Generations: Axed 16 scripted out at indaba

2014-09-21 15:00

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A brand new Generations, with none of the 16 actors that were fired, is being created by the show’s script team. This follows a lekgotla, held from Monday to Thursday this week, in the mountains of the Magaliesberg outside Joburg.

Generations as we know it will run out of filmed episodes at the end of September. The “new Generations”, as it’s being described by the crew, will begin on December 1.

Various sources on the production team, who did not want to be named, confirmed that the new Generations would remain an aspirational drama played out in the advertising world. The action would simply pick up in the future.

Writers refused to divulge details,however, saying they were sworn to secrecy. Generations creator and producer, Mfundi Vundla of MMSV Productions, sent an SMS saying: “New show is Top Secret!!”

It was another week of backstage twists, drama, tension and cliffhangers at the country’s most popular TV show.

This week’s lekgotla could have been very different had the 16 actors not put up a united front. MMSV Productions is alleged to have offered to take back some – but not all – of the actors early on Monday morning, a day after Vundla flew in from Paris where he had been holidaying.

Actor Zolisa Xaluva is one of the actors fired after they downed tools over pay, contracts and royalties. Speaking exclusively to City Press, on behalf of the Generations Actors Guild, Xaluva said: “He did mention something to [our lawyer] about taking back certain people but no names or numbers.

“But we’re a solid unit. We agreed among us that if they do take us back, they take all 16. We were dismissed together and we will return together,” he said.

Next, on Friday, they filed papers with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for reinstatement. Vundla refused to comment.

And in yet another twist, the show’s head writer Bongi Ndaba resigned this week. She posted the news on her Facebook page.

“Yes, I’ve resigned,” she told City Press. “I’m not ready to talk about why.”

Asked if she acted in solidarity with the actors, she said: “I’m not on strike. I resigned for my own reasons.”

When Xaluva was asked whether the actors stood a chance at the CCMA – as they had embarked on what could be seen as an illegal strike – he was upbeat. “Firstly it wasn’t a strike. We withheld our services.”

The actors downed tools after what they considered was a failure by the SABC and the production company to honour their agreement from a previous action. The actors allege that the broadcaster agreed to give the actors longer contracts, royalties from the airing of previous episodes and higher pay.

This time, he said, the actors gave the producers “sufficient warning we would not come to work?...?In my opinion, they were in breach of their agreement. I think we’re in good standing legally.”

Asked if he felt it would be awkward working with Vundla should the CCMA rule in the actors’ favour, Xaluva said: “This is not about feelings but about changing the industry.

“Also, Vundla’s not always present – some of us have been there two years without even meeting him.”

And besides, their fight was not with Vundla but with the SABC.

“It’s the people on the screen who make Generations massive. You think Generations, you think Queen, Sibusiso, Senzo – not Mfundi, Friedrich [Stark], Hlaudi [Motsoeneng].”

He said there was no respect for artists. They often received no repeat fee royalties and, if they did, they were paid only 2% while writers received 12% and the production house the rest.

“We are bottom feeders but we make the show happen,” said Xaluva.

Asked how the actors were making money, he said some were working in theatre or as musicians, but they were “hustling here and there, and doing fine”. They were still making appearances, he said.

Xaluva believed a “new Generations” would “lose a significant amount of viewers. Their only hope is to bring back the old faces from the show that people love.”

The SABC confirmed local drama Skeem Saam will replace Generations while it is off air.

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