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Who is to blame for Mnet’s Agency pullout?

By | February 23rd 2009

By Stevens Muendo

On Tuesday, M-Net viewers who have been following the unfolding Kenyan drama series The Agency should be in for a breathtaking episode. In the episode, Alexia, one of the actresses is in a financial crisis. Satish, another lead actor faces the wrath of angry staff over late pay cheques as revelations of instability and mismanagement of funds dog KenRob Advertising.

Eddy Kimani and Maria Charlotte of ‘The Agency’.

The series’ producers. Photo: Courtesy-MNet

However, all this turns out to be a jinx of sorts as financial woes have (in reality) brought the production of The Agency to a halt. The programme was pulled out of DStv last week — one month after its launch — over what seems to be financial difficulties. The matter is now under investigation by Mnet. A section of The Agency cast, who talked to MondayBlues alleged that there had been a financial dispute between them and directors of the drama series.

The stars who sought anonymity said due to non-payment for their acting roles, there had been a go-slow and friction in the whole team, which brought production to a stop. "Dstv paid these guys millions for the creation of the first 13 episodes, yet the directors can’t pay us for playing our roles. Where did they take all the money," wondered an insider who termed the cast and crew’s pay as "mere peanuts" When the Press sought to get comment, Wangechi Murage, the M-Net local representative said the matter was under investigation.

The production was under the directorship of Ekwa Msangi and was being produced by Paul and Peter J. O. Oyier of Starling Quality Entertainment Company Limited. Popular news and sports presenter Eddy Kimani (Winston), Kenyatta University lecturer David Mulwa (Mr Makulu) and Kiss FM’s Larry Asego were part of the cast. Others include leading character Neema Ngwatilo (Malaika), Joed Kariuli (Robbie), Rogers Otieno (Drogba), Faith Gichuhi (Zoe), Maria Charlotte (Alexia) and Feisal Malik (Satish). The producers however declined to comment, playing down the matter as "a temporary one".

At the same time, one of the crew members disclosed that The Agency producers had told the team that their payments had been held as Mnet had not paid them 30 percent of the production cash, a claim which Mnet representative denied. This is Mnet’s first ever drama series created in Kenya. Its current woes could deal a major blow to Challenger, another local series which is due to be launched in the same channel. Our findings have it that Sh3 million had already been used on The Agency’s media adverts while thousands went to it’s launch expenses.

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