The upcoming epic drama series, King Shaka, executive produced by Antoine Fuqua and centered around the founder of the Zulu Empire, has been canceled by Showtime.
This cancellation is part of a wider programming overhaul at Showtime, which is merging with sister streamer Paramount+ and will be renamed Paramount+ with Showtime.
The show, which was being filmed in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, was permanently shut down over the weekend, despite most of the filming being completed. CBS Studios, the show’s producer, is now exploring other options for the series and Showtime is assisting in these efforts.
King Shaka is the latest in a series of new drama series to be cancelled before they have aired. Three Women, which eventually found a home at Starz and Ripley which will now air on Netflix were both canceled earlier this year.
Showtime has also cut much of its development slate and shifted its programming strategy to focus on three lanes: complex characters and subversive antiheroes, high-stakes powerful worlds, and culturally diverse takes.
The story of Shaka kaSenzangakhona aka Shaka Zulu aka King Shaka, one of the most notable kings of the Zulu Empire in South Africa is coming to Showtime.
The series comes from writers Olu Odebunmi and Tolu Awosika, Propagate, Fuqua Films and CBS Studios. “King Shaka” is slated for a 2023 debut on Showtime.
The cast is led by Charles Babalola as King Shaka as well as Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Mustafa Shakir. Aïssa Maïga and Thando Dlomo have been cast as series regulars. Terry Pheto, Lerato Mvelase, Tony Kgoroge, Sindi Dlatu, and Bahle Hadebe will recur in the series. Thapelo Mokoena and Warren Masemola will guest star on the series.
Based on actual events, King Shaka tells the story of the Zulu Empire founder Shaka (Babalola) and his unlikely rise to power, uniting multiple tribes across vast stretches of southern Africa in the early 19th century to transform his power into legend, on par with history’s most seminal figures.
The outcast son of a Zulu Chief, Shaka is a visionary who is prophesied to become a king like none before him. In ferocious battles that test the body and soul, in alliances that test the bonds of love and friendship, a complex sociological system plays out that renders the human cost front and center, for the victors as well as the vanquished, all in an effort to carve out a semblance of identity, fulfillment and ultimately, survival.
The series will be produced by CBS Studios alongside Propagate and Fuqua Films. Fuqua will executive produce along with series creators Olu Odebunmi and Tolu Awosika, Bridget Carpenter, Propagate’s Ben Silverman, Howard T. Owens and Rodney Ferrell.
Seith Mann, who is directing the pilot, and Spencer Medof are also executive producers. Scott Greenberg is a producer, and Michael Callas is producing for Fuqua Films. Gugulethu Zuma-Ncube and Pepsi Pokane also produce.
Production begins September 2022, and the film will be fully shot in and around King Shaka’s hometown, the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) South Africa province.
As part of the production investment in South Africa and the KZN province, more than 300 locals have been hired for jobs across all facets of the production, including cast, crew, performers and craftspeople. In addition, the production is working in concert with leading South African production services company Film Afrika to help facilitate filming in the region. They are also working closely with the KZN Film Commission and with career-building training programs such as SA Film Academy (SAFA) and the Academy of Creative Excellence to provide production internships and other opportunities.
Check out the full cast details of Antoine Fuqua’s King Shaka series for Showtime. Check back for any cast updates.
Charles Babalola as King Shaka
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje will portray Zwide, the sadistic Chief of Ndwandwe who, although a loving family man, employs ruthless fighting methods and terrifying brutal strength.
Terry Pheto will play Juma, his devotedly pious yet conspiring wife.
Mustafa Shakir is Dingiswayo, an ousted prince who becomes Shaka’s mentor and de facto father figure.
Lerato Mvelase will portray Mkabayi, elder sister to Shaka’s father and the most influential voice in the royal court.
Aïssa Maïga will co-star as Nandi, Shaka’s mother, who’ll stop at nothing to bring Shaka in line with his destiny.
Thando Dlomo has been cast as Pampatha, a herder whose fate is linked to Shaka’s in a major way.
Thapelo Mokoena as Gendeyana, a Qwabe leader that grows close to Shaka and his mother
Warren Masemola as Magazwa, another ally to Shaka and Nandi.
Bingwa portrays Isisa, a fierce and formidable warrior whose loyalty is thrown into question by a fateful encounter
Obi-Melekwe will play the Locust Queen, the mysterious leader of a nomadic tribe of outcasts who uses her deep knowledge of the spiritual world to her advantage.
Kgoroge guest stars as Chief Senzangakhona, the proud leader of the Zulu people who denies Shaka’s birthright.
Dlathu as Inyoni, a council leader and midwife, and Hadebe as young Shaka.