Gathered to celebrate with Egbude, Chukwujekwu and the rest of the ‘Livin' in Lagos' team were, the president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Segun Arinze; Justus Esiri, and Foluke Daramola. Cast members Femi Jarret and series director John Njamah, the famous Rabiu in ‘Fuji House of Commotion,' were some of the well-known people at the premiere.
At the event anchored by the duo of Segun Arinze and Iretiola Doyle, Chris Ogbuche of DBS Media called the series a drama of change. "It is hoped that this special event will change the face of TV in Nigeria for those who believe in the future." He said the country is at a crossroads and that those who believe in the future of the country will create a road which will lead to the Promised Land.
Moral codes and the generation gap
Ogbuche said, "Things have changed. In the olden days, children respected elders and were afraid of them, but these days, the elders are afraid of their children as they shoot and kidnap them." The man who is of the view that societal changes in Nigeria can actually have a positive effect, urged Nigerians to re-create themselves. "I am talking about an internal rebranding," he said as he distanced himself from the current ‘Project Rebranding' slogan. He professed hope of achieving a new Nigeria with every Nigerian who travels abroad on legitimate business. "The series Livin' in Lagos' is aimed at touching at that fabric of our societal values as the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step. If that first step is a step in the right direction, then the journey becomes worthwhile."
Ogbuche who believes Nollywood is another rebranding tool which can be used to effect a better Nigeria, called on corporate bodies who claim to support the development of the country to "put their money where their mouth is." He said they should sponsor programmes that will achieve a better Nigeria.
Cletus Chukwuma, chairman of DBS Media, producer of the sitcom, says the concept of the titling of the series is built around the work of the present administration in Lagos State, hence all the outside scenes were shot around the city. Nevertheless, it is interesting that "after a vigorous search for a befitting location," the perfect location for Pa Jac's 5-bedroom bungalow was found in the neighbouring city of Abeokuta. After initial preparations, cast and crew moved into camp on August 30 and remained there till October 16 during which time, the first 13 episodes of the series was completed.
Chris Doghudje who affirmed his support for government's rebranding project, said that sponsorship and adverts are the only routes to ensuring the continuity of the series. Doghudje told DBS Media to continue to up their game, "because you are starting this does not mean you will have the monopoly of it as people will come in at some point and the only way to stand ahead of the competition is to continually improve."
The taste of the pie
Segun Arinze asked the audience to applaud themselves for their way of life which, for some, involves waking up as early as 5am to remain in traffic for 3 hours to get to work amongst other such scenarios that characterise the life of the ‘real' Lagosian. It was now time to switch on the screen for the main event of the evening.
A three-minute making was shown, where the audience got to see how much work was put into achieving the perfect look for Pa Jac's bungalow and boys' quarters. This prepared the audience for the main course.
A danceable tune interspaced with the calls of bus conductors, a LASTMA official racing on a power bike to catch up with a traffic offender and street hawkers running after motorists signify the beginning of the drama.
Two ‘arrestingly funny' episodes of the sitcom are shown, leaving the audience longing for more. It is clear that the drama series, which will air in the evenings as from next month, is good enough to make Lagosians forget their sorrows or get them to laugh at themselves as the case may be.
Courage and Chizitere could not hide their excitement during the premiere. The duo's longing to be on stage with the older actors gingered them into learning their lines fast during rehearsals. It also was not too difficult to keep their roles in the sitcom a secret from their friends as rehearsals and shooting were done during their holidays. "It feels good to see ourselves on TV," they both said.
‘Livin' in Lagos' is a situation comedy based on life in Lagos. Its focus is on taking viewers through Lagos and through the struggles of the lower class while showing the different faces of the sometimes weird and yet wonderful city. The major characters are a handsome young widower, Uzoma Ade-Cole (Olukayode Olubunmi); his children, Temiloluwa and Tomiwa (Courage Egbude); and Uzoma's father Pa Jac, a ‘no hurry in life' character played by seasoned actor Jab Adu.
Pa Jac not only houses the Ade-Cole family, he also looks out for the antics of his tenants: Patrick, a taxi driver, and his family and Prieye, a young graduate, who works as a club DJ.
Livin' in Lagos is set to go on air in January 2010.