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88 Bloor Street E., Suite 2908, Toronto, ON  M4W 3G9
(416) 677-5883


Updated:  August 11, 2005

The days of summer are limited, so get out there and enjoy what's left.  Two great events coming up, Sunday's Honey Jam and a fundraiser for Sickle Cell on September 11 (details below).  

Check out my PHOTO GALLERY for some pics from last night's
Destiny's Child 'Destiny Fulfilled' Tour at the Air Canada Centre featuring Amerie and Mario (who is definitely coming into his own and ruled the stage and Destiny's Child were incredible as well!). (Despite the best efforts of my friend at Fuji, Rob Leonard, with the loan of an amaaaazing camera and lens from Headshots, I had to stick with the cam I knew!) 

This week there's a lot of Canadian news is all categories so check it out -
MUSIC NEWS, FILM NEWS, TV NEWS, and OTHER 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






Honey Jam Talent Showcase & Phemphat's 10th Anniversary Party

The Honey Jam is an all-female Canadian talent showcase featuring a wide variety of artists representing many genres of music - hiphop, jazz, dancehall, r&b, rock, dance, spoken word, calypso, soul, opera… Hundreds of artists from across the country audition for one of the few coveted spots in this highly anticipated summer event.  One lucky Honey Jam artist chosen at random at the end of the show will receive the Honey Jam Hook-up Prize Pak valued at over $5,000.

Flow 93.5 is sponsoring an opportunity for a Honey Jam artist to work with acclaimed producer Saukrates to create a track - this prize is worth $7,500 - the winner will be announced at the show.

The Mod Club
722 College Street, Toronto
Showtime 8pm, SHARP
Hosted By Michie Mee
Doors open 7pm
Advance tickets $20




The Sickle Cell Association of Ontario Benefit Concert – September 11, 2005

The Sickle Cell Association of Ontario invites you to A Royal Tea & Benefit Concert featuring World Renowned Entertainer and Pianist Linda Gentille on September 11, 2005 at Le Royal Meridien King Edward Hotel.  Sickle cell anemia is an inherited condition that can be life threatening. It causes chronic pain and swelling in the joints, fever and respiratory infections. There is no cure for sickle cell anemia – but there is hope through research.  The Sickle Cell Association of Ontario is a voluntary, nonprofit, charitable organization which is funded by donations from individuals, organizations and employee charitable funds.

Le Royal Meridien King Edward Hotel
36 King Street East
Tickets:  $65
Table of 10:  $650
For More Information, Please Contact SCAO:





Quiet Genius Leaves Behind A Legacy of Distinctive Service and Contribution to Reggae Music

Source:  Lynden Group

Karl Mullings died at the Humber River Regional Hospital, Toronto, Canada at 1:25 p.m. on Friday, July 29, 2005.  Karl was born on March 11, 1942 in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica.  A graduate of Cornwall College in Jamaica, Karl was also a member of the Cornwall College Alumni Association in Toronto.   Funeral services for Karl will be held at the North Park Worship Centre, 395 North Park Drive in Brampton, on Saturday, August 13, 2005, at 11:00 a.m.  The Reverend Paulette Brown will officiate. Viewings will be held at Scott's Funeral Home at 289 Main Street in Brampton, from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 11th and also on Friday, August 12th, from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. During his career as Artist Manager, Mullings was manager for artists such as: Jackie Mittoo, Hopeton Lewis, Lynn Tait, The Fabulous Flames, and bands such as The Cougars, The Sheiks and The Cavaliers.  Karl facilitated the Legends of Ska shows, which were held in Toronto on July 12-13, 2002.  Footage from these shows will be used in the making of a movie.  Over the years he has used his vast knowledge of the reggae industry to advise artists, producers, promoters and radio programmers.  Karl’s wide knowledge base in the music industry plus his negotiation & networking skills are assets that many show producers depended on.  From 1989 to the time of his death, Mullings has been managing his own daughter Tanya Mullings. Over the last five months, they worked together in Jamaica on material for a new album. The material from which this new album will be compiled includes the works of producers such as: Bobby Digital, Shocking Vibes, Danny, Dalton and Robert Brownie, and Computer Paul.

Mullings is one of the founding organizers of the cultural event that gave birth to Caribana; one of North America’s biggest street festival.  He was also a founding member of the Cornwall College Alumni Association in Toronto.  In 1994 he was awarded the Peter Tosh Memorial Award by the Canadian Reggae Music Awards. In January of this year, he was awarded the Circle of Distinction Award by the radio programme, Caribbean Crucible for his distinctive service to reggae. Karl is survived by his wife Marie, daughters; Carrie, Tanya and Keely, grandchildren; Damian, and Trey, and nephew Dave. His youngest daughter Keely gives birth in a few weeks.  On Sunday July 31st, Lynn Tait, Pat Arthurs, Jay Douglas, Everton Paul, Winston Richards, Winston Hewitt, Jimmy Reid, Clement Gordon, Hewitt Loague (Logie), Roy Pinnock, Garfield Russell (GRuss) and listeners of CHRY 105.5 paid tribute to Karl. Their reflections noted that his life was one of caring and self-less contribution to the growth and development of reggae as an art form. The programme Rebel Vibez, hosted by Carrie Mullings continued the tributes on August 1, with artists such as The Mystics, Naggo Morris, Comfort and Lady P. participating.  Affectionately called “Mullo” and “Mayor of Brampton”, Karl will be remembered as a reliable and trustworthy colleague. A genuine friend!

Contact: Luther Brown at or (416) 795-0056







Motivational Note:  What are you passionate about?

Excerpt from - Dr. Jewel Diamond Taylor,

What activity, project, ministry, sport, business, career or hobby excites you? My passion for speaking and teaching is my inner alarm clock to get up even when my body is tired or in pain. My passion pushes me to make one more phone call or take one more vitamin to stay healthy. It pushes me to keep going even when I feel unappreciated, underpaid, overlooked, overworked or overwhelmed. My passion empowers me to speak up and PUSH (push until something happens.) Passion is a fire in you that keeps you going when everyone else says ts too crazy, too hard, too far, too late, too much, too risky, too giving, too old, too young or too expensive. My passion for life, for my family, and for my God inspired career path has pulled me through self-pity and depression. Passion doesn't give or accept excuses. Passion is an inner fire in your belly, heart and soul. It burns away procrastination, fear or worry. Passion gives you a reason to keep going when everything and everyone around you says," Stop, wait or why are you doing that?"







7 questions:  Jully Black

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Unnati Gandhi

(August 5, 2005) Canadian R&B singer. Born Nov. 8, 1979 in Toronto, and raised in the city's Jane and Finch area. Before fame struck, she worked at Taco Bell, Future Shop, the Toronto Reference Library, Royal Bank and as a camp counsellor.  The youngest of nine children and the only one musically inclined in a family of visual artists, Jully Black discovered her voice in church at the age of seven and developed her alto range. She contemplated a life completely different from singing when she graduated from a Toronto college program in law enforcement and criminology. But Black is now known for her collaborations with Destiny's Child and Nas. She has opened for Usher, Jay-Z and 50 Cent, and just finished a cross-Canada set of dates supporting Black Eyed Peas. Nominated for four Juno Awards, she performed in the Toronto theatre production Da Kink in My Hair earlier this year and recently released her debut disc, This is Me.

How did you get started in the music industry?

I was a camp counsellor at [Toronto's] Driftwood Community Centre for seven years. I was a pupil first and I ended up getting a job there when I was 14. The arts was basically what kept us out of trouble. It was very motivating. Myself and one of my good friends, who's a world-renowned choreographer now, we started a fine-arts program. He would teach dance and I would teach music. It was nice to help the kids but we also helped our craft at the same time. Then I got into a music program called Fresh Arts. In Fresh Arts, there was Kardinal [Offishall], Baby Blue Soundcrew. We were young but we all met in this one music camp. And so from there we started working together, learned how to produce and write songs, all through this program. We just kind of kept working at it even though we were in school. Our extracurricular was music.

You've been in the industry since 1998 but This is Me, released last month, is your first album.

My U.S. record label MCA closed its doors on June 9, 2003. I remember that date. June 9. My album was done. We had just finished mixing, we were ready for a fall release, and everything got closed. My album got shelved. It was just a waiting game. They basically fired everybody. It was one of those old regime, new regime things. I didn't take it personal. Why should I? They signed me -- why wouldn't they want me? From there, I was told I wasn't going to get my songs back. That was probably the most devastating thing. It was a matter of circumstance. But I went back in the studio and wrote 40 new songs and decided, you know what, I'm a songwriter. I wrote those songs, I can write more. I basically wrote two new albums and presented them to Universal Music Canada.

How did you end up writing a song for Destiny's Child?

It's this song called I Know and it's on the Fighting Temptations album. Basically, a producer I work with out of New Jersey works with Missy Elliot. I was recording with him in Miami, then when he went in the studio with Beyoncé and my co-writer, he was singing the song. He wasn't even playing it; he was singing it over and over again. And Beyoncé's like, 'What are you singing? ' He told her and the next day she came back humming the melody. And she was just, 'I don't know what that is but I have to sing it.'

How long did it take to realize you're someone that people recognize in public?

I guess I'm still disconnected. I don't take myself serious. So I still expect to have that freedom of just sitting in the audience and watching a concert. I just think it's no big deal. But I guess I should reassess my timing or change my wig or something. Definitely post-show it happens a lot. In London, during the Black Eyed Peas concert, I decided to check out the merchandise booth. I normally don't go to the merchandise booth. But I swear, the line-up must have been like two, three hundred people deep. Wow, I'm the opener of the opener.

How does your music represent Canada?

I represent diversity. I am able to represent what Canadian music has to offer. I'm trying to say this in a way that's not modest or cocky, but because there is the lack of black radio in Canada. Growing up listening to rock, reggae, R&B, hip hop and everything has led me to this jumble of music that's helped me to identify with everybody. When I want to Rock&B, I Rock&B. When I want to reggae, I reggae. I find that to be a huge advantage. You see all walks of life identify with my music. I'm a pioneer so I have no complaints. I don't have any Canadian R&B influences. That's the problem -- I should. I'm sure there were artists before me, I'm definitely not a first.

Should there be a distinction between Canadian music and non-Canadian music?

There's a great sense of Canadian pride and a lot of people are amazed that I'm from here. Not only that, but people think I'm an international artist. That's what I've always wanted to be -- accepted musically. Not, 'You're good for a Canadian.' No, take off the 'you're good for.' But then the youth of Canada see that they can identify with my story, see that I'm real and that it's possible. That's what starts the path of dreamers to start dreaming again. You don't have to immediately run across the border. I had to run across the border. There were no outlets for me in Canada and still we're carving them out now. I'm happy that I'm able to actually give Canada the attention that it needs and then get my deals in the other territories because I've already set the foundation at home. My analogy is this is another Olympic gold. It doesn't matter if it's rowing or if it's marble throwing. As long as Canada gets another gold, we're happy and we're united.

What lies in your near future?

I would like to start up an annual concert charity benefit with me, Alanis, Shania, Avril, Nelly Furtado, k-os and really mix the genres. Let's show the country we have diverse talent and we can be unified. The biggest stars -- comedians, performers, singers, songwriters. From Jim Carey to Celine Dion to the guy from Will & Grace. The only time I get to see these people and enjoy them are at the Junos. The Junos are really fun and it's like summer camp for musicians. No counsellors and no parents.




Hip Hop Canada’s Featured Artist: Rochester AKA Juice

Source:  Hip Hop Canada - By: Julia Che [contact]

(July 15, 2005) Toronto, ON - Highly anticipated by the Canadian hip-hop industry, Rochester AKA Juice's debut album, A New Day, has created media buzz over the past year and has now been released. Almost four years in the making with his crew the Foundation Creative Group, this album is a collaboration of upbeat jives and down-tempo flows. From the early beginnings of Juice, winning FLOW 93.5 FM's first Soul Search talent contest in 2002 to touring across Canada with Obie Trice, the now Rochester AKA Juice has proved himself to be a lyrical emcee and charismatic performer.  But what does he bring to the table? Direct from Rochester's bio on the Maple Music site, the lyricist states, "I'm not trying to blend in, I'm trying to change the rap game right now," he says point blank. "Change is gonna come." HHC readers and aficionados, it's up to you to decide. Get the album.

HHC: Congrats on the new album! It's A NEW DAY! So, Rochester, we've chatted a few times before, but now you have the album out! What has changed for you since we last talked (let's just say a year ago) and how does it feel?

Juice: Everything and nothing at the same time. I've grown a lot as a person, I got my daughter now who I love a whole lot. More people are rating me as one of the top emcees and top performers in Canada. But I'm still here, still the same Juice who rocked the mic at Reverb at Hoodies and Timbs 2 years ago and did his first interview with HHC. Just with more knowledge.

HHC: What was the process like? What were the challenges?
Juice: The process was… how should I put this… FUCKING STRESSFULL! Not making the tracks or anything like that but just getting the whole Foundation on the same page at the same time, was hectic.

HHC: That video for A New Day is hot! Big up RT! But why didn't you put it on the wax? What's on the wax right now?
Juice: We wanted to have vinyl that would cater to all kinds of DJs from the club to the underground to the radio. Plus I wanted to give ya'll a little taste of what's to come off the album and show "A New Day" wasn't the only hot track I had. But don't get it twis' the "New Day" vinyl is on its way, but it's gonna be by itself. Some limited edition shit!

HHC: You're an amazing performer. What gives you that stage presence? Do you practice in front of a mirror?
Juice: Hah! Not since I was 6, yo. Can't even tell you where it comes from. It's my love for the music and my passion to express myself I guess. My blood starts boiling and I just go all out.

HHC: I heard you went on tour, was it with Chingy? If so, why were you on tour with that clown?
Juice: You got jokes huh? Nah I just did the one show with Chingy at Kool Haus and he was all up in the dressing room like he was afraid to hang or some shit, but it's all good. I think a lot of peeps is scared to come out here cause they heard what happened to Ma$e and dem when tried to floss heavy.

HHC: If you had to put yourself in a category within the hip-hopp industry, would you be gangster, intellectual, jiggy or other? (Taking into consideration that they are all commercial, and if you pick "other" you have to name the category)
Juice: I never categorized myself that's like putting a limit on your skills. I'm a rapper but I'm also a human being. Sometimes I feel like partying, sometimes I feel like chillin'. Push the wrong button and there might be some blood spilling. I might spit some intellectual shit or I might just rap for the sake of rapping. I just feel I'm way too sick to be rhyming about one thing all the time. I love all forms of the music and I wanna express it in every way possible.

HHC: What do you think of the current Canadian hip-hop scene? Lacking? Saturated? Growing? Stagnant? How do you differentiate yourself from other rappers, Canadian or otherwise?
Juice: I got a question too, why does everybody ask me that? I mean the facts are right in front of you. You got all these tuff rappers on the come up and people still wonder what's going on. We're definitely growing for the better. All we have to do is stick together and establish our own sound and we should be aight, Aight!?!

HHC: Do you have influences other than "urban", "hip-hop"? If so or if not, what are they?
Juice: Of course, I listen to a lot of Reggae. That new Damian Marley tune is BIG! There conscious outlook on life should influence us all. It gets real grimy out there but they always tell you to live righteous and stay above all of that. I feel the same way.

HHC: I heard you were almost signed to the label Shoreline before Maple Music, what happened there? Are you happy with your choice? What challenges have you faced now being signed to a label?
Juice: It just felt like a better look for me. [Maple Music] we're willing to give us a lot of creative control and that's worth a lot… especially in this industry. But the only problem is we're still independent so we get overlooked on the racks. But as long as I got breath in my lungs I'm going to be shouting A NEW DAY 'til every muh fucka in Canada picks up a copy. Straight Goods!

HHC: How will you continue to promote this album and what's up next for you? Will you be choosing another single and making a video?
Juice: You can catch me at all the major events performing with an album in my hand and a "Got Juice" shirt on. Got a few tours I'm working on but it ain't confirmed…yet! The next single is called "I'm Ready" and it's a definite banger! It's ol' school meets new school vibe. We shooting the video in a couple days and you know when RT is behind it, it gonna be real BIG! It should be ready for August, so be on the look out.

HHC: Shout Outs?
Juice: Everyone who went to the stores and picked A NEW DAY. Anybody else isn't worth mentioning.

Editor's Note: For more information on Rochester AKA Juice, visit or

Audio: Rochester AKA Juice f. Andreena Mill - I'm Ready (Canadian Choice Cut) [mp3]




FLOW 93.5 FM to Award Production Prize at Honey Jam

Source:  MelBoogie Media

(August 5, 2005) (Toronto) Canada’s premier urban radio station, FLOW 93.5 FM has joined with producer, Saukrates, to present a special prize to one lucky artist at the 10th Anniversary Honey Jam Showcase.  Saukrates is known throughout the music industry as a noteworthy producer, rapper and songwriter.  He has worked with Canadian artists such as Maestro, Kardinal Offishall and Honey Jam Alumni, Jully Black. He has also worked with artists south of the border, such as Common, RedMan and Method Man. The purpose of The Honey Jam is to give mostly unknown female artists an opportunity to perform live in a concert setting.  The showcase attracts key A&R representatives, artist managers, seasoned artists, record producers and media who are able to scout talent representing several different genres of music.  The winner of this special prize will be given an edge by having the chance to work with an internationally renowned producer.  Another lucky artist will receive the Honey Jam Hook-up Prize Pak consisting of various gifts worth a combined total of over $5,000 from Kappa, de Music Library, Yamaha, Universal, Peace, FLOW 93.5FM and Maple Solutions. One Honey Jam artist will also be chosen to perform at Harbourfront Centre's Culture Shock: Voices of An Emerging Generation festival Sept. 30-Oct 2, 2005 (

Tickets are now on sale for the 10th Anniversary edition of The Honey Jam Showcase through Ticketmaster. Featuring some of Canada’s hottest new female acts, the show will be held at 8pm on Sunday August 14th, 2005 at The Mod Club (722 College Street, west of Bathurst).  Over the past decade, Honey Jam can claim an impressive roster of alumni, including artists such as Nelly Furtado, Andrea Desiree Lewis, Melanie Durrant, Toya Alexis, Graph Nobel, Natasha Waterman and many more who have graced the Honey Jam stage early in their careers.  This year the line-up features many first-time Honey Jam artists including Montreal’s Dessy DiLauro who recently performed with Patti LaBelle at the Montreal Jazz Festival.  All artist photos and bios can be found on  .

Sponsors for this year’s Honey Jam Showcase include Universal Music Canada, UMAC, Yamaha Music Canada, NOW Magazine, PEACE Magazine and FLOW 93.5FM.




Goodbye, But Not Farewell

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(Aug. 10, 2005) I'd like to think I'm fairly astute, but the June announcement of Destiny's Child's retirement caught me off guard — despite the major hint the trio say they delivered with the release of their sixth album last fall.  "That decision was actually made when we began making Destiny Fulfilled," explained Kelly Rowland, who comprises with Michelle Williams and Beyoncé the top-selling girl group. They perform at the Air Canada Centre tonight.  "I think that we gave everybody a clue with the album title, but nobody took it. So, we kind of shocked everybody a little bit."  Well, "shocked" may be an overstatement; their denouement has been anticipated since Beyoncé's five-Grammy winning solo debut, Dangerously in Love, triggered a flood of movie offers and endorsements for the Houston native, who at age nine told her Xerox salesman father she wanted to be a star. Admirers say she's the most talented member of Destiny's Child; cynics believe the group was simply the vehicle her dad-manager Mathew Knowles engineered to take her to the top.  Anyway you look at it — some say Rowland is prettier, others think Williams is nicer, but their solo albums sold poorly — Beyoncé is the one with the most cachet, including a hotly anticipated new clothing line, House of Deréon, with her rap mogul boyfriend Jay-Z.  But on the phone from New York, Rowland, who stickhandles most of the interviews, parrots the official line: "We all have personal goals that we'd like to fulfill and sometimes being in a group doesn't really give you the time to do that.  "We don't like to say break-up or anything like that; we like to say we're closing a beautiful chapter in our lives and in our careers and we're opening another one.

"I don't think we rule out performing together. Of course, we're going to do a greatest hits album and we're going to do a final DVD, but that's it.  "You never know what the next chapter consists of and we're always going to be there in the next chapter supporting each other, loving each other ... we even make jokes about having our babies at the same time."  Yeah, I know, she sounds rehearsed and overly saccharine, but in an era of anything goes R&B and hip hop these young women get props for the deportment with which they sold more than 40 million records (notwithstanding feminist-cringing current single "Cater 2 U" and the tawdry BET Awards lap-dancing delivery of the song).  Under the tutelage of Father Knowles and his wife, Tina, the trio's primary stylist, they made their ascent while deftly weathering line-up changes, lawsuits by former members, Beyoncé's romance with drug dealer turned rap star turned entrepreneur Jay-Z, Rowland's break-up with fiancé Dallas Cowboys star Roy Williams and the gospel leanings of Williams, who became a member of the band in 2000.  Destiny's Child was a foursome in 1997 when lush harmonies earned them comparisons to En Vogue and the Supremes, and they cracked the Top 10 with "No, No, No." Their sophomore effort, The Writing's on the Wall, catapulted to them stardom with the smash "Bills, Bills, Bills." Infectious tracks such as "Bootylicious" and "Say My Name" made them one of the most successful female groups yet and garnered a listing in Guinness World Records as the girl band to spend the most weeks (11) at No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart for 2001's Independent Women Part 1.

Rowland offers up more sugar on the group's legacy.  "We have to pay our respects to the female groups that came before us, like the En Vogues and the Supremes and the TLCs and SWVs, because they paved the way for us to come through.  "But one thing I can say that has been a blessing in our experience in being a girl group is that to my knowledge it's the first time in girl group history that a group actually broke off and did solo projects and came back together. ... We want to show young girls that possibly want to be in girl groups that it can be done."  When the Destiny Fulfilled ... And Lovin' It tour ends in Vancouver next month the ladies plan to pursue individual careers in music, theatre, television and film; but they insist they are forever bound.  "The thing that we take with us above anything is our friendship, because that what counts even more," said Rowlands, sweetly, of course. "That gets you through life and I think friendship is what got us this far, and it's going to take us until forever and then some."




The Biggest Band In The World Delivers

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Jennie Punter

(August 4, 2005) On a day when an airplane made a fiery crash-landing at the local airport and all the passengers and crew managed to escape, Coldplay is exactly the band you want to see and hear. Undoubtedly plenty of people saw the smoke billowing from the Air France wreckage on their way to the Air Canada Centre yesterday, or at least they heard the news reports. When Coldplay front man Chris Martin altered a line in Politik, from the British quartet's 2002 album, A Rush Of Blood To The Head, and sang "give me a plane crash where everyone survives," the capacity crowd, on their feet throughout the entire concert, cheered his acknowledgment of the day's event. The celebratory mood was in full force from the moment Martin (piano, guitar), Jon Buckland (lead guitar), Guy Berryman (bass) and Will Champion (drums) landed onstage and opened the first concert of their North American stadium tour with Square One, the first track on their latest recording, X&Y, released in June. After Politik, several enormous life-jacket-yellow balloons were released and bounced around as Martin strapped on a guitar for Yellow, a hit single from the band's breakthrough album, Parachutes (2000), and bid everyone "sing." Indeed, Coldplay's tuneful and deceptively simple melodies, Martin's predilection for soulful falsetto flourishes and his way with rhyming couplets give many of the band's songs an instant anthem quality that turns concerts into sing-alongs without any prompting required. Still, with little stage adornment or between-song-banter -- save a non-insulting comment about Celine Dion (for which Martin nevertheless politely apologized in true Canadian style) and a tribute to their Canada-born manager "sitting in row A" -- the concert was about delivering stellar performances of songs from the three albums that have made Coldplay one of the biggest bands in the world right now.

Leaping up from the piano, then falling to his knees and bending back to sing to the heavens during Speed Of Sound, another new song, was just one example of Martin's very physical stage presence. Whenever he wasn't attached to an instrument, the singer roamed the breadth of the stage, hopping on one foot, leaning into the crowd and, during the encore set, climbing up the small section of vacant rows behind the stage. Coldplay's musicianship is direct, often blazing, but it is never flashy. It explores a range of dynamics yet always serves the song -- from big-shouldered hits like Clocks to quieter numbers, like the plain-spoken emotion of a failed relationship in Warning Sign or the short semi-acoustic set delivered at the front of the stage, with Champion on keys and Berryman moonlighting on harmonica. The concert's final number, Talk, from X&Y, built towards a heated call-and-response between Martin and Buckland's piercing guitar, its simple lyric expressing a feeling many people in Toronto, and in Coldplay's home country for that matter, are sharing these days: "I'm so scared about the future/and I want to talk to you." It's a long way from Kelowna to the stage of Air Canada Centre, but Black Mountain were definitely primed for the transition. After playing the Duotone Arts Festival in the B.C. town last Friday night, the Vancouver quintet, which is opening the first leg of Coldplay's current tour, performed tighter versions of the dark-hued, seventies-steeped tunes from its self-titled debut. The best moments were when singer-guitarist Stephen McBean (and his collection of pedals) and singer Amber Webber (occasional tambourine) combined their vibrato-rich voices to eerie effect, more like The Ravonettes than Sonny and Cher. The retro organ grooves and stop-start rhythms of the sludgy -- but never sloppy -- Druganaut was a highlight.  For Black Mountain, warming up the audience for the biggest band in the world was not the tough, uphill battle some might have expected.




Sixties Shouter Better Than Ever

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Brad Wheeler

(August 5, 2005) In a Miles Davis junkie mumble, the words creep through a tenuous phone connection. "It's my turn to burn," says Nathaniel Mayer, who is prone to catchphrases when thoughts and sentences fail him. "I don't come to tease, I come to please," is another one. Good to hear. That Mayer is able to come anywhere these days is some slight miracle. Old soul singers don't fade away, they just . . . um . . . well, actually, sometimes they do fade away. The near-great Mayer, a scorched-voice shouter out of Detroit who followed up his 1962 hit Village of Love with a few other notable sides, diminished and drifted much of the seventies, eighties and nineties. He played occasionally around Detroit, but mostly, according to the man himself, he did a lot of "layin' around." And now "Nay Dog," as he is known to some, is right-side-up -- 2004 saw the release of his comeback album I Just Want to Be Held, a collection of rigorous garage-soul and retro-rock that features, at its centre, the irrepressible Mayer. If his phone manner is relaxed, the vocals captured on the 10 tracks are anything but. He sings sweetly, yet bluntly, and with the breathy force of a restroom hot-air hand dryer. His tough cover of John Lennon's I Found Out is a stroke of genius. The person partly responsible for the resurrection is Matthew Johnson. The maverick chief of the Mississippi-based Fat Possum Records describes the signing of the uninhibited 61-year-old singer as a perfect fit. "We like to take people who have totally given up," he says, referring to the down-and-out Mayer. "Any fans are gone or have died -- that's the way we like it."

There may be a few fans left from the old days -- fans who recall minor hits Leave Me Alone, I Don't Want No Bald-Headed Woman Telling Me What to Do, and I Want Love and Affection (Not the House of Corrections) in 1966. That song's unforgettable chorus, "I can't stay no more, in DeHoCo," referred to the Detroit House of Corrections, a facility now out of commission. It's unclear whether Mayer was ever locked down himself, but he is known to be corruptible, and a full handful on the road. "It's not my burden, but nothing's easy with him," admits Johnson, who does not travel with Mayer. "Just going to the cigarette store could be a hassle with him, I think." Getting him to the stage may be an effort, but once he's on the boards, Mayer is an undeniable force. Backed by the Shanks (led by ex-Detroit Cobra guitarist Jeff Meier), the energetic oldie is boundless -- his rough-and-tumble show at the Horseshoe last summer was one of the season's highlights. "I haven't really changed that much," claims Nay Dog, no relation to Snoop. "I always felt a lot of energy in my shows -- that's what I do. I was good then, and I think I'm better now." Mayer claims he's better behaved now too, but Johnson isn't convinced. "Is he falling into bad habits? Of course he is. He's never left them -- he's comfortable there."

Nathaniel Mayer and the Shanks play the Horseshoe Tavern this evening (midnight, $10.50 to $12, 370 Queen St., W., 416-598-4226), and Kitchener's Blues, Brews and Barbeques tomorrow (6:30 p.m. Free. Kitchener City Hall, 519-571-2555).




A Crusader For World Music: Chris Blackwell

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Gary Hill

(August 6, 2005) NEW YORK -- Record-business legend Chris Blackwell, who brought the world Bob Marley, U2 and a host of others, has some more music to sell from outside the pop mainstream. And he is trying to do it by dragging Universal Music, the world's biggest record company, into yoga studios, organic food shops, spas, bookstores and museums to peddle its wares, the 68-year-old Jamaican said on Thursday. Blackwell's Palm Pictures has teamed with Universal to sell lavish boxed sets of "world music" -- each complete with DVD, CD, book, photographs and National Geographic map -- in a monthly series called Palm World Voices. The first three are Vedic Path, from India; Africa, from the continent whose music Blackwell said he first heard through one of his former Island Records artists, the late rocker Robert Palmer; and Baaba Maal (release date Aug. 9), featuring the Senegalese singer and bandleader. Blackwell aims to sell 300,000 copies of each release, way more than most world music, "if we do it this way," he said in an interview. "Only 10 per cent will sell in record stores." But the former rock and reggae magnate admitted to "having difficulties at the moment" with Universal, which only three weeks ago hired its first sales representative to find the new outlets that he envisions and that a few independent labels such as Putumayo have proven viable. "Universal is the biggest, most powerful record company by far and a very good company, but they don't sell outside the record stores," said Blackwell, barefoot and casually dressed in his Manhattan apartment. "A company that size, it's Wall Street-driven, it's very hard to get attention for something that isn't going to move the needle that much in this quarter, or the next quarter, or even in the first year," he said.

Blackwell hopes the Palm World Voices series will run for years. The next few releases will feature Brazil, the Sahara and South Africa. He is targeting customers over 35, "more likely females at the point of sale," who are involved in "the movement there is now for wellness, for yoga, for finding one's spiritual self.  "World music really is in a sense organic music. It's not processed pop music. I felt this was really a time when world music could find an audience." Blackwell said Palm World Voices' videos are as unusual as the marketing: "The DVDs are not cut to be stimulating visually. They're cut actually more to be soporific, in a sense. If you go on a hike and you get to a great view, you sit down and look at the view. There's nobody editing it." As for the music: "It's mellow, but definitely not Muzak, we don't want elevator music." In this age of digital downloading, "The best way to compete is packaging," Blackwell said. As an alternative to the $40 (U.S.) package, he said, he tried also to have a cheaper, digital-download version, bypassing many costs. Universal, however, objected, saying: "But we have the warehouses, we have the factories." A major step in the growth of Universal, formerly mainly a U.S. company, came in 1998 with the acquisition of major international label PolyGram, which itself had bought Blackwell's Island label in 1989. "When they bought Polygram they suddenly had inherited an incredible amount of world music and there wasn't really anybody up there at the top, sharp end of the company who was really much interested in world music," Blackwell said. "I'm trying to drag them into finding the market for this project. I love world music."




Martha Wash, Disco & Dance Legend Speaks

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson (In Jamaica) /

(August 5, 2005)  *It's been a long and bumpy road for Martha Wash, one that's lead her to pain and heartache as well as love and joy. One thing for sure is that her music continues to spread a positive message to unite people worldwide. Whether she is belting out a house groove or delivering a church-inspired gospel piece, her music captures our hearts and flows through our souls.  The disco maven whose voice propelled hits for the likes of C&C Music Factory, Black Box, the Weather Girls, Two Tons of Fun and Seduction up the charts, says being on the charts isn’t tops on her list right now.   "Being on the charts is fine but I think that more of the message is what is important. The charts don’t matter a whole lot to me. This business has gotten harder and narrower as far as people being in the business. People are still challenged. The experiences that I have been through have made me stronger and little bit wiser," Wash said in a recent interview. Wash who is billed to perform at Pride in the City, New York’s official black, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community celebration’s 2nd annual Blackout Arts Series this Friday, August 5 at the Brooklyn Marriott at 333 Adam Street in Brooklyn, New York, said that one of the things that she is concerned about is AIDS.  She said one of her hit songs, "Carry On," remains a favourite of hers, as during the song’s popularity, a lady she met on the street said the song helped her through an AIDS crisis.   "The lady came up to me and she said that the message in the song really meant something to her. She was dealing with a child who had AIDS and the song inspired her to carry on. That meant a whole lot to me," said Wash.  Asked about her association with the Pride event, she said, "I got a call to perform at the event and I said okay. I have been doing Pride festivals over the years. I have been a part of that for many years." The year’s staging of Pride in the City includes a wealth of work by a variety of outstanding artistes, features a variety of inventive expressions that evoke the elements of fire in design, water in art, earth in writing, air in film and the power of love expressed through spoken word.

Wash’s career began in the mid 1970’s when she and friend Izora Armstead, who recently passed away, became background vocalists for disco artiste Sylvester. Known as Two Tons of Fun, they later went separate as a duo and recorded under the name Weather Girls where they scored a club classic with Its Raining Men.   "The journey for me has been up and down which is normal in the business.   You have your high and low periods. It’s been quite interesting," Wash pointed out. In commenting on how Two Tons of Fun evolved into the Weather Girls, she told us, "When we recorded 'Its Raining Men,' we mentioned in the opening line that we are your weather girls. We changed record labels at the time, so it was like starting over for us." Wash says she remains current by keep on doing what she does.  "I just keep doing what I am doing and hope that the fans love the lyrics. I like to sing songs with positive messages. I am happy when my songs touch somebody." In the early 1990’s Wash was engulfed in a sea of controversy with the producers behind dance acts Black Box and C&C Music Factory.   "I did vocals for the C&C Music Factory album and they used someone else in the video. That was not the deal that we had agreed on, so I had to take legal action. Everything was settled as far as C&C Music Factory was concerned. We did a second album and they used me in the videos, so everything worked out fine."  Wash sang lead on the C&C Music Factory chart toppers Do You Wanna Get Funky with Me and Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now). In the case of Black Box (Wash sang lead on the Italian studio group’s hits "Everybody Everybody" and "I Don’t Know Anybody Else)," Wash said, "I had to take legal against them too. They were out of Italy and what happened was that I wound up getting a deal with their record company and went on and recorded an album with them." These days Wash who resides in New York says she is busy working on a new solo album. She recently topped the dance charts with the inspirational "You Lift Me Up." 

"I am still in the studios trying to work on my solo album. I am heading into some gospel music and inspirational music," she said. Asked how she managed handling a musical career and family life, she said, "I try to manage as best as I can. This is what I am doing for a living. It can be hard sometimes. I am dealing with some personal issues right now with family and illnesses." Wash who says she would like to work with Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle, pointed out that if a singing career hadn’t worked out for her, her other career choice would’ve been a school teacher.  "I always thought about being a school teacher when I was younger. The teacher profession is a great business but I don’t think they get paid enough." Among Wash’s more familiar chart toppers are "Give it To You," "Runaround," "Keep on Jumpin" and "Catch the Light."




Dwele Resurfaces On The Music Scene

Source: Marlene Meraz, Virgin Records Publicity,,

(August 5, 2005)   (New York, NY) - R&B music will soon get a well-deserved boost, as Virgin recording artist Dwele puts the finishing touches on his highly anticipated sophomore album, Some Kinda ...  Rarely does a new artist inspire such early critical praise and fan appreciation - both on the US and international fronts - with a debut album as Dwele did with his groundbreaking Subject (2003).   Entertainment Weekly wrote that the album "spreads sultry, jazz-inflected R&B over subtle but muscular hip-hop grooves."   Fuelled by the hit single "Find A Way," Subject sold over 250,000 copies, based mainly on the strong, word-of-mouth buzz generated from Dwele's dynamic live shows and cool demeanour.  The new album, SOME KINDA ..., will arrive in US record shops on October 4 (the international release is October 3). "I'm really excited to finish the new album and, more importantly, get back in front of the people," says Dwele. "It will be great to finally share new material that I've been working on for several months.  I think people will really see my growth as a songwriter and musician."  In addition to working on the new record, the artist has continued touring, including recent sold-out shows in London and Paris. The first single "I Think I Love You," produced by Mike City (Usher, Carl Thomas, Nappy Roots) serves as a soulful preview of SOME KINDA ...  The midtempo burner explores a quickly developing relationship and picks up where the artist left off with Subject.  SOME KINDA ... takes his creativity to the next level, while still giving fans his unique brand of soul music - a heady mix of traditional and modern R&B, with strong influences from hip-hop and jazz. Born and based in Detroit, Andwele 'Dwele' Gardner started playing the piano at age six.  Although he tragically lost his father at 10, his passion for music at an early age lead to Dwele (pronounced DWELL- ay; means 'God has brought me' in Swahili) becoming a self-taught multi-instrumentalist. Growing up as a fan of hip-hop lead to collaborations with Slum Village (who appear on SOME KINDA ...) and Bahamadia, among others. Dwele himself produced nine tracks on the new record; other album producers include Mike City, Jay Dilla (Slum Village) and G-1 (R. Kelly, Raphael Saadiq).  Today's music scene is starved for more real emotion and musicianship.  Dwele delivers this, and much more, on his new album SOME KINDA ...  All you have to do is listen. Click HERE to check out Dwele's slammin' single "I Think I Love You."




Sum 41's Scare In Congo On TV

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Raju Mudhar, Toronto Star

(Aug. 8, 2005) When the local band Sum 41 went to the Democratic Republic of Congo, the musicians wanted to see the effects of war up close. They weren't ready for how close they got.  Rocked: Sum 41 in the Congo is the visual evidence of their harrowing journey. Airing tonight at 9 p.m. on MuchMusic, the hour-long special shows the Ajax rockers finding out about the ongoing civil war in this East African nation formerly known as Zaire.  When tensions between government troops and rebel soldiers flare up, the boys are forced to hide out while the sounds of battle — gunshots and rocket-propelled grenades — reverberate around them.  The band visited the city of Bukavu in May 2004 for 10 days.  "It only gave us a slight glimpse of what the people there have been living with over a decade," drummer Steve Jocz says from a tour stop in Utah, where the band is opening for Mötley Crüe.  "The area we were in had been peaceful for year, and then the fighting restarted. It goes to show just how unpredictable war is."  The TV special chronicles how the band set out to learn about the underlying reasons for the conflict. They visit schools and an orphanage for girls, and talk with former child soldiers. When the peace deteriorates, the band holes up in the Hotel Orchid with other tourists and Congolese people.  Floored by being so close to violence, for a while the only thing the guys can say is "Holy f---." But it does allow the band to engage in some bleak humour.  At one point, in a why-are-we-here moment, Jocz says, "We're just a rock 'n' roll band. I bet you the Strokes are having a beer in a bar in New York right now surrounded by supermodels."  The band and others holed up in the hotel are helped by a U.N. volunteer, Charles Pelletier, for whom the band later named their recent album, Chuck.

"He used to be in the Canadian military. He was ordered to leave us, and he sort of disobeyed that to make sure everyone in the hotel got out safe," says Jocz. The liner notes on the record put it more plainly: "Without him, we'd be dead. Chuck rules!"  Eric Hoskins, head of Toronto-based War Child Canada, lauds the band.  "As soon as things got bad, they were the ones that insisted we keep the cameras rolling," he says. "They felt it was such an important story to tell about the impact of war on these people."  Hoskins says the band originally contacted the charity by email.  "It was kind of funny — their manager, Greg Noiri, wrote us this note to our general information account, something like `Hey, I manage a band that you might have heard of, Sum 41, and we know about War Child, and we'd like to help out.' And we were like `Of course, we know who you are.'"  During later discussions, the band chose a trip to the Congo from a bunch of scenarios.  "I think we were blown away by the fact it's had more casualties than any other conflict since World War II," says Jocz.  "It also had to do with the underlying reasons of the conflict, specifically mineral rights. People in the western world don't realize that there's this material, Coltan, that is in everything, and how much of an issue it is for this country."

The Congo is rich in Coltan, which is short for Columbite-tantalite. It's a metallic ore that is used in circuit boards and cellphones. Most of the world's supply comes from the tiny African country.  During the documentary, band members sit and talk with a Coltan dealer, who is matter of fact about the way the system works, how workers who mine by hand are paid barely enough money to afford food to live on, while the mineral they extract is exported out of the country for huge profits.  Before the situation turns hairy, the film shows the band managing to have a bit of fun, visiting a wildlife reserve and hanging out with gorillas.  "That was actually pretty scary, too," says Jocz. "That silverback almost charged us five times."  Since their visit, the band has arranged to send money to the Congo to rebuild a school.  And in the aftermath of the gravitas, is it back to rock 'n' roll for the pop punk crew?  "Yeah, we're touring with Crüe now, so it's a party all the time," jokes Jocz.




Roc-A-Fella Records Presents Teairra Mari

Source: ICED Media - Amina Elshahawi,

(August 8, 2005)  The newly crowned “Princess Of the Roc,” Teairra Marí, wasn’t even born when Eric B. and Rakim unleashed “My Melody,” the hip-hop classic who’s sample is featured in her debut single, “Make Her Feel Good.” But when the 17-year-old Detroit native heard the bass-heavy gem recycled she immediately knew she had found the cornerstone of her signature sound. Teairra Marí recalls, “When I heard that track, I was like, ‘This is the one, because it’s simple but also huge.’”  The enthusiasm that “Make Her Feel Good” set off at The Island Def Jam Music Group marked a defining moment in Teairra Mari’s young career, which began at age 12 when she started recording rough demos in her cousin’s basement. Despite scoring a local radio hit with one of those early songs, four years passed before Teairra Marí’s demo landed on the desk of Island Def Jam Group Chairman, Antonio ‘LA’ Reid, who signed the then 16-year-old singer on the spot at a brief meeting where she performed live. “I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “I was crying because I was so happy. I feel like everyone’s behind me, which is a great feeling to have coming from a time when it seemed that nobody believed in me or wanted to hear me.”  In the first creative collaboration since Shawn “Jay- Z” Carter became President of Def Jam Music Group, he and LA Reid recruited hit-making songwriter, Sean Garrett (“Lose My Breath,” “Goodies,” “Yeah!”), to help translate Teairra Marí’s innermost thoughts and emotions into lyrics. The two successfully completed “Make Her Feel Good,” a defining first single from the R&B ingénue’s forthcoming album scheduled to be released August 2, 2005 on Roc-A- Fella Records. ‘Make Her Feel Good’ is just a peek into her full-length album, which she describes as “a girl’s dictionary.”   “When Sean started writing the lyrics for ‘Make Her Feel Good,’ it was because of stories I was telling him about my guy friends,” explains Teairra Marí, whose musical influences and inspirations include Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin (her grandmother sang back- up for the Queen of Soul), Prince, Sade, Patti LaBelle and Minnie Ripperton.   “I was like, ‘I’m sick of this guy; he won’t call me.’ I was sitting right there when Sean was writing the song, and I was just basically telling him about how I deal with guys. When the song was finished, I was like, ‘Yes! That is me! That’s what I go through all the time.’ Not only is it me, it’s other girls too. Other girls can relate because I know that’s how they feel. Every girl that has heard the song is like, ‘Omigod! Thank you, Teairra.’”

“Everybody at the label was excited when they heard ‘Make Her Feel Good’,” Teairra Marí, remembers. “The whole building was just shaking. Jay-Z was like, ‘You have so much personality, and I love it.’” Because of the real and uncensored emotion portrayed in the song, Shawn Carter, felt Teairra Marí’s debut album was a natural to be released under the Roc-A-Fella Records brand. In addition to honestly representing a young woman’s point of view on life, Teairra Marí is excited about representing for her hometown, Detroit. “Right now, everything’s all about the whole Southern movement, so me coming in from the Midwest is like a breath of fresh air. There’s no other city in America like Detroit. It’s just fly, and I love it. Our swagger, the way we dress—everything is so different and laid back, which is how I am. You walk up the street and everybody has a different colored mink, Cartier glasses— everything. We like to floss and be seen, so we don’t have to say much. Every time someone sees me, they’re like, ‘Girl, you sharp!’ and I’m like, ‘Yes, I’m from Detroit.’”  This is just the beginning.




‘Lady Of Soul’ To Feature Queen Of Soul

Excerpt from

(August 4, 2005) *The one and only Aretha Franklin is set to make a rare TV appearance at the “10th Annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards,” to be taped in Southern, CA at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium for national syndication from Sept.17 through 24, according to Executive Producer, Don Cornelius.  During the telecast, Franklin will be honoured with the 2005 Lena Horne Award for Outstanding Career Achievement by presenter Stevie Wonder.  Meanwhile, the 2005 Aretha Franklin Award for Entertainer of the Year will be presented to Amerie, and will be presented (for the first time since its inception in 1995), by Ms. Franklin herself.  Brian McKnight, Toni Braxton, Ciara and John Legend are also among the guests scheduled to attend.  George Duke will serve as the event’s musical director. *In other award show news, the 6th Annual Latin Grammy Awards will be broadcast live on Univision on Nov. 3 from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Nominations will be announced Aug. 23 at The Music Box @ Fonda in Hollywood.




Q To Score 50 Film

Excerpt from

(August 4, 2005) *Quincy Jones has been tapped to compose the original score for 50 Cent’s Paramount biopic “Get Rich or Die Tryin'.” The project will be the producer’s first film score since “The Color Purple” in 1985. Variety reports that the seven-time Oscar nominee will work with composers Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer, director Jim Sheridan and the film’s star, 50 (real name, Curtis Jackson). 




112 Takes Pleasure & Pain On An 11-City Tour

Source: Jackie O. Asare,, (212)431-5227

(August 4, 2005) In support of their new Def Jam release, 112, kicked off  an 11-city tour on July 21st in Philadelphia  which ends August 20th in Detroit, MI.  In their musical career, 112 has sold over 7 million albums domestically and 15 million worldwide. With accolades that include a BET nomination for Best R&B Group and various awards including:  Grammy Award (2002), Billboard Music Awards, MTV Award, BET Award, Soul Train Music Awards, the group is most known for their hit singles which include “Only You,” “Anywhere,” “Peaches & Cream,” and “Cupid.”  Already certified Gold, their new album, Pleasure & Pain, is a return to the ballads that characterize 112’s sound.  Their newest single, "What If" produced by Darrell "Ghettopop" Allamby, is the second song released from their new album, executive produced by Def Jam CEO, Antonio "LA" Reid, and 112.  Pleasure & Pain debuted at #4 on Billboard's Top 200 Charts further solidifying 112’s status as the most consistent and multi-faceted hit-making group in the game.  The first single "U Already Know," peaked at # 3 on the Billboard Magazine's R&B Charts.   The second single, “What If,” is the most added R&B record at urban/crossover radio and has been added to several stations including: KKBT (Los Angeles, CA), WJMN (Boston, MA), WGCI (Chicago), WHXT (Columbia, SC), WZFX (Raleigh, NC), WBHJ (Birmingham, AL),WQUE (New Orleans, LA), WMBX (West Palm Beach, FL), KNDA (Corpus Christi, TX), and KHTE (Little Rock, AK).  112 will perform as part of a tribute for Icon Award winner, The Gap Band, at this year’s BMI Urban Music Awards in Miami on August 26th.  For additional information, contact JLM PR or visit 112 official sites




Ky-Enie Gears Up For The Big Times

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson (In Jamaica) /

(August 4, 2005) The Big Yard label’s latest discovery is singer Ky-enie. He is all geared up for the big times, thanks to a handful of recordings that he has been dishing out of late.  The New York-based Jamaican born singer is featured on the My Baby rhythm (his song is called Don’t Wanna Be Alone) and the Big Street rhythm (his contribution is Time Rough). Both rhythm projects are among the latest from the Robert Livingston-helmed label which has over the years generated hits for the likes of Shaggy, Merciless and Bounty Killer among others. Ky-enie says he has been working on promotions outside of Jamaica to build a vibe before concentrating on the local market. ‘Things have been going wonderful so far, just working on the studios and doing promotions on the songs that I have out there. The songs have been getting some good spins’, Ky-enie said in a recent interview with this column. He said he hooked up with the Big Yard label a few years ago through a mutual friend. They had lost touch and eventually met up again at a function. ‘We started doing some serious work and it has been good. Now with the Big Yard name behind Ky-enie, I have been getting some good rotation on the radio,’ he said. Ky-enie recently performed at the VP Records Memorial Day show in Miami. His performance was one of the better ones delivered in the early acts segment. ‘It was a good experience performing on that show. It was my second time performing in Miami, the show was just off the chain and the people loved it,’ said Ky-enie. Ky-enie who plays the guitar, says the journey has been tedious and hectic but he is confident that his efforts will eventually pay off. ‘My first recording was with Yellow Kid, but the song wasn’t released. Courtney Cole released Shame on the Kette Drum rhythm for me after that. I did other recordings after that. I think the producers didn’t feel the vision then, however I remained creative and continued doing my own stuff in the streets,’ Ky-enie related. He has so far recorded enough material for two albums.   He is originally from Ocho Rios in St. Ann. These days he resides in Queens, New York.  His real name is Fitzian Ferguson. He got the name Ky-enie from Rastafarian friends who told him that the name meant the spirit of a warrior. 




Letterman Saves Zombies

Source:  Canadian Press

(August 5, 2005) Hamilton — Late-night TV host David Letterman sent his private jet to Hamilton's airport to rescue the '60s rock band The Zombies after they were stranded in Canada by the Air France accident. Members of the band, famous for hits like Time of the Season and She's Not There, had been flying from Winnipeg to Toronto when bad weather and the aftermath of Tuesday's accident grounded their flight to New York City. They had planned to find a flight to the Big Apple in time to play a benefit show slated to start at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.  Instead, with Pearson International Airport in chaos and a flight out impossible, they drove to Hamilton. The Zombies — with original keyboardist Rod Argent and lead singer Colin Blunstone — were to headline a benefit for Dave Clark Five frontman Mike Smith, who was paralyzed after breaking his neck two years ago. Letterman's band leader, Paul Shaffer, heard The Zombies were stuck in Canada, so he called Letterman, who sent his two-engine jet to Hamilton pick up the band. “He saved the day,” Robert Rowland, The Zombies' agent, said of Letterman. “The doors opened at 6, the show was supposed to start at 7:30, but I don't think the show started until 8:45 p.m. They kept stalling and stalling to let the guys get there.”




It’s Stevie…At The Apollo

Excerpt from

(August 5, 2005) *Stevie Wonder will perform Aug. 6 at New York’s Apollo Theater in an effort to educate the public and encourage legislators to support the renewal of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. A second performance is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 11. With key provisions set to expire in 2007, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law forty years ago on Aug. 6. Sections 4, 5, 6-9 and Section 203 of the legislation could expire if Congress does not renew them. Section 4 determines which states are covered by Section 5, which requires federal pre-clearance of voting changes before they are enacted. Section 6-9 provides for federal examiners to monitor elections by the Department of Justice. Section 203 mandates that certain voting materials be translated in the language of minorities in certain jurisdictions.  Wonder returns to the Apollo in its 70th year to deliver his message from the famous stage that has been the launching pad of so many meaningful Civil Rights initiatives.  "We must begin now to make the public aware that this is an important democratic right we must protect for all people. The right to vote is so precious, we must do everything we can to protect that right for all citizens," said Wonder, who was among the effort to establish Martin Luther King Day as a national holiday.  "Secure the Right Forever -- Educate and Legislate" The Voting Rights Act at the Apollo Theater will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday and Thursday; doors open at 7.




We Remember ‘Little’ Milton

Excerpt from

(August 5, 2005) *Blues singer, songwriter and guitarist "Little" Milton Campbell, noted for writing and recording the blues anthem “The Blues Is Alright,” died Thursday from a stroke suffered July 27 in Memphis. He was 71. Born to sharecropping farmers near the Mississippi Delta town of Inverness, his father, "Big" Milton Campbell, was known locally playing blues gigs around town. "Little" Milton picked up a guitar at age 12 and recorded his first hit for Sam Phillips' Sun Records at age 18.  Discovered by blues-rocker Ike Turner, Campbell spent most of his storied career in the shadow of B.B. King. His down-home vocal style and songwriting was often reminiscent of King’s approach.  Among Campbell’s hits were "I'm a Lonely Man" and "That Will Never Do" under Bobbin records; the 1965 hit "We're Gonna Make It" for Chess Records, as well as  "Baby I Love You," "If Walls Could Talk," "Feel So Bad," "Who's Cheating Who?" and "Grits Ain't Groceries." He released "Annie Mae's Cafe" and "Little Bluebird" after signing with Memphis' Stax Records in 1971 before the label folded.




Musicians, Actors Pick Top Songs And Films

Source: Reuters

(August 6, 2005) Los Angeles -- Bob Dylan's song Like a Rolling Stone topped a poll yesterday to find the 100 songs, movies, TV shows and books that "changed the world" in the opinion of musicians, actors and industry experts. Dylan's 1965 single pushed Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel into second place in the survey for Uncut magazine. Sir Paul McCartney, Noel Gallagher, Robert Downey Jr., Rolling Stone Keith Richards and Lou Reed were among those who gave their views for the poll. "I absolutely remember where I was when I first heard it. It got me through adolescence," rocker Patti Smith said of the winning song. Former Beatle McCartney picked Heartbreak Hotel as his number one choice. "It's the way [Presley] sings it as if he is singing from the depths of hell," McCartney said. "His phrasing, use of echo, it's all so beautiful. Musically, it's perfect." The Beatles' song She Loves Me ranked at No. 3, followed by the Rolling Stones' (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange emerged as the most influential film at No. 5 followed by The Godfather and The Godfather II films in sixth place. The Prisoner was the top-ranking TV series at No. 10, while Jack Kerouac's novel On the Road was the highest-ranking book, in 19th place.




West Africa Holds Its Own Live 8 Concert

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Associated Press

(August 7, 2005) Niamey, Niger — A month after the international Live 8 concerts were staged to raise awareness of Africa's plight, West African musicians are holding one of their own — in Niger on Sunday to raise money for millions of people facing starvation. The concert, dubbed “Music Against Hunger,” was organized by Niger's first lady, Laraba Tandja, wife of this desert nation's President Mamadou Tandja. Heavy rains forced organizers to postpone the outdoor concert by a day. It had originally been scheduled for Saturday. “It's to bring support to people who've been victimized by the famine,” said Habibou Issa, a Communications Ministry adviser. “It will also show how culture and art can express the solidarity” of those suffering. The United Nations says the combined effects of drought and crop-destroying locusts have left some 3.6 million people here facing severe food shortages. Children are most at risk, with some 800,000 under the age of 5 who need to be fed urgently. The concert is to be held in the capital, Niamey. The venue is a 50,000-capacity stadium, the country's biggest. Issa said entrance fees — about $2 (U.S.) per person — will be donated to a government body in charge of dealing with the food crisis and helping co-ordinate relief. The Live 8 concerts were held around the world in early July, most notably in London and Philadelphia. They were organized by Irish rocker Bob Geldof, who raised millions for famine relief with his 1980s Live Aid concerts, which came in response to a 1984 famine in Ethiopia that left a million people dead. On stage in Niamey will be Niger's Ka Idan Kaskiya, Goumbe Statr and Amadou Konate. Other musicians from West Africa are expected, including Ivory Coast's Alain Kouassi.




We Remember Cuban Vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer And Jazz Bassist Al McKibbon

Excerpt from

(August 8, 2005) *Cuban singer Ibrahim Ferrer, a staple of his country’s traditional “son” music of the 1940s and 1950s and a performer on the “Buena Vista Social Club” album, died Saturday at the age of 78.   A cause of death was not given by his rep at the Montuno production company, but Ferrer's colleagues said he suffered from emphysema and was not feeling well earlier in the week. Born Feb. 20, 1927, in Cuba's eastern city of Santiago, Ferrer began singing with local groups in 1941. By the late 1950s, he had built a fan base through regular gigs with the late bandleader Pacho Alonso.  For the next 20 years, he remained with Alonso's group, which in 1959, moved to Havana.  By the early 1980s, Ferrer had retired from music, but was lulled back by U.S. musician Ry Cooder to perform with a group of older Cuban artists on the "Buena Vista Social Club album," which won a Grammy in 1999.

*Jazz Bassist Al McKibbon, famous for fusing jazz and Latin music as part of the George Shearing quintet and other groups in the 1940s and ‘50s, died July 29 of kidney failure at the age of 86. Considered one of the last great string bass players from the bebop era, McKibbon had performed behind such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. Born in Chicago to a musical family and raised in Detroit, Alfred Benjamin McKibbon is best known for merging Afro-Cuban and black jazz.   “His bass line became standard," his close friend Gary Chen-Stein told AP. "His contribution in jazz is immeasurable. He's got fans all over the world." His interest in Latin music came through a gig with Gillespie, who at the time was experimenting with combining jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms. "I began to feel that the Cubans were as close as you could come to African culture because they still practiced the roots of our music," McKibbon wrote in the afterword to the 2002 book "Latin Jazz: The Perfect Combination." In 1958, McKibbon moved to Los Angeles and played in the staff orchestras of CBS and NBC, for movie soundtracks and on albums by Frank Sinatra, Randy Newman, Sammy Davis Jr. and others. He also played on Davis' "The Complete Birth of the Cool" recordings. Chen-Stein said McKibbon is survived by two daughters.




Big Boi Officially Launches Own Label

Excerpt from

(August 10, 2005) *Big Boi of OutKast will finally lift the curtain on his own record label, Purple Ribbon, it was announced Tuesday.  Distributed through Virgin, the imprint will release at least two albums this year: a new disc by Bubba Sparxxx and a Purple Ribbon All-Stars compilation that will be led by the track "Kryptonite," from the Purple Ribbon All-Stars featuring Big Boi, Killer Mike, C-Bone and Rock D. The set also includes the electronic R&B dance tune "U Got Me" by Scar featuring Big Boi. Sparxxx’s Purple Ribbon/Virgin album, "Space Mountain," is scheduled to hit stores in October with the single, "Hey!"  Referring to his successful Atlanta-based dog breeding business, Big Boi explained the name of the label: "My 'Purple Ribbon' dogs have a strong blood line that goes back three generations. I want to put out potent funk music. Purple Ribbon is gonna be so strong you can smell it." Big Boi notes: "This is a Big Boi thang, not an OutKast thang. I'm doing films, but music is my first love."  Jermaine Dupri, President of Virgin's urban music, added, "I'm happy to have a situation where I can work with Big Boi. Not just because we're both from Atlanta, but because of his creativity, his musical ear and his ability to find new talent. His association with Virgin will add to the excitement that I'm bringing to the label."




Dianne Reeves Sets Mood For Clooney Film

Excerpt from

(August 10, 2005) *Jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves performs several songs in the George Clooney-directed film “Good Night, and Good Luck,” which focuses on legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow (played by David Straithairn) during his on-air confrontations with Senator Joseph McCarthy.  Shot entirely in black and white, "Good Night, And Good Luck" features Reeves setting the mood and atmosphere created by the smoky jazz soundtrack. Clooney handpicked each of the songs featured in the movie, which Reeves also performs on screen. The soundtrack, much of which was recorded live on film, features an original song, "Who's Minding the Store," along with such classics as "Too Close for Comfort," "Straighten Up and Fly Right," "One for My Baby," and "How High the Moon." The CD, Reeves's first new recording since 2003, will be available from Concord Records on Sept. 27.  Murrow, the then host of the CBS series, “See It Now,” exposed McCarthy’s deceit, bullying and manipulation in one of historwy's most courageous moments of journalism, an act that helped bring an end to the tyranny of the blacklist and the House Un-American Activities Committee anti-Communist hearings.  "Good Night, And Good Luck." premieres in the U.S. at the Opening Night film of the New York Film Festival on Sept. 23, and will open in limited release in New York and Los Angeles on Oct. 7. The cast also includes Robert Downey, Jr. and Patricia Clarkson as Joe and Shirley Wershba, Frank Langella as Bill Paley, Ray Wise as Don Hollenbeck, Grant Heslov as Don Hewitt, and Jeff Daniels as Sig Mickelson.





August 9, 2005

Hootie & The Blowfish, Looking for Lucky, Vanguard 2005/Minnie Riperton.jpg
James Taylor, James Taylor, Toshiba EMI
Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz, Crunk Juice [Chopped and Screwed], TVT
Michael McDonald, Ultimate Collection, Rhino
Minnie Riperton, Come to My Garden, Aim
Percy Sledge, When a Man Loves a Woman [Aim], Aim
The Staple Singers, In the Spirit, Direct Source
Various Artists, Best of R&B Soul, Direct Source
Various Artists, Cellar Full of Motown, Vol. 2, Universal International
Ying Yang Twins, USA (United State of Atlanta) [Chopped and Screwed, TVT

August 16, 2005

Lil Bandit, Let It Be Known, EMI International
Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz, Reggaeton Remix, Ichiban/Ryko
Lou Rawls, Live! [Bonus Tracks], Blue Note
Mos Def, New Danger [Bonus Track], Universal International
Pras, Win Lose or Draw, Universal
Raul de Souza, Elixir, Tratore Music Brasil
Tina Turner, Essential Collection, Madacy
Various Artists, This Is Northern Soul! The Motown Sound, Vol. 1, Universal International
Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),
BMG International







A Storyteller For Our Time

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Melissa Aronczyk, Special To The Star

(Aug. 4, 2005) NEW YORK— If it weren't for Jim Jarmusch, the indie film movement wouldn't be what it is today.  But if it weren't for the Motown vocal group The Four Tops, Jim Jarmusch probably wouldn't even be making films.  "I had made my first film, Permanent Vacation (as a New York University film student in 1980), and I was in this band (the Del-Byzanteens, a popular punk rock group in New York's underground scene). We were mostly opening for English bands like Echo and the Bunnymen, the Psychedelic Furs, New Order," Jarmusch recalls.  "Then we got booked opening for The Four Tops, some revival thing. It was filled with frat boys and it was in some weird place I'd never been before or since. They were throwing beer cans at us and spitting on us ... and well, we were used to that from punk rock.  "But then we went backstage. The water system in this place had backed up and the toilets overflowed, so all our equipment was floating in yellow water. Then two members of my band were fighting about a girl, and they weren't talking to each other, and that was wearing me down.  "And that was sort of the moment where I said, `You know what? I think I'm gonna try to make another film.'"  Jarmusch made Stranger Than Paradise, shooting with black and white film donated by Wim Wenders. When it won Best First Feature at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984, it was a sign he was on the right career track.  More than 20 years later, after the international critical success of films Down by Law (1986), Mystery Train (1989), and Dead Man (1995), and recent features Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999) and Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), Jarmusch hasn't looked back.  "I probably should have been a musician," he concludes, "but The Four Tops saved me."

As much as he is admired for his offbeat, unconventional filmmaking, Jarmusch, 52, is perhaps even more respected for his lasting integrity as an independent. He owns all his negatives, won't cut deals with big studios and couldn't care less about what Hollywood wants.  He works by intuition rather than convention. Instead of writing a script and finding actors to fit the roles, he prefers to write for the people he wants to work with.  Broken Flowers, which opens Friday, was scripted for Bill Murray. Murray plays Don Johnston, an eternal bachelor who'd rather channel-surf in his bathrobe than reflect on past adventures or future possibilities — until one day when the mail brings a letter from an ex-lover, announcing he has a 19-year-old son who might be looking for him.  Trouble is, Johnston doesn't know which ex-lover.  Egged on by his hardboiled, detective story-reading neighbour Winston (Jeffrey Wright), Johnston embarks on a road trip with a mission: to visit each of his exes and discover which of them wrote the letter.  The film won the Grand Prix at this year's Cannes festival, sealing both Murray's status as undisputed master of the deadpan delivery, and Jarmusch's skill as a storyteller for our time.  Another impetus for writing the film, says Jarmusch, was the chance to work with actresses over 40. Johnston's girlfriends are played by screen veterans Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy and Tilda Swinton.  "There are so many great female actors between 40 and 55. In Hollywood terms they're in a nebulous place. I got incensed by that," Jarmusch says. "I could only use four in the film, but I could've had (Johnston) visit 20 ex-lovers!"

Jarmusch's films defy easy classification. Nevertheless, fans, critics and academics have inked hundreds of pages speculating on the themes in his work. Some say there's a thread of estrangement or alienation. Others point to the metaphor of travel or the plight of post-modern ennui.  For Jarmusch, the theme is in the eye of the beholder.  "I'm very non-analytical, especially about my own work," he says. We're sitting in the back room of a SoHo restaurant, his cigarettes resolutely parked in the middle of the table.  "When I'm done with a film I never see it again. I go on. I hate looking back." He deepens his voice, pretending to be the interviewer. "So, why did you make a film about a guy who looks back?" "I don't know!" He answers his own question with a wry laugh.  "Cinema is a beautiful way to open a world up to a viewer, and maybe they will reflect on themselves by what they see or what other people do. But beyond that I'm not trying to teach anybody anything or say anything."  Though his band-playing days may be over, Jarmusch still has a musician's soul. As with all his films, the soundtrack in Broken Flowers is a vital element. In fact, it is often the music that directs the film's content, not the other way around.  He made Jeffrey Wright's character Ethiopian solely because he wanted to use Ethiopian jazzman Mulatu Astatke's music in the film, he says.  "Or the song by the Greenhornes with Holly Golightly singing," he adds. "I thought, that's the theme song for my film, before I wrote it! The music tells me it wants to be there."  Jarmusch's interest in Eastern philosophy also pervades his work.  In one scene in Broken Flowers, a young man asks Johnston for some "philosophical tips."  Johnston hesitates. "Well, the past is gone," he says slowly. "And the future isn't here yet, whatever it's going to be. All there is, is the present."  "I don't think there's any better philosophy than that. That's all we have."




Love Across A Great Divide

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Michael Posner

(August 4, 2005) Apart from the obligatory rigmarole surrounding passports and visas, crossing a border is not, for most of us, a major event. But what if, once you crossed, you could never go back home? That, in essence, is the premise of Israeli director Eran Riklis's ambitious feature, The Syrian Bride, which opens in Toronto on Friday. It's the story of Mona, a beautiful Druze woman from Majdal Shams, a village in Israel's Golan Heights, betrothed to a Syrian actor. Once she marries, once she crosses the border on her wedding day, Syrian authorities will not allow her to return to Israel, a country with which they are still officially at war. The same rules, of course, apply when bride or groom crosses from Syria into Israel. There is no going back. Set in this high-tension political no man's land -- the Golan Heights was won by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, but many Druze (disciples of an ancient offshoot of Islam) still regard themselves as Syrian -- the film explores an equally tenuous emotional landscape, a perfect admixture of joy and sorrow. In Toronto recently to promote the film, Riklis said the film grew out of his 1999 documentary, Borders, about the ways in which geographical borders impinge on psychological and physical realities in the Middle East. One segment of that film dealt with precisely this issue of so-called Syrian brides. "Something about that story stuck with me," he recalled. "The image of the bride crossing the border, and the bureaucracy popping in, creating chaos."

It is no simple matter, needless to say, for an Israeli director to make a film set in a traditional Druze society, using Palestinian actors speaking Arabic. To win their confidence, Riklis made dozens of trips to the Druze heartland, and spent hours chatting with community leaders and residents in Majdal Shams. "Really," he says, "on a person-to-person level, I was privileged to have an open door. Because I'm not serving anyone's cause -- not the Syrians, not the Druze, not the Israelis. It's a film about people. But you have to be respectful of the culture, because even if the film is controversial, from their point of view, you have to be accurate." More strategically, perhaps, he allied himself with Suha Arraf, an Israeli Palestinian screenwriter. "I usually collaborate with someone," Riklis explained. "It's part of my lack of discipline. And the fact that she's a Palestinian -- it couldn't hurt. Suha grew up in a village very similar to this one, so she could help me bridge the gap and keep me on track." Moreover, he felt a female screenwriter would better enable him to tell the story from a woman's point of view. Most of the film is actually seen through the eyes of the bride's sister, Amal (Hiam Abbass), who is struggling to cross a psychological border of her own; she wants to go to university, but must overcome the tradition-laden attitudes of her husband, for whom a spouse's independence automatically implies a form of emasculation. Shot for $2.5-million (U.S.) in 2003, as an Israeli-French-German co-production, the film has won a clutch of awards, including the Grand Prix at the 2004 Montreal Film Festival. Most of the cast is Palestinian, including real-life daughter and father: Clara Khoury (as Mona) and Makram J. Khoury, a much-admired actor, as her father.

Riklis said he spent six months casting, because "it's very important to me that everyone be good, even if it's just a soldier at a gate with one line. If he's not good, then the whole moment goes away." Although The Syrian Bride was a hit in Israel and abroad, it has scarcely penetrated the Arab world. To date, Morocco is the only Arab country that has screened the film (there, says Riklis, he was warmly received). And reviews in the Arab press have been mixed. "I think it's really difficult for them to accept in the end that an Israeli can do a film about their community. They think I'm still serving the Zionist cause. But maybe there'll be an opening night in Damascus. You never know." Indeed, because Syrian president Bashar al-Assad appears briefly in the film (in videotaped footage of his inaugural speech), Riklis gave a DVD of the film to Terye Roed Larssen, the highest-ranked UN official in the region, to pass on. So far, he's heard nothing. When I saw the film this past spring, I was struck by the number of audience members who remarked afterwards how familiar Mona's family seemed: beset by many of the same problems that affect families everywhere. Riklis, too, has heard these "they're just like us" comments and they puzzle him. "Who are they supposed to be? . . . The problem is that people see them as 'the Other, the Danger.' But we're not talking about a no-electricity, no-water kind of place, or a village in Afghanistan, even though the people there would ultimately be the same. Majdal Shams is really just next door." Riklis, now 50, was born in Montreal and largely raised there and in New York and Brazil, speaking only English until he was seven. After serving in the Israeli army in the Yom Kippur War -- a war in which he lost many friends and which "hasn't really been dealt with, at least on a cinematic level" -- he studied film in Tel Aviv and in London, and started making commercials before segueing into features. His first feature was On a Clear Day You Can See Damascus. "Even then I had the Syrian fixation," he jokes. "I've done commercials, television, documentaries and features, because when I came back from England, I said I'll do whatever comes along, because one thing will lead to another. I wasn't a snob about it, because you always learn something new from whatever you do."

Riklis isn't sure what he'll do next. He's working on a script (again with Suha Arraf) which explores the same territory as The Syrian Bride -- a family struggling against the system and itself in the Middle East. On the other hand, he says, "I could find myself in Los Angeles next week. I have no aspirations to do Batman 5, but I'll go where I go. I live in Tel Aviv, but I'm also in Paris or Berlin or New York." Globalization, he suggests, "is the modern face of cinema." That said, Riklis does feel a responsibility to do films about the Middle East, in part because so few relatively are made. As The Syrian Bride demonstrates, "you can make films that are controversial and provocative without being overtly political -- films you can see and enjoy even if you don't know who the Druze are or even where Syria is."




Wedding Day The Saddest Of Bride's Life

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - John Terauds

The Syrian Bride


Starring Hiam Abbass, Makram J. Khoury, Clara Khoury and Eyad Sheety. Written by Suha Arraf and Eran Riklis. Directed by Eran Riklis. 96 minutes. At Al Green and Bayview theatres. G

(Aug. 5, 2005) Wedding Bells magazine has no glossy how-to for nuptials that have to take place in a demilitarized zone or poem to comfort a young woman who has to choose between getting married and never seeing her family again.  Yet this is precisely the strange cultural and emotional ground claimed by Israeli filmmaker Eran Riklis in The Syrian Bride, the story of a Druze woman living in the Golan Heights who is betrothed to a Syrian television star.  Every word, act and relationship in this taut, 96-minute drama is loaded with so much emotional freight it's a surprise that Riklis managed to make a coherent film of it all. That The Syrian Bride is an engaging, moving tale that transcends its time and place is remarkable.  The Druze belong to a religious sect with Islamic links. Their native territory, stretching around Mount Lebanon, includes the stark, majestic geography of the Golan Heights — historically part of Syria, Israeli-occupied since the 1967 war. Many Druze carry passports that list their nationality as "undetermined," which makes it very difficult for them to leave their homeland.  Separating the Golan Heights from Syria is a no-man's land enforced by the United Nations.  Within Druze society, there is tension between social conservatives and liberals. There is also uneasiness between those who advocate reunification with Syria and their Israeli overlords.  Then there are the usual chinks that appear in family emotions when its members reunite, regardless of the occasion.

All of these ingredients get a brisk stir when the wedding day arrives for Mona (a doe-eyed Clara Khoury). Her arranged marriage will send her to a new life in Damascus — and, thanks to political tensions between Israel and Syria, she will never cross the border again.  Usually, when people marry, they end up with two families. Mona has to give up her own to join the new one.  The Syrian Bride follows the trials and tribulations of the Big Day, with all of its attendant hopes and fears. It all leads up to one of the most unusual scenes yet recorded on film: Mona is left standing in full white-dress regalia facing the military barricade at the border checkpoint while a U.N. functionary runs back and forth through the no-man's land to clear up a last-minute bureaucratic mess-up.  Will the wedding ever take place?  In a sense, the answer to that question is the least important aspect of this movie. What stays in memory is the portrait of the estranged son being reunited with his political-dissident father after eight years. Or witnessing Mona's sister (a captivating Hiam Abbass) engage in a struggle with her less liberal-minded husband.  Then there are the abundant shots of the beautiful Golan Heights, as much a prison as home to its inhabitants.  It all comes together in a potent cinematic mix, one that lends a deep humanity to a part of the world in dire need of greater understanding.




Hollywood In Harlem Film Festival Premieres ‘Proud’ With Ossie Davis

Excerpt from  - By Marie Moore /

(August 4, 2005) Ebony Magazine kicked off its 2nd Annual Hollywood In Harlem Film Festival with the screening of “Proud” at the legendary Apollo Theater.  Beginning August 2, the festival runs through August 6.  “Proud” is the true story of the only African-American crew to take a Navy warship into combat in World War II. It begged the question why crew members of the USS Mason were treated with respect and adulation in Ireland during the war, yet treated like animals in their own homeland, the country they were fighting to protect.   Writer/director Mary Pat Kelly came upon the story while doing research about American soldiers in Ireland during World War II for a documentary on Ireland. “Proud” stars Ossie Davis, Darnell Williams, Denise Nicholas, Reggie Austin, Eric LaRay Harvey, Rashad Haughton, Vernel Bagneris, Marcus Chait, Janet Hubert-Whitten, Albert Jones, Kidada Jones, Stephen Rea, and Aiden Quinn.  At this writing, there is no release date for this film. However, do put it on your must see list when it comes to your town. Prior to the screening of “Proud,” there was a touching tribute to Ossie Davis. Not only were there members of Davis’ family present for the reception and screening, but the real life heroes the film is based upon. Also in attendance was Tuskegee airmen and politicians. Real film footage is shown of the present day USS Mason at the end of the movie featuring Bill Clinton and Tommy Hilfiger. Hilfiger's production company THEntertainment produced the film. Hilfiger, who spoke at the Ossie Davis tribute, reiterated, “The rumours are not true.” The audience being very aware of what that rumours are roared with laughter. He went on to say, “Oprah even said I was not on her show.” This is the first film produced for Tommy Hilfiger's THEntertainment production company. 

Other films shown throughout the week at the Magic Johnson Theater and the Schomburg Center are “Underclassman,” “On the One,” “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” the documentary “Moon Over Sudan” (including a panel discussion) and a screening of “Stormy Weather,” which is part of the Senior Day observation during Harlem Week.  Family Day, August 6th, there is a panel discussion on “Growing Up as a Kid Actor in Hollywood,” that includes a screening of “That’s So Raven” and “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.”




From A Clown Springs An L.A. Dance Craze

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Susan Walker, Entertainment Reporter



Written and directed by David LaChapelle. 85 minutes. At the Paramount and Eglinton Town Centre. PG

(August 5, 2005) If the description of South Central L.A. contained in Rize is to be believed, its African-American residents fall into two categories: saints and sinners. Those who manage to escape a life of crime, drug addiction or an early death find a healthy outlet for their anger and a form of artistic expression in one of two hip-hop dance styles born out of tough times in the ghetto: clowning and krumping.  In 1992, around the time of the Rodney King riots in South Central, Thomas Johnson got dressed up as a clown to help out a friend who was throwing a birthday party for her child. Tommy the Clown was born. Part entertainer, part social worker, part entrepreneur, part educator, Tommy paints his face, wears a multicoloured Afro wig and runs a hip-hop clown academy. Here he ushered in a form of street dance known as clowning.  A former drug dealer and an ex-con, Tommy the Clown became a positive fixture in the community, a role model for underprivileged youth. Clowning, a sped-up, freestyle, street-based form of hip hop, was soon gathering as many adherents as the gangs in what you could call Lost Angeles.  Two of Tommy the Clown's acolytes, Lil C and Tight Eyez, took clowning a step further, toward something more like ritual, and called it krumping. Where once there were 50 or more clowning teams, there were now as many krumpers. Tommy organized competitions called the Battle Zone. Rize records a Battle Zone event that sold out the enormous Great Western Forum arena in L.A. The clowners beat the krumpers.  To the untrained eye, and for that matter to the trained eye of a dance critic, there's not much to distinguish one dance style from the other.  The defining element in both is speed, and such a rapid morphing of body shapes that it necessitates the movie's opening claim, "The footage in this film has not been sped up in any way." Krumping is presented as an almost spiritual practice, born out of a sense of oppression. It's fighting stances link it to capoeira, the Brazilian martial arts-based dance form that evolved out of an African slave resistance movement.  "This is our ghetto ballet. It's our only way of making ourselves feel we belong," says Dragon, a little too earnestly.

It's a well-known truth in the dance world that the body doesn't lie. As long as the characters in this film are dancing, we have little reason to doubt their sincerity. But once turned into talking heads, the dancers begin to sound like propagandists.  Director David LaChapelle, a photographer who plies his trade in the fashion world, knows how to create beautiful moving images, but doesn't capture moments of spontaneous expression or behaviour. Late in the game, he tries to supply a context for krumping as a form of escape from the ills of the ghetto.  We see Tommy's distress over a break-in at his home, the neighbours mourning the shooting of a young girl and boy and a visit to the proprietor of Payless Caskets.  Footage from West African tribal dance intercut with scenes of krumping give the contemporary urban dance a spiritual dimension that leads inevitably back to a neighbourhood Pentecostal church and the laying on of hands. At this point, it's easy to speculate that LaChapelle got lost himself, in an overabundance of material. What he needed was a story editor to steer him through it.




Film A Gem For Fans Of Peterson

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Martin Knelman, Toronto Star

(Aug. 10, 2005) Oscar Peterson will be celebrating his 80th birthday on Monday with a lunch-hour in-store bash at the HMV store at Yonge and Dundas. The party is being thrown by Universal Music, which has been happily selling the legendary jazz pianist's records for decades, most notably on the Verve label and is promising that some of Peterson's most celebrated musical friends will be on hand.  Peterson's fans are invited, but if they all show up there could be a mob scene. The most notable gift Peterson is likely to receive is a new stamp from Canada Post in his honour. The stamp goes on sale the same day.  But I'd like to suggest something the CBC and the National Film Board could do to mark the occasion. They could bring Sylvia Sweeney's marvellous 1992 feature documentary In the Key of Oscar out of the vaults and let people see it. It's one of the best films ever made about a jazz artist and it offers a rare glimpse of the private Oscar Peterson and his family.  Of course the film was shown on CBC Television's main network 13 years ago, but since then it has become a buried treasure. Technically, you can buy it from the National Film Board (for $29.95) but only if you're prepared to place your order and wait for it to arrive. The NFB does not offer it for rent and you won't find it at your local video store. And it has never been released on DVD.  Sweeney, who conceived and co-directed the film, happens to be a niece of Oscar Peterson, so she was able to be on the scene with her camera when Oscar decided to introduce his long-secret half-brother to the rest of the family. And she arranged to get the whole family on a train, because she knew trains resonated in his life story.  For years, Oscar's father (Sylvia's grandfather) supported the family working as a CP porter, riding trains from one end of Canada to the other. For a black man in Montreal in the 1930s, that was the only kind of work available. Early on, he decided music would provide a way to a better life for his five children.  Oscar, the second youngest, was forced to switch from trumpet to piano because of tuberculosis. His piano hijinks made him a local phenomenon, and he quit school to play full-time in the days when Montreal had the liveliest nightclubs in North America. Eventually he was discovered by impresario Norman Granz, who brought Oscar to Carnegie Hall and teamed him with Ella Fitzgerald.

What's most remarkable about In the Key of Oscar is that it's not just the story of a music-world celebrity but an authentic exercise in family therapy. The subtext is the price that Oscar Peterson's family paid for his fame. When they needed him, he was on tour.  Yet, the film has a happy ending as the world's favourite jazz pianist tries to play emotional catch-up with his own children.  Play it again, Oscar.  And please, play it again, CBC.  The New York Times called Murderball "an inspirational crowd-pleaser." Rolling Stone said it creates a new definition of courage. And last month, just before it opened, the Toronto-based company ThinkFilm, which was distributing it in both the United States and Canada, was getting calls from theatre bookers requesting more prints.  Certainly ThinkFilm had reason to believe this much-praised, unforgettable documentary about wheelchair rugby was going to be a summer hit. But despite careful handling and excellent promotion, the audience failed to turn up. The film grossed less than half as much as expected.  By the time I caught up with Murderball at the Carlton the other night, during its fourth week in release, there were fewer than 10 people in the audience in a small auditorium. But this is the kind of movie that sticks in the minds of people who saw it. We will still be talking about it years from now.

Between World War I and World War II, Somerset Maugham was the highest-paid writer in the world and was known for creating a striking portrait of British society and its sexual mores. But 40 years after his death, his name is hardly mentioned by literary historians or theatre aficionados.  Yet his stories are still popular even with audiences who don't recognize his name as easily as they would those of Noel Coward or Oscar Wilde.  Last year in Being Julia Annette Bening earned a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination playing a grand dame of the London stage created by Maugham. And this year, Maugham's 1925 comedy The Constant Wife has proved popular simultaneously on Broadway and in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Indeed, the Shaw Festival production, running till Oct. 9, is the hottest ticket at Stratford or Niagara. That's not because of critical acclaim; the reviews were at best mixed. And it's not because of celebrity casting. Indeed, the marvellous veteran Patricia Hamilton, expertly playing the same role that gets Lynn Redgrave the full star treatment in New York, is not even among the several names listed in the program above the title.  The popularity of the show has the festival considering its options. Will this year's run be extended throughout the fall? Or will The Constant Wife be part of the yet-to-be announced playbill for artistic director Jackie Maxwell's 2006 season? Expect an announcement soon.




Brotherly Love: Music Artists Tyrese And Andre 3000 Keep The Beats Going On The Set Of ‘Four Brothers

Excerpt from

(August 8, 2005) “You wanna talk about unprofessional?” laughs Mark Wahlberg, one of the stars of the upcoming revenge drama “Four Brothers.”  Sitting next to co-star Tyrese Gibson during interviews for the film in New York, Wahlberg’s cell phone began ringing, which launched a Tyrese tirade of tongue-and-cheek comments about the actor’s unprofessional behavior in not turning off the phone beforehand.  Quick to defend himself, Wahlberg says of the R&B singer: “We’d be in the middle of a big shootout scene, right? Everybody’s waiting, we’re getting ready to roll, Tyrese’s phone rings. And instead of ‘Oh my God, I’ll turn it off,’ he’s all ‘Hello? Yeah. What you doin’ tonight? Really? Oh it’s about to be on.’ I sh*t you not.”  In “Four Brothers,” opening Friday, both actors – along with co-stars Garrett Hedlund and Andre Benjamin of OutKast – play siblings who decide to avenge the killing of their mother.  That’s right, siblings, whose on-screen family ties were made more plausible by the chemistry oozing from the quartet both on and off camera.  “It was really natural for us to be what we were, and it ended up selling on camera” Tyrese says of the interracial casting.  “It’s kind of hard for us to process the fact that people are thinking that the bond was so there because it wasn’t like we were working at that bond. It just kinda happened.”   Off screen, R&B singer Tyrese and hip hop superstar Andre Benjamin, a.k.a. Andre 3000, would often retreat to their respective trailers to work on music projects. Tyrese was putting together songs for his new album (which he will title either “Alter Ego” or “Private Party”), while Dre would only admit to practicing the saxophone between takes.   “It wasn’t really a lot, like we didn’t talk about music all the time,” explains Andre. “It was about the work, really.” While 3000 was careful not to come off perhaps professionally-distracted during the film’s downtime, Tyrese admits that he “rented a bunch of equipment” to work on his album at night in his apartment. The noise did not go over well with his neighbors.

“It caused a little hell sometime, but I got through it,” he says.  As for the content and direction of his new project, he says: “I’m just getting stuff up off of my chest.  Different ideas come up and I just like to let it out. And being that [Andre was there] and I got so much respect for him musically, we would be in each other’s trailer listening to each other’s music.  He was doing music too, don’t put it all on me.” Desperate to build a reputation as a serious actor in Hollywood, Andre says he can only benefit from being around such seasoned veterans as Wahlberg and director John Singleton, whom he spoke to about the role at length before production began.    “I had conversations with him about what type of director he is, and he’ll always tell you he’s an old school director, because they focus on the emotion of the film,” Dre says. “A lot of new school directors, they make [the film] look really good, they splice and cut and edit, but old school directors, they focus mainly on emotions. He’ll tell you, if you leave the theater and you’ve laughed and you’ve cried, it’s emotion working. That’s what he works with, and I’ve taken that to my job, so when I’m working on a character, I’m trying to make sure I’m pulling all that out.” Roles in “Hollywood Homicide,” “Be Cool” and the upcoming “My Life in Idlewyld” have already given Andre a small taste of the Hollywood shuffle, which the Atlanta rapper describes as  therapeutic – at least, so far.   “Music is more challenging, I’ll say that much,” he explains. “Only because in film, [the script is] already written. It’s your interpretation of it. In music, you start from scratch.  That’s the reason why I do film, because of that challenge, though; try to get into character and to pull it off.” Dre’s dedication to acting has included the assistance of a vocal coach to help him lose his Southern drawl.  The actor took a few lessons to help him shake the dirty South from his speech pattern and to adopt the Detroit accent required of his character.  “We listened to a lot of Detroit speak and came to find out that Detroit’s accent is damn near Southern,” laughs Dre, who thinks of his drawl is “a problem” in Hollywood, but says he’s “working on it.”

“I know I don’t want to play southern characters in every movie,” he says.  For years, Dre had been telling Singleton that he would love to try out for one of his films, and for years, the director brushed him off. But once Singleton saw 3000 on screen in other film projects, he began taking the budding actor seriously.  “I was like wow, he’s got something,” says Singleton.  “I called him up and I was like, ‘Hey man, I think it’s time for us to do something together.’ He’s a real good guy and he’s learned something that it takes actors years to get, and it’s that you don’t’ have to really do too much when you’re on this big 70 foot screen. You could do just enough that’s in service to the character.  He’s really interesting to watch on film.”  Meanwhile, Tyrese, already a veteran of  two Singleton-directed films (“Baby Boy” and “2 Fast 2 Furious”) committed to “Four Brothers” before reading the script, “because I know John is not gonna call me about no BS.,” said the Watts native. His respect for Singleton is as strong on-camera as it is in the streets.  “He creates that zone that makes you feel comfortable,” Tyrese explains. “Like walking up with suggestions and bringing different ideas to the table to make what you’re doing that much better.”  “Four Brothers” is about to jump on a killer wave created by the swelling success of “Hustle and Flow,” the critically acclaimed pimp-with-a-dream film executive produced by Singleton and part of his self-described “summer one, two punch.”  So far, “Hustle” has grossed $18.6 million in only 1016 screens since its nationwide opening three weeks ago, and is currently No. 10 at the box office. (By comparison, this week’s No. 1 film “The Dukes of Hazzard opened on 3785 screens.)

“I’m happy,” he says of the Craig Brewer-directed film. “I mean, the movie’s a hit, everybody’s loving it. I was on 42nd Street last night, the 12:15 show, and people were applauding and having a good time. The theater was 90 percent full, so… I guess it’s on to the next one - “Four Brothers.”




Let The Star Spotting Begin

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Gayle MacDonald

(August 10, 2005) Seventeen star-studded titles were added to the line-up of the Toronto International Film Festival yesterday, with casts that include the mega-watt talent of Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Joaquin Phoenix, Anthony Hopkins, Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Winslet and Kirsten Dunst. While those celebrities are not yet confirmed as bona fide attendees at this year's 30-year-old fete, chances are good that many of these marquee names will sashay down the red carpet. As in years past, festival programmers managed to neatly walk that fine line, catering to both the respectably commercial and more intellectual cinematic interests. TIFF audiences, therefore, will get to sample a big-bang Hollywood offering like Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown, starring Bloom and Dunst in a quirky romantic tale set in Kentucky. But they'll also be able to grapple with Michael Winterbottom's Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, which is based on Laurence Sterne's almost-impossible-to-adapt autobiographical book, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. The U.K. director's recent film, 9 Songs, had British cinemagoers in an uproar over its racy sex scenes set to rock music. Depp is appearing, voice only, in Tim Burton's anticipated stop-motion, animated feature set in small-town Europe, in the 19th century. It's the story of Victor (Depp) who is spirited away to the underworld and wed to a creepy Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham-Carter) while his real, earth-bound bride (Emily Watson) pines away for him back home.

Other deliciously off-beat entries include the basically actor-less Bubble from Steven Soderbergh, a bizarre love triangle set in a doll factory in a down-on-its-luck town. Soderbergh (who alternatively likes to cater to the main- and not-so-mainstream crowd with films as diverse as Ocean's Twelve and Sex, Lies and Videotape) employs a cast of non-professional actors from Ohio for this picture. Canadian-born director Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol) has a world premiere for her film, The Notorious Bettie Page, which stars Gretchen Mol as a successful pin-up girl whose religious faith is at odds with her day job. Harron's father is Don Harron, better known as our farcical nationalist, Charlie Farquharson. In two of this year's entries, established actors switch roles and take on director's duties. With Everything Is Illuminated, Liev Schreiber (known to fans as Cotton Weary in the Scream films) tells the story of a young man's (Elijah Wood) quest to find a woman who saved his grandfather when his Ukrainian town was wiped off the map by the Nazis. As well, the Italian-American actor John Turturro directs Romance & Cigarettes, a musical love story in which Nick (James Gandolfini) fools around on his long-time wife Kitty (Susan Sarandon) with the flame-haired Tula (Kate Winslet). The daring director Abel Ferrara (Bad Lieutenant) has a North American premiere of Mary, a complicated tale of an independent director (Matthew Modine) who casts himself as Jesus Christ in his film, while the actress (Juliette Binoche) who plays Mary Magdalene travels alone to Jerusalem after her shoot to continue her spiritual quest. A year later in Manhattan, a superstar network journalist (Forest Whitaker) investigates the life and times of Jesus Christ. His show receives high ratings, but he and his wife (Heather Graham) reach a relationship boiling point.

In Shane Black's Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Robert Downey Jr. returns to Toronto in a role as a petty thief who stumbles into an audition for a Hollywood detective movie. To prep for his screen test, he's teamed with a tough-guy private-eye played by Val Kilmer. Playwright Phyllis Nagy makes her directorial debut with Mrs. Harris, the story of Jean Harris who killed her lover Dr. Herman Tarnower, author of The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet. That film starts Annette Bening as the murderess, and Ben Kingsley as the good doctor. The festival will host world premieres of Irish director Neil Jordan's (The Crying Game) Breakfast on Pluto, a coming-of-age tale (of sorts) starring Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson and Stephen Rea; Scott McGehee and David Siegel's Bee Season, based on Myla Goldberg's novel about a young spelling whiz (Flora Cross) whose prowess upsets the family groove; first-time director John Gatin's Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, about a father's love for a daughter and an injured horse with Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning; James Mangold's Walk The Line, a seven-year effort that recounts the early career of country legend Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) and the woman who saved him, his wife June Carter (Reese Witherspoon); Niki Caro's North Country stars Charlize Theron as a single mom in a Norma Rae-like role in which she inspires her female co-workers (Frances McDormand, Sissy Spacek) to rally against sexual harassment and other abuse at a local mining company; Udayan Prasad's Opa!, a love story about an American archeologist (Matthew Modine) who lands in a local Greek island in search of a lost Biblical artifact likely buried underneath a village tavern owned by the beauteous Agni Scott; and Roger Donaldson's The World's Fastest Man, in which Anthony Hopkins stars in the true story of New Zealander Burt Munro, a motorcycle fanatic famous in the sixties.




Chuck D Narrates Protest Doc

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(August 4, 2005) *Chuck D of Public Enemy will narrate a documentary about politically-minded musicians called, “Get Up, Stand Up: The Story of Pop and Protest,” premiering Sept. 28 on PBS. Other musicians appearing in the film include Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, Michael Stipe, Peter Gabriel and Bob Geldof. "'Fight the Power' by the Isley Brothers was the song that inspired me to write 'Fight the Power' by Public Enemy," Chuck tells Rolling Stone. "But, being a child of the 60s, there's so many great protest songs. 'People Get Ready' and a lot of Curtis Mayfield's songs touched my soul. James Brown had a protest song against drugs with 'King Heroin,' and Peter, Paul and Mary struck me as a kindergartener. How could those songs not mean so much?"




Egoyan Unveils Nominees For Directors Guild Awards

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Gayle MacDonald

(August 5, 2005) Toronto -- Director Atom Egoyan yesterday named this year's nominees for the Directors Guild of Canada awards, which celebrate the talent who make our homegrown movies and TV programs. In total, there were 79 nominations in 20 categories, including nods for feature films such as Childstar, Touch of Pink and Saint Ralph. In television, nominees include H20, Lives of the Saints, A Bear Named Winnie, Da Vinci's Inquest, Queer as Folk, Corner Gas and 15/Love. Individuals who may be honoured include directors such as Jerry Ciccoritti (Blood), Michael McGowan (Saint Ralph), Ken Finkleman (The Newsroom) and Michael DeCarlo (Murdoch Mysteries). The fourth annual awards, to be hosted by comic Joe Flaherty on Oct. 1 in Toronto, will also posthumously honour director Daniel Petrie Sr., who made such Emmy-nominated shows as Sybil, Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years, and Harry Truman: Plain Speaking during his 50-year career.




Oliver Stone's Cast Grows For 9/11 Movie

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(August 5, 2005) New York -- Michael Pena, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Maria Bello have been added to the cast of Oliver Stone's coming film about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The movie, also starring Nicolas Cage, will be based on the story of two Port Authority police officers who became trapped during rescue efforts after the collapse of the twin towers. Pena will portray Officer William Jimeno and Gyllenhaal will play his wife, Allison. Cage will play Sgt. John McLoughlin. McLoughlin's wife, Donna, will be played by Bello, Paramount Pictures announced recently. McLoughlin and Jimeno are said to be the last two men rescued. AP




Usher, 50 Cent Big Billboard Winners

Source: Associated Press

(August 6, 2005) Atlanta — Usher and 50 Cent were each triple winners Friday in the Billboard-AURN R&B/Hip-Hop Awards. Usher took home awards for top artist, top male artist and top singles artist. 50 Cent, who was nominated in six categories, won top albums artist, top rap album and top album. Top honours also went to Alicia Keys and Mario.  Keys was recognized for top songwriter and top female artist. Mario won top single and top singles airplay for Let Me Love You. Destiny's Child, which includes Beyonce, who took both top female and top new artist last year, captured the top duo or group award. The Game was named top new artist and TVT was again named top independent label. Billboard also honoured R&B singer Chaka Khan and hip-hop trio Tribe Called Quest with its Founders Awards, given to artists for their achievements and influence in the R&B and Hip-Hop genres. Known as an R&B diva, Khan had hits such as Tell Me Something Good and I Feel For You. Tribe Called Quest helped boost hip-hop into social popularity with their lyrics and jazz-like tracks. The awards are determined by the actual sales and radio airplay data that informs Billboard's weekly charts.




Singleton's 'Four Brothers' Pays Tribute To Slain Artists

Source: urbanepress,

(August 6, 2005) Paramount pictures "Four Brothers" directed by John Singleton gives the authentic touch to the movie which is set in Detroit (but filmed in Toronto, Canada) with Detroit music by deceased East Side Chedda Boyz executive producer/member Wipeout and Street Lordz artist Blade Icewood, who were murdered in the fall of 2004 and spring of 2005 respectively.  The songs though not included on music soundtrack (available August 23, 2005) will be featured in intense movie scenes around the city. The songs are "Oh Boy" and "Ride Out."   "We really thought these artist though cut down short in their lives, showed what's really going on in the streets of Detroit," Quotes Mark "Doughboy" Hicks, the Detroit native who was music consultant to music supervisor Paul Stewart.  For more info on both artists go to   "Four Brothers," which hits theatres August 12, features actors Mark Wahlberg, Andre 3000, Tyrese and Terrence Howard.




Eddie Murphy’s Wife Files For Divorce

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(August 8, 2005) *No word yet on whether Nicole Murphy wants “half!” in her split from husband Eddie Murphy, but the actor must have thought about his famous alimony bit from “Raw” when finding out that his wife is seeking, among other things, “spousal support” in their divorce after12 years of marriage. According to Extra, Nicole has cited irreconcilable differences and has retained famed divorce attorney Neal Hersh, who has represented Brad Pitt and Kim Basinger in their respective divorce cases. In addition to spousal support, the former model is also seeking custody of their five kids: Brea, Shayne, Zola, Miles and Bella Zahra, reports Extra.      Murphy's publicist, Paul Bloch, confirmed that Nicole recently filed divorce papers in Los Angeles Superior Court.  In a statement to E!, the comedian said: "The welfare of our children is our main concern and their best interest is our first priority."  Eddie and Nicole met in the late 1980s and married in 1993. In 1997, the actor was pulled over by West Hollywood police after “giving a ride” to a transsexual hooker.







Mo’Nique Throws Her Weight Around Oxygen Channel

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(August 5, 2005) *No one makes an entrance quite like your girl, Mo’Nique.  The actress took the stage at a Television Critics Association press tour lunch last month like she was coming out to host “Showtime at the Apollo,” surrounded by a bevy of female background dancers doing the damn thing to Amerie’s “1 Thing.” But these background dancers weren’t the typical skinny girls you see droppin’ it like it’s hot on BET.  These ladies were all well past pleasantly plump, which strategically set the stage for what was to follow - Mo’Nique’s candid interview with reporters about her new two-hour special “Mo’Nique’s Fat Chance,” premiering Saturday at 8 p.m on Oxygen.   “I got tired of watching television and what they claim is ‘reality.’ They kept making big and fat and overweight a bad thing,” said Mo’Nique of her motivation to create the show, billed as cable’s first full-figured beauty competition.  Mo’Nique’s Fat Chance” held casting calls in New York, Atlanta and Los-Angeles to find 10 plus-sized women to compete for the title of Ms. F.A.T. (Fabulous and Thick).   “We were looking for girls with the attitude that said ‘I am and I can,’” said Mo’Nique. “And when those women walked in the room, their attitude said, ‘Mo’Nique, I am and I can and I belong.’ Even in their vulnerable times, they still said ‘I am and I can.’ And when you actually watch the show, you’ll know just what I mean by that in their interviews and through their tears.  They felt like they belonged. ‘In my heftiness, I’m supposed to be right here.’”

The 10 chosen contestants were flown to L.A. to participate in a “Beauty Boot Camp,” a confidence building regimen designed to get them prepared for the pageant.  Mo’Nique felt that her careful selection of competitors should also dispel racial myths often associated with overweight women.  “We wanted to make it diverse, because people sometimes think just black women are big women,” she said. “White women are big women. Asian women are big women.  So we had four African-American women, three white women, two Latino women and one Asian woman, because I wanted to put the message out there, baby, we come in all colors.” Another message the show proudly sends is the full acceptance and approval of one’s excess body weight, which goes against such current pound-conscious shows as VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club” and NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” Both challenge and reward participants to lose as much weight as possible.  “Me personally, I don’t promote shows like that, because what that says is something’s wrong with you,” Mo’Nique said. “Something about you is not perfect. So therefore, you have to come on national television in front of millions of people and be humiliated.  And if you don’t lose your assigned weight by this time, we’re going to say the most cruel and obscene things to you in front of millions of people. And you see those people in their humiliation and in their tears and in their hurt. How is that possibly good for a little fat 13-year-old girl or the little chubby 1-year-old boy [to see]? We’re sending out the message, ‘There’s a problem.  Something is wrong with you.’” According to the Surgeon General and every health advocate on the planet, something is definitely wrong with toting around more weight than your body type demands.  For years, we’ve been told that overweight folks have a higher risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke and other life-threatening ailments.   “I’m not sure who these invisible persons are that said if you’re this height, you have to be this weight,” Mo’Nique said, using her hands to illustrate the parameters.  “Somebody did that. So it’s easy for us to then use that as a crutch and say, ‘Oh, well, if you’re 5’2” and 200 pounds, something has got to be wrong.’ I don’t buy into that because I know people who are 5’2”, 200 pounds and get a clean bill of health.  What do you say to her?

“Then what do you say to the woman who is 5’9” and 98 pounds and has so many things wrong with her? ‘Oh, well, that’s just abnormal.’ No it’s not. If you take care of your body, your body takes care of you, regardless what size you are.” Mo’Nique said she was 254 pounds before becoming pregnant with twins, but her doctor said she was in perfect health.   “I don’t have the risk of getting diabetes or cancer,” she said. “Now, my mom, who is a petite woman, battles cancer. What do you say to her? My mom is 120 pounds, but she battles cancer. So what do we say to her?” The 37-year-old Maryland native says Oprah Winfrey’s name inevitably comes up whenever reporters discuss the issue of being overweight in the public eye. Unlike Winfrey’s life-long battle against the bulge, “The View’s” Star Jones Reynolds had boldly defended her big size for years, saying she would never diet or participate in weight loss segments on the ABC talk show. She has even echoed Mo’Nique’s claims of being in good health, despite her excess weight. But Star eventually did some mystery manoeuvre to whittle down several dress sizes, apparently co-signing the philosophy of Winfrey and the world at large – that shedding pounds leads to better health.     “If Oprah wants to be a size 6, good for Oprah,” said Mo’Nique.  “If she wants to go back to a size 16, good for Oprah. What I say to Oprah is, ‘Baby, be comfortable in the skin you’re in regardless of what size you are.’  If Oprah lost weight for Oprah, great. Don’t lose weight for nobody else. Do it for you.”  Mo’Nique’s Fat Chance” culminates in a beauty pageant that was actually filmed in Los Angeles the night before this interview. A panel of expert judges, including Miami Heat’s 100 million-dollar-man Shaquille O’Neal and plus-size model Mia Tyler, evaluated the ladies on beauty, style, poise and personality, and how those qualities were reflected in each woman’s overall transformation.  “Last night for me was a dream, and I can’t begin to explain to you how it feels to walk in your dream,” she said. “To see those ten beautiful, full-figured women in their pride, in their glory with their heads held high, it was hard for me to get through it without the tears, because I knew their stories and their struggles.  I know on August 6th their lives will be changed forever, and the lives of millions of big women around this country – and when I say ‘big,’ let me not mistake it for being overweight. You have some women who are 100 pounds and in their mind, they believe that they’re fat and they’re big. So for every big woman in this country, August 6th will be a new beginning. We made history last night.”




Joe Canadian's On The Move

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Gayle MacDonald

(August 6, 2005) Ever lie in bed at night wondering what became of Joe Canadian, the plaid-shirted guy who struck a patriotic chord in the nation's breast with his Molson Canadian rant of March, 2000? Maybe not.  But if you are remotely curious to know where Joe's been the past five years, and what he's now getting up to, read on. The actor Jeff Douglas, who once had the audacity to stick it to the Americans and stoutly defend our proud beaver in his rant, is returning to Canadian airwaves. This time, he's sporting a red toque as host of the History Television series Things That Move — a show that aims to educate audiences on the humble origins of everyday machines such as the Zamboni, the hang glider, the wheelchair, the Hovercraft, the snowmobile, the toboggan and the elevator. After auditioning hundreds of host hopefuls, Toronto producers Primitive Entertainment had a brainstorm: They would track down Joe Canadian and see if he was interested in doing a show about the genesis of going mobile. He was. And so for the past few months, Douglas has been shooting the 20-episode series, which debuts Oct. 3 in and around Toronto, hitting skateboarding parks (he thought he broke his shoulder after one upset), and riding steam locomotives. He also got wrapped up like a pupa in a cocoon to soar 1,200 metres above ground in a hang glider outside Palmerston, Ont.

It's not the kind of gig Douglas, 34, ever dreamed he'd do. And it's light years removed from his acting origins in regional theatre near his hometown of Truro, N.S., and more recent jobs like a bit part in John Q (starring Denzel Washington and Robert Duvall) and in TV shows such as CBC's This is Wonderland and NBC's Emmy-nominated St range Days at Blake Holsey High. But Douglas says he's getting a kick out of doing a program that explores ordinary things that we all take for granted. “Did you know, for instance, that the electric car was developed about the same time as the internal combustion engine?” he asks. “I was driving an electric car last week from 1903.” He's enjoying the characters he's coming across, too. “There's a whole bunch of wacky, wonderful people obsessed with these things,” grins Douglas, during an interview at Le Select Bistro, where is wife is a manager, on Toronto's Queen Street West, and where he greets everyone by their first name.  The Maritime boy adds that this job fits his background. “Maybe it's because I come from the East Coast, where it's a culture of stories, and this show is about constantly telling stories, whether it's the heroic story of a person in a wheelchair or the story of people who are obsessed with roller coasters.” And who better than Joe Canadian — the guy who briefly whipped our placid population, at least the beer-drinkers among us, into patriotic zealots — to talk to machine fanatics and transportation purists about bush planes, car boats, fire engines and hot-air balloons? And more important, get audiences interested. Cindy Witten, vice-president of programming for History, says Douglas was the right choice because “he's the intrinsic Canadian. He's just a really bright, nice guy. When I met him for dinner, within 10 minutes, we were eating off the same plate. That's not the usual encounter is it? He's like a shiny penny that just lights up the screen.” The voice that elbowed its way into the Canadian consciousness during the 2000 Oscars broadcast (right after Robin Williams did his campy Blame Canada skit from South Park) went like this: “Hey, I'm not a lumberjack, or a fur trader. I don't live in an igloo or eat blubber, or own a dogsled. I have a prime minister, not a president. I speak English and French, not American. And I pronounce it about, not aboot.” Created by Bensimon-Byrne D'Arcy, the ad won a Bronze Lion Award at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes, France. Douglas was profiled by London's Guardian newspaper, the Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor. Heritage minister Sheila Copps showed the rant to American audiences to prove Canadians have a patriotic pulse and a cultural identity.

Soon, Los Angeles talent agents were swarming, and Douglas and his Columbian-born wife travelled to California for pilot season. In his characteristically direct and honest fashion, Douglas recounts his not-so-glory days in Hollywood. “They told me I'd be famous,” he says. “They said there'd be a place for me there, that I'd have good luck there. And I did have a lot of close calls and a lot of people on board.”  But after six months, he says, the madcap routine of auditions was wearing him down. “By the end of pilot season, I was done. Burnt out. It was very foreign to me. Los Angeles is a long way from where I come from. I missed my community, my friends and family. And it came to a point where I said to myself that if working out of Los Angeles meant living in Los Angeles, then I would rather change careers than change my community. “Los Angeles is an amazing spectacle. But it's smoke and mirrors. And I'm not particularly good at that. It's a place where you start to lose track of who you are, and what you've done.” In 2001, he and his wife moved back to Toronto, where Douglas has been working pretty steadily (and quietly) since on shows such as Sue Thomas, F.B. Eye, Missing, and Big Wolf on Campus. Things That Move is another step in this journeyman actor's career. Asked if maybe the title should be jazzed up to sound, perhaps, a bit more — what's the word? — enticing, Douglas just smiles, and says he likes the “ordinariness” of it. “It's not one of these weird marketing things that is all style and no substance, like Monster Garage or Tactical to Practical.” And he hopes that this program appeals to audiences — as did Joe Canadian — because of its plain language. “That's what people responded to with the beer ad. It was not telling them something they didn't know. It was telling them something they did know: that we have a voice — and without being a prick about it, unapologetically yelling ‘I am Canadian!' and not worrying so much — as many of our leaders and politicians seem to, about what other people and nations will think of us.” Things that Move will air weekdays on History Television at 6 p.m. ET.




Got An Hour? Prison Break, Rome

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rob Salem

(Aug. 8, 2005) "Seen anything good?"  I've been hearing that a lot lately, ever since I got back from the L.A. fall previews. At the office. On the phone. In interviews. At the grocery store. In line at Starbucks.  And I wish I had a better answer than, "Yeah."  I'm not trying to be rude, or evasive or stupid. It's just that after three weeks of total TV immersion — around 150 new and returning series — it all tends to blur into one long, unending show, starring every actor in Hollywood, fighting or falling for or slapping on handcuffs or bumbling into amusingly awkward situations with every other actor in Hollywood. And they all live happily ever after.  Now that I've had a week or so to sort things out, several of next season's shows do stand out. So I thought I'd take the few Mondays left before the actual start of the season to highlight some for you. And to warn you off others.  We'll start with the best of the new hour dramas — and indeed, my two favourite new series of the season are dramatic hours scheduled to debut a good week ahead of everything else.  I have written about Prison Break several times — the new Fox drama will be place-holding 24's timeslot until the fugitive Jack Bauer returns in January. And, like 24, the new series' complex, multi-layered, serialized story will unfold on consecutive Mondays (taking a brief time out for the World Series), straight through from its riveting two-hour debut on Aug. 29.  Prison Break immediately plunges us into the middle of a bank heist gone wrong, and the uncontested sentencing and incarceration of a brilliant young engineer (Wentworth Miller) with an obvious hidden agenda. This gradually becomes clearer as we learn that his older brother (eerie lookalike actor Dominic Purcell) is, not at all coincidentally, being held in the same institution — sentenced to death for a notorious crime he did not, of course, commit.  The concluding scene of the first hour alone — which is all I have seen at this point — is enough to hook you for the next 18 weeks. And producers are hoping for a second season, following the (presumably successful) bust-out, pursuing the escapees out into freedom.

The night before Prison Break, on Sunday the 28th, HBO attempts to woo back lost subscribers with its most ambitious and impressive undertaking to date, the elaborate and expensive Rome (simulcast here on The Movie Network). It's an epic depiction of the fall of the ancient republic, mostly as seen and experienced by odd-couple comrades-in-arms, the sensitive hooligan Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson) and the anal authoritarian, Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd).  Shot on a massive, two-hectare set at Rome's Cinecitta studios, the lusty, bloody, painstakingly fact-based historical drama plays like a cross between I, Claudius and The Sopranos (also finally returning to HBO and The Movie Network, this coming March).  But getting back to the networks ... Fox, specifically, does seem to have cast aside its pre-occupation with ripped-off reality concepts to focus on innovative scripted hours — much as ABC did so successfully last year, with Lost and Desperate Housewives.  Borrowing the unfolding mystery format of the aforementioned, while at the same time building on their own success with the youth-skewed The O.C., Fox has brewed up an amusing little cocktail called Reunion, which takes us one year at a time through the eventful lives of a close-knit group of 1986 high-school grads. All of which is done through flashback, after an unnamed member of the group is apparently murdered by an unknown other (with Six Feet Under's Mathew St. Patrick seeking an answer to the mystery).  And if you found that preceding paragraph hard to follow, you now know what the complicated, if nicely cast, high-concept series has going against it.  I wrote a little while ago on the new proliferation of "aliens among us" dramatic scenarios — specifically, NBC's Surface, ABC's Invasion and CBS's Threshold. Interestingly, the common point of entry for all three erstwhile invasions is underwater, particularly in the case of Surface, which plays like the film The Abyss, cut up into hour increments.  Threshold, the goofiest of the three, is also the most compellingly cast (Carla Gugino, Charles S. Dutton, Peter Dinklage, Brent Spiner), and the most satisfying and spectacular.  Less specifically spooky shows show less well, though the pilot for The WB's Supernatural does show potential. ABC's Night Stalker remake is barely watchable, which is more than can be said for Jennifer Love Hewitt in CBS's laughably awful Medium knock-off, Ghost Whisperer.

The crime procedural continues to be the genre of choice, and though some of these seemed quite good initially, they do start to all blend together after a while.  The best new cop show, Kyra Sedgewick's The Closer, is already a record-setting hit for TNT in the U.S. — Global's grabbed it back from CH to run here, though who knows when. City has grabbed the same cable network's grittier, Shield-like Wanted.  One distinctive aspect of Fox's Bones is the Moonlighting-style banter between feisty forensic genius Emily Deschanel and brutish cop David Boreanaz. CBS's Criminal Minds boasts the estimable Mandy Patinkin, though he does appear to be doing Monk without the funny personality quirks. Killer Instinct, back on Fox, had little to distinguish it in its original incarnation as "The Gate," though it has added Canadian Kristin Lehman to the cast.  Two of three new lawyer procedurals have Canadians in the leads — Jennifer Finnegan (Bold and the Beautiful) is a new mom returning to work as a tough-as-nails prosecuting attorney in Close To Home, while Jay Baruchel (Undeclared) teams up with a grizzled Don Johnson as odd-ball law partners in Just Legal. Sadly, it is only the other, undeniably funnier mismatched lawyers show, Head Cases, with Chris O'Donnell and Adam Goldberg, that stands out at all in memory.  Two final shows I should mention, if only for audacity of casting and premise, are ABC's Commander in Chief and NBC's E Ring, in which, respectively, Geena Davis becomes the President of the United States, and Dennis Hopper is put in charge of the Pentagon.  Next week: whither comedy? Unless I just accidentally answered that question.




ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings Dies At 67

Source:  Associated Press, With files from Canadian Press

(August 7, 2005) Peter Jennings, the suave, Canadian-born broadcaster who delivered the news to Americans each night in five separate decades, died Sunday. He was 67. Mr. Jennings, who announced in April that he had lung cancer, died at his New York home, ABC News president David Westin said late Sunday. "Peter has been our colleague, our friend, and our leader in so many ways. None of us will be the same without him," Mr. Westin said. With Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, Mr. Jennings was part of a triumvirate that dominated network news for more than two decades, through the birth of cable news and the Internet. His smooth delivery and years of international reporting experience made Mr. Jennings particularly popular among urban dwellers. Mr. Jennings dominated the ratings from the late 1980s to the mid-'90s, when Mr. Brokaw surpassed him. He remained a Canadian until 2003, when he became a U.S. citizen, saying it had nothing to do with his politics -- he did it for his family. "He was a warm and loving and surprisingly sentimental man," said Ted Koppel, a long-time friend and fellow anchor. Mr. Jennings deeply regretted not finishing school, and he would have wanted that lesson passed along, Mr. Koppel said. He made up for it by becoming a student of the world, studying cultures and their people for the rest of his life. "No one could ad lib like Peter," said Barbara Walters. "Sometimes he drove me crazy because he knew so many details. "He just died much too young." Global News anchor Kevin Newman, who worked with Mr. Jennings at ABC before returning to Canada, called him a great journalist who sought to share the world with viewers. "He had seen so much with his own eyes, he understood in his heart what the meaning of the news was, not only reading it," said Mr. Newman.

Mr. Jennings was the face of ABC News whenever a big story broke. He logged more than 60 hours on the air during the week of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, offering a soothing sense of continuity during a troubled time. "There are a lot of people who think our job is to reassure the public every night that their home, their community and their nation is safe," he told author Jeff Alan. "I don't subscribe to that at all. I subscribe to leaving people with essentially -- sorry it's a cliché -- a rough draft of history. Some days it's reassuring, some days it's absolutely destructive." Mr. Jennings' announcement four months ago that he would begin treatment for lung cancer came as a shock. "I will continue to do the broadcast," he said, his voice husky, in a taped message that night. "On good days, my voice will not always be like this." But although Mr. Jennings occasionally came to the office between chemotherapy treatments, he never again appeared on the air. "He knew that it was an uphill struggle. But he faced it with realism, courage, and a firm hope that he would be one of the fortunate ones," Mr. Westin said. "In the end, he was not." Broadcasting was the family business for Mr. Jennings. His father, Charles Jennings, was the first person to anchor a nightly national news program in Canada and later became head of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.'s news division. A picture of his father was displayed prominently in Mr. Jennings' office off ABC's newsroom. Charles Jennings' son had a Saturday morning radio show in Ottawa at age 9. Mr. Jennings never completed high school or college, and began his career as a news reporter at a radio station in Brockton, Ont. He quickly earned an anchor job at CTV. Sent south to cover the Democratic national convention in 1964, the handsome, dashing correspondent was noticed by ABC's news president. Mr. Jennings was offered a reporting job and left Canada for New York. As the third-place news network, ABC figured its only chance was to go after young viewers. Mr. Jennings was picked to anchor the evening news and debuted on Feb. 1, 1965. He was 26. "It was a little ridiculous when you think about it," Mr. Jennings told author Barbara Matusow. "A 26-year-old trying to compete with Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley. I was simply unqualified."

Critics savaged him as a pretty face unfit for the promotion. Using the Canadian pronunciations for some words and once misidentifying the Marine Corps' anthem as Anchors Aweigh didn't help his reputation. The experiment ended three years later. He later described the humbling experience as an opportunity, "because I was obliged to figure out who I was and what I really wanted to be." Assigned as a foreign correspondent, Mr. Jennings thrived. He established an ABC News bureau in Beirut, and became an expert on the Middle East. He won a Peabody Award for a 1974 profile of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. On the scene at the Munich Olympics in 1972, Mr. Jennings was perfectly placed to cover the hostage-taking of Israeli athletes by an Arab terrorist group. He and a crew hid in the athletes' quarters for a close-in view of the drama. Mr. Jennings returned to the evening news a decade after his unceremonious departure. In 1978, ABC renamed its broadcast World News Tonight, and instituted a three-person anchor team: Frank Reynolds based in Washington, Max Robinson from Chicago and Mr. Jennings, by then ABC's chief foreign correspondent, from London. Following Mr. Reynolds' death from cancer, ABC abandoned the multi-anchor format and Mr. Jennings became sole anchor on Sept. 5, 1983. Starting in 1986, Mr. Jennings began a decade on top of the ratings. His international experience served him well explaining stories like the collapse of European communism, the first Gulf War and the terrorist bombing of an airplane over Lockerbie, Scotland. He took pride that World News Tonight, as its name suggested, took a more worldly view than its rivals. Fans responded to his smart, controlled style. "When it's clearly an emotional experience for the audience, the anchor should not add his or her emotional layers," Mr. Jennings said in an interview with the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. Two-thirds of local broadcasters responding to a 1993 survey by Broadcasting & Cable magazine said Mr. Jennings was the best network news anchor. Washington Journalism Review named him anchor of the year three straight years.

With Americans looking more inward in the mid to late-1990s, NBC's Tom Brokaw surpassed Mr. Jennings in the ratings. ABC was still a close No. 2, however. When Mr. Brokaw stepped down in November, 2004, followed shortly by Mr. Rather, ABC began an advertising campaign stressing Mr. Jennings' experience -- an ironic twist given how his ABC News career began. But ABC was never able to learn whether Mr. Jennings could take advantage of his role as an elder statesman; his cancer diagnosis came only a month after Mr. Rather left the anchor chair. Mr. Jennings was proud of his Canadian citizenship, although it was occasionally a sore point with some critics. When Mr. Jennings spoke at the dedication of a museum celebrating the U.S. Constitution in 2003, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told him, "not bad for a Canadian." Mr. Jennings whispered back his secret: He had just passed a test earning him dual citizenship in the United States. "My decision to do this has nothing to do with politics," Mr. Jennings told the Associated Press at the time. "It has nothing to do with my profession. It has everything to do with my family." Restlessly curious, Mr. Jennings pushed ABC News to use the turn of the century for a massive historical study. He co-wrote a book, The Century, with Todd Brewster and anchored a marathon 25-hour special ending Jan. 1, 2000. Mr. Jennings and Mr. Brewster also travelled the back roads to write In Search of America. Mr. Jennings also led a documentary team at ABC News, which struck a chord in 2000 with the high-rated spiritual special The Search for Jesus. "I have never spent a day in my adult life where I didn't learn something," Mr. Jennings told the Saturday Evening Post. "And if there is a born-again quality to me, that's it." Like Mr. Rather and Mr. Brokaw, Mr. Jennings wasn't entirely comfortable stuck to a studio. He travelled around the world to cover stories and, when he didn't journey to Asia to cover the aftermath of the tsunami less than four months before his cancer diagnosis, it was noticed. He is survived by his wife, Kayce Freed, and his two children, Elizabeth, 25, and Christopher, 23.




Mike Holmes Does A Martha

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Rob Shaw

(August 8, 2005) On a good day, it can take Mike Holmes three hours to get in and out of Home Depot. It's the lineups that stall him. Although, they're not at the cash register, or the customer-service counter. Instead the lineups are for his attention -- fans wanting to shake the hand and chat with the star of the wildly popular television show Holmes on Homes. Holmes is one of Canada's quickest-rising celebrities and the front man of a home-renovation business that's on the verge of becoming an empire: He's expanding into magazines, cartoons and, perhaps most ambitiously, Holmes-approved houses. Just over two years ago, he was a general contractor with his own business in the Toronto area, quietly going about the business of building additions and renovations. Now he's a bona fide television juggernaut who can't even go into his old stomping grounds without creating a scene. During a stroll around a west-end Home Depot, an employee named Pat literally runs up to him and exclaims, "I've watched your show forever! I've wanted to meet you for so long, I can't believe you're here!" Holmes flashes a smile brighter than a fresh coat of primer and engages Pat in a short conversation. "Sometimes I go into a Home Depot and stand there for three hours because one person to the next has stopped me every time I turn around," he says. His show's vice-president of production, Pete Kettlewell (a trusted adviser Holmes calls "my right-hand man") puts it this way: "We've stopped letting him go because we can't afford the downtime in shooting." It is that kind of fan interaction that won Holmes the 2005 Gemini award for viewers' choice television personality, an honour he snatched away from Ben Mulroney. Outside near the parking lot, a fellow named Dan Schmidt stops Holmes to discuss the pros and cons of using a camera to scope drains. Then he wants an autograph -- "for my wife" -- but can't find paper or a pen. (Holmes asks for a page from my notebook and signs it "Keep smiling.") "I like his anger when he sees something wrong," Schmidt says, explaining why he likes the show.

For two years and five seasons, the premise of Holmes on Homes has remained devilishly simple: The burly contractor and his crew ride into a construction project gone wrong and rescue the distraught homeowner from emotional and financial ruin. Along the way, the 43-year-old father of three gets angry. Very angry. Don Cherry-angry. He starts punching drywall, ripping down walls and yelling about the injustice of a world where ne'er-do-well contractors can make off with thousands of dollars, leaving dangerously shoddy work as their only calling card. Then he sets about the task of, as he so often says, "making sure it's done right."  This usually involves untold amounts of something called "vapour barrier," special-thickness screws, spray foam, custom-fitted tiles, new drywall and a host of other construction do-dads. One by one, to the camera, Holmes unravels the mysteries of what should lie behind the walls of your house. "When I'm upset, I'm upset for a reason," Holmes says. "I can't act. I'm not an actor." Therein lies part of the appeal of Holmes, a rough and tough grizzly-bear contractor whose teddy-bear side manages to shine through on screen. "I'm not a bear, I'm a pussycat -- I really am," he says. After his show premiered two years ago on Canada's Home and Garden Television, Holmes noticed the newfound attention. "It was immediate -- I have to say, within three months of it airing, one out of 10 people knew who I was," he says. "Now it has to be nine out of 10. It's just ridiculous." Recognizing Holmes is a relatively easy task, given that he marches around in the same trademark overalls he has worn on countless episodes. His big arms, short yellow hair and bright gold chain are easy targets to spot.

His website,, is flooded with help questions and proposals from his female fans. (Sorry -- he may be divorced, but he's seeing someone.) He can't escape the attention, even in a washroom -- some guys even ask for a handshake while he's at the urinal, he says. Holmes calls that "bizarre" and "surreal." At a recent charity appearance on Canada Day in Winnipeg, Holmes drew 1,000 people, despite a downpour.  Holmes on Homes has been the No. 1 show on HGTV since the summer of 2004, and Holmes is by far their biggest star. Parent company Alliance Atlantis Communications doesn't release viewership numbers, but one recent estimate says Holmes pulls in 400,000 viewers compared to an HGTV average range of 30,000 to 40,000. That's close to the nationwide television audience for a Canadian Football League game. It's a lot of attention for a man from humble upbringings in what he calls a "tough area" of town near Broadview Avenue and Queen Street in Toronto. Holmes describes his father, Jim, as a "jack of all trades, a master of none, but he had a heart. I think that's what makes the difference if anybody has integrity on anything they do they are going to do it well." A plumber, but later an engineer at General Motors, Holmes's father fed his son's interest in construction. By the time young Mike was 5, he was building three-bedroom tree houses all over the family property. At 6, he had rewired the family home. At 13, he was taking over general contracting jobs for his father. And by 21, he was running a company, Tri-Win General Contracting, and had 13 employees working underneath him. "Imagine at 21-years-old I was going to get a card that said The Screw-Up Fixer, but only in much harsher words," he says. "I meant it, because I was already tired of going to people's houses and saying, 'Who did this, who the hell did you hire?' I was fixing every day in and day out. Ironically 20 years later, I'm on TV doing it full time." Holmes went on to run his own contracting company, which still exists although he no longer takes clients personally. He was doing some odd guest appearances and behind-the-scenes carpentry for HGTV shows when he met then-HGTV executive Michael Quast. Quast asked Holmes to build him a house, and in the process the contractor pitched the idea of a television show that educated the viewer on how to spot a shady contractor. "He jumped out of his chair and said, 'I love it. I want a pilot right now. And you have to do it.' " Holmes didn't want to. And he said so. But Quast insisted, and now the reluctant television star is basking in his success.

However, success does have its drawbacks, and he admits his free time is now next to zero. From a wake-up call around 6 a.m., out to a job site, he doesn't return home until after 10 p.m. While his truck is filled with reggae dance CDs, he has little time or energy to hit the clubs in the evening. His favourite TV show is Canadian Idol and he manages to find some time to catch it. Now that he's at a high point in his popularity, Holmes is no dummy. "Now is the time to act," he says. By next year, he'll have even more work. Holmes will be editor of his own glossy magazine, producing a children's cartoon show called Mighty Mike Holmes, penning two books (one for homeowners, one for up-and-coming contractors), and helming a charitable foundation and churning out the past four seasons of his show on DVD. The cartoon, "part Mighty Mouse, part Popeye, part Batman and Robin," will focus on educating children about construction safety. "I'm hoping so much it really encourages kids to be the next generation of great contractors, something Canada needs very much," Holmes says. "I can't believe how many children watch my show . . . with this cartoon they won't even know it but they'll be learning something." One project close to his heart is the foundation he's starting to benefit homeowners who have lost everything after a battle with a dishonest contractor. "I can't help everyone, I try, but I'm not superman," he says. "This will help a lot of people." Holmes is also drawing up plans to start building Mike Holmes-approved houses, with 10-year warranties, in locations across the country. He doesn't spill the details for fear of copycats, but adds, "People go by what they see, they're dictated by what they know. You will know everything about these houses. They will come with a DVD, they will come with blueprints of what's behind the walls." The plan for Holmes-approved houses is "the final step," he says. He just signed a three-year contract extension with HGTV, but he says when that's done it will likely be the end of his show.  In the meantime, there are plans to spin him into guest roles on other programs and other networks such as National Geographic. Holmes on Homes will crack the U.S. market in September.

Off-camera and behind-the-scenes, Holmes has cobbled together a core group of about 25 trusted advisers to help steer his expansion plans. He admits it has taken a while to gather a group of people he can trust around him to help execute his vision. In February, he plans on taking his first vacation in three years. He'll be headed to Hawaii with his children, Amanda, 20, Sherry, 18, and Michael Jr., 16.  With any luck, Holmes will get some quality time on a beach without interruptions. But he's not complaining about the success, or the attention. "Sometimes it can get overwhelming, but normally it doesn't," he says. "Especially in Canada everyone is good people." Those good people are building his empire. "Some people might think it's cocky, but I'm just confident in my abilities. I've said it for years: Martha Stewart look out."




Charlie Murphy Thinks ‘Chappelle Show’ Is Done

Excerpt from

(August 4, 2005) *Comedian Charlie Murphy says it’s time to get real about the prospect of “Chappelle’s Show” ever returning to Comedy Central. "`Chappelle's Show' is over, man. Done," he told TV Guide. "It took me a long time to be able to say those words, but I can say it pretty easy now, because it's the truth." The comic, a “Chappelle’s Show” regular whose real encounters with Rick James were made into a skit that fostered Chappelle’s line, “I’m Rick James, b*tch!,” said he has come to realize that the show may never come back.  "I'm disappointed it ended the way it did, but I'm not angry with anybody," said Murphy, the older brother of Eddie Murphy. "’Chappelle's Show’ was like the Tupac of TV shows. It came out, it got everybody's attention, it was a bright shining star, but it burned out and for some strange reason, it burned out quick." As previously reported, Chappelle abruptly jetted to South Africa for a “retreat” on the eve of the show’s third season and has left Comedy Central hanging since May. According to Murphy, about half of season three had already been filmed when Chappelle took off.  Network spokeswoman Aileen Budow said Wednesday that the door is open for Chappelle to return. In the meantime, Murphy is taking full advantage of his new visibility since doing the show.  "Now I can go out and do stand-up," he said. "I'm getting movie offers. It's off the hook. Me getting to the next level or whatever's going to happen is going to come from the next things I do, but `Chappelle's Show' served its purpose and I'll always be grateful."




Bravo Boosts ‘Being Bobby Brown

Excerpt from

(August 8, 2005) *The inevitable has happened. Bravo has ordered up two more episodes of its breakout train wreck, “Being Bobby Brown,” pushing the season finale to Aug. 25.   "The first eight episodes of 'Being Bobby Brown' have kept Bravo viewers buzzing and have even helped contribute to adding new catchphrases to our pop-culture vernacular," Bravo president Lauren Zalaznick says. "This is a highly compelling and engaging series, and we hope two new episodes will satisfy viewers' appetites for more Bobby and Whitney." While the Aug. 25 finale will consist of clips from past episodes mixed with previously-unseen footage, the added Aug. 18 episode will be a “Cribs”-style “inside look” at the Atlanta and New Jersey homes of Brown and his wife Whitney Houston  "Being Bobby Brown" debuted to 1.1 million viewers, giving Bravo a substantial boost in ratings over the network’s previous performance in the Thursday time period. The ratings continue to increase each week, the network says.







Widow Ono Stands By Her Man

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Lisa Tolin, Associated Press

(August 5, 2005) NEW YORK—It was not long after she met John Lennon that Yoko Ono realized she had become one of the most hated women on the planet.  Sitting in her apartment in the Dakota, just a stone's throw from where Lennon was gunned down nearly 25 years ago, Ono takes herself back four decades to an art party in London where one of her sculptures was on display.  "We opened the door, came in, and they all looked at us, and they all turned their backs," she says. When Lennon went to get coffee, the woman at the counter said, "Get it yourself, it's there."  He did, and guided Ono to a narrow staircase away from the crowd, where they sat and watched revellers nearly step on her sculpture.  "I never forget that day, because that's when I realized, `What is going on?'" she says. "It didn't dawn on me, really, that `Oh, people are against us.'"  Today, Ono's name can still cause Beatles fans to scowl. But here she is, now 72, a widow in black carefully tending Lennon's legacy.  "John said that day, `When the going gets bad, we just keep our chins up,'" she says. "I never forget that."  The former Beatle, who would have been 64 now, is the focus of the musical Lennon, which is to open Aug. 14 on Broadway, after two delays.  Seeing Lennon's life on stage brings back raw emotions for his widow.  "It's a very strange thing," she says. She's seen the play several times and "each time I still cry.... It's very hard for me. I think, `Well, 25 years passed,' you know. I didn't think it would last that long."

Promoting Lennon's work helps her feel connected to him, as does remaining in the landmark Dakota building by Central Park. The piano he used to play "Imagine" sits in the corner of the famous white room, topped with family photographs.  Back in the 1970s, Lennon was working on his own musical, which he hoped would land on Broadway. It included much of the ground covered in Lennon — his meeting with Ono, bed-ins and family life — but it "would have been a very avant-garde affair," Ono says.  In Lennon, each of the nine cast members dons round spectacles to portray him — young and old, male and female, black and white. It was an idea she thinks Lennon would have loved.  "John is not a white hero," she says. "John was international. And there's no reason why a black person can't sing his songs as John."  She gave the show her blessing and two previously unpublished songs: "India, India" and "I Don't Want to Lose You."  Ono has lately experienced a renaissance of her own, with performances in London, Paris and New York, and several museum shows in Europe. Her solo music — once ridiculed by Beatles fans — has been remixed into dance music and hit No. 1 on the Billboard dance charts.  But sitting in a yellow director's chair in her kitchen, she says she has come to terms with the fact that she will never emerge from Lennon's shadow.  "I'm the second act. And it's okay — the B side is there," she says.  She met Lennon at her London showing in 1966, an event re-enacted in Lennon. He climbed the ladder under her Ceiling Painting, peered through a magnifying glass and was charmed to see one tiny word: Yes. Ono was soon thrust into the Beatles spotlight and blamed by fans for the group's break-up.  "Imagine always being called ugly, being called a Japanese witch," says Julie Danao-Salkin, who plays Ono in Lennon.  "That still carries with her today. That kind of effect on a human being is tremendous."  Ono says when she hears criticism of Lennon, she feels echoes of the old antagonisms.  "If I had any power, I would erase myself from the musical, just so people wouldn't mind it. But history speaks that I was there."






Theatre: Fool For Love

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Kamal Al-Solaylee

(August 5, 2005) Soulpepper's upcoming Fool for Love takes the company to terrain it rarely covers: contemporary American drama. Ted Dykstra directs Kevin Bundy, Megan Follows (above) and Stuart Hughes in Sam Shepard's 1983 "poetic and profane" play about two lovers who meet at a seedy motel in the Mojave Desert. The production also marks the return of Canadian film and TV star Follows to Toronto theatre after a long absence.  Currently in previews. Opens Wed., Aug. 10 and runs, in rep, until Oct. 1. Harbourfront Theatre Centre. $32.50-$51.50. 416.973-4000;




Paul Bettis, 65, Was Big Theatre Presence

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Robert Crew, Arts Writer

(Aug. 8, 2005) Tall, lean and with an incisive intellect and wry sense of humour, Paul Bettis was a towering presence in Toronto theatre for more than 30 years.  Bettis, who died last Thursday of lung cancer, dedicated himself to the cause of experimental theatre, beginning in the 1970s with his own theatre company and continuing until recently both with his own Civilized Theatre and with many of Canada's leading stage companies.  As a director and actor, he was associated with Factory Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and VideCabaret, among many others. He also worked at the Shaw Festival and Ottawa's National Arts Centre.  Bettis, who was 65, was born and raised in England and taught pre-Shakespearean drama at Bristol University before coming to Canada in 1970. He was artistic director of Theatre Second Floor from 1974 to 1979.  There he staged some stimulating productions, never afraid to challenge the audience's perceptions and understanding of theatre. He put on Julius Caesar in a loft, long before loft theatre became fashionable.  "He was a wonderful, funny, brilliant, stubborn, discerning man who was very knowledgeable about all sorts of things," said Toronto producer Naomi Campbell.  "He knew his Shakespeare chapter and verse but also loved Hollywood blockbusters and was a connoisseur of music of all sorts, other than choral works and saxophones."  "Paul was one of the most influential artists that we had here in the 1970s and had a huge impact on many different people," said Jacoba Knaapen, executive director of the Toronto Association for the Performing Arts.  "He was so prolific and his mind was a treasure house of ideas and innovation."  Bettis was always interested in tapping into what he saw as theatre's intrinsic advantage: its live essence or what he called its "presence."  "Actual presence is the only thing that distinguishes theatre from the other entertainment forms, which are generally so much more enjoyable," he once told the Star in an interview with then theatre critic Vit Wagner. "Theatre is so stiff. You feel that you're in church listening to some kind of sermon."  "Working with Paul was always edifying and always civilized," Campbell adds. "He was uncompromising in his art, which may be why he wasn't as traditionally successful as some of his colleagues. But his influence was enormous."  A private funeral will be held today and a memorial event is planned for next month.







Rowling, Dylan Among Nominees For First Quills Awards

Source: Associated Press

(August 4, 2005) New York — J.K. Rowling, Bob Dylan and Stephen King are among the nominees for the first annual Quills Awards, a glitzy literary affair for which the general public will cast the ballots. Organized by Reed Business Information, which publishes Variety, Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, and NBC television, the Quills Awards consist of 19 categories, from sports to debut fiction, with five finalists for each. Winners will be announced at an Oct. 11 ceremony hosted by NBC anchor Brian Williams, to be aired Oct. 22. "This is the first consumer-driven awards program that acknowledges the power and importance of the written word and celebrates literacy," Jay Ireland, president of NBC Universal Television Stations, said Thursday in a statement. From Aug. 15 to Sept. 15, the public can vote online at The prize will be promoted at bookstores and on NBC Universal stations. Some of the proceeds from the ceremony, for which admission will range from $1,000 (U.S.) for a single ticket to $25,000 for a sponsorship table, will be donated to the Quills Literacy Foundation, launched earlier this year with funding from Reed.

The Quills themselves carry no cash prize, although the publishing industry hopes attention given to the awards will help increase sales. The nominees range from Rowling's multimillion selling Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a finalist for best children's narrative for middle graders, to a new translation of the ancient epic Gilgamesh, nominated in poetry. Voters can choose a "book of the year" by selecting a finalist from any category. Dylan was cited for biography/memoir for Chronicles, Volume One, while King and Stewart O'Nan were nominated for best sports book for Between a Rock and a Hard Place, a chronicle of the Boston Red Sox in 2004, when the baseball team broke a decades-long jinx and won the World Series. Philip Roth's The Plot Against America is among the fiction nominees, which also include Marilynne Robinson and her Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead. David McCullough is a history/current events/politics finalist for 1776. Other categories include mystery, humour and science fiction/fantasy. The finalists were chosen by a panel of thousands of booksellers and librarians and were required to meet one of several possible criteria that included an appearance on the bestseller lists of Publishers Weekly, Barnes & Noble or Book Sense, a list based on sales at independent stores.




Cirque's Clown Elegy Delights

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic


Created and directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca. Until Sept. 11 at Ontario Place, 955 Lakeshore Blvd. W. 1-800-450-1480.

(August 5, 2005) After witnessing the technically disastrous opening of Cirque du Soleil's most recent show, Corteo, in Montreal this past April, it's a pleasure to report that the version which premiered at Ontario Place last night is a slickly moving engine of delight which succeeds in generating joy almost all the way through.  It's also refreshing to see that after 20 years, Cirque is willing to continue re-inventing itself in new and fascinating ways.  Corteo was conceived and directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, a Swiss who is new to the organization, although he has achieved an international reputation with his own Cirque Eloize.  He has some bold and refreshing ideas about how to present this kind of entertainment, which makes this an evening you ought to see, even if you've experienced other Cirque shows.  To begin with, the staging divides the audience in two halves, facing each other under the big top, while the action moves from side to side in front of their eyes. It creates a new sense of space and motion, in which images magically seem to cascade past each other, not unlike a film dissolve.  Finzi Pasca has banished the artificial makeup and grotesque costumes that had become a Cirque trademark. His performers are free to express their emotions through facial expressions, and the human warmth this generates makes an enormous difference to the piece.

There's also a stronger framework than usual, as the show centres on the death of a clown ("corteo" is Italian for funeral procession), played with an expansive sense of empathy by Mauro Mozzani. He's attended by an entourage of fluffy angels, as well as a variety of performers from his life.  Some of them are reminiscent of commedia dell'arte, others seem to come from La Belle Époque and there are even some with decidedly contemporary resonance. It all combines to create a composite view of the world of entertainment that unifies things nicely.  It also allows us a chance to see some of the spectacular acts that Cirque culls from around the world, with acrobats, jugglers, tumblers and the like who are guaranteed to blow your socks off. The use of aerial magic is particularly impressive, with dozens of figures gliding past each other in patterns that dazzle with their apparent ease.  The one small problem is that — after a triumphant first act — the second part of the show really has nowhere to go. The strong thematic links that united the earlier sections of the evening largely vanish and we're left with a series of curiously disjointed acts.  Still, the good parts of Corteo are so fresh and appealing that ultimately, all reservations vanish. It's always nice to have Cirque du Soleil back in town. You should pay them a visit.




A White, Suburban, Teenage Hip-Hop Mag

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Felicia R. Lee, The New York Times

(Aug. 6, 2005) NEW YORKRemy Ma was running on hip-hop time. That meant at least a 15-minute delay in the singer's appearance the other day in her Midtown Manhattan hotel suite.  The off-the-clock rhythms of music-industry folk were nothing new for Devin and Cameron Lazerine, who were interviewing Ma for their magazine Rap-Up, which they bill as the first hip-hop magazine for teenagers.  Hip-hop is mainstream enough that the newsstands are aflutter with magazines dedicated to the words and moves of rap stars. But the Lazerine brothers stand out in the rap world: They are suburban white kids, two seconds out of their teens, who are publishing a quarterly magazine while still in college.  The first issue to emerge from their fledgling publishing enterprise, with the singer Chingy on the cover, came out in March. The summer issue, released in June, featured Amerie on the cover and a list of the hottest women in hip-hop.  "It's a magazine for Generation Y by Generation Y," said Devin, a 21-year-old communications major at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Cameron, 20, is a business major at the University of California, Berkeley. They grew up mostly near Malibu, Calif., sons of an architect with his own firm and a mother who owns a preschool and kindergarten. It's an entrepreneurial family, the brothers say.  "The ultimate goal is to keep doing it after we graduate," said Cameron, as he and his brother waited for Ma.  "We did not start this to make money off of hip hop," Devin said. "Most of the consumers are white kids from the suburbs, like us. I think it's like a mutual respect."

The brothers say that the magazine is being sold in more than 20 countries. The spring issue had a circulation of 42,000, according to reports from their distributors and wholesalers. The summer issue circulation jumped to 80,000, they said.  "It's like a dream come true," Devin said.  Their story begins when a rap-besotted Devin, at the age of 15, began neglecting his high school homework to create Rap-Up as an online compendium of hip-hop news, gossip and Top-10 music lists.  "My dad tried to hide my modem," Devin recalled. When he tried to turn Rap-Up into a magazine, Devin wrote to just about everyone he could think of in publishing — "from Time Warner to the smaller ones" — to persuade them to take a chance on his effort.  To get a celebrity edge, Devin spent months trying to talk to publicists for Destiny's Child to arrange an interview with the group, only to have the whole thing nearly crash when their mother told a publicist that Devin could not come to the telephone because he wasn't home from school yet.  "They were like, `Are you real?'" Devin said. "I managed to save it. I usually sent e-mails so no one could hear how young I was."  The first two printed issues, one in 2001, the other two years later, were false starts. But Devin and Cameron kept in touch with their music business contacts, signed up advertisers like BET and Reebok, and established a stable of about 10 writers from aspiring journalism students. The magazines appearing this year are the first products of their attempt to create a publication they control.  It cost about $35,000 (U.S.) to put out the first issue, the brothers said, with some money coming from their savings accounts and a supportive mother.  Rap-Up consists mostly of interviews, so far with stars like Alicia Keys, Andre 3000, Fat Joe, Bow Wow, Common, Destiny's Child and John Legend, among others.

It tends to read like a hip-hop People magazine. For instance, in an interview that ran under the title "The Ultimate Hustla," the singer Cassidy is asked if he could battle anyone, living or dead, who would it be? What is the one thing people don't know about him that he'd like them to know? And does he prefer the Sony PlayStation Portable or Game Boy Advance SP?  "They're absolutely unusual," said former magazine publisher Bob Baker, who recalled that Devin brought along his mother for the first meeting. What's notable, he said, is that, despite the two early setbacks, Devin has pursued his dream in a highly precarious industry.  "Hip-hop is popular among white suburban kids, so their background is not so unusual," Baker said. "What's so unusual is he had the gumption to seek out publishers, to say `I want to do this and how do I do it?' I focus more on his age than his race."




USVI Teen Wins Title In St. Maarten

Source: Debi Jackson, Youth Development Foundation, Inc.,,

(August 6, 2005) New York, NY - Esonica Veira, a fifteen-year-old dancer from the US Virgin Islands, was crowned the most talented teen in the world, Miss 2005 Hal Jackson's Talented Teens International, at the Scholarship Programs 35th anniversary competition, held at the Royale Casino Theater in St. Martin/St.  Maarten, Netherland Antilles on July 30, 2005. Veira, who performed a thrilling tribute to Michael Jackson in a specially choreographed dance number set to several of his hit tunes, raced away with the title, beating out 34 other young ladies, ages 13-17, who flew in from various parts of the Caribbean, Canada and the continental United States to compete for such prizes as college scholarships, a diamond ring, and trips abroad to Europe and the Caribbean.  Her court consists of First Runner-Up Hannah Sidibe, California; Second Runner-Up Tillary Smalls, Georgia; Third Runner Up, Whitney Fullerton, Trinidad & Tobago and Fourth Runner Up, Dana McKinney, Connecticut.  Hal Jackson's Talented Teens Queen Esonica Veira, who replaces outgoing winner Nicola Dalrymple, remains stunned over her victory. In an exclusive interview with the Amsterdam News she comments, "I can't believe that I won; everyone was so talented; there were so many beautiful girls. I am still in shock."  Veira, whose eerie similarities to Michael Jackson as a dancer continues, "When I was younger, I listened to all of Michaels music and I have watched his DVDs over and over." She says her choreographer, Dominick Martin, helped her with her routine which was done encompassed snippets from The King of Pop's smash singles Billie Jean, Smooth Criminal, Beat It and You Rock My World.

Hal Jackson, Group Chairman of ICBC Broadcast Holdings and host of WBLS 107.5 FM Sunday Classics, reflected on the competitions 35 years. "Its the love of my life and has been since the beginning, back in 1971. It was really a challenge then. I started the competition as a way for Black teenagers to stay in school. At the time that I founded the competition, these young ladies were not able to get into other beauty pageants, hence the original name of the competition, Miss Black Teenage America, later becoming Hal Jacksons Talented Teens International. But we always left the door wide open for white contestants to appear in the contest from the very beginning. One of the elements of which I am most proud was our ability to send 27 young ladies to college the first year."  Although the winner receives a $5,000.00 college scholarship, all young ladies who made it to the top 5 receive scholarships as well. Additionally, the Wilda La Brie Scholarship recipient, Miss Missouri, Rane Mehta, 16, received a $1000.00 scholarship for having the highest GPA. Other cash prizes were awarded to Miss Anguilla, Jamila Morson, Miss Congeniality; Miss Tennessee, Stephanie Head, Most Creative, and Miss Jamaica, Samantha Strachan, Miss Personality. Miss California, Hannah Sidibe, was selected Miss Photogenic by HJTTI photographer Mychal Watts to receive a $500.00 award from celebrity journalist/publicist, Cynthia Horner, President of CHIPS.  The contestants spent a week at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Hotel in St. Maarten/St. Martin, where they attended a luncheon sponsored by the St. Martin Tourist Board, a trip to Anguilla courtesy of ICBC Broadcast Holdings, Inc. at the Frangipani Beach Club, shopping excursions and beach fun, in addition to holding press conferences and meeting with local dignitaries. One of the weeks highlights was the competition's annual Shooting Star Awards dinner held in a private villa where Hal and Debi Jackson, producers of HJTTI and hosts of Sunday Classics, honoured former Talented Teen winner Tai Jimenez, principal dancer for the Dance Theater of Harlem, Elinor Tatum, Publisher and Editor In Chief of the Amsterdam News and Charles Warfield, President and COO ICBC Broadcast Holdings Inc.

The contest, which featured two production numbers and a video tribute to great leaders, was hosted by WBLS air personality Doctor Bob Lee and former HJTTI winner Sheryl Piland. Entertainment for the 35th annual competition, A Celebration of Excellence, was provided by Tai Jimenez, legendary crooner Chuck Jackson and Verity Records gospel trio 21:03. The Detroit-based members of 21:03 were amazed by the talent displayed by the contestants. "Its nice to see African American girls doing something positive," they stated.  Hal Jackson's Talented Teens International Scholarship Program is sponsored under the auspices of the Youth Development Foundation, Inc. and presented by ICBC Holdings, Inc.  To see pics from the event, click the photo of Hal Jackson & Miss Veira. For more information, log onto




Sean Jean Introduces ‘Jack Johnson Collection’

Excerpt from

(August 5, 2005) *Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs hopes to capture the essence of renegade boxer Jack Johnson in a new collection named after the controversial figure for his Sean John line. "I don't want some kind of retro stuff, like clothes from 1906," he told the New York Times. "I want contemporary. If somebody's wearing one of my track suits, I want it to say 'champion' from two blocks away."  The “Jack Johnson Collection” pays tribute to the legendary boxer, who became the first African-American heavyweight champion in 1908 after defeating Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia  Johnson’s life was examined in the Ken Burns documentary "Unforgivable Blackness," which aired on PBS stations earlier this year.




Now Snoop's Shilling For Chrysler

Excerpt from

(August 5, 2005) *In real life stuff like this just doesn't happen. But hey, a multinational's gotta do what a multinational's gotta do to keep the scrilla rollin' in. To that end, there's a lightweight buzz about the hook up between Snoop Dogg and former Chrysler Corp. Chairman Iacocca in a new television ad campaign. Here's what's going down. Snoop Dogg, 33, will appear in TV spots as the 80-year-old Iacocca's golfing partner pushing "employee discount" pricing promotion. An attempt "to break through the clutter" is what's behind the pairing said Chrysler spokeswoman Suraya DaSante. "This does it. People cannot help but notice it and they're not going to change the channel," she told the LA Times. Because they didn't originate the idea, Chrysler wants to draw attention away from General Motors, Ford Motor and the other companies that offer similar discounts. In case you haven't seen the commercials, Snoop gives a running commentary on Chrysler products in slang: "Fo' shizzle" means "for sure," and "kizzy" signifies "cool." Wearing plaid pants and a multicoloured argyle sweater, Snoop steps out of a Dodge Ram pickup to join Iacocca in a golf cart. As the rapper, shall we say, raps, Mr. Iacocca looks confused until Snoop "translates" Iacocca's familiar tagline — "If you can find a better car, buy it" — into "If the ride is more fly, then you must buy." Iacocca is doing the commercials to help fund his foundation for diabetes research. He received an undisclosed fee and will get $1 for every Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep model sold from July 1 to Dec. 31, Chrysler said. Payments will go to the Iacocca Foundation, which he formed after the 1983 death of his wife, Mary, from complications of the disease. The automaker is poised to spend $75 million on the campaign.




Million Father March: One Million Black Men To Lead Nation Back To School

Excerpt from

(August 5, 2005) *Fathers from 100 cities nationwide -- including Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles -- are expected to participate in the Million Father March, a movement urging men to accompany their kids to school on the first day of the 2005 - 2006 school year.  "A father who actively participates in the educational and social development life of a child is invaluable and irreplaceable!" says Phillip Jackson, Executive Director of The Black Star Project, which promoted the first March last year. "Research shows that children whose fathers take active roles in their educational lives earn better grades, get better test scores, enjoy school more and are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college," says Jackson. “Additionally, children have fewer behaviour problems when fathers speak and listen to their children regularly and are active in their lives. A good father is part of a good parent team and is critical to strong family structures. Strong family structures produce children who are more centered, academically proficient and socially developed and are a valuable asset to their communities.” Fathers, grandfathers, foster fathers, stepfathers, uncles, cousins, big brothers, significant male caregivers and friends of the family will participate in the March. Men and women of all races are encouraged to participate. The Million Father March 2005 will post up to 100 Black men near the front door of schools with sizeable black student populations, creating an honour guard of strong, positive men supporting all children at each school, which will include: elementary and high schools; colleges and universities; pre-schools, nursery schools, and Headstart programs; public, private, parochial and religious schools; urban, suburban and rural schools. Since schools start on different days, this will be a rolling event that will take place on the first day of the school year in cities and towns across America between August 8, 2005 and October 1, 2005. Marches will be registered and coordinated with The Black Star Project's Million Father March Central headquarters in Chicago (







3 Steps To A Better Butt

By Raphael Calzadilla, BA,
CPT, ACE, Chief Fitness Pro

(August 8, 2005) Early in my personal training career, I had a sneaking suspicion that all my female clients had vision problems. I'd hear comments such as: "
Raphael, my butt is the size of Mount Everest;" "I can set a glass on my booty;" and "My butt won't make it through the door." I've heard every conceivable comment about the derriere. In most cases, it wasn't as bad as the client thought. I knew the humorous comments were just a mask for frustration and self-consciousness. A trainer must always understand the emotion a client feels about her body. Any man in this society who doesn’t understand how a woman really perceives her butt has the evolutionary DNA of an ant.

Let's get to the point. You want a smaller and tighter booty, right? You want the formula to achieve it, and you want some guarantees. I'm here to tell you that you can do it. I don’t care if you have 100 pounds or 20 pounds to lose. You can make your butt smaller and tighter. The more body fat you have, the longer it will take -- but you can do this.  As I mention in each of my articles, you need to be on a structured, but livable, nutrition program that places you in a slight caloric deficit. In other words, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. However, that doesn’t mean starving yourself and eating as little as possible.  The key to manipulating nutrition is eating the correct foods in the correct amounts at the correct times. If you’re an eDiets member using one of our 17 specially designed nutrition programs, you’re halfway home.  The rest of the way home has to do with efficient workouts that challenge your muscles with optimal efficiency. The combination of weight training, cardiovascular exercise and a specialized muscle group workout routine is a great way to achieve success.  A specialized routine refers to focusing on one or two weaker areas of the body with one to two additional workouts each week.

I’m happy to provide one of my classic specialized butt routines. It will work the rear end and legs, but its main focus is on tightening my all-time favorite muscle group -- the glutes. If your goal is to get the butt you’ve always desired, then you’ve come to the right place.  I’ve designed a simple program that can be performed right in your own home. Many of my customized workouts are based on years of my own personal experience as well as trial-and-error with my training clients.  Several weeks ago, I wrote a "Wave Bye-Bye To Flabby Arms" article and introduced the tri-set. The tri-set refers to performing three exercises in a row without rest. The workout is challenging, so you must focus on impeccable form and concentrate completely on the muscles you’re working.

The Butt Stops Here Workout

1. Dumbbell Squat:

This exercise will have an effect on the entire leg, but the key is to focus on your glutes in the descending part of the movement. I’ve also found that women respond well to high reps for the legs and butt.

  Stand up straight with feet shoulder-width apart.
  Hold a dumbbell or cans in each hand with your arms hanging down at your
· sides and palms facing one another. (If you need an excellent set of dumbbells, check ours out by clicking HERE!)
  Maintain a
· neutral spine and a slight bend in the knees throughout the exercise.
· Lower your body by sticking your butt out, bending from your hips and knees and stopping when your thighs are parallel with the floor.
  Think about
· sitting back in a chair as you are lowering down.
  Slowly return to the
· starting position
  Exhale while returning to the starting position.
· Inhale while lowering your body.
  Don’t let your knees ride over your toes
· (you should be able to see your feet at all times).
  It helps to find a
· marker on the wall to keep your eye on as you lift and lower, otherwise your head may tend to fall forward and your body will follow.
  Push off with
· your heels as you return to the starting position.
  Beginners can perform
· this exercise without weights until they master the movement. It’s a very effective exercise that involves most of the muscle groups of the lower body, but if done improperly, it can lead to injuries -- so use precise form.

Perform 20 slow and controlled repetitions and immediately go to the next exercise.

2. Dumbbell Lunges

  Stand straight with
· your feet together.
  Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms down at your sides.
  Step forward with the right leg and lower the left leg until the knee
· almost touches the floor. This lowered position is where you should focus on feeling the glutes contract.
  Push off your right foot slowly returning to
· the starting position.
  Alternate the motion with the left leg to complete
· the set.
  Inhale while stepping forward and exhale while returning to the
· starting position.
  The step should be big enough that your left leg is
· nearly straight. Do not let your knee touch the floor.
  Make sure your
· head is up and your back is straight.
  Your chest should be lifted and
· your front leg should form a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the movement.
  Your right knee should not pass your right foot. You should be able to
· see your toes at all times.
  If you have one leg that is more dominant
· than the other, start out with the less dominant leg first.
· this exercise if you feel any discomfort in your knees.

Perform 20 repetitions on each side and immediately go to the next exercise.

3. Bent Leg Reverse Kick Up

  Start this exercise on your hands and
· knees on a mat.
  Raise your left leg up until it is parallel with the
· floor with a slight bend in the knee. Support your weight with your arms and right leg.
  While contracting the butt, lift your left leg up and toward
· the ceiling maintaining a bend in the knee.
  Slowly return to the starting
· position.
  After completing the set on the left side, repeat on the right
· side.
  Exhale while lifting your leg.
  Inhale while returning to the
· starting position.
  To increase the difficulty, you may want to add an
· ankle weight to the working leg.

Perform 25 slow and controlled repetitions on the right side and then repeat on the left side.

All three exercises are considered one cycle. Beginners should perform one cycle on three alternate days of the week. Intermediate exercisers should perform two cycles on alternate days of the week, and advanced exercisers should perform three cycles. Wait one minute between cycles before repeating.  You still need to perform weight training or calisthenics for your entire body as well as cardiovascular exercise. However, if you incorporate the above specialty butt workout routine, you'll see some great results.




EVENTS –AUGUST 4 - 14, 2005




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




The Mod Club
722 College Street, Toronto
Showtime 8pm, SHARP
Hosted By Michie Mee
Doors open 7pm
Advance tickets $20

EVENT PROFILE: The Honey Jam is an all-female Canadian talent showcase featuring a wide variety of artists representing many genres of music - hiphop, jazz, dancehall, r&b, rock, dance, spoken word, calypso, soul, opera… Hundreds of artists from across the country audition for one of the few coveted spots in this highly anticipated summer event.  One lucky Honey Jam artist chosen at random at the end of the show will receive the Honey Jam Hook-up Prize Pak valued at over $5,000.  Flow 93.5 is sponsoring an opportunity for a Honey Jam artist to work with acclaimed producer Saukrates to create a track - this prize is worth $7,500 - the winner will be announced at the show.




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:  Welcome to Negril Ontario, that is!  Yes, Carl’s been at it again and has completely revamped his back patio for his faithful Irie patrons.  And now that the weather is warmer, you just HAVE to come out party on the new and hip patio.  Rain or shine as the patio is covered for our convenience.  A real celebration of summer at the hippest patio in Toronto!  DJ Carl Allen will be spinning the tunes while Kayte Burgess and Adrian Eccleston bring the live music. 




Indian Motorcycle
  King Street (at Peter)  
10:00 pm  
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring host Chris Rouse, Calvin Beale, 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