If you’ve been feeling sorry for yourself because your showbiz career isn’t going quite the way you want it to, we bring you this little news nugget in the hope that it will brighten your day.
Assuming, of course, that seeing a huge professional TV series staffed by major pros implode can be a day-brightener. In other words, we’ll understand if you pretend not to feel better about your own lot after you read this news report from South Africa:
by Charl Blignaut – City Press
Johannesburg – It has been a week of high drama behind the scenes of an epic new Zulu historical series called Uselwa, which is intended for broadcast on SABC1 towards the end of the year.
By Thursday night, it seemed the production, which is more than half shot already, would be canned after line producer Megan Firth was asked to resign and executive producer Mkhomazi Mashinini was facing a revolt from the cast and crew over allegations of nonpayment, cost-cutting, late scripts, bad rates, no medics on set, a shortage of wardrobe and transport, inexperienced production assistants and swirling claims of inappropriate sexual behaviour from a senior manager on set.
Responding to questions from City Press, SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said: “We are aware that the production is facing some challenges, hence there is a commissioning editor who is assigned to visit KwaZulu-Natal to deal with these challenges.”
He reiterated the SABC’s stance that sexual harassment would not be tolerated.
By Friday night, the SABC had taken over the Uselwa set at Shakaland in Eshowe and shut it down. It will move a new producer in to complete the shoot.
According to three sources on set, where a crew of 80 are staying, Mashinini – of NCA Productions – had his car keys removed, was locked in his room and was due to be taken to the police, where a case of fraud and embezzlement was to be opened against him.
They say the SABC’s commissioning editor, Ntando Mhlongo, recounted how he had accompanied Mashinini to the bank, where it was discovered that the production’s account had only R13.65 left in it. The drama is believed to have a budget of well over R4 million.