SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: At a launch held at Vilamoura Restaurant in Sandton, Johannesburg on 5 July, South African free-to-air commercial broadcaster e.tv announced a new locally produced romantic comedy series, as well as a partnership with MTV Base which has resulted in ‘a hot new VJ search’.

Also announced was Season 4 of the popular stand-alone weekly dramas, eKasi: Our Stories, and a second series of the reality show, Blame it on Fame, starring radio and TV personalities ‘The Twinz’ (Hlelo and Ntando Masina).

Said e.tv head of Channels Monde Twala: “Our viewers consistently want more local content and that’s what e.tv is about. In fact, we have increased our local content quota significantly over the last two years. We want it to be fresh, relevant and appealing. e.tv has put together a great slate of programmes for the next three months and later in the year our viewers can look forward to SA’s Got Talent.

“Our new six-part romantic comedy series, Mzansi Love: Kasi Style, is based on the highly successful Nollybooks novels, published by Moky Makura. This new series is built around the eKasi brand which has proved itself over and over again. It generates good ratings and delivers refreshing and inspiring stories to the market. Mzansi Love: Kasi Style comprises gritty, real and uplifting stories about young women falling in love.”

Moky Mokura, who is executive producer on Mzansi Love, noted that the series is co-produced with Bridget Pickering of Firefox Media. Mokura continued: “Bridget and I had a very limited budget to work with but managed to come up with a viable production model so that the movies wouldn’t look low budget.

“Our crew was small – 15 people – and we filmed all six movies in just 30 days, with no more than five actors in each movie. We had fantastic scriptwriters and four directors, one of whom directed three of the films. e.tv has been incredibly supportive throughout the project.”

Mzansi Love: Kasi Style, which starts broadcasting on Tuesday, 31 July at 20h30, features a medley of familiar faces and up-and-coming talent in the cast, with the likes of Wandile Molebatsi, Kelly Khumalo, Selae Thobakgale and Clayton Misoya to name a few. There are also some prominent industry names behind the production, with Mmabatho Montsho, Zamo Mkhwanazi, Neo Ntlatleng and Myrto Makrides directing the series.

eKasi: Our Stories Season 4 launches on Monday, 16 July at 21h00 and consists of 22 self-contained dramas which were filmed in and around Johannesburg townships, such as Kwa-Thema, Alexandra, Soweto and Eldorado Park.

Producer Patronella Sello of Blq2work multimedia commented: “It has been the most wonderful experience to be able to tell our own stories the way we want to tell them.

“The whole point of eKasi is to train, equip and mentor new South African filmmakers. eKasi is about grooming talent and providing a platform for cast and crew. I thank e.tv from the bottom of my heart because no-one is doing this like you are.”

Season 4 incorporates stories that have been put together by Seleke Communications, Eclipse, Sobabili Productions and Blq2work. Production teams include Thokozani Nkosi, Bheki Sibiya, Cuba Ikaneng, Vusi Dibakwane, Archie Mzazi, Nom Twala and Muntu Zwane.

The eKasi: Our Stories dramas are as a result of e.tv’s call to action whereby South Africans were invited to submit their scripts. These scripts were then filtered down by the channel and handed over to Puo Pha the commissioned head writers. Puo Pha worked with the selected writers and assisted them to turn their stories into the best possible screenplays for the channel.

Local Content manager at e.tv Keshie Rajoo announced that e.tv has formed a new partnership with MTV Base for the new MTV Base VJ Search. “The series will begin airing on Saturday, 11 August at 18h05, with the first set of auditions commencing on 8 July. We are looking for the hottest local talent to become Mzansi’s coolest new VJ. The winner will join the exclusive ranks of MTV VJs worldwide and will feature as a co-host on e.tv’s top music show, Club 808.”

The celebrity judges are Y-FM DJ and TV personality Bonang Matheba, Hip-Hop star HHP, TV presenter and DJ Azania Mosaka and MTV creative director Tim Horwood.

Network director of MTV Helen Smit stated: “It really is a celebration of talent and so nice to partner with e.tv in this talent search.”

Horwood added: “It’s great to see a new wave of media happening all around us.”

Blame it on Fame Season 2 commences on Saturday, 14 July at 18h30 and runs for 13 weeks.
Twala stressed that this show is important for e.tv because it’s aspirational. “We have a new production partner for this series in Black Bean Productions. Unlinke the first series which was about The Twinz’s respective careers, Season 2 has a big focus on family values.”
The evening’s entertainment at the launch was provided by dance crew Duduza Young Generation, who performed two high-energy, foot stomping performances. They are finalists in the current season of e.tv’s Step Up or Step Out, which comes to an end on 23 July.

Source: Screen Africa – Joanna Sterkowicz