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THE MEDIA APRIL 2018

TV DRAMA Harriet Gavshon Frank Perold Michael Modena The plotlines may follow predictable curves, but scheduled screening times, ad rates and production costs all vary from broadcaster to broadcaster. SABC’s R167 million contract with Uzalo made headlines because of the production company’s co-owner, Gugulethu Zuma-Ncube, who is former President Jacob Zuma’s daughter. But, points out her Stained Glass Productions partner, Kobedi ‘Pepsi’ Pokane, who is also managing director of multimedia company Bonngoe Productions, “That political connection worked against us – for the longest time nobody wanted anything to do with the production; we battled to get it sold.” TIMING WAS THE SHOW ’S SAVIOUR Timing, he says, proved the show’s saviour. “Nobody was doing an authentic Zulu language series, set in KwaZulu-Natal – that is the biggest audience in the country, so it was a no-brainer for SABC 1; it would have been daft for them not to take the show – but it was a timing thing: often, producers come up with ideas, but don’t always think about the business of bringing it to life. Uzalo proved to be a problem we were solving for the broadcaster, to meet its audience mandate.” Pulling in five million viewers for its first episode, it didn’t take long for Uzalo to edge out the competition. Today, the soapie often hits the nine million mark, often going head to head for the slot with long-time frontrunner Generations, reinvented as The Legacy. It also boosted the region’s status as a film location destination – and may have to contend with another battle for audience figures with this month’s (mid-April) launch of Imbewu: The Seed, which is also being shot in Durban and is billed as a thriller. In a move that prompted as much gossip, rumour and speculation as the storyline of any of the number of series she’s been on – think Generations, Hopeville, and Soul City – Leleti Khumalo, who shot to fame in Sarafina, walked away from her lead role as Zandile ‘MaNzuza’ Mdletshe in Uzalo to star in and co-produce Imbewu, an offer she says she couldn’t refuse. “I’ve known Duma Ndlovu (co-creator of both Uzalo and SABC 2 headliner Muvhango) for the longest time and we’ve always wanted to work together on a bigger scale. About two or three years ago we discussed doing this production, and when we decided to do it, we brought Anant Singh on board as well…”. Singh, owner of award-wining Videovision Entertainment, would bring his movie experience to the making of the soapie, says Khumalo. “He insisted on doing this as a movie – introducing elements of moviemaking into it.”


THE MEDIA APRIL 2018
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