Oubaas signs out

Pierre van Plet­zen speaks frankly about his 7de Laan exit.

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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).

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