Kaunda Selisho

By Kaunda Selisho


Smoke and Mirrors: e.tv denies stealing reality star’s show idea

Diamond and Dolls' Tebogo Ramokgadi has accused e.tv of stealing his idea and turning it into their new late-night drama, Smoke & Mirrors.

Star and creator of Showmax’s Diamond and Dolls reality series Tebogo Ramokgadi has accused free-to-air channel e.tv of stealing his idea and turning it into their new late-night drama, Smoke & Mirrors

Ramokgadi laid his qualms all on the line in a recent interview with Zimoja where he claimed to have spent R1 million developing the show. 

He specifically named and shamed e.tv series producer Khanyi Nxumalo.

‘Unsolicited proposal’

Tebogo Ramokgadi's show called 'Smoke n Mirrors'
A photo shoot featuring actors in Tebogo Ramokgadi’s show called Smoke n Mirrors | Picture: Twitter

In response to media reports about Ramokgadi’s claims, eMedia Holdings (the holding company that owns e.tv) confirmed that an unsolicited proposal was received from Ramokgodi’s then Series Producer in September 2021. 

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“The idea was for a completely different show ‘about a royal family and their celebrity couple friends grappling with their own sexual identities in the midst of change and a shifting power scale’. The show and concept, like many other pitches, was not accepted,” added the broadcaster. 

Smoke and Mirrors

e.tv launched a new local drama on 17 April, in its late-night prime-time viewing slot called Smoke & Mirrors (Ramokgadi’s version also title as Smoke n Mirrors).

The story of e.tv’s show is set in the landscape of a small mining town called Emnyameni, and introduces the character of Thandiswa, a hairdresser by day, an escort by night. 

According to the e.tv, she is a girl on a mission to rid the town of “The Unholy Trinity”, the group of morally corrupt men who run Emnyameni, in an effort to avenge her sister’s untimely and suspicious death.

“The title, Smoke & Mirrors is not a unique name, and is a general phrase used in everyday language and by many other producers for album and song titles, and also across many industries.

“Any alleged similarity to this, or many other dramas is purely coincidental,” concluded the channel. 

Ramokgadi’s receipts

Ramokgadi supported his claim of Smoke n Mirrors being a stolen concept by providing proof in the form of a past Whatsapp conversation between his former series producer Leo Phiri and Khanyi Nxumalo. Phiri pitched the series to Nxumalo who praised the concept in her text messages.

“We spent R 1 million on the pilot alone. This is probably the most expensive pilot to come out of SA,” he told Zimoja

He also showed proof of a project titled ‘Smoke n Mirrors’ registered at the Companies And Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) under his company in 2019. 

“I’m looking into suing them (e.tv). They are undermining me and think I’m stupid. This depresses me. I’m being bullied here. Like, they took the name even why?” added Ramokgadi. 

Zimoja also cited three sources close to Ramokgadi who worked on his concept and claimed that they feel as though e.tv’s version was similar to his. 

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