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For entertainers, wheel of puzzle and money

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For entertainers, wheel of puzzle and money


US-based actor and businessman, Tai Balofin, is out with Wheel of Fortune, a dollar-denominated quiz programme for leading entertainment practitioners, writes AKEEM LASISI

From broadcasting to acting, production and promotion of entertainment products, Taye Balofin has seen in it all. Formerly a broadcaster with the Nigerian Television Authority and, later, Radio Nigeria, he is also the publisher of a US-based general news paper, US African Eye, having sojourned abroad since about two decades ago. But despite his seeming distance from home, he is so close to the Nigerian entertainment industry that he has been one of the catalysts of some of the major happenings there.

When our correspondent encountered him at a popular hotel in Ikeja, Lagos last week, he had just returned from the location of Crack in the Walls, a TV soap in which he is playing a major role. Yet, he has just launched Wheel of Wealth, a puzzle-solving TV programme that rewards entertainment divas. Once the celebrity guest solves a puzzle, he wins $1,000, with the producer noting that the highest monetary prize is $1m.

"Wheel of Wealth was conceived to educate and entertain," Balofin says. "But it is also out to reward top brands in the entertainment circle. But you will also agree with me that it equally taxes the guest's intelligence. Since questions are randomly picked from the rolling wheel, we can also say the game is a combination of luck and common sense."

Interestingly, the programme that has started airing on HiNolly is bringing out another side of celebrated talking drummer, Ara. She is the hostess, a collaboration that made Balofin to describe her as having been married to him on The Wheel.

And she too appears to be enjoying herself on the programme. In the opening segment, she bursts in with lively and metaphoric drumbeat that stirs the audience and participants into the mood. At the quiz segment, Ara handles the board on which the puzzle letters are arranged. Of course, she plays other roles as the occasion may demand.

"It is so far so good," the artiste who has just returned from a musical tour says. "It has brought me close to a lot of Nollywood actors. I enjoy arranging the board although at times, I also feel like playing."

So far, Balofin has recorded sessions with star actors such as Akin Lewis, Sola Fosudo, Yemi Solade, Saheed Balogun, Laide Bakare, Lola Alao and Mosun Filani. Although most of the practitioners so far engaged seem domiciled in the Yoruba axis of the film industry, the producer says the programme is open to all - including musicians. He says it has been wonderful hosting them.

While participation is sought through SMS messages, Balofin hopes to sustain the project with sponsorships and contributions from his other investments.

Balofin has acted in many films - and he is still acting. But being an executive, one wonders how he copes with the uneven tide of the Nigerian film industry, especially when he is called to set. He says the filmmakers give him the best they can afford. Besides, he understands the challenges the industry is facing while passion for the screen is also sustaining him.

And his experience of the austere practice in the sector has also sharpened his wit too. He recalls how some directors asked him to pay more than $500,000 to direct his (Balofin's) film titled Strange Ransom. Scared by such a demand, he went on to direct and produce the film himself, in which case he ended up spending far less.

"When the guy saw the movie, he said, 'You are a genius!'. Of course, it is only in Nigeria that you will see a person produce and direct a film. Nigerians are pretty doing it." - Nigerian news, entertainment news, nollywood, naija, Nigeria, West Africa

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Updated 7 Years ago

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