High School Musical: Producer tries to influence outcome

2008-09-19 00:00

The credibility of voting results on M-Net’s High School Musical: Spotlight South Africa was brought into question this week when Pieter Toerien, one of the show’s main producers, sent out an e-mail on Monday morning in which he tried to raise votes for his personal favourite in the show, saying that he didn’t want Lyle Volkwyn (21) from Johannesburg to win.

To counter the crisis, all six contestants were left with an equal opportunity in Monday night’s show.

Die Burger quoted Toerien as starting the e-mail with: “Victoria, it’s a CRISIS!”

“We simply can’t have a programme [and advertisements for you] with this kind of talent.

“Lyle, shame, the poor boy can’t act and will KILL the programme if he wins. But he has such ENORMOUS church support voting for him.

“He simply has to be voted off tonight! At the moment he leads David by 3 000 votes and that’s not good news,” the e-mail said.

The well-known stage impresario made no secret of the fact that he wanted David Schlachter to win when he wrote: “Please circulate this e-mail with for [sic] David to win. Please guys, P.”

In response to the situation, Toerien yesterday issued a statement, saying: “I wrote that e-mail in my private capacity as a producer who is considering his casting options, and the comments I made about Lyle’s suitability to play the role of Troy were purely a professional assessment on the demands of that role — in no way do they reflect my regard for Lyle as a person. I would like to apologise for any distress my e-mail has caused Lyle and his family, his friends and his fans.

“I have been told that in a reality show such as this, it is not unusual or against the rules for the contestants’ fans to rally support for their favourites, but in view of my participation in the programme, it was wrong of me to get involved on that level.”

“I want to assure viewers that it has been their votes all along that determined which contestants I could choose from every week.”

M-Net’s head of local productions, Carl Fischer, said yesterday: “From now onwards, neither the producer nor the creative panel will have any influence … The final decision is in the hands of the voting public.”

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