Langfield Entertainment
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Updated:  December  30, 2004

Happy Happy New Year!  Another year is coming to a close and the optimism of another year is opening before us.  So much to reflect on as many writers determine (in their views) what the highs and lows of 2004 were.  Check the lists out under all genres this week.  Some of their picks may surprise you!  One of the lists included were all the people in entertainment who passed on in 2004. 

If you're without New Year's Eve plans, the best party will be at IRIE in my opinion.  See all the details below and join some of Toronto's hipsters as Carl Allen spins!  If you're venturing out there, PLEASE don't drink and drive.  Arrange now for your designated driver.  Be safe!

A special thanks to all those who have supported me during 2004 - there's no way I could getting this newsletter out each week without your kind emails and calls of support.  So, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

There's still lots of year end entertainment news below - MUSIC NEWS, FILM NEWS, TV NEWS, OTHER NEWS, and SPORTS NEWS!  Have a read and a scroll! This newsletter is designed to give you some updated entertainment-related news and provide you with our upcoming event listings.   Welcome to those who are new members.  Want your events listed by date?  Check out EVENTS




New Year's Eve at Irie

Carl Cassell invites you to come through your fav hangout on New Year’s Eve for the unique and laid back vibe of Irie.  Enjoy dinner first with the chic Irie Caribbean dinner menu ( and stay on for the party at no extra cost!  The kitchen closes promptly at 10:30 pm in order to make room for the best party in town!  Alternatively, just show up for the party around 10:30 pm for a cost of $35/single or $50/coupleDJ Carl Allen will be representing on the turntables and you know how he brings it – old school mixed with the new!  The party will include all night Irie hors d’oeurves, party favours, and champagne at midnight.  Join us at Irie on New Year’s Eve – we encourage you to make your dinner reservations now – what a deal – for the cost of dinner, you get a New Year’s Eve party as well!  As always, Irie brings you - food – music – culture all under one roof. 

Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.  
Dinner:  anytime; party for free
Party only: $35/single; $50/couple





Motivational Note: You May Encounter Many Defeats, But You Must Not Be Defeated

Excerpt from - By Jewel Diamond Taylor - e-mail

As you reflect back on the year you may go through some emotional ups and downs. You may feel like nothing was accomplished. You may feel like you're stuck in low gear or full of disappointment and fear. Or you may be full of optimism with exciting plans for the new year. Maya Angelou teaches us..."You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats,so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it." Get your mind clear and straight so you can defeat the enemy of depression, low self-esteem and worry.




Canadian Entertainment – Year In Review

Whether looking for bands, singers, TV shows or more, it's fun to see which Canadians come out on top!  Here are a few quick lists from 2004!



 Avril Lavigne
 Shania Twain
 Céline Dion
 Kalan Porter
 Sarah McLachlan



 Simple Plan
 Tragically Hip
 Sum 41
 Billy Talent



 Canadian Idol
 Trailer Park
 Greatest Canadian
 Degrassi Series
 Occupation Double



 Pamela Anderson
 Elisha Cuthbert
 Jim Carrey
 Mike Myers
 Rick Mercer


Diverse Sounds Found Fans

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ben Rayner, Pop Music Critic

(Dec. 28, 2004) Although the music industry is still waiting for a unifying "movement" to lift it out of the downloading-era doldrums, the mood of 2004 seemed to be one of cautious optimism rather than funereal gloom.  Creatively speaking, it's a healthy, if scattershot, time characterized by the cutting and pasting of ideas from different eras and musical genres rather than an evident forward march. Finding consensus on the year's defining albums or sounds will, thus, likely be difficult.  Encouragingly, though, after all the music-biz doomsaying of recent years, good music at least seems to be finding an audience, suggesting there is a neglected core of record buyers looking for something deeper than Ashlee Simpson. Toronto rapper K-OS's critically lauded second album, Joyful Rebellion, went gold within weeks of its release, for instance, while independent records by Montreal's Arcade Fire and Torontonians Feist and Death From Above 1979 parlayed excellent press into growing fan bases.  For the third year in a row being Canadian was somewhat cool, even if most of our principal ambassadors — Broken Social Scene, the Dears, Stars et al. — remain shut out of mainstream radio and video airplay and unknown to their fellow Canadians. Still, one gets the impression it's only a matter of time before someone breaks through with a crossover hit. My money's on Feist or Death From Above, but big things could be in store for the new Broken album when it drops in a couple of months.  Here are some of the albums I listened to the most in 2004.

1. Uncut, Those Who Were Hung Hang Here (Paper Bag) and Jake Fairley, Touch Not The Cat (Paper Bag). When local electronic wunderkind Jake Fairley split for Germany two summers ago, leaving his friend Ian Worang with a half-finished Uncut record and no band to speak of, it looked as though one of Toronto's most promising new acts would never get off the ground. As it turns out, though, the individual parts are actually greater than the original whole. Uncut resurfaced as a thrillingly loud four-piece guitar band, and Fairley indulged his rock 'n' roll jones by making fuzzed-out dancefloor techno that snarled and spat like primal Stooges. A perfect tandem.

2. Brooks, Red Tape (Soundslike/Fusion III). Warped, rather unseemly house, techno and electro inspired by the debauched underbelly of the gay club scene from a 22-year-old U.K. producer most certainly bound for greatness.

3. Death From Above 1979, You're A Woman, I'm A Machine (Last Gang). We knew Toronto bass-and-drums combo Death From Above — forced to add the "1979" to its name after a bit of mid-year whinging from New York label DFA — was a force unto itself. What we didn't know, necessarily, was that Sebastien Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler hid such pop, pop hearts behind that wall of sound.

4. Swayzak, Loops From The Bergerie (K7/Fusion III) and Anthony Rother, Popkiller (Datapunk/Fusion III). Finally, some true, post-millennial pop music. Swayzak ditched its laptops, upped the "song" quotient of its dub-techno repertoire and took strides towards becoming a real, live band. German electro warrior Rother, meanwhile, fused New Wave, Aphex Twin and an array of ungodly low frequencies to make the year's finest (if probably only) bubblegum tech-punk record.

5. Feist, Let It Die (Arts & Crafts/EMI). Decamped to Paris, sometime Broken Social Scene belter Leslie Feist came back soft with a winsome, whispery record that united an unlikely hodgepodge of originals and covers — disco, playful coffeehouse folk, jazz, dreamy Euro-pop, the Bee Gees and Ron Sexsmith — in worship of her beautiful voice.

6. The Streets, A Grand Don't Come For Free (Atlantic/Warner). Not as musically immediate or as compulsively listenable as the insta-classic Original Pirate Material, Mike Skinner's narratively inclined sophomore disc nevertheless proved the U.K. producer and urban raconteur has a lot left to say and many new ways of saying it.

7. Elliott Smith, From A Basement On The Hill (Anti/Epitaph). The late singer/songwriter's unfinished swan song, consumed as it is with matters of suicide, drug addiction and unravelling relationships, would exert the same powerful, troubling hold even if Smith hadn't pursued his thematic content to its logical, real-life conclusion last year. His best since Either/Or, which makes it all the more maddening he chose to leave us.

8. The Arcade Fire, Funeral (Merge). An bona fide international critical sensation, the alternately mournful and cathartic debut from Montreal's Arcade Fire contains so many ingenious musical twists and turns that the full weight of its genius takes a long while to process. Most bands only dream of starting on this level.

9. K-OS, Joyful Rebellion (EMI). Emboldened by OutKast's success and his own newfound peace with the spotlight, Toronto rapper, singer and songwriter K-OS allowed himself to indulge every creative whim he had while making his sophomore album. A brave, eclectic record that doesn't just talk about saving hip hop, but actually does something to revitalize the music.

10. PJ Harvey, Uh Huh Her (Island/Universal). Because Polly Jean Harvey in a creative holding pattern still buries most of her contemporaries.




Jacksoul Better Than Usher In '04

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(Dec. 28, 2004) R&B song-and-dance man Usher may have led urban music — in fact all genres — by selling seven million copies of Confessions this year, but it's not an album I'll be adding to my personal collection.  Of the 300-plus CDs that I was sent for review over the past 12 months, about two dozen get the A.I. mark of approval — my initials stamped inside to declare and protect ownership. The remainder are either filed away for future reference or sent to the United Way.  I maintain the same standards for the records I buy (which this year included Bob Marley's Babylon By Bus, Stevie Wonder's Hotter Than July and Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington): It has to be innovative or inspiring; I have to like nearly every track; and I have to know I'll still want to listen to the album in five years.  Now, Usher was a good time, but fleeting, like Beyoncé and 50 Cent were last year, and some other party-starter will be in 2005.  I'm looking forward to long-awaited projects from Torontonians Jully Black and Glenn Lewis, hoping that D'Angelo and Maxwell surface and keeping my fingers crossed for a Fugees reunion. 

These are the Top Ten that made my cut in 2004:

1. Jacksoul, Resurrected (BMG): A solid collection of mature, sexy songs from Canada's premiere R&B band. Who but raspy-voiced lead singer/songwriter Haydain Neale could work "eating roti" into a love song?

2. Amy Winehouse, Frank (Island): Britain's popular soul-jazz singer didn't make much of a dent here, but this record — which samples Nas and Dinah Washington — is a sarcastic, sophisticated version of The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill.

3. John Legend, Get Lifted (Columbia): With a Dec. 28 release, the Ohio native with the sensual delivery, skilful piano playing and thoughtful arrangements comes in just under the wire. I hope the label gives him the big push he deserves; otherwise he'll slip through the crack like the similarly passionate and talented (where are they now) Bilal and Donnie.

4. Kanye West, The College Dropout (Roc-A-Fella): He can't flow like Jay-Z or write like Nas, but West poked fun at hip hop, brandished his insecurities and shouted out God on sassy, catchy tracks. He's right: He deserves huge props for "Jesus Walks."

5. The Temptations, Legacy (Motown): These aren't your daddy's Temptations, literally; there's only one original member left in the 43-year-old group that plays Casino Rama on March 4. But the quintet didn't miss a step, managing to be old school and contemporary on faultless offerings about love and longevity. This is the record New Edition should've made.

6. Jamie Cullum, twentysomething (Verve): With an album that reinterprets Hollywood musicals, jazz tunes and hip hop tracks, he became Britian's top-selling jazz artist ever. It's a stylish cross-pollination of my favourite genres.

7. Diana Krall, The Girl In The Other Room (Verve): She didn't equal sales of Look Of Love, but the B.C. native won kudos and critical acclaim for putting pen to paper to deliver a couple of tender autobiographical tunes. There's also a heartfelt remake of her husband Elvis Costello's "Almost Blue."

8. Janet Jackson, Damita Jo (Virgin): I know what you're thinking, but this was actually a pretty funky record — with banging basslines and a couple of steamy ballads — unfortunately done in by an errant breast and mid-tempo first single. I just wish she'd stop all that icky cooing between tracks. And what's up with the cussing?

9. Carl Thomas, Let's Talk About It (Bad Boy): Classic R&B. Shades of Marvin. Hints of Al Green. A glass of shiraz. Subtle. Romantic. Gentle. Underrated. Track No. 11. Diddy's unnecessary voiceovers on every album out of his label.

10. Elephant Man, Good 2 Go (Virgin): Infectious beats and nonsensical lyrics make this disc perfect for the gym or dancefloor. Is there a more fiercely patriotic song than "Jamaica"? I hope the financial and social repercussions his anti-gay lyrics unleashed means he's been sufficiently chastised and embarrassed to excise them from his repertoire.

P.S. No, I didn't forget Jill Scott. It's just that Beautifully Human: Words And Sounds Vol. 1 is a touch more sedate than her much loved 2000 debut, and frankly, I prefer her live. That means I'm going to be all over her March 16 show at Massey Hall.  And when tickets go on sale in a few weeks, you should be too.




Jazz Improvises Ways To Stay Vibrant In Precarious Times

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Chapman, Special To The Star

(Dec. 28, 2004) Followers of jazz could call 2004 the year of living precariously, but hasn't that just about always been the case? Festivals have had to fight harder for ever-shrinking arts funding, big merged record labels in the post-downloading era don't offer much that's new but concentrate on pushing singers, trolling archives and repackaging vintage music in attractive formats (Verve is good at this), local clubs haven't been able to attract as many fans as they'd like and have a tough time luring visiting stars who are paid much more in Europe.  Jazz is resilient, however, and you could say that for Toronto this is a golden age of jazz.  The Montreal Bistro, The Senator and the Rex serve the best jazz menu in this country (comparing well with many American cities) and scores of other venues regularly program this music. Trane Studio on Bathurst is a good new entry.  The University of Toronto, York U and Humber College are feeding young players with serious smarts into the community, so you can reckon on hearing good live jazz around 360 days of the year.  Sales of jazz CDs may be diminishing but the deficit seems likely to be matched soon by rapidly climbing DVD sales. Jazz is also becoming a hot web property, making it easier for individuals and small Canadian labels to get their product into the U.S. And is there a jazz band around the GTA that doesn't have a CD to sell right from the stage? Most albums that came my way in the past six months are indies. Trends like this should make everyone skeptical about gloomy sales statistics.  Toronto-area festivals were stronger than ever. Downtown now expands the elastic definition of jazz as much as any, with music from hot vintage boppers Phil Woods and Bud Shank all the way to today's avant-garde, blistering Latin and diverse world beat acts. The second Distillery Jazz Festival was seriously imaginative with 150 acts but was cruelly battered by rain, winds and Arctic temperatures. The Beaches was light on straight-ahead jazz but still drew huge numbers. The all-Canadian festival at Port Hope in September offered strong lineups, with Markham and Oakville not far behind with their August offerings. Twenty-something Mark Finkelman, a recent York grad, put together an eight-concert schedule that included Dave Holland, Brad Mehldau and Geri Allen — we'll hear more from him.

Memorable shows:

The Dave Holland Quintet at Weston Hall, Herbie Hancock's trio at Massey Hall, Geoff Keezer and Joanne Brackeen at the Montreal Bistro, Karin Plato and Hugh Fraser's band at Glenn Gould Studio, a star saxophone septet marshalled by Phil Dwyer at the Rex, the Hammond B3 organ blast and Wynton Marsalis at the Downtown fest, the Shuffle Demons and Jake Langley at Oakville's fest, Carol Sloane, Bill Charlap, Pat LaBarbera with Randy Brecker and David Braid's band at the Senator.

Recordings that really appealed:

Chris Potter Lift on Universal, a fabulous 21st-century workout by the 30-something tenorman's quartet, jazz he played at the Senator in June with a different rhythm trio.  Maria Schneider Orchestra Concert In The Garden (ArtistShare, available only online). Intriguing, innovative writing and arranging performed by her 17-piece orchestra.  The entire ECM rarum 20-album series, where each musician selects the music he or she liked best on their recordings for the high-quality German label. Kudos to Tomasz Stanko, Carla Bley and Dave Holland.  Three Canadian discs by brilliant pianists — David Braid Sextet, Vivid (Indie), John Stetch, Exponentially Monk (Justin Time) and Jean Beaudet, Les Danseurs (Elephant); and two by Canadian singers — Kate Hammett-Vaughan's Eclipse (Maximum Jazz) and Sophie Milman's Sophie Milman (Linus).  Other excellent Canadian jazz came from bands led by reedmen Francois Carrier (Travelling Lights on Justin Time) and Joel Miller (Mandala on Effendi), drummer Karl Jannuska (Liberating Vines on Effendi), Jeff Healey (Adventures In Jazzland on HealeyOphonics) as well as Crash, led by organist Lonnie Smith with Vancouver sidemen on The Doctor Is In (Cellar Live).

On the growing DVD front:

I really liked three in Eagle Eye Media's Live at Montreux collection from the 1970s, Count Basie Jam, Ella And Basie and Charles Mingus as well as Marsalis Family: A Jazz Celebration from 2001 on Marsalis Music and The Big Chris Barber Band from 2002 on Inak.




Que & Malaika -- So Hip, They’re Putting Rock, Soul and the '‘P’ In the Funk'

Excerpt from - By Deardra Shuler

(Dec. 24, 2004) Coffee was definitely the requirement of the day during the early morning interview I had with Que and Malaika Ruben.  The dynamic duo rose to the occasion despite having spent a late night performing for the Salute to Excellence Dinner at the New York Sheraton Hotel to honour Terry Avery and Thea Mitchem. These two musical royals of the R&B/Hip-World had recently finished up a southern promotional tour throughout the Carolinas, Georgia, Texas, Arkansas and Atlanta prior to our interview.  They had also opened a few shows with George Clinton of Parliament Funkadelic fame.  “After we finished our most recent album “HipRocSoul, the last song “P In The Funk,” had the type of vibe to it that reminded us of George Clinton.  As it turned out, our label, EGE Entertainment, got it out to George and he liked it.  The next thing we knew, Clinton came out and did the remix with us and the result became our new hot single which features George Clinton.  It was wonderful working with George.  We developed a nice relationship with him and ended up as an opening act for his show,” says Que. His partner and spouse Malaika sings and writes a lot of the lyrics for the two.   “I often put hidden messages in my lyrics,” explained Malaika.  “Our first album together is really about our life together.  We originally entitled it Love, Life and Music.  One of the songs on that album called “Who Knew” was all about Que and me.  When I wrote that song I was thinking about us all the way” remarked the lyricist. For those George Clinton fans that may think the ‘P’ in their latest single stands for Parliament, you would be mistaken.  “The ‘P’ stands for… who put the party in the party,” chortled Que.  “It’s the ‘P’ in the Funk. There is a lot of Hip, Rock and Soul to our music, so we call our music HipRocSoul,” explained Que.  “A lot of people like to compare the rock part of our music to people like Prince and Jimi Hendrix but personally, I think it’s simply because I am a black person playing a guitar.  I totally respect Prince and Hendrix and they are major influences of mine but I am a little different from them.  However, I think I can be on their level if I keep doing what I am doing.  My plan was to blend things together to try to come up with a unique sound.  I want to be musical and be commercial at the same time.  If that comes through combining hard rock, jazz and funk that is ok by me.  As I said, the sound we have come up with we call “HipRocSoul.” HipRocSoul is a combination of hip hop, rock and roll and soul music.  It’s a universal sound that we feel is music for everyone.”  This universality is very reflective in the R&B sound of our song “I Just Wanna” and the gospel flavour of the song “Witness.” “To me “Witness” is a soulful, bluesy, rock type of ballad with a great message.  But, if some see it as having a gospel influence, that is ok with me, too,” claims Que.  “Working together is the best part of our whole experience,” claim Malaika.  “Naturally as husband and wife and music partners we have the occasional spat but our chemistry together is what really makes what we do, when we do it so good.  When it comes to the music, performing and being together, we click.  It just clicks in the marriage, on stage and in the studio.  Its magic!” adds the feminine half of the duo.

Malaika and Que are innovators and inventors, thus their sound reeks of originality.  Since their album came out on September 28, 2004, sales have taken off. “Our album is fairly new so we are happy for the success thus far, although we hope it will take off even more, “claimed Que.  “We are kind of new so we are still developing a fan base.  We have yet to find our particular audience.  Everywhere we have gone we seem to play to a different type of audience.  We play to an adult contemporary audience, we play to college kids; we play to the age 20-30 crowd.  So far, all different kinds of crowds, markets and races support our music.  That tells me that given the chance, people would be willing to listen to what our type of music has to offer.  Thus far, the greatest response has come from college kids, especially in white colleges.  I don’t know what that means but hopefully it means we will have a crossover market for our music.” Married for three years, the couple met in a studio in Mt. Vernon, New York where Que was working as an engineer, producer and artist.  When Malalika came by the studio to check it out she ended up singing a song Que loved.  The two started dating, eventually got married and had two twin boys Jayden and Jestin.  Raised in Cleveland, Ohio where they presently live, Que was a child prodigy whose family was deeply ensconced in music.  He was playing in clubs by 12 years old and on tour playing the guitar by 16. His aunt was a jazz singer and his father was a jazz musician.  Malaika grew up in New Rochelle, New York and set her sights on the entertainment business.  In high school she was a rapper and dancer and by 16 had scored an internship at Vibe Magazine.  She later went on to model and sing with several female singing groups, where she eventually found a manager in actor Mekhi Phifer.  After meeting Que she began to write lyrics for him.   “I play the kind of music that god tells me to play.  I can read music and just about play anything you put in front of me but mostly I just play naturally.  My whole life is music. I have never done anything else,” says Que. “We enjoy each other and being on stage.  So many weird things have brought us together,” says Malaika.  “When I went into that studio where I first met Que, it was around 3:00 a.m., in the morning, way past my bedtime.  For me to go to that studio at that time was totally out of character for me but for some reason, that day, I had to go.  And Que was sitting there when I got there.  I totally believe there is a spiritual connection between Que and I.  For a while, we got away from music to raise our family but things kept pulling us back to the music.  There was a period we didn’t have the right equipment and Que didn’t have a properly working guitar which made him depressed.  Anyway, one day I decided to go play bingo.  We had about $25.00.  I talked Que into going to play bingo with me.  I said to Que I knew we were going to win $500.00.  I told him that when we won we were going to buy him a guitar.  Que looked as if he had some doubts.  The expression on his face was like ‘whatever.’  By the time the last game came up we hadn’t won a dime.  They called the last number and it was then that Que discovered he had bingo.  We ended up winning exactly what we needed.  We went to the guitar store and found a beautiful acoustic guitar which was like the ‘sale of the century.’  We bought that guitar and ended up writing our whole album with that very guitar.  We called the album “Bingo.”  I just think that when things happen for you in life that way, and you don’t follow those signs, than you’re just stupid.  I follow my spirit all the way,” stated Malaika. Grammy-winning producer/writer Eban Kelly, co-producer of HipRocSoul expects great things from the duo. Partnered with Cleveland Browns player Ernie Green he established the Kettering-based label Ernie Green Entertainment (EGE).  Que and Malaika are EGE’s first big act and their CD and video via Freak the Frame Production is doing pretty well for all concerned. “When we are on stage, we let our music take us over.  We have the band in the background, Que and I in the front and we just create as we go.” 




Eulogy For A Hip-Hop Comedian

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Robert Everett-Green

"What's rap without Dirt?" MC Rhymefest's cameo quip is as good as any eulogy at summing up the singular presence of the late Russell Jones, known variously as Dirt McGirt, Osirus, Big Baby Jesus and Ol' Dirty Bastard (ODB). Nobody could hang quite the way the ODB did, on stage, in a recording studio, or in the world at large. Maybe that's just as well, given the troubles that turned the last years of his life (he died last month at age 35) into the script for a ludicrous action-adventure film. The ODB's thick-tongued rasp and helter-skelter rhymes helped define the Wu-Tang Clan, the surpassingly odd crew that reigned over rap for a few years in the nineties. While rappers on both coasts strained to crown themselves king, Dirt proudly claimed the cap and bells, and dared you to laugh without respect. He had the outsized rhetorical flair of Lord Buckley, though he never made the mistake (unlike Buckley) of seeming to be above the follies he described. His first posthumous album must have gone to the pressing plant within days of his funeral (at which an Islamic elder assured mourners that the ODB "wasn't crazy"). But it's no stir-fry of unused or discarded tracks -- that, no doubt, will come later. This disc was made with his full participation, and a posse of producers (including DJ Premier) who have kept things simple to offset the ODB's shaggy vehemence. The best tracks feel like a party whose most entertaining guest has just flopped down on the sofa beside you. His tone is loudly intimate, his wail operatic. He seems both oblivious and deeply aware of the scattergun resonance of all that he says. Many of these tracks dilate on rap's common obsessions: sex, drugs, the need to look mean when mean people are around. But like every great comic, the ODB can make you see the humour even when he's not saying anything funny. The effect occurs when the tone of voice fastens on the word in such a way as to reveal something no words can ever say. The grunts and sputtered syllables of Rahzel's first beat-box interlude are perhaps the best tribute to that side -- the best side -- of the ODB's art.




Music In The Sundance Spotlight

Excerpt from - Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

(Dec. 28, 2004) Music seems to take a bigger role each year at the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The Jan. 20-30 independent film showcase will see a slate of eclectic live performances to entertain attendees in between screenings, while music will receive its due on screen from a variety of perspectives.   The Sundance documentary competition will host the world premieres of director Jeff Feurzeig's "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" a profile the beloved Austin, Texas-based singer/songwriter, and Greg Whitely's "New York Doll," which captures the reunion of legendary punk Arthur "Killer" Kane, a recovering alcoholic and recent Mormon convert, with the rest of his New York Dolls bandmates.   Johnston is also slated to perform at the festival as part of the Jan. 26 Sundance Night Café bill with Craig Armstrong and Yo La Tengo.   The wartime hardships of Iraqi pianist Samir Peter are the basis of director Sean McAllister's "The Liberace of Baghdad," which will be among the offerings in the world cinema documentary competition, while Don Argott's "Rock School" will receive a special screening and give festival goers a look at the real life version of an idea that gained acclaim in the 2003 Jack Black comedy "School of Rock."   Distinct areas of the music world are utilized as plot devices in a pair of films receiving their world premiere in Sundance's dramatic competition. In Craig Brewer's "Hustle & Flow," a Memphis pimp attempts a mid-life career change as a rapper. "Forty Shades of Blue," written by Michale Rohatyn and directed by Ira Sachs, also takes place in Memphis, centring on a young Russian woman's personal awakening as she meets the estranged son of her husband, an aging rock'n'roll legend.   The Australian film "Green Bush" (directed by Warwick Thornton) and the U.S. feature "A Thousand Roads" (directed by Chris Eyre) both probe the reach of radio DJs and the communities they build. Both will receive special screenings during the festival.   The "Park City at Midnight" series will showcase "9 Songs," writer/director Michael Winterbottom's tale of lovers' encounters between rock concerts. Sundance will also host the world premiere of director Andy Fickman's tongue-in-cheek musical adaptation of the classic anti-marijuana propaganda film "Reefer Madness."  On live music side, Michael Franti & Spearhead will entertain at the Gala at Snow Park Lodge at the Deer Valley Resort, the later of a pair of Sundance's opening night parties.   The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) will host the daytime Music Café for attendees throughout the Sundance Film Festival. Four or five artists will perform daily, including vocalists Andgelique Kidjo and Michael McDonald, Toad The Wet Sprocket frontman Glen Phillips with Nickel Creek siblings Sara and Sean Watkins, hip-hop poet Saul Williams, country artist Billy Currington, singer/songwriters Suzanne Vega, Rickie Lee Jones, Linda Perry and Ben Kweller, offbeat performers Dresden Dolls and Nellie McKay and rock acts Midnight Movies, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead and Kings Of Leon.  In addition to the aforementioned Night Café featuring Johnston, an earlier Jan. 23 version will boast a collaboration between Jayhawks leader Gary Louris and ambient electronic artist Raz Mesinai, as well as performances by alaska! and Calexico.   The Sundance Village will host Cyrus Chesnutt (Jan. 22), Bill Charlap (Jan. 26), Marcus Roberts (Jan. 28) and Judy Carmichael (Jan. 29) in its presentation of jazz trios at the Sundance Rehearsal Hall. The venue will also showcase Steinway at Sundance, a gallery of legendary pianos.   A free outdoor concert will be staged Jan. 22 on Park City's lower Main Street under the Music on Main banner, while a music showcase will be held Jan. 26 at the "Sundance House," a meeting place for attendees at the Kimball Arts Center. Performers for those events have not been announced.   Additionally music's role in the movies will be the focal point of "Music and Film: The Creative Process," a Jan. 26 roundtable discussion as part of Sundance's conference panel offerings. Among those taking part will be actor/musician Kevin Bacon and his Bacon Brothers bandmate Michael Bacon, composers George S. Clinton ("Austin Powers"), Rolfe Kent ("Mean Girls," "About Schmidt") and Peter Golub ("The Laramie Project") and director/cinematographer Rodrigo Garcia ("Six Feet Under," "Carnivale").   For more information on the scheduled films and events, visit the Sundance Film Festival Web site at




O’Jays’ Walter And Eric Prep For Hall

Excerpt from

(Dec. 29, 2004) *If it weren’t for Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers and their 1957 concert appearance in Canton, Ohio – there may never have been an O’Jays.  Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers came to the Canton Memorial Auditorium when I was 15 years old and the girls in Canton went crazy,” recalls founding O’Jay member Walter Williams.  “My girlfriend and everybody else’s went crazy, so we started up a singing group.” It didn’t hurt that Walter, Eddie Levert - his friend from elementary school - and three other fellows in the first incarnation of the O’Jays could sing.  Forty-one years after their first chart hit, 1963’s “Lonely Drifter,” the O’Jays have been selected to join the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2005.    “It’s a long time coming,” says Williams, who will join Levert and Eric Grant for the Rock Hall’s 20th annual induction ceremony on March 14 at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel.  “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it doesn’t get any better than that.  I didn’t think I would be [here] because Eddie and I have this running joke that we would probably be the group who was nominated the most, and never got in. That would be a tribute in and of itself.” The O’Jays have received American Music Awards and honours from the NAACP, Urban League and Soul Train – but numerous Grammy Award nominations have resulted in zero wins for the R&B vets.  Williams says the Rock Hall induction more than makes up for the slight by the Recording Academy.  “I’m really pleased about it, and I realize the magnitude of it,” he says. “It’s really an elite group that’s been there already, and to be among them is a blessing and just shows what perseverance can do for you. Hanging in there and continuing to struggle and wait it out.” Forty-four years ago, Eddie and Walter started the O’Jays “with literally nothing, just a dream,” says Williams. The two formed a gospel duo while attending McKinley High School in Canton, then recruited fellow students William Powell, Bobby Massey and Bill Isles to form a soul group called, The Triumphs.  They were signed to King Records in 1961 and renamed the Mascots by label president Syd Lathan  Soon, a Cleveland DJ, Eddie O’Jay, took them under his wing, and in return, the group changed their name to The O’Jays. The DJ introduced the group to Detroit-based producer Don Davis who recorded "Miracles" on the Daco label, which was then picked up by New York label Apollo Records. Eddie O'Jay connected the group with former Dootones member H.B. Barnum, who worked with the quintet on their harmonies and helped to get them a deal with Imperial Records. Their first charting single was "Lonely Drifter," which hit number 93 R&B in the fall of 1963.

Isles left the group in 1965 and was not replaced, leaving the group a quartet. Switching to Bell Records, they got their first Top Ten R&B single with "I'll Be Sweeter Tomorrow (Than I Was Today)" (number eight R&B in late 1967) Also in 1967, Minit Records issued an album on the group, “Soul Sounds.”  Producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, who were working with the Intruders in 1969, were turned on to the O’Jays after both groups were performing at New York’s Apollo Theater.   Signing to Gamble & Huff’s Neptune label distributed by Chicago's Chess Records, their first single for the Philadelphia-based producers, "One Night Affair," went to number 15 R&B in the summer of 1969. After Chess folded, the quartet was left in limbo, and Massey decided to leave the group. Meanwhile, Gamble & Huff formed Philadelphia International Records and secured a distribution deal with CBS Records, signed the O’Jays as a trio, and the rest is history. Their first single together, 1972’s “Backstabbers,” (written by Huff, Gene McFadden and John Whitehead) went to number one on Billboard’s R&B chart and number three on the pop charts. A string of classics soon followed, including “Love Train” and “For the Love of Money” in 1973;  “Give the People What They Want,” “Family Reunion,” “Stairway to Heaven” and  “I Love Music” in 1975; “Darlin Darlin' Baby (Sweet Tender Love)” in 1976; and “Use Ta Be My Girl” in 1978. The number of hits amassed by the O’Jays is worthy of Rock Hall attention, but it becomes a bit of a problem when trying to plan a concert tour containing all the hits.  “Fortunately, we’ve been blessed,” laughs Williams. “We’ve have a lot of hits. So we just cut them down to where we could put them in the show, and make medleys out of some of them.  It wasn’t easy. When you’re on a bill with other acts – and normally we are, like this last tour we did called the World’s Greatest Groups,  it was O’Jays, Temps, Tops and the Whispers – we can’t stay out there that long. The best we could do is stay out there 50 minutes.  And you know, that’s a lot of condensing.”   “They call it trimming the fat,” adds Eric Grant, the third O’Jay who joined the group in 1995.   Williams says the road to Eric “started with five members and went to four, then it went to three – Eddie, William [Powell] and myself – then Sammy [Strain of Little Anthony & the Imperials] replaced William, then Nate [Best] replaced Sammy, and now Eric has replaced Nate.”    “I’m just a guy who came in at a good time, and I’m reaping the benefits of something that Eddie and Walter have struggled to pave and make it to this point,” Eric says of his membership in the group and its long overdue Rock Hall attention.  “That’s honestly how I feel about it in my heart. I didn’t’ get a chance to witness the struggle in the early days, but I witness it today, and how hard they work, and how they care so much about the fans. “I’m still sitting there in awe - like these guys have sold millions of records, millions of tickets, and done so much for the music business, and they still care,” Eric continues. “They still put forth the effort of giving a top notch performance. I’ve learned so much from the two of them. If they never gave me an honourable mention, I wouldn’t be disappointed. My eyes would probably fill up with tears just to see them two get what they deserve.  They deserve to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” The O’Jays will hit the road in June, adding songs from their current album “Imagination” to their roster of hits for a concert tour to last through the summer. “This is gonna be one of those concerts you have to go see – because once they start adding them songs in there, it’s gonna be a whole new thing,” Williams says.  The smooth crooner says he was out running errands when the call came from Levert that the O’Jays had made it into the Rock Hall.  “I dialed [the voicemail] and Eddie was on the phone talkin’ bout ‘Hey man, call me! They let us in!’,” says Williams. “And I was like, ‘What the hell is he talking about?’  And then the light came on in my head. I sat down at the foot of the bed and said, ‘They really did let us in.’”




Holiday Shoppers Return Eminem To No. 1

Excerpt from - Margo Whitmire, L.A.

(Dec. 29, 2004) Eminem was the top-seller among last minute holiday shoppers as "Encore" returns to the top of The Billboard 200 this week after a month-long absence. A 36% increase to U.S. sales of 430,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, fuel a 3-1 rebound on the album chart.  The rapper's latest Shady/Aftermath/Interscope set now has three non-consecutive weeks atop the chart, including a two-week stay at No. 1 in November. "Encore" takes over the top spot from 2Pac's posthumous "Loyal to the Game" (Amaru/Interscope), which falls to No. 13 on a 34% slump to 219,000 copies.  Last minute holiday shopping leading up to Christmas saw sales of all titles in the top tier of The Billboard 200 rise 10% or more.   The 17th installment of "NOW That's What I Call Music!" (Sony BMG/Universal/EMI/Zomba/Capitol) manages to hold onto the chart's No. 2 slot for a second week despite having the lowest sales increase among top 10 titles, with sales up 10% to 356,000 copies.   U2's "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" (Interscope) climbs two to No. 3 on a 17% bump to 350,000. Destiny's Child's "Destiny Fulfilled" (Sony Urban/Columbia) also jumps two positions to No. 4 on a 31% bounce to sales just shy of U2's "Bomb."  Despite an 11% gain to 347,000 copies, Shania Twain's Mercury Nashville greatest hits set drops 4-5. Usher's "Confessions" (LaFace/Zomba) makes a 9-6 jump on a 33% gain to 316,000, pushing past Toby Keith, who moves up one to No. 7 on a 21% increase to sales of 289,000 of his DreamWorks Nashville/Interscope collection, "Greatest Hits 2."  After falling to No. 10 on last week's chart, "MTV Ultimate Mash-Ups Presents Jay-Z and Linkin Park: Collision Course" (Machine Shop/Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam) rebounds to No. 8 on a 20% sales increase to 283,000 copies. Green Day's "American Idiot" (Reprise/Warner Bros.) is readmitted to the chart's upper echelon, thanks to a 39% jump to 282,000 copies that fuels a 13-9 move.  After last week's 1-12 spiral, Ludacris' "Red Light District" (Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam South) also regains its top 10 footing with a two-spot gain to No. 10. The set sold 258,000 copies, up 20%.  Mannie Fresh has The Billboard 200's top debut with his solo debut, "The Mind of Mannie Fresh" (Cash Money/Universal), which enters at No. 59 with 70,000 units. As a member of Southern rap duo Big Tymers, the Cash Money producer went to No. 1 on The Billboard 200 in 2002 with "Hood Rich." While that album debuted in the top slot, 2002's "I Got That Work" remains the duo's best-selling album to date, with a 1.4 million total and a No. 3 peak on the chart.  Overall U.S. album sales were up 17.5% from the previous week at 32.7 million units, a 4.4% lead over the same week last year. Sales for 2004 are ahead of 2003 by about 1.4% at 665 million units.




Motown Producer Freddie Perren Dies

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(Dec. 22, 2004) Grammy Award-winner Freddie Perren, who produced songs for Gloria Gaynor, the Jackson 5 and the "Saturday Night Fever" album, has died at the age of 61. Perren, who lived in Chatsworth, Calif., died Dec. 16 after a long illness, said his wife, Christine Yarian Perren. He suffered a major stroke 11 years ago, she said.  Perren shared an album of the year Grammy in 1978 for producing two songs on the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack. With Dino Fekaris, Perren produced Gaynor's classic "I Will Survive," which won the Grammy for best disco recording in 1979.   Perren was a member of the Motown Records production group the Corporation, which wrote and produced the Jackson Five's first hits. The collective, which also included Motown founder Berry Gordy, Deke Richards and Fonce Mizell, produced the group's "I Want You Back," "ABC" and "The Love You Save."  Perren also produced the Miracles' hits "Love Machine" and "Do It Baby" while at the label. His post-Motown records include Peaches and Herb's "Reunited" and "Shake Your Groove Thing"; the Sylvers' "Boogie Fever" and "Hot Line"; and Tavares' "Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel."




Autographed Items From Reggae And Pop Stars To Help Caribbean Hurricane Relief

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(Dec, 28, 2004) A joint collaborative effort between New York's top reggae music label VP Records and the mainstream MTV Networks will oversee a major project set up to help raise money for hurricane relief in the Caribbean. The media giant has established an online auction with Universal Music Group selling autographed items from VP Records recording artistes including Elephant Man, TOK, Lady Saw, and Tanya Stephens, as well as a host of American artistes including Destiny's Child, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Ludacris, and others. MTV will match auction proceeds up to US$50,000. The on-line auction can be viewed at Seventy-five per cent of the proceeds from this auction will benefit the Caribbean relief efforts of the Red Cross. Persons interested in bidding for the autographed items from the celebrities, can log on to to make their bids.




Prince, Madonna Top Dismal Year In Touring

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Dec. 28, 2004) Los Angeles -- In a dismal year for the touring industry, with ticket prices soaring and seats going unsold, music fans in North America partied like it was 1989 as Prince and Madonna topped the concert box office. According to freshly tabulated estimates provided by concert trade publication Pollstar, Prince sold $87.4-million (U.S.) in tickets in 2004, while Madonna earned $79.5-million.  Canadian pop singer Celine Dion actually topped Madonna by about $900,000, but her haul came exclusively from 154 dates performed at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas as part of a four-year engagement at the casino. But most musicians found the going tough. "With few exceptions, every act had some places where they didn't do well," Pollstar editor Gary Bongiovanni said. Overall, Pollstar estimated gross sales rose almost 1 per cent to $1.96-billion in 2004, with the number of tickets sold down by nearly 3 per cent to $37.6-million. Among the high-profile disasters was Lollapalooza, the annual rock touring festival, which was cancelled before the first show. Jazz pianist Norah Jones also found the going tough when she upgraded to amphitheatres from more cozy venues. Reuters




Mario Replaces Snoop At No. 1

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(Dec. 24, 2004) *Snoop Dogg and Pharrell’s three-week reign at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart came to a halt yesterday by an 18-year-old crooner from Baltimore, MD.   Mario’s “Let Me Love You,” moves into the No. 1 spot, followed by Snoop and Pharrell’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” and Ciara’s "1,2 Step,” which holds steady at No. 3 for the second week. Destiny's Child's "Soldier" moves from 7 to 4 this week, while the trio’s single, "Lose My Breath," remains at No. 9 for the second week. Lil Jon & the Eastside Boyz' "Lovers and Friends" featuring Usher and Ludacris is No. 5; Usher and Alicia Keys' "My Boo" falls to No. 6; Nelly's "Over and Over" featuring Tim McGraw drops to No. 7, Ja Rule's "Wonderful" featuring Ashanti holds at No. 8 and Gavin DeGraw climbs to No. 10 with "I Don't Want To Be."




A Supreme Story

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(Dec. 24, 2004) *Jean Terrell, the singer who replaced Diana Ross as lead diva of the Supremes in the early 70s, has put together a DVD to give fans details about her career, as well as her family. "My sister and I thought about writing some of the things my mom used to say, and do some family history," Terrell told AP about the DVD, "Through the Eyes of a Supreme." Terrell, one of 10 children, was performing with her brother Ernie – a professional singer and former heavyweight boxing champion – when she got the call to front the Supremes.   "There was quite a bit of history between the 10 of us," she said.  Terrell sang lead on early '70s Supremes hits "Up the Ladder to the Roof" and "Stoned Love."




Pac Springs To No. 1 With 'Loyal'

Excerpt from - By Clover Hope

(Dec. 23, 2004) Tupac Shakur's seventh posthumous release, Loyal to the Game, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Charts Wednesday (Dec. 22), making the album Pac's third chart-topper since his murder in 1996.   Loyal to the Game (Amaru/Interscope), a compilation of Pac's unreleased vocal tracks over new production, sold 330,000 units in the week ending Friday (Dec. 19), according to Nielsen Soundscan. The record is Pac's fifth No. 1 album to date.   Multi-platinum rapper Eminem served as executive producer on Loyal to the Game, along with Pac's mother Afeni Shakur. The project features such notable artists as Nate Dogg, G-Unit and Outlawz, with additional production from Red Spyda, Scott Storch and Raphael Saadiq. Eminem crafted the album using Pac's previously recorded lyrics over new beats.   Pac's posthumous releases have grossed more than 18 million units in the United States, bringing his career album figures to 24.4 million. His preceding album, Better Dayz, debuted at No. 5 in 2002, selling 366,000 copies in its first week and 1.6 million in total.   Loyal to the Game bested Ludacris' Red Light District, which held the top spot for one week and now occupies the No. 12 position.   R&B singer Ashanti was the only artist besides Pac to break into the top 10 this week, with her third album Concrete Rose debuting at No. 7 and selling 245,000 copies.   Ironically, according to Ashanti her album title was inspired by Pac's poem, "The Rose That Grew From Concrete," which later became a poetry book and corresponding audio CD.




Rosa Parks, Outkast May Be Close To Settlement

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Dec. 29, 2004) Detroit -- The long-running legal battle between U.S. civil rights icon Rosa Parks and the hip-hop duo Outkast, over the band's unauthorized use of her name, may be drawing to a close, a Parks adviser said. Gregory Reed, a lawyer for Parks, 91, said the parties have agreed to conduct settlement talks with a mediator, beginning early in 2005. Legal representatives for Parks have filed two lawsuits against record companies and bookstores, seeking billions of dollars for the 1998 song Rosa Parks, which made oblique reference to her historic challenge to the segregation of 1950s America.  The line "Ah ha, hush that fuss, everybody move to the back of the bus," evokes Parks' refusal to give up her seat to a white man in Montgomery, Ala.  Parks is reportedly suffering from dementia and some of her relatives have said she is probably unaware of the lawsuits. AFP




Usher Tops 2004 ‘Shipment’ List

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(Dec. 29, 2004) *Usher can put another trophy on the mantelpiece for his white-hot album “Confessions.” The Grammy-nominated disc has just been announced as the most-shipped U.S. album of 2004, according to year-end certifications from the Recording Industry Assn. of America.  The 8 million units shipped to retailers (but not necessarily sold through to consumers), marks Ursh’s highest-certified album to date, besting1997's six-times platinum, "My Way."  Usher also garnered three honours under the RIAA's new digital awards program. "Yeah!" featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris, which spent 12 weeks atop the Hot 100 singles chart, was certified digital platinum for more than 200,000 downloads.  Norah Jones was the top female in 2004, with her second CD, "Feels Like Home," shipping 4 million units. Her 2002 debut "Come Away With Me" is nine times platinum. Jones' "Sunrise" earned a digital gold award.  Kanye West was the year's leading male newcomer, for his double-platinum album "The College Dropout."  In addition to earning the RIAA Diamond Award for 10 million shipments of last year's "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," OutKast joined Usher with three digital awards. "Hey Ya!" grabbed the only multi-platinum award, while "Roses" and "The Way You Move" went platinum.  Also, Ray Charles' posthumous "Genius Loves Company" earned the artist his first platinum and multi-platinum honours. Other first-time double-platinum earners were Black Eyed Peas for "Elephunk"; and Jill Scott for "Who Is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds, Volume 1."  First-time platinum winners included Ciara, Anthony Hamilton, Michael McDonald, Los Lonely Boys and JoJo.




‘Spin’ Doctor Kanye

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(Dec. 29, 2004) *"When you remember 2004, you will remember Kanye West... It was Kanye West, no matter where you went," the rapper said of himself to “Spin” magazine, who crowned the multiple Grammy-nominee its coveted Artist of The Year. His album “The College Dropout” also beat Green Day's “American Idiot” and Franz Ferdinand's debut to claim “Spin's” Album of The Year honours.  




Ciara’s Big Plans

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(Dec. 29, 2004) With her current hit “1, 2 Step” making moves on Billboard, Ciara’s already at work crafting her sophomore album, as well as writing songs and laying guest vocals for other artists – including the forthcoming album from “1, 2 Step” writer, Missy Elliot.  “She wrote the song and just called me to record,” Ciara says of the as-yet-untitled track to “Rolling Stone.”  “I'm singing on the hook with her and on a verse. It's really good.” The singer will soon return to her native Atlanta to record the follow-up to her platinum-selling “Goodies” album with producer Lil Jon. "I definitely have plans. I've been having conversations, and I got a lot of beats from producers who worked on [Goodies]," says Ciara. "I'll also be doing a lot of writing for other artists."  A song co-written by Ciara, "Got Me Waiting," currently appears on “American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino's debut, “Free Yourself.” The 19-year-old, who says she made a “goal sheet” in high school and would like to achieve the status of “P. Diddy and Oprah” someday, will launch an extensive tour next spring.




'Rhythms And The Blues'

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(Dec. 29, 2004) Los Angeles, CA - There are delightful surprises like Vel Omarr's CD, "Rhythms and the Blues" out there, making the kind of magic that made us R&B devotees in the first place.  Much of modern R&B is sung in whispers, falsettos and throaty murmurs. It's refreshing to run across an R&B voice that is seasoned, strong and solid. Vel Omarr has such a voice.  Omarr has been in the business since the 1970s. His growing-up years followed the classic blues/soul pattern: childhood in Mississippi, adolescence in Chicago and adulthood in California. He cites influences that show some depth of experience. In fact, he says one of his most vivid boyhood memories is of stepping off the train in Chicago and hearing "You Send Me" by Sam Cooke for the first time.  His CD, Rhythms and the Blues, presents a robust range of approaches to modern R&B. "You're All That" features a loping bass line tightened by a sustained synth-string fill and - guess what? - Sam Cooke-influenced vocals. "That's Alright With Me" is romantic and manly in the old-school, slow-dance / piano triplet sense. "Morality" is pretty much straight reggae. The background vocals punctuate the chorus at just the right times and the lyrics are refreshing straight talk on the state of modern society.  There is a lot of discussion on R&B web sites about the lack of good old passion and groove in today's artists. Those with this complaint might do well to explore some of the indie sources of the music they care about. There are delightful surprises like Vel Omarr out there, making the kind of magic that made us R&B devotees in the first place.  Interested ones can visit Vel Omarr online and sample his great music at:  Also 







Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Fats Domino, Sweet Patootie: The Complete Reprise Recordings, Rhino Handmade
Fats Domino, Sweet Patootie: The Complete Reprise Recordings, Rhino Handmade
John Legend, Get Lifted, Sony
Earth Wind & Fire, Gratitude [Vinyl Classics], Sony International
Kylie Minogue, Ultimate Kylie, Festival
Little Richard, King of Rock and Roll: The Complete Reprise Record, Rhino Handmade
Little Richard, King of Rock and Roll: The Complete Reprise Record, Rhino Handmade
No Doubt, It's My Life [Canada EP], Universal International
Roy Orbison, Love Songs [Sony], Sony
Santana, Abraxas, Sony International
The Beatles, Capitol Albums, Vol. 1, Toshiba EMI

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Gladys Knight & The Saints Unified Voices, One Voice, Many Roads
Hall & Oates, Best of Hall & Oates [Liquid 8], Liquid 8
INXS, Kick [Deluxe Edition], Universal International
Mario Winans, I Don't Wanna Know [Canada EP], Universal International
Ol' Dirty Bastard, Osirus, Sure Shot Recordings
Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo, Summer Vacation Tour Live, Lemon
Sum 41, Chuck, Universal International
Terror Squad, Lean Back [EP], Universal International
The Mamas & the Papas, Anthology, Universal International
The Raspberries, Fresh, RPM
The Raspberries, Raspberries, RPM
Various Artists, Pure Groove: 80's Slow Jams, Universal International
Various Artists, Rap-Along Tribute to 50 Cent's Greatest Hits, Tribute Sounds
Various Artists, Soul Classics [Northquest], Northquest
Various Artists, Soul Searchin' [Northquest], Northquest
Various Artists, String Quartet Tribute To Tupac, Vitamin
Various Artists, Timeless Soul, Northquest
Young Buck, Let Me In [EP], Universal International







Fockers Set Holiday Record

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Dec. 27, 2004) LOS ANGELES—Millions of North Americans went shopping for comedy this weekend, giving the star-studded Meet The Fockers the record for the best Christmas weekend opening ever.  The sequel, reuniting Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro and adding Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand as Stiller's parents, earned $44.7 million (all figures U.S.) in Canada and the United States over the holiday weekend, beating the previous record of $30 million, set in 2002 by Catch Me If You Can.  Its performance was even more impressive when measured against the overall weekend box office, which was down 26.5 per cent from last year.  "When Christmas falls on a weekend, it's bad for business," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.  This weekend's top 12 films grossed an estimated $121.9 million, compared to last year's $165.8 million when Christmas fell on a Thursday. Last year's figure was skewed a bit by the third Lord Of The Rings movie, which earned $50.6 million in its second weekend last year.  Meet The Fockers knocked last week's top film — Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events — to third place, with $12.5 million.  Second place was taken by the live-action version of Fat Albert, which debuted Saturday with a two-day total of $12.7 million, according to studio estimates.  Final figures are to be released today.  Meet The Fockers succeeded in part because of an aggressive ad campaign, including the release of the DVD of the original Meet The Parents as well as the return of Streisand to the big screen after an eight-year absence.  It also captured the clash between families, which resonates at the holidays.  "It's a clash of cultures," said Marc Shmuger, vice-chairman of Universal Pictures. "It's about the coming together of completely different families, but that's exactly what the world is going through right now."  Meet The Fockers opened Wednesday, bringing its five-day total to $68.5 million.  The Aviator, the epic tale of billionaire Howard Hughes, did well enough in limited release to take fourth place with $9.4 million. The movie, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, expanded from 40 theatres to 1,796 on Christmas Day.  The small budget horror flick Darkness went against the slew of family films on the market now and attracted $6.4 million in its opening weekend. The movie opened Saturday.  The lavish Andrew Lloyd Weber musical The Phantom Of The Opera also debuted in limited release, bringing in $4.2 million from 622 theatres. It debuted Wednesday, bringing its five-day total to $6.5 million.  ASSOCIATED PRESS




Behind The Scenes Of ‘The Woodsman’

Excerpt from

(Dec. 24, 2004) No major studio wanted to touch “The Woodsman,” a film starring Kevin Bacon as a paroled sex offender trying to get back on his feet and re-enter society.  Sex offender is, of course, a more cleaned-up term for the word, pedophile – which initially scared off the very producer who ultimately agreed to give the film a shot.    “When the writer pitched it to me, I hung up the phone, because I got two kids and there are certain things that I don’t ever need to see on screen,” says Lee Daniels, who also executive-produced “Monster’s Ball.” But then the writer’s agent called Daniels, asking him to read “a script that’s off the hook,” without revealing the screenplay’s subject matter.  Daniels was unaware that he was reading the same script unsuccessfully pitched by the writer, until midway through the work. “The hook is that everybody hates this guy, and we can’t figure out why everybody hates him,” Daniels says, explaining the story. “That’s the first third of the story.  And so we like him, because everybody hates him.  And once the audience embraces him, we then find out what he’s done.  And it’s too late because we’re on his journey and hoping he doesn’t have a slip.”   Once Daniels enthusiastically came on board, securing financing became the next obstacle.  Again, no producer was willing to take a chance on a film with pedophilia as its subject. Then one day out of the blue, Kevin Bacon called Daniels to lobby for the starring role as Walter. “We went out to lunch and he said, ‘Are you crazy?’” laughs Kevin Bacon. “He said, ‘If I was your agent, I’d say, “You’re out of your mind.” And then he said, ‘Are we crazy for making this movie? Why are we making this movie?’” “We’ve never seen why someone does this,” explains Daniels. “And we don’t understand it, we ignore it.  And through that, it continues on.  And through that, children are hurt.  One out of every six Americans are victims of pedophilia.  And we have yet to address the problem.”   Bacon, now secured in the lead role, went home to convince his wife, actress Kyra Sedgwick, to play his love interest Vickie, a hard-ass, tough-talking woman who promises not to judge him for his past.  Kevin recalls her saying: “‘If it was anybody other than you, I’d do it, but I think you gotta get somebody younger and hotter and I think you gotta go for someone like Julia Roberts.’ So I said, ‘No honey, I think you should really consider this.’” Bacon finally convinced her to do it – but there was still financing to be secured.

“I came on as a producer, started to try and help raise the money,” says Bacon. “Some of the money was there. I started to work with [director] Nicole [Kassell] and rehearse and work on the script. I started to talk about casting and reached out to Benjamin Bratt and Eve. Mos Def came on board. Very close to the time we were supposed to start shooting, we didn’t have the money in place, but we were kinda like, ‘if we build it they will come.’ “Damon Dash as you know has been involved in hip hop music and hip hop fashion, and really wanted to branch out into films. He saw this as an opportunity to do something outside of the hip-hop, urban kind of world - and came in and wrote a big, big check. And thank God he did.” Opening in New York and Los Angeles today, and nationwide in January, “The Woodsman” also stars Benjamin Bratt as Walter’s only friend, and David Allen Grier in the serious role of Walter’s boss, who reluctantly hires him to work in a lumberyard. Mos Def plays Walter’s parole officer, assigned to keep tabs on a man for which he holds zero respect. “Mos Def, who I pray to God will get an Oscar nomination for this, is the voice of the community,” Daniels explains. “Though he is not a nice man to Walter, we understand why he’s not a nice man.  He abhors the likes of this person, and he speaks for all of us.  With your hatred of this sick person, the big question is what does one do, and how do we live with them, and how do we help them so that this can’t continue on?” And then, there’s Eve – initially unrecognizable as a short-haired, brunette named Mary-Kay. With her long, curved nails, she works as the lumberyard’s secretary, dying to know why their newest hire did jail time.  “My initial reaction to just hearing about what the movie was about – I was like, ‘Okay, we’re making a movie about a pedophile. Okay.’  Then I read the script and I was like, it’s an amazing movie. I feel weird that I want this man not to mess up, and even after watching the movie, it’s like, I feel really weird that dag, I really want him to get it together. Eve said her transformed look was strictly the decision of the filmmakers.  “They definitely wanted different hair, which I loved,” she says. “They wanted nails, which I loved. The makeup, they wanted dark, which I loved, because it helped me look in the mirror and say, ‘Oh my God, like, I’m not here.’ And that helped me get into the character much more.”  

On his decision to consider Eve for the role, Daniels said: “I thought she was an underestimated talent. You’re only given to act what is offered you, I’ve learned that through the whole Halle Berry thing.  I was here to prove a point with Eve, to the community, that she was a serious actor and whooo, you ain’t never seen Eve like this.” Mary-Kay is indeed a busybody, and depending on your convictions, is not very likable in the film because of her actions regarding Walter. “For me, when I read it, I didn’t like her at all,” Eve says. “But I also thought back to when I was younger, in my neighbourhood, there were women whose intentions were good, but their actions might not have been right. And I think that was what it was with Mary-Kay. She had children, so for her, this man is disgusting. People need to know who this man is. She went about it the wrong way, but I truly do understand why she did it.”  Exactly what she did, we won’t spoil.  But thanks to the persistence of Lee Daniels, Kevin Bacon - and Damon Dash’s big, big check - audiences will get a chance to experience this controversial piece of work for themselves.  “I don’t believe in telling fake stories,” Daniels sums up. “That’s what I believe, for the most part, studios turn out.  We go to the movies to escape, and Hollywood has assumed that escaping means telling fake endings, and I just want to tell the truth.” 




A Stitch In Cartoon Time

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Sarah Lidgus, Special To The Star

(Dec. 24, 2004) Contrary to its Hollywood ending, the real hero of The Incredibles is Edna Mode, fashion designer to the superheroes.  Mode faced a daunting task: outfitting the bulgiest of the bulgy, the stretchiest of the stretchy and the fastest of the fast with premium-grade supersuits that must be able to accommodate things impossible for your average jeans and T-shirt.  But who would have guessed that Pixar's real-life computer animators face the same difficulties as Edna? To create costumes for computer-generated cartoons, you must tailor each garment and stitch every stitch to fit each actor.  And when dealing with an actor who's almost seven feet tall, with an 86-inch chest and 52-inch waist, who needs to be able to throw cars, a tailor has her work cut out.  Welcome to the fabulous world of animated fashion.  It seems only logical to think of animation as a two-dimensional surface, but in CG animation, what lies beneath the surface is another surface, another plane of animation, creating layer upon layer of supporting effects that allow artists to render lifelike movement.  Computer-generated costumes are created sleeve by sleeve, pant leg by pant leg, stitched together in virtual space via pattern-making computer software, because CG actors are more like animated puppets than flat drawings. What animates the clothing is a cloth simulator, a program that teaches the computer how the cloth is to behave in different circumstances.  Creating this simulator took years of research and experimentation by Pixar's aptly named Cloth Team, led by programmer David Baraff.  But to simulate an outfit, you must first have an outfit to simulate. Enter Christine Waggoner, one of the rare individuals who understands both algorithms and A-lines.  Taught how to sew by her mom, Waggoner began creating garments at age 12 for a local theatre in Connecticut in order to earn a Girl Scout badge. In an accident of destiny, she became fascinated with computer graphics in university and became intrigued by the idea of computer-generated clothing.  Waggoner ended up working at Pixar on rendering and models for Toy Story 2, but always kept the realization of CG clothing as a future goal.

The T-shirt worn by the character Boo in Monsters, Inc. marked Pixar's first successful venture into cloth simulation. Until that point CG cloth technology was not advanced enough to imitate the realistic interactions clothing has with a moving body. As a result, clothing appeared stuck to the body with an unnatural rigidity.  Boo's T-shirt paved the way for Finding Nemo in 2003, and Nemo's success allowed for the realization of the cast of The Incredibles and the first large-scale use of CG clothing.  Waggoner and the Cloth Team created over 140 garments for The Incredibles — a massive, labour-intensive process that took over three years to complete in spite of the efficiency offered by virtual tailoring.  To create each piece of clothing, tailor Maria Cervantes was hired to help create the costumes. "There were often times that I wished I could go shopping for a garment," says Waggoner. "Unfortunately, the proportions of our characters are so extreme, I would never be able to find such a garment."  Waggoner worked with Cervantes and several other artists to create individual costumes for each character in each of his or her representations: There was a fat Bob, a thin Bob, a pre-retirement Mr. Incredible and Edna's new-and-improved Mr. Incredible. And that was really just the beginning.  "The characters were modeled in a multilayered fashion which attempts to emulate the physical world," Waggoner explains. "They all had muscles, skin and clothing. We used this approach in an effort to create a higher level of realism: muscles sliding under skin, and cloth sliding, resting or folding over skin.  "Some of the characters even had undergarments. Edna had a petticoat to support her dress. Bob had briefs sewn to his shirt to keep the shirt tucked in." (She learned that trick costuming dancers in the theatre.)  So was Bob as demanding as he seemed when dealing with Edna? "The actors don't complain about their costumes, but they also cannot tell you where it's too tight,” says Waggoner.  If you aspire to cartoonish superhero proportions, where your massive muscles and barrel chest allow you to leap computer-generated buildings with single, animated bounds, you should take a lesson from Mr. Incredible: Sew your underwear to your shirt.  Congratulations, mere mortal, you're on your way to the life of super CG heroics.  Originally Published on REPINTED WITH PERMISSION




Cheadle Campaigning For ‘Rwanda’

Excerpt from

(Dec. 28, 2004) *Don Cheadle wants to make it clear that he’s shaking hands and kissing babies to drum up Oscar attention for his latest film “Hotel Rwanda,” and not for himself as best actor.    "To me, that qualification 'best actor,' you can't quantify it, so it doesn't make sense ... but for this film, given the subject matter and the difficulties that exist in selling it, fine, I welcome all of the attention," Cheadle told Reuters.  In the film, the 40-year-old actor portrays real-life hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, who helped save some 1,200 people from mass murder. The serious and disturbing subject matter, unfortunately, is a hard sell to audiences. Cheadle hopes that by politicking and rubbing elbows with Oscar voters, a nomination for either himself or the film will translate into audiences taking a chance on the film. Last year's "Monster" about a lesbian serial killer had an uncertain fate at U.S. box offices until Charlize Theron began winning awards for best actress. It earned over $60 million worldwide on a production cost of around $8 million. Theron won an Oscar.  "Hotel Rwanda" debuted in New York and Los Angeles last week and opens elsewhere in the United States and the world in January.




Kurupt Cast In Western

Excerpt from

(Dec. 28, 2004) *Kurupt, who earned his stripes as a rapper in Tha Dogg Pound, will star opposite Golden Globe nominee David Carradine in “Click,” an urban Western set at the end of the Civil War.       The indie film is about a crew of outlaws set on robbing the town bank in a lawless land. They hit a snag when a scheming cattle baron, a bounty hunter and a female sheriff stand in their way. Jean-Claude La Marre will direct.        Despite its period setting, the soundtrack will be strictly hip hop, and include original songs from Kurupt himself.      Carradine recently received a Globe nomination for his supporting role as the title character in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill - Vol. 2."




CBS Locks In ‘Ray’s’ Warren

Excerpt from

(Dec. 24, 2004) *Just over two years ago, long before wowing audiences as the mother of young Ray Charles in the film “Ray,” Sharon Warren was working several jobs in Atlanta, including busing tables and doing secretary work. Next year, the bundle of talent will star in her very own CBS television show following a talent holding deal she recently signed with the network.  Warren was plucked out of obscurity for “Ray” in the summer of 2002, when she stumbled upon an audition for "Ray" held at an Atlanta hotel. With no agent or manager, she ended up being the only actress interviewed for the role of Aretha Robinson.  "Sharon had no professional experience in film or TV, but she possessed a huge, burning talent that matched Aretha's intensity," the film's director, Taylor Hackford, writes in the pictorial movie book "Ray: A Tribute to the Movie, the Music, and the Man."  The Boston critics voted her best supporting actress (tied with Laura Dern for "We Don't Live Here Anymore."




Drug Firms Send Employees Michael Moore Alerts

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Dec. 26, 2004) LOS ANGELES (AP) — Some pharmaceutical companies are telling their employees to look out for the scruffy guy in the baseball cap.  The Los Angeles Times reported this week that at least six drug companies have released internal communications telling employees to be wary of filmmaker Michael Moore.  Moore's targets have included General Motors (Roger & Me), the gun lobby (the Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine) and President George W. Bush (Fahrenheit 9/11).  Moore, normally seen sporting a beard and a ball cap, has now set his sights on the health-care industry, including insurance companies, HMOs, the Food and Drug Administration and drug companies.  "We ran a story in our online newspaper saying Moore is embarking on a documentary and if you see a scruffy guy in a baseball cap, you'll know who it is," said Stephen Lederer, a spokesman for Pfizer Global Research and Development.  In September and October, Wyeth, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline, the second-largest in retail sales, sent out Moore alerts, instructing employees that questions posed by the media or filmmakers should be handled by corporate communications.  Heavyweights Sanofi-Aventis Pharmaceuticals and Synthelabo sent similar memos before their recent merger.




Independence Day Director To Head Berlin Festival

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Gayle MacDonald

(Dec. 29, 2004) Berlin -- Roland Emmerich, the director of Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, will head the jury at the Berlin Film Festival in February. Eleven films already have been selected to run in the festival's main competition.  They include The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, a new comedy from Wes Anderson, and Les Temps qui changent (Changing Times), directed by André Techiné and starring Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu. Organizers already have announced that the world premiere of French director Regis Wargnier's Man to Man, a historical adventure epic that stars Joseph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas, will open the 2005 festival on Feb. 10. AP




‘Daughters Of The Dust’ Added To Film Registry

Excerpt from

(Dec. 29, 2004) *“Daughters of the Dust,” director Julie Dash’s 1991 film about the Gullah culture, is one of 25 new films selected by the Library of Congress to join the National Film Registry. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington made the selections after examining nearly 1,000 titles nominated by the public and consulting staff and advisers, the library said.  "The films we choose are not necessarily the 'best' American films ever made or the most famous," Billington said in a statement. Rather, they are chosen because they have "cultural, historical or aesthetic significance. A film's selection recognizes its place in American film and cultural history. The registry stands among the finest summations of American cinema's wondrous first century."  Set in 1902, “Daughters of the Dust” follows the Gullah culture of the sea islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia where African folk-ways were maintained well into the 20th Century. The movie was the first feature-length film by a black woman to receive a wide theatrical release. Other films among the 25 being preserved are "Schindler's List," “Jailhouse Rock,” “Ben Hur,” “The Nutty Professor (1963,” and “Duck and Cover,” the 1951 landmark civil defense film seen by millions of schoolchildren in the 1950s. In the case of an atomic attack, children were advised to duck beneath a table or desk and cover their heads. The registry was established by Congress in the 1988 National Film Preservation Act, and each year, 25 movies are added. The Library of Congress works to ensure that each film in the registry is preserved for all time.







Hosts Vie For Title Of New Year's King

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ruth Valancius

(Dec. 28, 2004) NEW YORK (AP) — Let the surfing begin.  With an ailing king, two would-be successors and a ubiquitous substitute, New Year's Eve on television has more subplots than a party with three ex-girlfriends.  Dick Clark and his New Year's Rockin' Eve on ABC has been the go-to party for 32 years, but he'll be away from Times Square this Friday as he continues recovering from a stroke. Regis Philbin will fill in for him.  NBC is launching its own party show from Rockefeller Center with Carson Daly. Ryan Seacrest, in his third year for Fox, is bringing his show east to New York for the first time. Even grey-haired hipster Anderson Cooper will emcee a CNN New Year's show from Times Square with the band Green Day.  Both Daly and Seacrest were booked before Clark took ill, an indication of an approaching generational shift. Much like Clark took over from Guy Lombardo as television's most popular New Year's Eve host, Daly and Seacrest are jockeying to be the next in line.  "When it's time to say, `OK, here's the show and the guy that is going to be around on New Year's Eve for years to come,' I would definitely like to be the one that the baton gets passed to," Seacrest said.  Don't expect Clark, health permitting, and ABC to give it up easily. New Year's Rockin' Eve is annually ABC's second most popular entertainment special after the Oscars.  "There's never been anything to put a dent in it," said Andrea Wong, ABC's senior vice-president for alternative series and specials. "There continues to be a huge appetite for the show."  Even in his mid-70s, as he introduces artists young enough to be his grandchildren, Clark's perpetual teenage image has kept the fogey factor at bay. In recent years, he's brought on a younger co-host from Hollywood, a role filled this week by Ashlee Simpson.  The ABC New Year's Eve special will run three and a half hours, starting at 10 p.m. EST, breaking after an hour for local news and returning from 11:35 p.m. to 2:05 a.m. Besides Simpson, performers include Big & Rich; Ciara; Earth, Wind & Fire; Fabolous; Kenny G; Billy Idol; Los Lonely Boys and Simple Plan.  Philbin, who's yet to find a TV job he can't do, was Clark's choice, Wong said. Between that endorsement and Philbin's own popularity, ABC doesn't expect to relinquish its crown.  Daly and Seacrest are both big fans of Clark. They've used his career as a model, and speak of him ever-so-respectfully.  But is that the sound of a door creaking open?  "Things could perhaps be up in the air now in light of the recent circumstances, the unfortunate circumstances with Dick," Seacrest said. "They had to put Regis in at the last minute, and I'm not quite sure what that show will be like or feel like without Dick Clark. He certainly will be missed by America."  "It really won't feel the same without him in Times Square," he said.  Seacrest, now a radio host of America's Top 40, will run his show (airing from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. EST) like a countdown. Not only will the year's best songs be played, he'll incorporate pop culture lists like the top five bitter break-ups of the year. It's his first year as executive producer, and Seacrest is looking for ways to make the show distinctive.  Hoobastank and Evanescence will perform, and the show will include the world premiere of a 20-minute Usher video featuring four of his hits.  Usher fans may be delirious, but there's a danger others could see that time as a huge indulgence. But Seacrest points out it will happen after midnight, when many people stop paying attention to these shows or can't see straight anyway.  Daly spent five years as host of MTV's New Year's Eve party (which Lindsay Lohan is hosting this year) before taking last year off. He has re-emerged to inaugurate NBC's pre-party, which airs from 10 to 11 p.m. Jay Leno will have a live Tonight show when the Times Square ball drops.  If Daly is disappointed at leaving the air an hour before midnight, he's not letting on.  "I didn't really look past the fact that they said `you'll be on the air live from 10 to 11 and here's the money,' " he said. ``Maybe next year."  He wants the chance to establish himself as a potential New Year's Eve franchise for NBC.  "This is not about me trying to steal something from Dick Clark," he said.  His show will feature performances by Avril Lavigne, Maroon 5 and Duran Duran. Ever the good corporate soldier, Daly will also include a guest shot by The Apprentice star Donald Trump via satellite from Trump's own New Year's party in Florida and an appearance by Nightly News anchor Brian Williams.  CBS is essentially punting on New Year's Eve, running a prime-time line-up of reruns and a repeat Late Show with David Letterman.  The closest Daly comes to trash talking with his rivals is calling Duran Duran a bigger act than White Wedding singer Idol, who's on ABC.  "There will be something younger and, in my opinion, a little cooler to watch that night," he said.  Cool. That's the territory that Fox and Seacrest is also trying to stake out.  Could a New Year's duel be far behind?  Since Seacrest will be in Times Square and Daly a few blocks away in Rockefeller Center, perhaps they could duke it out somewhere in the middle — say, Sixth Avenue.  "He's much taller and a little bit bigger than me," Seacrest said. "I think he'd probably be able to beat me up."




Sex, Sex, Sex. Have We Got Your Attention Yet?

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Gayle MacDonald

(Dec. 29, 2004) For 31 days in January, digital TV programmers are banding together to offer viewers -- free of charge -- the brainiest and bawdiest shows they can muster in an attempt to get more Canadians to tune in and subscribe to these niche services. Since the first digital channel was launched in 2001, more than four million homes have signed up. But the digital channel masters hunger for more, so they've formed a programming posse, of sorts, to lure audiences to their spots on the dial. And sex is being used as a blatant, hard-core sell by many of the 40 digital players. CHUM's BookTelevision, for instance, is billing its free month as Naughty Librarian Month, and promises "hot movies, steamy series and provocative interviews that will be the best month you ever had at the library." Under this lust-lit moniker, scintillating titles include Sexual Outlaws (a program that explores sexual groundbreakers in literature, such as Pauline Reage, the author of The Story of O), and a program with clinical sexologist Ian Kerner, who will chronicle a "virtual encyclopedia of female pleasure." The CHUM digital channel, Drive-In Classics, is touting the free month as Jailbreak January. Some of the more interesting sounding features include Big Bust Out -- seven women escape from prison, only to be captured by a man who sells them into white slavery -- as well as a hospital-themed triple bill, called Candy Stripe Nurses, Night Call Nurses, and Private Duty Nurses. The Scream channel has a bevy of terrifying and salacious films, including a highlight called Invasion of The Bee Girl, about a powerful cosmic force that turns Earth women into queen bees who kill men by wearing them out sexually. And the Documentary Channel, which usually has a serious-minded schedule, has added a little spice with Cathouse, a fly-on-the-wall film about a brothel, Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

Alliance Atlantis's Discovery Health Canada (DHC) was going to serve up something called Sex Uncovered Month to January audiences, but has since changed their plans, and is airing those programs in February.  Presumably, they think shows called Sexual Secrets III and Hotter Sex Marathon will be a better fit around Valentine's Day. Instead, DHC is broadcasting tamer fare, including Marriage for Dummies, Pregnancy for Dummies, and Parenting for Dummies. At CHUM, vice-president of programming Ellen Baine says her channels have always sprinkled sex liberally through its line-ups. "In general, our programming has always been a little sexy. So it's not really a stretch for us," she explains. Asked why sex sells, she shrugs: "I don't know. It just does. When CITY-TV went on the air 30 years ago we started airing the Baby Blue movies on Friday nights. We've always known sex sells. Maybe now everyone else is just catching up. Luckily we live in Canada where we can sell sex, as opposed to the Americans who get upset at the sight of Janet Jackson's breast." But if the sexual content doesn't lure you into the digital realm, then the 40 specialty services are hoping their themed weeks will. They've divided the month into four distinct parts. Starting off Dec. 31- Jan. 2 with marquee programming that can't be found anywhere else on the dial is Family Time (Jan. 7-9); Adrenaline (Jan. 14-16); I.Q., (Jan. 21-23), featuring programs touted as intelligent and thought-provoking. A quick glance at the 40 digital channels shows they offer a little something for everyone in this promotion, which has been dubbed 31 Days of Great TV, from classic movie titles such as Legends of the Fall, The Usual Suspects, Scarface and Reservoir Dogs, to science shows, surgery shows, programs on weather and identical twins, fashion, food, Pearl Harbour, Everest and Mecca. There will be movies for kids, and for the adventure/thriller aficionados. The idea to do a free theme month was hatched six months ago by Alliance Atlantis's Norm Bolen and Discovery Channel's Paul Lewis. "Paul called me and said what can we do to lift the digital tier and get more people interested in our channels," remembers Bolen, executive vice-president programming at Alliance Atlantis Communications, whose stable of digitals includes Showcase Diva, BBC Canada, and National Geographic Channel. "31 Days of Great TV is an extraordinary opportunity to sample the targeted, original and exclusive program offerings across the new specialty channels. Whether they're crazy about animals, mad for Brit-coms or have a hankering for an old-fashioned western, Canadian viewers will find the digital channels have something unique and appealing to offer," says Bolen, who adds that digital is now in 40 per cent of Canadian households.

"The overall digital subscriber universe grew 12.9 per cent in May 2004 compared with the same period a year earlier," he says. "It's grown slightly less, in the aggregate, than we expected, but it's still grown very well. Two of our channels, Showcase Action and Showcase Diva each have a subscriber base of over one million." Bolen does not think Alliance Atlantis's channels are skewed too strongly in the sexual stream. "Frankly, I don't think programs about sexuality or dramatic programs with sexual content, or programs about sexual health, are anything new in Canadian television. Sex is now mainstream. It's in Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, and Desperate Housewives or Temptation Island. “Canadians cherish their freedom to watch mature sexual programming. It's now a normal part of the TV landscape. It's an evolution of TV going hand-in-hand with people's tastes and this country's social values."




Soulpepper Adds Spice To Season

Excerpt from The Toronto StarRichard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(Dec. 27, 2004) There were a lot of good shows, but it was not a very good year.  That may seem like an odd way to describe 2004 on the local theatre scene, but it's the truth.  You'll find 10 productions on the list below that I remember fondly long after the final curtain has fallen and you might think that's a sign of a healthy theatrical environment.  Well, it would be if they were evenly divided among our producing organizations, but the thorny fact is that 90 per cent of them come from four theatres: Shaw, CanStage, Soulpepper and Stratford.  The disheartening fact has to be faced that the trio of theatres — Factory, Passe Muraille and Tarragon — that provided much of the exciting lifeblood of our city's drama for many years, have grown increasingly stagnant, seemingly only coming to life when they offer a home to shows developed in the Fringe, Summerworks or elsewhere.  To catalogue the weakness of productions like Simpl, The Adventures Of Ali And Ali or Cold Meat Party would be an exercise in futility. Theatre that may have seemed revolutionary 10 years ago is now sadly dated.  The venues that are doing better deserve praise, but with a bit of caution as well.  There have been some spectacular shows out of Shaw since Jackie Maxwell took over, but what may prove dangerous is the tide of red ink rising around the company. Fudge-sated American tourists aren't rushing to Maxwell's stimulating fare; it's up to Toronto audiences to save her.  Stratford had a generally lacklustre year, with only a few efforts really showing the quality the organization is capable of. There was no greatness here, just a well-oiled machine rolling along.  CanStage is sticking with the casino approach to theatre: You wind up either winning or losing and nobody seems to know how to beat the house. Brilliant and appalling works often exist side by side (by Sondheim).  Kudos to Buddies in Bad Times for mounting their biggest and boldest season yet and — so far — doing quite well with it.  Soulpepper continued to provide provocative and stimulating theatre like Waiting For Godot, Nathan The Wise and Translations, as well as a stunning production of Hamlet, unfortunately only available to student audiences.  Praise is also due to the gang from macIDeas who are trying hard to come up with a commercial theatre based on edginess and youth appeal. I didn't love Matt And Ben, but a lot of people did and it played to packed houses for several months.  It wasn't a great year for Mirvish Productions, but enough has been written about the quick closings of Hairspray and The Producers. As I've said before, the fault lay with the lack of broad appeal of the shows themselves and should not be taken as a reflection of the death throes of Toronto theatre.  And, in conclusion, it must be noted that some of the most fascinating work seen in Toronto continues to come from the Fringe and Summerworks. Let's be grateful for their success.  One note about this list: Shows that were revived this year (like One Good Marriage, Cul De Sac, Helen's Necklace and This Is Our Youth) were not included.

Top 10 Shows of 2004 (in alphabetical order):

Bigger Than Jesus (Factory/Necessary Angel): Rick Miller and Daniel Brooks tackled the whole issue of the Messiah with humour, intelligence and superb theatricality.

Floyd Collins (Shaw): Inventive staging from Eda Holmes and a superb cast made this quirky and heartbreaking musical the best show I saw in 2004. A brilliant use of the confining Court House Theatre and an uncanny grasp of the material combined to magical effect.

Guys And Dolls (Stratford): Pure middle-of-the-road entertainment, but slickly done, with great performances down the line, including a show-stopping turn from the irrepressible Bruce Dow.

Hamlet (Soulpepper): This crystal-clear production by director Joe Ziegler featured a breathtakingly intellectual Prince of Denmark from Albert Schultz and a memorable Polonius from William Webster. It was only performed for student audiences, but it really should be revived for the general public in 2005.

The Last Five Years (CanStage): Jason Robert Brown's bittersweet score and dynamite performances from Blythe Wilson and Tyley Ross made this a night to remember.

Man And Superman (Shaw): Ben Carlson gave the single greatest acting display of the year in this marathon epic. The full six-hour version was an extraordinary achievement which left you full of the true excitement great theatre can provide.

Rutherford And Son (Shaw): Jackie Maxwell's direction and two powerhouse pieces of acting from Michael Ball and Kelli Fox made this nearly forgotten drama seem fresh and modern.

The Syringa Tree (CanStage): Caroline Cave and Yanna Macintosh alternated the leading role in this tale of growing up in South Africa. Both were brilliant and made it seem like two different plays.

Timon Of Athens (Stratford): Director Stephen Ouimette combined with leading actor Peter Donaldson to transform one of Shakespeare's minor plays into a major evening of theatre.

Translations (Soulpepper): Thanks to the inspired direction of Ireland's Ben Barnes, this drama of Brian Friel's combined with the talents of the Soulpepper company to create a memorable event.




Lane No Longer A Producer After Back Trouble

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Gayle MacDonald

(Dec. 29, 2004) London -- Back problems have forced Nathan Lane to quit the London West End run of The Producers almost two weeks earlier than planned. Lane has pulled out of five performances of the Mel Brooks musical since Dec. 16 after suffering two slipped discs. The 48-year-old actor has been advised to cancel his remaining performances, the musical's producers said yesterday. He was told he should recover in about six weeks. Lane, star of the Tony-winning Broadway production, had replaced Richard Dreyfuss, who quit three weeks before opening night amid reports that he wasn't up to the job. Producers said Dreyfuss was sidelined by complications from back surgery and a recurring shoulder injury. Critics adored Lane's exuberant and physically demanding performance as Max Bialystock, an unscrupulous impresario trying to stage a sure-fire flop. AP







Juniors Impress In Win Over Swedes

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Damien Cox

(Dec. 28, 2004) Before this year's world junior championship began at Grand Forks, N.D., many were already wondering aloud if the Canadian entrant might be the best in the country's history. There's already substantial evidence to suggest that might be the case.  But you also have to start asking a second question: Can the rest of the world really be this bad?  Two one-sided demolitions of Slovakia and Sweden, generally considered accomplished members of the second tier of international hockey that regularly turn out talented NHLers, appear to have turned Canada's pool into a one-team race.  Including yesterday's 8-1 triumph over yet another in a long string of unimpressive Swedish junior teams, Canada now has 15 goals scored in the first two games of the tournament.  If you include back-to-back shutout exhibition wins over Finland and Switzerland last week, Brent Sutter's wildly explosive team has produced 26 goals in four games while allowing only four.  That kind of numbers — an average of 6.5 goals per game — weren't unusual in the old days when countries like Switzerland, Ukraine and Germany were perennial patsies and allowed teenage stars from more developed hockey countries to pad their stats.  But, these days, global competition is a lot closer and the dominant style of hockey on both sides of the ocean is low-scoring and defensive.  Which, given the offence we've seen so far, might mean Team Canada is even better than anyone could have imagined.  Understand this: Young Nova Scotian Sidney Crosby, considered the best undrafted teenager in the world, has scored four goals in two games.  And in neither has he been anything close to Canada's most dangerous player.  The goals have been pretty, particularly a lovely piece of magic in the second period yesterday, and it seems likely the Crosby-Patrice Bergeron combination will be needed if and when Canada collides with the Americans and Russians from the other tournament pool.  But, so far, Crosby's biggest impact has been to muse aloud during an interview with TSN that, sure, he probably would be willing to play as a replacement player in the NHL next fall if a new collective bargaining agreement is not forged by then.

Of course, you could hardly blame the guy if he felt that way. After all, under the most recent proposal on entry-level salaries from the NHL Players' Association, Crosby stands to lose between $5 million and $10 million in income over the next three years even if he proves to be a superstar right from the start of his pro career.  The kid might figure, given that a union he doesn't even belong to yet is already costing him money, that being a replacement player couldn't be that much worse. That said, Crosby was backtracking madly yesterday, claiming he never meant to say any such thing.  He went out and, despite absorbing a couple of nasty whacks, scored two more power-play goals. But the other elements of the Canadian team were far more noticeable than Crosby's wizardry, particularly the extraordinary depth the team has at centre.  Mike Richards, captain of the Kitchener Rangers, was simply excellent, particularly during the overlapping minutes between the first and second period when the Swedes went from being competitive in a 1-1 tie to down 3-1 and essentially out of it.  Bergeron continued his fine play in the middle between Crosby and Corey Perry of the London Knights, while Jeff Carter simply had too much speed and size for the Swedes to handle defensively.  The Canadian blueline corps looked absolutely impenetrable except for a breakdown on Sweden's only goal when Dion Phaneuf chased behind his own net and David Fredriksson was left unguarded in front.  Even when the Swedes had 5-on-3 power-play chances — and they had three — they either weren't interested in probing too close to Canadian netminder Jeff Glass or couldn't get there against the unfriendly likes of Phaneuf, Shea Weber and Braydon Coburn.  Against that backdrop of total team play, Crosby hasn't stood out for his individual skills and, at 17, with two years of being the show every night for the Rimouski Oceanic, that might not be an uncomfortable role.  The lone worrisome area for Sutter as his team prepares to face the hopelessly overmatched Germans tonight is its propensity for taking needless penalties, particularly those committed with the stick.  Some won't like the calls from yesterday's game, but the truth is Czech zebra Milan Minar did a strong job and his calls were precisely the kind of referees' decisions that would make the NHL a much, much more interesting product if they were called in that inactive league. 

If you disallow players to use the stick to hack or restrain puck carriers, they are then forced to skate and use their bodies, which naturally produces more hitting and more speed in all three zones.  In fact, the type of game that style of officiating produced yesterday distinctly favoured the Canadians despite the host of penalties they took.  On that basis, it would seem likely that only the hottest of goalies, something like Ken Dryden in the 1971 playoffs, can stop this team now.




Canada's Junior Hockey Juggernaut

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -  Damien Cox

(Dec. 29, 2004) GRAND FORKS, N.D.—Uwe Krupp and Brent Sutter met countless times in fierce NHL competition in a variety of rinks across North America, the tall, angular German-born defenceman fighting for territory against the aggressive, tenacious centre from one of Canada's most famous hockey families.  Last night, they met as opposing coaches in the world junior championships, and it was anything but the kind of keen, even competition they would have recalled from their previous lives as competitive players.  Sutter's Team Canada destroyed Germany's top juniors by a 9-0 score that actually flattered the losers. Krupp, an assistant coach for the Germans, greeted Sutter warmly at the traditional post-game news conference, then quietly mouthed the word "Wow!" as he described the awesome, NHL lockout-enhanced line-up Sutter has at his disposal.  Krupp wistfully described the very different mindset his "boys" had for the game compared to the gold-hungry Canadian "men."  "The one goal we had coming here to Grand Forks is to maintain our position in the world A pool," he said, referring to Germany's return to the world junior tournament after a year's absence. "We had to play this game, of course. Hopefully, nobody gets injured."  To say it was like watching Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and the Dream Team annihilate Angola at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona would be an exaggeration.  But not that much of one.  The U.S. obliterated the African nation by 68 points in Barcelona, so last night's laugher was statistically reasonable by comparison.  That said, this was a hockey game so one-sided that the Germans might have had one bona fide scoring chance in the entire match.  Or none.  Sadly, such domination does not make for an interesting tournament, particularly when combined with a format that eliminates only two of 10 teams in the preliminary round and thus creates a lot of essentially meaningless games.  Right now, it appears virtually certain that this competition won't include much drama, at least until Sunday when Canada seems destined to play either Russia or the defending champion Americans in a semifinal.

Canada has now scored 24 goals in three games, allowing only four, and giving them the added strength of at least five players who would otherwise be playing in the NHL has created a noticeable edge over much of the field.  Germany, a hockey country undercut for years by the inclusions of large numbers of foreign-born players in its elite league, had only enough firepower to be competitive for a half-period last night until Andrew Ladd and Clarke MacArthur scored 46 seconds apart to get the Canadians rolling.  After that, the Germans declined to try to force their way back into the game by mounting an aggressive forecheck and Canada refused to make silly errors that might have given their opponents any hope.  "Did I feel sorry for them? No, I didn't," said winger Ryan Getzlaf. "We're here to win a tournament.  "We want to be a 60-minute team every night, no matter who the opponent is."  The powerful Canadian offence, led by Sidney Crosby's six goals in three games, is getting all the raves, but the team's defence has been all but impenetrable and the Canadians cut back on dumb penalties last night.  What we don't know, clearly, is how the Canadian blue line will respond against a ferocious forecheck — they might get some of that from the Finns tomorrow — or how goalies Jeff Glass and Rejean Beauchemin will be prepared for a tough game after getting very little serious work over the past 10 days.  Beauchemin got the easy shutout last night, and has yet to surrender a goal in a national junior team uniform. Glass, meanwhile, is expected to be back in the net tomorrow against Finland, a team the Canadians also blanked in an exhibition game last week.  A charley horse suffered by team captain Mike Richards that sent him to the dressing room early in the second period did cause some worry last night, particularly as it dropped the Canadians to 11 forwards, with winger Jeremy Colliton sidelined again after briefly returning from injury in the romp over Sweden on Monday.  "(Richards) is fine," said Sutter. "If it had been a different situation, he would have played."  That created more ice time for others, and Anthony Stewart took advantage by scoring his first two goals of the tournament after being dropped down in the line-up for ineffective play earlier in the week.  The second of two goals last night by Crosby, meanwhile, was his first even-strength score of the tourney and put him on track to perhaps challenge Canada's all-time individual mark of 11 goals in a world junior tournament, set by former Maple Leaf winger John Anderson in 1977.  Team Canada, it's fair to say, may only be starting its assault on the record book at this prestigious international event.




Pistons Cramp Vince's Style In N.J. Debut

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Dec. 28, 2004) AUBURN HILLS, Mich.—With the Nets enjoying a rare fourth-quarter lead and centre Nenad Krstic at the free-throw line, Jason Kidd and Vince Carter stood side by side at centre court and shared a laugh.  Carter chuckled and briefly tugged on Kidd's jersey, and Kidd grinned in return. Kidd had plenty of reasons to smile at that point of the game.  But that was before Carter was forced from the game with two minutes left in overtime after his left leg cramped up.  Much like the rest of the Nets, Carter wore down in a 100-90 overtime loss to the Detroit Pistons.  "It was just your everyday cramp," said Carter, who had to be helped off the court. "It was painful, just one of those ones that does not ease up and go away.''  Carter, who played 42 minutes, said he expects to play tonight against Chicago.  The Pistons outscored the Nets 13-3 in overtime. The Nets had led by 10 points at halftime and by five points after three quarters.  Last night marked Carter's much-anticipated debut with the Nets, who were already blessed with one of the NBA's best perimeter players in Richard Jefferson.  Ten days after the trade that brought Carter to the Nets from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Eric Williams, Aaron Williams, the disgruntled Alonzo Mourning and a pair of first-round draft picks, Carter showcased his high-octane skills, scoring 23 points and shooting 8for19.  "When he's out there, it's a lot easier for everybody," Kidd said. "He spreads the floor and can find the open guys. He can play above the rim and still commands a double team.''  For much of the game, Carter flourished alongside Kidd and Jefferson. While Jefferson led the Nets with 27 points, Kidd struggled, shooting 0for8 and scoring only two points.  Detroit's Richard Hamilton led all scorers with 37 points. Tayshaun Prince added 18 points for the Pistons.  There were no fireworks to mark the start of the Carter era with the Nets.  Nets coach Lawrence Frank started Rodney Buford at shooting guard, leaving Carter on the bench. Carter had been sidelined since Dec. 8 because of a strained Achilles tendon.

Frank was impressed with what he saw from Carter, who was criticized in Toronto for being soft and unable to play through pain.  "We fully expect him to have a bright future in New Jersey," Frank said. "He was under a lot of pressure tonight and he responded extremely well. We're just disappointed that we didn't finish it off."  Carter's official Nets debut came four minutes into the first quarter with the Nets trailing 9-6. Following a Nets timeout, Carter slinked on to the court, bumped shoulders with Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace and shared a joke with Prince, who guarded Carter for much of the game.  Carter, who wore a navy headband and a black tensor bandage that sheathed most of his left leg, had said in recent days that he felt like a rookie after his trade from Toronto, and he displayed signs of nervousness in his first minutes in a Nets uniform.  His first shot, a fadeaway jump shot from just inside the three-point line, caromed off the backboard well wide of the rim.  It did not take long, however, for Carter to shake off any cobwebs.  With Jefferson on the bench after picking up two early fouls, Kidd looked often to Carter, who posted his first points as a Net by sinking a low-arcing three-point shot with 4:14 left in the first quarter.  WITH FILES FROM STAR WIRE SERVICES




Doug Ault, 54, Jays Opening Day Hero

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Baker And Mark Zwolinski, Sports Reporters

(Dec. 28, 2004) If only life were as easy for Doug Ault as that day nearly 28 years ago when he became the very first Blue Jays hitting star.  Shivering fans who were at Exhibition Stadium on April 7, 1977, will remember Ault as the rookie first baseman who clubbed two home runs to help the Jays defeat the Chicago White Sox 9-5 in their inaugural game. The less palatable memory will be the one created last week, when the 54-year-old car salesman was found dead in his Tarpon Springs, Fla., home in what police are calling a suicide.  "There's no foul play apparent here," a police spokesman in Tarpon Springs, Fla., said yesterday. "It's an active investigation, it's ongoing, but preliminary reports indicate that this was an apparent suicide."  Those who knew Ault say he'd struggled to find a niche for himself in the years after his lengthy coaching career in the Jays' minor-league ranks ended in 1994. Friends from his days in Toronto knew little of Ault after he left other than to acknowledge "things weren't going great" for him.  Ault had divorced his first wife, Julie, the mother of his son, Joshua, and daughter, Cydney, in 1990. It was around that time that Ault's lengthy minor-league coaching career with Toronto was winding down. It would end for good in 1994 after a three-year managing stint with an Australian Baseball League team the Jays had been affiliated with.  He got into the car selling business in the mid-1990s in his native Texas before eventually making his way to Florida. Ault was hired as a late-model car salesman in 2003 by PJ's Auto World in Clearwater, near the Jays' spring training site, but the job didn't last long.  "He was with us about a year," said Terry Bennett, manager of the dealership, adding that Ault's employment ended last March "by mutual agreement."  Bennett wouldn't elaborate about why Ault left and didn't know what had happened to him since. Around the time Ault — a regular at Jays' alumni events — and the car company parted ways, he'd been seen at Toronto's spring training site in Dunedin, Fla., accompanied by his second wife, Lynn Marie.  The pair had married in 2000 when she was a practising obstetrician-gynecologist working under her maiden name of Davidson. Friends say they had separated for a time and had only recently reconciled when seen at the spring training complex sporting Jays caps and T-shirts.  Ault and his wife had gone through their share of hardship together. She had her medical licence suspended in April, 2001, and revoked permanently in June, 2002, for violating Florida statutes dealing with "being unable to practise medicine with reasonable skill and safety to patients."

The exact nature of the complaint wasn't specified in court documents searched yesterday, but Ault's wife did file for personal bankruptcy protection a month after losing her licence. Court records show that last Jan. 7, the couple sold their home on Waterside Court in Tarpon Springs for $286,500 (U.S.).  Ault's wife had bought the home in 1995, before they were married, and placed it in both their names in 2002. It was not clear where the two were living after the sale.  A few months after the house was sold and Ault left his job at the car dealership, his first wife, Julie, passed away.  The dark end to Ault's days stands in stark contrast to the shining way his career began. Friends recalled a bright and usually smiling first baseman whose otherwise uneventful major league career was defined by the first two at-bats he took for the Jays franchise.  "He had a great life for a short while," Jays radio announcer Tom Cheek said yesterday.  "He was a great guy, someone who could make you laugh almost all the time. He was great in the clubhouse ... he was an older guy on a new team, and he fit in pretty good there."  Ault batted third in that original opening day lineup and he never thought the game was going to get off the ground. Some 44,000-plus fans filled Exhibition Stadium, and to them, a little April snow shower and some near-freezing temperatures were normal occurrences.  "I was in the clubhouse and we looked out and said, `No way, we aren't playing this one,'" Ault recalled back in 1985.  "I was thinking it was so cold, there was no way we were going to play. And then there were 44,000 people in the stands, and I thought there was no way we wouldn't play."  Ault had some fun in the snow that day, and went on to say he might have hit 50 homers that year if it had snowed every game. As it was, he clobbered two in his first two at-bats, and added an RBI double.  "Someone must have been some kind of marketing genius, because the next day, I saw a few fans wearing a T-shirt that said Doug Ault was a hero," Cheek said.  Ault hit only 15 more major league home runs and his major league playing days were over by 1980. He wound up playing in Japan in 1981, then moved to a pro league in Mexico before taking up managing in the Jays' minor-league ranks.  In his first year managing the Triple-A Syracuse SkyChiefs in 1985, Ault was named manager of the year in the International League for guiding the team to its first pennant. That would be a career highlight for Ault, who lasted three seasons in Syracuse and never made it back to Triple-A again.  Cheek remembered Ault as the kind of player who bonded with others and who'd resort to pranks to lighten up life on the road.  "After one night in Detroit, we were out on the town, having dinner, and before you knew it, it was time to get back to the hotel," Cheek recalled.  "I was kind of worried about the end of town we were in, and I was making a bit of a deal about it to Doug. Well, we got up to leave, but I had to go to the bathroom. It was down the bottom of some stairs, in a warehouse under the restaurant. It was dark down there, and when I got out, this guy jumped out from behind some boxes. It was Doug, but how was I to know? He pretty much took five years off my life right there, he scared the heck out of me. But he was a fun guy to be around."  Ault's funeral is to take place Thursday afternoon in Beaumont, Texas.




Cause Of White's Death Unclear

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Associated Press

(Dec. 28, 2004) CHARLOTTE, N.C.—NFL great Reggie White might have died because of a respiratory disease combined with other health problems, a preliminary autopsy report said yesterday.  White most likely had a condition that affected the amount of air his lungs could hold, resulting in "fatal cardiac arrhythmia," said Dr. Mike Sullivan, the medical examiner for Mecklenburg County and a forensic pathologist.  The report issued by Sullivan's office also said sleep apnea could have been a factor.  Determining the cause of death could take up to three months, Sullivan's office said.  White died Sunday in hospital at Huntersville, N.C., after being taken there from his home in nearby Cornelius. His wife, Sara, called 911.  White had the disease, known as sarcoidosis, for several years, family spokesman Keith Johnson said Sunday. He described it as a respiratory ailment that affected his sleep.  On its Web site, the American Lung Association describes sarcoidosis as a disease characterized by the presence of small areas of inflamed cells that can attack any organ of the body but is most frequently found in the lungs. The cause of the disease, which is most common among blacks and white northern Europeans, is not known.  Sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing repeatedly — in some cases, hundreds of times — during their sleep.  White and his wife lived in a gated community on Lake Norman. They had two children, Jeremy, a freshman at Elon College in Elon, and a daughter, Jecolia, a junior in high school.  A public viewing will be held from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow in Charlotte. A private service also will be held, although the details won't be made public, the funeral home said yesterday.  A two-time NFL defensive player of the year and ordained minister who was known as the Minister of Defence, White played 15 seasons with Philadelphia, Green Bay and Carolina. He retired after the 2000 season as the NFL's career sacks leader with 198. The mark has since been passed by Bruce Smith. 




ESPN Jumps In Ring With Johnson

Excerpt from

(Dec. 24, 2004) *ESPN will follow up original movies on Pete Rose and Dale Earnhardt with an as-yet-untitled biopic about the first black heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, due to premiere sometime next year. "Jack Johnson knocked loudly on the door of a deeply segregated society," Mark Shapiro, ESPN executive VP programming and production told the “Hollywood Reporter.” "With defiance, he mounted a force of courage still felt a century later. His story belongs not only to boxing but to our national heritage."  Johnson's championship victory sparked race riots, and he fled the United States in 1913 after being convicted of violating the Mann Act, which was designed to combat the transportation of prostitutes. Johnson was only traveling with his future wife. He returned in 1920, after losing his title in Cuba, to serve out his yearlong prison sentence. He died in a 1946 car crash at the age of 68.  Next month, PBS will air filmmaker Ken Burns’ documentary  "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson."








Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ruth Valancius

(Dec. 29, 2004) Countless celebrities took their final bow in 2004, from a superhero to a U.S. president to two silver-screen scream queens.

Hollywood lost a great leading man with the death of Marlon Brando. The legendary actor died of lung failure in a Los Angeles hospital on July 1 at the age of 80.  Brando's brilliant performance as the brutish Stanley Kowalski in the Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire in 1947 led him to stardom. His performance as the Mafia kingpin Don Corleone in The Godfather brought him fame.  During his career he was nominated for eight Oscars, winning for On The Waterfront (1954) and The Godfather (1972).  Married three times, Brando had nine children. 

Another Hollywood legend, Fay Wray, died of a heart ailment on Aug. 8 at the age of 96. Born Vina Fay Wray on a ranch near Cardston, Alta., she played the blonde heroine in the 1933 film classic King Kong, a role that would define her career, thought she starred in about 75 other pictures.

Janet Leigh died peacefully at home on Oct. 3, her actress daughters Kelly Curtis and Jamie Lee Curtis at her side. The past year Leigh had suffered from vasculitis. She was 77.  Leigh is famous for the terrifying shower scene in the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock thriller Psycho. And the only American movie star to make the American Film Institute's list of 100 notable films of the century three times — for Touch of Evil (1957), Psycho and The Manchurian Candidate (1962).

The music world suffered a great loss with the death of Ray Charles on June 10. The singer, songwriter and entertainer died at the age of 73 after a long battle with liver disease.  Left blind by glaucoma at the age seven, Ray learned to read and write music in Braille and play a variety of instruments including the piano and saxophone.  During his career he won 13 Grammy Awards and a lifetime achievement honour in 1987.

And the world lost a hero when Christopher Reeve died of complications from a serious bloodstream infection caused by bedsores on Oct. 10. He was 52.  Reeve played Superman, the comic book hero in four movies from 1978 to 1987. Following a 1995 horseback riding accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down Reeve became a spokesperson for spinal chord research. He helped make stem cell research a major campaign issue in this year's U.S. presidential election.

Also notable is the death of Ronald Reagan, the actor who became 40th president of the United States. Reagan died on June 5 at the age of 93 following a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease.

Others whose death made news in 2004:

Paul M. Keyes, 79 Emmy-award winning comedy writer and producer of such TV shows as Jack Paar's Tonight Show, The Dean Martin Show and Rowan And Martin's Laugh-in. Jan. 2.
Joan Aiken, 79 Author of the popular children's books The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase and The Winter Sleepwalker published her first book of short stories at the age of 18. Jan. 4.
Brian Gibson, 59 Directed The Josephine Baker Story and the film about the life of Tina Turner, What's Love Got To Do with It? Jan. 4.
John Toland, 91 Winner of the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction for The Rising Sun, a historical narrative about the rise and fall of the Japanese empire during World War II but probably best known for 1976's Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography. Jan. 4.
Doug Morton, 77 Abstract painter best known in the Canadian art community as a member of the Regina Five. Jan. 4.
Kiharu Nakamura, 90 Wrote several books about her experiences as a geisha in pre-war Japan. Jan. 5.
Francesco Scavullo, 82 The fashion photographer shot covers for Cosmopolitan magazine for more than 30 years. Jan. 6.
Ingrid Thulin, 77 One of Sweden's best actresses. It was her film work with Ingmar Bergman that brought her fame. Jan. 7.
Eddy Zwaneveld, 64 The film board technician with the National Film Board 21 years won a technical achievement award in 1999 for his role in the research, design and development of the DigiSync Film Keycode Reader, technology now used throughout the industry. Jan. 8.
Rógerio Sganzerla, 57 The Brazilian experimental filmmaker is best known for Cinema Marginal's The Red Light Bandit (1968). Jan. 9.
Alexandra Ripley, 71 Historical fiction writer best known for Scarlett, Gone With The Wind's official sequel, which ended up a bestseller. Jan. 10.
Spalding Gray, 62 The writer and star of Swimming To Cambodia had many small movie and TV roles. Disappeared Jan. 10; body found March 7.
Uta Hagen, 84 The stage legend worked with drama greats Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams and Lynn Fontanne, helped found HB Studios, an acting school she ran with her husband, was an advisor and master teacher to Toronto's Actors' Workshop and contributor of a series of books on acting. Jan. 14.
Ron O'Neal, 66 The actor achieved some fame with the film Superfly. Jan. 14.
Alex Barris, 81 The newspaper columnist and author hosted CBC-TV programs in the 1950s and 1960s. Jan. 15.
Olivia Goldsmith, 54 Best-selling author known for The First Wives Club turned into the 1996 hit film starring Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton. Jan. 15.
Ray Stark, 88 Considered one of the last great independent producers, his productions include Funny Girl, The Way We Were and The Sunshine Boys. Jan. 17.
Walter Grealis, 74 Founder of the music trade publication RPM and one of the inspirations behind the Juno Awards. Jan. 20.
George Woodbridge, 73 Worked as an illustrator for Mad magazine for nearly 50 years. Jan. 20.
Ann Miller, 81 The actress and tap dancer whose career peaked in the 1940's and early 1950's starred in On the Town, Easter Parade and Kiss Me Kate. While in her sixties she earned millions on Broadway and touring in Sugar Babies. Jan. 22.
Bob Keeshan, 76 Television's Captain Kangaroo. His morning children's show ran 30 years on CBS, winning six Emmy Awards, three Gabriels and three Peabody Awards. Jan. 23.
Helmut Newton, 83 Berlin-born legendary photographer for Vogue magazine and more, whose images of some of the most beautiful women in the world were often calculated to shock. Jan. 23
Reva Brooks, 90 The Toronto-born photographer was selected as one of the top 50 women photographers of all time. Jan. 24.
Jack Paar, 85 The late-night TV talk show host was the second host of the Tonight Show. Jan. 27.
M.M. Kaye, 95 Author of the runaway bestseller The Far Pavilions. Jan. 29.
Janet Frame, 79 The New Zealand author's three-part autobiography was turned into the film Angel At My Table. Jan. 29.
Joe Viterelli, 66 The actor played tough guy roles appearing in such films as Mickey Blue Eyes and Analyze This. Jan. 29.

O.W. Fischer, 88 The actor was West Germany's version of Cary Grant. Feb. 1.
Jose Luis Castillo-Puche, 84 The prize-winning novelist and journalist wrote a memoir about his friend Ernest Hemingway. Feb. 2.
Cornelius Bumpus, 58 Steely Dan saxophonist and former member of the Doobie Brothers. Feb. 43.
Frances Partridge, 103 Last survivor of the literary Bloomsbury Group's most famous love quadrangle. Feb. 5
Nicholas "Niki" Goldschmidt, 95 Conductor, pianist, baritone, administrator and teacher made music accessible to all ages through the numerous festivals he organized across Canada. Feb. 8.
Robert Colesberry, 57 The co-creator and executive producer of HBO's police drama series The Wire produced such films as Mississippi Burning, After Hours, The Natural and The King Of Comedy. Feb. 9.
Jan Miner, 86 The stage actress was Madge the manicurist in Palmolive TV ads. Feb. 15.
Doris Troy, 67 Born Doris Payne, the singer/songwriter was best known for the 1963 hit "Just One Look." Feb. 16.
Sofia Golovkina, 88 Danced for Russia's Bolshoi Theatre for almost 30 years directing its school, with an iron fist, for more than 40. Feb. 17.
Jean Rouch, 86 The French film director was a pioneer in 1960s documentary style work known as "cinema verité." Feb. 18.
Bart Howard, 88 "Fly Me To The Moon," the songwriter and pianist's best known composition, became famous when Peggy Lee sang it on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1960. Feb. 21.
Guido Molinari, 70 Montreal abstract painter and dominant figure in Canadian art for more than five decades. Feb. 21.
Vijay Anand, 71 Directed the Bollywood classics Guide, Black Market, Jewel Thief, The Third Story and Ram Balram. Feb. 23.
Carl Anderson, 58 Played Judas Iscariot in Jesus Christ Superstar in the original 1971 Broadway production and in the 1973 Norman Jewison film. Feb. 23.
Don Cornell, 84 Big-band singer whose string of hits during the 1950s and early 1960s included "It Isn't Fair." Feb. 23.
John Randolph, 88 The Tony Award-winning actor played Roseanne's father in Roseanne and Tom Hanks' grandfather in You've Got Mail. Feb. 24.
Daniel J. Boorstin, 89 The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who wrote more than 20 history books was appointed librarian of Congress by President Ford in 1974. Feb. 28.
Toni Onley, 75 An Order of Canada officer, this watercolourist painted moody, expressionist landscapes of the West Coast. Feb. 29.

Nat Taylor, 98 Created the concept of the multiplex theatre. Produced a number of thrillers including Canada's first horror film, 1961's The Mask. Natural causes. March 1.
Nancy Deale Greene, 70 Widow of Canadian actor Lorne Greene. The actress appeared in stage, screen and television productions in New York and Toronto. March 2.
Mercedes McCambridge, 85 Oscar-winning actress was the voice of the demon in the 1973 smash hit The Exorcist. March 2.
Frances Dee, 94 The actress achieved stardom in 1930 opposite Maurice Chevalier in The Playboy of Paris, one of the first talkie musicals. March 6.
Paul Winfield, 62 Oscar-nominated actor played Diahann Carroll's boyfriend in her situation comedy Julia. In 1995 won an Emmy for his guest appearance on Picket Fences. March 7.
Robert Pastorelli, 49 Played Eldin, Murphy Brown's house painter on the CBS television comedy. March 8.
Jack Creley, 78 The actor was one of Toronto's biggest celebrities in the 1960s and 1970s. His acting career spanned more than five decades and included every type of entertainment: slapstick, sitcoms, Shakespeare. March 10.
Dave Blood, 47 Born Dave Schulthise, he was the bassist for the Dead Milkmen, one of punk rock's top acts during the 1980s. March 10.
Genevieve, 83 Born Ginette Marguerite Auger, the French singer began appearing on Jack Paar's Tonight Show in 1957. Her mangled English was a running gag on the show. March 14.
John "J.J." Jackson, 62 Long-time radio station disc jockey was the first VJ on MTV. March 17.
Ludmila Tcherina, 79 At age 15, the French performer was the youngest prima ballerina in the history of dance. Later became an actress and artist. March 20.
Don "D.T." Thompson, 71 Tenor sax man who travelled with singer Anne Murray returned to jazz in the 1980s, often playing at George's Spaghetti House. March 21.
Johnny Bristol, 65 The writer, singer and former Motown producer worked with Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. March 21.
Lorand Fenyves, 86 U of T's professor emeritus of violin was a graduate of Budapest's Franz Liszt Academy of Music. In 1962 came to Canada and coached Les Jeunesses Musicales. Was a visiting lecturer at U of T's music faculty in 1965, which led to becoming professor of violin. March 23.
Jan Berry, 62 Member of the California surf-music duo Jan and Dean, whose 1960s hits included Deadman's Curve and Little Old Lady From Pasadena. March 26.
Jan Sterling, 82 The star of many Hollywood film noirs in the 1940s and 1950s, she was nominated for a best-actress Oscar for 1954's The High And The Mighty. March 26.
Robert Merle, 95 The winner of France's highest literary honour wrote the novel that inspired the movie The Day Of The Dolphin. March 27.
Sir Peter Ustinov, 82 The actor, author, director and storyteller's international career spanned six decades. Won Oscars for Spartacus (1961) and Topkapi (1965). Evil Under The Sun (1979) led to a series of performances as the super-sleuth Hercule Poirot. He played the title role in King Lear for the Stratford Festival in 1979 and 1980. In Toronto he worked on a series of TV specials including An Evening With Peter Ustinov (1995) and The Salem Witch Trials (2002), his last. March 28.
Bob Copper, 89 British folk singer died four days after being made a Member of the Order of the British Empire at Buckingham Palace. March 29.
Hubert Gregg, 89 After 32 years, the actor and writer was still hosting BBC Radio's musical requests program Thanks For The Memory. March 29.
Alistair Cooke, 95 Supervised, helped write and narrated America, a 13-hour television survey of America history, which became the basis of his best selling book America: A Personal History Of The United States. TV audiences know him as master of ceremonies of Omnibus and later as host of Masterpiece Theatre. March 30.

Carrie Snodgress
, 57 Oscar-nominated actress for her role as the frustrated homemaker in 1970's Diary of a Mad Housewife. Also starred in Pale Rider and Wild Things. April 1.
Paul Atkinson, 58 Guitarist for the British Invasion band the Zombies became a music industry executive who signed such acts as Abba and Judas Priest. April 1.
Micheline Charest, 51 Co-founder of Cinar Corp., an award-winning producer of children's TV series including Caillou and Arthur. The company has been mired in scandals since 2000. April 14.
Norris McWhirter, 78 Co-founded the Guinness Book Of Records with his twin brother and turned it into a best-seller. April 19.
Estee Lauder, 97 Born Josephine Esther Mentzer, founded the cosmetics company Estee Lauder Inc. April 24.
Hubert Selby Jr., 75 Author of Last Exit To Brooklyn made into a film in 1989, Requiem For A Dream, The Room and The Demon. April 26.

Felix Haug, 52 Half of the band Double, whose song "The Captain Of Her Heart" was a hit in the '80s. May 1.
Gilbert Lani Kauhi, 66 Aso known as "Zulu," the actor played Detective Kono Kalakaua, Jack Lord's Hawaiian sidekick on the Hawaii Five-O TV series for four seasons. May 3.
Barney Kessel, 80 The jazz guitarist performed with Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Art Tatum and countless others. May 6.
Rudy Maugeri, 73 The Torontonian was a member of the 1950s doo-wop quartet The Crew Cuts, one of the first white groups to record black R&B songs. Their hits included the Chords' "Sh-Boom" and the Penguins' "Earth Angel." May 7.
Alan King, 76 His long comedy career in nightclubs and TV expanded to film. Appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show 93 times. Had supporting roles in more than 20 films. May 9.
John Whitehead, 55 R&B artist best known for the 1979 hit "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now." May 11.
Syd Hoff, 91 Cartoonist for The New Yorker and illustrator of children's books. May 12.
Anna Lee, 90 Her career in movies and television spanned nearly 70 years. Since 1978 she portrayed Lila Quartermaine on ABC's General Hospital. May 14.
June Taylor, 86. Emmy-winning choreographer for Jackie Gleason's TV series. May 16.
Harry Elton, 74 Long-time CBC radio host died travelling in Tibet with the Canada-China Friendship Association. May 16.
Tony Randall, 84 Emmy-winning actor played the fussy half of TV's The Odd Couple, which ran from 1970 to 1975. Played Rock Hudson's neurotic best friend in Pillow Talk (1959), Lover Come Back (1961) and Send Me No Flowers (1964). May 17.
Joergen Nash, 84 Artist who claimed responsibility in 1963 for beheading Copenhagen's statue of the Little Mermaid. May 17.
Irene Manning, 91 Classically trained signer appeared in the 1940s musicals Yankee Doodle Dandy, Shine On Harvest Moon and The Desert Song. May 28.
Etienne Roda-Gil, 62 Celebrated French lyricist worked with such artists at Mort Shuman and Vanessa Paradis. Paradis' Joe Le Taxi became a worldwide hit in 1987. May 29.
Robert Quine, 61 Rock guitarist, founding member of Richard Hell and the Voidoids, went on to collaborate with everyone from Lou Reed to Matthew Sweet to They Might Be Giants. May 31.

William Manchester
, 82 The historian wrote 18 books and two novels. In recent years best known for his multivolume biography of Churchill, The Last Lion. June 1.
Dom Moraes, 66 Author, poet published nearly 30 books, becoming one of India's leading literary figures. June 2.
Nicolai Ghiaurov, 74 Bulgarian opera singer was one of the great basses of the post-World War II era. June 2.
Brian Linehan, 59 Remembered for the long-winded questions he asked stars on Citytv's interview show City Lights. The show ran 17 seasons. June 4.
Nino Manfredi, 83 Italian film star appeared in some of Italy's best comedies of the 1960s and 70s. June 4.
Steve Lacy, 69 Born Steven Lackritz in New York, the soprano sax man influenced John Coltrane and others. Worked with pianist/composer Thelonious Monk. June 4.
Ronald Reagan, 93 His acting career spanned 30 years. Breakthrough role was in the 1940 movie Knute Rockne, All American. Biggest hit was Kings Row (1942) and best known film Bedtime For Bonzo (1951). June 5.
Barbara Whiting Smith, 73 The actress appeared in such 1940s and 1950s films as Carnival In Costa Rica and Beware, My Lovely. June 9.
Ray Charles, 73 Laid the foundation for soul music. Best known for the hits Georgia On My Mind — the ballad, which became the official song of his home state — and Hit The Road Jack. June 10.
Jack McClelland, 81 Transformed the publishing business in Canada in 1960 by promoting Canadian authors through his family firm McClelland and Stewart. June 14.
Mattie Stepanek, 13 The child poet published five books of poetry including the bestselling Heartsongs. June 22.
Hugh Cave, 93 The horror author who wrote more than 800 pulp fiction stories during the 1930s and 1940s continued to publish well into his 90s. June 27.

Marlon Brando, 80 Took up acting after being kicked out of military school. A devotee of the acting technique known as "The Method." Notable quotes from characters he played include "Hey, STELLA!" and "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." July 1.
Syreeta Wright, 58 Born Rita Wright, the singer/songwriter recorded six albums for Motown, the most notable two produced by her ex-husband Stevie Wonder. July 5.
Jeff Smith, 65 Television's Frugal Gourmet had his career ruined by a sex scandal. July 7.
Paula Danziger, 59 Author of more than 30 children's books including The Cat Ate My Gymsuit. July 8.
Isabel Sanford, 86 Actress played the role of Louise Jefferson on TV's The Jeffersons, which ran on CBS from 1975 to 1985. July 9.
Frances Hyland, 77 The Saskatchewan-born actress who acted and directed for more than 50 years was a firm favourite at the Stratford Festival. July 11.
Betty Oliphant, 85 Canada's foremost ballet teacher. As director of the National Ballet School she trained Veronica Tennant, Karen Kain and Rex Harrington. July 12.
Carlos Kleiber, 74 The eccentric conductor was a brilliant interpreter of opera. July 13.
Arthur Kane, 55 Original bass guitarist for the 1970s punk rock group New York Dolls. July 13.
Irvin "Shorty" Yeaworth, 78 Director of the 1958 sci-fi film The Blob. July 19.
Jerry Goldsmith, 75 Composed movie scores for Alien, Rambo, Patton and Chinatown, which he wrote and recorded in 10 days. Won an Oscar for the music for 1976's The Omen. Also composed scores for TV shows including The Waltons and The Twilight Zone. July 21.
Piero Piccioni, 82 Composed music for more than 100 movies in Italy and abroad. July 23.
Andre Noble, 25 The Toronto actor who co-starred in the recent Canadian movie Sugar died accidentally near his hometown of Centreville, Nfld. July 30.
Virginia Grey, 87 The actress who began her film career in 1927 with Uncle Tom's Cabin appeared in more than 100 movies and 40 TV shows. July 31.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, 95 The French photographer, one of the greats of the 20th century was famous for capturing the "decisive moment." Aug 3.
Rick James, 56 Born James Johnson Jr. in Buffalo, the funk legend is best known for the 1981 hit "Super Freak." He spent many of his early performing years in Toronto. Aug. 6.
Fay Wray, 96 The King Kong actress had 11 leading roles in films in 1933. She retired from film in 1942. Aug. 8.
Leon Golub, 82 The artist's work in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Tate Gallery in London depicts the horrors of war. Aug. 8.
Robert "Gypsy Boots" Bootzin, 89 California fitness icon and author of Barefeet And Good Things To Eat and The Gypsy In Me appeared regularly on The Steve Allen Show in the early 1960s. Aug. 8.
David Raksin, 92 Film score composer. Best known for Laura, the theme song of the 1944 film noir. Aug. 9.
Bill Martin Jr., 88 The author of hundreds of children's picture books published his first in 1945 while serving in the Army Air Force during World War II. Aug. 11.
Julia Child, 91 The famous chef who popularized French cooking in North America published a two-volume Mastering The Art Of French Cooking in 1961. Her cooking show The French Chef was the first of several PBS cooking series. She co-founded the James Beard Foundation in New York in 1986 and the American Institute of Wine and Food in San Francisco in 1981. Aug 12.
Neal Fredericks, 35 Cinematographer of the successful low-budget horror film The Blair Witch Project died in a plane crash while filming a movie in Florida on Aug. 14.
Czeslaw Milosz, 93 Polish-American author, translator and critic won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980. Aug. 14.
Carl Mydans, 97 Life magazine photographer mostly known for his photographs of World War II. Aug. 17.
Elmer Bernstein, 82 Oscar winning composer wrote the film scores for The Ten Commandments, The Magnificent Seven, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Great Escape and True Grit. Aug. 18.
Charlie Waller, 69 Self-taught guitarist and vocalist founded the Country Gentlemen bluegrass band. Waller was still playing with the band, formed in 1957, until his death. Aug. 18.
Al Dvorin, 81 The Elvis Presley concert announcer made the phrase "Elvis has left the building" famous. Aug. 22.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, 78 Psychiatrist and author of the 1969 groundbreaking book On Death And Dying. Aug. 24.
Laura Branigan, 47 The singer's disco hit song "Gloria" lasted 36 weeks on the pop charts, earning her the first of four Grammy nominations. Aug 26.
Bob Boyer, 56 Aboriginal artist born near Prince Albert, Sask. known for his elaborate blanket designs often critiquing colonial history. Aug. 30.

Caitlin Clarke, 52 The actress who taught drama to young people played Valerian in the movie Dragonslayer. Sept. 9.
Fred Ebb, 71 Wordsmith wrote scores for such hit shows as Cabaret, Chicago and the Manhattan anthem "New York, New York." Sept. 11.
Bill Glassco, 69 Co-founded the Tarragon Theatre, one of the most highly regarded theatre companies in Canada. Was Tarragon's artistic director to 1982. Sept. 13.
Johnny Ramone, 55 Born John Cummings, the guitarist was a founder of the seminal punk band the Ramones. Sept. 15.
Walter Stewart, 73 The journalist and author held a number of high-level positions at Maclean's magazine. Sept. 15.
Russ Meyer, 82 The maverick director's cheap-thrill movies starred busty actresses who kicked ass. Sept. 18.
Skeeter Davis, 72 Sang on the Grand Ole Opry radio show for more than 40 years. She hit the pop charts in 1963 with "The End Of The World." Sept. 19.
Ellis L. Marsalis, Sr., 96 Patriarch of a family of world famous jazz musicians including his grandson Wynton Marsalis. Involved in the civil rights movement. Sept. 19.
Francoise Sagan, 69 Controversial French author who shot to fame at age 18 with her first novel Bonjour Tristesse was an icon of 1950s intellectuals. Sept. 24.

Bruce Palmer, 58 Bassist and co-founder of the country-rock band Buffalo Springfield moved to Belleville, Ont. after leaving the music business. Oct. 1.
Richard Avedon, 81 Jimmy Durante, Brigitte Bardot, Jacques Cousteau and Andy Warhol are among the many personalities caught on film by the portrait photographer whose career spanned 60 years. Oct. 1.
Janet Leigh, 77 Houdini (1954), The Perfect Furlough (1958) and Who Was That Lady? (1960) were pictures the actress made with her third husband Tony Curtis. 1980's The Fog was her last starring role. Oct. 3.
Rodney Dangerfield, 82 Born Jacob Cohen, the comedian is best known for his line, "I don't get no respect." Appeared more than 70 times on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. After Caddyshack, he starred in his own movies. Oct. 5.
Jacques Derrida, 74 The world-renowned French philosopher was the father of deconstructionism. Oct. 8.
Christopher Reeve, 52 The unknown actor was chosen from among 200 others for the lead in the first Superman movie. Won a Screen Actors Guild award for best actor in the 1988 remake of the Hitchcock thriller Rear Window. Oct 10.
Doug Bennett, 52 Lead singer of the Canadian band Doug and the Slugs, formed in 1977. Wrote a number of hits for the group including "Day By Day" and "Making it Work." Oct. 16.
Anthony Hecht, 81 Poet won the Pulitzer Prize in 1968 for The Hard Hours. Oct. 20.
Robert Merrill, 87 The powerful baritone was a favourite singer at the Metropolitan Opera for 30 years and also sang at New York Yankees games. Oct. 23.
John Peel, 65 Legendary British disc jockey launched the careers of dozens of bands. Oct. 25.
Vaughn Meader, 68 The comic/musician was the JFK mimic on The First Family parody album released in 1962. Oct. 29.
Peggy Ryan, 80 Dancer/actor's most memorable movie roles were teaming with Donald O'Connor in such musicals as This Is The Life and When Johnny Comes Marching Home. In 1969 began starring in the TV police drama Hawaii Five-O as Jack Lord's secretary. Oct. 30.

Theo van Gogh, 47 Dutch filmmakerwas great-grandnephew of Vincent van Gogh. His controversial film Submission was about the abuse of Muslim women. Nov. 2.
Howard Keel, 85 The baritone romanced his way through such MGM musicals as Kiss Me Kate and Annie Get Your Gun. At 66 he became a TV star playing Clayton Farlow, husband on Miss Ellie Ewing on Dallas. Nov. 7.
Iris Chang, 36 The Chinese-American author of the 1997 bestseller The Rape Of Nanking died by her own hand. She was reported missing Nov. 9.
O.D.B., 35 Rap artist Russell Jones, also known as Ol' Dirty Bastard or Dirt McGirt, was a founding member of the rap group the Wu-Tang Clan. Nov. 13.
Roy Thomas, 54 Aboriginal artist known for his colourful totemic images inspired a generation of younger artists. His work was exhibited at the National Art Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Civilization and Art Gallery of Ontario. Nov. 13.
John Morgan, 74 The dim-witted Mike from Canmore was among the popular characters the comic played on CBC's Royal Canadian Air Farce. The troupe debuted on CBC Radio in 1973. Nov. 15.
Cy Coleman, 75 The legendary New York tunesmith composed 11 original Broadway musicals including Sweet Charity and City Of Angels as well as pop hits like "Witchcraft" and "The Best Is Yet To Come." Nov. 18.
Terry Melcher, 62 Doris Day's son produced albums and co-wrote the hit song "Kokomo" for the Beach Boys. Nov. 19.
Tom Rivers, 57 The rebel AM radio disc jockey's dismissal from Toronto's CHUM-AM in 1982 drew headlines. He joined rival station CFTR in 1983, boosting the ratings. Nov. 20.
Ron Bryden, 77 Theatre critic, former director of U of T's Graduate Centre for Study of Drama and literary advisor for the Shaw Festival for 10 years until he retired in 2002. Nov. 22.
Larry Brown, 53 The author who wrote about the lives of rural southerners won the Southern Book Critics Circle Award twice. Nov. 24.
Arthur Hailey, 84 Best-selling author published 11 books in 38 languages. His 1968 novel Airport made into the movie starring Burt Lancaster led the way for other disaster movies of the '70s. His novels Hotel, Wheels, The Moneychangers and Strong Medicine also became movies. Nov. 24.
Joseph Hansen, 81 The mystery writer who penned more than 40 books was one of the first of his genre to create a gay lead character. Nov. 24.
Philippe de Broca, 71 French director, known for his eccentric comedies, made more than 30 movies. His most popular early films included 1963's L'homme de Rio (The Man From Rio) and the 1966 anti-war film Le Roi de Coeur (The King Of Hearts). Nov. 26.
John D. Barrymore, 72 Drew Barrymore's father came from a long line of actors, including his father John Barrymore. Nov. 29.
Hilary Corbett, 75 Designed costumes for the S




Virginia Burke -- Adding A Bit of Caribbean Spice to the World

Excerpt from - By Deardra Shuler

(Dec. 28, 2004) Virginia Burke was in New York to promote her cookbook “Walkerswood Caribbean Kitchen” and to talk about Walkerswood Caribbean Foods, Ltd., a company she is the Managing Director of in Walkerswood, Jamaica in the West Indies. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Ms. Burke attended college in Los Angeles where she studied graphic arts.  She went on to New York where she studied the fine arts.  Settling into New York she worked as a designer for awhile.  Years later, she made a move to Hawaii and then to London before eventually returning to her homeland of Jamaica.  “I actually became involved with Walkerswood initially as a graphic artist.  They hired me to design the labels for the new packaging of their products but eventually as the company expanded, I rose up in the ranks.”  Virginia who is the author of the “Walkerswood Caribbean Kitchen” cookbook talked about the trend toward Caribbean cooking throughout the world.  “Caribbean food is experiencing a resurgence thus receiving greater recognition throughout the world. You can now find places in London for example where you can dine on Caribbean food.  Five years ago we opened our first restaurant called Bamboula in Brixton, London.  It is very successful and has introduced many of our popular dishes. People quite like the spices of the Caribbean.  For example, we use a lot of jerk seasoning.  Among the Walkerswood Caribbean Food company’s products are jerk marinade and jerk BBQ-sauce but we also have a sauce we call coconut rundown sauce.  We have a sauce we use as a dressing for fried fish, it’s a typical Caribbean pickle sauce we call Escoveitch Pickle Sauce.  And, we also feature a West Indian curry paste.  Most recently, however we have added a feisty pepper sauce called Firestick.  That sauce is not as hot as others but it’s hot enough to make you sit up and notice,” chuckled the cookbook author. “For those that don’t know what jerk style cooking is it’s a method of cooking highly spiced meat slowly over a fire pit of pimento wood. Along with using the seasonings, this style of cooking is very aromatic.  We also have a sauce which is very much a part of the Caribbean/African heritage that is called Jonkanoo Pepper Sauce and is a blend of red hot peppers, scallions, onions, thyme and garlic.  This hot sauce is not for the fainthearted however.  Walkerswood also sells jams, jellies, chutney, marmalade and allspice,” explained the author. Walkerswood is not only the name of the company but it is also the name of a village in the rural hills of Jamaica.  It is situated in the quaint parish of St. Ann, an area featuring pastel coloured homes, churches, shops and taverns that serve as the backdrop to the Walkerswood factory, the pulse of the small community.  The Walkerswood Food Company is vital to the community because it offers employment to the people of the region and in fact, it is the company’s mission to provide the small rural area with employment opportunities.  Walkerwood Caribbean Foods, which was established in 1978, is located 20-minutes south of Ocho Rios, Jamaica.  It sets the pace and vitality of the community while acting as its central employer.  In fact, the company employs over 100 regional people from the hillside villages and surrounding areas, many of whom are now company shareholders.  Thus, the greatest pride of the company is that it is, and remains, employee-owned. “Yes, the company is owned by the employees in the community and at the present time we are expanding in the hopes of eventually making Walkerswood a tourist spot where people can come and tour Walkerswood and enjoy the beauty of the compound and the fabulous food.  Also, we are pleased to find that retailers are becoming increasingly interested in what Walkerswood has to offer.  Retailers from New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and even cities within Texas are boosting our market.  We formed Walkerswood Marketing, Inc., in 1994 which have offices in Kingston, Miami, Toronto and the UK for just that purpose.  Walkerswood Marketing, Ltd., is another of our enterprises that has enabled us to become an international brand name.  Not bad for a small Caribbean village whose shareholders are its employees,” claims Virginia. As the marketing director, Virginia, is responsible for the public relations of the company and therefore has attempted to take her passion for Caribbean food to a global marketplace.  As such, she has appeared as a featured guest on the Sara’s Secrets show broadcasted on the Television Food Network.  She has also appeared on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” and on ABC’s “Live with Regis & Kelly.”  “I hope people will have the opportunity to peruse my cookbook which is published by Simon & Schuster.  My cookbook showcases the range of Caribbean cooking from soups, salads, sauces, gumbos, meats, fish, chicken, vegetable dishes, pastries and desserts to cool Caribbean punches and drinks.  The book covers it all.” Interested parties can learn more about the Walkerswood Caribbean Foods Company through their website




Yahoo!, ‘Entertainment Tonight’ Name Their Top Celebrities For The Year

Excerpt from

(Dec. 28, 2004) *Oprah Winfrey has topped “Entertainment Tonight’s” list of top celebrities of 2004 in its third annual "ET Hot List." Michael Jackson, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez and Paris Hilton rank two through five on the list, comprised of those celebrities who received the most mentions on the show over the course of the past year.   "It has been a captivating year for celebrity news. We have seen it all and then some, from weddings to breakups, births and passings, scandals and arrests, and a strong celebrity turnout for Washington politics during the Presidential elections," says Linda Bell Blue, executive producer of ET. "And now we have ranked those stars and public figures who have been at the forefront of 2004's celebrity news as reported by ‘ET.’” Here is the “ET’s” full Hot List of the Top Celebrities of 2004:

1.  Oprah Winfrey
2.  Michael Jackson
3.  Jennifer Aniston
4.  Jennifer Lopez
5.  Paris Hilton
6.  Britney Spears
7.  Brad Pitt
8.  Nicole Kidman
9.  Tom Cruise
10.  Sarah Jessica Parker
11.  Leonardo DiCaprio
12.  Janet Jackson
13.  Bill Clinton
14.  Martha Stewart
15.  Ben Affleck
16.  Fantasia Barrino
17.  Julia Roberts
18.  Jessica Simpson
19.  Gwyneth Paltrow
20.  Jude Law

*Meanwhile, Yahoo! has announced its list of 2004’s most-searched items. “American Idol,” which crowned Fantasia as its third champ in May, ranked No. 1 on the tally, followed by Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears. Usher ranked seventh. The rest of the top 10 Yahoo! searches were fictional wizard Harry Potter (No. 5), wrestling franchise WWE (No. 6) and three professional sports organizations: auto racing's NASCAR (No. 8), the National Basketball Association (No. 9) and the National Football League (No. 10). 




Parade Poll Says Berry Is ‘Best Looking’

Excerpt from

(Dec. 28, 2004) *Americans have spoken. Halle Berry has been crowned the best looking actress in Hollywood by voters in a “Parade” magazine pop culture poll. The Ohio-born beauty reigned supreme with 28% of the vote, beating out Catherine Zeta-Jones (19%), Angelina Jolie (14%), Jennifer Lopez (7%) and Kate Hudson (6%).   Denzel Washington won 10 percent of the best looking actor vote to rank fifth behind top vote-getters Brad Pitt (17%), Tom Cruise (15%), Harrison Ford (14%) and Johnny Depp (13%). Oprah Winfrey was the celebrity who voters would most like to see run for President of the United States.  The talk show maven won with 21% of the vote.  Bill O'Reilly came in second with 8%; Will Smith, 7%; Jon Stewart, Richard Gere and Donald Trump each got 6%. Bill Cosby as Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” was voted favourite TV dad (34%), beating out Tim Allen as Tim Taylor in “Home Improvement” (19%), John Goodman as Dan Conner in “Roseanne” (10%) and Stephen Collins as Eric Camden in “7th Heaven” (9%).




America's Next Top Model Champ An Avid Hip-Hop Fan

Excerpt from - By Clover Hope

(Dec. 24, 2004) America's Next Top Model champ Eva Pigford may be a promising model, but the 19-year-old beauty says she's also an avid fan of Hip-Hop,  naming entrepreneur P. Diddy as her number one artist.  "That man is a hustler," Eva told "He has a great smile, and he saved so many lives and touched so many people. "See when you have this power to be an inspiration, it's your job to do something with it," Pigford continued. "He is a prime example of making a change." Pigford enthusiastically expressed her adoration of the equally fashion-savvy Chicago rapper Kanye West, who's been receiving as much love from award organizations lately with loads of nominations. Besides modeling, the Los Angeles student, whose father was a jazz musician, is keen on acting and singing as well. "I would love to be a singer but I can't hold a note," Eva said laughing.  "So I don't know if that one will necessarily work. I love entertainment. I love to be of help to other people whatever way I can." Throughout the third season of the popular UPN sitcom America's Next Top Model, prominent super model Tyra Banks along with several industry  judges narrowed down a select few of 14 eager girls hoping to be the next big model.  The judges tightened the field each week through various  demanding competitions. Among the judges were the self-proclaimed "world's first supermodel" Janice Dickinson, fashion photographer Nigel Barker and Nole Marin, a fashion editor and stylist. Eva was frequently labelled as the girl with the attitude in addition to being the shortest of the bunch. As the winner, Pigford received a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl cosmetics, an opportunity to be managed by Ford Models and a fashion spread in Elle magazine. In the finale, the petite, green-eyed vixen went up against fellow model aspirants Amanda Lynn Swafford and Camara "Yaya" Da Costa Johnson. The judges declared Eva the winner after she competed with Yaya in a Noriko Fukushima runway show.




Mississippi Airport Renamed: New Jackson-Evers Title Honours Slain NAACP Leader

Excerpt from

(Dec. 24, 2004) *The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has announced that Mississippi’s largest airport, Jackson International, has been renamed Jackson-Evers International Airport, in honour of assassinated NAACP leader Medgar Evers. Dennis Hayes, NAACP Acting President and CEO said, “The memory of Medgar Evers is important for his commitment to equal opportunity and he was someone whose work had an expanded sense of purpose.” The Jackson Branch NAACP President, Ineva May-Pittman, originally requested the airport be renamed the Medgar Evers International Airport.  After several meetings with the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority and the city planning board the Jackson City Council unanimously voted earlier this week to add Evers to the existing airport name.  The airport authority plans to create an exhibit honouring Evers in the terminal. Evers, the first Mississippi NAACP Field Director, was gunned down in the driveway of his Jackson home in 1963, following a successful civil rights rally.  His death prompted President John F. Kennedy to urge Congress to adopt a comprehensive civil rights bill which went into effect during President Lyndon Johnson’s term. Rev. Charles White, NAACP Region V Director said, “The NAACP family rejoices in the commemoration of one of our own in such a high honour.  It is nice to see in 2005 and beyond that Medgar Evers will continue to be a living icon.”







Holiday Weight Gain

By Sean Greeley, Special for eFitness

(Dec. 28, 2004) Many will fall into the trap of gaining holiday pounds, only to be faced with a belly of blubber that must be worked off in January. With a little thought and planning, you can avoid that cycle and start January ahead of the pack! Here are six tips to stay on track this holiday season.

1. Understand that a holiday is just one day.

Too often I hear people practicing negative self-talk. "I just can’t lose weight around the holidays," "I know I will gain 10 pounds between all the holidays -- it happens to me every year," or "I’ll just wait until January and then get back on track with my nutrition and exercise." That’s inaccurate thinking. A holiday is just one day. You CAN enjoy a meal with the family and still stay on track with your goals -- just take it one day at a time. Remind yourself that it's only one day. Don’t allow your holi-"day" turn into a holi-"week"!

2. Spend part of the day outside instead of on the couch!

While watching holiday-time football has become an American tradition, try to get outside for part of the day as well. Go watch a local game, throw the pigskin around in the park or backyard with the kids. Have fun, just get your butt unglued from the couch at some point during the day.

3. Limit alcohol consumption

Think of beer and wine as liquid fat. Alcohol has dramatic affects on the body’s metabolism and energy usage. If you’re a social drinker, try to limit yourself to one or two drinks -- and make them last. Avoid high-calorie mixed drinks that are full of sugar. Even better, skip the alcohol and order a tonic water or diet soda.

4. Drink more water!

One of the most important things you can do during the holidays is drink more water! Water flushes out toxins in the body, helps the body recover from dehydration caused by alcohol consumption, provides a feeling of fullness (eliminating unnecessary hunger), and will allow the liver to properly break down fat. Keep your "tank" topped off by drinking a glass every hour!

5. Choose one dessert, not three

Pumpkin pie, Christmas cookies, chocolate... the holidays are full of traditions with sweets. Enjoy them! But pick one. Don’t feel like you have to eat everything on the table. Give yourself permission to enjoy all the holidays have to offer, then grab the platter of veggies!

6. Make exercise a family priority

From cable TV, to video games; computers and the Internet, our society has changed quite a bit in the last 100 years. Gone are the days of working on the farm from dusk til dawn. While we can enjoy all that technology offers, make time for a good walk outside. Bring the kids to the park. Take the dog for a run. By involving everyone you can have fun and teach the kids to "unplug" once in a while.

Remember YOU have the power to loose or gain weight this holiday season. By incorporating these tips you’ll come out of this holiday season better than ever and ahead of the pack in January!








Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.  
Dinner:  anytime; party for free
Party only: $35/single; $50/couple

EVENT PROFILE: Carl Cassell invites you to come through your fav hangout on New Year’s Eve for the unique and laid back vibe of Irie.  Enjoy dinner first with the chic Irie Caribbean dinner menu ( and stay on for the party at no extra cost!  The kitchen closes promptly at 10:30 pm in order to make room for the best party in town!  Alternatively, just show up for the party around 10:30 pm for a cost of $35/single or $50/coupleDJ Carl Allen will be representing on the turntables and you know how he brings it – old school mixed with the new!  The party will include all night Irie hors d’oeurves, party favours, and champagne at midnight.  Join us at Irie on New Year’s Eve – we encourage you to make your dinner reservations now – what a deal – for the cost of dinner, you get a New Year’s Eve party as well!  As always, Irie brings you - food – music – culture all under one roof. 



College Street Bar
574 College Street (at Manning)       
10:30 pm 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French.




Irie Food Joint 
745 Queen Street W.   
10:00 pm   
EVENT PROFILE: Monday nights at IRIE continue their tradition.  Carl Cassell’s original art and IRIE itself will be featured in the January 2005 issue of Toronto Life!  It’s no surprise to me that Toronto Life has chosen Carl Cassell, in their quest to reveal those restaurants that also offer the unique addition of original art.  Let Irie awaken your senses.  Irie Mondays continue – food – music – culture.




Revival Bar       
783 College Street (at Shaw)       
10:00 pm       
NO COVER       
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Rich Brown, Joel Joseph and Shamakah Ali with various local artists. 




The Orbit Room
College Street
10:30 pm 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Wade O. Brown, Shamakah Ali, Rich Brown, Adrian Eccleston, David Williams.




College Street Bar
574 College Street (at Manning)
10:30 pm 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French




Have a great week!       

Dawn Langfield        
Langfield Entertainment