THE BIG DEBATE BURSTS BACK - WITH REDI TLHABI

Friday, April 29, 2011

BREAKING. What is TopTV planning for its 1st birthday on Sunday, 1 May? Well, to be shockingly honest, absolutely NOTHING.


TopTV is turning 1 year old this Sunday, 1 May, after On Digital Media (ODM) launched its commercial pay TV service a year ago - but you'd be forgiven for not realizing that or even be aware that TopTV is ''celebrating'' a first birthday. The company is doing absolutely nothing to celebrate this milestone and its first birthday.

TopTV is not engaging with the press or responding to media enquiries and isn't planning on making any operational executives or its CEO available for interviews with the press (I've been asking for the past two weeks and asked again as late as yesterday - TopTV isn't even officially acknowledging any of multiple media enquiries). Besides that TopTV's CEO Vino Govender decided to take extended leave and isn't working anyway. Vino Govender seemingly couldn't care less about what people think of the company he's supposed to be managing or the growing negative perception within the TV industry, the press, subscribers and shareholders who are all wondering: What is going on with TopTV?

There will be no TopTV press conference today or over the weekend, no conference call with journalists, no celebrations, no weighing in on the past year's challenges and successes; no looking forward and giving some perspective on new developments and adjusted timeframes for the roll-out of possible new channels and services; and not even congratulatory messages from channel providers on the TopTV platform.

Why not? Well, even I don't know why not. What I do know is that it's incredibly bad. It's bad from the point of a media company who either don't know (or refuse to) engage with the press. It's bad for subscribers, shareholders, potential new subscribers and the general TV industry who have no idea what's going on with TopTV. Public relations wise not doing the slightest thing or even finding executive to talk about TopTV, is deplorable. And then it's personally bad form to not even even acknowledge the benchmark of a 1st birthday.

Not only should any company know better and do better, but a media company and a pay TV operator should be much better. TopTV shocking lack of communication and celebration organization  around it's first birthday on Sunday is head-shakingly inexplicable. Whatever TopTV's future might be - based on the pay TV operator not even wanting to acknowledge or talk about its first birthday or the past year's performance - it strangely seems to be a future that TopTV themselves doesn't seem or deem to be good enough worth celebrating.

Programming note: Live from London and broadcast around the world, the Royal Wedding of the Century.


Live from London and broadcast around the world, it's the wedding of the century - and everyone's invited. In a modern fairytale steeped in tradition, Prince William will marry Kate Middleton in front of a congregation which includes kings and queens, cabinet ministers, butchers, grocers and postmen. And an estimated two billion people around the world will be watching

Friday 29 April
09:00 – 14:40 The Royal Wedding – William & Kate (live) SABC3
11:00 – 14:30 eNews Special: The Royal Wedding (live) e.tv
11:00 – 15:00 eNews Special: The Royal Wedding (live) eNews Channel (DStv 403)
09:00 – 15:00 The Royal Wedding (live) BBC World News (DStv 400 / TopTV 400)
09:00 – 15:00 The Royal Wedding (live) BBC Knowledge (DStv 251)
With anchor Huw Edwards in front of Buckingham Palace. This broadcast is from Britain's BBC One channel, the coverage ordinary Britain's will see inside England. Fiona and Sophie Raworth will be mingling with the crowds.
09:00 – 15:00 The Royal Wedding (live) MSNBC (TopTV 410)
09:00 – 17:00 The Royal Wedding (live) Sky News (DStv 402)
With presenters Eamonn Holmes, Dermont Murnaghan and royal correspondent Sarah Hughes. Sky News has a custom-built studio outside Buckingham Palace. Kay Burley is at Westminster Abbey. Sky News has correspondents across Britain such as St Andrews University, Angsley where the couple will live and Bucklebury, Kate's home town.
09:00 – 16:00 The Royal Wedding (live) CNN International (DStv 401)
With anchors Richard Quest and Piers Morgan. CNN has a production team of 125 people working on the wedding.
10:00 – 16:00 The Royal Wedding (live) Fox News Channel (TopTV 405)
With anchors Shepard Smith and Martha MacCallum. Gretchen Carlson and Jonathan Hunt are at Westminster Abbey. Royal experts include former butler Paul Burrell, writer Christopher Anderson and Joan Lunden.
10:00 – 15:00 Live Royal Wedding Arrivals Special (live) E! Entertainment (DStv 124)
Giuliana Rancic covers the arrival of the wedding guests from in front of Buckingham Palace.
16:00 Chris Jansing MSNBC (TopTV 410)
17:00 Showbiz Tonight Star! (TopTV 179)
17:50 How to Marry a Prince History (DStv 254)
18:45 Princesses of the World History (DStv 254)
18:45 The Princess Diaries The Disney Channel (DStv 303)
19:00 America Live Fox News Channel (TopTV 405)
19:00 eNews PrimeTime e.tv
21:00 Piers Morgan Tonight CNN International (DStv 401)
21:00 Martin Bashir MSNBC (TopTV 410)

Saturday 30 April
15:00 The Woman Who Would Be Queen CNN International (DStv 401)
17:00 Showbiz Tonight Star! (TopTV 179)
17:25 Glamour's 20 Wedding Do's and Don'ts Style (DStv 183)
17:00 – 19:00 Royal Wedding Special SABC3
A two hour special BBC highlights show looking back on Friday's events with presenters Huw Edwards, Sophie Raworth as well as special guests. A BBC production.
18:30 Will and Kate: Road to the Altar E! Entertainment (DStv 124)
19:30 Fashion Police – Royal Wedding Special E! Entertainment (DStv 124)
20:30 E! News Special E! Entertainment (DStv 124)
21:30 The British Royal Wedding Highlights BBC Entertainment (DStv 120)
An hour and a half recap of the highlights of the Royal Wedding.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

BREAKING. Emma Hurd is leaving South Africa as Sky News correspondent; replaced by Alex Crawford in Johannesburg.


Emma Hurd is leaving Johannesburg and South Africa as the correspondent for Sky News (DStv 402) for South Africa and Africa, and will be replaced by Alex Crawford (above) who will be heading up the South African bureau of Sky News.

Sky News just announced in a press statement that special correspondent Alex Crawford will take up a new posting in Johannesburg, replacing the longtime Emma Hurd, who in turn vacates Johannesburg for Jerusalem as the new Middle East correspondent for Sky News.

Alex Crawford is currently based in Dubai and has so far spent the year covering the tumultuous uprisings in North Africa and the Middle-East, currently reporting from the stricken Libyan cities of Zawiya and Misratah. ''Alex Crawford's new role will see her return to the continent where she grew up to cover news across Africa. She will also continue to be deployed on big stories around the world,'' says Sky News.

In other foreign bureau moves Sky News's chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay will transfer from Delhi to the Dubai bureau. Dominic Waghorn is to leave Jerusalem to take up the role of American correspondent replacing Robert Nisbet who will move to Brussels as Europe correspondent. Alex Rossi takes up the post of India correspondent based in Delhi.

''It's been an incredibly busy start to the year for foreign stories and it doesn't look like its going to slow down anytime soon,'' says Sarah Whitehead, head of international news for Sky News. ''Our re-formed teams will bring the best news stories from every region to viewers at home and around the world.''

BREAKING. The Showbiz Report's Nicky Greenwall is pregnant; expecting first baby with her longtime boyfriend Robin Fryer.


You're reading it here first.

I want to exclusively break the news that Nicky Greenwall and her boyfriend Robin Fryer is pregnant and expecting their first baby, with a source telling TV with Thinus that the presenter of the weekly entertainment magazine news show The Showbiz Report Saturdays at 19:30 on e.tv is with child.

The baby will be Nicky Greenwall and her longtime boyfriend Robin Fryer first child that's expected just before the end of the year in September.

''Nicky is about three to four months along with her pregnancy,'' quips a friend who spilled the news and added when I asked: ''If you look carefully, you will no longer really see her appearing full-length on The Showbiz Report - it's now all just middle up on the TV screen to hide the new and growing baby bump.''

Besides presenting the show since 2005 Nicky Greenwall is also the executive producer of The Showbiz Report done by her own Greenwall Productions and I'm told that with the bun in the oven she plans on taking things a little bit slower from now on. Running Greenwall Productions Nicky Greenwall is also responsible for the shows The Style Report and The Tech Report.

''Nicky Greenwall will still be doing The Showbiz Report for the forseeable future but she's definitely cutting back some stuff,'' says a source. ''She ending or going to stop the former daily entertainment news stories for the eNews Channel (DStv 403) for instance, although she's planning to still continue doing the Friday appearances on the eNews Channel,'' says a well placed-source.
''Nicky Greenwall is very happy about the prospect of becoming a mother,'' says another source. ''Nicky and Robin can't be more happier about the pregnancy and the baby that's on the way. Nicky looks radiant and happy.''

Congratulations!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

BREAKING. Matchbox to be Mzansi Magic's first local soap opera; channel also working on a telenovella entitled Desire and a drama series.


Mzansi Magic (DStv 107) is working on a brand-new soap opera called Matchbox (working title) and will also be developing a telenovella (a fixed episode soap opera) called Desire (working title) as part of the new black TV channel's new local shows.

ALSO READ: Mzansi Magic working to create a new local South African soap opera.
ALSO READ: Mzansi Magic delays commissioning process; says it needs more time to work through all the submissions.

At the end of last year Mzansi Magic said that it will be commissioning several new local shows and was awaiting proposals ranging from a new black soap to a reality show as well as a drama but the channel was flooded with suggestions and needed more time to sift through everything.

Now Mzansi Magic is finalizing a commissioning agreement for Matchbox as its new black soap that will be produced by Puo Pha Productions. Desire from John Kani and produced by Urban Brew will be Mzansi Magic's first foray into the telenovella genre.

Mzansi Magic is working on a pilot episode for what could be its new drama series entitled Station 7 and wants to do a local version of the reality show Extreme Makeover Home Edition for South Africa.

INTERVIEW. An interview with an Atlantean priestess - Natalie Becker on her role of Ariad in the upcoming docudrama Atlantis: End of a World.

Ilze Kitshof

The award-winning and accomplished South African actress Natalie Becker portrays an Atlantean priestess, Ariad, in the superb upcoming BBC docudrama, Atlantis: End of a World, Birth of a Legend that will start on BBC Knowledge (DStv 251) on Sunday, 1 May at 21:30. It was filmed at Waterfront Studios in Cape Town, South Africa and has a historical graphic novel feel similar in look to the movie 300.

ALSO READ: The birth of the legend of Atlantis coming to BBC Knowledge in May.

Atlantis: End of a World, Birth of a Legend (with an accompanying documentary Atlantis: The Evidence on Monday 2 May at 22:25) is a splendid dramatic reinterpretation, based on the best available facts, about the end of Europe's first great civilization - that of the Minoans in 1613 BC. Natalie Becker plays Ariad in this BBC Northern Ireland Production about the greatest natural disaster of the ancient world, and I asked her a few questions.

Hi Natalie, Atlantis: End of a World, Birth of a Legend looks fantastic! How long did you shoot on this BBC production?
We shot for just over a month in studio.

Viewers will see you in this splendid docu-drama about the end of the mythical city as the integral character of Ariad. What can you tell us about her?
Ariad is an Atlantean priestess who is part of the ruling class of the priesthood in the Minoan society where women ruled the land. She is a complex character who on one hand is bound by her role and duties as a priestess, and on the other hand is a woman in love, passionate and vulnerable.

Can you maybe reveal one or two behind-the-scenes secrets?
There's a funny one- where the director Tony Mitchell gave me ''green screen'' eyebrows to stick on mine because he said mine were moving too much! [Laughs] There were many light moments which kept us going. Another well-kept secret is that the caterer Ronnie, who brought us much-needed tea and cake at 16:00 on set every day, makes the best chocolate cake ever!

What is there that viewers watching Atlantis: End of a World might not know and that will add context to this richly illustrated tale?
The BBC did extensive archaeological research and there's an accompanying documentary to the movie, so the exciting thing about this is that it is so historically accurate and that you practically get to see exactly what happened and how it all went down.

What was difficult or challenging about this production for you, and what did you enjoy the most about it?
I guess doing working with a virtual back-lot or green screen is always challenging as one has to suspend disbelief and really exercise your actor's faith to make the scenes believable and the character come alive. I loved working with this amazingly talented cast of international and South African actors and also with a great crew. Our director Tony Mitchell was unbelievably dedicated and committed and passionate about this project and he was a fantastic director, juggling all the variables and keeping us all going through the tough bits too. Also, being part of telling this incredible story of the lost city of Atlantis, which has for so long been a source of fascination and mystery.

Atlantis End of a World, birth of a Legend on BBC Knowledge (DStv 251) Sunday 1 May at 21:30

BREAKING. More new seasons as The Vampire Diaries gets a 3rd, 90210 a 4th, Gossip Girl a 5th, and Supernatural a 7th season.


The Vampire Diaries will have a 3rd season, 90210 will get a 4th season, Gossip Girl will get a 5th season, Supernatural will get a 7th season and America's Next Top Model with Tyra Banks will get two more seasons (a 17th and 18th ''cycle'') of which the 17th season will be an ''all-star'' showdown season.

''The CW Network has given early pickups to five of its established series for next season, including an all-star cycle of America's Next Top Model and the network's top-rated drama The Vampire Diaries. Gossip Girl, 90210 and Supernatural also to return next season,'' says the CW Network in a press release.

Not renewed (yet) is One Tree Hill and Hellcats (that will start soon on Vuzu, DStv 123).

TOLDJA! Al Jazeera confirms its starting a new social media TV show called The Stream from May.


Last month I told you RIGHT HERE that Al Jazeera is working on a new, social media TV show called The Stream and the Arabic-based 24 news channel has now confirmed it.

Al Jazeera (DStv 406 / TopTV 401) says The Stream will launch in May on the channel, but will already be active online.

''Al Jazeera is pleased to announce the launch of The Stream, a social media show. The daily program is the first of its kind, acting as an aggregator of online sources and discussions, seeking out unheard voices and new perspectives from people around the world and presenting untold angles related to the most compelling stories of the day,'' says the channel in a press release.

''The Stream draws on the enormous growth of the social networks that are transforming today's news and current affairs agendas and that have played a key communication role in the recent revolutions in emerging democracies. The Stream will begin broadcasting on Al Jazeera in May.''

Derrick Ashong will be the presenter of The Stream which will be done from Washington D.C. ''The Stream is a truly unique concept which will tap into the increasing power of social media as a vital news source,'' says Paul Eedle, director of programming for Al Jazeera. ''The growth of social networks and their associated tools are transforming global news agendas. The Stream will allow Al Jazeera to bridge the divide between new and traditional media in a way that engages a new generation of news consumers.''

SuperSport grabs broadcasting rights until 2015 for UEFA Champions League, Super Cup and Europa League for sub-Sahara Africa.

SuperSport has secured the broadcast rights to the UEFA Champions League, Super Cup and Europa League for the 2012/'13 and 2014/'15 seasons the South Africa sports broadcaster has announced. SuperSport secured the broadcasting rights for the entire sub-Saharan Africa territory and the adjacent islands, as well as Nigeria.

Brandon Foot, the head of acquisitions and legal at SuperSport confirmed that SuperSport had acquired the rights following a tender process conducted by UEFA’s marketing agency.

The deal includes 145 Champions League matches, the Super Cup and 205 Europa League matches per season. ''The 2010 FIFA World Cup demonstrated Africans' immense appetite for world-class football and the Champions League falls into that category,'' says Imtiaz Patel, group CEO of MultiChoice SA in a press statement. ''Many of the world's top footballers compete in Europe, so viewers will be able to watch the best of the best, week in and week out.''

Programming note: E! Entertainment starts Live from the Royal Wedding Friday at 10:00, followed by Royal Wedding specials on Saturday.


Live from the Royal Wedding, the special Royal Wedding arrival special on E! Entertainment (DStv 124) with Giuliana Rancic in London will start on Friday 29 April at 10:00 (South African time).

E! Entertainment will not be broadcast the Royal Wedding itself on Friday, but will start to repeat Live from the Royal Wedding, immediately after the conclusion of the live broadcast when the other channels start with the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton inside Westminster Abbey.

Will and Kate: Road to the Altar is a one hour special at 18:30 (South African time) on Saturday 30 April, followed by a one hour special, Fashion Police Royal Wedding Special at 19:30 on Saturday 30 April on E! Entertainment. A special half hour E! News Royal Wedding will start after that at 20:30 on Saturday.

Maryanne Culpepper the new president of National Geographic Television; will continue to expand Nat Geo's channels around the world.

Maryanne Culpepper is the new president of National Geographic Television, succeeding Michael Rosenfeld, whose departure was announced in March.

Maryanne Culpepper has been National Geographic TV's executive vice president of editorial and new business development and has spent 15 years with the company. She has previously produced films for the National Geographic Channel and Discovery.

''Continuing to expand the reach and influence of National Geographic's channels around the globe is our top priority, and National Geographic Television is committed to creating and delivering great, original programming in service of that goal," National Geographic's Global Media chief operating officer Ted Prince said in a press statement. "Maryanne's strong track record in the creative development process and her in-depth knowledge of every aspect of National Geographic's content assets - from mission programs to magazine stories - makes her the ideal leader to head this critical function."

Al Jazeera to cover the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton as well, live this Friday in London.


Al Jazeera (TopTV 401 / DStv 406) will be covering the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton live as well this Friday 29 April, says the Arabic news channel.

Al Jazeera will have several TV reporters stationed across London at various locations including Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace as well as covering street parties and interviewing people amidst the crowds.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

BREAKING. M-Net gets the rights for the historical period drama The Borgias; Zone Reality buys You Saved My Life and Rapid Response.


You're reading it here first.

I can reveal that M-Net has acquired the broadcasting rights to The Borgias, a new historical-fiction show (just renewed for a second season in America) based on an Italian family called Borgia with Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander IV.

The period drama The Borgias is somewhat similar to The Tudors and has 9 episodes in the first season. Imagine The Sopranos but centuries ago with stories revolving around the courtly intrigue and behind-the-scenes politics between the Italian dynasty and the Roman Catholic church. The show's slogan ''The first crime family'' give you an idea.

In more TV deal making news, Zone Reality (DStv 125) meanwhile has acquired for the South African region two new shows, You Saved My Life and Rapid Response.

Action sports channel Fuel TV losing its vice president and general manager CJ Olivares after 8 years.

CJ Olivares who helped to launch the action sports channel Fuel TV (TopTV 225) is leaving the channel as its executive vice president and general manager, with a replacement that will be announced later in the week.

CJ Olivares will do consulting work for Fuel TV that launched 8 years ago and is looking to broadening its programming appeal. ''CJ Olivares has worked tirelessly to make Fuel TV live up to its original mission of providing unique, male-oriented sports and entertainment programming with a distinctive voice,'' says Fox Sports Media Group chairman David Hill in a press release.

''As Fuel TV continues to evolve, I realize that my passion remains the action sports that were Fuel TV's core and I now have the opportunity to explore the emerging possibilities in the expanding action sports entertainment landscape,'' says CJ Olivares.

ALSO READ: Fuel TV orders new seasons of Thrillbillies, Build to Shred, The Adventures of Danny & Dingo and The Standard Snowboard Show.

BREAKING. Katie Couric announces that she's leaving the CBS Evening News after 5 years of her news bulletin being stuck in 3rd place.


Katie Couric (54) of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric on Sky News (DStv 402) daily at 01:30 and 03:30 just announced that she's leaving as news anchor after 5 years and as the first permanent female news reader of one of America's three daily major news bulletins.

Katie Couric just told People in America that ''I have decided to step down from the CBS Evening News'' saying that she's decided to ''move on'' but that she's excited about the future''. She is apparently looking to do a talk show after the viewership for the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric remained stuck in third place behind the NBC Nightly News with Brain Williams (CNBC Africa, DStv 410) and ABC World News with Diane Sawyer in second place.

''I am looking at a format that will allow me to engage in more multi-dimensional storytelling," says Katie Couric, saying a new deal is ''still being discussed''. "The bottom line is that I love doing all kinds of different stories. I have a lot of areas of interest and I want to be able to fulfill all of that."

BREAKING. The new Countdown with Keith Olbermann set to start Tuesday 21 June on Current TV in South Africa.


Current TV (TopTV 406) has announced that Keith Olbermann who left MSNBC in January and announced in February that he's joining Current TV, will start his new show (titled exactly the same as his old one) Countdown with Keith Olbermann on Tuesday 21 June at 02:00 (South African time) on the channel.

''Current TV will premiere its much-anticipated week-nightly commentary show with Keith Olbermann on 20 June [USA time],'' the news channel says in a press statement.

''The show, to be called Countdown with Keith Olbermann marks the return to the airwaves for Olbermann, one of journalism's most provocative and outspoken voices, on independently-owned Current TV, which was founded in 2005 by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt and is now distributed in more than 75 million households around the world.''

''The show will combine familiar and popular features with some new elements that we can't wait to unveil,'' says Current TV. ''We're creating a great platform for Keith's style, which includes a very sophisticated digital presence for him — that we think will appeal to his very enthusiastic and active following. The show will also appeal to new viewers tuning into Keith for the first time.''

Monday, April 25, 2011

Programming note: The Oprah Winfrey Show welcomes The Backstreet Boys, Marie Osmond and Katherine Jackson this week.


The week's episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show on SABC3 at 17:30 for the 25th and final ''Farewell season'' is a mixed bag including The Backstreet Boys and George W. Bush, a mother's anguish about her son's suicide, a mother's anguish about the death of her popstar son and an Oprah classic topic: sexual abuse.

Today (Monday 25 April) The Oprah Winfrey Show catch up with the show's ''all-time heartthrobs'' with viewers getting surprised by The Backstreet Boys who perform and do an airport arrival surprise.

Tuesday (26 April) is part one of a ''two-day'' (the second episode will be showed at a later date and not Wednesday) ''TV event'' with 200 men comprising the Oprah audience who have been sexually abused and talk about it. In a powerful and emotional TV moment each man holds a childhood photo of himself of the time when the abuse started.

Wednesday (27 April) is a must-see hour with Oprah Winfrey interviewing Katherine Jackson, Michael Jackson's mother at her home with Michael Jackson's kids. And what happens when Joe Jackson, Michael Jackson's father suddenly shows up who was not planned to be a part of the interview?

Thursday (28 April) Oprah Winfrey will ask for former American president George W. Bush why he didn't more to help New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Friday (29 April) sees Marie Osmond breaking down in her interview with Oprah describing the circumstances around her son's suicide, how she's coping and the last harrowing conversation she had with her son.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

BREAKING. e.tv is back to broadcasting porn; added strip show Naked News to its late night schedule since Friday.


News flesh! The free-to-air broadcaster e.tv is back to broadcasting pornography and has added the titillating show Naked News to its late night schedule.

Naked News in which news presenters slowly strip and expose their naked bodies as they read the news does not appear on the e.tv programming schedule, but the broadcaster started showing it on Friday.

The broadcaster ended it showing of soft core pornographic films on Fridays and Saturdays a while ago, citing negative viewership feedback but is now returning to this format genre with Naked News.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

BREAKING. Super-agent Moonyeenn Lee is utterly brilliant as the biggest bitch on South African television in the second season of Class Act!


In.cre.dible! There's a new biggest bitch on South African television more rancorous than Randall and more deliciously, devastatingly destructive than any reality show TV judge you've ever seen before. Super-agent to the South African stars and Class Act judge Moonyeenn Lee has stepped up her blistering criticism on contestants in the second season that kicked off tonight on SABC1, truly transforming her into the singularly biggest bitch on South African television. And it's brilliant have-to-see TV!

In breathtaking bon mots and cutting sarcasm the red-haired super-agent with her red-rimmed glasses absolutely stepped up her biting judgement on contestants who - shall we say - ''displeased'' her. In the first episode of Class Act contestants couldn't scurry away for cover fast enough before Moonyeenn Lee unleashed an avalanche of awesome and acerbic critiques.


''That was embarrassing… to be nice. You did this whole thing with your nose and your face. You can't do that,'' Moonyeenn Lee said in a flat, matter-of-fact, yet chilling comment to the first hapless Class Act victim contestant. She just got laugh-out better, truly taking viewers' breath away.

''I've got to stop you now because this is so painful. Okay,'' Moonyeen Lee said to another contestant. ''Have you've ever been to a dentist and they've drilled without an injection?'' indicating how the revolting performance made her feel.

And some more Moonyeenn marvellousness followed like sideways to the producers: ''I want more money. I want a higher insurance policy'', and to an overdramatic wannabee actress: ''I think whatever you're watching stop it, because its hideous beyond speech. So go and watch proper films.''


Moonyeenn Lee lashed out at a contestant who dared to interrupt her. ''Don't interrupt! If you're serious about being an actor you've got a lot of work to do.'' And with metered sarcasm in an understated tone done better than Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada she said chillingly to another: ''... a simple yes would have been fine.''

Moonyeenn Lee's zingers while she rolled her eyes, kept coming in the first episode of Class Act. ''If we were doing a Michael Jackson remake, it could work.'' And blatantly in a contestant's face: ''That wasn't exactly what I would call... acting.''


The producers - to their credit - included some comments from the pummeled contestants who've endured Moonyeenn Lee's wrath  - all of it hilarious, since they clearly had no idea that they're up against - and commenting on - South Africa's super-agent who make and break careers.

''Old woman with the wrinkled face! I don't care who you are!'' spouted an upset contestant to camera. Another one who possibly had more of an inkling that she had to maybe show more respect for the powerful presence she's encountered but don't fully understand, said with a somewhat fearful voice: ''She looked at me over her glasses and said: ''Nooooo.''

ALSO READ: A Class Act - Why Class Act creator Donovan Marsh needs to be made the 3rd new permanent judge by the producers immediately.
ALSO READ: How Class Act creator Donovan Marsh clearly stepped in as judge to save the first episode of Class Act's second season.

A CLASS ACT. Why Class Act creator Donovan Marsh needs to be made the 3rd new and permanent Class Act judge immediately.


In showbiz the show must always go on, and despite the lackadaisical unprofessionalism of producer Mfundi Vundla who bailed as a Class Act judge, Class Act creator Donovan Marsh has stepped in (amazingly!) to show what being a class act is all about.

If Class Act producers Curious Pictures are clever, pro-active and responsive, they will immediately adapt and make Donovan Marsh the 3rd permanent judge for the second season from the Top 40 round onwards. Donovan Marsh was roped in at the very last minute as the replacement judge for the second season's first episode and did stellar work.

While viewers will still see alternating guest judges for the remainder of the nationwide audition episodes of Class Act (those episode have already been shot) - and whilst the producers already said this system of changing guest judges will continue for the remainder of the season - the much better decision from a very clear production value point of view would be to immediately switch back and use the insightful, clearly charming, hands-on and knowledgeable Donovan Marsh who's definitely (and surprisingly) a perfect fit, pops on television and makes a genuine connection with the Class Act contestants as well as viewers.


By adding a permanent 3rd judge (similar to the first season), Class Act (re)gains/retains its credibility. From the top 40 round from where the contestants will be whittled down to the top 10, contestants are kept or dumped based on their growth (or not) in their performances from week to week. It's difficult if not impossible to see how a guest judge coming in to Class Act for one episode can honestly judge contestants on their journey professionally and with perspective.

Adding Donovan Marsh who is clearly great on television will absolutely do justice. He's also the creator of the show; have also seen and been involved behind-the-scenes of the first season; and has now clearly - and incredibly convincingly - demonstrated that he knows his stuff and can seamlessly make the perfect 3rd Class Act permanent judge. Hopefully the Class Act producers are cognisant enough to realize that the Mfundi-mess has actually unknowingly delivered the show's next Class Act that was there all the time. It's a class act called Donovan Marsh.

ALSO READ: A Class Act - How Class Act creator Donovan Marsh clearly stepped in as judge to save the first episode of the second season from disaster.
ALSO READ: Super-agent Moonyeenn Lee is utterly brilliant as the biggest bitch on South African television in the second season of Class Act.

BREAKING. How Class Act creator Donovan Marsh clearly stepped in to save the first episode of the second season of the SABC1 reality show.


It's now become blatantly and abundantly clear in what a flat spin the Class Act production must have been behind the scenes of the reality show during the filming of the first episode for the second season that started tonight on SABC1.

The announced and awaited, yet no-show judge Mfundi Vundla, simply didn't show up - while the whole production was stalling and waiting for him to arrive on the Saturday morning. The production crew of Curious Pictures - while filming started and contestants stodd in line - wasn't even by this late stage aware that Mfundi Vundla was not going to be there. Class Act creator Donovan Marsh eventually stepped in to become the third judge to replace the no-show Mfundi Vundla by the Saturday afternoon when it became clear that the Generations producer simply wasn't going to be in Cape Town, and didn't even get on the plane to fly to the Mother City in the first place.

Donovan Marsh however - joining the Class Act judges Moonyeenn Lee and Rapulana Seiphemo on the golden couch for the Cape Town auditions in the first episode of Class Act - did wonderfully however. The production would be well served by keeping the affable, intelligent, well-spoken and sensical Donovan Marsh on-screen. Besides creating the show he acquited himself extremely well as a Class Act judge - and given the sudden tumultuous circumstances of being thrown in at the deep end in front of the cameras on super short notice to solve an emergency production crisis.

It's very clear now that Donovan Marsh is the one who basically stepped in and saved the show - preventing the first episode of the second season of Class Act from being an on-screen disaster.

ALSO READ: A Class Act - Why Class Act creator Donovan Marsh needs to be made the 3rd permanent new Class Act judge by the producers immediately.
ALSO READ: Super-agent Moonyeenn Lee is utterly brilliant as the biggest bitch on South African television in the second season of Class Act.

#HAIL THE HASHTAG? Is a permanent on-screen hastag coming to South African television? And will M-Net's Idols be first?

Get ready. Because its (sigh)... trending. The latest on-screen TV trend in America - a permanent on-screen hastag for Twitter displayed for the full duration of an episode just like a channel marker on your TV - might very soon be on South African television screens too.

With early studies showing that social media, just like Ramoras swimming alongside sharks, actually increase TV watching and viewership - especially live television and especially the reality TV genre - American TV channels and producers are now adding permanent on-screen hastags to the hottest shows for the full duration of an episode. With their hashtag Twitter word displayed on-screen (since viewers usually choose their own) channels and producers now want to try and herd social media interaction together as one big aggregate buzz-maker.

In America shows like Glee and American Idol now display #Glee and #Fringe and #americanidol where the collective social media stream of running interaction and comments create a shared experience and builds buzz under one suggested hashtag. Producers and broadcasters are now thinking that to provide an ''official'' hastag on-screen for the duration of a show, more social media posts will gravitate towards using the suggested hashtag and aggregate under it, instead of different ones.

With the 7th season of Idols starting in June and it being both a reality and a buzz-creator show - and with M-Net perpetually at the forefront of gimmicks and on-air experimentation - its highly probable that Idols will add a permanent on-screen hashtag - for instance #idols - to episodes when the show starts on 5 June. The same for Big Brother Amplified, or for shows on the youth channel Vuzu (DStv 123).

Presenters of local reality and magazine shows just like their overseas counterparts are already verbally directing viewers to ''follow us'' on Facebook and Twitter usually at the end of their shows. The addition of a permanent on-screen hashtag however will again push the evolution of (the clutter of) permanently displayed information on our TV screens. And it will - after it gets added - never again go away.

Programming note: The best show on TV you're not watching - The Listener - returns for a 2nd season tonight on Fox Entertainment.


So basically he's not an orphan. His mother deliberately put him in foster care. Disappeared. And she knew right from the beginning that he had special powers. She also knew that there's evil people (presumably with special powers too) who mustn't be allowed to get a hold of him and she actually gave him away to protect him with different names. Very Harry Potter; and a very good show.

That's what viewers discovered in the stunning first season finale of The Listener that returns for a second season of 13 episodes tonight on Fox Entertainment (TopTV 180) at 20:15 with Craig Olejnik in the best show on South African television you're not watching.

Toby Logan (Craig Olejnik) is a paramedic who can hear people's thoughts in this drama and uses it to solve crimes and riddles regarding people and situations. He does this whilst trying to puzzle out his gift, his origins and past, and what happened to his parents (which we now know is much more pre-determined than we ever even suspected).

Toby is going to reveal his secret to someone else this season, also starts working for a new agency, the IIB (which is a kind of CIA-ish agency), and digs further into the secrets surrounding who he really is. Viewers would be well-advised to dig into this spellbinding drama too.

The 7th upcoming season of Idols on M-Net concludes its gruelling theatre week at Sun City cutting down the 96 nationwide contestants.

Cobus Bodenstein/M-Net

The upcoming 7th season of Idols starting on M-Net (DStv 101) and Mzansi Magic (DStv 107) on Sunday 5 June at 17:30 just concluded its theatre round at Sun City.

After the grueling theatre week of Idols, the judges have picked their final contestants for the public's votes that will start from July. Inside sources tell TV with Thinus that viewers can look forward to a very diverse group of talented performers.

Since viewers have not yet seen what contestants from the various nationwide auditions made it through to the theatre round of Idols (irrespective of whether they've passed this round or have now fallen out) TV with Thinus can show you these photos of the theatre round provided by M-Net - but altered and with the contestants' faces blocked out by me. In this way nothing is given away about what happens during the first nationwide audition episodes. From these images of the theatre round of Idols its very clear that surprises are in store.


There were 96 contestants for the theatre round of Idols this week (98 contestants got golden tickets for the theatre round, but 2 dropped out because of clashing committments). Bubbly but stressed contestants learned lyrics, rehearsed with professional vocal coaches, sang - and then cried as more of them were summarily sent home at the end of each day.


Next will be the live performances that will start to kick in from the end of July with the group of contestants who've survived this week's theatre round.

Friday, April 22, 2011

BBC World News channel possibly ''slimmed-down'' to just concentrate on ''developing news and headlines'' in the future.


The 24 hour news channel BBC World News (TopTV 400 / DStv 400) could be downsized just like the SABC (which is planning its own 24 hour news channel) with talk of downscaling the exceptional British news channel to cut costs by 20%.

The BBC essentially runs two 24 hour news channels - BBC News, which is seen inside Britain, and then the slightly modified BBC World News (but part of the same news gathering hub) that's broadcast to the rest of the world. The news channel is based at, and broadcast from the News Centre within the BBC Television Centre in West London.

According to proposals, as first reported by Britain's The Guardian newspaper, the BBC World News could possibly be ''slimmed-down'' with the  news channel just concentrating on ''developing news and headlines". The channel does however want to focus on improving ''delivering breaking news".

BBC News also wants to try and increase its output to overseas broadcasters and increase the revenue it gets from commercial journalism "without damaging our brand and reputation". Since the BBC is going to lose some revenue with no increase in the BBC license fee for a few years, the news division will have to deal with cutbacks of 20%.

In an email to staff Kevin Bakhurst, channel head of BBC News says ''I do think it is important to remind ourselves that although some of this will be painful, we remain a well-funded news organisation and news channel (we retain around 80% of our funding) with a fair degree of certainty overall about the level of BBC funding for several years to come."