Oubaas signs out
Pierre van Pletzen speaks frankly about his 7de Laan exit.
7de Laan Weekday SABC2 (*192) 18:00
Editor’s note: by now, loyal 7de Laan viewers will know that Oubaas, aka Pierre van Pletzen, did not have his contract renewed at the soapie and his storyline will be coming to an end shortly. After numerous stories in the media, we decided that it would be best for Pierre to tell his side of his story, in his own words. This following transcript is the email conversation with Pierre – any editing work has been to follow grammar rules, tvplus house style, limit repetition and make the article reader friendly.
Pierre: I want to make it immediately clear to the public when I say: I did not approach any publication to cover my story. Within minutes of being told that my contract would not be renewed, my phone started ringing. About seven media organisations asked me for interviews and I answered them on a first- come, first-serve basis. I am not looking for publicity or sympathy. I am answering the questions that I am being asked. tvplus: how did it come about that your contract was not renewed? It happened on Wednesday 28 June at 12:00. The meeting was scheduled for 11:00 but one of the managers arrived late. My original meeting was scheduled for 13 June at 15:30 but one of the managers was over two hours late. After I had waited until 18:10, I was told that the person would not be arriving for the meeting as they were tired. tvplus: what was your reaction? Mixed feelings. But during the meeting I saw that they were messing things up with incorrect or improper procedures (how little they know about what is proper and ethical?!) and my emotion was one of immense relief! By the time that I got into my car, it was a feeling of rejoice as though I’d been relieved of three years’ of frustration and hopelessness. Later that evening, and the next morning, my anger took over as I thought about how I’d been mistreated over the last three years. The embarrassment and humiliation was totally unnecessary. My goal was never to criticise unnecessarily, I didn’t want 7de Laan to suffer under the strange, inexplicable and bad decisions that were made. I tried to help. But I was simply brushed off with the back of a hand, with a sense of righteousness and arrogance that I have never experienced in my life. Righteousness that wasn’t attained with experience and insight. We live in an age where mediocrity rules and if you try to stand up against it, it’s like talking to a wall. And there are repercussions, don’t kid yourself. But I have heard the words “get rid of the knowledgeable” said around the TV industry and in my case, and for a lot of others before me, including Danie Odendaal (the former producer) and Annie Basson (Danie’s wife and co-producer), that became reality. Look, I don’t care about being fired. What bothers me is the way that I was being forced out over the previous three years. And without any reasons. If you want to get rid of one of your most important assets, as Oubaas is to 7de Laan, at least explain why! tvplus: when is your last day on set? Until 4 August, I believe. And by the way, the meeting that I was summoned to was not to say you’re staying or going; it was an appraisal meeting. The process is that you fill in forms where you rate yourself under five sections and they rate you too, then a meeting follows where you discuss the differences between your and their ratings. But… my appraisals never took place. I was told bluntly that my contract was expiring. So I was never even given a rating! If they knew they wanted to fire me, why did they not just say that to me in the first scheduled meeting on 13 June (which didn’t even take place) or before? If you know you’re firing someone, tell him when you decide. And this comes after I asked the same people in May 2016 to please give me early warning in case I would have to sell my house. Well, they didn’t do that last year… or this year… so when I speak of a total lack of compassion, then I know what I’m talking about – and there are hundreds of examples that I can mention! tvplus: do you have any idea how Oubaas’s exit story will play out? They mumbled a few sentences about a sort-of storyline for my exit that day and what I could make out made me physically nauseas and shocked. I reckon if they go ahead
with it, it will be an injustice towards the loyal viewers, Oubaas and myself. A lot of viewers have said that they will not be watching 7de laan anymore and this possible storyline will drive more away. And that pains me. I love the people who work there and I want the programme to go on for them. But let’s see what happens. tvplus: the SABC press release said that Oubaas and Hilda would not divorce or be killed off and they plan to have you “visit” in future storylines. How do you feel about
that? Definitely not. They have told me “farewell, see you later” but I’ll shout back, “You must be joking!” No pal, not if I can help it. That’s a carrot of manipulation that they are dangling in front of my nose and saying, “Look you’re not good enough for us but don’t say anything bad about us out there, because…” Well, that works two ways: if I’m not good enough for you, you’re not good enough for me. They have been saying this for three years now, without reason, and I’m fed-up with the nonsense and unfairness. You can’t play games with people’s lives. tvplus: last year you and other actors like Annelize van der Ryst-Hattingh (Matrone) were put on call. What was your reaction? I was relieved because I was now able to do more freelance work and looked forward to it. When I took dates to them for the kykNET comedy Phil 101 (2017- current), they were shocked: “What? You’re doing other work?” My answer was, “Yes, dearies – you are paying me less and don’t want me full-time anymore. Obviously I need other work to survive. The thing is: they created a 12- day call system (when an actor can get a minimum of 12 calls a month for scenes) but didn’t do their homework on how to implement it. We were confused and if you asked questions, they couldn’t answer… and you guessed it, there were repercussions! I sent an email about this, two meetings took place (during the second, I was insulted like never before in my career) and it was decided that I was not allowed to talk to management and communication would take place via my agent. I have not had a word of communication with management since October 2016 and I haven’t given any advice either. I was too disillusioned with them. tvplus: is it difficult to picture your life without Oubaas? No, not really. I know it’s not what fans want to hear, but Oubaas is a character. I am not Oubaas. He wasn’t part of my private life. I’ve had many roles – not one came home. tvplus: what do you rememberer about your first day on set in 2000? I remember Oubaas had a heart-attack that day. tvplus: is there anything else in the pipeline? I believe and hope that the lord will bring something this way.
Pierre van Pletzen doesn’t mince his words about leaving Hillside. Oubaas and his wife Hilda (Annelisa Weiland).