‘e’Lollipop’ is back! and Jason Hartman is in it

2010-03-13 00:00

IDOLS co-winner Jason Hartman is set to star in a new South African movie inspired by the true story of what happened to the young stars of the hit 1970s film, e’Lollipop.

Produced during the apartheid years, e’Lollipop was a box office hit that was screened in over 40 countries — and at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival in France, the movie was honoured as the opening film of the South African Retrospective section.

e’Lollipop told the tale of two inseparable South African children — Tsepo (Muntu Ndebele) and his orphaned friend Jannie (Norman Knox) — who meet when Jannie’s parents die tragically in a car crash in the Lesotho mountains.

Jannie is sent to a mission station in Tsepo’s village where they become best friends. Together with their dog Sugarball, life is full of childhood fun and antics until Jannie is seriously injured when one of their games goes horribly wrong.

Hartman, a former Howick High School pupil and big fan of the original film, will play the role of Knox, in A Million Colours: e’Lollipop II, which focuses on Ndebele’s (Wandile Molebatsi) life story.

Associate producer, Ndebele, who consulted on the screenplay and is on set daily, says he is proud he has such a platform to tell his story — a roller-coaster ride of stardom, red carpets and limousines, on to alcohol, drugs, theft and eventually imprisonment.

Considering that the original was released in 1976 it is not surprising to find that the new film takes up the story with the profound impact of the Soweto Riots on Tsepo, leading him by many strange twists to the high life of a Spanish dancer in Madrid. Seduced by the glitter and strangeness of his new vocation, his life goes into a downward spiral for 22 long years before his life is turned around.

Andre Pieterse, of Ma-Afrika Films, one of the producers of the South African/Canadian co-production, was the man who wanted Hartman to play Knox.

“Andre P told me that when I handed the crown back to Sasha-Lee in Idols, he knew that I was the right person for the role,” he said. “He also said that I had a wild look in my eye, even when I was smiling! He called me ‘wild man’ so I think they had their minds made up before the audition. I am still not sure what to think about that!”

With no acting experience to speak of — aside from appearing as the front end of a horse at school — Hartman is aware that some actors might be feeling a little annoyed that he got the part. But he certainly has no regrets about being chosen for the role and is loving the experience of being on set.

“There are about 200 people at any given time, from make-up, wardrobe and all the technical staff, to catering — the process has been amazing to witness,” said Hartman.

As for what it’s like to play a real person, he says: “Fortunately for me, the character I play in the movie is quite similar to myself, so acting out my part has been relatively natural.”

Pieterse and his co-producer, Michael Mosca from Equinoxe Films (the distributors of My Big Fat Greek Wedding), who are also behind the controversial biopic Winnie, confirmed that they will be filming in and around Johannesburg and in KwaZulu-Natal over seven weeks.

They then plan to launch A Million Colours: e’Lollipop II at the Cannes Film Festival.

Filming on Winnie will get under way once production on A Million Colours: e’Lollipop II has wrapped.

 

Jason Hartman will be performing at the ICC Arena in Durban tomorrow night, as the support act for American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson.

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