Tuesday, August 31, 2021

REVIEW. The drama series Nêrens, Noord-Kaap on kykNET tells a full-bodied story of emptiness as damaged characters search to fill their empty lives.

by Thinus Ferreira
8 TVs 

Nêrens, Noord-Kaap, the tragic and moody new 13-episode Afrikaans drama series on kykNET (DStv 144) with English subtitles, comfortably seeks out and wallows in vast, silent, uncomfortably empty spaces as its damaged characters desperately search for ways to fill up their painful lives (alcohol!, romance!, travelling! fatherhood!).

Writer and director Nico Scheepers reveals himself to be South Africa's Baz Luhrmann.

As clearly a formalist auteur, Nico Scheepers's TV version of his Nêrens, Noord-Kaap play details the journeys of 3 estranged and troubled brothers, along with their paternalistic father, on, and away from the family farm in the barren vistas world of the Northern Cape.

In terms of TV and film criticism and analysis, a lot can be written and dissected about Nêrens, Noord-Kaap ("nowhere, Northern Cape") - suffice to say that the writer and director, like Baz Luhrmann (and employing a lot of his techniques) places the viewer central to the story, demands that the viewer goes on a journey, that the viewer engages with the story and that the watcher puts in the work to think about what you're seeing.

The visuals, colouring, filters, editing, narrative use of characters, symbols and themes of Nêrens, Noord-Kaap all tell a full-bodied story of emptiness and how people living with literally and figurative empty lives try to fill their broken lives in a search for "healing" and meaning. 

Suffering into adulthood, years after the loss of their Dutch mother, brother Frans (Geon Nel) - beset by nightmares and visions and just as injured as one of his lambs and in need of tender love and care - lives a life empty of love. Tragically he doesn't believe that he deserves any. 

Alcoholic brother and father Ronnie (Albert Pretorius) after a divorce tries to drink himself to the brim to numb the pain, tragically stealing from his pre-teen son exactly what was taken away from him in his formative years: a parent.

Hyper-sensitive Andries (De Klerk Oelofse) desperately wants to escape the physical place of pain where he grew up, turning into a worldly, repos ailleurs type traveller-dreamer who tragically believes that true rest is forever found elsewhere.

Like Baz, Nico Scheepers' TV-version of Nêrens, Noord-Kaap, produced by Nagvlug Films and with lingering cinematography by Chris Lotz, is a stylised cinematic experience that wants to make you feel something. 

Beyond the mere story, Nêrens, Noord-Kaap tries to evoke emotional responses from the viewer with the catharsis that comes from learning through what you're feeling.

With a poetic, cinematic and formalist approach, Nêrens, Noord-Kaap deftly immerses the viewer in the dream-like, open/empty world of the Adendorff farmer brothers looking to be filled up; to somehow, hopefully, be made whole (again).

Some of the acting from certain members of the supporting cast are uneven and questionable, however the strong symbolism and motifs beautifully worked into the mise-en-scène of Nêrens, Noord-Kaap throughout the episodes, completely overshadow any of these negligible acting deficiencies. 

It's beautiful - and beautifully heartbreaking - as brother Frans, for instance, drives away from the love of his life in his bakkie on a dirt road in the closing moments of the third episode, as the camera lingers on how the dust clouds literally erase the woman from existence. She literally and symbolically disappears and is wiped from the audiences' gaze.

Nêrens, Noord-Kaap isn't a feel-good TV drama. It's a feel drama - and often uncomfortable at that.

With a distinctive visual style and with a story told through characters as well as through images, the TV version of Nêrens, Noord-Kaap is a richly textured, well-executed audio-visual drama on kykNET - ripe for post-graduate dissertation of just how far the traditional Afrikaans "farm novel" story has progressed within a new medium as a cinematic experience.

Nêrens, Noord-Kaap is on Tuesdays on kykNET (DStv 144) at 20:00, starting 31 August 2021.

This review is based on the first 3 episodes.

MultiChoice and M-Net Movies add Lethal Legends and Hollywood's Sexiest as 2 new DStv pop-up channels from 24 September.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice and M-Net M are adding two new M-Net Movies pop-up channels from 24 September to DStv: M-Net Movies Lethal Legends and M-Net Movies Hollywood's Sexiest.

M-Net Movies Hollywood's Sexiest will run on DStv channel 111 from 24 September for DStv Premium subscribers, daily from 16:00 until after midnight and will end on Sunday 10 October.

The M-Net Movies Hollywood's Sexiest pop-up channel's inventory will be available on DStv Catch Up until Wednesday 10 November.

According to M-Net Movies, the Hollywood's Sexiest pop-up channel is dedicated to the talented movie stars who mesmerise with their amazing physique and stunning looks and will show films led by the most attractive actors and actresses who have achieved fame in Hollywood - both past and present.

The Lethal Legends pop-up channel will celebrate the greatest action stars of the '80s and '90s and will run from 24 September on DStv channel 113 for DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus and DStv Compact subscribers until 3 October. 

The movie collection will be available on Catch Up until Wednesday 3 November.

The action-packed channel will show blockbusters from Steven Seagal, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, and Michael Dudikoff as legendary martial arts performers known for their no-nonsense personality, which has helped them carve out a name for themselves in the action genre, particularly in South Africa, where they are referred to as "starring", a term that means "action hero".

Films on the Lethal Legends pop-up channel will be scheduled according to one of the themes of Martial Arts, Cops, Spies, and Agents; Soldiers on a Mission, and Revenge, at 18:00 to 20:00.

Films on the channel include Bloodsport, Hard to Kill, Death Warrant, Invasion USA, and Platoon Leader.

Monday, August 30, 2021

CORONAVIRUS. Producer and businessman Moyikwa Sisulu dead from Covid-19 at 41.

by Thinus Ferreira

The producer and businessman Moyikwa Sisulu, grandson of the anti-apartheid stalwarts Walter and Albertina Sisulu, and the eldest son of the late Zwelakhe Sisulu and Zodwa Sisulu, has died from Covid-19 related complications. He was 41.

According to the Sisulu family, Moyikwa Sisulu and his partner Aisha Jackson were both diagnosed with Covid-19 earlier in August after the birth of their baby. 

Moyikwa Sisulu died on Saturday at Johannesburg's Morningside Clinic.

Moyika Sisulu had interest in mining, media and property.

Moyikwa Sisulu began his career at the Urban Brew production company in 2000 helping to produce several TV shows for various South African TV channels like the Rise Mzansi reality series for SABC1.

He was also involved with Fuel Media Productions together with Paul Viv and Donald Clarke as partners, that created various shows and specialised in creating branded entertainment content.

The eNCA cameraman Gift Tshabalala (33) has died.

by Thinus Ferreira

The eNCA (DStv 403) camera operator Gift Tshabalala has died. He was 33.

Gift Tshabalala died a week and a half ago around 18 August 2021. The cause of his death is not publicly known although he had undergone several operations over the past few years in hospital.

There's been no statement from eMedia noting his passing.

Gift Tshabalala recently got married and leaves behind his wife. Viewers didn't know or see Gift Tshabalala, but they saw his name on South Africa's eNCA TV news channel and e.tv news, and above all, they saw his wonderful work. 

Gift Tshabalala constantly captured some of the big headline-making stories across South Africa and lensed events as they unfolded on the ground when eNCA reporters did live crossings, and reported on location and interviewed people - for instance during July's unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng when he filmed in Alexandra.  

Sli Masikane called Gift Tshabalala "a great human being and a talented cameraman".

eNCA's Khayelihle Khumalo on social media said Gift Tshabalala was "a camera operator par excellence".

Online petition started as Africa's pay-TV viewers implore Disney to keep the FOX channel on MultiChoice's DStv, StarTimes and StarSat across the continent.

by Thinus Ferreira

Angry pay-TV subscribers in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa are signing a new petition for the FOX channel to remain on MultiChoice's DStv, as well as StarTimes and StarSat after the revelation that The Walt Disney Company is indeed planning to cull the channel at the end of September as one of its 100 channels getting shut down this year.

Oyin Bucknor-Arigbede started the petition on change.org to The Walt Disney Company after the news that FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131) is the next TV channel from Disney Africa's collection that is getting shut down after the demise in 2020 of channels like Disney XD and FOX Life.

Bob Chapek, Disney CEO, said that the company "plans to close 100 channels in 2021. So yes, we will continue and continue at a robust rate". He said that Disney will continue to migrate the content on those linear channels to Disney+ with "the great majority of that content that will migrate to Disney+".

It's not yet clear whether Disney will also shut down The Disney Channel, Disney Junior, National Geographic, Nat Geo WILD or any of its other channels available in South Africa and across Africa like ESPN before the end of the year as well.

Disney wants to completely get rid of the "FOX" name and brand anywhere it's attached to its branding or assets since Disney's corporate takeover of 21st Century Fox in 2019. 

Disney doesn't own the FOX broadcast TV channel in the United States and doesn't want any of its assets associated with that anymore. 

Disney already renamed its studios of 20th Century Fox to 20th Century Studios and 20th Century Fox Television as 20th Television.

Disney wants to put the content that was on its international FOX channel under its new Star tile on its Disney+ service, with Star that is the 6th tile offering general entertainment content catering for a more adult audience.

Disney plans to launch its Disney+ subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) streaming service from around June 2022 in South Africa and wants to remove as much of its current content from traditional linear pay-TV services as possible to aid the uptake of Disney+ as its direct-to-consumer (DTC) product.

Unlike the United Kingdom and other countries, Disney is removing channels like FOX, showing the 11th and final season of The Walking Dead, although Disney+ doesn't exist yet in South Africa.

That leaves loyal pay-TV subscribers with no other legal option other than forced piracy to watch shows and to see the conclusion of AMC Studios' zombie drama series that is currently on FOX.

The change.org petition is similar to petitions that pay-TV subscribers started when MultiChoice decided to remove A+E Networks UK's History, Lifetime and Crime+Investigation channels, with History and Lifetime that got spared.

TV CRITIC's NOTEBOOK: The SABC is giving me just 5 days to pay for the renewal of my SABC TV Licence, says it doesn't have to give consumers 30 days notice.

Thinus Ferreira

The SABC is giving me just 5 days to pay for the renewal of my annual SABC TV Licence - before adding monthly late payment fees - with the South African public broadcaster saying it doesn't have to give anyone 30 days notice that their TV licence must be paid.

With less than 24% of the TV households that the SABC are aware of, still bothering to pay a SABC TV Licence, the public broadcaster's approach to its public broadcasting "customers" leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to making TV Licence holders pay, or want to pay to renew these. 

At 14:00 on Thursday 26 August the SABC emailed me, for the first time this year, a SABC TV Licence renewal notice demanding another annual payment of R265 for the next year before the end of the month.

That leaves just 5 days to pay before getting slapped with additional late fee penalities if any payment occurs after 31 August.

The SABC notes in its email that "TV licence fees are payable in advance therefore your account needs to be renewed by no later than 31 August 2021. The amount payable on or before this date is R265".

"Pay yours and made a difference," says the renewal notice that doesn't contain any invoice but just a statement of the previous year's payment and the next amount suddenly due. 

The SABC doesn't send other emails to consumers or use the SABC TV Licence email database to communicate other messages during the rest of the year, for instance around its content or how licence money was spent, that would make licence-payers more amenable to pay their annual fee when the time comes.

I asked the SABC in a media query why it sends a SABC TV Licence renewal notice with just 5 days to pay, and why a consumer isn't entitled to an invoice, issued to a consumer at least 30 days ahead of the date that payment is requested and why the SABC is not doing and adhering to this.

Gugu Ntuli, the SABC's group executive for corporate affairs and marketing, says that the SABC doesn't need to give anyone 30 days notice to pay a SABC TV Licence.

"The SABC takes into account key regulations when the corporation issues the renewal notices to customers. Regulation 24 of the TV Licence regulations published in the Government Gazette No 25959 of 28 January 2004 requires the SABC to send renewal notices to licence holders."

"It must be noted that the TV Licence legislation does not prescribe the 30-days notice as purported. Secondly, regulation 17 of the TV Licence regulations stipulate that all TV Licence fees are payable in advance. Paragraph 4 of the renewal notice to the client states that the licence holders licensing year commences on 1 September 2021."

"This means the TV Licence expires on 31 August 2021 and new licensing cycle starts on 1 September hence payment should be made by 31 August 2021". 

'DStv should collect on our behalf'
Earlier this year Yolande van Biljon, SABC CFO, told parliament that the SABC sits with a massive 76% SABC TV Licence "evasion rate", meaning that 76% of South African TV households that the public broadcaster are aware of and send a SABC TV Licence bill to, do not bother to pay their annual licence fee. 

Only 24% are still paying with the rate that keeps declining as the country's overall TV watching universe expands. 

Besides the SABC's TV Licence database there are millions more South African TV households with one or more TV sets that the SABC is not aware of and that don't have licences. 

The SABC wants legislation to be changed to force private commercial companies within the broadcasting sector, like MultiChoice and StarTimes who have kept their subscribers' details up to date, to add on SABC TV Licence fees to consumers' bills and to collect licence fees on the SABC's behalf.

MultiChoice as a private pay-TV operator is vehemently against the plan and says it will never do this or allow it to happen.

Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice Group CEO, earlier this year said that MultiChoice "can't be collecting for the SABC".

"Our position is simply very clear: We can't be held responsible for collecting money on behalf of the SABC. The SABC itself needs to find a way to collect such monies."

Earlier this month, SABC chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini told the Media & Society show on SABC News (DStv 404) that "the dominant pay-TV providers should collect on behalf of the SABC because they've got systems - they've got 8.2 million households in their system so they can really assist us".

"Why they should help is because the current regulatory framework has benefitted them at the expense of the public broadcaster. So it's one way of really redress and addressing the imbalances and how they've benefitted unfairly; they must help us collect that levy."

SABC1 tries to save S3's The Estate with a bizarre primetime rerun from 6 September at 7pm with the local telenovela that will now be shown back-to-back on two SABC channels nightly.

by Thinus Ferreira

The SABC is stepping in to try and save the costly new locally-produced telenovela The Estate on SABC3 that desperately needs to attract more viewers and that is struggling with low and falling ratings and in an unprecedented and bizarre programming move, will now show it during primetime on two of its TV channels from 6 September when SABC1 will add it as a rebroadcast.

The Estate - produced by Clive Morris Productions, and positioned as the replacement of SABC3's cancelled Isidingo that ended in March 2020 - made its debut in April with a disappointing ratings-high of just 529 123 viewers in its 19:00-timeslot when the public broadcaster's struggling sole commercial TV channel SABC3 rebranded as "S3" with a new on-air look.

While the production cost of the ensemble series remains the same, The Estate's TV ratings have since slid to 526 738 at most in May, 492 127 viewers at most in June, and 503 193 viewers at most in July. 

While August ratings are not yet final, The Estate's viewership took a further knock this month after e.tv launched its new primetime weekday soap, House of Zwide, replacing its cancelled Rhythm City, in the 19:00-timeslot, further siphoning viewers away, along with Legacy on M-Net (DStv 101).

Now, although its three terrestrial TV channels are catering to different demographics and with The Estate that was developed specifically for SABC3-audiences, the SABC decided that SABC1 will be filling its 19:00-timeslot left vacant after the end of uBettina Wethu with The Estate in the form of primetime reruns.

As part of the bizarre scheduling decision, a rebroadcast from the beginning of The Estate will start on SABC1 from 6 September on SABC1, meaning that viewers will get a new episode of The Estate on S3 at 19:00, followed by a 5-month old repeat episode of The Estate in primetime on SABC1 at 19:30.

SABC1 says that The Estate double-bill spread over two channels during primetime gives "viewers an opportunity to catch the story from the beginning". 

The Estate already has a next-day repeat on SABC3 at 11:00, and will likely also get a morning repeat slot on SABC1 in the way that uBettina Wethu has at 11:30.

In response to a media query about the motivation behind the scheduling move, SABC1 spokesperson Caroline Phalakatshela says it is to "give viewers who might have missed the premiere on SABC3 another opportunity to watch the show from the beginning and to migrate audiences to SABC3 to catch premiere episodes".

Sunday, August 29, 2021

MultiChoice Nigeria settles with the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN), pay-TV operator will now pay royalties and made back-payment as artists now demand their share from MCSN.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice Nigeria has now settled with Nigeria's Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSA) who took the pay-TV operator to court and obtained a judgment, over the payment of royalties for music used on television, with MultiChoice Nigeria that will now pay for the use of music going forward and has also make back-payment of millions of naira going back a few years that will be distributed to artists.

Nigeria's MCSN took MultiChoice Nigeria to court and secured various different judgments in its favour against MultiChoice at the West African country's Federal High Court and its Court of Appeal.

MCSN demanded that MultiChoice Nigeria and M-Net West Africa pay royalties when musical works are used that form part of TV broadcasts on MultiChoice's channels in Nigeria.

In early-2018 the Nigerian courts ordered MultiChoice Nigeria to pay at least 5.9 million naira (R2.1 million) to the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria after the MCSN took MultiChoice Nigeria to court in 2011.

Now Nigeria's artists want their money and they want it from the MCSN that has so far not made any payouts after MultiChoice Nigeria made payments to the MCSN.

MCSN says it won't be blackmailed by artists demanding money.

"MCSN and MultiChoice Nigeria now see each other as sister organisations that must work for the success of the other, particularly in the area of exploitation of and remuneration for intellectual works," says Moyo Ayilaran, MCSN CEO, in a statement.

"MCSN's management would make a formal report of the outcome of the settlement to its relevant authorities, particularly the board of directors and members' general meeting through formal communications and meetings."

"Management would then make proposals to the bodies on how the money should be allocated in line with best practices, all which is still an ongoing process."

"Since the settlement and payment were recorded in the course of 2021, MCSN would draw a line between which years should what particular payment fall in, and deal accordingly."

"One thing which MCSN has made clear and which its board agrees with is that all liabilities from the past would not be loaded on and borne by this single payment, as this settlement is purely an opening for more past, present and future incomes."

"The organisation therefore assures everyone that all those who have any contractual, legal or even moral claim to the payment would be paid without any form of sentiment, emotion or blackmail."

"It is hereby directed that all members who have registered and have been admitted into the membership of the society since 2006 should update their records, particularly their bank details, with the society."

Saturday, August 28, 2021

BREAKING. Netflix saves Manifest, picks up mystery drama series for a 20-episode final 4th season that will move from DStv and M-Net to the video streamer.

by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix has taken over the cancelled Manifest for a 4th and final season of 20-episodes that means that the mystery drama series will move from MultiChoice's M-Net (DStv 101) to the global video streamer with viewers who will have to make the switch if they want to see the conclusion of the series.

Netflix has already picked up previous Manifest seasons from NBC, with NBC that cancelled the Warner Bros.-produced drama series in May this year.

Manifest with Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas and Athena Karkanis. details the discovery process of the "survivors" after a plane flying from Jamaica to New York City mysteriously disappeared and then lands 5 years after takeoff although no time had passed for those aboard.

Those who were aboard as well as those who knew them, try to adjust to their return as they puzzle out the secret of what really happened.

On Saturday afternoon, that was 8:28 am in the United States and a play on the fateful fictional Montego Air Flight 828, Netflix announced that it has picked it up and "renewed" Manifest for a 4th and final season of 20-episodes - it's longest season yet.

The 20-episode season will very likely be split into batches off episodes, released in chunks over spread out periods.

"What started years ago as a flight of fancy deep in my imagination has evolved into the jet engine journey of a lifetime," says Jeff Rake, Manifest showrunner.

"Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned the worldwide outpouring of love and support for this story, its characters, and the team who work so hard to bring it all to life."

"That we will be able to reward the fans with the ending they deserve moves me to no end. On behalf of the cast, the crew, the writers, directors, and producers, thank you to Netflix, to Warner Bros., and of course to the fans. You did this."

Bela Bajaria, Netflix head of global TV, in a statement says "Since its premiere on Netflix in June, Manifest has proven very popular with our members".

"Jeff Rake and his team have crafted a beguiling mystery that has viewers around the world on the edge of their seats and believing again in second chances, and we're thrilled that they will bring fans some closure with this final super-sized season."

Friday, August 27, 2021

'I won't pay twice': Shocked and angry Openview viewers furious over 'Pay Once, Enjoy Forever' lie after their old decoders are cut off and they're told to buy a new one.

by Thinus Ferreira

Shocked, bewildered and angry Openview viewers of eMedia's free-to-air satellite service are furious after they have been told that their decoders are too old and won't work anymore and that they have to buy a new one that will cost R600.

Old Openview decoders have suddenly stopped working and Openview viewers abruptly cut off despite Openview's slogan of "Pay Once. Enjoy Forever".

Old Openview decoders have stopped working in South Africa, as well as in neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe, where thousands of Openview set-top boxes are illegally used after they were activated in South Africa and then taken to other countries, or with South African cellphone numbers. 

"It's over. e.tv blatantly lied. I'm not buying another Openview decoder. e.tv said pay once and enjoy forever. I won't pay twice. I'm gone," an angry Openview viewer told TVwithThinus who used a decoder for years now but got cut off.

Irate Openview viewers can't understand why their decoders have turned into useless bricks after e.tv's fake promises that said they'd be able to watch forever.

Openview started as OVHD, then changed to Openview HD and then just Openview promising viewers that they only need to buy a decoder as a once-off purchase to get free access forever.

An eMedia spokesperson told TVwithThinus in response to a media query that "Some of the older decoders have to be replaced".

"Unfortunately technology is advancing so rapidly and the older models do not support the software upgrades and functionality. The decoders affected have been in the market for about 8 years."

"Customers will have to replace the decoders to enjoy uninterrupted support, PVR compatibility and all the benefits of Openview Connect. Hence the E04 message.

We have sent communication to customers affected via bmail which is a message sent directly to the decoder advising them that the service will eventually switch".

The message that is sent to Openview set-top boxes is:

“Dear Viewer, due to the rapid pace of technology, the decoder you are using can no longer be supported in terms of software upgrades that are required. To enjoy uninterrupted viewing, ongoing technical support, PVR compatibility and access to the world of streaming through Openview Connect you will need to purchase the latest Openview decoder from a leading retailer.”

eMedia says that simply trying to reset the decoder will not solve this. Customers will have to go to their nearest store to upgrade and to buy a whole new decoder that will again cost several hundreds of rand.

eMedia was asked how forcing Openview viewers to buy a new decoder after having said that they only need to pay once for a decoder and installation and wat watch forever aligns with e.tv and Openview's promise and slogan of "Enjoy Forever".

eMedia didn't answer the question.

SABC suspends Media & Society anchor Rams Mabote on SABC News after female production member lodges complaint over alleged inappropriate touching, fill-in presenter to be used on Sunday.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African public broadcaster has suspended the anchor Rams Mabote of the new Sunday morning Media & Society current affairs show on SABC News (404) after a female production member lodged a complaint claiming that he had touched her inappropriately.

The SABC suspended Rams Mabote pending an investigation following the complaint.

The woman alleges that Rams Mabote had touched her inappropriately during pre-show preparations for the edition that was broadcast on 15 August this month. 

"In the wake of the complaint that I have received and the sensitivity of the matter, I have taken a decision that you may not report for duty at Media & Society with immediate effect until further notice," wrote Mlunghisi Shivamba, SABC news and current affairs editor to Rams Mabote.

"This includes all engagements regarding Media & Society that are scheduled this week. We shall engage the services of a stand-in presenter until the finalisation of the matter."

"We are due to discuss the matter and or incident during the coming week and we shall communicate the outcomes soonest. May I assure you that the matter is receiving urgent attention."

There's been no statement from the SABC yet.

UPDATE Sunday 29 August 2021 09:30: Peter Ndoro, who masked up, is sitting in for Rams Mabote:

SABC warns about 'acting training boot camp' scam while SABC2's Muvhango warns about fake auditions in Thohoyandou trying to lure victims to a hotel.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African broadcaster is once again warning the public about a scam masquerading as a so-called "SABC training boot camp"for actors, while SABC2's Muvhango is also warning about a fake Saturday audition that is also a scam.

The latest scam involves a poster that is advertising an "intensive acting training" boot camp allegedly led by actors like Motlatsi Mafatshe and Khaboninna Qubeka although none of them are involved with the fake "training camp".

The faces of actors like Leleti Khumalo, Katlego Danke and Lindani Nkosi appear on the fake poster.

The con artists behind the scam want people to pay R500 as a "commitment fee" that would allegedly cover accommodation in Johannesburg, acting-manuals and food, with the scam promising that people would get a "certificate" at the end of a 6 week course.

The SABC in a statement says that it's a scam. "The SABC has noted various communications regarding a bootcamp involving SABC talent on various social media platforms and would like to state that this is a scam and that this camp is not affiliated with the SABC in any way."

"The SABC would like to warn and plead with the public not to pay any money to join the boot camp training as this is a scam."

Meanwhile SABC2's Muvhango is also warning about an "audition" scam trying to lure unsuspecting victims on Saturday 27 August to a hotel to prey on them. 

Word of Mouth Pictures says that the "Muvhango auditions" allegedly taking place on Saturday at the Khoroni Hotel in Thohoyandou "is fake news and Muvhango is not currently casting".

Season 17 of Idols on Mzansi Magic switching to weekly guest judges after exit of Somizi Mhlongo.

by Thinus Ferreira

The 17th season of Idols on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) is switching to weekly gurst judges to fill the seat left vacant after the exit of controversial Idols judge Somizi Mhlongo.

The production company [SIC] Entertainment and M-Net executives decided to have weekly celebrity guest judges join UNathi Nkayi and Randall Abrahams for the series of live shows that is set to start this Sunday with the top 16 contestants.

Mzansi Magic says that the guest judges will be announced weekly.

It comes after Somizi Mhlongo exited Idols' current season as a judge after the scandal-riddled star was exposed following leaked BarLeaderTV production recordings from his now-estranged lover, Mohale Motaung.

Mohale Motaung claims that Somizi Mhlongo broke his ribs and almost knocked out teeth in a violent physical abuse incident in 2020; allegedly threatened Mohale with a kitchen knife, saying he would kill them both; and allegedly even tried to drive him off the road after an Idols afterparty.

Mohale Motaung and Somizi Mhlongo's tempestuous relationship has been marred by persistent rumours of infidelity and breakup ever since their over-the-top and tacky reality TV wedding series, Somizi & Mohale: The Union that was filmed for MultiChoice's Showmax video streamer in 2020.

Somizi Mhlongo and MultiChoice are also mired in drama over allegations that he allegedly stole and plagiarised the idea for the Dinner at Somizi's TV series from another creative, Hastings Moeng.

Somizi Mhlongo in a statement posted on his Instagram account on Friday morning, said the public has now become "audience to what has sadly become a breakup between two people laced by defamation, false but very serious accusations and interference from supposedly close and reliable sources".

He said "I have never been physically or knowingly abusive towards my estranged husband. I vehemently deny the allegations of criminal acts towards him and would like to clear my name of the defamation".

Mohale Motaung in a statement said that the leaked BarLeader TV recordings that were made in conversation with a producer of Living the Dream with Somizi, was him "laying case to reason why I would not want the details of our divorce to be used in the upcoming season of the reality show as this would affect the complete truth and furthermore, did not want the details thereof to be used for financial gain".

Mohale Motaung reiterated the alleged abuse he suffered from Somizi Mohale, saying "I did, in fact, experience abuse at the hands of my estranged husband, both physical and psychological. It is not my wish to seesaw my experience against his as he only has his conscience to reckon with".

In January this year the South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) slammed Somizi Mhlongo in a strongly-worded statement over his attacks on and insults levelled against journalists.

Somizi attacked journalists after reports about his alleged infidelity and crumbling relationship and a legal battle over the canned Dinner at Somizi's TV show, after he was approached for comment but declined to comment.

SANEF said that Somizi's "actions have aggravated what is already a hostile working environment, especially for women journalists. This is a direct attack on media freedom in the country. Worldwide similar attacks are being meted out on journalists with the intent to silence their voices, especially that of women and the stories they tell."

"SANEF calls on Somizi Mhlongo to unreservedly apologise to these journalists and the public on all his social platforms for his unbecoming behaviour. He must call on his followers to stop harassing and intimidating them. Further, we call on the journalists to lay charges of intimidation and for MultiChoice to officially distance themselves from Mhlongo's comments."

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Vox launches an online weather channel, snaps up meteorologist Annette Botha after eNCA and eNuus dumped its weather presenters and dumbed down its weather segments.

by Thinus Ferreira

The telecommunications and IT services provider Vox has launched a brand-new online weather channel with the former eNCA meteorologist Annette Botha, now bringing viewers the personalised weather forecasts that pay-TV news like eMedia Holdings' eNCA (DStv 403) and eNuus on kykNET (DStv 144) abruptly canned earlier this year for DStv subscribers.

Vox says it has launched its state-of-the-art and technology-driven weather channel, following "research that found that there is a need for more credible, trustworthy and science-backed initiatives to educate and trigger important conversations and behaviour change" around the climate and weather.

"Understanding the weather goes beyond knowing whether to pack an umbrella," says Jacques du Toit, Vox CEO, in a statement.

He says that weather broadcasts on television - even for pay-TV subscribers who are supposed to get more, better and more personalised weather forecasting - have regressed to static representations that add very little value and that leaves South African viewers in a "meteorological drought".

"It is vitally important for people, both young and old, to develop a holistic understanding of broader trends and how our actions are affecting the health of our planet."

"Our research has indicated a pressing need for informative, educational and credible weather analysis, and we believe that by providing this to South Africans we can drive broader understanding and acknowledgement of climate change and how it affects every one of us."

Annette Botha has an honours degree in meteorology and is one of the former TV meteorologists and presenters who were cast aside by eNCA as part of bizarre cost-cutting when it suddenly switched to static weather presentations with dull voice-overs in mid-April this year.

DStv subscribers have been complaining about the quality of kykNET's eNuus supplied by eNCA, with bulletins that are mostly interviews in English taken directly from eNCA just with short Afrikaans intros, a lack of international news and a perceived lack of coverage from all South African provinces, as well as the dumbing down of the end-run weather segments.  

"If we can inspire young people to take an active interest in our regional weather and the forces shaping these changes, we would have gone a long way towards arresting the damage we are inflicting on our only planet," says Annette Botha about the new Vox weather channel.

MUST WATCH. The Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem trailer is utter insanity with Marlena, John, Shane Donovan and a Billie impersonator!

by Thinus Ferreira

While the long-running American weekday soap Days of Our Lives is broadcast on e.tv in South Africa, NBC in America has commissioned a terrific-looking limited-series spinoff, Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem, absolutely filled with OG Salem superstars like Marlena, John, Billie and many more, men kissing, a drag queen impersonating Billy, and even clones, all wrapped in a spy-and-jewel mystery.

Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem will start on the American streaming service Peacock on 6 September with a daily new episode until Friday 10 September. 

There's no word yet on whether the 5-episode series might be distributed internationally or whether e.tv might pick it up for its new eVOD streaming service or as a special weeklong primetime Days of Our Lives encore on e.tv.

The jaw-dropping trailer reveals that besides Marlena - still looking exactly the same as always - there is also Charles Shaughnessy, known as Mister Sheffield in The Nanny, reprising his role as Shane Donovan but just with slightly greyer hair. Shaughnessy became widely known for playing the character on Days of our Lives from 1984 to 1992.

In a hilarious scene, Jackie Cox from RuPaul's Drag Race, the iconic Canadian drag queen famously known for her Lisa Rinna impersonation, will also guest star in the show.

In Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem, over a long weekend, John and Marlena once again travel internationally to solve a mystery as they've done together so many times before.

This time they travel to Zurich, while Ben and Ciara have a romantic getaway in New Orleans, Chad visits some old friends in Phoenix, and Abe, Paulina, Lani, and Eli vacation in Miami. 

All find themselves embroiled in a mystery involving stolen jewels (Peacock! wink, wink!) which, in the wrong hands, could cause dire consequences for Salem. 

It's a race against time for ISA agent Billie Reed as she crosses the globe in search of this missing treasure, together with Salem super couples.

The Days of our Lives limited series is packed with the soap's who's-who: From now Real Housewives star Lisa Rinna back as Billie Reed, to Deidre Hall as Dr Marlena Evans, Drake Hogestyn as John Black, Jackée Harry as Paulina Price, James Reynolds as Abe Carver, Victoria Konefal as Ciara Brady, Robert Scott Wilson as Ben Weston, Billy Flynn as Chad DiMera, Lamon Archey as Eli Grant and Sal Stowers as Lani Price. 

Not enough you say? Eileen Davidson is also set to appear and all we can say is: Nun-outfit and bad teeth.

Thaao Penghlis is back as Tony DiMera, Leann Hunley is Anna DiMera, Christie Clark is Carrie Brady, Austin Peck is back as Austin Reed, Greg Rikaart is there Leo Stark, and viewers can watch Chandler Massey as Will Horton, Zachary Atticus Tinker as Sonny Kiriakis and Peter Porte as Kyle Graham who all join the hunt of stolen jewels across the globe.

Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem is produced by Corday Productions in association with Sony Pictures Television with Ken Corday as the executive producer with co-executive producer Albert Alarr.

CORONAVIRUS. SABC opens a 3-day Covid-19 vaccine pop-up at the South African public broadcaster's Auckland Park headquarters, provincial bureaux to follow.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African public broadcaster has opened a pop-up Covid-19 vaccination site at the SABC's Auckland Park headquarters in Johannesburg for 3 days starting today until Saturday and that is for SABC staff, service providers, and the public.

The SABC follows other broadcasters like the MultiChoice pay-TV operator in Randburg that opened a Covid-19 vaccination site in its staff parkade in July.

THe SABC says that it is working with the Gauteng department of health to help and try vaccinate as many people as possible.

"This is an important partnership for the SABC as we believe we have a collective responsibility and duty to fight Covid-19," says Madoda Mxakwe, SABC CEO.

"We have committed our resources and facilities to provide better access to vaccination to all South Africans. As part of our commitment to fulfilling our mandate, it is our plan that through this partnership, this service will be extended to other SABC provincial offices."

The South African public will be able to go for Covid-19 vaccine injections at the site until 16:00 on Thursday 26, between 08:00 and 16:00 on Friday and between 08:00 and 16:00 on Saturday 28 August.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Turkish If Only drama series on Netflix that Turkey banned because of a gay character moves to Spain and restarts as If I Had Known with the same characters, screenwriter and plot.

by Thinus Ferreira

After Turkey's culture ministry and Islamist government last year demanded that Netflix remove a gay character from the streaming service's If Only drama series that was set and filmed in Turkey, If Only will be back with the same screenwriter but is now being done from and set in Spain under the new title of If I Had Known, but with the same plot.

Bloomberg Canada on Wednesday reported that If Only will be back on Netflix but retitled If I Had Known ("Si lo Hubiera Sabido") with a gay character part of the now-Spanish cast, exactly as the case was when the series was done from and shown in Turkey.

If I Had Known from the Turkish screenwriter Ece Yörenç will be shown in 190 countries, as well as Turkey and is currently being filmed in Paris in France, as well as Madrid and Seville in Spain.

"We are not telling a Spanish or a Turkish story, but a universal one," says screenwriter Irma Correa, who created the Spanish adaptation. "We have worked to reflect what we see as an open and plural society, in which everyone will feel represented."

If I Had Known tells the story of a 30-year old woman, Emma, who have gotten tired of her decade-long marriage. When a supernatural event sends her back in time, she once again finds herself in the younger version of herself and able to make differnt decisions to change her life.

Irma Correa previously worked with Ece Yorenc on the Spanish adaptation of the popular Turkish drama series Fatmagul.

MultiChoice's share price falls nearly 8% on Wednesday to 11-month low as Nigeria's shakedown for money from the pay-TV operator continues and country demands MultiChoice pays 50% 'deposit' of R65 billion in dodgy 'tax backlog' claim.

by Thinus Ferreira

The share price of the MultiChoice Group fell nearly 8% on late Wednesday as Nigeria's tax body demanded that the pan-African pay-TV operator pay a 50% deposit or R33 billion of a whopping 1.8 trillion naira (R65 billion) - as part of yet another dodgy so-called "tax backlog" claim.

Nigerian authorities that appear to run a lucrative ongoing racket of targeting companies like MTN and others in shakedowns to solicit billions of rand to fund empty state coffers as the West African country's struggling economy continues to tank, has now moved its target, with MultiChoice that is in the crosshairs.

After banning the social media network Twitter and constantly attacking South African and multi-national business trying to operate in the struggling country, Nigeria continues to inflict massive damage on the country's reputation as an investment destination.

As a result, Nigeria has steadily become increasingly toxic for any international and pan-African companies and any companies that considered making any form of foreign investment in Nigeria.

On Wednesday Bloomberg reported that an appeals tribunal in Lagos has ordered MultiChoice to pay a "50% deposit" of 1.8 trillion naira that is claimed as a so-called "tax backlog".

MultiChoice as a company in totality, beyond just MultiChoice Nigeria, doesn't have that much money, with the R65 billion that is bigger than the MultiChoice Group's entire market capitalisation.

Nigeria's  Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in a statement on Wednesday says the billions of rand it demands from MultiChoice as a so-called "deposit" must be paid as a pre-condition for MultiChoice's "tax backlog" case to be heard as "a full appeal" on the matter.

The case has been adjourned to 23 September 2021, subject to the company complying with its order, and with the appeals tribunal that will only hear the case if MultiChoice complies and pays a staggering R33 billion as a "deposit".

MultiChoice's share price fell to an 11-month low on Wednesday. The MultiChoice Group had no immediate statement.

Last month Nigeria's tax authority also asked lenders to freeze MultiChoice Nigeria's bank accounts in Nigeria to try and "recover" the alleged "tax backlog"money after MultiChoice Africa and its Nigerian subsidiary had refused access to their computer servers for auditing.

Sales of TV sets in South Africa have plunged after July's mass looting of thousands of televisions in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

by Thinus Ferreira

The sales of TV sets in South Africa have plunged in July and August after the shocking mass looting of thousands of TV sets from shops and warehouses during the rampant looting that continued for days in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Brazen looters made off with TV sets and others goods from warehouses used by Samsung South Africa,  as well as LG Electronics and others which also had their warehouses torched and burnt down; while looters also ransacked multiple shops and shopping mall stores.

According to a GfK Lighthouse market study, sales of TV sets, fridges and washing machines in South Africa fell during August compared to point-of-sale data benchmarked against the weekly sales of certain consumer goods during the first half of 2021.

Nicolet Pienaar, GfK South Africa's head of market insights, says that "While KwaZulu-Natal is seeing encouraging recovery in sales of IT and telecoms products - perhaps due to consumers wanting to keep safe and stay home - we're seeing countrywide week-on-week declines in fridge, televisions and washing machine sales".

"This is the direct result of the destruction of key manufacturing facilities as well as the ransacking of inventory from warehouses in KwaZulu-Natal, compounding existing component and product shortages due to Covid-19."

KwaZulu and Gauteng were severely underperforming in sales of certain products like TV sets compared to South Africa's other provinces.

TV set sales in South Africa showed a week-on-week decline of 11 points, and KwaZulu-Natal was 21 index points behind the average week.

Samsung South Africa has since activated its "TV Block" feature to render looted smart TV sets unusable once connected to the internet.

kykNET adapts award-winning stage play into new 13-episode Afrikaans drama series, Nêrens, Noord-Kaap produced by Nagvlug Films.

by Thinus Ferreira

A new 13-episode Afrikaans drama series with English subtitles, Nêrens, Noord-Kaap, produced by Nagvlug Films, will start on Tuesday 31 August on kykNET (DStv 144) at 20:00 with the script that is based on an award-winning play, revolving around 3 estranged brothers who find their way back to the family farm, Nêrens, where secrets, heartbreak, and the truth surrounding their mother's death threaten the path to redemption.

Nico Scheepers who wrote the play, adapted the text for television, with Saartjie Botha who assisted with text editing. Together they developed the play into a 13-episode family drama.

Nêrens, Noord-Kaap is directed by Nico and Johan Cronje.

The Nêrens, Noord-Kaap, cast includes, as in the original play, De Klerk Oelofse, Albert Pretorius and Geon Nel who portray the roles of the three Adendorff sons, Andries, Ronnie and Frans.

Frank Opperman portrays the role of their father.

Dean Balie appears as Jan-Jan (the foreman on the farm) and Ilse Klink portrays the role of Maggie, who plays an integral role in the raising of the three Adendorff boys.

Tinarie van Wyk-Loots, Marion Holm, Gideon Lombard, Ludwig Binge, Patricia Baadjies and Melissa Willering are also part of the cast.

Viewers will also be introduced to a few new faces: Johannes Jordaan, Lehan Swanepoel, and Thommi Swanepoel, who play the roles of the younger versions of Andries, Ronnie, and Frans. Arnold Swart also makes his TV debut as Lourens, Ronnie’s son from his failed marriage.

In Nêrens, Noord-KaapLourens Adendorff, farmer and patriarch of this dry kingdom, barely leaves the house anymore – the curtains of his sandstone castle always drawn. His Dutch wife, Katja, has been dead nearly 20 years and all three of his sons have abandoned him,

Frans, the eldest, still runs the farm but barely speaks a word to his father.

Ronnie, the middle child, divorced in Cape Town and is trying to raise his son from a distance. Andries, the youngest, their father’s favourite, has shunned them all and has been backpacking around the world for the last couple of years.

The family is in pieces, and the farm is stuck, stagnating in time and place.

"When writing the stage play I wanted to tap into a specific Afrikaans vein, and to further explore that in the drama series – this familiar world of open skies, love and land that's written in our heritage," says Nico Scheepers. "In the end, I dedicate it to my own father."

Nagvlug Films is also responsible for the dramas and movies such as Hotel, Wonderlus, Posbus 1, Meisies wat Fluit, Barakat, and Skemerdans.