effortlessly watchable. British TV and film has grown exponentially as a cultural export in recent years, with productions and talent frequently scooping BAFTAs, Emmys and Oscars, and regularly recognized as some of the best in the world for quality and escapism".

"Our TV is no longer niche but has come firmly into the mainstream, plus there's a definite rise in nostalgia viewing, which is finding completely new audiences. It's a rich time to be in British TV."

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

British video streaming service BritBox launching in South Africa on 6 August 2021 costing R100 per month.

by Thinus Ferreira

The British video streaming service BritBox, jointly run by ITV and the BBC, announced that it would launch on 6 August in South Africa as the 5th global territory where it will be available at a price of R99.99 per month, including a 7-day free trial.

BritBox that is already available in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, will join South Africa's video streaming wars where MultiChoice's Showmax, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ are competing with VIU, Vodacom Video Play and TelkomONE, with HBO Max, Disney+, Paramount+, Peacock and Discovery+ still to launch.

Meanwhile eMedia Investments plans to take the wrapping off of its renamed video streaming service eVOD that it will launch on Wednesday night in South Africa, with the SABC that plans to launch its video streaming service modelled on the British iPlayer, before the end of this year.

Then there is also Acorn TV, likely BritBox's biggest competitor and that is already available in South Africa, also offering a 7-day free trial and costing R79 per month for access to its revolving catalogue of British TV content.

Britbox in South Africa will be supported on the web, as well as on all mobile and tablet devices, while Apple TV set-top boxes, Samsung and LG smart TV sets are also included.

Some of the series at the launch of BritBox will include Absolutely Fabulous, Blackadder, Broadchurch, Fawlty Towers, Inspector Morse, Line of Duty, Luther, Manhunt, Mr Bean, Unforgotten, Professor T, The Midwife, The Office, Wedding of the Century, Vera, as well as Young Victoria.

Reemah Sakaan, BritBox International CEO, at the virtual media launch on Tuesday evening, said that when BritBox launches in South Africa on 6 August, it will have "record-levels" of exclusive content, especially since linear pay-TV channels in South Africa have ended.

Reemah Sakaan alluded to the ITV Choice channel from ITV Studios and BBC First from BBC Studios that were terminated on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service and saw the loss of a large chunk of content that led to several complaints from DStv subscribers.

"We chose South Africa as our next priority region because we know there's a massive loyal fanbase for British television and it's growing," she says.

"BritBox is perfectly place to respond to the new shifting patterns of behaviours of the way people want to watch. We see new audiences discovering gems from the past to love and generational audiences finding hot new premieres to stick their teeth into - and that's the beauty of streaming."

"In the past few years, British content has moved firmly into streaming centre-stage while also maintaining its high-quality benchmark in character-driven storytelling. That's why we seized the opportunity to tap into that appetite and created BritBox."

Britbox series will include stars ranging from Idris Alba, Helen Mirren, Judi Densch, Martin Clunes and Dominic West. 

"In a sea of other streamers Britbox does exactly what it says on the tin. We pride ourselves in giving subscribers a highly curated and distinctive offering versus others. It's the largest selection of British box sets all in one place for all to discover, rediscover and to binge and enjoy."

"Due to the recent closure of some linear TV channels in Britbox in South Africa will have record-levels of exclusivity," Reemah Sakaan says.

"Premieres will regularly arrive within hours of their UK transmission, she said "making us the fastest from UK screen to BritBox stream".

"Our research tells us that South African audiences have a really broad variety of tastes. We know for instance that they love British comedies, are passionate about crime series and mad about period drama and who doesn't love a classic Agatha Christie mystery?"

"They're also adventurous and keen to try something new and edgy. So it's all of that finding a sweet spot for South African audiences as we hand-select and carefully programme for each market. We're also really excited as we've been busy commissioning and producing new originals that have been created specifically for BritBox." 

Exec Neale Dennett, BritBox new markets launch director, said that BritBox South Africa will be bringing consumers several latest seasons of ongoing British series.

Customers who sign up for BritBox for a 1-year subscription will get two months added on for free.

Monday, July 26, 2021

The second season of The Longest Date on S3 with 16 new contestants are about finding love in unlikely - and dangerous - places.

by Thinus Ferreira

A second season of the original local reality show, The Longest Date starts tonight on S3 at 21:00 after it was recently filmed as a Covid-19 safe so-called "bubble production" with a group of 16 new singles all looking for love in unlikely - and dangerous - places.

The 16 new contestants who were grouped into 8 couples according to their possible compatibility on paper, have to compete in various challenges for the chance at winning the R100 000 cash prize.

The local format show that was created by Samantha and Graeme Moon for SABC3 is being produced by Brandgen Productions and for the second season headed to the scenic Oribi Gorge in KwaZulu-Natal with Christopher Jaftha back as the host.

In every episode of the new season, the couples attempt to complete extreme tasks ranging from shark diving to mud-rallying that are all designed to take them out of their comfort zone, with the lowest-scoring couple that is constantly getting eliminated until there's only one couple left.

Chris Jaftha says "we have something really special on our hands with the second season". "There is a lot we learnt from the first season and for the second season we've upped the stakes and the challenges are more grueling."

"I'm the stuntman of the show, I do some of the pre-viz, your pre-visualisations. While I'm explaining the challenges to the contestants, the audience gets to see what the challenge is supposed to look like. I can tell you for certain, that if I think that I nearly died on one of the challenges ..."

"The safety crew and my producers got a little concerned because in one of the challenges, the river crossings in particular - I'm not going to mention too much about it so we have something to look forward to - I didn't come up for about a minute and people thought I had drowned. Until I eventually came up."

"I was just trying to hold my breath, to be honest to get through the challenge but I have the scars on my neck from the rope burn to prove it. So the show is hard, it's exceptionally hard, it's dangerous."

Samantha Moon says "we have some incredible challenges on The Longest Date - not only do we have the elements but we shot an episode a day which is unheard of to do an episode a day and if we did not have Christopher who is not only the host but also our stuntman who is a one-take wonder and who remained engaged and is the most talented host I've ever worked with, I don't know that we can get it done the way we do".

"He literally does every challenge - every physical challenge we throw at him without a complain and he's kind enough to never renegotiate his rates."

She describes the 16 contestants as "the most diverse, interesting, engaging, vulnerable and relatable cast that is on television today."

"SABC3 took a risk on this original format and they continue to work with us as we push further to showcase this incredible cast - there wasn't any pushback, instead they constantly push us further to show the contestants' journey in the most authentic, natural format possible."

"When you shoot 12 hours a day to film a reality show, the only thing that's scripted is Chris. For the rest - it's their story, it's their journey, we don't create stories in post-production," Samantha says.

"Yes, the second season was filmed in a Covid-19 safe bubble in a beautiful part of KwaZulu-Natal," Samantha explains when TVwithThinus asked how the coronavirus impacted the production of the show.

"Crew and cast tested negative for Covid prior to arriving. All cast were housed in their own housing and so all crew, so we did create a Covid-safe bubble."

"We also are fortunate in that we filmed exclusively outdoors and maintained all protocols to sanitising and mask-wearing. We didn't have any cases of Covid-19 while on-location. Unfortunately, there's been a few in post-production but that is what it is - third wave."

Jacqui Hlongwane, SABC3 acting programme manager, says "what we wanted to improve for the second season was to just make it as representative and as diverse as possible in terms of exploring all kinds of relationships, regardless of sexual orientation. That was really, really big for us."

"The new S3 slogan is 'Open Up' and it's about opening up to new worlds, to new experiences, to new conversations, to new relationships, making yourself vulnerable and putting yourself out there and getting out of the comfort zone."

"The Longest Date is a very unique concept because it's about finding love in an unlikely space where you yourself are being tested to your limits. The Longest Date is pushing the boundaries and having the conversations and representing everybody."

The contestants in the second season of The Longest Date are: 

Julia Peterson
A 29-year-old model and influencer from Durban, whose life ambition is to be wealthy, she is passionate about helping people. Her ideal partner needs to be ambitious, fun and have a great sense of humour. Not be threatened by her but support her and push her to be the best version of herself.

Gareth Joubert
Gareth is 32 years old and a custom leatherwork craftsman from Pretoria. His life ambition is to travel the world with the love of his life. His ideal partner is a smart, beautiful, and independent woman with a strong sense of adventure and a great sense of humour, someone who's willing to stick by him through life and experience all it has to offer.

Rachel Leistra
Rachel is 24 years old, and she is a former South African national long-distance runner, bio kineticist and children's development coach and masters student at the University of Johannesburg Gauteng. 
Her life ambition is to start her own practice one day and focus on children's motor development skills.

Her ideal partner is matured, honest, who has integrity, is independent and respectful, someone who is not afraid to be themselves and who she can be herself around and go on adventures with, train with and have fun with. It is someone who calls her out when she is wrong, a person who loves animals and has empathy and loves nature and the outdoors and who is not afraid to try new things.

Ricardo Potgieter
A 26-year-old entrepreneur and private pilot from Krugersdorp whose life ambition is to travel every continent and have a picnic on each. His ideal partner must be caring and loving.

Lethabo Bereng
Lethabo is 27 years old, and he is a model and actor from Gauteng and recently starred in Netflix's How To Ruin Christmas: The Wedding. His life ambition is to live, to feel, process every emotion, feeling and experience and make it part of his DNA. 

His ideal partner is someone who is emphatic and knows that life is meant to be felt, someone who understands that other beings ate not meant to be understood or tamed, but to be loved. He should know that no matter what our gender or expression, building a safer world for queer bodies is a responsibility all of us should share.

Sibusiso Mxosana
A 26-year-old actor, singer and dancer who recently travelled internationally as part of the cast for Chicago. Originally from the Eastern Cape he currently resides in Johannesburg and his life ambition is to be sharing his art with the world. His ideal partner is someone grounded and easy-going, someone who loves to travel.

Kaelin Govender
Kaelin is a 25-year-old sales representative and brand ambassador from Kwa-Zulu Natal. His life ambition is to be free, kind and to be left with no what ifs. His ideal partner is someone with a gorgeous smile, lovely hair, and kind eyes, definitely with a fit body and with great legs.

Melo Moloto
Melo is a24 years old broadcaster from Midvaal whose life ambition is to become a successful broadcaster and winning the lottery. Her ideal partner is someone supportive, tall, driven, does not smoke or have children but would want to have kids one day.

Ekraahm Cassim
A 28-year-old exotic dancer from Cape Town, his life ambition is to achieve success in all areas of his life mentally, spiritually, physically, and materialistically. His ideal partner is someone who is an intellectual, open-minded person and who knows her path, seeking elevation of consciousness, who is fit and strong-willed.

Zinhle Nkosi
She is 28 years old and runs an NGO and lives in Gauteng, but is from Kwa-Zulu Natal. Her life ambition is to become successful and her ideal partner must be at least her height as she is tall, and must be fit and hot. But most importantly he must have a beautiful heart.

Malwandla Hlekane
Malwandla is 26 years old and he is a sportscaster by profession and an educated, qualified sports performance coach from Gauteng. His life ambition is to be a God-fearing millionaire with a monthly personal passive income of $50 000. His ideal partner is a beautiful woman who has an intelligent head on her shoulders.

Sunshine Dlangamandla
The 24-year Sunshine is an architect and travel blogger from Johannesburg whose life ambition is to travel the world and design awe-inspiring modern African architecture. Her ideal partner is someone who is romantic, ambitious, adventurous, God-fearing and tall, someone she is always laughing with.

Angelo Antonie
Angelo is 25 years old, and he is a personal trainer based in Cape Town. His life ambition is to help people achieve mental and fiscal health. His ideal partner must be an intelligent, young, independent individual - someone that is willing to make it work and compromise and someone that is active and loves the outdoors.

Angelique Samuels
She is a 28-year-old fitness Instructor from Gauteng with a life ambition of leaving a legacy. Her ideal partner is someone who is family-oriented, adventurous, an entrepreneur and also romantic.

Fahdil Baker
34-year-old full-time law student and call-centre agent from Pretoria. His life ambition is to make his mom proud to call him her son, his sisters proud to call him their brother and one day his husband proud to call him his husband and his kids proud to call him dad.  

His ideal partner must be a genuinely good human being, must care about the environment, social justice issues and the welfare of others.

Tylor Spelman
He is a 31-year-old professional dancer, choreographer, teacher, content creator and entrepreneur from Western Cape. His life ambition is to live life to the fullest, with nothing but happiness. His ideal partner is someone who has a sense of humour, is funny, kind, honest and authentic who is not afraid to speak his mind.