Monday, April 23, 2018

ANN7 changing its name to Afro Worldview from 30 April, still getting dumped from MultiChoice's DStv on 20 August in 4 months' time.

ANN7 (DStv 405) is rebranding the controversial channel to Afro Worldview from 30 April although MultiChoice will still dump the channel in August in four month's time despite the cosmetic name and logo change.

Trying to get away from its disastrous, often-mocked and blooper-filled on-air image, history of bias and links with the now-notorious Gupta family, the Mzawanele Manyi owned Afrotone Media Holdings will rebrand ANN7 from 30 April as Afro Worldview.

The "new" ANN7 will still be a so-called TV news channel channel but will be terminated on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform on 20 August.

Meanwhile Afrotone Media Holdings applied in the bidding process for MultiChoice looking to replace ANN7 with a new South African 24-hour TV news channel alongside eNCA (DStv 403) and the public broadcaster's SABC News (DStv 404).

Mzwanele Manyi in a statement says the switch from ANN7 to Afro Worldview "is a a strategic decision to break away from the past of the previous channel ANN7 and give viewers a fresh outlook on the news. As part of the group strategy, The New Age newspaper will also be rebranded as Afro Voice and its editorial policy will be in line with the press code."

Mzwanele Manyi says "Afro Worldview’s vision is to be the trusted voice of Africa. They strive to be the most representative voice of the country and the continent, that would also ensure that the plight of the poor and marginalised is brought to the fore".

M-NET UPFRONT 2018: M-Net going on a 'local content safari' as the pay-TV broadcaster gets set to unveil more details about the new seasons of Survivor SA: Philippines, The Wedding Bashers, My Kitchen Rules SA and yet another new local production.

Today M-Net (DStv 101) kicks off a 3-day local content upfront, billed as a "local content safari" that will see the South Africa and African pay-TV broadcaster unveil more details about its upcoming new programming, ranging from the new seasons of Survivor SA: Philippines, The Wedding Bashers and My Kitchen Rules SA to taking the wraps off and announcing at least one other new local production.

TV critics and the media covering television in South Africa are being whisked away to one of South Africa's most luxurious destinations, the Legend Golf and Safari Resort situated inside the Entabeni Safari Conservancy in Limpopo, for the 3-day content upfront.

The 3-day jaunt, packed with various M-Net presentations that will keep the Press Covering Television busy over the next 3 days, comes on the back of the just concluded and hugely successful Dancing with the Stars South Africa on Sunday night that saw Connell Cruise win.

The BBC glitter floor format show, produced by Rapid Blue, was taken over by M-Net after airing as Strictly Come Dancing SA on the SABC for 8 seasons and revived for a 9th season under the new Dancing with the Stars SA glitter ball banner.

TVwithThinus asked M-Net on Sunday night if of when there will be a second season but M-Net said it's too early to tell although ratings, viewer engagement and voting statistics were all phenomenal. 

On Monday and Tuesday at the Legend Golf and Safari Resort M-Net plans to put on the razzle-dazzle with several sessions, presentations and a lot more detail about its new local programming slate that will be rolling out on the channel over the course of the next few months.

M-Net says the media will "have the opportunity to experience and view some of the brand new shows that we have lined up on our local content slate".

M-Net will be launching 5 new shows - Survivor South Africa: Philippines, the series of The Wedding Bashers specials, the second season of The Wedding Bashers, the second season of My Kitchen Rules South Africa, as well as a surprise new show announcement.

INTERVIEW. Connell Cruise on winning Dancing with the Stars SA on M-Net: It's the story of how hard work always pays off.

On Sunday night South African viewers voted singer-songwriter Connell Cruise the winner of Dancing with the Stars SA on M-Net (DStv 101) during the broadcast of the live finale, with Connell telling TVwithThinus afterwards that his win is "the story of how hard work always pays off".

TVwithThinus sat down with Connell who talked about how dancing has been a closed door to him but how Dancing with the Stars SA helped opened that door a bit, how it felt being strapped into a harness and descending onto the dance floor in one of the finale's dazzling dance numbers, what the journey's been like for him, and what's he learnt about the experience of being part of the show.

Is there anything that you would have done differently?
I would have loved to incorporate singing into some of the performances - and we definitely tried to, the only times that were available we almost did but songs got changed last minute, and concepts got changed, but I certainly don't regret any single thing. The only thing - you know I'm very proud of our Samba.

Our Samba was difficult but I think we got a great score for the Samba even though I struggled so much, so even in my regrets because I really wanted to nail that Samba and I don't think I really did, I think our score was still a very good one, so we've got that to be proud of.

How would you describe the experience of doing this show?
Oh man. Completely out of my comfort zone. But what a lovely challenge and joy. I'm a competitive person, I never enter anything unless I'm totally into it and I totally gave this my all. And if this is the story of anything, it's the story of how hard work always pays off.

Can you talk a bit about Marcella Solimeo as your dance partner and the trust and bond that had to develop between you and quickly?
Marcella and I, I think on average over the last 4 months, we've spent at least 10 hours a day with each other. And this last month we've reached 12 hours a day. You get to know someone really well in that time. This has become like a full-time job for the most of this year and it's been a joy to work with Marcella - she's a professional, she's excellent, she's got such great vision and great ideas, and she's a fireball on that dance floor!

When she's on the dance floor you can't look at anything else, that's for sure. She's in my opinion the best of the best and I'm just the luckiest to have been paired with her and to have worked with her and to have learned under her, she's great And what I can tell you is that she's a great friend too, and she's as much a part of my family now as anything and I don't think it's ever going to change. She's the best.

In Sunday's live finale you as part of the final three competitors we're all  strapped with harnesses through and around your legs and we're hoisted up and descended in one of the spectacular dance numbers. But what was the wire-work and the tight harness like?
It was the coolest man!
Out of all the things in this competition, if I had left this competition at any point before this finale and I saw three guys and they weren't me and they were going doing that I would have really been bummed, so I'm so glad to do that. It was so much fun to come screaming down from the roof, what a joy! I've always wanted to be Superman and I really felt like Christopher Reeve flying up there. It was awesome.

What did you think of the judges?
I think the judges on the most part have been fair.
I think they've got a lot of authority and well-deserved authority. They're experts and it's not a question of "you sit up here and tell us what to do". These people have earned that right - they've earned that ability, they've earned that power through their excellent work, their excellent ability.

Some might say the judges are harsh and unfair or whatever but they've been through worse to get to where they are now than anything that we've been through. And I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I wouldn't have wanted to be part of a journey where we were mollycoddled, or peaches and cream, and told things that didn't matter.
In my life I respect hard work and they've only inspired me to be harder and to give more and that's been very good.

What was the hardest for you about being part of this show?
The hardest for me was the emotional vulnerability because a show like this requires you to reveal so much of yourself and as a musician, as a singer, I like to reveal myself in cryptic for and let people figure it out if they want to.
This has forced me in a good way to open up and reveal parts of myself that I don't normally think I would have. And Marcella worked really hard with me in bringing that out and that's been the hardest part but also the most rewarding part and I'm grateful for it.

How did your body change?
Well, I'm fitter than what I've ever been in my life. I think I've got a six pack - or at least a four and a half. I'm toned as heck. I feel strong. I feel fit and I'm looking forward to maintaining this because I don't want to lose this. Check with me in 6 months and see if I still look the same!

What did you not expect about this journey?
I didn't expect how much I would want this. I didn't expect that this would really become all-consuming, all-encompassing.
I thought it was going to be fun, I thought it was going to be a challenge, I thought it was going to be out of my comfort zone and it certainly met those expectations and exceeded them. But the thing that really blew my mind is how much I would care about this - how much I would care about dancing, how much I would love it and come to respect it.

What would you say did you learn about yourself?
I learnt that performance is bigger than anything I could have imagined or thought about before.
This has opened up a whole new world of expressing myself, of finding  meaning; of art. It's really opened my eyes to what there is and dancing for my whole life has been a closed door. It's been something that I've always admired but never could really understand.

And what Dancing with the Stars SA has done is it's opened that door a bit and it has shown me that there's so much out there. I'm not saying in any way that I'm an expert or have achieved really, but it's given me a taste for this and it's a taste I want to keep on enjoying.

Friday, April 20, 2018

M-Net and HBO collaborate on a producer apprenticeship programme for the benefit of South Africa's TV and film industry.

M-Net and HBO have started a joint producer apprenticeship programme for the benefit of South Africa's TV and film industry giving 6 South African producers access to the set of the new HBO/Cinemax drama series Warrior currently filmed on location in the Western Cape.

Warrior is based on Bruce Lee's account of the Chinese Tong Wars in 19th century San Francisco.

In this producer apprenticeship programme, each producer gets to spend 30 days on set, observing the scripting, filming, directing and editing processes on the HBO production.

It means that a producer gets exposure to 1 200 hours of development engagement with the project in an interactive and immersive manner.

"HBO is among the world’s leading entertainment brands because of its ability to set trends, break new ground and originate unforgettable worlds, characters and stories. As a result, HBO productions carry a unique DNA and to partner with them in this valuable corporate social investment (CSI) project is immensely gratifying," says Nkateko Mabaso, M-Net acting CEO about the producer apprenticeship programme.

"Our investment into developing local producers mirrors our ongoing commitment to transform Mzansi’s creative arts sector and empower new leaders. M-Net's passionately committed to be the best African storyteller in the world so strategic interventions such as this are vital to our continued success".

Jay Roewe, senior vice president for global production & incentives at HBO, says that the producer apprenticeship programme is the result of its direct experience of the talent and capacity of local TV professionals.

"We evaluate multiple factors when considering where to shoot to find the best possible combination of elements including financial, regulatory and technological infrastructures. South Africa offers these and has a significant community of accomplished TV personnel, both in front of and behind the lens."

"It's already a viable choice for international companies looking to base their productions abroad, and for us to contribute in part to the evolution of its producer network, alongside our long-time commercial partner M-Net, is a positive outcome for HBO."

One of the producers benefiting from the initiative is Benjamin Overmeyer from Gambit Films based in the Western Cape, who has recently completed his time on set.

Benjamin Overmeyer says "I've spent 17 years making TV, working on shows such as Suidooster and the forthcoming feature film Nommer 37. To be able to walk onto an HBO set as a colleague, and be received as such, to exchange ideas and see the exacting detail of their processes, to absorb and then relay the learnings to my own team, that's a rare and prized gift."

SABC silent as chaos and confusion again reign at SABC1's botched and abruptly called-off open casting call as police is called in for crowd control.

Chaos and confusion again reigned at SABC1's botched auditions for one of the SABC channel's new drama series in Rosebank Johannesburg, similar to confusion at the Durban auditions a week ago that was called off halfway.

SABC1 told people that the channel is looking for people speaking fluent Zulu for several character roles, as well as one character speaking Swati.

On Thursday hundreds of people showed up at 20 Rosebank Road where SABC1 said auditions would be taking place for a new drama series - only SABC1 wasn't there and neither were the producers after the open casting call was abruptly cancelled without notification.

People who queued at the Durban Exhibition Centre in Durban a week ago for the talent search spoke of similar chaotic scenes.

In Durban there was apparently only one admin person and no clear organisation or instructions, some people who were whished past the line for preferential treatment, scripts leaflets that people are supposed to read running out, no food or water available to buy, long queues, and the audition process that was completely abandoned during the afternoon after organisers allegedly gave up and just left.

In Johannesburg there was even more chaos yesterday when the auditions didn't take place, with no word from SABC1 or cancellation notice and hundreds of people part of the channel's audience, turning up and milling about, not knowing what was going on.

As tempers frayed and people got angry, police were called to disperse the crowd whose excitement and hope turned into disappointment and rage directed at SABC1 and its lack of proper communication.

SABC1 publicists Phil Mabitsela and Dzivhuluwani Siala didn't respond to TVwithThinus' media enquiry on Thursday afternoon about the confusion at the abruptly cancelled Rosebank auditions and there's been no statement from the SABC.

SABC1 viewers slammed the channel for its disorganisation and silence.

"SABC1 is so disorganised through these auditions," said Nomondensele. "We've been here since 08:00 but not a single person has been let in??"

"SABC1 get your house in order," said Naledi Chirwa. "You made a public announcement of open auditions, people are here to audition, some from other provinces! You cancel auditions ON THE DAY and don't even mention it on your page like you did to market it."

Hermoso Nisi said "SABC1 you do realise we are the exact same people that you expect to go watch this drama of yours? What would happen when we decide to boycott this show when it airs?" adding that "SABC1 you are disrespectful, inconsiderate and deserve ZERO support for this drama".

"Thanks for scamming us with fake open auditions. You are truly pushing us to withdrawing our support. You deserve failure."

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Top Billing presenter Jonathan Boynton-Lee on what he's looking for at SABC3's Presenter Search on 3: 'I'm looking for the Simba factor'.

The popular Top Billing presenter Jonathan Boynton-Lee says that for SABC3's new Presenter Search on 3 looking for new on-air talent for the public broadcaster's shows, he's looking for the "Simba factor".

It's a reference to Simba Mhere, Jonathan's close friend who tragically died in a car accident in 2015. Both Simba and Jonathan were winners of the previous presenter search competitions on SABC3 that is once again looking for 3 new TV presenters to join Top Billing, Expresso and Afternoon Express.

With the nationwide auditions ending with the Johannesburg auditions taking place this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Wanderers Cricket Stadium in Johannesburg, it's the last chance for South Africans older than 18 to pitch up in the queue if they think they've got what it takes to join one of these TV shows as a presenter.

TVwithThinus asked Jonathan Boynton-Lee what he will be looking for in the Presenter Search on 3 as the ideal candidates to become TV presenters, and what people who go to the auditions should and shouldn't do and be before the judges.

"I'm not looking for the X-factor - I'm looking for the Simba factor," said Jonathan, adding "I don't think that exists!"

"To me, if I think of a good TV presenter, I think of Simba," he said.

"I need someone that's got something that no-one else has - someone who is natural on camera, who is loveable, someone who is just themselves and relatable. Like you're born to do it."

"It doesn't even look as if you're trying hard - something that just comes naturally. I'm looking for that: I'm looking for someone who walks in and is born to do it."

"Remember to not be too over-reheased," said Jonathan as a word of advice to people going to the Johannesburg auditions on Friday and this weekend. "Some people just run that link they have to do so much that it becomes so familiar that it's not natural anymore. Don't over-rehearse. Keep it natural."

"Something to remember is to be yourself. Be natural and don't try and mimic another presenter. We're not looking for Jeannie D, we definitely don't need another one of me. We're looking for someone new and someone fresh."

After the Johannesburg auditions the Presenter Search on 3 will start on SABC3 on 10 May at 19:30.

The long-tired drama series, Homeland, with Claire Danes finally cancelled after 8 seasons.

The 8th season of the drama series Homeland with Claire Danes seen on M-Net (DStv 101) will be its last, the actress confirmed in an American radio interview.

In an interview in America with Howard Stern on radio she confirmed that Homeland is cancelled.

"Yeah, that's it," confirming that Homeland from the Showtime channel is ending after the 8th season.

When she was asked how she feels about it, Claire Danes said she feels "really conflicted".

"I'll be ready. She's a lot, this Carrie-freakin' Mathison character. It's a workout, so I'll be ready for a reprieve from that."

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read from TVwithThinus - 19 April 2018.

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

■ TV needs fewer commercials - but the math is going to be hard.

■ Netflix: On the brink of global domination?
Now so powerful it even snubbed the Cannes Film Festival, are broadcasters around the world right to fear for their future?

■ Ghana's trash-petty TV station TV3 still can't stand that its former news anchor Nana Aba Anamoah left them.
So when she appeared on stage at the 19th Vodafone Ghana Music Awards, broadcast simultaneously on TV3 and M-Net's Africa Magic Family (DStv 154) on MultiChoice's DStv, the shoddy TV3 awkwardly censored its own broadcast and did a blackout for the minute Nana Aba Anamoah appeared on stage to present an award.

■ India's ZEE has big plans for Nigerian audiences - and talks upcoming content.

■ Three people in Ghana selling illegal DStv decoders smuggled in from Nigeria, arrested following a Cyber Crime Unit raid.

■ Kwesé TV says its TV channel Kwesé Inc. will run so-called "success stories" of African entrepreneurs who have used Kwese's services.

■ Judge in Sierra Leone releases a man who sat in jail in custody for 2 years for allegedly stealing a Samsung plasma TV.

■ Britain's broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, announces 7 new investigations into Russia Today (RT) over its spy coverage).

■ The new Lost in Space reboot on Netflix looks an awful lot like a Mass Effect TV show.

■ When TV shows refuse to die and overstay their welcome: Why The Walking Dead on FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131 / Cell C black 201) keeps going although it only frustrates viewers - just like the long-tired Homeland on M-Net (DStv 101).

MUST READ: The New York Times on what it means that Amazon Studios has arrived at Culver Studios on the lot where Gone with the Wind and E.T. were made.

Amazon Prime reveals that it has now passed 100 million subscribers globally driven by its Amazon Prime Video offering.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in a surprising revelation disclosed that Amazon Prime has now surpassed 100 million Amazon Prime subscribers globally, a day after Netflix said its subscriber base rose to 125 million subscribers worldwide.

It's the first time that Amazon officially disclosed subscriber numbers for Amazon Prime as subscription video-on-demand SVOD) streaming services are coming under increasing pressure to prove how their individual subscriber base expands.

In his annual letter to shareholders, Jeff Bezos reported the milestone, which he attributed in part to the success of Amazon's video streaming service and the popularity of award-winning original series like the recent The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

"Amazon Prime Video continues to drive Prime member adoption and retention," Jeff Bezos wrote.

Amazon Prime Video will be expanding its TV content offering with the most expensive TV series yet - its adaptation of Lord of the Rings, and a miniseries from Steven Spielberg with Javier Bardem.

"Looking forward, we're also excited about our upcoming Prime Original series pipeline, which includes Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan staring John Krasinski, King Lear, staring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, The Romanoffs, executive produced by Matt Weiner, Carnival Row starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne, Good Omens starring Jon Hamm, and Homecoming, executive produced by Sam Esmail and starring Julia Roberts in her first television series," Jeff Bezos wrote.

"We acquired the global television rights for a multi-season production of The Lord of the Rings, as well as Cortés, a miniseries based on the epic saga of Hernán Cortés from executive producer Steven Spielberg, starring Javier Bardem, and we look forward to beginning work on those shows this year."

Jeff Bezos' letter can be read here in its entirety.

National Geographic renews Genius for a 3rd season featuring Frankenstein author Mary Shelley.

National Geographic (DStv 181 / StarSat 220 / Cell C black 261) has renewed its Genius documentary drama series for a third season featuring its first female subject in the form of Frankenstein author, Mary Shelley.

After two seasons of featuring men - Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso - National Geographic started getting flack over its lack of female presentation and decided on a woman with a story of struggling against gender inequality.

No casting has yet been done for the third Genius season that will be broadcast on National Geographic in 2019.

"Mary Shelley's Frankenstein left an indelible mark on generations of imaginations," says Carolyn Bernstein, the executive vice president, global development and production for National Geographic Global Networks in a statement.

"Equally inspiring is the story of Shelley's relentless innovation, coupled with her desire to live on her own unconventional terms despite immense societal and cultural obstacles. I can't wait for our talented team to bring her remarkable, relevant and timely story to life for season three of Genius and do justice to her literary legacy."

Frankenstein was first published in 1818 and tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a scientist who creates a sentient creature with a monstrous appearance.

Mary Shelley masterfully invented the science fiction/horror genre with her tale of a creature brought to life, and subsequently went on to create the post-apocalyptic science fiction genre with her later novel, The Last Man.

"Mary Shelley has inspired countless filmmakers with her tale of the wretch brought to life by science gone wrong, but very few have fully captured her insightful reflections on society in the myth she left behind," says Ron Howard, Genius executive producer.

"Few know of her struggles due to gender inequities, her additional writings, her influence on other historically significant individuals and society at large. Showcasing someone like Mary Shelley and her amazing intellect, compassion and fortitude is exactly what this series is for, and we are looking forward to continuing our successful partnership with National Geographic and Fox 21 Television Studios."

Bert Salke, president of Fox 21 says "The choice of Mary Shelley as the subject of our third season speaks to the incredible depth of the franchise. How fitting at this moment in time to pivot to one of the many female geniuses in human history, and Mary's story is both stranger than fiction and incredibly dramatic. We can't wait to get started."

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

National Geographic orders Ebola crisis drama series as well as a Syria refugee war drama; puts 2 more possible shows in development.

National Geographic ((DStv 181 / StarSat 220 / Cell C black 261) has commissioned a scripted drama series, The Hot Zone, revolving around the Ebola crisis, as well as a Syria war drama entitled Ten Borders, with several other possible scripted series ordered to development.

Ordered to development is a scripted drama TV version of the film and book Hidden Figures, as well as a secret service drama entitled The White House Detail.

The Hot Zone is based on the best-seller by Richard Preston and is the true story of how the Ebola virus started in a central African rain forest and found its way to the United States. A precise episode order has not yet been decided on.

The White House Detail will try to give a look at the personal and professional lives of United States Secret Service agents protecting America's White House family, starting with the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy.

It's based on the first-hand account of the service's most iconic agent, Hill, who served under five presidents and is best known for leaping onto the back of JFK's limo during the assassination in Dallas and is based on the book Five Presidents.

Ten Borders from Paramount Television is a 6-episode series that revolves around 5 unrelated people who are pulled into one another's lives through the mass exodus of people from war-torn Syria to safe refuge in Sweden.

"The incredible audience response to our scripted programming, including award nominations for Genius and the overwhelming critical praise-and Critics Choice Award nomination for The Long Road Home, have emboldened our scripted strategy," says Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Global Networks in a statement.

"We've proven we can make noise in a crowded marketplace by utilizing the premium power of the National Geographic brand and working with the right talent."

Yet another SABC board member engulfed in university degree scandal as University of Limpopo refuses to give Kgalema Mohuba his doctorate degree.

Yet another SABC board member has become engulfed in a university degree scandal after the University of Limpopo and a court refused to give SABC board member Kgalema Mohuba his doctorate degree, following allegations that he allegedly hired two Zimbabweans to write his doctorate thesis.

Ironically Kgalema Mohuba is also the spokesperson for the University of Limpopo.

So far there's been no statement from the SABC, where the new SABC board and its executives said they were adamant about cleaning up and rooting out the systemic corruption and mismanagement inside the struggling South African public broadcaster.

The scandal engulfing Kgalema Mohuba has echoes of the disgraced former SABC chairperson and academic failure Ellen Tshabalala who shockingly lied about having tertiary qualifications from Unisa like a B.Com degree and in fact failed badly, and then had the audacity to blame Unisa for allegedly "losing" all records of her degrees after she was investigated by parliament for her lies.

According to newspaper reports, Kgalema Mohuba went to court to halt the University of Limpopo's graduation ceremony after the University of Limpopo decided to no longer confer a doctorate degree on him, pending an internal investigation.

Judge Matsoro Semenya struck Kgalema Mohuba's case off the roll, ruling that Kgalema Mohuba "is not entitled to receive the degree" - a doctorate in commerce (DCom).

Judge Matsoro Semenya in his ruling said "It is evident that the applicant has not studied for a minimum period of two years for the doctor of commerce degree after enrolling in August 2016."

"Whether the applicant has complied with all admission requirements for the DCom is an issue that forms part of the subject matter of the investigation and cannot be admitted."

The University of Limpopo decided to no longer give Kgalema Mohuba his doctorate degree after allegations that he hired two Zimbabweans to prepare and write his thesis on his behalf, and allegedly also paid for flights for them.

The University of Limpopo started an investigation in March into Kgalema Mohuba's doctorate degree after an anonymous tip-off, and last week the university decided to no longer award his degree.

BBC Studios producing a 5-episode Margaret Thatcher documentary series to mark 40 years since Britain's first female prime minister.

BBC Studios will be producing a new 5-episode documentary series, tentatively entitled Thatcher, on Margaret Thatcher to mark the 40 year anniversary since Britain got its first first female prime minister.

Thatcher will not just chart Margaret Thatcher's rise and fall but also the social history, upheaval and chance of modern Britain and the British society during her tenure as prime minister.

Archive footage from the time will provide viewers with a personal glimpse of the politician and illustrate some of the most important formative events in Britain's recent past.

Thatcher is produced by BBC Studios' The Documentary Unit.

"Margaret Thatcher defined her age like no other leader since the war," says the BBC in a statement. "This series promises to be not just the story of her extraordinary political journey, but also an exploration of the age that produced so much of the world we live in today."

Aysha Rafaele, creative director for The Documentary Unit at BBC Studios, says "Whether we love it or hate it we all live in a world created by Margaret Thatcher. This new series will explore how the ideology that she espoused and embodied came to be the defining narrative of the last 40 years and will take a forensic look at her impact and legacy on all corners and all aspects of British life."

Netflix announces 7 new European scripted series; says it will increase its EMEA region output - although Netflix has nothing from Africa yet.

There's been no announcement from Netflix South Africa about this, but the global streamer on Wednesday said that it is set to do more series produced in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, although Africa was conspicuously left out when it came to Netflix's content announcement today.

While Netflix didn't issue any press releases about its annual What's Next Netflix event for the EMEA region held today in Rome, Italy, it announced that it will be doing several scripted series, with more to come specifically for the EMEA region.

Part of the newly unveiled Netflix content for Europe and the Middle East - and with Africa conspicuously absent despite Netflix saying it will be doing content from Africa - is an original, 6-episode series entitled The English Game, written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes.

The English Game will revolve around the invention of football and how those involved in its creation reached across the class divide to establish the game as the world's most popular sport. The English Game will be produced by the British production company 42.

Also included as part of Netflix new Europe content and announced at What's Next Netflix is Netflix's first Dutch original series.

The untitled project, created by production company Pupkin and starting in 2019 will be about Dutch students living in Amsterdam who open a portal to a demonic world from the 17th century.

Mortel will be Netflix’s 5th original series from France and tell the story of teenagers bound together by a supernatural force. The series will be created by Frédéric Garcia and produced by Mandarin Television.

The Wave will be Netflix's 3rd original series from Germany and is based on the film The Wave, produced by Rat Pack in association with Sony Pictures Television Germany.

Luna Nera from Italy is a series about women suspected of witchcraft in the 17th century and produced by Fandango, while the Spanish heist series La Casa de Papel will get a third season in 2019.

Idris Elba will appear in the Netflix comedy series Turn Up Charlie that will have 8 episodes.

An as yet untitled documentary series will be based on the murder of Grégory Villemin in 1984 in France.

The documentary series The Staircase will tell the story of Michael Peterson, a crime novelist accused of killing his wife Kathleen after she is found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their home.

Netflix also announced its first Italian original film, Rimetti a Noi i Nostri Debiti (Forgive Us Our Debts).

"Our belief is that great storytelling transcends borders. When stories from different countries, languages and cultures find a worldwide platform where the only limitation is the creator’s imagination, then unique, yet universal, stories emerge that are embraced by a global audience," said Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer.

"With over 100 European projects launching this year, we are committed to being a voice for European entertainment, giving passionate local content creators a worldwide platform to share their vision, and offering consumers around the world unique and diverse stories they can discover and enjoy, anywhere, anytime and at the same time, no matter their place or language of origin. And this is just the beginning of our journey."

9 American series renewed for further seasons: Bull, Madam Secretary, Hawaii Five-O, MacGuyver, The Amazing Race, Survivor, Blue Bloods, and NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans.

The American TV network CBS on Wednesday renewed 9 TV series seen in South African and Africa for further seasons, most of which are broadcast on M-Net (DStv 101).

Further season pick-ups went to Bull that got a 3rd season (M-Net), Madam Secretary got a 5th season (M-Net), NCIS: Los Angeles got a 10th season (M-Net), NCIS: New Orleans got a 5th season, Hawaii Five-O got a 9th season (M-Net), MacGuyver got a 3rd season (M-Net) and Blue Bloods got a 9th season (M-Net).

The Amazing Race seen on The Sony Channel (DStv 127) and SABC3 got a 31th season, and Survivor (SABC3) got picked up for its 37th and 38th seasons.

These shows joins the already renewed Young Sheldon (M-Net), The Big Bang Theory (M-Net and SABC3), Mom (M-Net), NCIS (M-Net and The Universal Channel), SEAL Team (M-Net and S.W.A.T (M-Net).

Still waiting for possible renewal news are Elementary (M-Net), Criminal Minds (M-Net City), Scorpion (M-Net), Code Black (M-Net), Kevin Can Wait (M-Net) - with one or more or all that could be cancelled due to low and falling ratings.

National Geographic commissions new 6-part documentary series, Hostile Planet, looking at the way animals have found to survive in inhospitable places.

National Geographic (DStv 181 / StarSat 220 / Cell C black 261) has commissioned a new 6-part documentary series, Hostile Planet, that will be looking at the way in which animals have found ways to survive and adapt in some of the world's most inhospitable places.

Hostile Planet will be produced by director Guillermo Navarro who will also serve as executive director, and Plimsoll Productions.

"Set against the backdrop of a more violent and volatile climate, the battles for survival take on a new urgency as animals face intensified wildfires, blizzards, droughts and downpours. To some, the new challenges are too much, but for others, it presents new opportunities," says National Geographic.

Hostile Planet uses new camera technology to allow a close-up vantage point as the animals navigate through their changing landscapes. Each episode explores one the planet's roughest environments – including jungles, mountains, deserts, oceans, the poles and grasslands – and how each of its inhabitants acclimate to its turn of events.

"The series celebrates the surprising resiliency of animals that survive and thrive in the face of adversity," says Tim Pastore, National Geographic president of original production and programming in a statement.

"Not only do we showcase animals during their most dramatic, culminating moments, we also explore the consequences of a changing climate by immersing the viewer into an emotional narrative."

Guillermo Navarro says "It's an incredible honor to bring my vision to life with National Geographic, which is known for its unparalleled wildlife storytelling. With Hostile Planet, I am able to build a visual narrative to capture environments where species face the most critical state of our times."

"National Geographic permits us to push the boundaries of this genre as only this network can do," says Grant Mansfield, CEO of Plimsoll Productions. "With this freedom, we are creating a dynamic saga of life on Earth that’s exhilarating and fascinating. Just because there's life, it doesn't mean living is easy."

Parliament's portfolio committee on arts and culture calls for improvement of safety conditions on South African film sets; SA Guild of Actors calls for comprehensive enquiry after death of aspiring actor Odwa Shweni.

Parliament's portfolio committee on arts and culture on Wednesday in Cape Town said safety and working conditions on film sets must be improved as a matter of urgency.

It follows after the plunge-death of the aspiring actor Odwa Shweni (39) on Thursday last week when he fell 40 metres over a waterfall during a rehearsal for a fight scene for the film Outside at the Sterkspruit Waterfall in the Drakensberg.

His body was recovered on Friday morning at the Sterkspruit waterfall close to Monk's Cowl where he slipped and fell.

Sipho Singiswa, director of Outside, producer Gillian Schutte who didn't want to comment, as well as cast and crew members are apparently extremely traumatised about the death, after the production allegedly only paid the the R40 entrance fee as visitors and entered the park to rehearse scenes.

South Africa lacks and has no official, regulated national safety protocol for local film production, unlike the case for overseas productions.

Most film productions and production companies however have insurance that requires safety protocols and adherence to this.

"The untimely death of Odwa Shweni raises many questions about the safety procedures during filming and rehearsals, and this is a matter that should be looked in to with all urgency," Xoliswa Tom, committee chairperson said in a statement.

"The committee extends its heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Odwa Shweni and wishes them strength during this difficult time."

Jack Devnarain, South African Guild of Actors (SAGA) chairperson told Radio 702 that several cast members of Outside were unhappy about how the film production was managed and that the production and the circumstances around Odwa Shweni's death must be investigated.

"This must be investigated. It has to be the subject of a comprehensive enquiry. Did producers take the time, put in the effort to follow basic industry guidelines? What steps did they take to mitigate them to protect the crew?" said Jack Devnarain.

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read from TVwithThinus - 18 April 2018.

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

MUST LISTEN: Can the SABC be restored to its former glory?
Listen to the 42 minute interview on Radio 702 of Eusebius McKaiser with Chris Maroleng, SABC COO. The audio is also available here.

■ The BBC's children's channel CBeebies now helps to lull kids to sleep with pastoral programming and scenic daydreams.

■ As Netflix goes global, can it avoid regional politics?

■ John Oliver bought Russell Crowe's jockstrap.

■ Ukrainian TV presenter Olga Freymut at Novyi Kanal tells women to be silent about their feelings.

■ Alcohol and drugs abuser Ant McPartlin of Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway on ITV Choice (DStv 123) slapped with biggest drunk driving fine in Britain's history.

■ The zombie drama series The Walking Dead on FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131 / Cell C black 201) is starting to go down fast - since its peak in 2015 it has lost half (50%) of its viewership in both demo and total viewers as it keeps losing popularity.

■ Richard Blystone, who for years was a familiar face on CNN International (DStv 401) as a correspondent, has died at the age of 81.

MUST READ: What a well-done article: 25 years of the "special we're going to Disney World" episode. And why they're happening less frequently now on American television.

YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS UP. Pirate Kenyan who stole DStv signals, decided to sue MultiChoice for allegedly illegally breaking into his house. Here's what the judge said.

A Kenyan man who pirated the DStv signal and illegally resold it and who then had the audacity to sue MultiChoice for allegedly illegally breaking into his home during a raid, has now had his case tossed by the Kenyan court.

Jeffrey Sila Ndungi (32) is currently serving a 10-year sentence in a Texas jail in the United States after he was found guilty of theft and cheque fraud in 2012 but that didn't prevent Jeffrey from also dragging MultiChoice to court.

MultiChoice and Kenya's Copyright Board (Kecobo) in 2015 raided Jeffrey Sila Ndungi's home where MultiChoice and Kecobo confiscated the equipment that he was using to pirate the DStv signal in Kenya and reselling it to people who were not direct DStv subscribers but wanted to watch DStv.

Besides Kenya, Jeffrey was also involved in illegal TV signal piracy in North and West Africa and that criminal case in Kenya is still pending, as well as a similar one in Nigeria.

Kenya's Business Daily reports that Jeffrey decided to drag MultiChoice and the Kenya Copyright Board to court, claiming damages for the alleged illegal breaking and entering to stop his alleged TV signal piracy.

He claimed that MultiChoice in Kenya broke into his home without a search warrant.

Now Kenya's high court judge Chacha Mwita has dismissed his suit.

In his ruling judge Chacha Mwita says "having carefully considered the petition, the evidence and the law, I am not satisfied that the petitioner has proved either that his constitutional rights were violated or that he suffered any damage."

According to Mwita that Kenyan law allows the police to arrest, without a warrant, any person suspected of having committed an offence under the country's Copyright Act.

Advertising Standards Authority says no to early ejaculation and weak erections commercials on South African television before 9pm.

The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) has ruled that early ejaculation and weak erections commercials should only be shown after 21:00 on South African television, saying adverts for male sexual health containing these words can't be shown during the day or at 20:00.

Viewer Marcus Govender complained to the ASA, saying his kids aged 8 and 10 watched soccer - sports programming with no age restriction - and saw TV commercials that contained sexual suggestions and innuendos during football games. In his complaint he argued that adverts from Men’s Clinic International shouldn't be shown before and during soccer games.

Men’s Clinic International told the ASA that it has two sets of commercials that is broadcast during daytime and during the night on South African television - before 20:00 and after 20:00. The night commercials specifically mentions "weak erections", "early ejaculations" and "low libido", while the daytime commercials from Men's Clinic International do not contain these words.

Men’s Clinic International told the ASA that it disagrees with the viewer over football viewership and said soccer, shown by SuperSport on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform, is "predominantly watched by people over the age of 18".

The ASA directorate ruled that Men’s Clinic International "should flight its night commercials after 21:00, in appropriate programming, so as to avoid young children viewing those commercials".

The ASA directorate said the subtle sexual innuendo in Men’s Clinic International's "day" commercials "would only be understood by an adult who is already familiar with such innuendo. The execution contains no explicit scenes‚ nudity or overt references to sex".

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The American TV news channel MSNBC drops its news ticker for a cleaner look with less on-screen clutter.

The American TV news channel MSNBC (StarSat 263) has dropped its news ticker for a cleaner look with less on-screen clutter.

MSNBC did away with its on-air news scroll at the bottom of the screen on Monday.

"We're removing the scrolling ticker at the bottom of the screen for a cleaner view that puts our reporting more front and centre," MSNBC said in a statement.

"As a network, we focus on up-to-the-minute breaking news showcasing our team's smart reporting and in-depth analysis, and we want viewers to get the best possible experience."

Fashion designer Gert-Johan Coetzee added to Project Runway South Africa on Mzansi Magic as mentor.

Fashion designer Gert-Johan Coetzee has been added as mentor for the sewing reality competition Project Runway South Africa that will start in July on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161), produced by Rapid Blue productions and Ndalo Pictures.

Gert-Johan Coetzee's mentorship role on the show will be to keep the contestants to their deadlines and guiding their designs and fabric choices.

"I am utterly thrilled and honoured to be part of South Africa’s first version of Project Runway," says Gert-Johan Coetzee in a statement. "This means I will be at the forefront, helping to nurture the incredible talent we have in this country".

"The design schools may give you the knowledge and the skills, but the personal attention that comes with internships and Project Runway South Africa gives you the polish. And that's when the true stars shine."

"The competition is going to be tough, the expectations are going to be high. Don't bring anything less than your A-game!"

Ndalo Pictures founder and CEO Khanyi Dhlomo says "Mentorship is not only at the very heart of Project Runway, but at the heart of Ndalo Pictures too, so it was of utmost importance that we found the perfect mentor with all the right nuances."

"There's such an alluring sincerity about Gert. He's engaging, inspiring, passionate, boldly creative and wise beyond his years. He's the perfect fit."

Lerato Kganyago leaves Live AMP on SABC1 after just 2 years as presenter - is the 'amazing shift happening in my life' a move to pay-TV as the presenter of Project Runway SA on Mzansi Magic?

Lerato Kganyago is leaving the magazine show Live AMP on SABC1 after just two years as its presenter, with rumours in South Africa's TV biz swirling that she's leaving after being she was asked to present the upcoming Project Runway South Africa on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161), wasn't allowed to do the other show and decided to leave because of that at the same time as her contract simultaneously wasn't renewed.

The 35-year old Lerato Kganyago decided to ditch SABC1's Live AMP, produced by Urban Brew Studios and currently in its 22nd season, and might very well pop up in high definition next as the presenter of Project Runway SA produced by Rapid Blue productions and Ndalo Pictures for M-Net's Mzansi Magic channel and starting in July.

Lerato Kganyago's last on-air appearance on Live AMP will be on 18 May on SABC1.

Officially Lerato Kganyago who joined Live AMP in April 2016 "resigned" - which is true - but standing differently, the mirror shows more faces.

Word on the curb is that Lerato Kganyago was approached to be the presenter and host of Project Runway SA and wanted to front that reality sewing competition as well - a paying gig that would also be her first exposure to a pay-TV audience - but for whatever reason wasn't allowed to.

She had a choice to make and allegedly decided to pursue the Project Runway SA offer anyway, at roughly the same time as her Live AMP contract ran out anyway, and then wasn't renewed.

In a statement Lerato Kganyago says "co-hosting Live AMP has been the most incredible and fulfilling ride of my entertainment career thus far. However, two years in the same spot is a little too long for a Soweto girl like me who’s always looking for a new challenge."

"I will forever be indebted to SABC1 and Urban Brew for allowing me the unparalleled opportunity to showcase my talents," said Lerato Kganyago, noting that "there's an amazing shift happening in my life" - a shift says insiders to pay-television.

In the statement the SABC said "SABC1 and Urban Brew Studios announce the departure of popular Live AMP presenter Lerato Kganyago from the show. Lerato has resigned from the show to pursue other career interests after two successful years with the show".

Live AMP producer Akhumzi Jezile says "it was an absolute pleasure watching Lerato grow with the Live AMP brand. Her love and passion for entertainment kept her grounded throughout her stay. She will no doubt make a success of anything she chooses to take on".

Zandile Nkonyeni, SABC TV head publicist said "We would like to thank her for her commitment to Live AMP and SABC1 over the years".

The SABC was asked in a media enquiry about the biz talk that Lerato Kganyago was approached to present Project Runway South Africa on Mzansi Magic and was told by the SABC that she's not allowed to do both shows.

Zandile Nkonyeni said "we unfortunately cannot comment on where she is going as we do not have knowledge of it".

M-Net was also asked if Lerato Kganyago is the presenter of Project Runway SA, with Mzansi Magic that responded and told TVwithThinus that "the presenter will be announced close to broadcast. We will share the details once we have further information".

NCIS renewed for a 16th season as Mark Harmon signs a new contract.

The long-running drama series NCIS seen on South Africa on M-Net City (DStv 115), Universal Channel (DStv 117) and SABC2 has been renewed for a 16th season in America with Mark Harmon who has signed a new contract.

NCIS was renewed for a 14th and 15th season in February 2016.

"It's pretty simple – viewers everywhere love NCIS," says Kelly Kahl, CBS Entertainment president in a statement.

"This show speaks to viewers of all ages, in all parts of the country and around the world. NCIS' amazing characters and terrific storytelling result in some of TV’s most passionate fans."

"Of course, none of this would be possible without an outstanding production team, and talented cast led by the incomparable and absolutely tireless Mark Harmon. We're thrilled he is returning as the centerpiece of the show, and we could not be more excited for NCIS 16th season."

Besides being the main star Mark Harmon is also an executive producer on the show as well as on the two spin-off series, NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans.

Ian Somerhalder to play a vampire as Netflix commissions new drama series, V-Wars, for a 10-episode first season.

Ian Somerhalder has snagged a role in a vampire TV series - nope, not a Vampire Diaries reboot but in V-Wars, a new series commissioned for a first season of 10 episodes by Netflix looking for its own vampire series like The Walking Dead.

Ian Somerhalder, known for his role as a vampire in the long-running Vampire Diairies, will play Dr Luther Swann in V-Wars, based on the novel of the same name by Jonathan Maberry.

As a mysterious disease breaks out that transforms his best friend, Michael Fayne, into a terrifying vampire feeding on humans, Luther tries to find a cure.

As the dreaded disease starts to spread like in The Walking Dead and The Strain and more people are being transformed, what is left of human civilization is broken down into pockets of resistance, fighting against the undead in the what is known as "the first Vampire War".

Brad Turner who worked on Stargate and Stargate: Atlantis will be the director and an executive producer along with Eric Birnberg and Thomas Walden. High Park Entertainment will produce V-Wars along with IDW Entertainment

"We could not have dreamed of a better choice than Ian Somerhalder to bring his keen understanding of this genre from his years of starring in The Vampire Diaries to lead the cast of V-Wars as Dr. Luther Swann and to be a creative force on this series, as well as to serve as a director this season. We are thrilled to partner with Netflix to bring the multifaceted world that Jonathan Maberry created to audiences worldwide, says David Ozer, IDW Entertainment president in a statement.