Class Act: A Bit Of A Disappointment

When I first heard about Class Act I was very excited about the show. “Finally…”, I thought “…a uniquely South African show that will showcase the talent that this nation has without being a rip off of some American show like we have seen with all the other reality shows on our screens”. When I got the invitation to attend the live broadcast and cover what will be happening in the show I was elated. I thought to myself that this was the opportunity I have been hoping for, an opportunity to be part of something that will put the spotlight back into this industry that was fast losing its glory. Sadly I am on my 4th week with the show and I am fast getting disillusioned with what I thought this show would do for the industry. It pains me that I have to be the one pointing this out since the guys at Class Act have been very welcoming and nice to me. Unfortunately my love for this industry dictates that I be honest and frank about my thoughts on the show.

what happened to the excitement and hype the audition process received

Firstly, the concept behind the show is brilliant but the execution is falling short. When I first got to studio and the first episode I was blown away by the way the team behind show had managed to produce something so well put together. It was very clear that someone had a vision for the show and everybody on that set shared that vision. The professionalism on the part of the crew was amazing and the manner in which I was received as part of the media was inspiring. There were no big egos here only artists with a common goal and a task to perform to achieve that goal.

I pointed out some ‘issues’ with the show on my very first review and was happy to see that somebody was taking note and there were some changes made after that. I, however, overlooked certain areas of concern mainly because I had decided to give the show a chance since it was still in its infancy. 3 weeks down the line, I am disappointed. Truth be told… I AM BORED. This became more evident to me when a boy who couldn’t be older than twelve on set echoed the same sentiments I have heard from people who have seen the show and were not impressed. If a little boy can see it I just couldn’t ignore it anymore no matter how much I was rooting for the show to be a success.

The main problem with the show is the “hype”. The show got more publicity during the audition stages than it does now. Why has the public lost interest in this brilliant concept? Is the show not living up to the expectation it boasted about on its promos leading up to the live broadcast? The answer is an unequivocal YES.  Where is the buzz? This show had the potential to be as big as Popstars was for the SABC even better since it’s a new and unique concept. Is it the budget constraints? Beside the advert that runs on SABC about the show there really isn’t much buzz about it. The aim of the show is to create a star but they are not promoting these guys as much as they should be. This should be an experience of a life time for these lucky guys who have made it out of thousands of hopefuls but I just don’t think it is. Why aren’t these guys out there interacting with the public? Why aren’t they doing interviews and getting their faces and names out there? Why is Pop Idol, which is has gotten so ridiculously redundant and dull, getting more attention than this show?

It’s sad that our industry is going through a drought of fun interesting original local content shows. There just isn’t anything exciting at the moment and this was the perfect time for Amstel Class Act to be the most talked about event of the year on television. The channel, which to be honest has lost it’s va va voom, doesn’t seem to be pushing the show nor does the sponsors behind the show. This could have been the biggest publicity the Amstel brand has had in Mzansi or is that the problem, the fact that the sponsor is an alcoholic beverage so the channel doesn’t wanna be seen as being too pro-alcohol? Be that as it may, a brilliant concept risks being a total dud because the relevant people aren’t coming to the party. Some advice: if you going to support a concept please don’t put in half measures, it’s killing the artistic merits of the productions. If you believe in a concept then put in as much as you can so that it can reach its full potential. I for one am sick of the darn too common situation of Brilliant Concept Bad Execution simply because of some bureaucratic nonsense. If you get involved in a project get in for the long haul or don’t bother at least you would save people like me the pain of having to see great ideas being tainted by half-measured products.

As someone who loves this industry and want to see it back on the top where it belongs, I am disheartened. I am disappointed that yet another show that has the potential to put our artistic talent back on the forefront of our national pride is not getting the recognition and the hype it deserves. More saddening is the fact that these contestants are being deprived of an experience that would have changed their lives forever simply because the logistics behind the show aren’t up to par. For goodness sake the show has big names like Moonyeen Lee and Tim Greene, two of the most respected individuals in this business and there is Rapulana Seiphemo who is clearly in his element because he surprises me in every episode by being concise and objective in his comments as a judge. The set looks great especially on screen, the prices are great and the concept has a potential audience. The show has all the right elements to be a hit. Unfortunately it’s just not exciting and big enough in terms of creating interest. The problem is not only about what is happening on set, it’s also about the whole production; Hype people HYPE.

Some suggestions if the team decides to do a second series:

1.       Kenny is a nice guy and has a way with people but as a live presenter I don’t think he was a right fit for the show. His wit and charisma would work well on the judges panel. He is frank and I could see him batting heads with Moonyeen and putting the boys in their place if it needs be. That would be fun. For a presenter get someone with a bigger and varied audience pull to them. He doesn’t even have to be funny, the comedy thing is overrated and sometimes doesn’t work as is the case with Kenny. Get someone like Sydney Mahlaku, Pepsi Pokane or Dennis Tau; a charismatic suave guy who balances the seriousness of the business and the fun well. Having a comedian present this show may have been the biggest mistake because not everybody finds these comedians funny. The thing about that is that you can tolerate a bad presenter if you like the show but a bad comedian you just switch the channel

2.       The judges have impressed me with the subsequent shows from the first live broadcast. I was worried about Rapulana as he seemed to be agreeing with everything but now I actually like his commentary because it’s genuine and doesn’t sound like he is trying to assume a role like it did on the first episode. Moonyeen is perfect as she brings that unedited tell it like it is attitude to the panel. Tendeka of course balances the whole thing well. However I think adding Kenny to that would bring some humourous moments there.

3.       Contestants: A bit of diversity with the look and the character of the guys would be great. Right now, though the boys come from different background blah… blah… blah, they still have that common thing about them. It’s a bit hard to separate them except for the obvious physical appearances.

4.       Get the boys out there. Do radio interviews; organize some event around the show like a farewell party every week for the eliminated guy. Invite big names to the party; make it a place to be on a Saturday night after the show. That would create a buzz and lots of press for the show and the boys. The show needs publicity

It might be too late to save this season of the show but we always have the opportunity to fix our mistakes and shortcomings on second tries. If this be last review of the show let me make a final plight to the few people who read this and watch the show; please let’s save our industry and vote for someone who will make a mark. Our politics have failed us on so many levels so if you are an artist in any capacity or just a lover of this industry use your vote to make someone, who would genuinely be a Leading Man, a victor.

Catch Class Act on SABC 1 on Saturdays at 18h30 (Live)

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