Will Karabo stay, or will she go?
The future of Generations: The Legacy lead actress Connie Ferguson is the subject of wild speculation in SABC corridors because rumour has it she will be parting ways with the show after less than a year.
Although the show’s producer, TV supremo Mfundi Vundla, denies it, two sources on and close to the show say Ferguson is heading for the exit – and she may not be the only one.
Ferguson and fellow Generations veteran Rapulana Seiphemo were among the few actors brought back to rescue the soapie last August after Vundla axed 16 principal actors when they went on strike demanding more pay, contracts and royalties. After a two-month break, the refurbished Generations: The Legacy was launched on December 1.
But the sources – one an actor on the popular soapie and the other a representative of another actor on the show – have told City Press that Ferguson is leaving and the other actors are worried about their jobs.
Both sources told City Press that an email sent late last month by the executive producer informed the affected actors, including Ferguson and Seiphemo, that the show’s producers were taking the story line in a different direction and the Moroka family was not a part of the new plans.
One source said: “The producers are aiming to kill the Moroka family’s story line.”
Asked on Wednesday whether this was true, Vundla replied via SMS: “No, it is not true. This is a fabrication.”
The source added: “Ferguson and Seiphemo are the reason millions of viewers are glued to their screens and watch Generations. They are holding the show ... They are Generations. If both exit the show, it will be the end,” said one source.
Vundla appears to be trying hard to restore Generations to its spot as the country’s top soapie, but is receiving strong competition from SABC1’s new drama series, Uzalo, which is fast becoming the channel’s most watched show.
According to the latest TV ratings data, Uzalo now enjoys an audience of just over 8 million viewers while Generations: The Legacy’s figures sit at 7.2 million.
A representative of another actor on the show said: “When Mfundi brought back Ferguson and Seiphemo, he thought that as a strong power couple they were going to save the show and bring the numbers. Unfortunately, it is not bringing the numbers and the channel isn’t happy with the revenues.”
The actor added that the viewers must not be surprised when they see new faces over the next few months.
“They are going to introduce a new family to the viewers.”
One of those is Vusi Kunene, who previously played villain Jack Mabaso. Two months ago, Vundla confirmed to City Press that Kunene was rejoining the show.
Fans of the show were gripped on Thursday when Ferguson’s character, Karabo, asked Tau (played by Seiphemo) for a divorce. Friday’s episode ended dramatically with Tau barging into the house of Karabo’s lover, gun in hand. He beat her with it and turned it on her lover.
A well-known TV scriptwriter, who asked not to be named, said the divorce was a possible device producers have used to facilitate Ferguson’s exit. “Generations actors are usually contracted to the show for a year and Ferguson had possibly opted not to renew hers,” he said.
Ferguson’s phone went straight to voicemail this week and she did not respond to text messages and emails. Generations actors were on a shooting break and will return to work tomorrow.
Two months ago, rumours were rife that Seiphemo was also leaving. He did not respond to requests for comment this week. Another actor, Vuyo Dabula, who plays the role of Gadaffi, announced he was leaving two months ago.
“I feel like I’ve learnt as much as I can on that level of performance. It’s time for me to go outside and hear the birds again,” he said at the time.
Generations has been bleeding actors. Denise Zimba, who played vixen Mary Gumede, and Asanda Foji, who played Simphiwe, bade farewell in July. In a statement at the time, producers said Zimba asked to be released from her contract to pursue other interests