ZANEWS’ new name reflects the producers’ ambition to take the multi-award winning satirical puppet show to new heights in South Africa and to turn the programme into a global brand. Premiering on Saturday 9th November, Puppet Nation ZA will air each Saturday night at 9.00pm and Sunday at 8.30 pm on StarOne, StarSat’s flagship channel. The show will also be available online at www.zanews.co.za as well as distributed internationally on the Apple iTunes stores.
Puppet Nation ZA will keeps viewers up to date with local and international current affairs the way ZANEWS has been doing it since 2009 – “laughing about it, thinking about it and talking about it” – but with more uproarious sketch comedy and lots of new outrageous puppets of local and international celebrities, champions and politicians. Be ready for Oscar Pistorius, Mamphela Ramphele, Riah Phiyega, Jackie Selebi, Dianne Kohler-Barnard, Heyneke Meyer, Jeannie D, Vladimir Putin, Bashar El Assad, Kim Jong Un, and many more famous and infamous celebrities.
Tim Modise has retired (for now) and has been replaced by eNCA firebrand political analyst Justice Malala who will host the show alongside fire-hot Debora Patta. They will be seconded at the Puppet Nation News desk by veteran anchor and toupee happy Riaan Kruywagen.
The season premiere episode brings President Jacob Zuma in the hot seat as Justice Malala attempts to get answers over the Nkandla enquiry. Debora Patta gives Oscar Pistorius the third degree whilst Juju and the Economic Freedom Fungi make their debut. Riaan Cruywagen returns to the newsdesk and Helen Zille teaches art DA style alongside appearances by Barack Obama, Thuli Madonsela, Die Antwoord and Donald Trump.
Puppet Nation ZA brings together some of the finest homegrown talent in scriptwriting, stage, art, puppetry and technology. The ideas and words in Puppet Nation ZA are from the pungent minds of Tom Eaton, Ben Trovato, Donovan Graham, Gretch van der Byl and Thierry Cassuto. The voices behind the puppets erupt from the mouths of Aggrey Lonake, MumZ, Nik Rabinowitz, Nikki Jackman and Louw Venter. The puppets are designed by Zapiro, Lindsay van Blerk and Matthew Sanna. Dozens of puppeteers have been casted from all over Cape Town and trained in the precise and demanding skills needed to make latex creatures come to life.
When TopTV went into business rescue, the producers of ZANEWS thought this would be the end of their show since the beleaguered satellite platform had been the only broadcaster in South Africa brave enough to air the satirical puppet show that was infamously turned down by the SABC back in 2008.
Executive Producer Thierry Cassuto and his team decided not to give up and spent their last few Rands on a pilot they would take to the biggest TV market in the world to show the Americans what a little studio on the foothills of Table Mountain at a bottom of Africa could do. “I flew to New York and LA in April, met with agents,writers and voice artists, showed them stills of our puppets and clips featuring US characters, and they were blown away. What they found the hardest to believe was that we could produce a whole season for an amount that could hardly buy a single episode in the US,” says Thierry Cassuto.
South African writers, led by head writer Tom Eaton, and voice artists, featuring Nik Rabinowitz teamed up with US counterparts, put a script and soundtrack together, which was then entirely filmed at Both Worlds’ Bo Kaap based studios. The resulting “sizzle reel” was shown to a selection of talent agencies in New York and Los Angeles, leading to Puppet Nation USA eventually being signed up by one of the top
Hollywood agents and currently being groomed for presentation to major networks and cable channels. When asked when American viewers could expect to see Puppet Nation in the USA, Cassuto says “Our puppets are holding their fat latex thumbs.
Especially Michele and Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney. Although for these last three, we would probably prefer to keep them in their boxes or feature them in the remake of the the Lost series.”
Whilst Cassuto was pitching in the US, TopTV’s rescuers, Beijing based StarTimes, approached Both Worlds to offer a long term agreement that would keep the triple SAFTA winner satirical programme on the soon to be re-launched platform. Cassuto recalls: “When I first met with Mr Pang, the chairman of StarTimes, not only was I surprised that he knew of the show, but most importantly that he wanted to make sure it stayed on for many years as one of their anchor programmes. This also means the satirical puppet show will eventually be available across Africa via the many digital and terrestrial channels owned by the StarTimes group.”
PUPPET NATION SA is produced and distributed by Both Worlds, a Cape Town based production company investing in film, tv, and digital content, hiring, training, and developing SA’s diverse talents and creativity, with the financial assistance of the
Open Society Foundation SA, the Department of Trade and Industry South Africa, and web hosting partner RSAWeb (www.rsaweb.co.za) and digital agency partner
Methys (www.methys.com) .
Contact: Carmen Kosterman – 021 801 1256 (firstname.lastname@example.org)