Rhythm City is a South African television soap opera created by Rolie Nikiwe and Neil McCarthy, developed by Harriet Gavshon, David Jammy and Monde Twala and produced by Quizzical Pictures (formerly known as Curious Pictures) which is set in the world of the South African music industry, blending youth and contemporary adult culture and giving a realistic glimpse into the world of music showbiz and the lives of the people who inhabit it.
Set in the world of the South African music industry the show blends youth and contemporary adult culture and aims to give a realistic glimpse into the world of music showbiz and the lives of the people who inhabit it.
The action takes place in the city, townships and suburbs of Johannesburg and puts the spotlight on the power battles that happen in the music industry.
Storylines revolve around record companies, promoters, producers, DJs and the stars as well as the wannabe stars, has-beens and everyone’s families and lovers.
Original Main Characters
Rachel is the third best selling gospel artist in Africa. She makes a mountain of money. At 43, she’s been in this position for the best part of fifteen years and has been on the charts for longer than any other artist in the country.
Until now, that is. This year, Rachel has not won South Africa’s major gospel award for the first time in ten years. This is a huge blow and the first indication that her career is on the decline. This knowledge (although she, of course, claims that she lost the award because of the bias of the judges) plunges her into a huge crisis.
She starts drinking again (she had been dry for a while), largely spurred on by her new best friend, Sunay, a new young artist. This situation forces Miles, her producer, to invest far more time in bolstering her career. It was through her early collaboration with Miles that her career got started and she is very aware that, without her, his career and his company would actually cease to exist.
Although Rachel denies it emphatically, Miles is really the great love of her life but their romance was always crowded by the business and then ultimately eclipsed by other marriages. She uses her status within the production company on occasion and at other times makes out that she is Miles’s best friend.
Rachel tries to be religious but is not that good at it. She’s very good at putting on the appearance of great piety in order to help her record sales though. Her drinking problem has been effectively hidden from her public for many years now. She has tried rehab a number of times.
Rachel convinces her daughter Thembi to move back into her Mondeor home. She desperately needs the emotional support after receiving a humiliating public smack to her ego.
Thembi is the result of a teenage pregnancy that happened before she made it big in the industry. Rachel never speaks about Thembi’s father who was just a schoolgirl crush – he ran as far and fast as he could when she fell pregnant.
She’s very proud of the fact that she has made it to the top, but somewhat embarrassed by her grown-up daughter. She generally passes her off as her sister. Rachel has had a string of boyfriends, most of whom have been bloodsuckers of one sort or another and have been thrown out.
Issues of pride and ego are big for Rachel. She claims to have come up with most of the elements that have now become part of the showbiz gospel repertoire (the kneel on stage, the angelic caftan, the public crying).
Her greatest fears are losing her fame and growing old. She has talent and a great voice and the ability to block out what she doesn’t want to see. Rachel is vain. Her inflated and fragile ego can easily be manipulated to exploit her. But, despite the selfish, spiteful and over-dramatic aspects of her personality, she is loveable.
She foresees a Hollywood future. She speaks Zulu/Swati and English. She uses English when she is throwing tantrums, but when she gets tongue-tied she switches to Zulu.
She listens to Kenny G, 70s Disco and Gospel. She wears expensive, trendy and figure- hugging garments when she’s not on stage, loves shopping and parties. She goes to trashy clubs to avoid the media and has a lot of acquaintances and hangers on and she just loves to entertain. She is also big into fads and trends, often the victim of the latest hip thing to do and usually tends to take it overboard.
The keeper of her many, many secrets is Kop – her driver.
Handmaiden/daughter to the Diva
Rachel’s daughter Thembi carries her father’s surname. She is the practical one in this household, but is an expert in making her mother feel as though she is still the one calling the shots. In their heart of hearts, they know that the home would fall apart without her, yet it is in romantic relationships that Thembi’s capable image begins to show signs of wear and tear.
At 24, Thembi finds all men her own age desperately immature and is attracted to older, more responsible men. She has always been a friend to Sibusiso. They pretty much grew up together.
She’s recently started a job as a features writer on 9-9Mag, a glossy youth publication. Working on the magazine (which is affiliated to a radio station) means promoting a lot of new artists. Thembi often sees herself as a victim of the music industry.
Thembi has a good heart but stumbles and falls often. She struggles to stand up to being exploited – even by her mother. She and S’bu regard their relationship as proof that men and women can be friends and that it doesn’t have to turn into something sexual.
The strange thing is that S’bu never really likes the guys that she chooses to be with, and Thembi really thinks that he wastes himself on the airheads that he tends to favour.
Thembi remembers that when she was 15, Rachel began introducing her to new people as her sister. In effect, she has since operated as her mother’s older and more responsible sibling. She sometimes feels angry about the fact that she never had a real childhood.
Level headed, stable and decent, Thembi has an arts degree, likes Hip Hop, Afro Pop, Kwaito and R&B. She portrays the Nubian Princess look, enjoys deep conversations, poetry clubs, and cooking.
Thembi has been involved with CC, a bit of a con artist, and has talked to him about developing her somewhat autobiographical novel into a film. He’s going to try and exploit their relationship when he finds out that Rachel is her mom.
Spoilt Rich Boy
S’bu is the 23-year-old son of the prominent record producer, Miles. S’bu is going through a rebellious phase – trying to define himself – in opposition to his father. He’s a hustler, who sees himself as a big businessman, but his various projects are only pipe dreams at the beginning of the series.
He doesn’t want to have anything to do with the music industry but from the beginning it’s clear that he has a talent for it. He can’t play any musical instrument but has a feel for what’s happening in the music world. He has occasionally drifted over the line into criminal activity.
Lucilla, S’bu’s stepmother, is the one who makes sure that he keeps as far away from his father’s company as possible. The last thing she wants is to have a rival challenging her for the position of power behind the throne to Miles. When Miles starts saying things about how great it would be to have S’bu involved, Lucilla rapidly pours cold water on these thoughts.
Having lived a life of privilege (he gets an allowance from his dad) S’bu lacks direction because he is overwhelmed with choice and feels secure in the safety net of his father’s success. He juggles his comfortable world with township life. His closest friends, Mandla and Suffocate, are penniless gangsters. Fats, the owner of a Diepkloof gym is another good friend of his.
S’bu, Mandla and Suffocate will soon become involved in a bungled house burglary which shocks S’bu.
Smooth S’bu finds being faithful very hard. He has a tendency to destroy the good things about his romantic relationships because of a long-standing fear of commitment.
His relationship with Lucilla has always been cautious. She has never really wanted to assume the role of full-time mother to him, and he has been happy with that. His real mother, Nokuthula, left the household when he was only three-years-old. Nobody has ever really discussed her in depth with S’bu.
S’bu listens to some Kwaito, some Afro-Pop, but mostly Hip Hop. Later on, he becomes much more musically adventurous. He has obviously been exposed to gospel and jazz and has gained huge insight into it without being too aware of it.
He wears labels and whatever is hot. He speaks English and a Zulu-based lingo. Sbu’s greatest fear is to not amount to anything, to have a wasted life, yet he can’t decide on any one path because he is so afraid of commitment.
He likes to hang at the club or the gym with his buddies. He gets drunk now and then. S’bu is very seldom at home. He gets bored very quickly. He has no staying power and too much energy. He’s not very tolerant of other people and other points of view, and has no time for his father.
S’bu can talk the talk, so he’s quite like his father, but he resists the comparison. He is stubborn like his father. He wants to be more successful than his father and richer, much richer. He wants to matter, wants people to look up to him. He wants to be successful in his own right.
Record Company Mogul
Miles is a self-made man and proud of it. It was he who saw Rachel Phakati’s potential when she was a struggling backup singer and suggested to her that she go the route of gospel. At the time, he was a struggling recording engineer.
Together they made the monumental success that is the career of Africa’s third biggest-selling gospel diva and the ongoing success of Redemption Records. During those early years, he and Rachel were lovers on an on-off basis, but they always had an agreement that Rachel’s career was the big thing and that any of the stuff that happened between them would not get in the way.
These days, they seldom talk about those old times, but in the back of their minds they still think of that period as the “golden years”. Miles has been married to his wife, Lucilla, for ten years and, by the age of 48, has had a number of affairs on the side and made fairly ready use of the casting couch.
Miles is rather inept with money and has tended to leave that side of the business up to his wife, who is the financial manager of Redemption Records. There have always been stories about him exploiting artists, but up until now he has always managed to charm his way out of these accusations. His big talent is that he has a real feel for when someone has a voice or not. He knows the business, but is too trusting about the details.
He’s a traditionalist and likes to do the right thing when it comes to business. He’s suspicious of underhanded tactics, but respects a worthy opponent.
His first wife ran off with another man when Sibusiso, his son, was very young. This event is never really discussed much in the home.
It is his great sadness that Lucilla has been proven to be medically incapable of bearing children. He is very angry at what he feels is the rejection by S’bu and his lack of interest in, or appreciation of, the business that he has built up.
He is quite patriarchal. He believes things were better in the old days. This deeply hidden aspect of him finds expression in his reliance on traditional medicines and his belief that cultural practices have to be maintained.
Miles is a member of a number of local committees: he’s chairman of the street committee in his Diepkloof Extension neighbourhood (entrusted with combating crime and maintaining community standards) and is on the fund-raising committee at his church.
He was born in KZN and came to Jo’burg as a very young man. He has completely cut himself off from any family that he might have left back in KZN. He hates any mention of the fact that he is a rural man.
He enjoys gospel music and local jazz, drives a five-year-old Mercedes C class, and likes to wear suits or jackets at work and jeans with a button-up shirt when he’s at home. He dislikes being ignored, or regarded as irrelevant.
He fears that the perception of him in society would be that what he is doing with his life really doesn’t matter. Miles is terrified of being left behind by the times.
He only really responds to pressure. He does not plan, and it’s only when things get to crisis point, that he acts. He’s prone to making rash decisions under these conditions. He tends to underestimate how hard things are going to be and tends to be lazy.
He can talk people into doing things that they might not necessarily want to do. He can make others want to trust him. He has a good heart, but he doesn’t always listen to it.
He would like to be at the helm of an expanded Redemption Records and represent a number of very talented stars, not just Rachel. He would like to get out from under her shadow. And he’d like S’bu to be involved in the family business.
Miles can only speak two languages fluently: English and Zulu. He speaks Zulu and English with his family, mainly because his wife insists on it. He likes using Zulu as a language of authority as he’s much more comfortable that way.
Seductive, confident and well-groomed Lucilla is married to Miles, and is the reluctant stepmother of Sibusiso. She is a woman who has never got off the casting couch. She had a brief career as a gospel artist when she was 25 (she’s now 35) and always claims that she gave it up to marry Miles. She resents the success of gospel goddess Rachel.
She is a deeply deceptive and ruthless person. Her real name is Lusanda and her family members call her that. People who know her well call her Os’Lulu.
Lucilla grew up on the streets of Soweto. Her father is a messenger for a big law firm in town. She grew up in a four-roomed township house. Her parents are still married. She has many brothers and sisters who are irritants to her and she tries to see them as little as possible. Except for her sister in KZN, who was the one who really looked after her, when Lucilla was a young child.
She is very preoccupied with the fact that she is losing her looks and getting old, although she still looks remarkably young for her age. She is a super-bitch and ultimate township girl.
Miles has suspected for years that she is ambitious and manipulative, but he has refused to confront it. Their relationship is more a business one than anything else at this stage. There is not that much passion left, but Lucilla still battles to control her habitual jealousy, especially when Miles has to spend time with his female artists developing their careers and stewarding them about town. She knows that this is an inevitable part of the job and good for business, but she still gets very tense about it.
He still thinks it is wise to keep his affairs hidden from her. She secretly longs to have affairs of her own, but has never strayed. That is until the start of our series. In her mind the thought of having sex with a man other than her husband is associated with a loss of self-control.
As our series starts Lucilla is breaking out of the role that has been given to her in the company; she decides to prove to Miles that she is as good as anyone at managing talent.
Lucilla has expensive corporate taste and is very preoccupied with fashion (although she wears a lot of stylish tracksuits at home).
She fears other people’s power over her. Lucilla is terrified of getting old without being recognised as a powerful woman in her own right.
She likes to gym, shop, and read magazines. She is part of a stokvel and makes sure that she is the one that makes all the decisions and does all the banking. She also socialises with her stokvel friends.
Lucilla has no morals although she disguises it well. She sees people as pawns to be moved around for her own advantage. She has no ability to really sympathise with the sufferings of others, even though she has the ability to appear as if she does. She is, however, tremendously focused. Fame and power are what motivates her.
She is fluent in Zulu, Sotho and English. She believes that forward-looking people like her should speak English most of the time.
Bernard is the marketing and PR manager for Redemption Records – a majority black-owned company. Despite him obviously being white, Bernard has huge admiration for black culture and is a sponge for any bits of township slang or street fashion he can pick up. And he definitely has a preference for black girlfriends.
Bernard works closely with Rachel, but has become lazy in managing her career. He is unashamedly attracted to black women. At 35, he’s divorced with two kids he hardly ever sees. He hates his ex-wife and he thinks every choice she has made in her life is a disaster. Bernard is a sports lover. The one area where his Afrikaner roots show through is in his devotion to rugby and his commitment to the Springboks.
He also likes the image of being connected to gangsters. He lives out this fantasy by being the “brains” behind a real life burglary. But the break-in is botched, somebody is killed and Bernard will fear for his life.
Bernard loves Kwaito and Hip Hop, wears street labels and likes graffiti art, Soweto clubs and street bashes. Work is more relaxing to him than recreation.
His greatest fear is Country and Western music and Afrikaans Rock. He speaks English and township lingo. He tries to gooi as much lingo as he can when conversing with the artists and black guys in the office, but he isn’t as fluent as he would like to be. He only speaks Afrikaans when forced. Bernard would like to live in Diepkloof one day.
Gail is Miles’s personal assistant. She doesn’t like gospel music, but is fascinated by the gulf between the showbiz image of gospel and what actually goes on behind the scenes. She often acts as the gatekeeper of Redemption Records offices (based in downtown Johannesburg) making sure that the wrong people don’t get through. There are often fans or wannabes who pester her but she is very good at keeping them at bay.
Gail is from the Cape. She grew up in Worcester. She has a huge family, but lives in Mayfair, sharing a flat with a friend.
She is very protective of Miles and has suspicions that all is not well with his wife. She also has a tendency to talk too much and is often an unintended source of gossip.
Gail likes American soft rock and Cape Hip Hop, wears mainstream fashion, goes clubbing and hangs at coffee shops. She wants to be a pilot and is into adventure sports. This girl is a thrill-seeker.
Her greatest worry, at the age of 22, is being poverty-stricken (she’s very bad with money and can’t save) yet she is always highly optimistic, well-organised and efficient. She speaks Afrikaans with her family and mainly English at work, and with friends.
Driver To The Diva
He is Rachel Phakati’s driver and general dogsbody. He is married to Mamokete and is Tshidi and Stone’s father. They live in the rooms behind a gym in Soweto’s Diepkloof.
He is the one person in the Rachel household who works extremely hard, although in his own home he tends to do very little. He tends to moan about Rachel and her behaviour, but he is actually fiercely loyal to her. He is not all that well educated and is desperate to hold onto this job. All of his family thinks he is very lucky to be working for one of the most famous women in the country.
Rachel is very dependent on Kop and resents this, but deep, deep, down she’s very fond of him. He knows her moods and tendencies better than anyone else. He is also one of the few people who can sit her down and give her a serious talking to.
He feels that he cannot say too much about the way in which Rachel abuses him and takes him for granted, keeping him long after hours at times, waiting outside events while she parties. His wife, Mamokete, really struggles with this aspect of their lives. She finds it hard to plan anything because she is never sure when he is going to be home.
At the age of 45, Kop is really the wiser, older man of the show. He is an extremely conservative man with a rural background and is the patriarch of his family – although he doesn’t know it, Mamokete is generally the one pulling the strings in the household. He is a good and moral man.
Because he lives at the gym he also hangs there and tries to exercise a bit of a calming influence on the younger guys, although sometimes this works the other way around.
He talks about his kids obsessively, and his wisdom comes out of his heart-felt care of them and their struggles, something he has no problem sharing with Rachel exhaustively. It is through S’bu (who he has watched growing up) that he made the connection with Fats and found a home for his family in the rooms behind the gym.
He feels that he has seen all the bad stuff that the music industry can dish up, which is why he is particularly horrified when his darling daughter, the one he believed was going to make the whole family proud by becoming a doctor or a lawyer, starts demonstrating an interest in a recording career.
Kop only listens to Rachel’s music. He wears a shirt and tie to work. Sometimes he tries to be trendy, but never quite gets it right. He bets at the tote and reads about the horses. He follows the soccer, but that’s partly because of Stone, his son. He has a group of friends who come to the gym. He sometimes goes to the races. It is the one area of conflict with his wife. She hates his gambling and the time he spends with his friends.
He keeps Rachel’s car at home and drives to her place every morning in it. Down the line he wants to get his own car.
Kop’s greatest fear is that something bad will happen to a member of his family. He has the ability (through long rambling stories) to help people see their problems in a different way – he suffers from accidental wisdom. Kop dreams that one day he will return to Kroonstad where he will own his own farm and car. He speaks Tswana and English.
Mamokete works at the gym, trying to keep it clean, and works behind the unhealthy snack bar. She and her husband, Kop, have three children together, one has died. She believes education is the key to a good future for her children and that has been the major goal of her life: to provide her children with a good platform for their future, in the hope that they will not have to scrounge and save in the way that she and Kop have had to.
She does anything she can think of to make a bit of extra money. She makes food to be sold at the gym, sells school lunches and sews. She always has some little project on the side to improve the meagre salary that her husband makes as the driver to one of the country’s most famous figures – Rachel.
She is a meticulous housekeeper and always wants to learn things. Mamokete is an upstanding and moral woman. She reads her Bible.
Her family live in the Kroonstad area and she is always trying to sort stuff out for them, or send little bits of money down to them to help them deal with some new crisis that has befallen them.
Her marriage to Kop is a good and stable one. They are both still very much in love with each other and very grateful for that fact. Mamokete likes choral, church and gospel music.
At 43, she tries to be fashionable, but in a modest way. By no means has she given up on her appearance. She catches taxis and buses. She doesn’t want her children to fail, reject her or get too clever for her.
Mamokete reads magazines and listens to the radio. She also runs a sewing group and has many friends. She’s very committed to her extended family, but sometimes throws herself into things that she doesn’t understand and then gets hurt by them. She always perseveres.
Mamokete wants to be a grandmother and continue doing good works. She speaks Tswana, Zulu and English.
Diva In The Making
Tshidi, 17, is the youngest child of Mamokete and Kop. When we first meet her, she’s in her last year at school. She is the great hope of her family, who have really saved everything they have to give their children a good education.
They have sent her to a more expensive school in the suburbs (far away from their Soweto home) where she is having problems fitting in with the richer kids in her class. She has a wonderful voice and sings in both the church and school choir.
Tshidi dreams of being a singer, but doesn’t reveal her secret for a long time. Although she’s basically a good kid, the difficulties of adolescence start igniting tension between her and her parents. She is lonely and gravitates towards bad boys Mandla (Sphiwe Msimango) and Suffocate (Mdudzi Mabaso). It proves to be a bad decision, resulting in the first tragedy of her life.
Tshidi likes R&B, gospel, vocal music and Afro-Pop and at present doesn’t have much dress sense. Not that she cares about how she looks – initially. She worries about disappointing her parents as she feels a great debt to them for all the years they had to go without in order to make sure that she had a reasonable education.
She is efficient and resourceful but tends to be exploited because of this. She is also very trusting. However, she has a mean temper. Do we have a diva in the making?
The Soccer Star
Stone is Tshidi’s 23-year-old brother. He is a very committed soccer player and has dreams of playing in the Premier Soccer League (PSL). He spends a lot of time working out at the gym. He is very dismissive of his talent; it’s as if he is a natural sportsman and his abilities have come too easily and therefore cannot be taken seriously. He hides his light under a bushel.
He is at Tech studying town planning but he is hampered by the fact that he doesn’t have the right equipment at home. He should have a computer and some specialist software but he doesn’t want to mention this to his parents because he knows it will stress them out even more. As a consequence, he is really struggling through the course and is in danger of failing.
Girls dig him, and hit on him often, but he’s not interested. He has something of the star pull because of his soccer successes, so the fact that he has no money at all is often overlooked. His reserve makes him very intriguing. He is bounced to the front of queues and is generally made a fuss of wherever he goes, but this is something that he finds a little embarrassing.
There was another brother between him and Tshidi who died at the age of ten. It is the great tragedy in the family. Family is very important to Stone and he tends to be overprotective of Tshidi. He has also grown up with Mandla and Suffocate and went to school with them, but the friendship has become heavily strained because of their involvement in criminal activities.
Stone likes jazz and wears simple stuff (but he makes it look good). He’s a good artist and he paints slogans and figures on T-shirts for his mother to sell. He coaches soccer at the local school.
He also does not want to fail his parents. He is self-possessed, yet underestimates his own abilities and potential. He wants to run for political office and then change the perception of politicians. He wants to make it clear that political leaders can make a difference. He never speaks about this for fear of ridicule. In the future, Stone will admit something life-changing about himself.
At 24, Suffocate is a troubled young man who carries the scars of a difficult life. Suffocate can really be a scary guy and his danger comes from a deep and dark place within himself. He’s not a thug or gangster because he chooses to be, but rather because the circumstances of his life have pushed him there. He has grown up without a father and has had to live life against the odds and he is a fearless guy as a result.
The show debuts with Suffocate and his friend Mandla making their getaway from an ATM heist. They have decided that it’s time to go straight – after investing the money from this robbery in the opening of a new club in Soweto. Because it is in a disused substation they have called it the Kilowatt Club.
In order to get their club up and running for the big launch (it obviously needs a lot of renovations), Suffocate and Mandla have also had to borrow money from a local loan shark, called Bra Touch. His terms are ridiculous: they must pay back the R25 000 within three months, at an interest rate of 50%. A lack of business savvy and because they don’t really have other options, the guys accept the deal thinking the first month of club takings will allow them to pay off the debt.
For Suffocate, the club becomes his ONE BIG CHANCE to make something of his life. After making the decision with Mandla to go straight, he is profoundly committed to improving his situation and clawing his way out of his life of crime. He’d be willing to die before giving up the club.
Suffocate often battles to deal with his own short fuse, but he has a dry sense of humour. Kwaito and Hip Hop do it for him, although his clothes are distinctly non-trendy, with a hint of thug. He fears living a whole life of crime, of being crippled, of not mattering, of appearing ridiculous, of being sidelined. Suffocate is not afraid of death.
He and Mandla mainly speak Zulu based lingo and can speak some Sotho, but mostly choose not to. They’ve spoken so much lingo that it’s become their first language. Even if they truly respect you they still speak lingo. Any sign of respect will basically be in their gestures. They speak minimal amounts of English. Suffocate’s language of business is threats.
Mandla is Suffocate’s closest friend and partner-in-crime. Though his childhood was not emotionally difficult, he’s also grown up in poverty. Despite this, Mandla, at 24, is a bit of a free spirit. He’s easily excited and influenced and aspires towards material rewards.
He readily buys into the whole gangsta image – for him it’s about the adrenlain and the excitement. He always comes up with plns and talks about them incessantly. Not to mention bragging endlessly about their escapades.
Wanna Be Businessman
Fats is a chubby, cheerful guy who inherited the KO Sports Palace from his father. The one great claim to fame of the place is that Nelson Mandela was supposed to have once trained there, but no one can find any proof of this fact.
Fats has let the standard of the equipment slide so none of the serious boxers train there any longer. But, he is such a nice guy that many of the locals just hang out to talk nonsense and eat (junk food) at the snack bar.
Fats, at 28, is one of the boys and having grown up with Suffocate, Mandla and S’bu, he is a fiercely loyal and courageous friend. He has an entrepreneurial spirit that is usually outweighed by his laziness and tendency to take the easy way out. He is bullied into hiding the money from Suffocate and Mandla’s ATM heist.
He lets the gym out for rehearsals, ballet classes, karate and aerobics whenever he can find someone who can pay him a few Rand (or even when they can’t).
Fats lives at home with his mother. He is very committed to her and she to him. He is also emotionally attached to Mamokete and desperately fears her ever leaving the KO Gym.
Although Fats thinks life is a joke, he is afraid that he will never have a girlfriend. He has never had a proper relationship in his life. He wants to be married one day. He speaks Zulu, English, Sotho and Tswana.
The Puppet Master
David is the wicked puppet master within the world of Rhythm City. His evil and malevolence keeps him entertained and he gets his ultimate kick out of pulling the strings. It is so easy for him to do this because he’s incredibly charming and smooth.
He is an opportunist with a very shady past. He has been at the centre of major drug deals and shady arms negotiations. He has connections in the world of mercenaries and in the underground of the Johannesburg club scene (he owns a strip club).
David runs the successful radio station, 9-9FM, as well as the magazine attached to it, called 9-9Mag. He always presents himself as someone who really doesn’t know all that much about music (he has a tin ear), but he does have an instinctive feel for what the public really wants.
He latches onto and leaches off, talent. His speciality is putting together very good deals and making himself indispensable to the right people. He claims to have dated many of the top celebrities in the country.
He comes across as very jovial, very humble about his achievements, very self-critical, very dependable. He has an Italian family history and makes vague and unfounded claims of being involved in the struggle.
He used to manage a big Ladysmith Black Mambazo style group that won Grammys and collaborated with international artists and he claims that, without him, the performers would never have made it. But the truth is that he was caught with his hand in the profits and was fired, which was followed by an ugly court case. He came away a wealthy man.
He has subsequently produced stage shows that showcase African sounds that have also toured all over and made him even more money.
David likes rock and metal, has an expensive, relaxed style of dressing (he has his shirts handmade) and is into drugs, prostitutes, porn, cigars, sport watching, stock market manipulation, collecting carp and old Japanese woodcuts (he is fascinated by the Orient).
At 41, he fears disease and mental illness and is afraid that underneath all the passion he is just an empty shell. David has never really been in love, and he knows it. He speaks English, has some Afrikaans and can swear in Zulu.
The Golden Boy
At 24, he has risen to the top very fast in the radio world and is now Station 9-9FM’s major draw card. He has recently been poached from a rival station and is being paid a ridiculous amount of money to do what he does. Being the golden boy, DJ Ngwazi is treated with kid gloves.
His reputation? For saying outrageous things live on air, of dissing stars during interviews, of stirring up controversy around himself and his guests – this is his greatest pull and what makes him feared and celebrated in the industry.
He has the drive time slot and whatever he asks for he gets. He does club gigs on weekends and can almost double his ridiculous salary doing this. He can make or break a new single.
Our DJ is not above being bribed, although he does value his reputation and will say no when he thinks his integrity will be affected by punting something that he considers to be seriously bad. Sometimes the payola is just not to do any back announcing of a rival single.
DJ Ngwazi, whose real name is Elias Mokoena, has been attacked by supporters of people he has taken down on air (perhaps he was just jostled at a bar, but he has talked it up into major violence). He is a recreational drug user but believes he has that well under control. (He believes that he has everything in his life well under control.)
He is putting a younger brother through university and gets very angry when he hears that he has been out jolling when he believes that he should be studying. He is open to sponsorships and endorsements and so drives a freebie car. He lives alone in a small but very expensive apartment. He doesn’t spend too much time with his family. He doesn’t believe in monogamy.
Our DJ listens to whatever’s current, but he likes to tell people that he listens to classical music to relax, though this isn’t really true. He wears what his sponsors tell him to wear with a few personal touches. He regularly throws fits about the outfits he is supposed to be seen in. He hangs out, drugs, watches piles of DVDs (and just a bit of porn).
He drives a Porsche with tinted windows. He hates flying. He is witty. He’s afraid his career will crash, that the inevitable end of the party will come before he is ready for it.
The man is afraid that people will discover that it actually takes a lot of work to keep doing what he is doing on air while making it seem so effortless and spontaneous. He suffers from depression and self-loathing. In ten years’ time he’d still like to be where he is right now.
The One Hit Wonder
Samuel was formerly a backing singer for Rachel (not that she remembers) so it’s a double blow to the diva when he wins the gospel category of MIA (Music Industry Awards), shattering her near ten-year record and ego.
He’s an unsophisticated guy who’s been living rough for a while. At 20 he has the potential to be a one-hit wonder with his youth and looks, but he actually has no real talent.
He came to Jozi three years ago from Ermelo. He was a leading light in his local church choir but was thrown out of church for seducing the duaghter of the on eof the edlers. He managed to get taken up by a small agency providing backing singers for gospel acts. He backed Rachel a few times before he started drinking and was thrown out by the agent for non-appearance at gigs.
He decided to turn his back on the industry and started going door-to-door ooffering his services as a house painter. During this time he would often sleep in storm water pipes on vacant land or n building sites. He did a garage painting job for David Genaro, who was taken by Sam’s singing, gave him a room at the back of the house, took him to a few singing coaches and then launched his career with a gospel album.
Sam is not a complicated guy. he wants fame and fortune but he likes the booze and ladies. He looks a lot older than he is which is why David assumed he was entitled t sign his recording contract without parental permission.
Lucilla uses this – and her seduction skills – to bring him to Redemption Records.
The Party Girl
She’s a sexy, exciting new R&B singer. She’s the material girl – she loves a party and goes to all the social events, especially if alcohol and press photographers are guaranteed. She wears short, flimsy clothes and is definitely promiscuous.
Born and bred in Jozi, Sunay is definitely a city girl. Ever since she was a little girl, she’s had aspirations of fame and glamour. Growing up, her idol was Rachel Phakati, so when she gets the opportunity to meet Rachel, she milks it for all it’s worth. She is a groupie/rising star and the NBF (New Best Friend) to all hip, “now”, people.
Sunay, 23, is shallow and superficial and she knows and likes it, and besides, everybody likes her for it anyway. She’s huge fun, doesn’t take herself too seriously and she’s great for the ego … that’s if you’re a celeb, of course. But beware as things can turn sour when she has her bouts of bitchiness.
Rhythm City replaced e.tv’s long-running youth soapie Backstage.
It was previewed by a week long show called Ripped that featured news, gossip and information about South Africa’s music industry and personalities. Ripped ran from 2 – 6 July, 2007.
Various South African musicians and music industry personalties play cameo roles. Guest appearances across episodes include singer Kelly Khumalo – who plays a wannabe star – and kwaito singer Sphiwe Msimango a.k.a Bravo.
The show’s tagline is: Watch your back. You never know when they rhythm is going to get you.
Creative director: Rolisizwe “Rolie” Nikiwe
Musical director: Beatmaker
Film directors: Andre Odendaal, Heather Gordon, and Ziggy Hofmeyr.
Head Writer: Neil McCarthy
Having established himself as an actor and award-winning playwright, McCarthy went on to create Isidingo, along with Gray Hofmeyer, and was head writer of the series for the first few years of the show.
He was content producer on the first Big Brother series in South Africa, head writer and executive producer for Gaz’lam 2, head writer for Zero Tolerance 2 and producer/head writer for Mzansi.
Script Editor & Writer: Anthony Akerman
Director and award-winning playwright, Akerman wrote several episodes of the e.tv sitcoms, S.O.S. and Madam & Eve, and has also written for the drama series, Isidingo, Scandal and Shado’s.
Storyliner: Rosalind Butler
Head writer of the first two series of the award-winning children’s educational drama, Soul Buddyz; writer and storyliner for Isidingo for the last five years (including a stint as head writer); involved in the story creation, structure and writing of all three series of Home Affairs, as well as the first series of Shooting Stars, e.tv’s soon to be aired soccer drama.
Storyliner & Writer: Richard Beynon
Sitcom credits include: S’gudi Snaysi, Going Up, Stokvel, Madam & Eve and Suburban Bliss. TV drama portfolio includes: Soul City, Isidingo (head writer for three years), Shado’s, Khululeka, Snitch, and Scandal. He was responsible for the final draft of the Emmy-award winning, Mandela and de Klerk, screened by HBO.
Writer: Makgano Mamabolo
A professional actress for the past six years, she has toured her one-woman show, Miss Kwa Kwa, in theatres countrywide. The show has been adapted into a novel.
Apart from having produced and directed for the magazine show, Vicious Delicious, she has, for the past five years, also been a conceptualist for programmes such as Home Affairs, Mazinyo dot Q, and Stokvel. She has been a writer for Dr Ruthless, Fela’s TV, Nomzamo, and Society. She is branching into creative producing and will also be the new presenter for an arts magazine show.
Writer: Lodi Matsetela
A former copywriter for an advertising agency, Matsetela is now a full time freelance scriptwriter. Her credits include Fela’s TV, Home Affairs (I, II and III), City Ses’la and Society, a four part mini series.
Writer: Justine Loots
Loots has spent the last ten years writing and directing fiction for television as well as working as a documentary maker.
Her work has taken her through Africa and Europe where she has met various people: war-zone surgeons, con artists, ex child-soldiers, middle-aged women who get their kit off in the name of charity (aka “The Calendar Girls”), heroin addicts and even those who speak to the dead, some of South Africa’s struggle heroes, as well as members of the country’s extreme right wing.
Writer: Zamo Mkhwanazi
Mkhwanazi worked in the advertising industry for two years, earning herself awards. Her first entry into television was as a writer for Isidingo. Other credits are: Shado’s, Zone 14, and Interrogation Room. She wrote and directed on the drama, A Place Called Home and is also involved with The Lab.