Dinner At Somizi’s Producer Denies Stealing Concept
Legend Manqele, the executive producer of One Magic’s hit television show, Dinner At Somizi’s has finally broken his silence over allegations that the concept for the show was stolen.
Manqele together with all-round media personality Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons following damning allegations that they ripped off the idea for the hit cooking series, Dinner At Somizi’s, from pudding producer Hastings Moeng.
Last September, Moeng alleged that Somizi stole his concept which he had pitched to him for the television show which he had termed “Dinner Kwa Somizi” in an email on 28 July 2014. At the time nothing materialized. Moeng said he was shocked to see the show airing this year without any further input from him.
In an interview with Pearl Thusi, Somizi did not dispute that Hastings had approached him over the matter but he insisted that the budding producer should have copyrighted his idea first and approached him in a legal way.
Manqele, on the other hand, had not addressed the matter, until now. The executive producer has now broken his silence on the matter, saying that he does not want people to think that it is an admission of wrongdoing.
Like Somizi, Legend Manqele also admitted that Hastings approached him and that he received an e-mail from him. However, he disputed ever opening the e-mail and insisted that the concept for Dinner at Somizi’s was developed independently of Hastings Moeng’s ideas. Legend also said that it is just coincident that the two shows are similar.
Below is the full statement released on Friday by Legend Manqele addressing the theft allegations.
I was hoping that this situation would be resolved amicably by all involved and that I would not have to issue this statement. However, in light of the fact that the private and legal interventions that were aimed at putting an end to the matter have failed to yield any fruit, it has become necessary to publicly clarify my position in this matter so as to avoid a situation where my silence is misconstrued as an admission of wrongdoing on my part or an acceptance of the facts which are currently in the public domain. I hope that making public the actual truth as it relates to how “Dinner at Somizi’s” came to be will finally put m end to this issue.
The original concept of the cooking show was created during the level 5 and 4 lockdown as a virtual cooking show hosted by Somizi and his husband, Mohale; the show was named “Straight Out Of The Kitchen”. With comedy and music shows going virtual, there was a clear need for this kind of show. The show would see the newlyweds host normal South Africans in their kitchen via Zoom or Skype whilst cooking and chatting. The guests would also be required to cook. Somizi had initially intended to launch a cooking show on his YouTube channel, I approached him and suggested that he consider the TV route instead as his customer base was already sitting with the channel. While Multichoice was initially onboard with the idea of a virtual cooking show they suggested a few changes to the format and they also suggested that we change the name of the show from “Straight Out Of The Kitchen” to Dinner At Somizi’s.
After shooting three episodes of the cooking show, Multichoice requested that more changes be made to the format. A collection of emails exist which set out these chain of events. The documentary evidence that we have is quite clear. Simply, the idea for the show did not originate from Mr Hastings nor was there any theft or plagiarism of Mr Hastings’s idea. All allegations in this regard are patently false and are without merit. The fact that what was ultimately presented on television screens is similar to an idea that Mr Hastings had eight years ago is nothing more than a coincidence.
It is correct that Mr Hastings approached me at the gym approximately eight years ago, in the early stages of my business and told me about an idea that he had for a cooking show. I gave him my email address and asked that he email me. I do not recall ever receiving the email that Mr Hastings sent to me 8 years ago. In fact, the evidence clearly shows that I never even opened the email from Mr Hastings. The email was delivered to my mailbox and formed part of the hundreds of unopened emails in my mailbox. I also point out that, at the time, it was not out of the ordinary for me to engage with Mr Hastings at the gym and to give him my email address as I was still relatively young in the industry and was still quite shy about drawing boundaries where the distribution of my personal information was concerned.