Laszlo Bene is one of the busiest men in South African television at the moment. With three of the shows he’s been writing and directing airing during prime time, the Hungarian/American writer and director is in demand. Although he was pressed for time for a sit down interview, we managed to corner him and find out about the man who gave us the most entertaining game show about democracy, The Right to Win.
As it turns out, Laszlo was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary, which he left shortly after his 21st birthday. His destination was Los Angeles, California where – true to stereotype – he found himself in the middle of the movie business. After enrolling in film school, Laszlo started working on various productions to learn the industry. Eventually, he worked his way up the ladder and after completing his studies he entered the business full time. Laszlo quickly realized he had a neck for numbers and logistics; before long he found himself producing and production managing film productions. By the time he met his wife, actress Sandi Schultz on a Los Angeles movie set – yes, another movie business stereotype – Laszlo had completed almost two dozen local and international productions. And as love had it, Laszlo followed Sandi to South Africa where a whole new adventure was ready to unfold.
After arriving in Johannesburg, Laszlo was introduced to the television industry by his friend, Deon Maas. Deon brought Laszlo on board for the local series, Takalani Sesame to produce and write 20 live episodes for the show. Their next collaboration was the Afrikaans game show, Dis Rugby!, which they created and produced for KykNet through Deon’s production company, Meerkat Media. It was this friendship that years later saw Laszlo changing gears once again when he moved into the director’s chair of Nigeria’s most popular reality show, The Gulder Ultimate Search. He also directed two seasons of Nigeria’s version of the hit reality competition show based on Survivor. The show also served as Laszlo’s introduction to non-scripted productions, which he is currently specialising in.
Since writing became such a passion for Laszlo throughout the years, he eventually joined the writing team of High Rollers, SABC 3’s popular daily drama. When Jam Sandwich, another SABC 3 programme came back from hiatus in 2016, it was time for Deon and Laszlo to collaborate once again. Laszlo came on board as one of two directors of the show, bringing numerous collaborations to the series.
It was at this time when Grounded Media came to Laszlo to revamp its game show, The Right to Win. The show needed a major make-over to survive and stay on the air. Laszlo reworked the look and format of the show, introduced a brand new set and games, then finally turned the programme into a celebrity driven show. And the results? The Right to Win has reached brand new heights with its 2.4 audience rating and is currently being enjoyed by two to three million people every Saturday night at 18:30. Who said an educational programme can’t be fun?
True to form, he is staying busy. Among other projects Laszlo is currently collaborating with VWV by writing and directing a television series for the Botswana broadcaster while also developing a daily talk show with Sureshnie Rider for the Indian market. Laszlo also working on an educational show for SABC Education. On top of that, Laszlo is also preparing for another season of The Right to Win.