This week we woke up to almost unbelievable news. More than half the cast of the popular South African soapie Generations were fired.
The cast included Anga Makubalo (MJ), Atandwa Kani (Samora), Katlego Danke (Dineo), Mandla Gaduka (Choppa), Menzi Ngubane (Sibusiso), Nambitha Mpulwana (Mawande), Patrick Shai (Patrick), Slindile Nodangala (Ruby), Sophie Ndaba (Queen), Seputla Sebogodi (Kenneth), Thami Mnqolo (Senzo), Thato Molamu (Nicholas), Winnie Ntshaba (Khetiwe), Zenande Mfenyana (Nolunthu), Zikhona Sodlaka (Priska) and Zolisa Xaluva (Jason).
It is unheard of that a soapie can fire all cast members and still survive. Is it impossible? I am very keen to see how this saga would develop from now on.
Viewers and fans of the soapie panicked and feared they would immediately lose the show, but it’s important to inform everybody that the episodes we watch now were recorded six weeks in advance as per trends with the production.
What will happen in the future though? What is interesting is whether the producers can stand by their decision or it’s only meant to threaten and instil fear and insecurity among the actors and their demands. One of the head producers Mfundi Mvundla insisted.
“That’s it! Finish and klaar. It’s termination, it’s finished.
We won’t be taking them back, we are running a business here and there has to be some resolve, we have to bring some certainty to the production. Its final”, he said.
Who has the ultimate power in the disagreement? In the red corner the actors remain steadfast and have released a statement backing their position.
“We live in a country that is notorious for artistes living and dying in a state of poverty, tragically, never managing to earn what is their due despite being associated with a number of successful projects.
We have made a decision, as dedicated professionals working on South Africa’s most successful show, that we will not be part of this painful statistic.
“There is no reason whatsoever that we should live as ‘struggling actors’ when our show generates an incredible income for the production house and the broadcaster.”
How much does Generations rake in for the production house and the broadcaster and if this continues and indeed the old story and cast are “killed”, would all those that have been bankrolling the 38-year-old show continue to do so like nothing happened?
The show is the biggest money earner for SABC as advertisers pay up to R220 000 per 30-second ad break to get the attention of over 7,5m viewers! An estimated R20 million rands is harvested weekly.
My research has revealed that an average soapie in South Africa, that is your half-an-hour show that airs five times a week, comes with an astronomical budget of between R35 million rands to R55 million rands.
While it is clear that Generations is making a lot of money it remains to be seen whether the actors’ demands are viable considering that they are demanding salary hikes of between R16 000 to R30 000 a week.
They all would average R1,4 million a year per member.
As it stands I would say the actors have an upper hand. They have an advantage because they have viewers on their side.
Most viewers cannot see the future of Generations outside the likes of Sibusiso Dlomo, Queen Moroka, Dineo Mashaba and of Kenneth Mashaba. Even investors and advertisers would surely prefer continuity.
Actors have established and built a strong force behind themselves and won millions of viewers’ hearts and I am certain they know this.
Their talent and commitment cannot be wished away just like that, or can it? How does the story go on? Will a virus be introduced to wipe away the whole cast or a bomb will explode at the media houses to eradicate all the actors?
This will call for a lot of creativity from Mvundla and his team.
Generations’ producers and SABC need to realise that if they lose the viewership they also will lose the sponsorship.
They are already under the Cush from other soapies like Isibaya and Zabalaza and this situation could not have come at a worse time. As one viewer pointed out, Generations is already boring and a totally new cast could spell disaster.
This is a lesson learnt even for Zimbabwe’s creative industry.
ZBC should be salivating at the figures Generations is making and our artistes should be inspired by “what could be their salaries” if we had producers, broadcasters and advertisers that capable.
In the meantime we wait for the next episode in the Generations saga with unabated breathe. Keep walking!
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