European production group Fremantle has teamed up with True Detective producer Richard Brown to produce an original documentary series about the inaugural season of the Basketball Africa League (BAL).
Directed by South African director Tebogo Malope, the series will follow the stories of the players, coaches and teams from across Africa in the BAL, throwing a spotlight on the momentum and ambition behind the pan-African basketball league and the individuals who have worked to change the landscape of sports on the continent.
The BAL is a partnership between the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation and marks the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America.
The series has been developed by Malope alongside executive producers Brown, Fisher Stevens (Tiger King), Anthony Scheinman, Christian Vesper and Akin Omotoso, who is currently directing The Greek Freak for Disney+ about basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Sports marketing company Infront and BAL will work alongside Fremantle, which will handle international sales, and Brown to produce the docuseries.
Pay TV channel M-Net and global producer and distributor Fremantle have begun production on eight-part contemporary crime drama Reyka, which will debut on M-Net (DStv channel 101) in July 2021.
The international coproduction is being filmed in South Africa and will be distributed globally by Fremantle.
Reyka is the story of a flawed but brilliant criminal profiler, played by Kim Engelbrecht (The Flash), who is haunted by an incident from her past when she was abducted by a farmer, played by Iain Glen. She investigates a string of brutal murders committed by a serial killer in the sugar cane fields of KwaZulu-Natal.
The show continues M-Net’s moves into international coproduction, after its 2019 drama Trackers, coproduced with HBO’s sister channel Cinemax and German public broadcaster ZDF.
Nkateko Mabaso, CEO of M-Net, said: “MultiChoice continues to lead the continuous productions of high-quality African television content that goes beyond our borders.
“This partnership with Fremantle is a brilliant way to showcase our prowess as DStv is Africa’s most-loved storyteller, and we particularly relish pairing our local talent with international stars.”
Julie Hodge, editorial director of global drama at Fremantle, added: “As production commences on our first ever South African drama, this is a proud moment for Fremantle and M-Net. The series has been in development for many years and we hope it will be the first of many successful projects in the region.
“Reyka is a rich and compelling story and we couldn’t be happier to have Kim and Iain onboard to bring these complex characters to life. We are confident it will be one of our stand-out international dramas for 2021.”
The series also stars Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Hamilton Dhlamini, Kenneth Nkosi, Nokuthula Ledwaba, Desmond Dube, Gerald Stein, Ian Roberts, Fiona Ramsey, David Butler and Jessica Hayes.
Reyka was created and written by award-winning screenwriter Rohan Dickson (Husk, Welcome to Hawaii), who has worked with South Africa’s major broadcasters and been a showrunner on highly successful dramas including Scandal, Zone 14, Jacob’s Cross, and High Rollers.
He was also the executive producer and showrunner on Isidingo, a long-running multi-award-winning drama series with a huge fan base across Africa.
The series is directed by Zee Ntuli (Hard to Get) and Catharine Cooke (The Girl from St Agnes). It is jointly produced by Serena Cullen for Serena Cullen Productions (Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Cold Feet) in the UK and Harriet Gavshon for Emmy-nominated Quizzical Pictures in South Africa.
Global producer and distributor Fremantle has picked up the international sales rights to a climate documentary narrated by British-Nigerian actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave).
Day Zero, which comes from filmmaker Kevin Sim, explores some of the most shocking water shortage issues facing the planet and talks to the people fighting to protect the world’s most precious resource from running out.
Filmed over a three-year period, the doc is being produced by Tencent in China, UK-based Keo Films and Iceland’s OoS Pictures, and includes exclusive interviews with some of the world’s top scientists and experts.
Virginia Quinn co-directs the doc with Sim, while Tencent’s chief exploration officer David Wallerstein exec produces alongside Keo Films’ Kari Lia.
Fremantle unveiled the documentary to buyers at this month’s Mipcom Online+.
“Day Zero is a film about people who already don’t have the luxury of thinking that water scarcity is someone else’s business. In Africa, Kansas, California, Brazil – and even in space – we follow the stories of local heroes fighting back along the frontlines of a crisis that could engulf us all,” said Sim.
“Sometimes you have to start beating drums, and we hope we’ve made a powerful and moving film whose message will be heard – an unashamedly demotic, down-to-earth film about the future of the planet.
“Yes, it’s a film which carries a terrifying warning, but a film that also offers a way out – to urge human beings to explore solutions that could save our future.”
South African network Mzansi Magic’s hit talent show Idols has announced the final 16 contestants who will compete to be declared the best young singer in the country.
This years’ series, based on UK format Pop Idol from Fremantle, will kick off without a live audience due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Nomsa Philiso, director of local entertainment channels at Mzansi Magic operator M-Net, said: “The show is about to reach its peak, a stage where viewers are starting to have their clear favourites.
“While we have had to take the difficult decision not to have audiences at the live shows due to the current environment and in trying to keep our fans and contestants safe, we are excited that our valued viewers can still enjoy this exciting production with us from a distance.
“The fate of the contestants now rests with you, the viewers at home, as they will rely on your votes to ensure that they make it to the next round, starting with our male contestants this coming Sunday.”
The 16 contestants are Ntokozo, Zama, Jerodine, Dee, Ndoni, Melanin, Bongi, Be, Qhawe, Ethan, Mr Music, Succedor, Zahn-Reece, Jooma, Brandon and Sonwabile. The judges are Somizi Mhlongo, Randall Abrahams and Unathi Nkayi, while Tebogo Thekisho hosts.
Season 16 of Idols South Africa airs on Sundays at 17.00 on Mzansi Magic Channel 161.
Mzansi Magic is a South African digital satellite and general entertainment channel broadcast on DStv. It is owned by MultiChoice and managed by M-Net’s local interest division.
A new drama about the murder of a Nigerian asylum seeker in Ireland will launch at international TV festival Mipcom later this month.
Newly rebranded production giant Fremantle has taken international distribution rights to Spiral Pictures’ new crime drama Taken Down, which is from the creative team behind Irish drama hit Love/Hate.
Set in Ireland, Taken Down was commissioned by public broadcaster RTÉ Television in association with cultural channel Arte in France. It is written by Spiral’s Stuart Carolan, who also acts as executive producer alongside bestselling novelist Jo Spain.
Suzanne McAuley (Clean Break, Maigret) is executive producer and David Caffrey (Peaky Blinders, Prime Suspects) is director for Spiral Pictures. The show received funding from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and Section 481. Fremantle holds global distribution rights.
The series follows a detective investigating the violent death of a young Nigerian immigrant to Ireland whose body is found close to a Direct Provision Centre, where refugees wait for political asylum. The investigation takes viewers into a twilight world where slum landlords and criminals prey on the vulnerable.
The cast includes Aissa Maiga (Anything for Alice, Bianco e Nero), Brian Gleeson (Resistance, Phantom Thread) and Lynn Rafferty (Love/Hate).
Jane Gogan, head of drama at RTÉ, said: “The story of Taken Down brings us into a world where opportunism meets the forces of Irish and globalised crime. This story is very much of the moment.”
Fremantle will be distributing the series to international broadcasters at Mipcom.