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V&A Waterfront TV series heading for Showmax

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Showmax and kykNET have released the first trailer for Waterfront, a star-studded family noir set in the dark underbelly of one of South Africa’s most popular tourist attractions.

Boat-building patriarch Ben Myburgh (SAFTA nominee Dawid Minnaar) is dead. This brings his three daughters – Julia (Die Byl’s Milan Murray), Anna (Silwerskerm and Fleur du Cap nominee Rolanda Marais) and Kate (Die Boekklub’s Trix Vivier) – back to the family business at the Cape Town harbour. But only one of them will inherit – and not what she expected – in this dark story of secrets, sibling rivalry and gentrification.

Silwerkskerm winners Albert Pretorius and Erica Wessels; Fleur du Cap winners Charlton Lee George, Paul du Toit and Stian Bam; and 2017 SAFTA nominee Neels van Jaarsveld co-star alongside familiar faces like Edwin van der Walt (Ballade vir ‘n Enkeling), Hannes van Wyk (Kwela, Egoli, danZ!), Joanie Combrink and Marvin Lee Beukes (Die Byl)  and Tarryn Wyngaard (Noem My Skollie).

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But the real star of the show is the V&A Waterfront. “It’s such a wonderful place and has never been used in a drama series like this,” says producer Herman Binge from Lion’s Head Productions. He admits that having an all-access pass to shoot anywhere owned by the Waterfront came with a downside though: “There’s no way to know which way to look at the shot because you can film anything here and it’s beautiful.”

The series is a reminder that this beauty came at a price: the gentrification that followed the development of the shopping centre in the 80s meant that not all of the Waterfront’s neighbours could afford to stay on what had become prime property. Even the likes of the Myburghs were put under immense pressure to move.

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“When I was a child, the Waterfront was a kind of a ship dock,” remembers cast member Euodia Samson (Die Byl). “It was a fantastic world because there were people and fishermen everywhere. Nowadays, it’s so prim and proper you have to wear heels when you come here.”

Charlton Lee George (Die Boland Moorde) agrees. “It’s changed a lot since the eighties. This used to be a dangerous place, so it’s been very interesting to see it become a tourist mecca.”

Waterfront was originally envisaged as a soap opera – it was shortlisted with The Wild when M-Net was looking for a soap, and again with Suidooster when kykNET wanted one.

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But when Fleur du Cap and KKNK-winning director Jaco Bouwer (Rooiland, Samsa-Masjien) got involved, his references were rather family dramas like Bloodline and Nordic noir like The Killing.

Together with screenwriter Leon Kruger, Bouwer rebooted the show to focus on the complicated human relationships at the heart of the story, shifting the primary locations from the brightly lit shopping mall to the shadowy nooks and crannies of the harbour. “I didn’t want to write a goodie and a baddie,” says Kruger, who as an actor had worked with Bouwer on the popular kykNET crime series DIe Boland Moorde. “I just wanted to write something grey.”

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Bouwer believes the show is a new direction for South African television, as complex structurally as it is morally, with up to five storylines running at a time, single scenes split across 13 episodes, and both flashbacks and flashforwards. “I hope and I trust that the local audience is ready for this,” says Bouwer. “I don’t think we’ve seen something like Waterfront on local TV.”

Waterfront replaces Die Boekklub on kykNET (DStv Channel 144) on 10 October 2017 at 20:00 SAST, coming to Showmax express the next day. New episodes will screen weekly.

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Android arrives on SA TVs

The arrival of the first name-brand Android TV in South African stores symbolises the shift to smart TVs, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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You probably have a good idea of what operating system (OS) runs on your phone, and may even know the version number. After all, Android and iOS almost define our relationships with our phones.

Not many, on the other hand, know anything about the OS on their TVs. Older TVs don’t even have names for their OS. Newer TVs with Internet connectivity, generally known as smart TVs, all have operating systems, but in most cases do not make a big deal of it. Only Samsung, with its Tizen OS, and LG, with webOS, are well-known. Then again, not all that well-known either.

Before Sony pulled out of the local TV market, it was about to introduce Android, the OS made by Google for smartphones, to the big box. A number of no-name brands have also debuted with Android, but consumers have tended to avoid them precisely because they were such an unknown quantity.

Enter Skyworth. It’s an $8-billion dollar business listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, but is only beginning to emerge as a presence in the South African market. It bought out Sinotec, the most popular budget big-screen TVs locally, and introduced the parent brand to the country in the last two years.

It keeps costs down because it brings in components from China, but assembles the TV sets at a local factory, thereby avoiding import duties on luxury items. Quality has rarely been an issue for Sinotec devices, and Skyworth seems to be benefiting from its long relationship with retailers.

Continue reading about the first Android TV contender in South Africa.

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SA rises as Spotify turns 10

October 2018 marks 10 years since Spotify officially launched its music streaming platform and to celebrate this milestone, Spotify has taken a look at some of its biggest discoveries in music.

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Spotify provided the following information:

The service only launched in South Africa in March this year, so this country is not included in the retrospective, but Spotify supplied Gadget with the following local streaming landmarks:

·         Most streamed South African artist – Jeremy Loops

·         Most streamed female South African artist – Shekhinah

·         Highest first-day streaming record – AKA’s Beyonce

Since launch Spotify now sits at 180 million monthly active listeners across 65 countries. These Spotify users can enjoy a music library of over 40 million songs and podcasts, and over 3 billion-plus user-created playlists. As of 31 August 2018, Spotify has also paid over 10 billion euros to rights holders since launch.

To date, over 2 000 genres of music have been identified on Spotify, among them Wonky (electronic music characterised by synths with unusual time signatures), Shimmer Pop (a Swedish cousin of indie pop and indietronica), and British Blues (the blues…with a British flavour).

Spotify has also done an assessment of “listening diversity,” – the number of artists the average user streams per month – which has risen on Spotify over the past 10 years, at an average of about 8% per year. In the past three years alone, listening diversity increased about 40% on the strength of new personalised and editorial playlists – meaning people are listening to an increased number of artists on a regular basis.

An official Decade of Discovery playlist features the most-streamed songs over the past  decade, including favourites like Avicii’s “Wake Me Up,” Hozier’s “Take Me To Church,” Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.,” Rihanna’s “Work,” Sia’s “Chandelier,” Major Lazer’s “Lean On,” and the star-studded “Despacito Remix”.

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