Mfundi keeps calm and car­ries on

Gen­er­a­tions boss op­ti­mistic that soapie will bounce back stronger de­spite los­ing bulk of cast mem­bers

CityPress - - News - ZINHLE MAPUMULO zinhle.mapumulo@city­

In a room full of jour­nal­ists hun­gry for head­lines, one young woman sticks out like a sore thumb.

She isn’t in­ter­ested in the story of the week – the end of Gen­er­a­tions as we know it. She just wants a job. More pre­cisely, she wants to be the next big thing on South Africa’s pre­mier soapie, which has made peo­ple like So­phie Nd­aba, Menzi Ngubane and oth­ers lo­cal su­per­stars.

But ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Mfundi Vundla ( pic­tured) is having none of it. “Au­di­tions will take place, but it will not be like Idols,” he tells the young woman with a self-sat­is­fied smirk on his face. “We will be look­ing at peo­ple who have al­ready been dis­cov­ered. As an ac­tor, you should have been dis­cov­ered by now.”

It’s Fri­day, and Vundla seems re­mark­ably un­shaken for an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer who has lost 16 of his prin­ci­pal cast mem­bers.

To the mil­lions of Gen­er­a­tions fans across the coun­try, this is a na­tional tragedy. A cri­sis.

All Vundla ini­tially told me on the side­lines of his Fri­day me­dia briefing was: “Gen­er­a­tions is con­tin­u­ing.”

And what about when the pre­re­corded episodes run out in Novem­ber? He is fa­mous for not minc­ing his words, so his re­sponse is no sur­prise: “Gen­er­a­tions was not made by the ac­tors whose con­tracts were ter­mi­nated this week and the se­ries will cer­tainly not die be­cause they are no longer there. This no­tion that they are in­dis­pens­able is bo­gus.”

He fid­gets with his cell­phone. “Ah! We made head­lines on the BBC!” he ex­claims, then seems to re­mem­ber he was mid­con­ver­sa­tion. He sighs. “Where were we?” He ex­udes soft power. He’s a com­fort­able, ami­able man with wary eyes who speaks in a deep voice. Those who have worked with him some­times sub­sti­tute the word ‘power’ with ‘ar­ro­gance’ when de­scrib­ing him. On set, the wags say, Vundla’s word is law. Be­fore I can re­mind him we were dis­cussing the big­gest story of the week, he jumps back in.

“We will prob­a­bly take a bump in rat­ings and mar­ket share, but we will re­cover. We will come back big­ger than ever.”

Op­tions are be­ing con­sid­ered, he says. Like what, I ask. “This in­cludes bring­ing back pop­u­lar ac­tors from the past,” he replies. Could we see the re­turn of 90s show lead­ers like Pamela Nomvete, who played ruth­less busi­ness­woman Nt­siki Lukhele? Nomvete isn’t cur­rently work­ing on any­thing, and Vundla says her and Fezile Mpela’s sto­ry­lines are among his all-time favourites.

The show’s pro­ducer, Friedrich Stark, who along with his wife El­sje and Vundla built the show, said ear­lier the com­pany had been in­un­dated by calls from lo­cal ac­tors who were keen to join the cast.

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