Updated: August 25, 2005
Happy August to you - the last
long weekend of the summer is just around the corner! Some exciting
coverage this week, including Kayte Burgess' and my trip to NABFEME in Chicago last week. She's a hit! We checked out a Donnie concert while there as
well! As well, Wade O. Brown hits the circuit and the airwaves south of the border and they're
eating it up! Good to see some of our talent making waves.
Lots more music news below as well!
Plus, the celebs are coming to Toronto for the Toronto International Film Festival in
the next couple of weeks. Be on the lookout and check out all the
Don't forget about Irie Mondays - they've got a special film festival guest chef coming in! Check it out below. And please extend your support for the special fundraiser for Sickle Cell on September 11 (details below).
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.
Monday Nights - Still the Hippest Monday
Don’t miss the party on one of the hottest patios in the city at Irie Food Joint. Film Festival brings us a guest chef, Lee Bailey. The weather is just fantastic now, so you just HAVE to come out and help us celebrate the remainder of the summer. Rain or shine as the patio is covered for our convenience. The party begins at 10:00 pm. DJ Carl Allen will be spinning the tunes while Kayte Burgess and Adrian Eccleston bring the live music. Make some new friends and meet up with some old ones!
MONDAY, AUGUST 22
IRIE MONDAY NIGHT SESSIONS
Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.
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.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11
A ROYAL TEA & BENEFIT CONCERT
FEATURING PIANIST LINDA GENTILLE
Le Royal Meridien King Edward Hotel
36 King Street East
Table of 10: $650
For More Information, Please Contact SCAO:
NABFEME 2005 RECAP
Kayte Burgess and I rolled into Chicago for this year's NABFEME conference this past Thursday. (For those of you unaware of what NABFEME is about, see ** below.) Despite organizational challenges, Kayte was able to shine at the Women Who Jam concert held at Harold Washington Cultural Center in front of a somewhat impatient crowd. And guess who went on stage first for the evening ... yes, Kayte Burgess - the only Canadian in the line-up, by the way. Kayte belted out her originals, including Now You Know, which will be hitting airwaves soon, accompanied by the incomparable Adrian Eccleston. The crowd's reaction was extremely receptive and warm in the end, even laughing at Kayte's little comedic quips here and there (like when she entered the stage, "No, you're not imagining it, I'm White!" to the almost exclusively Black audience). There were many other performances that night - some worth mentioning more than others. Take a journey through my PHOTO GALLERY for pictures of the event. Kayte was also featured on a compilation CD distributed at the conference featuring many popular American artists including Toni Braxton, Vivian Green, Yolanda Adams, Eric Benet and Syleena Johnson, to name a few.
The next day, Friday, brought some unexpected surprises. We went to The Mentor Power Luncheon… In Celebration of the Celebrity Mom with Keynote Speaker - Island Def Jam Music Group Chairman, Antonio "L.A." Reid. The Moms being honoured and celebrated included Dr. Donda West (Kanye West), Roberta Shields (Ludacris), Jonnetta Patton (Usher), Cissy Houston (Whitney Houston), Rita Owens (Queen Latifah), Deloris Jordan (Michael Jordan), Carolyn London (Tyra Banks), Mahalia Hines (Common), Sonja Norwood (Brandy & Ray J) and Sheron Smith (Mos Def). Some of the Moms had been used to celebrity for quite some time and spoke frankly and openly about needing prayers for their children in this industry. Deloris Jordan (Michael Jordan) was one of the most seasoned of them all and touched many of the other celebrity Moms, like Sheron Smith (Mos Def) that were new to it. Cissy Houston (Whitney Houston) reported that her daughter and her family are doing well but to continue to keep them in everyone's prayers. The common theme and message from the mothers was not to let anyone deter you from your dreams, no matter how many people are telling you different.
Of course one of the biggest surprises to all that attended were the appearances of both Usher and Kanye West at the luncheon! Usher gave a glowing and fond introduction of his Mom, Jonnetta Patton, who is also his manager and has been instrumental in Usher's achievement of superstardom. As well, Kanye performed for his Mom, Dr. Donda West, with a sweet and moving discourse on all the attributes of and appreciation for his Mom's direction and guidance. Usher stayed throughout the luncheon and took limited pictures for some of the lucky guests. What a shock to see them there as it was not advertised at all and I commend NABFEME for being able to keep it confidential.
Our goal was simple, to get Kayte's demo into the hands of those responsible for many successful careers and hope for the best, including L.A. Reid, which we were able to accomplish. All I know is that mega networking is exhausting! But we met lots of great people there and recognized some faces from home including Aisha Wickham (UMAC and FLOW 93.5) and Keidi-Ann Graham which gave us a much-needed taste of home.
All in all, I think that we represented Canadian artists well with our professional and authentic flex. I'm telling you, Canadians stand out in a crowd and Chicago was definitely feeling our 'international' vibe. Time and time again we heard 'Canadians in the house!' I will be keeping you posted on more of Kayte's movements, including when the track, Now You Know, drops (produced by Ali Shaheed Muhammad of Tribe Called Quest).
**NABFEME is the National Association of Black Female Executives in Music and Entertainment; a non-profit professional organization dedicated to the support and empowerment of women of color in recorded music, the media and related entertainment industry fields. NABFEME is committed to the development of support programs and the creation of alliances that will assist our members in achieving their personal and professional goals.
Kayte and I were invited by a Chicago keyboard player and friend, Andrei Chahine, to the Donnie concert (namesake Donny Hathaway) that night in Chicago. Andrei played keys for Donnie in this eclectic group of musicians, including five horns and two male background singers that would knock your socks off, if you were first able to peel yourself from the rafters! Great band and Donnie's raspy vocals and strong lyrics didn't disappoint. Donnie's show was part gospel revival, part unity rally, with fans singing along to his Black-and-proud anthems ("Beautiful Me" and "Cloud 9") and love songs that avoid the typical R&B male bravado ("Heaven Scent"). Donnie closed his stirring set acapella with his background singer in a tribute to all the abused girls that he's known as adults. He sincerely left us clamouring for more. Check the PHOTO GALLERY for more pics!
Motivational Note: Business Owners
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - by Motivational Speaker and Author, Jewel Diamond Taylor www.DoNotGiveUp.net www.JewelDiamondTaylor.com e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a business owner, think about the following tips: 1) Goods news travels fast, but bad news travels even faster. Have moral, spiritual and intellectual character to always do the right thing. Be fair, honest and deliver. Your reputation is like money in the bank. 2) Don’t hire carbon copies of yourself. Seek those who have strengths and skills that will compliment and support your business growth. 3) Good customer service is becoming more rare. Serve your customer with excellence. Go beyond what is expected. Really shine with promptness, professionalism, integrity product knowledge. 4) When you look in the mirror you will see your boss. You must be self-motivated, a self-starter and believe in yourself. If you are a sleeper, a procrastinator or only want the glory and money without the guts and behind the scenes daily details, you will fail in your business. 5) Customers don’t care about your personal problems, your sales contests or excuses. Focus on their needs. 6) A satisfied customer is your sales staff. Ask for referrals. 7) Success is a numbers game. Talk to more people to multiply your opportunities. Speaking is advertising. Seize opportunities to talk about your products and service. Show, tell and sell.
Meet New Artist Wade
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kenya Yarbrough
(Aug. 24, 2005) *Make some room in your bedroom collection – somewhere between Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross. New artist Wade O. Brown has released his US debut, titled “All Night, All Love,” which fits quite comfortably between such legendary balladeers. As it should, since these slow jam geniuses influenced Brown’s music – along with the plethora of soulful and gospel sounds emanating from the radio airwaves of Detroit. Brown was born and raised in the Motor City along with music influences, he says, that gave him a distinct style and a taste of variety. “Detroit, which is the perfect place for how I feel right now, [gave me] certain things that helped my individuality and helped my diversity. I learned that if I’m going to do something, I have to stand out. The music that influenced me on the radio was so diverse – from the East end to the West end.” As Brown is a child of the 70s, any Motown influences were also complemented by the pop of the 80s – as he considers Prince his greatest influence, in addition to Sting and Sade – and hip hop. “The biggest influence in my career is Prince, though I’m a foot taller and about three times his size and a few shades darker. I started off being a fan and then just realizing how he stood his ground and wanted to write and produce his own project, and God gave him such talent that the companies had no choice but to let him do that. As I study more musicians, [I take that] from Stevie Wonder as well. It was very inspiring. I’m also influenced by Luther Vandross – we’re in that same vocal tone – so of course I grew up listening to him and loving his music,” he told EUR’s Lee Bailey. Though the singer and self-taught keyboardist considers the new disc his debut, this is Browns second project. He released an independent album in Canada, performed with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Roger Troutman, Glenn Lewis and Joe, but considers that experience to be the stepping stone to this solid release.
“I’ve been at the game for a while,” Brown explained, “but my main objective was to season myself to ultimately put out projects and be involved in the process as much as possible. Some people go the road of putting something out there and two to three records later they’re like, ‘This is the album that I was born to make.’ I wanted to be grown up and make the album I wanted to make from the inception.” Brown spent time in Canada, New York and Manchester, England, honing his craft, performing in showcases, and making contacts. “Everything I’ve done was basically a stepping stone,” Brown revealed. “Getting the contacts and meeting the right people who saw what I was trying to do. I didn’t want to be a self-contained artist; I wanted to get in a position to do collaborations – being able to link up with classic songwriters like Daryl Simmons (Babyface, Boys II Men, Kenny Lattimore), Barry Eastmond (Anita Baker, Whitney Houston) and Kipper Jones (Brandy, Vanessa Williams). With such major ballad hit power behind him, it’s no wonder the album is considered “an ideal soundtrack for an intimate evening of lovemaking.” In addition, Brown says that while “All Night, All Love” is dominated by love songs, the disc is varied with up-tempo rhythms and even has hip hop undertones. “[The album] is good soul music and intimacy. It does have the elements of whatever you need. I won’t say it’s safe, but I think everyone will find their comfort zone with this. It’s definitely in a soulful vein. Talks about love a lot – I would basically say that’s the common denominator,” Brown describes. Furthermore, he says, “In my production, it’s got the bottom in it; it’s definitely got the bass to make you want to move. As much as I wanted it to be intimate and soulful at time, even the fellas in their jeep will cool out. I had to represent my hip hop appreciation.” Brown’s music has been considered a true return to soul music, doubtless because of its legendary soul influence.
“It’s so hard not to forget the artists before me that influenced me; not to say that I’m trying to sound like them – but those influences are on the record. But you always want to sound new. The old-fashioned is gonna be a foundation in my career.” But giving his comment on the ‘neo-soul’ tag, Brown says that he believes the music genre pendulum is swinging back toward classic soul, as opposed to its half-sibling born of the late 90s: “The neo-soul rush was kind of labelled before that certain style was seasoned,” Brown said. “So, that market kind of got flooded with kind of copy cats in a way – everybody tied up their hair and they were Erykah Badu, everybody got cornrows and they were D’Angelo. But cornrows don’t make you soulful. A head wrap or no matter how many times you read ‘Malcolm X,’ that’s not going to make you soulful.” “All Night, All Love” smoothly mixes old-school sound with a new-school edge, with its up-tempo title track, second single "Maybe,” which is impacting Urban Contemporary stations around the country, and his soulful cover of Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight.” Still Brown accepts that you “can’t please everybody, but I think there are a lot of basics that need to be covered if you want to get in this field and if you want to be successful and be respect for what you do.” “All Love, All Night,” released on the Groove United Entertainment imprint and independently distributed by Bayside/33rd Street Records, is in stores now. To HEAR song samples from the album and get more info, log on t www.wadeobrown.com.
Lowdown: Esthero Lands 'Sex & City' Spot
By Karen Bliss for Lowdown
(Aug. 24, 2005) The title track from Esthero's "Wikked Lil' Grrrls" CD will be used in a new TV spot for "Sex And The City," starting August 26 on TBS. The Toronto-based urban-jazz singer landed the spot through her U.S. label, Reprise/Warner Bros. "It's an open-ended deal with options on a year to year basis. There's no minimum number of plays," says her manager, Zack Werner. The playful song with The Andrew Sisters feel is up for consideration as the follow-up to the emphasis track and video "We R In Need Of A Musical ReVoLuTion" and may spur spins much in the same way "Bad Day" has for B.C.'s Daniel Powter with his Coca-Cola spot. Esthero performed "Wikked Lil Grrrls" on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" with her 11-piece band back in July. Werner says the 26-year-old is an artist that her label is trying to build a story for through touring and word-of-mouth. She just completed a successful U.S. tour, including a packed two-hour-plus show at New York's Irving Plaza. A Toronto one-off is booked for Sept. 8 at the Guvernment. "She is doing well here and in the U.S. selling in the top 200," reports Werner. The album has sold just over 7,000 units in Canada since its June 28 release, according to Nielsen SoundScan Canada. "We haven't gone to radio anywhere and haven't picked a first single," adds Werner. "She is still touring. We want people to turn on to her as an artist and the full album." "Sex And The City," the 94-episode 30-minute risque comedy/romance about four empowered single women in New York City ended in 2004, but is still as popular in reruns. Werner says Esthero, a free spirit looking for her own wikked man, is the perfect artist to highlight the series. "We're really excited about one wicked little girl, Esthero, being associated with a show about such powerful fully-formed independent women," says Werner. "Sex And The City stands as a true benchmark and the marriage for us makes total sense."
Purely coincidental, the TV spot is narrated by Esthero's good friend, singer/actress Cree Summer, whose voicemail message, dubbed "My Honeybrown," introduces the song "Wikked Lil Grrrls" on the album. "The song was inspired by her in the first place and our friends," says Esthero. "It's a love letter to all my pirate friends and she's my big sister. On the record, I use an answering machine message from her before the song starts, so it's funny. "All the pirates are Sex And The City fans," she says, referring to the strong women in her life. "So I told her that my song was going to be on the new commercial, so she knew for a while, and then when I came to L.A. to play she said, 'Guess what I just did the voice for... your commercials.'" California-born Summer is the daughter of Vancouver-born actor Don Francks and sister of actor, rapper and former MuchMusic VJ Rainbow Francks. She spent her formative years on the Plains Cree reserve of Red Pheasant in Saskatchewan before moving to Toronto. She rose to fame in the '80s playing Freddie Brooks on the hit TV sitcom "A Different World." She later landed a recording contract with the since dissolved WORK Group, the same label to which Esthero was originally signed. "We met the day I signed my record deal, so that would be in 1997," recalls Esthero. "There was a giant WORK Group party on that same day." This "Sex And The City" spot is the closest the two "pirates" have come to working together. "We hope to write together one day," she says.
Returns To Darker Roots
By Karen Bliss for Lowdown
(Aug. 15, 2005) Vancouver hip hop group Swollen Members has about 20 songs completed for its new album, "Black Magic," tentatively scheduled for a March 2006 release. Guests so far include rappers Ghostface Killah (Wu-Tang), Evidence (Dilated Peoples), Planet Asia and Alchemist, as well as guitarists Dave Genn (54.40/ex Matthew Good Band), Russ Klyne (k-os) and Tom Thacker (singer for gob). With the departure of soulful singer Moka Only, who will release his solo album, "The Desired Effect," tomorrow (Aug. 16) on Battle Axe/Nettwerk/EMI Music Canada, the rest of Swollen Members -- rappers Prevail and Mad Child, and DJ/producer Rob The Viking -- will have less of a pop flavour on the new tracks. "You're going to hear us going back to the dark, abstract s**t that we believe in, the stuff that we do from our hearts and our souls, our real creative outlet," says Prevail. "I mean, we have to have a single or two, but the other songs are all absolutely dark." Moka, a one-time guest turned official Swollen Member, whose melodic vocals on singles "Fuel Injected" and "Bring It Home" gave this underground hip hop phenom greater commercial appeal, left the group last year to pursue a solo career. Prevail doesn't feel that Moka's absence contributed to Swollen's heavier direction on this new album. "I wouldn't say that it's necessarily his absence more than it's our reconnection to our roots are and where our past is and what really drives us lyrically. I think the dispansion (sic) of the group as it was is better for everybody. It's working out better for everyone."
Swollen Members became Canada's most successful selling hip hop group after releasing its debut full-length, "Balance," in 1999, which scanned 41,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan Canada, and earned the group its first of several Juno Awards. The follow-up, 2001's "Bad Dreams," sold 100,000 units and 2002's mainly b-sides collection "Monsters In The Closet" (which included the new "Breath" feat. Nelly Furtado) about 70,000 units. With the momentum building and feeling it was time to break into the U.S., Mad Child, who also owns Battle Axe Records, signed a label deal with Virgin for the world, excluding Canada. Swollen Members then relocated to Venice Beach, CA, to begin work on the new album. Meanwhile, Battle Axe put out a Canada-only "album between albums" double-disc called "Heavy," which sold 25,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan Canada. In the end, though, the Virgin deal didn't work out. "There were too many cooks in the kitchen, too many opinions," Prevail explains, but some of those tracks, produced by The Matrix (Liz Phair, Avril Lavigne), can be heard on Moka Only's "The Desired Effect." Back in Vancouver, the guys took some time off to rethink. "We purposely took a step back after the last album came out and everyone took a little bit of time away to get back into their own headspace, so when we came back it was that much stronger, more powerful," says Prevail. "That's where 'Black Magic' has taken direction. We felt that hunger again after taking that time off. It feels like the same passion we had when we were making 'Balance' and 'Bad Dreams.'" The three have been working at Battle Axe's studio above the label's office, as well as at Bryan Adams' state-of-the-art Warehouse Studio, where the live instruments have been laid down. The first song Swollen Members recorded for "Black Magic" is the title track. The group now has about 32 songs, 20 of which are completed. Swollen will continue to work out of both studios. Titles include the self-explanatory "Prisoners Of Doom" and "Massacre," as well as "Weight," the song featuring Ghostface Killah. "It's a disgusting rap song with one of the most skilled vocalists in the history of our music," says Prevail. "He wrote his own rhyme and then sent the session back." Three new songs -- "Black Magic," "Too Hot," and "Swamp Water" (feat. Planet Asia and Phil Da Agony) -- are currently available exclusively on iTunes, and a 12-inch will be released in Sept. All of them will be on the final album, says Prevail.
Young Promises He'll 'Come Back' To Junos
Excerpt from The Toronto Star
(Aug. 23, 2005) NASHVILLE (CP) — The only evidence left that Neil Young suffered a near-death experience five months ago is a couple of pills he takes daily, says the legendary musician. In an interview on the weekend in Nashville where he filmed a concert documentary with director Jonathan Demme, Young said nothing much has changed in his day-to-day life since the brain aneurysm last March. "There's just a little bit of medication that I take . . . They just want to keep my blood pressure down because I run pretty hot," said a trim-looking Young, dressed head-to-toe in black. "I feel a little bit like a diesel engine with a governor on it," added Young, using the lingo of the model train aficionado that he is. Young has been keeping a frenetic pace lately. He brought the house down in Nashville on Thursday and Friday, performing concerts which lasted more than three hours each night. He partied into the wee hours and then, the typically media-averse Young held court with music press from around the world to discuss a variety of upcoming projects including Prairie Wind, his new CD due out next month. He's also toiling away on a DVD box set of archival material dating back to the early 1960s. Surgery to fix the blood clot forced the singer to cancel a highly anticipated appearance at the Juno Awards in Winnipeg, the city he lived in during his formative music years. Young was supposed to be the marquee star of the show. "I will come back another year," promised the Toronto-born singer. "I hesitate to say anything right now because I haven't made the plans so I don't want to get anything going that I'm going to bail out on." He's currently trying to map out a tour for the new year.
In making those plans, he said he's looking for a way to route the journey home — whether it's to the Junos, taking place in Halifax next April, or perhaps the Prairies that he so fondly sings about in the new record. "It's at the top of our minds," said the 59-year-old. "It's always a consideration when we think of what we're going to do next." The biggest hurdle is bringing the dozens of musicians on the album on a tour. The group includes Emmylou Harris, gospel choir Fisk University Jubilee Singers, keyboardist Spooner Oldham and pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith. "It's not going to be easy to do it," said Young. "We have to figure out a method." Due out Sept. 27, Prairie Wind is a deeply personal album. In it, Young tenderly recalls his Canadian upbringing. He sings about a farmhouse where he was raised and a ukulele given to him one Christmas by his father, sportswriter and author Scott Young, who passed away in June. "Prairie Wind blowing through my head," he moans on the title track. Fans can get a peek at the album this week. The first single, the balmy ballad The Painter, was released Monday to radio. It will be available on ITunes on Aug. 30. On the track, Young sings "It's a long road behind me/It's a long road ahead/If you follow every dream you might get lost." Young admitted there have been a few dreams he "didn't get to for one reason or another." He pointed to the film version of his 1982 experimental album Trans, by way of example. "It wasn't the right time. I was ahead of myself," he says. ``If I had that idea later I would have filmed it myself." While Young was open to meeting with reporters over the weekend, his distaste for the trade hasn't dissipated. He had harsh words for the TV networks about their Live 8 coverage of concerts around the world. "It was so commercialized in the end," said Young, who sang at the event in Barrie, Ont. But on the plus side, he said it "did herald the end of TV as we know it, which I think is one of the greatest signs of Live 8." He said the media seemed out of step with reality. "It did show that the Internet was the future . . . you won't have to listen to these complete jerk VJs interrupting historic performances by artists that haven't been together in 20 years to talk about how emotionally involved they are in the performance," he said. "That was, in one moment, the most obvious sign of the end of an era because those people were just hanging themselves out there talking."
Takes A Look At His Life
Source: Angela Pacienza, Canadian Press
(Aug. 22, 2005) NASHVILLE—Sharing stories about becoming an ``empty-nester" as well as reflections on his recently departed father, Neil Young closed a two-night concert here with an intensely personal and moving performance. "It sure is great to be here with all of you," said the Toronto-born singer, looking dapper in a crisp grey suit and white western hat, during Friday night's concert at the majestic Ryman Auditorium in North America's country music capitol. Aside from a brief appearance at last month's Live 8 concert in Barrie, the shows marked Young's proper return to the stage since his life-threatening brain aneurysm last March. Captured by filmmaker Jonathan Demme for a feature-length documentary to be released next year, the concerts were a chance for the 59-year-old Young to unveil material from his upcoming album, Prairie Wind. Tickets to the event were hard to come by. Organizers said about 700 were given away, mostly to film, music and media folk with only a very few for contest winners. "I was freaking out when I heard about the concert," exclaimed 21-year-old Katie Austin, a local university student who won a radio contest. "I love Neil Young so much. He's the only living rock star that I've wanted to see. I thought I was never going to get the chance." Young didn't disappoint. He devoted the first half of the three-hour show to the new album, which contains healthy doses of gospel and blues. Themes included Young's Canadian upbringing, religion, old friendships, and on a lighter note, Elvis Presley. After a 15-minute intermission, he turned to his classic catalogue performing goodies like "Harvest Moon," "The Needle and The Damage Done," "Heart of Gold," and "Old Man."
Between songs, Young took time to share intimate stories. The most moving yarns were about his late "daddy" Scott Young, an acclaimed Canadian journalist and author who passed away in June. "In the last part of his life he had dementia," said Young of his father who lived and died in Kingston. "It's something else to see your loved ones living in the moment." He then launched into "Prairie Wind," a bluesy number where he sings, "Trying to remember what my daddy said/Before too much time took away his head." In "Far From Home" he does just that, recounting memories of sitting on his dad's knee learning to play the ukulele. "That song means a lot to me," said Young afterwards, revealing that he occasionally starts crying in the middle of it. "It's a family thing." Young switched between his piano and guitar — a prized possession, he told the crowd, because it originally belonged to Hank Williams. "I was lucky enough ... to purchase this guitar 35 years ago," he said. The venue, an old wood church with ornate stained-glass windows and worn pew seating, echoed Young's nostalgic mood. Originally built as a tabernacle, Ryman Auditorium was home to the Grand Ole Opry between 1943 and 1974. Director Demme, who won an Oscar for Silence of the Lambs, wisely chose a sparse stage that showed off the musicians and the 113-year-old auditorium. Joining Young on stage was an impressive group of musicians including Emmylou Harris, the Fisk University Jubilee Singers, pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith, keyboardist Spooner Oldham, a string section and a three-piece horn outfit. Despite Young's reflective mood, the night was far from being overly sombre and sentimental. Young was in a jovial mood, cracking jokes with the audience between songs as crewmen shuffled instruments and adjusted camera equipment.
In introducing "Here For You" from Prairie Wind, he joked about having invented a new category of music — the "empty-nester song," he called it. The gentle song was inspired by his 21-year-old daughter, who is entering her final year of college in the fall, explained Young. "It's a new genre," he said. "They might even have a new radio station." Prairie Wind is due out on Sept. 27. Longtime fans will be in for another treat next year as Young is scheduled to release a treasure trove of archival material from the past 40 years including a slew of unreleased songs.
CBC Lockout Slams Door On Artists
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Guy Dixon
(Aug. 23, 2005) Toronto publicist Jane Harbury, who represents a number of roots, jazz and classical musicians, stakes her job on the 4 C's: campus radio, community art scenes, chat (word-of-mouth) and the CBC. With the lockout disrupting normal programming at CBC Television and Radio, the broadcaster won't be interviewing her artists or recording their concerts. Nor will their new releases likely be played because the on-air talent and producers she usually deals with are walking the picket line. "[CBC Radio programs such as] Here and Now are vital to me. Sounds Like Canada, Global Village arevital to me," Harbury said. Just a spin of one of her artists on Jurgen Gothe's DiscDrive can be a huge boon. Without those shows, her artists are left struggling for exposure. The longer the CBC lockout lasts, the more it will hinder the promotion of grassroots and independent art scenes across Canada, say publicists and artists. The lockout is causing problems for more than just musicians. Publishers, for example, must search for alternate outlets to promote Canadian writers whom the CBC would typically interview. Publisher McClelland & Stewart plans to send out about 30-per-cent fewer review copies of books at a critical time, just as it is ramping up for the fall book season. Most of those copies would have gone to CBC shows and their producers. "Sounds Like Canada is not there. The Arts Report is not there. Writers & Company is not there. Sunday Edition is not there. These are the places where our books, both fiction and non-fiction, would normally land," said M&S's Bruce Walsh, director of marketing and publicity.
Jane Urquhart, for instance, is scheduled to release a new book on Sept. 1 and "she's an author who would generally be interviewed by Shelagh Rogers on Sounds Like Canada and on Writers & Company," Walsh said. "Without the CBC, we have to spend more money on advertising, for instance." There's also the problem of restructuring the publisher's publicity campaign once the CBC lockout ends, so as not to inundate producers with too many books all at once and run the risk of titles getting lost in the jumble. In the meantime, M&S said it is pushing harder to get other networks' morning shows, such as CHUM Television's Breakfast Television and CTV's Canada AM interested in order to try to give writers alternate exposure. Even the loss of a casual mention by an announcer on CBC radio for a small festival such as Toronto's upcoming City Roots -- City Wide roots music festival is significant. It's the kind of event which commercial radio tends to ignore, so without the CBC, exposure can be hard to come by. "There's absolutely no question that both the morning and afternoon drive shows have a very strong listenership among people of a slightly older demographic who are more interested in the sort of blues-folk-roots music stuff that people like me promote. And there's no question that it hurts," said Richard Flohil, a veteran music promoter and publicist in Toronto. The CBC isn't interested in the pop scene, but in smaller, niche genres, Flohil said: "There are people like Justin Rutledge, Greg Hobbs and a bunch of others -- if you want to label them CBC artists, then go ahead -- who would get support from the CBC, whilst commercial radio doesn't give a rat's ass about them."
The CBC has "been excessively supporting to myself and to many other musicians that I know," said Rutledge, a Toronto-based singer-songwriter in the alt-country vein. Without the broadcaster's radio programming, the independent scene could be hit hard, he said. The broadcaster is currently running backup programming and some repeat shows on its television and radio networks, as well as reduced content on its websites, in order to maintain an on-air and Internet presence. Yet, also suffering are audiences, say independent publicists. It's a two-way street. Artists depend on the CBC, but so do audiences in order to hear music that is otherwise difficult to find. Flohil, for instance, has been promoting a performance in Toronto by U.K. trombonist Chris Barber who is appearing on the same bill as guitarist Jeff Healey's Jazz Wizards this week and last. The much anticipated concert was scheduled to be taped for CBC Radio's Saturday Night Blues. Now it won't be.
Vesta, George Benson, Peabo Bryson &
More On The Same 'Love Pages'
Source: Gwendolyn Quinn, Robyn Ryland-Sanders, GQ Media & Public Relations, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Aug. 22, 2005) “The goal is to bring back quality music. Music that engages people emotionally, intellectually and spiritually,” says Clarence Smith, founder of Essence Magazine and now CEO of YOU Entertainment, who along with producers Duke Jones and the legendary Norman Connors, is the guiding force behind one of this years most refreshingly musical, star studded collections in Love Pages. A conceptual album by a collective aptly named The Café Soul All-Stars, Clarence feels it fills a definite void in the musical marketplace. “Like many others, I love and appreciate two seminal eras in American music: Jazz and R&B. Both have had a profound impact on my musical tastes and they’ve also greatly influenced my sense of what constitutes great songwriting and musicianship. For me, the idea behind the Love Pages project was simple, create an environment that allows great players and singers who share a similar reverence for the musical traditions I’ve always held dear to showcase their talents on one fantastic CD.” The story behind Love Pages is a fascinating one. It dates back to the New Orleans-based Essence Music Festival of 2000. Clarence, on a musical high from the event, enlisted musician/producer and friend, Duke Jones to recruit a band from the festival to play on a cruise ship he was chartering for a trip from New Orleans to Mexico. Having listened back to the nightly sessions they recorded on the ship, both Clarence and Duke realized that this simply had to be heard by the masses. Duke, who has been a staple in many classic R&B bands from the 70’s onwards, was given the enviable task of assembling a line up that would bring the band’s name and album concept to life. He responded by enlisting some of the most respected names in both jazz and R&B; George Benson, Peabo Bryson, Glenn Jones, Vesta, Christopher Williams, Jon Lucien, Maysa (of Incognito fame), not to mention the Earth, Wind & Fire horn section among the many noted musicians. He also summoned up long time friend and fellow musician/producer Norman Connors (who discovered R&B legends Phyllis Hyman and Jean Carne), in whose band Duke had been a mainstay for many years, to help steer the ship. Love Pages is anchored by the Café Soul All-Stars, who are comprised of an equally stellar cast of renowned session musicians; Duke Jones - trumpet, Chris Albert - trumpet, Bobby Lyles – keyboards, Kaspar Galli - guitar, Steve Williams - drums, Rene McLean - sax and Alex Blake – bass. The end result is a riveting collection of songs that segues effortlessly from radio friendly, soulful R&B jams such as the first single, “What You Gonna Do” featuring Glenn Jones and “Used To Be” featuring Christopher Williams to Vesta’s heartfelt vocals on the superlative, “One More Bridge To Cross.” New offerings from Peabo Bryson (his powerful delivery on “Don’t Make Me Cry” is a standout) and George Benson (singing the melancholic title track, “Pages”) remind us why they remain two of the most important names in the last quarter-century of urban music. Round this out with the sensual sound of Café Soul All-Stars own Bobby Lyle and the steamy fusion brew, “Urban Jungle” (featuring Roy Ayers and Kenny Garrett) and it should be readily apparent why Love Pages is destined to become a staple in every true R&B lover’s collection. “When you consider the range and level of creative talent present on Love Pages, I felt Norman would be the perfect person to help bring it all together” says Duke. “I also believed his prior experience putting together concept albums would be invaluable to our efforts.” It was a wise move. The end result is a CD that brims with the best there is in Soul and Jazz, allowing musical connoisseurs and casual fans the chance to revel in legendary names performing new material that will remain, like their older works, timeless.
Asked how he made the transition from magazine publisher to record executive Clarence Smith is pragmatic: “I believe there’s a huge, untapped market for music whose appeal focuses on consumers who are 25 and over. I started YOU Entertainment, in part, as a vehicle to address this need because I believe the success of contemporary artists whose appeal fits this profile like Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, Jill Scott and Kem, to name a few, is not accidental. Although the medium is different, Essence was created with a similar fundamental belief: that high-quality content targeted towards an underserved and upwardly mobile consumer-base would resonate. I believe YOU Entertainment’s timing is perfect to fill that void in the market.” Duke Jones concurs, while offering a further take on the project’s origins: “We called our collective Café Soul, because in most cultures, a café is typically a destination point that allows diverse people to come together, relax, and immerse themselves in music, without fear of conforming to commercial stereotypes or restrictions. This is the conceptual vibe we sought to create and thankfully Clarence Smith gave us the green light to do that. Hopefully, listeners will appreciate the quality and sense of musical freedom that makes this album what it is. It was an incredible environment in which to create and be creative.” The results speak for themselves. Love Pages is executive produced by Clarence O. Smith and the album producers are Duke Jones and Norman Connors. Love Pages is just the beginning! Future offerings from YOU Entertainment include the U.S. debut of Brazilian singing sensation Fernanda Noronha and three compilations, Soul of Brazil, Cool Brazil and Soul of Africa that each feature new, never-before released material and old-school classics. The Soul of series will cover various musical genres from around the world.
CAFÉ SOUL ALL-STARS
What You Gonna Do
As far as soulful male vocalists go, Glenn Jones is the “singer’s singer.” He first came to prominence with club hits such as “I Am Somebody” and “Finesse.” It was during his tenure with Jive Records and notable releases such as “We’ve Only Just Begun” that Jones really cemented his reputation and diehard fan base. Indeed, Jones’ own last album, independently released, sold an impressive 200,000 units.
This smooth, mid-tempo outing catches him at his soulful best, sounding totally at home in a contemporary setting, with infectious background parts and synth lines helping to provide the perfect backdrop.
Don’t Make Me Cry
The master crooner delivers a trademark emotive performance on this dramatic, heartfelt ballad. Check out the credits for the band. This is a musicians’ dream team: Bobby Lyle on Keys, Freddie Washington on bass, Ex-Crusader Ndugu Leon Chancler (drums), Boney James on sax and Paul Jackson, Jr. on guitar. It doesn’t get much better than this!
Used To Be
Best known for his pretty boy good looks, Christopher Williams’ soulful pipes handle an applicably infectious, mid-tempo youth orientated offering.
One More Bridge To Cross
Although she had success with the major hit single “Congratulations,” released on A&M Records, many people may now only recognize Vesta from her TV acting work in recent years. Having served her apprenticeship as a Chaka Khan background vocalist, similarities between the two divas have always existed. This is a refreshingly, heartfelt performance both lyrically and vocally. A strong mid-tempo/ballad that shows what great songwriting and singing are all about. Nice to see legendary producer Nick Martinelli (Loose Ends) as a co-writer.
This is something of an Atlantic Starr reunion. Two vital components of the group’s early success -- producer Duke Jones helped form the group, and Atlantic Starr’s former lead vocalist Sharon Bryant (“Circles,” “Touch a Four Leaf Clover,” “When Love Calls” – recently sampled by Mary J. Blige, etc.) -- joined here along with background vocalist Porter Carroll on this track.
However, let’s not forget lead singer Maysa. She learned her craft under the tutelage of Stevie Wonder in his touring band and gained notoriety as the front woman in Brit jazz-funk outfit Incognito. This is a quality slice of old school jazz-soul that hints of the likes of Dianne Reeves, Phyllis Hyman and Angela Bofill.
Instrumental featuring Bob Baldwin
Written, produced and performed by Bobby Lyles, this is an enjoyable, breezy dose of jazz-fusion/dance. It’s reminiscent of Paul Hardcastle’s 1993 classic, “Rainforest Serenade,” which is still a regular on radio play lists today.
To Be With You
Jon Lucien with Pucho & The Latin Soul Brothers
A good pairing of baritone jazz vocalist Jon Lucien with the musical prowess of Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers. The jazz-soul ballad features a heavy Latin percussive backdrop and horn arrangement courtesy of producer Duke Jones.
Another brisk and breezy dose of jazz-fusion with an all star cast of musicians: Bob Baldwin on keys, Roy Ayers handles the vibes, Kenny Garret on alto sax, Paulinho Da Costa (percussion) and Sonny Emory of Earth, Wind & Fire on drums. Musical bliss!
You And I
Written by trumpeter Duke Jones and former Atlantic Starr front man David Lewis with Denise Stewart on lead vocals, this is classic old school jazz-soul. Deep, mellow and very soulful, it will remind you of the late great Phyllis Hyman.
You Don’t Have To Say You’re Sorry
Consisting of vocalist Debbie Gilchrest and pianist James Farley, the duo Jazmyn recorded this song during the final night at sea. Nice to see Patti Austin getting covered on this sparse and atmospheric reading. The fact that this song can handle such limited instrumentation is a tribute in itself to the writer.
Stay In My Heart
The second outing from Maysa on this collection. This time she handles the light and fluid mid-tempo melody with typical aplomb, amid haunting trumpet lines from Duke Jones.
A funky old school clavinet-laced workout featuring Nichelle Holiday delivering spoken word poetry and Roy Ayers backing her on vibes.
The mellow sounds of this instrumental song were created one beautiful evening at Pier 69 Club in the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Fredriksted, St. Croix. Feel yourself drift away with a dreamy dose of fusion with Roy Ayers (vibes) and Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers serving up musical delights.
Get Up On It
A free flowing fusion infusion! This was recorded on a ship in the Gulf of Mexico and you can just feel the chilled out vibe of the Café Soul All-Stars on this.
George Benson delivers a deep, soulful performance on this ballad; complementing his vocal works with some trademark, slick guitar picking.
David Banner Lands Role Alongside Samuel L. Jackson In Flick
'Black Snake Moan'
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Tiffany Hamilton
(Aug. 19, 2005) Rapper/producer David Banner is taking a step from behind the microphone and mixing board to make his acting debut along side Samuel L. Jackson in the Craig Brewer directed film “Black Snake Moan.” The movie is a tale about a white woman who is a nymphomaniac and must be cured of her disorder by a black bluesman. "I'm really happy with the role," David Banner told AllHipHop.com. "I feel blessed that my debut role is a major one, starring beside someone as great as Samuel L. Jackson." “Black Snake Moan” is slated to start shooting in October and also stars Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake. Brewer directed the critically acclaimed movie “Hustle & Flow.” "My character is one of the few people in the town besides Lazarus [played by Samuel L. Jackson] that really understands this woman," Banner said of his role, "He's a hustler but No one else believes in her and they all kind of get down on her. It's a real cool movie" Although the plot may seem simple, the actual story behind it is much more complex, according to director Craig Brewer. "This is a movie where we are taking some of the most sexual and racially charged imagery where you look deeper and you find that these are human beings, but it is also a movie that deals this wave of sexual addiction;" director Craig Brewer told blackfilm.com in a recent interview about the movie. "It shows that there are so many things that have collided but that is ultimately what makes us all family. It makes us connected to each other where normally we wouldn't be connected." Banner has also been tapped by Cartoon Network to create an untitled cartoon that will appear in the Adult Swim block next season. "The cartoon is going to be really funny," Banner told AllHipHop.com. "It's really going to push the envelope as far as the topics we are touching on."
The cartoon will not only feature David Banner, but fellow southern producers Jazzy Pha and Mannie Fresh. "It's about a white family and a black family living in modern day North Mississippi but the white family's mind set is that of 1869 and no matter what you do it won't change, they still think and talk the way they would in 1869, so it's really pushing it," Banner said. "My character is a member of black rock band who works at Sonic, but he is moving upward and is in direct conflict with the white family. I think that it's really going to push the envelope and address the issue of race relations in America, even if we don't want to." With his new upcoming acting projects, Banner says he is taking a break from music to focus on his craft and to get some much-needed rest. "Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a workaholic," Banner said. "I am just going to use this time while I am shooting the film to really rest. I am totally focused on acting because that has always been my dream. After we are done shooting, I am planning on starting the European tour to promote Certified and dive back into the swing of things with music." David Banner’s Certified hits stores September 20 on Universal.
Edition Lead Singer Takes Career To Next Level
Source: Dan Dillman at Xzault; 510-895-9002 / email@example.com
(Aug. 23, 2005) Seldom in the chronicles of music history has a single artist’s new release been more anticipated by an adoring worldwide fan base than the much expected solo album of New Edition lead singer Ralph Tresvant. Once touted by the world’s oldest teenager Dick Clark as the musical heir apparent to the long vacated throne of the late great and beloved king of soul Marvin Gaye and commonly compared vocally to the musical genius of Michael Jackson, Tresvant has always been a gifted, highly adored and unforgettable performer. After fronting the historically popular and successful super group New Edition for over twenty years, setting records for sell out performances in venues like Madison Square Garden and being instrumental in propelling the sale of over 40 million records worldwide, If you are one of those people who have been living under a rock for the past twenty years and do not know the name Ralph Tresvant you are about to get an amazing and exciting introduction. That being said, regardless of your level of awareness, Ralph Tresvant has, in fact, accomplished more musically and professionally than most other great artists of his era. Ralph began his career at the early and relatively tender age of twelve and has continued since to create lofty musical milestones that have smoothed the way for other artists like Usher, Justin Timberlake, Boyz II Men and many others to follow. A fact not at all overlooked by the recent record setting Nielsen ratings for the VH1 series “Behind the Music” production on Ralph and New Edition.
Many of you intimately know Ralph Tresvant from his previous Multi-platinum solo album which included the smash hit “Sensitivity” and for his many years of accomplished work with the likes of major players and projects like New Edition, Baby Face, Jam and Lewis, P. Diddy, Jermaine Dupree, Whitney Houston and too many others too numerous to mention here, all of whom who have expressed their ongoing great personal interest to incorporate Ralph and his immeasurable talents into what they are doing. The fact is that Ralph is in all arenas a consummate professional and on the radio Ralph Tresvant has always been as iconic as anyone can possibly hope to get and with the release of this new album it is quite apparent that Ralph is once again stepping up and breaking additional new ground, and paving even broader avenues for a fresh new generation of up and coming artists to attempt to follow. Entering into this next phase of his business and professional career as an entrepreneur and partner in a new powerhouse Entertainment company producing Film, Television, 3D Animation, Special Effects and music at Xzault Media Group, Ralph Tresvant is decidedly refocusing and forcefully taking over the reins of his business, musical and public lives and balancing all of the above with equal flair and aplomb. So sit back, check out this new album, turn the music up and get to know Ralph Tresvant again. It is assured to be an exciting, pleasurable and audible experience that you will crave to repeat over and over again.
Jackson: Playing That Funky Music
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Deardra Shuler
(Aug. 23, 2005) Saxophonist Javon Jackson was wailing up a storm at the Jazz Standard, located at 116 East 27th Street in Manhattan and what a show it was. The man is hardly short on talent and in fact, I found his show spectacular. Jackson’s band was so hot, the tamales were grooving. His eclectic blend of R&B, jazz, bits of soft rock and funk caused stiffs to limber and I even saw some robots bopping their heads, especially when guitarist Mark Whitfield, made his guitar scream some funky, funky notes. Former Tonight Show Band bassist Kenny Davis plucked some swingin’ strings while Terreon Gulley followed suit on the percussions with a beat that was the call to the wild that took everyone back to Africa, irrespective of their persuasion. Born in Carthage, Missouri, a small town outside Kansas City, Missouri, Jackson was raised in Denver, Colorado. “My parents were big, big music fans but widely jazz fans. I heard it all from my earliest beginnings growing up at home. My father would take me out to hear jazz musicians so I heard folks like Sonny Stitt, Dexter Gordon and others at a very young age. That was very inspiring and gave me a great desire to pursue jazz music. I started to go to different jazz clubs as time went on. I sat in on sets so that I could learn the ends and outs of jazz and try to develop the way they did,” remarked Javon. “I started playing the sax around 10 years old. My father played trumpet for a while as a kid and my mother played piano, so music came natural. Both my parents definitely had a musical center. Initially, I wanted to play the drums but my father said the drums were too loud so that nixed that. He did agree that I could play the trumpet but I didn’t like the way the trumpet looked,” noted the diverse performer. “Saxophone was really my third choice. I started playing it and found I enjoyed it. No one had to make me practice because I really got into it and it was really something I wanted to do. I started playing in junior high groups, high school bands and then I got chosen for The McDonald’s All-American Band and from there decided to go to Boston’s prestigious Berklee School of Music after being at Denver University for about a quarter or so.” He earned his master’s degree in music. Mr. Jackson also holds a position as Assistant Professor of Jazz Education at SUNY Purchase College.
While at Berklee, Javon studied under the tutelage of saxophonist Billy Pierce and pianist Donald Brown who were former members of the legendary Jazz Messengers, led by Art Blakey. “I wanted to play with the Jazz Messengers right away but Branford Marsalis encouraged me to go to Berklee instead. Brandford’s younger brother, Delfio, was the representative from Louisiana chosen for the McDonald’s All-American Band. I met Branford through Delfio. My relationship with Branford grew because I was a great fan of Branford’s and he has been very helpful to me, even to this day. Branford thought I needed to learn technique first. I eventually played with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and was with them for 3 years and 9 months,” said the father of two. Jackson toured with Freddie Hubbard, Elvin Jones, Charlie Haden and Decar Walton eventually creating his own recording career. This led to “Burnin’ and Me” and “Mr. Jones” on the Criss Cross Label. He then signed with Blue Note Records and recorded six CDs for the label working with artists such as Betty Carter, Greg Osby and Bill Stewart. “From a saxophonist standpoint, I think people like Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, and Wayne Shorter have had an influence on my music. Even non-sax players like Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard and even R&B music has influenced me. I have listened to Parliament. I love Sly and the Family Stone and Prince. Many of these artists have helped me grow in my sound and have enabled me to fuse these different sounds into a warm, harmonious blend that has become part of my music,” claims the gifted artist. Javon has written 4 songs on his new CD which just came out June 14th and is available at Bordersbooks.com, Barnesandnobles.com, JavonJackson.com, Amazon, Virgin, Tower Records and Palmetto.com. The CD is recorded by Mr. Jackson with his group ‘The Javon Jackson Band’ consisting of drummer Terreon Gulley; bassist Kenny Davis and guitarist Mark Whitfield. His CD is entitled, ‘Have You Heard.’ “I have written the music on basically all my records because I think its very important to develop the writing aspect. I have a song called “Quik” on my CD, which is an original. “Have You Heard” is an original and the name of my CD. I wrote Quik for Mark Whitfield. Also on the CD, I covered songs by Curtis Mayfield and Bobby Womack. “Summertime” by Gershwin and also a Roger Troutman song called “Dance Floor by Zapp.” The band plans to be in Detroit, Houston and back out on the West Coast in the near future. They also plan to travel to Europe on July 7. “We will be playing the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland and touring Rome, Sorrento and Albeania. I’m looking forward to doing that,” said Javon enthusiastically. During his downtime, Jackson loves to spend time with his family, read and socialize with friends. “All the things I enjoy doing is reflected in my music, one way or another. My plan is to give as much as I can and let the rest take care of itself.”
Adams Breaks New Ground With 'Yolanda
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Aug. 24, 2005) Houston, TX – In a pioneering move, Grammy-award winning singer Yolanda Adams will feature special musical guests from various genres on her forthcoming “Yolanda Today” tour. Eddie Levert, Chaka Khan, Kirk Whalum and Mary Mary are among those slated to join Adams on the five-week theatre tour that kicks off on Oct. 4 (in her hometown of Houston, TX) to support “Day By Day,” the singer’s first album in four years. Adams believes the inclusion of mainstream music guests on “Yolanda Today” continues a mission that she began long ago. “We’ve been trying for years to bridge the gap between what people think are churched and non-churched people. You’d be so surprised how many folks came from the church that are singing pop and R&B,” explains Adams. “The people that we are having on our tour all came from the church. Most people of faith don’t realize that these are also people of faith!” The tour’s promoter Al Wash (ALW Entertainment) says incorporating mainstream artists on “Yolanda Today” enables Adams’ ministry to reach a broader audience. “Why do we keep preaching to the choir? Yolanda has played in every church and played to every gospel audience out there,” says Wash. “One day I was in church and I saw a group of ten homeless people join. That day, I said, there’s a wider range of people we need to touch and it takes someone like Yolanda Adams to go out and touch them.” Adams will perform many of her classic tunes on “Yolanda Today,” but it’s the new music from “Day By Day” that the singer anticipates showcasing. The album’s first single “Be Blessed” was the most played single for numerous weeks at gospel radio and the second single, “Someone Watching Over You,” was recently the most added record at urban adult contemporary radio. Also onboard for “Yolanda Today” is Soul Train and Stellar-award winning artist Israel & New Breed, whose “Live From Another Level” release was recently certificated gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). “He is one of the premiere writers and praise & worship leaders of the world. Not just America, but he’s known for numerous hits that people are singing in churches all over the world,” Adams says of the group’s leader, Israel Houghton.
The tour will also introduce Nuttin But Stringz, two brothers, Damien and Tourie Escobar, who fuse classical and urban music with violins. “When I saw these guys on ‘Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ and ‘Good Morning America,’ I said, they are the ones! Knowing what Yolanda stands for, it was the perfect match and the vibe was there,” shares Wash. While “Yolanda Today” is Adams seventh national tour with ALW Entertainment, Wash says this tour is innovative and full of excitement. “They’re going to see Yolanda like you’ve never, ever seen Yolanda before,” he exclaims. Adams concurs. “It’s hard to explain when you have this kind of awakening that I have right now. It’s like, wow, life is cool and life is wonderful. Today I am spiritually, mentally and totally focused on what I have to do; let me help somebody go through the madness that they have to get through, “Day By Day.” The new CD, “Day By Day,” is being released by Atlantic Records on Aug. 30 and features production by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Kirk Franklin, Shep Crawford, “Big” Jim Wright and Gordon Chambers & Barry Eastmond. The disk also has guest appearances by Donnie McClurkin, Mary Mary and Franklin. For a detailed tour line-up on “Yolanda Today” visit www.YolandaAdams.org or www.alwe.com.
Herbie Hancock Goes Beyond Jazz
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - By Dan Ouellette
(Aug. 24, 2005) Lately Herbie Hancock has been popping up in the strangest places: Internet chat rooms about Christina Aguilera and on John Mayer's Web site; at Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn., as the music and arts festival's first-ever artist in residence; in Japan with Carlos Santana at a series of concerts commemorating the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Hancock has a long history of exploring beyond jazz parameters, beginning with his 1973 electric-funk album "Head Hunters" and his 1983 MTV-friendly, techno-funk single "Rockit" from "Future Shock." Additionally, DJs have liberally sampled his material, including his tune "Cantaloupe Island," recorded during his early solo years while still a member of Miles Davis' classic '60s quintet. But with the release of his new album, "Possibilities," Hancock ups the crossover ante. The 10-track set features the 65-year-old pianist collaborating with young stars (Mayer, Aguilera, Raul Midon and Joss Stone) and veterans (Sting, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Annie Lennox and Santana). The result is a gear-shifting collection of pop tunes undergirded by a jazz sensibility that cultivates music free of genre borders. "They brought what they do to the table, and I brought what I do to the table," Hancock says. "The result is a music that allows us to all go outside the pigeonholes the music business forces us to stay in. We're breaking down expectations, walking the tightrope while not scaring our fan bases away." Case in point: Aguilera's show-stopping cover of Leon Russell's balladic gem, "Song for You," which sheds a new light on her vocal prowess. Hancock, who dreamily accompanies, says, "Christina's delivery is stellar."
The CD, jointly issued by Hear Music, Vector Recordings and Hancock Music, will be launched Aug. 30 at retail and Starbucks locations. It comes one year after Concord Records and the coffee chain's Hear imprint issued Ray Charles' posthumous "Genius Loves Company." According to Nielsen SoundScan, Starbucks' North American stores have sold 775,000 copies of the triple-platinum disc, which debuted Aug. 31, 2004. Hancock is fully aware of the comparisons likely to be made, especially with the Starbucks connection and the duets. "But this represents a different way of collaboration than Ray's album," he says. "We were composing on the fly in many instances, improvising new songs and coming up with different arrangements of other songs. We pretty much recorded all the sessions with the artists and a full rhythm section and did only a minimum of overdubs. We played together with a spirit of 'anything is possible.'" Thus, the title of the album that is steeped in the jazz essence of improvisation. Hancock works with Sting to reimagine the latter's "Sister Moon" with African flavours arranged by Benin-born guitarist Lionel Loueke, and with Simon to re-envision his "I Do It for Your Love" with subtly layered percussion. As for new tunes, Hancock and guitarist Trey Anastasio cooked up the instrumental "Gelo No Montana," while the pianist and Mayer spontaneously combust on the highlight of the CD, the catchy, uptempo leadoff number "Stitched Up." "I was interested in John's music, and I liked his voice," says Hancock, who had never met Mayer -- or, for that matter, many of the artists with whom he worked. "He came to the studio with a fragment. We played around with it and structured it at the tracking session, and on the spot he sang scratch vocals, some of which are in the final mix." So impressed was Hancock with the creative alchemy, he enlisted Mayer to join the latest incarnation of his Headhunters band that played Bonnaroo.
"Possibilities" will be sold at Starbucks outlets worldwide, unlike "Genius," which was sold only in North American stores. (Hancock is signed to Verve, but he is not bound contractually to the company for projects that lie beyond straight-ahead jazz.) "We all participated in one form or another," says Ken Levitan, who runs Vector with Jack Rovner. Outside of Starbucks locations, the marketing will entail TV ads, extensive print advertising and an aggressive outreach to adult radio, which is being serviced the complete album. "Herbie will be touring, and we're hoping to put together a special event or two that will include collaborators," Rovner says. In addition, he notes, all the tracking sessions were filmed and could take form as a theatrical release or a PBS program. As for Hancock, the experience was such a treat that he is already compiling a list for another collaborative disc. "At the beginning we were looking at this not as a record but a project," he says. "A lot of people expressed interest, but because of scheduling conflicts couldn't participate. So, there's a lot more to explore."
Floetry's Sophomore Album Due In November
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - By Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
(Aug. 23, 2005) R&B duo Floetry will release its second studio album, "Flo'Ology," Nov. 8 via Geffen. The Scott Storch-produced first single, "SupaStar," features Common and can be streamed from the duo's official Web site. It is also available for download from Apple's iTunes Music Store. "This album is completely and utterly self-centered," group member Natalie Stewart admits. "It's about breaking ourselves down over and over and over again, knocking ourselves off our pedestals and then building up again and getting knocked off again. Every song speaks to a different mood and feeling." "Flo'Ology" is the follow-up to the group's 2002 debut, "Floetic," which has sold nearly 788,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. A live album, "Floacism," was issued in late 2003. Having completed its summer stint on the Sugar Water tour with Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Queen Latifah, Floetry will next be on stage Sept. 17 at London's Shepherds Bush Empire.
Tupac Statue To Unveil In Stone Mountain
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Aug. 22, 2005) *The Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts in Stone Mountain, Georgia will unveil a seven-foot statue of the artist on Sept. 13, which also marks the nine-year anniversary of his shooting death in Las Vegas. Created by sculptor Tina Allen, the structure will rise from a three-foot base inside of a fountain shaped like a gothic cross, much like the famous tattoo that graced the MC’s back. "This statue will serve as a reminder to all those who visit the Peace Garden of the love and hope for peace my son always held in his heart. This sculpture and the center that surrounds it will carry Tupac's message on down to our children's children," said the late rapper’s mother, Afeni Shakur. The statue unveiling is free, while tickets for a reception are $10. A donation of $100 or more allows access to a reception, as well as a commemorative brick that can be engraved for donation toward the "One Brick at a Time" campaign, where it'll be used to construct the Tupac Center. For those who would like more information about the Center or wish to make a contribution, visit - http://www.2PAClegacy.com or http://www.TASF.org.
Kirk Franklin Is A Gospel
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Aug. 22, 2005) It's official... Kirk Franklin's brand new album, "Hero," will be released on October 4, 2005! Kirk has been working hard on the album for several months and the wait is almost over. The first single from the new album, a throwback jam called "Looking For You," is now playing EXCLUSIVELY at www.KirkFranklin.us. Visitors to Kirk's website can also pre-order the new album as well as view "Constructing Hero," a series of behind the scenes videos which chronicle the making of the "Hero" album. Currently playing is "episode 1: the photo shoot." Upcoming performance dates in support of the new album include the GMWA in Milwaukee on 8/17, Mt. Zion Baptist Church Youth Rally in Nashville on 8/19, New Birth Baptist Church in Atlanta on 8/21, the About My Father's Business conference in Indianapolis on 8/26, "The Takeover" taping at TBN in Dallas on 8/30 and KISS FM's Night of Healing in New York City on 9/13. Stay tuned to www.KirkFranklin.us for all the latest news and updates.
Shaggy Returns to Brooklyn
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kevin Jackson
(Aug. 18, 2005) Shaggy returns to the Brooklyn stage in a free concert appearance as part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Concert Series at Wingate Field at 7:30 pm. The 23rd Annual Caribbean Night concert will feature Shaggy’s unique Reggae flavour as the perfect complement to veteran Calypsonian Mighty Sparrow. Shaggy gives the streets of Brooklyn much of the credit for his unique twist on Jamaica’s dancehall classics. Since Flatbush was home during his early music days, it’s only fitting to give his Brooklyn fans a hype performance which will also debut singles from his upcoming album “Clothes Drop” (Geffen Records). Shaggy touts this album as his “return to the dancehalls,” so it simply made sense to celebrate his newest project with a return to the borough that first supported his sound. Shaggy will also be joined on stage by Rayvon, vocalist from his hit single “Angel” and Ky-Enie a promising new member of the Big Yard family.
Keys Blends Old With New On 'Unplugged'
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - By Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
(August 22, 2005) Alicia Keys revisits past favourites, collaborates with several top acts and unveils two new tunes on "MTV Unplugged," due Oct. 11 via J Records. The set will be led by the new single "Unbreakable," which will impact U.S. radio outlets on Sept. 12. "Unplugged" is due to debut in mid-September on MTV and re-air on five subsequent occasions. The show will be available individually as a CD or DVD, as well as in a limited-edition package with both items. As previously reported, "Unplugged" was taped in July at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Beyond new arrangements of originals like "Heartburn" and "A Women's Worth," Keys teamed with rappers Common and Mos Def for "Love It or Leave It Alone," reggae artist Damian Marley for "Welcome to Jam Rock" and Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine for a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses." In addition to "Unbreakable," Keys also recorded a new song she co-wrote with soul legend Al Green, "Stolen Moments." Meanwhile, look for Keys covering "If This World Was Mine" on the star-studded Luther Vandross tribute "So Amazing," due Sept. 20 via J.
Rihanna Makes 'Play' For Stardom
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - By Michael Libby
(August 12, 2005) Having never even seen a celebrity in person, much less been in a room with one, several months ago this summer's breakout star Rihanna found herself auditioning for Def Jam Recordings president/CEO Jay-Z. But it turns out it was Jay-Z who was star-struck. "The minute he saw me, he knew I was a star," Rihanna says. In fact, that same day she was offered a recording contract. Now the confident 17-year-old is riding the success of first single "Pon de Replay" and awaiting the release of "Music of the Sun," her full-length debut, due Aug. 30. Jay-Z's instant belief in Rihanna looks well placed. Catchy, Caribbean-infused "Pon de Replay" has been picking up steam at radio since early April. The momentum started at top 40 but has rapidly spread to R&B/hip-hop, has been as high as No. 2 on The Billboard Hot 100 and the Pop 100 and ranks topped the on Hot Digital Songs chart. The Barbados-born artist -- who was profiled in June in Billboard.com's "Breaking & Entering" column -- began singing at an early age and eventually attracted the ears of producers and "Replay" co-writers Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken, who refined her skills and brought her to Jay-Z's Roc-a-Fella imprint. Despite the island feel of "Replay," Rihanna says, "Vocally, I'm more influenced by Beyonce. My style is more straight-up R&B. [With "Pon de Replay"], the Caribbean flavour mostly comes in the beats." Rihanna is staying true to her Caribbean roots while promoting the song through appearances at Toronto's Caribana Festival and the West Indian Day Parade in New York. She will also take part in Teen People's Listening Lounge showcases. The second single off "Music of the Sun" will be "If It's Lovin' That You Want," produced by the TrackMasters. "We put a heartbeat on it," Rihanna says, "and added some Caribbean flavour." The singer is already looking within reggae's ranks to find her place: "I have to say that the reggae genre has really been male-dominated, and I feel honoured to be among the first females."
Carey, Ross Lead World Music Awards Lineup
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - By Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.
(August 18, 2005) Mariah Carey, Destiny's Child and Diana Ross are the first confirmed performers for the 2005 World Music Awards. Bon Jovi and Carlos Santana, who will be honoured with special awards, will also perform during the Aug. 31 show. A two-hour taped stateside broadcast is scheduled for Sept. 13 on ABC; 160 countries will air the event. The ceremony will be staged at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, marking the second time the event has taken place in the United States since it was inaugurated in 1989. Last year's ceremony was held in Las Vegas. Winners of the World Music Awards are determined by sales figures as certified by the European-based International Federation of the Phonography Industry (IFPI). The event benefits the Monaco Aide and Presence Foundation, which constructs orphanages, schools and hospitals for underprivileged children in third world countries. Among the projects underway is a clinic and orphanage in Cameroon.
'Hip-Hop Violinist' Preps Solo Debut
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - By Jordan Heller Weissmann, N.Y.
(August 17, 2005) Kanye West, John Legend, Fabolous, Lil' Wayne, Twista and Anthony Hamilton are among the guest artists featured on Miri Ben-Ari's upcoming debut album. Due Sept. 20 via Universal, "The Hip Hop Violinist" boasts an array of hip-hop and R&B stars performing over the Israeli-born Ben-Ari's violin-laden beats. Musiq, Scarface, Doug E. Fresh and Lil' Mo are also slated to appear on the set. First single "Jump and Spread Out" featuring Fatman Scoop and Vicious was released in June and a video for the soul-tinged "Sunshine to the Rain," featuring Scarface and Hamilton, has also been shot. A classically trained instrumentalist, Ben-Ari is thus far best known for her contributions to West's "The College Dropout," for which she produced and recorded all of the string arrangements. She is also featured on Twista's single "Overnight Celebrity," and has earned a reputation as a captivating live performer while touring alongside West.
Here is the track list for "The Hip-Hop Violinist":
"We Gonna Win" featuring Style P
"Jump & Spread Out" featuring Fatman Scoop and Vicious
"Fly Away" featuring Fabolous, Kanye West and Musiq
"Hold Your Head Up High" featuring Lil' Mo
"Sunshine to the Rain" featuring Scarface and Anthony Hamilton
"Lord of the Strings" featuring J. Ivy
"Outside the Box" (instrumental)
"Miss Melody" featuring Akon
"New World Symphony" featuring Pharoahe Monch
"4 Flat Tire" featuring Baby, Lil' Wayne and Six Shot
"She Was Just a Friend" featuring Anthony Hamilton and Algebra
"I've Been Waiting on You" featuring Consequence and John Legend
"Star Spangled Banner" featuring Doug E. Fresh
"Jump & Spread Out Remix," featuring Fatman Scoop, Zion and Lennox and Pitbull (bonus track)
Ludacris Talks About Field Mob Signing With Disturbin Tha Peace
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Tiffany Hamilton and Nolan Strong
(Aug. 22, 2005) Albany, Georgia Hip-Hop duo Field Mob has inked a deal with Ludacris' Disturbing Tha Peace label to release their third album Light Poles and Pine Trees. “As Disturbing Tha Peace continues to grow, we are proud to have them as an addition to our brand,” Ludacris told AllHipHop.com. “We [Disturbing Tha Peace] are here to broaden their appeal as being two of the leading lyricists from the south. I expect just as much from them as they do from us.” Group members Shawn Jay and Smoke explained the meaning behind the album’s title. "The name of the album is Light Poles and Pine Trees because there ain't no skyline where we're from," Shawn Jay said. "There's no arch like in St. Louis or palm trees like California," continued Smoke aka Chevy Pendagrass. "You look up and that's what you see in Albany." The release of the unofficial single in "Georgia" features Ludacris and a sampled hook from Ray Charles’ “Georgia on My Mind,” which is also the official song of the state of Georgia. The first official single will be "Friday Night," which also features Ludacris and is produced by Kenjo. The album will feature collaborations with Ludacris, Ciara, Bone Crusher, Bobby Valentino, and others. "I feel like we're the most posturpedic group in the industry right now," says Shawn Jay. "Meaning, we're the most slept-on artists. Other artists know that if them boys get a little bit of light, its over." Light Poles and Pine Trees is slated to drop in November on Disturbing Tha Peace/Geffen Records.
Kanye West On Cover Of Time Magazine
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Nolan Strong
(Aug. 22, 2005) Rapper Kanye West has snagged the cover of Time Magazine in an issue that is focusing on Hip-Hop. The interview features West detailing his career and his attempts to break into the music business and the adversity he faced. “I’d leave meetings crying all the time,” West told music writer Josh Tyrangiel in this week’s cover story. “It was a strike against me that I didn’t wear baggy jeans and jerseys and that I never hustled, never sold drugs.” Dame Dash agreed that West took those in the industry by surprise. “Kanye wore a pink shirt with the collar s ticking up and Gucci loafers,” said former Roc-A-Fella CEO Damon Dash. "It was obvious we were not from the same place or cut from the same cloth.” Jay-Z - currently the President of Def Jam – agreed. “We all grew up street guys who had to do whatever we had to do to get by,” Jay-Z told the magazine “Then there’s Kanye, who to my knowledge has never hustled a day in his life. I didn't see how it could work.” West’s 2004 debut album The College Dropout sold almost 3 million copies and earned 10 Grammy nominations. “I had to hustle in my own way,” West said. “I can’t tell you how frustrating it was that they didn't get that. The issue also features a two-age “Roots of Rap” chart detailing the history of rap starting in the 1970’s with legendary DJ Grandmaster Flash and is on stands now. West's sophomore release Late Registration hits stores August 30.
Hip Hop & Country Unite
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Aug. 23, 2005) *First it was Nelly & Tim McGraw. Now, another rap-country twosome may be about to happen. Country's Toby Keith and rap's Ludacris have become buds reports World Entertainment Network News. The two hooked up for a joint interview and photo shoot for the USA Weekend supplement which runs in various newspapers - and ended up being friends. "I get more respect from rap artists than I do from my own industry. I don't always write the kind of music that country executives want. Rappers are like that, too. My words come from the street and their words come from the street," Keith, 44, said. "That slicked-up pop stuff doesn't come from the street. It's all pre-fab... I'm a huge fan of Snoop (Dogg). He's a poet." "People only think these are two different genres. But they're very much the same... Rap and hip-hop are about bringing people together to your neighborhood and talking about what happens there. Country music is about the same thing - writing about where you're from," Ludacris, 28, added. "You've got to respect (Toby), because he's selling a ton of records right now. It makes you want to learn more about his music."
Former D-Child LeToya To Release Solo CD
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Aug. 24, 2005) *The current incarnation of Destiny’s Child may have had a smash hit with the tune “Survivor,” but the song more aptly applies to one of the group’s original members, LeToya Luckett. Booted out of the singing squad in 2000 by their manager (and Beyonce’s daddy) Mathew Knowles following a seven-year run, LaToya and her fellow bootee, LaTavia Roberson, formed the duo Angel, which never quite took flight. But during Luckett’s rocky road, she never took her eyes off the prize. The singer is now signed with Capitol Records and will release her self-titled solo album in February, reports MTV.com. Before its release, Luckett will drop two singles, "All Eyes on Me" in August, followed by the Scott Storch-produced "I'm Good." "It's about coming into your own, getting your self-esteem up," Luckett said of the former. "It's a real hot club joint." Jermaine Dupri, Just Blaze and Bryan-Michael Cox also provided beats for the album, while rappers from her native Houston – Mike Jones, Slim Thug, Paul Wall and Bun B – make guest appearances. "I've always felt privileged to be from Houston, and I'm glad people are seeing talent come out of there," said Luckett, who owns a clothing store there called Lady Elle. Luckett’s album is due on the streets only several months after the Destiny’s Child era is scheduled to fold for good. "I still love all of those girls and wish them the best of luck," she said of current D-Child members Beyonce, Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland. "And I know they are all going to do well solo. I'm sure they're growing apart and going through things, but God is with them and they have a strong bond."
Timberlake To Debut Clothing Line
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Aug. 24, 2005) *Somebody call the fire marshal. Justin Timberlake and his childhood friend Trace Ayala are trying to squeeze into the already overcrowded celebrity clothing line arena with new designs that combine their southern, Tennessee roots with J.T.’s urban music persona. "This clothing is representative of where we come from – it's sort of country, but it's also got a little edge and a little chic to it," the singer tells ET Online of his label William Rast, named after Timberlake and Ayala's grandfathers. "We just kind of picked the two people who are most influential in our lives, and that's our grandfathers. William is my grandfather's first name and Rast is Trace's grandfather's last name," said Timberlake. The grandpappies have been close friends for decades and “still live down the road from each other,” adds Ayala. "It'll be kind of interesting to see my grandfather in these clothes," Justin said with a smile. William Rast is due to launch exclusively at Bloomingdales in November.
We Remember Brock Peters
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Aug. 24, 2005) *Actor Brock Peters, most known for his role as the black man falsely accused of rape in "To Kill a Mockingbird," died Tuesday at his home after a bout with pancreatic cancer. He was 78. Peters received the diagnosis in January and had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment, according to his long-time companion Marilyn Darby. His condition had worsened in recent weeks. He died peacefully in bed, surrounded by family, she said. The actor was born George Fisher on July 2, 1927 in New York, NY. His storied film career was launched in 1954 with the role of Sgt. Brown in "Carmen Jones" opposite Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte. He followed up the performance with the role of Crown in Otto Preminger's 1959 production of "Porgy," starring Dandridge, Sidney Poitier, Sammy Davis Jr., Pearl Bailey and Diahann Carroll. More recently, he has starred in two "Star Trek" feature films as Admiral Cartwright. His familiar bass voice has also been featured in numerous animated television shows. But it was the role of accused rapist Tom Robinson in the 1962 film "To Kill a Mockingbird" that is the most memorable among his body of work. During a tribute to his co-star Gregory Peck after his death in 2003, Peters recounted how shortly before filming began, Peck called him on a Sunday morning to welcome him to the production. He was so surprised, he recalled, that he dropped the telephone. "I worked over the years in many, many productions, but no one ever again called me to welcome me aboard, except perhaps the director and the producer, but not my fellow actor-to-be," said Peters. Among Peters' other films and television projects were "Soylent Green," "Black Girl" “Black Beauty,” the television films “10,000 Black Men Named George,” “Roots: The Next Generations” and the CBS soap “The Young and the Restless,” where he played Frank Lewis from 1982-1989. His accolades include a National Film Society Award, a Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild, and a Tony Award nomination for his performance on Broadway in "Lost in the Stars." Peters was a widower and has one daughter, Lise Jo Peters.
Twista Rolls With Trey, Pharrell On New CD
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - By Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
(Aug. 24, 2005) Rapper Twista will return Oct. 4 with a new Atlantic album, "The Day After." The 14-track set is led by first single "Girl Tonite" featuring Trey Songz. The cut jumps 36-55 in its fourth week on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and can be sampled on Twista's official Web site. Although the track list is still taking shape, "The Day After" will also feature guest appearances from Jamie Foxx, the Neptunes' Pharrell Williams and Pitbull. Production was supplied by the Neptunes, Scott Storch, Timbaland, David Banner, Toxic and Cuzo. "The Day After" is the follow-up to Twista's 2004 breakthrough, "Kamikaze," which debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 1.81 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It spawned the single "Slow Jams," which was named ASCAP's No. 1 most played R&B song of 2004. The cut, which featured Foxx and Kanye West, topped out at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - By Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
(Aug. 24, 2005) Lauryn Hill makes her first recorded appearance since her 2002 album "MTV Unplugged 2.0" on a remix of John Legend's "So High." The track was released to U.S. radio outlets last weekend and has begun picking airplay in New York, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. "The first time I ever appeared on a major album was when I played piano on 'Everything Is Everything' from 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,'" says Legend. "I have been wanting to work with her again ever since." Legend winds down a North American tour with shows tomorrow (Aug. 25) in Portland, Ore., and Friday in Seattle. He will then play four dates in the United Kingdom and join the Black Eyed Peas in Australia for five gigs in Australia and New Zealand.
R&B, Jazz Acts Salute 'Charlie Brown
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - By Jordan Heller Weissmann, N.Y.
(Aug. 23, 2005) Vanessa Williams, Toni Braxton, Brian McKnight and Chaka Khan have all lent their talents to an upcoming "A Charlie Brown Christmas" tribute album. Due Oct. 4 via Peak Records, "40 Years -- A Charlie Brown Christmas" will feature a collection of soul, jazz and R&B artists crooning newly recorded versions of the cartoon classics in honour of the holiday special's 40th anniversary. David Benoit, Rick Braun, Dave Koz, Norman Brown, Gerald Albright, Eric Marienthal and the Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman will also offer their renditions of the holiday standards. The album also boasts three new tracks: "Just Like Me." performed by Williams, "Red Baron" with the Rippingtons featuring Freeman and Braxton's take on "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year." The first "A Charlie Brown Christmas" album, performed by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, has been a strong holiday seller for decades. In December, ABC will broadcast the original cartoon alongside a 40th anniversary special.
"Christmas Is Coming," David Benoit
"Just Like Me," Vanessa Williams
"Linus and Lucy," Dave Koz
"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," Toni Braxton
"My Little Drum," Rick Braun
"Skating," Norman Brown
"Christmas Time Is Here," Brian McKnight
"O Tannenbaum," Gerald Albright
"Red Baron," the Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman
"The Christmas Song," Chaka Khan
"Fur Elise" David Benoit
"Christmas Time Is Here" Eric Marienthal
August 23, 2005
50 Cent, X-Posed: The Interview, United States Dist
Brand Nubian, Solo Material, Babygrande
Cafe Soul All Stars, Love Pages, You-Entertainment
Freddie Jackson/Marvin Gaye, Best of Freddie Jackson and Marvin Gaye, Platinum Disc
Green Day, X-Posed: The Interview, United States Dist
James Brown, Please Please Please [Pazzazz], Pazzazz
Jay Dee, Welcome 2 Detroit, BBE/Beat Gen
J-Diggs, Mac Dre Presents: California Livin', Pt. 2, Thizz
Kenny Lattimore/Chante Moore, Uncovered, La Face
Little Richard, Rip It Up [Pazzazz], Pazzazz
Maceo, Straight Out da Pot, Big Cat
Marvin Gaye, Joy, Pazzazz
Michael Jackson, X-Posed: The Interview, United States Dist
Ol' Dirty Bastard, Free to Be Dirty: Live!, Nutech Digital
Ray Charles, Blues Is My Middle Name [Pazzazz], Pazzazz
Ray Charles, Genius Remixed, Cleopatra
Ray J, Raydiation, Sanctuary
Ray J, Raydiation, Sanctuary
Rupee, 1 on 1, Atlantic
Santana, Jingo [Pazzazz], Pazzazz
Smif N Wessun Presents the General Steele, Welcome to Bucktown USA, Duck Down Music
The Red Hot Chili Peppers, X-Posed: The Interview, United States Dist
Various Artists, Kanye West Tribute: Indie Translations of the Coll, Vitamin
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Earth, Wind & Fire, Collection: That's the Way of the World/All 'N All, Sony
J-Live, Hear After, Penalty (Ryko)
Kanye West, Late Registration, Roc-A-Fella
Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz, Whaaat!!! Okaaay!!! [DualDisc], Madacy
Macy Gray, Live in Las Vegas, Nutech Digital
Our Lady Peace, Healthy in Paranoid Times, Sony
Percy Sledge, Hit Songs of Percy Sledge, Curb
Rihanna, Music of the Sun, Def Jam
TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL
Here Comes Hollywood
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell, Movie Critic
(Aug. 24, 2005) Seven Rings bearers, four Hollywood clowns, three Best Actresses, two Desperate Housewives ... and one Nanook. That's just a sample of the star wattage expected at next month's 30th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which yesterday put the final glittering pieces in place for the 10-day event scheduled for Sept. 8-17. There will be 335 films from 52 countries, festival co-directors Piers Handling and Noah Cowan told a Nathan Phillips Square press conference. The total includes 256 features, of which a record 84 per cent are world, international or North American premieres. Handling and Cowan read out the names of more than 500 celebrity guests — a festival record — who are planning to attend. They include:
Seven key cast members of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, who could have a great mini-reunion if they choose to meet at some local hobbit hole. Two are in gala films: Viggo Mortensen stars in David Cronenberg's A History of Violence; Orlando Bloom stars in Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown. Other Rings alumni making the trek to T.O. are Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Sean Bean, Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett.
Four of the top comic actors in Hollywood: Steve Martin (world-premiering his Shopgirl, which he wrote and stars in), Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn and Jason Schwartzman.
Three Best Actress Oscar winners — Charlize Theron, Sissy Spacek and Frances McDormand — appearing in the same movie, the gala drama North Country, also a world premiere. It's directed by Niki Caro, whose 2002 festival entry Whale Rider yielded a Best Actress nominee in Keisha Castle-Hughes.
Two members of the Desperate Housewives troupe, Eva Longoria and Felicity Huffman, will strive to show they can do more than just steam up TV screens.
One Canadian icon in the spiritual presence of long-gone Inuit hunter Nanook, the real-life star of Robert J. Flaherty's landmark 1922 documentary Nanook of the North. An archival print of the film will be given a new music score by Montreal composer Gabriel Thibaudeau at a special performance Sept. 16 at the Elgin Theatre. A live orchestra featuring Inuit throat singers will perform the score. And that, as they say, is just for starters. Handling and Cowan stopped only long enough to allow the Old City Hall bell tower to bong out the 12 notes of noon, as they continued reading from two lists of Toronto-bound actors and directors.
The actors also include: Kevin Bacon, Maria Bello, Annette Bening, Juliette Binoche, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Geneviève Bujold, Gabriel Byrne, Nick Cave, Jackie Chan, Joan Chen, Tommy Chong, Leonard Cohen, Toni Collette, LL Cool J, Jane Curtin, Bryce Dallas Howard, Claire Danes, Jeff Daniels, Cameron Diaz, Robert Downey Jr., Kirsten Dunst, Aaron Eckhart, Edie Falco, Dakota Fanning, Ralph Fiennes, Colin Firth, Morgan Freeman, Richard Gere, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley, William H. Macy, Woody Harrelson, Ed Harris, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Anthony Hopkins, Bob Hoskins, William Hurt, Tommy Lee Jones, Catherine Keener, Val Kilmer, Keira Knightly, Kris Kristofferson, Jessica Lange, Heath Ledger, Shirley MacLaine, Julianne Moore, Cillian Murphy, Brittany Murphy, Liam Neeson, Nick Nolte, Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Barry Pepper, Joaquin Phoenix, Sarah Polley, Natalie Portman, Keanu Reeves, Isabella Rossellini, Sarah Silverman, Kiefer Sutherland, Justin Timberlake, Emily Watson, Hugo Weaving, Forest Whitaker, Reese Witherspoon and Robin Wright Penn, among others. The directors include: Laurie Anderson, Louise Archambault, Tim Burton, Niki Caro, Michael Caton-Jones, David Cronenberg, Cameron Crowe, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Atom Egoyan, Thom Fitzgerald, Stephen Frears, Terry Gilliam, Curtis Hanson, Tsui Hark, Neil Jordan, Allan King, Ang Lee, John Madden, Guy Maddin, Majid Majidi, Albert Maysles, Deepa Mehta, Tsai Ming-liang, Nick Park, Ivan Reitman, Guy Ritchie, Steven Soderbergh, Danis Tanovic, John Turturro and Michael Winterbottom, among others. "It looks awesome, doesn't it?" Handling said in an interview. "If you look at all the talent and all the world premieres we're getting, our festival is second to none. "We've got the world premieres of the new Stephen Frears, the new Terry Gilliam, the new Martin Scorsese and the new Cameron Crowe. Plus, there's the sheer diversity of our selections. We're bringing in major works from Africa and Asia, many of them world premieres, too. It's like, wow!" The festival yesterday also announced the final six selections for this year's roster of 20 gala films, which will screen at Roy Thomson Hall. They are:
Stephen Frears' Mrs. Henderson Presents, the world premiere of a World War II-era musical comedy starring Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins;
Guy Ritchie's Revolver, a world premiere about a con man and his grudges, starring Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Vinnie Pastore, and André Benjamin (Andre 3000);
Stanley Tong's The Myth, a world premiere about an ancient Chinese legend and modern adventure, starring Jackie Chan, Kim Hee Seon, Tony Leung Ka Fai and Mallika Sherawat;
Actor Tommy Lee Jones' directorial debut, The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada, a North American premiere about an accidental death and a reluctant obligation starring Jones, Barry Pepper, Dwight Yoakam, January Jones, and Julio César Cedillo;
David J. Burke's Edison, a North American premiere about a crusading journalist and corrupt cops, starring Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, Justin Timberlake, LL Cool J and Dylan McDermott, which will be the fest's closing-night film;
Richard Shepard's The Matador, a
Canadian premiere about a hit man in need of redemption, starring Pierce
Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis, Phillip Baker Hall and Dylan Baker.
Some key titles and names have been added to Special Presentations, the other big-ticket program. Highlights include Michel Gondry's Dave Chappelle's Block Party, a music film that features the reunion of hip-hop stars The Fugees; Bennett Miller's Capote, starring Phillip Seymour-Hoffman as the scathing celebrity author Truman Capote; and Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist, a retelling of the Dickens classic and starring Ben Kingsley as the light-fingered Fagin. The Masters program is improved with the addition of Martin Scorsese's avidly anticipated No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, which traces the career of the pop bard from his early performing days in 1959 to his seminal 1966 tour of Britain. Another Masters add is Free Zone by Israel's Amos Gitaï, a film about Middle East tensions starring Natalie Portman, which won co-star Hanna Laslo an acting award at Cannes. Handling said there will "unquestionably" be many films and talent receiving Oscar nominations after their Toronto debuts, especially Phillip Seymour-Hoffman, whose portrayal of Capote "is as good as Jamie Foxx doing Ray Charles." A few closely tracked films managed to escape Toronto's wide net. They include Sam Mendes' Jarhead, based on a soldier's first-person account of the 1991 Persian Gulf War and Traffic scribe Stephen Gaghan's directorial debut Syriana, starring George Clooney as a CIA operative seeking to sound the alarm about Mid-East terrorism. Jarhead is reportedly not yet finished and Syriana isn't doing the festival rounds. The festival will also miss a planned visit by Madonna, who was all set to join her husband Guy Ritchie for his Toronto trek, until last week when an errant horse threw the pop star off its back and into hospital. Another missing name on the celebrity roll call is Bob Dylan, who may or may not show up to lend some lustre to Scorsese's biopic. "You don't put Dylan's name on a list," Handling cautioned. "If Dylan shows, Dylan shows. He's a very elusive man. But this is his only festival screening ..." It should be easier for the public to see festival films this year. TIFF is adding two more screens, for a total of 23 at various downtown venues, and there will be a third public screening of many films that are still seeking distribution deals. For more information on this year's TIFF line-up call (416) 968-FILM or click http://www.bell.ca/filmfest.
Capote's Singular Life Being Filmed Twice
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Martin Knelman
(Aug. 24, 2005) More than two decades after his death, Truman Capote — the brilliant, gossipy, social-climbing Munchkin of American letters — is getting the celebrity bio treatment he must surely have craved. He is the subject of not one but two Hollywood movies. The first to emerge from the post-production lab is Capote, which will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next month. As announced yesterday, the film will be shown in the Special Presentations section. It immediately goes to the top of my early list of not-to-be-missed festival films, partly because Capote was the kind of compelling gadfly you could never take your eyes off, and especially because in a piece of inspired casting, Capote is being portrayed by the marvellous actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. This Capote movie, released by Sony Pictures Classics, will arrive in theatres this fall, a full year before the other Capote movie, which is being produced by another boutique classics division of a Hollywood major, Warner Independent Pictures, even though the Warner project was already in the works when the Sony one was announced. The festival's Capote movie, directed by Bennett Miller, has one distinct advantage over the other one, besides arriving first in theatres. It has a firm title. The other one has changed from one tentative title, Every Word is True to another tentative title, Have You Heard? Have You Heard?, directed by Douglas McGrath, stars Toby Jones, Sandra Bullock, Sigourney Weaver and Gwyneth Paltrow. As if all that were not confusing enough, there is the battle of the competing big-name books on which the two movies are based. Capote, directed by Bennett Miller, is based on a book by Gerald Clarke, the veteran Time magazine writer. And Have You Heard? is based on a book by another celebrity literary journalist, George Plimpton. Plimpton's book, published in 1998, was called Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career. The producers optioned it just before Plimpton died in 2003.
Are you with me so far? One might have hoped that each of these movies would zero on different aspects of Capote's colourful and controversial career. Born in New Orleans in 1924, Capote landed a job at the New Yorker when he was 17, and made a sensational literary debut in 1948 with Other Voices, Other Rooms, which was notable for its frank discussion of homosexual life and its naughty cover photograph of the young author. After all, there might be a movie alone in the story of how in the 1960s Capote threw what was called "the party of the century," the famous Black and White Ball, where the masked guests included many of the rich and famous, at New York's Plaza Hotel. And there certainly could be a movie in the story of Capote's Answered Prayers. That was supposed to be his big tell-all novel in which he would reveal the most intimate details of the lives of his glamorous friends. Capote received an enormous advance, but when Esquire magazine published an excerpt from it in 1975, the reaction was overwhelmingly negative. Capote's famous friends, who felt betrayed, cut him off. He was devastated. The book was never published, and Capote died in 1984, a broken man. But it turns out that both these movies chronicle the same story: how Capote invented the non-fiction novel with In Cold Blood, after spending years in Kansas getting to know the two killers who were executed for the apparently senseless murder of an entire family. The plot synopsis issued by the producers of one film could just as well work for the other film. Here is the storyline for Capote: In November, 1959, the author of Breakfast at Tiffany's and a Jet Set figure, reads an article on a back page of the New York Times. It tells of the murder of four members of a well-known farm family — the Clutters — in Holcom, Kan. Capote sees this as a chance to test his theory that in the hands of the right writer, non-fiction can be as compelling as fiction. He persuades the New Yorker to give him the assignment. In Kansas, his childlike voice, fey mannerisms and weirdo clothes at first arouse redneck suspicion, but eventually Capote wins the trust of the locals. Now compare that with the synopsis for Have You Heard? which promises to chronicle Capote's life from 1959 to 1965 as he was crafting his masterpiece In Cold Blood. "The film follows Capote, a darling of New York society, from his first interest in the story, when it was just a brief mention buried in the pages of the New York Times, to the flamboyant author's experiences investigating the crime in Kansas, accompanied by childhood friend and Pulitzer Prize winning author Harper Lee; to the intense relationship that ultimately develops between Capote and convicted murderer Perry Smith." Which one will be a box office sensation? Which one will win Academy Awards? Place your bets here.
Film Festival Finalizes Line-Up
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Terry Weber
(Aug. 23, 2005) The Toronto International Film Festival unveiled its final line-up Tuesday, promising a total of 335 films from 52 countries, with the bulk of the features unspooled at the event making their world international or North American debut. The 10-day festival — which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year — runs from Sept. 8 to 17. Of the total number of films being present, 256 are features. About 84 per cent of those are premieres of some description. Sixty-seven of the films are directorial debuts. Gala Presentations announced Tuesday included the North American premiere of Edison, staring Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman and Justin Timberlake. The movie will be featured as the festival's closing night film. World premieres will also include Stephen Frears' Mrs. Henderson Presents, Guy Richie's Revolver and Stanley Tong's The Myth. Actor Tommy Lee Jones' directorial debut, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada will also get its North American debut at the festival. Gala presentations will also include the Canadian premiere of Richard Shepard's The Matador. According to Tuesday's announcement, the festival's master's line-up — which showcases 16 films from 19 countries — will include famed director Martin Scorsese's feature documentary No Direction Home: Bob Dylan.
Dylan Pic Gets TIFF Debut
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Liam Lacey
(Aug. 24, 2005) The world premiere of Martin Scorsese's documentary on the life of the Sixties' most famed troubadour, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan heads the list of films as the Toronto International Film Festival announced its final line-up yesterday for the 30th-annual event. Festival co-directors Piers Handling and Noah Cowan battled pigeons and the noon bell to tell the Nathan Phillips Square crowd the rest of this year's line-up. Among new gala entries added include Tommy Lee Jones's Palme d'or-winning directorial debut, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, the biopic Capote, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as the famed writer and gossip, and Roman Polanksi's Oliver Twist, with Ben Kingsley in the role of Fagin. As usual, the festival is an opportunity for a gluttony of stargazing. This year's turnout will include filmmakers Guy Maddin, John Madden, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Neil Jordan, Tim Burton, Mary Harron, Steven Soderbergh, Cameron Crowe, Michael Winterbottom, Ang Lee, Albert Maysles, Stephen Frears and Terry Gilliam. Among the actors and documentary subjects who will attend are Viggo Mortensen, Chloë Sevigny, Douglas Coupland, Matthew Modine, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Woody Harrelson, Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Rampling, Ray Liotta, Laura Linney, Justin Timberlake, Colin Firth, Keanu Reeves, Kevin Bacon, Kurt Russell, Ralph Fiennes, Jeff Bridges, Jeff Daniels, John Hurt, William Hurt, Liam Neeson, Jackie Chan, Reese Witherspoon, Isabella Rossellini, Shirley MacLaine, Julianne Moore, Kate Winslett, Helena Bonham Carter, Cameron Diaz and Liza Minnelli. Newly added special presentations include a screening of Robert Flaherty's classic documentary, Nanook of the North, accompanied by a live orchestra that includes Inuit throat singers as well as Stephen Frears's Mrs. Henderson Presents, the story of a widow (Judi Dench) who opened a nude burlesque house during the Second World War.
Revolver, directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Ray Liotta, and the debut of Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn's notorious Pusher trilogy, about Scandinavian drug lords, also debut. The festival's closing-night film will be David J. Burke's Edison, a drama about a young reporter (Timberlake) and his attempts to expose a corrupt police ring. This year includes two notable portmanteau projects: All the Invisible Children, directed by a group of seven international filmmakers that includes Spike Lee, Ridley Scott, Emir Kusturica and John Woo, features short films about children in difficulty; another group of 16 international directors created All Souls, a series of short films reflecting on the murder of Dutch director Theo van Gogh last November. In the Visions program, for innovative filmmaking, there's a collaborative work from performance artist and filmmaker Matthew Barney working with Icelandic musician Bjork with Drawing Restraint 9. The Wavelengths program, focusing on experimental film, will include the latest work from Michael Snow, Sshtoorrty, as well as his 1967 masterpiece, Wavelength, which gives the program its title. This year's festival focuses on the national cinema of China, in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of Chinese cinema (and 35th year of Canadian-Chinese diplomatic relations). Nine Chinese films will be presented, including Stanley Tong's The Myth, starring Jackie Chan, and Wang Xiaoshuai's Shanghai Dreams, which won a prize at Cannes earlier this year. To mark the 30th anniversary, the festival will include a series of vignettes of film legends before gala screenings. These 60-second shorts will profile Canadian film and television celebrities including Raymond Burr, Yvonne de Carlo, Mack Sennett, Claude Jutra, Norma Shearer, Ruby Keeler, Colleen Dewhurst, Raymond Massey and Marie Dressler. The series is dedicated to the late Brian Linehan, who wrote three of the profiles.
Is The Naked Truth Too Hot For Censors?
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By James Adams
(Aug. 23, 2005) Toronto — An explicit sex scene involving two men and a woman in Canadian director Atom Egoyan's latest movie is expected to earn the film a prohibitive rating in the U.S. that, if sustained, will "severely limit" its box office there, Mr. Egoyan predicted yesterday. The Classification and Ratings Administration of the powerful Motion Picture Association of America plans to reveal its official rating of Mr. Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies no later than tomorrow. But given what Mr. Egoyan calls "the very conservative climate in America," he and the film's North American distributor, Toronto-based ThinkFilm Inc., "strongly suspect" it will be rated NC-17. This means no one 17 years of age or under in the U.S. will be allowed admission, even if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. While Where the Truth Lies has some tough violence, nudity, lesbian encounters and drug-taking, it is a sex scene involving stars Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon and the film's female lead, 29-year-old Rachel Blanchard, that seems to be giving U.S. adjudicators trouble -- something U.S. observers told Mr. Egoyan he might expect after the movie's world premiere in May at the Cannes film festival.
"I guess I'm naive; I really had no idea it would be a problem," the director said at that time. "I just heard the deciding factor could be thrusting. Apparently, anything over three thrusts and you're in trouble. Well, nobody told me. . . ." Speaking from his office in Toronto yesterday, Mr. Egoyan, 45, said he is hoping the ratings board, which is composed of eight to 13 adjudicators based in Los Angeles, will grant Where the Truth Lies an R tag, which means viewers under 18 can attend if accompanied by an adult. But indications have been that this will not be the case, even though Mr. Egoyan recently has been providing "slightly different" versions of the film for consideration. His difficulties are complicated by the fact that he shot the threesome in real time, with no covering or alternative shots that can be used. That scene "has to be there," he argued, "for the emotional and plot logic of the entire film." Mr. Egoyan said he shot that scene as a single master shot because it "allows the actors a degree of freedom." He applauded the "courage" of the actors, all professionals, two of them big names, in allowing themselves to be exposed in such a way. Mr. Bacon is 47 and Mr. Firth, 44. "I don't think it's extreme," the director said.
In May at Cannes, Mr. Bacon said: "To me, I think the sex in the movie is incredibly appropriate and the way it is done is very specific to the storytelling." But besides restricting the audience, an NC-17 classification likely would limit the marketing potential of the movie in the United States since in previous NC-17 situations, some newspapers have refused to carry advertisements and some theatre operators have declined to screen the product. As a result, "that severely limits the commercial opportunities of the film," Mr. Egoyan said. If the NC-17 tag comes to pass, he will be allowed to formally appeal, which would entail flying to Los Angeles to argue his case before a panel that could have up to 18 members, whose decision, based on a two-thirds majority vote, would be final. Where the Truth Lies will have its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next month, with a general release in selected Canadian centres Oct. 7 and a staggered releasing schedule south of the border starting Oct. 14. The film, described as the "most mainstream movie" yet from the maker of such acclaimed works as The Sweet Hereafter and The Adjuster, concerns an investigation into a gruesome murder and cover-up that marred the career of a comedy team, played by Mr. Firth and Mr. Bacon. Unlike the systems in other countries, the U.S. Classification and Ratings Administration has no written rules governing its decisions. According to its own literature, each of the eight to 13 raters simply "estimates what most parents would consider to be [a] film's appropriate rating," with a straight majority vote deciding the matter. Joan Graves, chair of the ratings administration, intimated from her office in Los Angeles yesterday that all might not be doom and gloom for Where the Truth Lies. "It has not been classified as yet, and we will officially do so shortly only after we see everything in context," she said.
Meanwhile, ThinkFilm president Jeff Sackman said he does not think the movie will suffer the same proscribed fate in Canada, even if Ontario, for instance, gives it an R classification -- the equivalent of NC-17 in the U.S. "[The Americans] are just not as evolved as we are," he said. Mr. Sackman's company is currently involved in two other fracases over ratings and distribution. It is the distributor of The Aristocrats, a comedy documentary that features what one writer has called "some of the most scatological and offensive language ever heard in mainstream cinemas." More recently, Mr. Sackman sent an e-mail to Canadian distributors asking them not to "pick up" a controversial drama based on the life of convicted killer Karla Homolka that had been scheduled to have its premiere at the Montreal World Film Festival this month.
Mario Van Peebles Drops
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - As Mario Van Peebles prepares for this year’s release of the gang drama “Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power,” in which he stars, his groundbreaking hood film, “New Jack City” is coming out on DVD—fourteen years after its theatrical release. Van Peebles not only starred in “New Jack City,” but directed it. “New Jack City” also stars Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Chris Rock, Allen Payne, Michael Michele, Bill Nunn, Russell Wong, Christopher Williams, Vanessa Williams, Judd Nelson, Nick Ashford and a host of other artists. Teddy Riley, who initiated New Jack Swing, also makes an appearance. Mario reminisced about how it was back in the day and the making of this movie: “This film, ‘Boyz N the Hood’ and of course brother Spike’s ‘Malcolm X’ were all important because we didn’t have the viable leading man yet and we were all playing into the funny guy or the best friend of the white guy. So before ‘New Jack City,’ when [the studios] wanted funny, they looked at Wesley for ‘Major League’ or me for ‘Heartbreak Ridge.’ But after ‘New Jack City,’ they were able to put Wesley in ‘Passenger 57,’ even though it wasn’t written black, and Larry Fishburne in ‘Bad Company.’ And of course we had Denzel. We had Black leading men and that’s something we helped to do. “`New Jack City’ was a film where you not only connected with a gangster but with the cops trying to take the gangster down. The movie had to work on a number of levels. It had to humanize the victims. That’s where Chris Rock came in and his performance took you into the victim’s world. It showed you what happened to the rest of us, the victims on the streets that fall prey to the epidemic.”
He continued: “Drug lord Nicky Barnes’ influenced the Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes) character. Nicky did for drugs what Ford did for the auto plants. Nino mentions we don’t have poppy fields in the ghetto but we have a lot of dope. We don’t have gun-manufacturing plants in the ghetto. Yet there are a lot of guns in the ghetto. So very quickly if you follow the food chain, it goes way above the Nino Browns, you know. And when you get to the Iran contra relationship, drugs and guns, you get the CIA stuff, Noriega, all that’s going down that has nothing to do with Black folks at all. It’s very much about keeping us medicated because when you’re junkies, you don’t vote. They don’t think politically.” Furthermore, Van Peebles said, “So now you have all the gangs that inherited the bravado of the Black power movement but without the political ideology of the Gil Scott Herons and all those folks that were saying something. Now we’re just dancing to emptiness and it not only neutralizes our leaders, it neutralizes any sort of thinking entertainment. I hate to say it, but movies are more stupid.” But do say it, Mario. Say it loud! Just this past weekend James Bond’s Sean Connery said he was retiring because he couldn’t deal with the horrible material Hollywood was putting out. Speaking on the present state of films, Mario went on to say, “I’m not saying we shouldn’t have comedy but they are much more likely to make some hip hop silliness that doesn’t say much than a ‘Boyz N the Hood.’ What message do you think studios want you to hear? So that’s what we’re dealing with.” “Ice Cube said the same thing when he was doing rap,” Mario pointed out. “It was angry but it was saying something. Listen to N.W.A’s stuff. Even in that he’s saying that ‘You’d rather see me in a pen than…rollin’ in a Benzo.’ It was more political than just dancing to black genocide, bitches and hoes. Capitalism on crack would rather fund that than something that has a message. I don’t think that’s an accident, do you?” he asks. Of course I don’t think it’s an accident. He ends on this important note: “There are exceptions like Michael Mann who made ‘The Insider. ’By and large it’s not just a question of Black and White. Look at Fox News. I mean, that’s got to be the dumbest show in the world. It perpetuates the Republican agenda in its news. Here’s the thing. Any art that makes you think, is dangerous to the status quo because it makes you think when you vote. If you get used to thinking, you just might apply that knowledge when you vote. You might just go, ‘ahem.’”
‘New Jack City’ DVD Release Sparks
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Aug. 22, 2005) *If the year 1989 – bellowed with authority from the mouth of rapper Chuck D. – conjures up images of Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” then 1991 should definitely be reserved in black cinema as the year of Nino Brown – the New York drug lord played to perfection by a then 29-year-old Wesley Snipes in the classic, “New Jack City.” The film, which preceded “Boyz in the Hood” and “Juice” in 1992, was one of the first to pull the covers back on the crack game and its devastating effect on the black community. In addition to Snipes’ debut as a leading man, the movie also introduced audiences to budding actor Chris Rock as a crack fiend, rising star Allen Payne as Nino’s Cash Money Brother and rapper Ice T as a cop – in his first real film role following 1984’s “Breakin’” and “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.” And who can forget the soundtrack? Color Me Badd’s “I Wanna Sex You Up,” “I Dreamin’” from Christopher Williams (who also starred in the film) and Ice T’s, “New Jack Hustler (Nino’s Theme) kept the film in the public consciousness long after it trickled out of theatres. On the eve of its long-awaited DVD release Tuesday, Mario Van Peebles – the directing mastermind behind the masterpiece – spoke to EUR’s Lee Bailey about the legacy of this classic gangsta tale, which followed Nino Brown’s ruthless rise and tragic fall from thug glory.
LB: DID YOU REALIZE AT THE TIME YOU WERE MAKING A CLASSIC?
MVP: Classics you usually realize later on because it’s the folks that have to determine that it’s a classic. You need to make something that you feel could be “edutainment.” We knew we were making it in the tradition of the gangsta thriller, but doing more than that. Because even the “Godfather” and the other gangster pictures that were classics, you emotionally connected up with the gangster. And we knew here that if you wanted kids to say no, you had to have role models to say yes to. You had to show some other folks who were doing something and you had to balance the equation; and if you could, humanize the victim so the crime was not victimless. And that’s what Chris Rock’s character did so well. You know, when we first showed that movie to brothers in the hood, this cat had a 9 mm in his waist when we showed him the movie. He looked at Chris Rock getting addicted to drugs and yelled, “Just say no, muh, f*cka!” To get those kids reacting against the drug dealer was no easy thing to do.
WHO CHOSE THE CAST?
All of us, really. As a director, you make the final decision. But, it wasn’t cast contingent, like a lot of movies are. If you go back to the late 80s, we really didn’t have what we now call the viable black leading man. If you look at me, I played a funny role in “Heartbreak Ridge.” Wesley was in “Major League” as the funny guy or the best friend, so we were all playing the best friends or the funny guy, but never the lead guy. So with “New Jack City,” I was able to put Wesley in. Wesley originally wanted to be the cop. But I put Wesley in as the gangster playing the leading guy, not the best friend or the funny guy. And then when John Singleton came along with “Boyz in the Hood” he did the same thing with Larry Fishburne, where he put him in as not the best friend or the funny guy, but as THE guy. Then Spike did the same thing with Denzel. So after “New Jack,” after “Boyz in the Hood,” after “Malcolm X,” we were able to be in movies that were white, like “Passenger 57” or “Pelican Brief” or “Bad Company” as leading men, not just as funny support characters. Once the word got out that we were making this movie, it’s like, [the actors] damn near came to us. Once the word got out, “Hey man, they making the first gangsta flick with people of color,” folks were like, “I gotta be with this.” The cast also reflected the music. The music on the movie was big.
IS THIS THE FILM THAT MADE WESLEY SNIPES A STAR?
I think definitely it is. It’s like this, man – my granddad always said that luck is just preparation meets opportunity. Wesley was prepared and now he had the opportunity. The brother has mad skills and made it his own.
HOW CONFIDENT WERE YOU IN DIRECTING THE FILM?
I had been directing for a long time, but people didn’t know that. Clint Eastwood was good enough to introduce me to the people over at Warner Bros. when I did “Heartbreak Ridge” with him. And I’d seen my father do “Sweetback.” If you’ve seen “Baadasssss,” you’ll see I grew up seeing it. So I was pretty prepared for the opportunity. It was just now, this movie “New Jack City” gave me the opportunity to do what I’d been doing for a long time.
HOW IMPORTANT WAS THE SOUNDTRACK?
The music worked so well because it spoke directly to the audience. There was a big, big street awareness of this movie because the music really propelled it. And that was, in a way, what my dad did with “Sweetback” or what they did with “Shaft” with the Isaac Hayes soundtrack. We’re in an auditory culture with a very strong musical sense. The music itself was saying something. And it got out there way earlier [than the film release] and set the tone.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE LEGACY OF ‘NEW JACK CITY?’
That’s more to be determined. Movies speak to everybody differently. You’ll get a knucklehead who’ll just see the flash and the cash. Then you’ll get someone with a little bit more weight, and they’ll say, “Aw, wait a minute, now. It’s not just about being in that drug game. It’s about doing something better. Everyone in that movie who touches crack loses, and dies. And we’re selling drugs to our own people and that’s not an option.’ So it’s hard to tell people what the legacy is because it will always speak to them on the level they are when they received the information. But the legacy of “New Jack City” is one of the street. Unfortunately, a lot of us have inherited the bravado of the black power movement, of the Panthers of the 70s, without the political ideology to support it. So you get folks that are not thinking and not realizing that they’re not thinking. They’re playing into a genocidal trap that keeps us down. I think that’s part of what the movie was singling out. The struggle continues, as the end crawl says.
In The Role Of Alpha Male: Director Robert Altman
Source: Associated Press
(Aug. 24, 2005) ST. PAUL, Minn.—Kevin Kline is in the zone. The Academy Award-winning actor is so focused on his role as hard-boiled gumshoe Guy Noir that Kline doesn't notice he's bleeding while shooting a scene for the movie, A Prairie Home Companion. Decked out in a pinstriped suit and slicked-back hair in the lobby of the Fitzgerald Theatre, Kline does take after take, adding funny asides. And all the while, director Robert Altman looks quietly on. "I'm bleeding!" Kline finally declares at the end of a take as his makeup artist steps forward with a tissue. Kline is among a bevy of stars — including Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Lindsay Lohan, Woody Harrelson, Virginia Madsen and Tommy Lee Jones — bringing life to Garrison Keillor's script about backstage goings-on at his radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, heard by more than four million listeners each week. "He's a movie guy," Keillor says of the 80-year-old Altman. "The moment they started shooting this picture it's like he became 30 years younger. He's tremendously focused and capable.'' The white-haired, goateed Altman is a commanding presence on the set. He allows the actors to improvise on Keillor's script, occasionally hustling them with a call of "Let's boogie.'' It's a freedom that inspires admiration from the actors. "It's more than the alpha male. You can feel he's a powerful man, and yet, he's so kind,'' says Madsen, who plays a mystery woman who may be the Angel of Death. Madsen compares the Prairie Home set with that of the 2004 movie Sideways, for which she received a supporting actress Oscar nomination. "Everyone is so free. There's nobody with a bullhorn, nobody tapping their watch...Movies like this, they always turn out to be good," she says. Keillor, 63, calls making the movie "one of the amazing experiences of my young life.'' As in life, Keillor plays a radio announcer in the movie. It features Streep and Tomlin as the singing Johnson sisters, Lohan as Streep's daughter, Harrelson and John C. Reilly as singing cowboys Lefty and Dusty, and Jones as the Axeman, who's dispatched by new corporate owners to shut down the show. When Altman and Keillor first talked about doing a movie on Lake Wobegon — Keillor's fictional town, "I said, `You know, we should do your show, and you should write it. Because it's your humour, it's your sensibility'," said Altman. "And I've tried very hard to do his stuff rather than my own." An early 2006 release is planned for the film.
Cheadle Visits Rwandan Hotel That Inspired Film
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Michael Posner
(Aug. 22, 2005) Los Angeles -- Don Cheadle has finally visited Hotel Rwanda. The 40-year-old actor toured the Hotel des Milles Collines in Rwanda's capital Kigali last month, speaking with several of the more than 1,000 people who were sheltered there during the country's 1994 genocide. Cheadle earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, but Hotel Rwanda was filmed primarily in South Africa. Cheadle said he's writing a book with John Prendergast of the non-profit International Crisis Group about how Americans can respond to Africa's problems. AP
Will Smith & Thandie Newton Star In 'Pursuit of Happyness'
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Nolan Strong
(Aug. 21, 2005) Will Smith and Thandie Newton will star opposite each other in the new drama, “The Pursuit of Happyness.” The movie is based upon the rags-to-riches story of Chris Gardner, who was once homeless and living in a Bay Area Rapid Transit station in Oakland, California. Gardner’s life changed when he met a man driving a Ferrari that was looking for a parking space. “I said, ‘You can have mine. But I gotta ask you two questions.’ The two questions were: What do you do? And how do you do that? Turns out this guy was a stockbroker and he was making $80,000 a month,” Gardner recounted. Gardner started interning at various brokerages while he learned. In the process, he was arrested for failing to pay $1,200 in parking violations and his wife left him to car for their young song without her. Gardner persevered through various hardships and finished the program. He ended up becoming a top producer for Bear, Stearns & Company, in San Francisco and New York and later successfully launched his own firm. Newton has been tapped to play Smith’s estranged wife. The movie is being produced by Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment. The movie is slated for a 2006 release.
Alicia Keys In Talks For ‘Ace’ Role
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Aug 24, 2005) *Alicia Keys, known for her songs of love, strength and womanhood, will step way out of her comfort zone if cast as a cold-blooded assassin in the new film “Smokin’ Aces.” MTV reports that the multi-platinum artist is in talks to make her acting debut in the film opposite Ryan Reynolds, Jeremy Piven, and in a smaller role, Ben Affleck. Keys would play a hit-woman hired by the mob to hunt down a standup comic (Piven) planning to testify against the underworld organization, but not if FBI agent (Reynolds) can get to the comedian first. As Reynolds' character attempts to bring the joker into police custody, the comedian insists on entertaining one last Tahoe crowd. “Smokin’ will be directed by Joe Carnahan in his first effort since his critically acclaimed 2002 drama "Narc." Meanwhile, Keys is also slated to star as biracial piano prodigy Philippa Schuyler in a film based on the book "Compositions in Black and White" for Sony Pictures. No word yet on when either film is slated to begin production.
Amin’s Fam Vs. ‘Last King’
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Aug. 23, 2005) *Angered by the portrayal of Idi Amin as a cannibal in the upcoming movie “The Last King of Scotland,” family members of the late Ugandan dictator plan to file a defamation lawsuit against the film’s producers, claiming they never granted permission for Amin’s name or image to be used. "These actors have been depicting my father as eating people. I was with him for many years, but I never saw any human flesh,” Taban Amin, the late ruler’s eldest son, told AFP. "We shall never allow anybody to play around with our family and our dad. They had to contact the family, period.” Amin said the producers tried to pull a fast one: "because they thought that we as Africans don’t know that this is a pre-requisite. No one can just go and start filming about George Bush without the family's consent." He said the family – consisting of his father's 42 children and several widows – would seek four to five million dollars from Cowboy Films, which is producing “Last King” with actor Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin. The movie centers around the height of Amin's despotic rule, which saw over 400,000 Ugandans killed and the country's entire Asian population expelled. The film adaptation of Giles Foden's best-selling novel of the same name is expected to be released in July 2006 by Twentieth Century Fox International.
Millions Gets Interactive
With Indian Trivia Show
Source: Saritha Rai, New York Times
(Aug. 20, 2005) BANGALORE, India—As a lark, Abhishek Gaurav text-messaged the answer to a quiz question flashing on his family's television screen. His response took the 18-year-old from a middle class family in Bihar, an underdeveloped eastern state, to India's entertainment capital, Mumbai, and the set of the country's most popular television program, the game show Kaun Banega Crorepati. Selected as an on-air contestant, Gaurav went on to win $14,700 (U.S.) in rupees as well as meet his long-time idol, the Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, the show's host. The Hindi-language program, whose title literally translates as Who Will Be a Ten-Millionaire, is an Indian clone of the U.S. game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Gaurav is the type of viewer that India's cable and satellite television industry has been eager to attract on behalf of the advertising community. Like many younger people, he has little interest in the weepy soap operas, Bollywood song-and-dance reruns and slapstick comedies that have long been staples of Indian television. The teenager, a student at the elite Indian Institute of Technology at Chennai, is just one of the 11.7 million Indians lured recently to watch the opening show of the second season of Kaun Banega. The apparent allure is watching contestants compete for a potential jackpot of 20 million rupees, or $450,000 (U.S.), as well as the charisma of Bachchan, who is 63 and often dresses in leather and denim. Since the show began a new season Aug. 5, about 18 million Indians have called Kaun Banega to try to win a spot on the show, or prizes, from home. The country's two large telecoms have revamped their networks to handle the millions of calls from viewers. Five years ago, when an earlier version of Kaun Banega debuted, Indian cable and satellite television offered 165 channels and reached 30 million homes. Now, there are 250 channels available and 61 million homes have satellite and cable television, the third-highest subscriber base in the world after China and the United States. A total of 108 million homes have television, but those with antennas can watch only a few state-run channels that many Indians find tedious. That means that in a country of more than a billion people, the cable and satellite business still has plenty of room to grow. About half of those who called in to Kaun Banega on a recent weekend live outside the country's 26 largest cities. Even in the smallest of villages without running water, there are mobile phones and battery-powered television sets.
In the television year ending last March, overall TV advertising revenue in India exceeded $1 billion (U.S.) for the first time. Indian providers of TV programming, however, can charge only minimal monthly fees — as low as $1.75 — in a country where nearly half the subscribers have monthly incomes of less than $100. Meanwhile, untouched by the industry concerns of television ratings, reach or revenue, Mr. Gaurav is basking in his newfound celebrity status as a Kaun Banega winner. "I am being recognized in public places," he said. His biggest worry, he said, is dealing with the growing ranks of friends and family who are demanding that he share his windfall.
Celeb Wannabe Mocks Celebs
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vinay Menon
(Aug. 24, 2005) "I screwed my way to the middle." With that blunt confession, Kathy Griffin lays out the conceptual thrust for a new fly-on-her-wall "reality" series. Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List (Toronto 1, 9 p.m. tonight) provides a glimpse into the wiggling existence of a harmless parasite, who has attached herself to an industry she loves to hate: Hollywood. From regaling audiences with scurrilous observations about the likes of Céline Dion or Gary Coleman to mocking the red carpet glitterati at the Golden Globes, Griffin takes perverse pleasure in skewering celebrities. "Did you ever hear Madonna on Oprah talking about Kabbalah?" she asks tonight. "She's like, `It's this religion where they prove to you that there is a cause and effect. And if I'm nice to someone, they could be nice back.' And I'm like, `You had to join a religion to not be an asshole?'" Griffin is at her best when hurling invective. But My Life on the D-List is not powered by ennui. It's not that Griffin is some principled renegade. She's the lonely loser who, while taunting the cool kids, secretly wishes she was more like them. This sad clown syndrome creates a baffling contradiction: Here is an acid-tongued comedienne who wants to get more rich and famous by excoriating the rich and famous? It's like trying to get into medical school by stabbing a surgeon. Typical of the "celeb-reality" subgenre, the first goal is to venture beyond Griffin's public persona. To go behind the scenes, past the acerbic material. Presumably, this will lead to the second goal: increase her profile.
So down the rabbit hole we go, into Griffin's inner sanctum which, in this case, is a Los Angeles dream home so sprawling it nearly destroys the D-list premise. Cameras roll as Griffin yaps on her cellphone; consults with her suddenly overweight husband Matt; barks rapid-fire orders at personal assistant Jessica; implores live-in home decorator Mike to get "free stuff;" entertains her sensible parents; pesters celebrities (Warren Beatty, Marcia Cross, Rachel Bilson); and flits through various events that showcase her low-watt star power. For a D-lister with A-list aspirations, Griffin is also pathologically frugal. She wants designer Mike to redecorate her home. But she doesn't want to spend much money. As he dryly observes, "Not everybody wants to build a big, giant custom-leather sofa for free." Adds Jessica: "She's threatened my job a couple of times if I don't get her the free stuff." During a planning meeting for her annual Toys for Tots fundraiser, Griffin is preoccupied with getting the free stuff: electronics, chocolates, beer, wine, furniture. This is not unusual when hosting a charity event, so long as the host does not plan to keep the donated graft. That said, viewers may bristle at Griffin's self-serving altruism: "You're raising a lot of money for charity and maybe you get a free end table." In response, the on-message gibberish from one PR exec is telling: "When you work in publicity, you deal with a lot of different personalities and egos and Kathy knows what she wants and she conveyed that to us and there is no grey area."
Translation: "My God, that is one cheap bitch." The line that separates self-deprecating from self-loathing is a fine one. And there is a masochistic streak that runs through much of My Life on the D-List. Matt's solution to his insane eating habits — he has gained more than 60 pounds in five years — is not diet or exercise but gastric bypass surgery. Jessica claims to love her job but her expression often suggests otherwise. "Everyone thinks it's like bitch work and, I mean, yes it is, but it's fun for me," she says. There are some amusing moments. While strategizing with her "main gays," Dennis and Tony, Griffin proposes an outlandish way to get back on Oprah: "Do you think it would be weird if I raped Matt?" The "reality" format makes perfect sense. The genre specializes in fleeting fame and Griffin is no stranger to its manufactured conceits, having hosted both NBC's Average Joe and the short-lived Kathy's So-Called Reality. She even won Celebrity Mole: Hawaii. But the problem is you don't need to watch a lot of this to get the point. By simultaneously exploiting and revelling in her daily humiliations, Kathy Griffin is hoping to escape a life of relative obscurity. Sadly, though, this show suggests that The D-List is exactly where she belongs.
Of Drugs And Thugs
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Alexandra Gill
(Aug. 24, 2005) Vancouver — The timing of Chris Haddock's latest film project is uncanny. So uncanny, suspicious minds might wonder what kind of intelligence he's using. Consider this: When Marc Emery, the head of British Columbia's Marijuana Party and self-proclaimed "Prince of Pot" was arrested last month after a U.S. federal grand jury indicted him on charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds, the creator and executive producer of Da Vinci's Inquest was in Vancouver shooting Intelligence, a new CBC Television film, scheduled to be broadcast this fall, about local marijuana millionaires. Production of the movie, which stars Ian Tracey as the head of a third-generation crime family that built its fortune on rum-running before turning to heroin and weed, also coincided with last month's bust of a West Coast smuggling ring that had dug an elaborate tunnel across the border into Washington State. Haddock swears he didn't have any inside scoop, but is hardly surprised by these latest developments. "Canada has been a smuggling haven for decades," says Haddock, on a short break from set. "It's part of the Canadian identity. If you haven't smuggled something across the border, you're not really a Canadian." Indeed, now that Da Vinci's Inquest is finally moving into U.S. syndication and drawing a nice little buzz south of the border, one influential columnist from MediaWeek who raved about this promising "new" TV drama was reportedly shocked when he found out during the current Television Critics Association summer press tour that it was made in Canada. "We even have to smuggle our cultural products under the nose of the elephant," Haddock says with a laugh. "It's a good metaphor." In the film, which Haddock hopes to turn into a series, Tracey's character, Jimmy Reardon, is under surveillance by the local Organized Crime Unit and the federal intelligence agency CSIS, which is trying to expand its undercover network. When a stolen file containing the names of the OCU's top informants falls into Reardon's hands, he tries to leverage the ever-widening web of intrigue into a deal. Today's scenes are being shot at the Penthouse, a legendary Vancouver strip club. From the time it opened in the mid-1940s, you could buy a bottle of mixer to go with the bottle under the table in a brown paper bag. In 1983, owner Joe Philliponi was found shot to death in his backroom office with a bullet to the head. Sid Morrisroe was convicted of his murder, but always maintained his innocence. His daughter, Tami Morrisroe, was put in a witness-protection program after going undercover to infiltrate a criminal organization in an attempt to prove her father was framed. Her story was turned into a TV movie called Mafia Princess.
This is just one of the Wild West stories that Haddock grew up with, a mere thread in the freewheeling fabric of a city that grew out of a rough and tumble shanty town where crime and criminals have always flourished. "It's well known that there are more than a few mansions down on South West Marine Drive that were built on the fortunes of smuggling," says Haddock. And although his script isn't based on any one story or family in particular, he says it comes from an amalgamation of situations he remembers hearing as a kid and pieced together around this story of a successful family of weed-smuggling shipping magnates. This isn't Haddock's first shot at the world of intelligence. He also created The Handler, a short-lived CBS series starring Joe Pantoliano as an FBI agent who trains undercover operatives in Los Angeles. "The Handler was one sort of take, but this is, like Da Vinci's, a hometown Canadian take on Canada's criminals and police agencies. It's as much about the intelligence being run by the criminals as the intelligence being run by the cops." In typical Haddock fashion, there are more than two sides to this fence. "I wanted to broaden the concept. It's not just about cops and spy agencies. The lead female character is running domestic intelligence on her husband, who is fooling around. We're all collectors and seekers of intelligence. And everyone has their own kind of intelligence." In the same way that Haddock wrote Da Vinci's Inquest with Nicholas Campbell in mind as the show's lead crusading coroner (now turned mayor as the series morphs this fall into Da Vinci's City Hall), he wrote this role specifically for Tracey, who is perhaps best known as Da Vinci's homicide detective Mick Leary (who now steps into Campbell's old job). "He plays the hard guy to perfection," Haddock says of Tracey, the hunky leading man with the missing front teeth, who also portrayed David Milgaard in the acclaimed CTV movie of the same name. And much like Da Vinci's, there are numerous parallels in this story to real life. Haddock says classified files have been stolen from CSIS on more than one occasion. And in 1998, British Columbia's Co-ordinated Law Enforcement Unit (CLEU) was collapsed when a former Hong Kong police officer recruited to work for it was charged with passing information to Asian gangs. Two months later, the B.C. government created a separate police force to tackle organized crime, with a heavy emphasis on cracking the illegal drug trade. And just like the character played in this film by Klea Scott, the government brought in a woman (Beverley Busson, former RCMP commanding officer in Saskatchewan) to head up the newly organized, high-powered agency.
Scott, who starred alongside Tom Cruise in both Collateral and Minority Report, was found when they were casting in L.A. "We'd been seeing tons of people and there were a few contenders, and then I saw her tape and she had it. I needed someone who felt like she had spent some years on the job. Someone who was a believable outsider from the East Coast, the new person who was hired to drop into this corrupted crime unit." Is Haddock saying CLEU was corrupt? "I didn't say that," he avers cautiously. "I said they had a mole inside. A serious mole. It compromised a lot of cases. When you have a mole, you have a mole. That's why police units are so reluctant to share information. You never know where it's going to end up." But considering CSIS's new mandate to increase its intelligence reach -- and given the way more and more Canadian crime organizations are brazenly acting as if marijuana has already been decriminalized -- Haddock says it's not a bad time to start examining the complicated layers of motives, agendas and protocols that dictate the present-day reality of Canada's intelligence agencies. "What are the end games for these various agencies? Who's directing them? What are their principles? It's endlessly fascinating to me, especially since I don't think we have a stellar record of building an independent intelligence agency and we've often relied upon other people's intelligence from around the world to dictate what the issues should be. "Part of my whole motivation is a desire to see a much stronger Canadian intelligence service. They should get their dues and their funds and they should be rigorously scrutinized. But that's not the tone. It's really just a nice, nasty thriller."
Trump To Produce Chinese
Version Of Apprentice
Excerpt from The Toronto Star
(Aug. 21, 2005) HONG KONG (AP) — China will soon have its own version of The Apprentice — Donald Trump's reality TV tribute to capitalism. Trump will be the executive producer of the Chinese show, which will be hosted by Beijing property mogul Pan Shiyi, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported Sunday. The newspaper said China's version would closely follow the U.S. original, in which contestants compete for a job with Trump. Details of the deal are under negotiation. The show will run in direct competition with Wise Man Takes All — which was inspired by The Apprentice and backed by Trump's business partner, Vincent Lo Hong-sui. That show offers a cash prize of about $123,400 (U.S.).
Vereen’s ‘Wicked’ Move To
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Aug. 23, 2005) *For those of you in Chicago who want to catch Broadway legend Ben Vereen in “Wicked,” but can’t make it to New York during his run, fret no more my little pretties. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the two “Wicked” stars – Vereen on Broadway and Gene Weygandt in the show’s Chicago staging – will switch cities beginning Aug. 30. Vereen, who wants to spend more time with his Chicago-based family, will suit up as the Wizard at Chi-Town’s Ford Center for the Performing Arts/Oriental Theatre through Sept. 4. Weygant, who currently plays that role in Chicago, will bring the Wizard to life in the New York production at the Gershwin Theatre. Chicago's Ford Center for the Performing Arts/Oriental Theatre is located at 24 West Randolph Street. Tickets for “Wicked” are available at all Broadway in Chicago box offices (22 W. Monroe Street, 24 W. Randolph Street and 151 West Randolph Street) or by calling (312) 902-1400. For more information about “Wicked” visit www.wickedthemusical.com.
Tiger Roars At Firestone
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - With Files From Star Wire Services
(Aug. 22, 2005) Tiger Woods overcame some shaky putting yesterday by making the one that mattered. Woods rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt that broke sharply into the right side of the cup on the 16th hole, then escaped with par from the trees on the 18th for a one-under 71 and a one-shot victory over Chris DiMarco in the NEC Invitational at Akron, Ohio. Woods made it seven consecutive years with at least one World Golf Championship title since the series began in 1999, and he has won nine of the 18 WGC events he has played. Despite his dominance at Firestone — four victories in his last six trips — this one required the most work. Woods missed five putts inside eight feet and trailed Kenny Perry by two shots when they made the turn. Even the birdie putt that finally gave him the lead required an approach from 189 yards over the water. It wasn't over until he pitched through the trees and onto the 18th green for a two-putt par from 20 feet. "Let's just say I've had better days," Woods said with a smile when asked about his putting. He finished at six-under 274 and earned $1.3 million (U.S.) for his fifth victory of the year, one more than Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson, enough to end any debate about PGA Tour player of the year honours. DiMarco, who lost to Woods in a playoff at the Masters, thought he might get another shot at him when he shot a 68 to finish at 275. Instead, he was forced to look back at a bogey on the 17th when he went after the flag and wound up in deep grass behind the green. Playing four groups ahead of Woods, he had a 20-foot birdie on the 18th that grazed the edge of the cup. He watched Woods play the last three holes from the dining room. "If you're hoping for him to make bogey, you didn't do what you needed to do out there," DiMarco. Paul McGinley, one of four players who had at least a share of the lead, fell out of contention with a bogey on the 17th and shot 72 to tie for third with Singh (67) and Ryan Palmer (69).
Perry bogeyed five of six holes and wound up tied for sixth after a 74. Stephen Ames of Calgary shot a three-over 73 and Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., shot a six-over 76 to finish tied for 36th at six-over 286. PGA TOUR: Vaughn Taylor successfully defended his title in the Reno-Tahoe Open yesterday, shooting an even-par 72 to beat Jonathan Kaye by three strokes with a tournament-record 21-under total. Taylor, in his second year on the PGA Tour, joined Vijay Singh as the only players to successfully defend a title this year and also became the fifth wire-to-wire winner of the season. Taylor opened with rounds of 64, 67 and 64 en route to a 267 total, four better than the previous tournament record set by Kirk Triplett in 2003. The winner also broke the tournament's 36- and 54-hole marks. LPGA TOUR: South Korea's Soo-Yun Kang won for the first time on the LPGA Tour, shooting a three-under 69 yesterday for a four-stroke victory in the Safeway Classic at Portland, Ore. Women's British Open winner Jeong Jang shot a 70 to finish second, and Gloria Park was five strokes back after a 71. Lorie Kane of Charlottetown shot a one-over 73 to finish in a tie for 24th at three-under 213. Nancy Harvey of Swift Current, Sask., carded a three-over 75 to finish in a tie for 41st at even 216. CHAMPIONS TOUR: Former PGA Tour and USGA administrator David Eger won his second tour title, shooting a final-round 67 in the inaugural Boeing Greater Seattle Classic in Snoqualmie, Wash. Eger finished at 17-under 199, three strokes ahead of runner-up Tom Kite. NATIONWIDE TOUR: Rick Price won his first Nationwide title yesterday, shooting a one-over 71 for a one-stroke victory over Monday qualifier Andrew Pratt in the inaugural Xerox Classic in Rochester, N.Y. Ahmad Bateman of Windsor (65) was eight under, while Jon Mills of Oshawa (72) was eight strokes back at three under. David Morland IV of Aurora (71) finished at one over.
Clijsters Breezes To Cup
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Jennifer Quinn, Sports Reporter
(Aug. 22, 2005) Kim Clijsters is done with tennis and ready for a relaxing few days in New Jersey with her boyfriend. She won't pick up a racquet and won't think about the people who say she'll never win a major tournament. Instead, she'll savour her quick 7-5, 6-1 victory over Justine Henin-Hardenne in yesterday's Rogers Cup final, and prepare for another run at a first Grand Slam victory. "You know, there's a lot of talk about it," Clijsters said. "A lot of people just focus on the things that I don't have. I know I haven't won a Grand Slam. But, you know, I've won a lot of other things, and I've been working very hard. I'm not stopping yet." With her sixth win this year and the U.S. Open looming, Clijsters is perhaps the player best positioned going into that tournament. Five of her victories this season have come on hard court, which she says is her favourite surface, and many of her main rivals have been battling illness and injury. Maria Sharapova has a strained pectoral muscle; Serena Williams' left knee is bothering her; Lindsay Davenport hasn't really played since she lost to Venus Williams in the final at Wimbledon. And Henin-Hardenne, a Belgian like Clijsters, didn't look at all sharp yesterday. She made 34 unforced errors compared to 22 from Clijsters. Only 60 per cent of her first serves hit the mark. And she couldn't convert on break points, taking only two of four chances.
Most surprising was the sheer number of framed shots Henin-Hardenne produced, the ball careening crazily off into the crowd, into the stands, into the ether. She said there was a simple explanation for it — wind — but it was extremely uncharacteristic of her. "I never felt very good in the court today except for a few games," Henin-Hardenne said. "I think Kim played pretty solid, very consistent. But the conditions were difficult. It was real windy, and I never found a good rhythm. And also I was a little bit tired." Little wonder. Henin-Hardenne had spent nearly seven hours playing her four matches here; contrast that with the two hours and 55 minutes Clijsters had to toil on the court and it's understandable that the eventual champion had a bit more gas in her tank. Funny, too, because Clijsters hadn't even wanted to play in this tournament, saying she really needed the rest before the U.S. Open. But for her four hours and six minutes of tennis here — the match against Henin-Hardenne took an hour and 11 minutes — she took home $189,000 (all figures U.S.), and earned 300 valuable WTA Tour points. The win will also likely move her up three places in the arcane rankings; Sharapova will be the new world No. 1, even though she didn't play this week, and Clijsters is projected to be fifth, up from eight a week ago and 133rd position in March. She's also set herself up for a serious windfall should she do well at the U.S. Open. Because of the victory, and a new bonus points system, Clijsters will compete for double prize money next week at Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
If she wins the Open, she'll take home $2.2 million; if she's a runner-up, as she has been four times before, she gets $1.1 million, and if she's a semi-finalist, the cheque is $540,000. But Clijsters isn't putting any pressure on herself in the week before the tournament. She plans to go to New Jersey to see her boyfriend Brian Lynch, an American who plays pro basketball in Belgium, and relax. "His family is there, (and I'll) just hang out with my friends there," she said. "I'm still going to work, I'm going to go to the gym, have my massages every day. I'm not going to do crazy things. I'm not going to waste a lot of energy going out partying. I'm just going to, you know, relax and just ... be away from tennis for a little bit. Just chill."
The Paparazzi Snap Back
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Jen Gerson
(Aug. 22, 2005) Reese Witherspoon loses a case against paparazzi who allegedly chased her from the gym. Lindsay Lohan's car gets into a scrape with pursuing photographers. And at Britney Spears's baby shower, paparazzo Brad Diaz suffers a pellet-gun injury to the thigh. According to one Canadian celebrity photographer, it's only a matter of time before a major accident happens that might even bring to mind a certain dark Parisian tunnel and a limousine crumpled beyond recognition. Eight years after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the war between celebrities and the people who are paid to photograph them drags on. Each of these parties walks a fine line between promoting and exploiting images of the beautiful and famous. And some are even putting lives at risk in the process. George Pimentel, a Toronto-based photographer who has worked in the industry for 15 years, takes his celebrity pictures at red-carpets events such as the Toronto International Film Festival, which rolls around again next month, or when he's invited to do so by publicists.
He says the industry is changing: Celebrities are taking control of their images, posing for paparazzi and providing photo ops, all carefully supervised by their publicists. "Celebrities are now embracing the paparazzi, so there are more photos out there," Pimentel says. "It's not as bad as it used to be. They want to control the shoots and control the way they look." However, the demand for pictures to fill the increasing number of photo-hungry weekly magazines is also attracting anyone with a camera who wants to hang around on the streets or outside glitzy hot spots in the hopes of snapping a hackneyed celebrity shot. "It's the B-list paparazzi. Those are the guys who are ruining the business with every $300 photo," Pimentel sniffs. The problem has become so widespread that the B-list photo snatchers are actually stalking the better-known paparazzi, camping out in front of their houses and following them to celebrity sightings. "It's a taste of their own medicine," he says. "There are so many of them. Everybody wants to make a buck out of this." All the same, celebrities strolling into a Starbucks in Toronto and Vancouver, baseball cap pulled down low, usually remain relatively free of unwanted attention. Violent run-ins are almost unheard of here.
David Fraser, a privacy lawyer with the firm McInnes Cooper, believes that's because the Canadian media are just a whole lot kinder. At the same time, federal privacy laws specifically exclude journalists and protect freedom of the press, he says. Celebrities who run into problems with paparazzi must turn to trespassing and stalking laws, which may keep the rare pushy snappers at bay. Paul Duchart, who takes photos for the website Hollywood North Report, adds that of the celebrities he has encountered, most find Canada to be a respite from the photographers' relentless chase. "They're not hounded here like they are in the States," he says. It's that kind of laid-back attitude that allows a world-renowned paparazzo such as Louie D. to make a decent living in Toronto. The photographer, who would not agree to be interviewed for this article, was the subject of a recent Life Network TV show called Paparazzi. In it, he stalked celebrities such as Madonna and Reese Witherspoon all over the city with the relative ease of a seasoned pro. But Canada's reputation for easy pickings in the celeb-photo department has not gone unnoticed by established paparazzi who have marked Hollywood North as their territory. Major celebrity photo agencies in the U.S., including the Splash news and picture agency, have begun to hire a variety of local photographers, giving even Louie D. a run for his money, Pimentel says. Duchart agrees. The culture here is changing, and the paparazzi competition is heating up in Canada, given a year-round filming schedule that brings in the top-shelf stars. "It's turning into America slowly," he says. "Everybody wants the money shot." Which means rough encounters between celebrities and paparazzi could become more prevalent, or even lawless.
In recent months, photographer Jamie Fawcett was ordered to provide an Australian court with a DNA sample after being accused of planting a listening bug on Nicole Kidman's property. He hasn't been charged, but the court has granted an injunction barring him from Kidman's home. Cameron Diaz successfully sued a former photographer who took revealing photos of the actress before she was famous and then tried to extort more than $3-million (U.S.) from her. Last month, photographer John Rutter was convicted in California of attempted grand theft, forgery and perjury. The allegations made against paparazzi are starting to become as twisted as the personal lives of the celebrities they photograph. Some have accused the photo seekers of staging risky stunts in order to get a candid shot. Teen-queen Lindsay Lohan was left with a bruised leg a few weeks ago after a speeding photographer smashed into her car as she left a trendy L.A. restaurant. The insatiable demand for celebrity images isn't abating, here or abroad. Britain's OK! magazine, which boasts that it is "first for celebrity news," has arrived in North America. And the Toronto Star is starting a glossy magazine titled Weekly Scoop, due to hit the stands in October. "The solution is for people to stop reading those magazines," Pimentel says. "By reading that stuff, those guys are making money." He, himself, however, has sold a picture of a post-Brad Jennifer Aniston for the cover of People magazine. The trend doesn't show signs of slowing down, but Pimentel says celebrities themselves are aware there's a saturation point. Publicists know that to curb the number of intrusive photographers, all they need to do is flood the market with their clients' photos. After a while, the public gets bored and moves on. "[The celebrities] don't care . . . they don't even shower any more," Pimentel says. And eventually, the rest of us won't care either.
No Stopping The Maritimes In Motion
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - By Paula Citron
(Aug. 22, 2005) It took a beer company to bring dancers to Toronto who are rarely, if ever, presented in the city. Alexander Keith's was the sponsor of the Harbourfront weekend festival called East Coast Rhythms: An Exploration of Atlantic Canada's Culture. The dance component featured Mocean on an outdoor stage, with a later showing called Dance Down in the Studio Theatre that featured Mocean and four indie choreographers. East Coast dance is not technically correct. Tammy Forsythe and George Stamos live in Montreal and Susan Lee in Toronto. Only Louise Moyes (St. John's) and Mocean (Halifax) actually make their homes in the Maritimes, although presumably the others were born there. What is definitely worth a quibble, however, is the lack of a program. Host Taryn Della did mention the choreographers and the names of the pieces, but who, frankly, is going to remember any of that an hour and a half later? The end result is a concert of no-name dance and no-name dancers, and the audience has no reference point. Shame on Harbourfront! The cleverly titled Mocean is a collective of five young women who founded the company in 2001 because they wanted to make their professional careers in the Maritimes. Four appeared at Harbourfront, and Carolle Crooks, Sara Harrigan, Alicia Orr and Sarah DiQuinzio are all accomplished dancers. For their Toronto debut, they elected not to bring any of their own choreography. Their outdoor program was Roger Sinha's 5 Breaths, and their indoor show was Andrea Leigh-Smith's When the Levee Breaks. Both are strong pieces, with Sinha's particularly so.
The absorbing 5 Breaths, set to a fascinating and multinuanced electronic score by Finnish composer Kimmo Pohjonen, combines text and movement to portray the relativity of time. The dancers also employ, throughout the piece, little spinning tops that are galvanized by breathing into them five times. The clever dialogue is all about how long it takes to do routine things in life, from brushing teeth to making love, all timed to the second. But at the end, when the dancers recite the time it took the first tsunami to hit the Indian Ocean shore, or mention the 56-second earthquake that levelled a city in Iran, time takes on a different meaning. Montreal's Sinha himself is heard on the final voiceover announcing the length of time it took for his son to be born. 5 Breaths is deep with meaning, and a heartfelt plea to take a pause from the whirligig of life to smell the roses. The well-defined choreography is Sinha's usual mix of high-energy athleticism, coupled by interludes of profound adagio reflection. For When the Levee Breaks, Halifax's Leigh-Smith has given Mocean highly kinetic, even muscular choreography, and the relentless force of the piece pounds through space. Her score is American composer Christopher Rouse's homage to the late John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, and the angry drive of the music cleverly propels the dance. Mocean is definitely one to watch. The enchanting Moyes is always a joy with her eccentric brand of docudance, as she calls it, which links movement and text to tell oral history. Florence features Moyes's granny, both on film and in voiceover, a feisty old lady with a wonderful sense of humour that the dancer lovingly recreates through clever gesture and body postures. Often Moyes is deliciously realistic, rendering Florence's dialogue like a charade, but she also has the gift of giving physical emphasis to certain words or phrases that makes one gasp with delight. Lee, working with percussionist Mark Duggan, remounted Salvador, a tour de force of magic and mystery filled with stunning animal imagery and set against the soft and incessant chords of the marimba. The beauty of this work is that Lee is always in a crouch or on the floor, never standing erect, yet her choreographic invention never diminishes.
In the notes I was given, Stamos's piece is called Monday and is about the courage of people with AIDS. What I saw was a clever costume that made the solo dancer look like a space alien, performing to a soundtrack that was a radio cartoon of Superboy's early relationship with Lex Luther, and the latter's attempt to save Superboy from the fatal effects of kryptonite. I suppose that could be related to a terminal disease and the invasive role of pharmaceuticals, but it is a big leap. Nonetheless, Stamos is a very controlled dancer, and the piece employed minimal, spasmodic movement along a red line marked on the stage that compelled attention. As for Forsythe and Black 8, her postmodern punk leaves me cold, full of aimless wonderings amid a cluttered set. She is known for being beyond dance technique, but some would have been welcome. Forsythe performed predominantly in the dark behind a banner painted with pointing hands, upon which were projected home movies. The voiceover included an old man talking about a beloved wife who could really dance, and the piece ended with Forsythe reading the long dictionary definition of the word "spirit." If only the dance had had some.
Idea Came As He Did The Dishes
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Michael Posner
(Aug. 22, 2005) The action of The Unyielding Clamour of the Night, Neil Bissoondath's new novel, takes place in a war-torn country with no name. It feels vaguely like an inverted Sri Lanka, with rebels in the south and the government forces in the north, but it might just as well be Indonesia or Kashmir, or any of a dozen other places we see on the nightly news. Certainly, the sociological landscape is familiar -- a nation in which an educated, privileged elite suppresses a servile, but restless underclass, giving rise to a growing insurrection. As topical as today's headlines, the novel effectively chronicles the making of a suicide bomber. But Bissoondath's approach is audacious. Grinding poverty, religious and social discrimination, a future devoid of hope -- this is the volatile but predictable stew from which most terrorists spring. Most, but clearly not all. What about the well educated, middle-class Saudi Arabians who comprised the vast majority of hijackers on 9/11? How did they negotiate the transition from dutiful sons of privilege to mass murderers? Bissoondath's hero is Arun, a sensitive young man from the capital who spurns a comfortable inheritance and takes a job teaching in a rural elementary school, in the very heartland of the insurgency. There, his sunny idealism encounters and eventually succumbs to bleak reality, with horrific consequences. There's no political preaching here, no ideological fervour; Bissoondath's only oath is to literary neutrality. He endorses neither the Boys -- the Tamil Tiger-like guerrillas who terrorize the local population -- nor the Army, no less ruthless in its prosecution of the war. The mindsets of both sides are fairly and deftly limned, but no one owns the monopoly on truth or wisdom. His chief interest is the psychological journey. Under what circumstances, he is implicitly asking, would a gentle teacher make the harrowing passage into the haunted realms of martyrdom? After all, he notes, not everyone becomes a suicide bomber. "So it must be something within them, within the individual."
The idea for the book emerged one winter evening in 2001, months before the tragic events of September. "I was working on something else entirely and I was at the sink washing dishes when this scene, the book's opening scene, just came into my head," Bissoondath explained in a recent interview. Summoning his daughter to finish the dishes, he immediately grabbed a pencil and notebook and started writing. Typically, he might have written a page or two, capturing the essence of the scene. "But it became many more pages, so I took the pencil and the notebook and I walked in the snow to a bench by the river" -- Bissoondath lives with his wife, Anne, and 14-year-old daughter, Élyssa, in Sainte-Foy, outside Quebec City -- "and I continued writing." Within 10 days, he had 100 pages of notes. "It was very unusual." And he continued to write in pencil. As he told an interviewer for the periodical Canadian Literatureat the time, "for some reason this novel insists on being written by hand. . . . It's something to do with the rhythm . . . the pace at which the character is telling me about what's happening. My job as a writer is to find the words to what they're showing me." As with his four previous novels (including The Worlds Within Her, which was nominated for a Governor-General's Award), Bissoondath is careful to locate the events of Clamour (Cormorant Press)in the universal Anywhere. "I don't know Sri Lanka," he explains. "I've never been there, and I deliberately did not go there. I would not pretend to write about it. The danger of research is that you can fall in love with it. But the psychology -- not just Sri Lanka, but Kashmir or the Palestinians -- has always fascinated me." After 9/11, he recalls, "I was walking around in a daze for about three days." And then, uncharacteristically -- because Bissoondath never talks about work in progress -- he said to his wife: "Do you know what my new novel is about?" Despite the initial surge of creativity, he found it "a very tough book to write. It was very complicated, to capture the subtleties and let him [Arun] lead me on."
Born in Trinidad in 1955, Bissoondath grew up surrounded by books and has always been an avid reader. (When I spoke to him last week, he was rereading War and Peace.) "My father wanted me to become a doctor or a lawyer, but I knew that did not interest me." He was just 10 when he figured out that he wanted to write. Indeed, he remembers the very moment when the light dawned. His uncle -- his mother's brother -- the Nobel-laureate novelist V. S. Naipaul was visiting from his home in England. "I knew he was a writer, we had all his books in the library, but it never really clicked. And I remember being in the library and taking out one of his books and then I realized -- he did this for a living." It was then that Bissoondath -- he thinks the family name might once have been two names, Bissoon and Dath, that eventually became hyphenated and then joined -- started writing stories. "But I did not dare send them to him [Naipaul]." Eventually, he did disclose his literary ambitions to Naipaul, who gave him what he still regards as the single best piece of advice on the subject: "The only way to learn how to write is by writing." At 18, Bissoondath emigrated to Canada (just as his uncle had made his way to England as a young man a generation before) and did a degree in French at York University. For years. he taught French and English as second languages, publishing his first collection of short stories, Digging Up the Mountain, in 1985 and his first novel, A Casual Brutality, three years later. In addition to his literary work, Bissoondath has produced one controversial work of non-fiction: Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada. In it, he argued that government cultural policies tended to create reverse discrimination and were more likely to fracture the Canadian mosaic than keep it whole. In the same vein, he has long argued against politically correct restraints on artists, insisting that the only measuring stick that matters is the merit of the work. Selling Illusions, he says now, "is a work I had to do. I don't regret writing it, but I do regret that it took me away from literature and made me something of a social critic." Now teaching creative writing (in French) at Laval University, Bissoondath says he sees no reason why aspiring writers shouldn't study the craft. "No one says of pianists or dancers or painters that they shouldn't go to school to learn. But somehow with writers, the work is supposed to fall from heaven fully formed."
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Susan Walker, Entertainment Reporter
(Aug. 23, 2005) In writing, as in life, there is always an element one leaves up to chance. Michael Crummey's newest novel, The Wreckage, is a shuffle of narratives mostly set during World War II. Asked how he pieced together the disparate characters and settings for the novel, the phrase, "just fell into my lap," keeps coming up. "It often felt like there was some sort of invisible hand that was placing things in front of me for this book," says the 39-year-old while pausing for lunch on the Toronto leg of his author tour. A Newfoundland poet whose first novel, River Thieves, was nominated for a 2001 Giller Prize, Crummey started his second with a notion about a young Catholic man from the South Shore falling in love with a 16-year-old Protestant girl from the northeast coast of Newfoundland. Unbelievable as it seems today, such a union, 60 years ago, was cause for violent family opposition. First Crummey had to get the couple together. "I was going to have him going around the island showing movies." That was something that actually happened in the 1940s, before the province was part of Canada, and while life in the outports was still thriving, but in total isolation from the rest of the modern world. "Before I had written a word," says Crummey, "I went to see Andy Jones's show, To The Wall." Jones's father used to go around the Newfoundland coast in a boat, screening Hollywood movies in community halls. Comedian Jones gave Crummey a central image for the book when he told a story about a knotted string. Someone wanted to order a dress for his daughter, so the man handed the travelling projectionist a string marking the waist, bust and shoulder-to-waist measures. The dress was accordingly purchased and delivered to the man on the projectionist's return visit. A string just like that is carried by Wish, short for Aloysious Furey, the Catholic from the South Shore village of Renews. Wish keeps it with him through his internment in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp to remind him of the contours of Sadie — Mercedes Parsons — of Little Fogo Island. "It just seemed like such an essentially Newfoundland thing to do. Jones called it the N factor."
Generous about his sources, Crummey also tells of other things that "fell into my lap." One was a book, It's like a dream to me: Paddy `Iron' McCarthy of Renews relives his first hundred years. McCarthy's daughter-in-law, Bertha Thorne, took down McCarthy's memories of growing up in Renews, on the south shore of the Avalon Peninsula. "He's over 100 now and still going strong," Crummey notes. "It was a no-brainer," says Crummey, that after reading McCarthy, Wish would start out in Renews. Another book his editor Martha Kanya-Forstner passed on to him, gave him material for segments of the novel that take place in a PoW camp in Malaysia. In a set of World War II recollections of Canadian servicemen, Crummey read about a sadistic Japanese officer who turns out to be from Canada. At first, he says, "I knew I wanted that as part of the novel, but I had no idea how that was going to fit." What the writer knew, from his parents' stories and his summer visits to his father's home in Western Bay, was something about life in the outports, something about the traditional distrust between Catholics and Protestants and his own family's origins, at least as far back as a great-grandfather. Western Bay and the stories he heard, "always felt like something that belonged to me somehow, but I felt a stranger to as well," he says. That's mostly because Newfoundland changed so much during World War II and the years leading up to the province joining Confederation in 1949. The war brought servicemen from all over into St. John's. "The influx of outside faces, music, ideas, movies — it changed Newfoundland in the space of four or five years in a way that it hadn't changed in 200." Young women in that era married outsiders and many moved away after the war, as does Crummey's heroine Sadie. When last interviewed by the Star, Crummey had only recently returned to Newfoundland after living for 13 years in Kingston, Ont. He discovered a lot of things he'd never known about his birthplace, and that a lot of things he had known had changed. The demographics were not what he'd always thought: monolithically English or Irish. Crummey first began to realize how multicultural the province is, when he was introduced to a performer of Lebanese descent. "There are Lebanese in St. John's? What're you talkin' about," he jokes. Basha, he'd always thought, was a good old Newfoundland name. So Mercedes moves in with a Lebanese family when she first arrives in St. John's looking for Wish. Crummey was single when he went back to St. John's. Now he is living with Holly Hogan, a wildlife biologist and singer, her three children and two dogs. He's added family man to his list of job descriptions: poet, novelist, essayist, screenwriter (on a romantic comedy script he doubts will ever be produced) and dramatist.
Jillian Keiley, artistic director of St. John's company Artistic Fraud, "for some reason really, really likes my writing," says Crummey. An adaptation of his poetry, Salvage: The Story of a House, stars Andy Jones and takes place in a heritage house where the audience moves from room to room to take in the performances. It runs through Sept. 3. Like Jones and others, Crummey has had no reasons to regret a return to The Rock. St. John's, he says, "has been a boom town for at least 10 years." And the province is so popular a place to visit and retire that waterfront properties are selling on eBay in the $150,000 to $200,000 range. Even the basilica, a central landmark in The Wreckage, and indeed in St. John's, now has a rival: the huge provincial museum designed after the fishing rooms that used to line the shore. It's called The Boxes. There's a local joke about the two buildings, says Crummey, talking like a true Newfoundlander, apparently told by a taxi driver. "There's the basilica," he tells his passengers. "And there's the box she came in."
Work Out Without a Gym
Source: By Gary Matthews, eFitness Guest Columnist
(August 22, 2005) We know that using free weights and machines is the fastest and most efficient way there is to improve your metabolism and strength, but for many reasons these may not be convenient or readily accessible to you. You may also have no access to a commercial or home gym. But there can be a solution: A strength-training workout without the need of expensive machines. As with any exercise, whether you are using your own body weight, machines or free weights, if the resistance doesn't increase, your muscles won't be worked to their maximum capacity and the stimulus these fibres need to grow will be missing. Exercises done correctly outside the gym will build lean muscle and increase your metabolism without time constraints and financial cost. These exercises can be easily done in a bedroom, hotel room, park, school yard, from ceiling rafters in a garage or in a doorway. All you have to do is use your imagination. There will always be a way to add more resistance to your workouts. Please remember: It doesn't matter where you are working out -- always warm up properly before beginning your session, and cool down and stretch when you are finished.
They build muscle in the thighs, shape the buttocks and improve endurance. Position your feet about 13 to 17 inches apart or at shoulder width, keeping the back straight and your head up. If you want you can use something that will give you support, i.e. a desk, bookcase, sink, etc.
Now squat down to where the tops of the thighs are parallel to the floor, hold for a second and then stand up, but don't bounce at the bottom of the movement. Use a nice, fluid motion. Always exhale as you stand up.
Stand straight in correct posture; now stand with one leg forward and one leg back. Keeping your abdominal muscles tight and chest up. Lower your upper body, bending your leg (don't step out too far).
You should have about 1 to 2 feet between your feet at this stage. The further forward you step, the more your gluteus and hamstring muscles will have to work.
Do not allow your knee to go forward beyond your toes as you come down and stop where your feel comfortable (try not to let your back come forward), then push directly back up. Do all your reps on one leg then switch legs and do all your reps on the other leg.
Chin-ups are a great upper-body workout, particularly targeting your biceps, deltoid and lat muscles. Use a doorway chin-up bar, ceiling rafters in a garage or grab the molding of your door frame, position your hands with an underhand grip and hang down stretching the lats, slowly raise your body until your chin reaches the bar level.
Pause a moment before slowly lowering yourself back to the starting position. Don't swing or use momentum to get your body to the top, just use the target muscles. Chinning bars can be removed from doorways when you are not using them -- they can be put up and taken down in seconds.
Bent Over Row:
Take up a position with your right hand and right knee braced on a sturdy bed or some other flat surface that will provide a good support. Now pick up a dumbbell or something heavy that you can hold onto with your left hand.
Visualize your arms as hooks and slowly bring the dumbbell or object up to the side of your chest, keeping your back straight. Then lower the weight back down to arms length. Concentrate on your back muscles. Reverse the whole procedure and do the exercise now with your right arm.
The push-up is used for building chest, shoulders and arms. Lie face down on the floor with your hands about shoulder-width apart and keeping your palms turned slightly inward. Now push up until your arms are straight, lower and repeat for repetitions.
To make it more difficult elevate your feet. Try placing the toes of your feet on a stable, elevated surface such as a bench, chair or a stair. Straightening your body, position your hands on the floor at shoulder width, lower your body until your chest touches the floor at the bottom, and then return to the starting position in a nice, fluid motion.
This exercise can be done between two sturdy chairs or other surfaces that provide stability. The dip is another great upper-body exercise. It's a compound movement as well, and involves working all the muscles the push-up works.
Keep your head up and body as vertical as possible. For the beginning of the movement, start at the top (arms fully extended) and lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel to the seat of the chairs, hold and then push up to the top of the movement until your arms are fully extended again. Keep looking straight ahead and don't bounce at the bottom of the movement.
Although the simple weight of your own body is enough resistance to provide an effective workout, we need progressive overload (added resistance) to become stronger.
So all we need to do is add some weight wherever we can find some. It doesn’t matter that there are no metal plates and fancy machines to use, because the body doesn't care as long as it's receiving resistance of some kind.
You can use heavy books clasped in your hands. You can buy cheap weighted dumbbells or ankle weights. A weighted vest will also allow you to add resistance for both chin-ups and push-ups. Try to buy one that will let you remove and add weight as you see fit. Also, a backpack filled with books can be perfect for most of the exercises and is a cheap alternative.
How about a couple of buckets and fill them with some water? As you get stronger fill them with more water. This is perfect because depending on the exercise, all you need to do is increase or decrease the amount of water in the buckets for the required amount of resistance.
Free weights and machines are fast and efficient, but you'll find these alternative exercises can provide you with the same benefits. So save your money.
EVENTS –AUGUST 25 – SEPTEMBER 4, 2005
SATURDAY, AUGUST 6
The Orbit Room
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Wade O. Brown, Shamakah Ali, Rich Brown, Adrian Eccleston, David Williams.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 7
College Street Bar
574 College Street (at Manning)
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French.
MONDAY, AUGUST 8
IRIE MONDAY NIGHT SESSIONS
Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.
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.
MONDAY, AUGUST 8
VIP JAM WITH SPECIAL GUESTS - NEW LOCATION
King Street (at Peter)
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring host Chris Rouse, Calvin Beale, Joel Joseph and Shamakah Ali with various local artists.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 13
The Orbit Room
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Wade O. Brown, Shamakah Ali, Rich Brown, Adrian Eccleston, David Williams.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 14
College Street Bar
574 College Street (at Manning)
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French
Have a great week!