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Updated:  August 4, 2005

Hope everyone had a good Caribana weekend!  Will the excessive heat ever stop?  Nahhhh - soon we'll be complaining about the cold!  Great opportunities below in a downtown sublet at a great deal and available funds for filmmakers from ReelWorld
 Check out new photos in my PHOTO GALLERY from FLOW 93.5's Soul in the Summer series. 
 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






Sublet Available - September 1 - Yonge/Bloor

What a great opportunity for the right individual.  A friend of mine is subletting a one-bedroom furnished apartment at Yonge/Bloor from September 1, 2005 to June 1, 2006.  The rent is $750 plus utilities and the location ideal.  Perhaps you know of someone that is moving into a house or condo that needs a place to stay while details are finalized. 

If you are interested, please submit your requests for viewing WITH YOUR FULL NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS here.




Calling All Filmmakers! ReelWorld’s Tony Stoltz Completion Fund

Source:  ReelWorld

Need that extra bit of funding to turn your unfinished project into a masterpiece?  The Tony Stoltz Completion Fund might just be for you!  Tony Stoltz was a dedicated businessman, and an integral part of the ReelWorld Foundation Board who passed away in 2002. Tony believed in strengthening the Canadian Entertainment Industry in anyway he could, especially for producers of colour or those who produced works that dealt with racial and cultural issues.  In his memory his family established a film completion fund in 2003 to be distributed only through ReelWorld Foundation. This provides an opportunity for emerging Canadian producers to apply for this fund, where the recipient will receive a cash award of up to $5000 CDN. Selected semi-finalists will be chosen to pitch their projects to a jury of industry professionals this fall/winter 2005.  DEADLINE AUGUST 5, 2005

Project Criteria:

1. Submitted fiction film work that reflects racial and cultural diversity.

2. Submitted fiction film work that is currently in production.

3. Have a detailed budget (minimum of $50,000).
4. Have secured at least 70% government and or private funding.

5. Have a project running time of 40 minutes or more.

6. Have a comprehensive plan to complete production by summer 2006.

7. Demonstrates passion, spirit and commitment.

8. Is a Canadian citizen or holds permanent resident status.

Past Winners

The first recipient of the Completion Fund in 2004 was director and producer Dawn Wilkinson and producer Suzie Mukherjee for their film Devotion. An intimate portrait of a biracial girl’s struggle to find her voice after the death of her white mother, it premiered at the Pan-African Film Festival in Los Angeles in February 2005. It had its Canadian premiere at ReelWorld Film Festival 2005 in April, where it won the Star! ReelChoice Audience Award. It is currently screening at the San Francisco Black Film Festival.

Our 2005 winner is Chandra Siddan, for her film Remembrance of Things Present, a documentary that follows the director/producer as she confronts the reasons that forced her to leave her hometown of Bangalore, India. Chandra’s film is expected to be completed this summer.

For further details and submission requirements, visit:








Motivational Note: Embarrassment

Excerpt from - by Dr. Jewel Diamond Taylor, Motivational Speaker and author, visit, e-mail -

To avoid embarrassment or rejection you may be afraid to speak up, close a sale, ask for better service, negotiate with bill collectors, ask for a date or go on an interview. You could miss opportunities and blessings because of your lack of courage to speak up. Every time you suppress your pain, hurts, anger or needs, you build up negative toxins in your mind, body and soul. Speak up. Find your voice. Draw the line. Don't allow others to take your silence or kindness for weakness. You don't have to go to extremes with your anger. Just know that it's healthy to speak up when you feel violated, used, abused, overlooked or taken for granted. You may not want to look like a troublemaker, foolish or selfish. You may not want to rock the boat or deal with confrontations. What you allow will continue. What you are silent about will continue. Your silence gives permission for others to mistreat you. Speak up. -







10 Questions with Maestro

Excerpt from

UMAC is pleased to bring you an in-depth feature with the Godfather of Canadian Hip Hop, Maestro, whose sixth album, Urban Landmark: 1989-2005, hits stores on August 23.  Maestro, who is a 2002 recipient of UMAC's Special Achievement Award (among many other awards and honours), still holds the mark for best-selling Canadian Hip Hop album ever (Symphony in Effect), and his 1989 single, "Let Your Backbone Slide" is the only Canadian Hip Hop single to reach gold status.  In this episode of 10 Questions With... (see for previous features) Maestro talks about his upcoming album release, the successes and challenges he's experienced in his career, his goals in the world of acting and much, much more.

Q1: What should fans expect from your new album, Urban Landmark: 1989-2005? What is the track listing on this album?

Maestro: The album is a true Hip Hop classic. I got the big bangers from the 80's and 90's as well some new joints with some classic B-sides.

The track listing is:

1 "Criminal Mind" feat. Infinite and Gowan
2. "Still Bangin'" feat. Rich London
3. "Let Your Backbone Slide"
4. "Drop the Needle"
5. "Conductin' Thangs"
6. "V.I.P.'s Only" feat. K-4ce
7. "Fine Tune Da Mic" feat. Showbiz from DITC
8. "Certs Wid Out Da Retsyn"
9. "Stick to Your Vision"
10. "Poppa 'Stro" feat. Saukrates, Saidah and Tuku
11. "I'm Showin' You"
12. "Supreme Authenticity" 13. "Heat Seekerz"
14. "Hit 'em Wid Anotha One" feat. Saukrates
15. "God Bless Da Child"
16. "Perseverance" feat. Wade O. Brown.

Q2: What made you decide to do a collection of new songs and hits from the past?

Maestro: I wanted to show how versatile my beats, rhymes, flows and concepts have been through out the years, from "V.I.P.'s Only" which was written in '91, to "Supreme Authenticity", which was written in 2003. Or "Stick to Your Vision" from '98 to "God Bless Da Child" done in 2003 or "Criminal Mind" from last year.  I just wanted to document my history. Canadian rock artists do it and I feel that what I've done should be documented too. This album is like a Canadian time capsule. I said in "Let Your Backbone Slide" in '89 that "I'm not American". That line was for the kids coming up so they could know we could do this too.

Q3: You've been on the scene for more than 15 years now...what strategies have you employed to continue to make yourself relevant in the marketplace?

Maestro: From a music relevance perspective, I like to work with different producers. I feel First Offence in the late 80's gave me my biggest track ("Let Your Backbone Slide"). I feel 2 Rude in '98 produced my most important tune ("Stick to Your Vision") and I feel producers like Classified out of Halifax and Big Soxx keep me doin' my thing in the new millennium. Also collabos with cats like my cousin Rich London and other upcoming MC's keep people listening to see how I'm gonna flip it. When I did "Still Too Much" with Ghetto Concept, Kardinal Offishall, Snow, Red 1 and Ironside, people were really checkin' how I would approach my eight bars. I murdered that track! It's good to work with new cats. In terms of overall relevance I feel that my transition into film and TV has expanded my intrinsic value to the entertainment industry of this country.

Q4: Over the course of your career, what are some of the most memorable/rewarding experiences that you've had?

Maestro: I met Quincy Jones. To me, he's the greatest. Look how long he's been doin' it - from a jazz trumpet player, to a super producer, composer, transposer, multimedia mogul. He's performed with Charlie Parker, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Ice-T and Big Daddy Kane.  I saw Biggie and Tupac perform together in New York. I rode with Wu-Tang clan to their show at Jones Beach before 36 Chambers came out. I kicked rhymes with Grand Master Caz from the Cold Crush Brothers on the #2 train in Manhattan. I performed for Queen Elizabeth in '91 and for Prince Edward last month.  My records are cool but I don't sweat 'em. "Let Your Backbone Slide" is the only Canadian Hip Hop single to go gold, and my first album, Symphony in Effect, is the best-selling LP. I think it did like 190,000 units or something like that, but that was a long time ago. I toured with Public Enemy when I first came out, and also did a couple of shows with Ice T. By watching how Chuck and Ice conducted themselves with fans and media is what trained me in the early stage of my career. Who do you know at the beginning of his professional career got a chance to learn from two of the most influential and prolific artists in the history of our culture? That's real big to me.

Q5: Over the course of your career, what are some of the most challenging/difficult experiences that you've had?

Maestro: I feel that I was never on the right team. I feel I never had proper representation. I had some good people around me but based on where I was musically, especially in the late 80's and early 90's, everything we did was by trial and error. No one had the experience to take it to the next level.   Canadian companies in the 80's weren't feeling me. It took a small company from New York (LMR) to take a shot on me. That's what changed the whole climate here. Nonetheless, they didn't have the experience to take me to the next level in America. That's why I had to move to N.Y., and when I got there I did my own radio promotion because they didn't have someone who worked radio. Back then I was frustrated, but now I laugh at it. They eventually went out of business in '96 like Song Corporation did in 2000. That really killed me. I had to go through so much legal stuff regarding my old masters etc; it was a real nightmare. It's cool, though, 'cause all my new joints on my album are mine. I own the masters and publishing.

Q6: How has the studio recording process changed since you worked on Symphony in Effect in 1989 to the recording of this album?

Maestro: Production has changed big time. Everything was analogue back in '89, and now it's all digital. We did my first album in a little studio, then I did my second, third, fourth and fifth in bigger studios. Nowadays, not only is everything digital, there's also no need for a big studio for recording. If we had a big budget, then you might want to come out with the bells and whistles, but with these small budgets, you can record everything in home studios with Pro Tools. "God Bless Da Child" and "Criminal Mind" were both done in home studios.

Q7: Lately you've had a number of prominent acting roles. What made you want to start acting, and how did you prepare yourself for that transition?

Maestro: When I was living in New York from '93 to '96, I worked as an extra on a movie called Strapped that starred Bokeem Woodbine. My man Jessy Terrero [Toronto-born director who directed Soul Plane] put me on. I also did background on New York Undercover. When I came back to T.O. I planned on using everything I've learned and accomplished from Hip Hop as the catalyst for other projects. Acting was one of those projects.  In '98 I started taking lessons and worked with some of the most popular Toronto acting coaches. My skills are improving. It was an easy transition because I like to work hard. In 2000 I landed my first role. It was really small but I won't forget it. It was Paid in Full. I got to work with Mekhi Phifer, who I later worked with again in Honey.

On Metropia [television drama currently airing on OMNI-TV], we shot an episode a day. That's 30 pages of script a day! We did 90 episodes in 90 days. I'm in about 55 of the 90 episodes. I just said to myself if I want to be great, it's gonna take hard work. Right now I feel I'm ready for anything. I've applied the same work ethic in Hip Hop as I do for thespian artistry.

Q8: Which other rappers do you think have done a good job in transitioning into the world of acting, and why?

Maestro: Will Smith (in Six Degrees of Separation and Ali), Mos Def (in The Hands that God Made and The Woodsman), and Mark Wahlberg (in Boogie Nights) really stand out to me 'cause they've had opportunities to play totally out of their safe spots. Producers like to place you in roles that they view you as, so when you get a chance to expand it makes you a more respected actor. I liked Eminem in 8 Mile and I like Ice T, Ice Cube, 2Pac, Queen Latifah, DMX and L.L. Cool J a lot, too.  In the world of film and TV, theatre cats get the most respect and when they know you came up as a Rap artist, they usually look at us like we're monkies. That's why I take this craft really seriously. My plan is to be very prepared for each project I do, because I know I'm reppin for Hip Hop at the end of the day.

Q9: What Canadian artists are you feeling right now?

Maestro: I just bought Rochester's CD and I just copped the Divine Brown and Classified albums. I love my Canadian stuff! We're just as good or better than anybody. I think the K-OS album is just as good or better than Common's and I think Divine's album is just as good or better than Faith Evans'. We're the illest!!

Q10: What is your message for young people just getting their start in the music industry?

Maestro: If you position yourself to be a pawn in the game, you're gonna always be a pawn. You've got to make plans to move up that chess board. In 1988 I shot my own music video that I financed. It cost me $5,000. I put in $2,000 and my manager Farley Flex's mom co-signed a loan for $3,000 for me. I knew back then the importance of national exposure. We got that video ("I'm Showin' You") on MuchMusic. That was before I even started shopping for a record deal and way before I heard about VideoFACT. Nowadays these cats got so many opportunities to get their music heard - I feel I should be coming to them for advice!

You've got to be pro-active and realistic and make projections. Take advantage of the Internet as a marketing tool. Attack international markets. The States is cool, but how about other regions, too? The international game is something I never really expanded on. These days it's a lot easier.

Musically my advice is for cats to turn off the radio and TV for a minute and sharpen your craft without hearing all the influences especially from American artists who do not know nor care to know you. If you want people to respect you, you've got to respect yourself first. I love American artists, but the States is so big they really don't have time to check us or love us back. So we gotta check for us.





UMAC Extends Nomination Submission Deadline For 2005 Canadian Urban Music Awards


(August 3, 2005) - The Urban Music Association of Canada (UMAC) has extended the nomination submissions deadline for its 7th annual urban music awards by one week. UMAC will be accepting nomination submissions until Friday, August 12.  Some of the 2005 CUMA categories include: Recording of the Year for each urban music genre, New Artist of the Year, Producer of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award and many more. See below for a full list of award categories.   The eligibility period for consideration for the 2005 Canadian Urban Music Awards is July 1, 2004 - June 30, 2005.

The 2005 Canadian Urban Music Awards (CUMAs), which will take place in Toronto on November 4-5, is a celebration of the brightest stars in Canada's urban music industry. The weekend full of activities will kick-off with a gala awards dinner on Friday, November 4, 2005, at which 16 of the awards will be presented. The event will continue the following day with an episode of UMAC's popular Music Lab Workshop Series and the organization's Annual General Meeting. The festivities will culminate with the televised Canadian Urban Music Awards ceremony on Saturday, November 5 at 8 pm.

The nominations process closes on Friday, August 12 at 5:00 pm. The final nominees (up to five in each category) will be determined by a series of Nomination Selection Committees, who are comprised of members of the music industry from across Canada.

Complete details on the nominations process and nomination submission forms are available for download at




CCMA Awards Nominees Released

Source:  CCMA

(August 3, 2005) – The nominees for the 2005 Canadian Country Music Awards were announced today in press conferences held in both Toronto and Calgary. The CCMA Awards take place at Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary, Monday, September 12.   The continuing growth and success of Canada’s country music industry has impacted the 2005 nominees list with the addition of many new artists, along with the growing presence of rising stars who are firmly establishing themselves.   The Host of this year’s awards show Paul Brandt, and a group new to the CCMA Awards nominees list, The Road Hammers, top the 2005 list of nominations with a total of 6 each. Last year’s Chevy Trucks Rising Star George Canyon is named in 5 categories, with Carolyn Dawn Johnson achieving 4 nominations. Independent Groups Corb Lund Band and The Poverty Plainsmen also received 4 nominations each, with artists Lisa Brokop, Terri Clark and Aaron Pritchett each recording 3 nominations.   Last week the nominees for the coveted fan-voted category the Kraft Cheez Whiz Fans’ Choice Award were announced and they are: Paul Brandt, George Canyon, Terri Clark, Carolyn Dawn Johnson and Jason McCoy. Voting is now open at with a lucky fan winning the opportunity to present the award live on stage this September in Calgary.   The CCMA Awards will be held Monday, September 12 and broadcast live on CBC at 8 p.m. / 9 p.m. AT / 9:30 NT with encore airings by CMT. This year’s show will also be aired in Australia on CMC. Tickets to the Canadian Country Music Awards are available through and complete information on all 2005 Calgary Country Music Week events from September 9 to 12 can be found at   All CCMA Awards and Industry Awards nominees are online at




Rap Moguls Shake Up Caribana

Source: Canadian Press

(July 31, 2005) Toronto — The annual Caribana festival got a hip hop shake-up Saturday with surprise performances by Jay-Z and Kanye West. The multi-platinum-selling rap artist and record label executive Jay-Z hit the stage during a block-party promotional concert dubbed Roc da Caribana. “We've got a surprise performance for y'all tonight,” he said from the stage. The rapper had merely been expected to play host. “Since you've shown us such love, we might as well give something back.” The “retired” singer performed six songs spanning his decade-long career, including The Hova Song and Encore from his most recent solo output, The Black Album. The performance capped a weekend of festivities for Jay-Z, who hosted an A-list party the previous night for visiting celebrities, including Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger. Jay-Z brought proceedings to a halt midway through a song Saturday and pretended to answer his cell phone. He also spoke directly to some scuffling audience members, threatening to leave the stage if the disturbance continued. The Chicago-born West, whose career rocketed to stardom last year after he produced several of Jay-Z's hits, paid tribute to the city's annual festival of Caribbean music and culture.  “It's beautiful. I loved it. I love Canada,” West said before being whisked by security staff through a crowd gathered at the exit and into a waiting van. Wearing his trademark white suit, West came on stage to perform alongside Jay-Z for Encore, bringing the concert to a resounding finish. Several artists from Jay-Z's label, Roc-a-Fella records, including Rihanna and Teairra Mari, opened the show. It wasn't a visiting star, but Toronto's own Kardinal Offishall who delivered a frenetic mid-line-up performance to stir the crowd of more than 2,500, many of whom had grown restless waiting for the much-delayed arrival of Jay-Z and his Roc-a-Fella roster. Tickets sold for $80 and organizers said more than 2,000 were sold before the event. The event, held in a parking lot in the city's entertainment district, was to promote Jay-Z's ever-expanding business empire, which includes his lucrative Roca-Wear clothing line. The 35-year-old from Brooklyn, N.Y., cemented his status as music industry mogul after being named president and CEO of Def Jam records last year, while maintaining control of Roc-a-Fella, the label he co-founded. The elevation to led him to announce his “retirement” from performing, but buzz of his imminent return persists with rumours of studio material ready for release some time this year.




CeCe Winans To Release Purified September 13

Excerpt from

(Aug. 1, 2005) In follow-up to her RIAA Gold-certified Throne Room CD, the award-winning CeCe Winans returns on September 13th with her greatly anticipated seventh solo project, Purified.  Produced by Keith Thomas (Jessica Simpson, Vanessa Williams), Tommy Simms (Bruce Springsteen, Michael Bolton, The Neville Brothers), Mario Winans and Andy Selby (Michelle Williams, Smokie Norful), this is the first pop project between Winan’s PureSprings Label, INO Records, Sony Urban Music and Epic Records. With Purified, Winans combines the transformative power of gospel music with heart-stopping pop, street-smart R&B and infectious dance-floor rhythms to create her most compelling set of songs to-date.     Truly inspired in every sense of the word, Purified is a celebration of the heart, the soul and the spirit. Finding the beauty of God's well of inspiration in both the sacred and the secular, CeCe Winans seamlessly segues from R&B to pop to deeply felt gospel fervour, even adding street-savvy raps to tracks like "Pray," the album's hook-dappled first single(Billboard Gospel charts’ Hot Shot Debut and Greatest Gainer at No. 24 it’s first week out), co-penned and produced by her hit-making nephew Mario Winans (Destiny's Child, Frankie J, Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, Wendy Williams, New Edition) and "A Place Like This," featuring the rap duo Grits. With eight of the album's thirteen tracks authored by CeCe, Purified is also perhaps her most personal and candid album yet with tracks like "Always Sisters," "I Promise" and "All That I Need" providing revelatory glimpses into the heart, as well as the soul, of the artist. “All That I Need” will be serviced to Christian AC and Mainstream AC radio this month. With songs like "Mamma's Kitchen" and "Pray," CeCe seems destined to light up the nation's R&B airwaves with her signature blend of pop-soul-gospel. 

From the lush string arrangement of "You Will" to the up-tempo Latin-flavoured "Let Everything," the songs of Purified transcend musical boundaries and trends, connecting directly to the heart of the listener.  CeCe Winans has been given the gifts of talent, inspiration and vision and she shares all of it with boundless generosity on Purified.   In support of Purified, CeCe will tour in the fall of 2005, perform at a Patti Labelle tribute as well as at Luis Palau, Megafest, Joyce Meyer and others conventions.    Winans’ first solo album, Alone In His Presence, is platinum certified and took home a Grammy for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album in 1995.  CeCe's next solo outing, 1998's Everlasting Love, became the nation's #1 Top Gospel Album, a feat repeated with 1999's Alabaster Box and 2004's Throne Room , both certified gold.  She took home a Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album Grammy in 1991 for Different Lifestyles, as CeCe & BeBe Winans.  Other Grammy wins for CeCe Winans include Best Gospel Performance, Female (1989 for "Don't Cry") and Best Soul Gospel Performance, Female (1987 for "For Always").  In addition to her six Grammy Awards, 19 Dove Awards, three Soul Train Awards, Five Stellar Awards, and three image and Billboard Music Awards, Winans has performed on OPRAH, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Tonight Show, Regis & Kathie Lee and many more.




'My Son Is The Inspiration In Everything I do,' Says The Game

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson /

(August 2, 2005) Rapper the Game is riding high with a hot selling album (The Documentary), a handful of chart topping singles, and various side projects including a movie and his very own sneaker line.  He is currently on tour in Europe, where his singles have plastered the major music charts around the globe. But, there is one thing that keeps this rapper going. The love for his son.   ‘My son is the inspiration for everything I do. He was born at a time when things were hard for me’, the Game told this writer in an interview recently. The Game added ‘I came into this rap game to secure my family’s future financially. Making music was second’. The Game whose real name is Jayceon Taylor is originally from Compton, California.  His debut album The Documentary made it clear from the outset that geographic squabbles weren't a part of the Game's agenda. Rapping hadn't been at first, either. Having gotten involved in the drug trade after a rough childhood, it took being shot during a home invasion to cause an epiphany in Game.  He began rapping in 2001 and never looked back. His barbed and bold freestyles caught the ear of top notch hip hop producer Dre, who signed him to Aftermath in 2003 and assumed the executive producer chair for his debut. It was delayed a few times, but The Documentary was released earlier this year and shot straight to number one on Billboard’s 200 and R&B Hip Hop album charts. Singles including This is How We Do and Hate it or Love It (featuring one time sparring partner 50 Cent), quickly shot up the charts, topping the Pop, R&B and Rap singles tallies. Asked how reflective of him is the album The Documentary, the Game said ‘The Documentary isn’t reflective of anything except my life. Just my life strung over Dr. Dre’s beats.'  He lists the track Like Father Like Son as his favourite on the album. ‘I have a kid and without him I would still be selling drugs and killing. Like I said before, he is my inspiration’, the Game pointed out.

The Game said he got his moniker from his grandmother.   ‘I was a real active kid and I was smart and played a lot of sports. My grandmother said I should be game for anything, so that’s where the name came from’, the rapper recalled. With is recent much publicized falling out with fellow G-Unit member 50 Cent still fresh, the Game offered no comment about the situation. Asked if there was anything that he would change about his career and his life, he said ‘I don’t have regrets. I don’t live with regrets. I wouldn’t change sh*t.' He doesn’t have any musical heroes but he pointed out that the late R&B legend Marvin Gaye was a musical inspiration. The Game sampled an old Marvin Gaye classic in his recent chart hit Dreams.    Marvin Gaye is somebody that I listened to while I was growing up. His music impresses me. Anytime that someone can pass on, and his or her music can still live on, then that’s a definite inspiration,' he said. The Game has been kept busy with several projects that he is working on. He just finished a movie and he has his sneaker line coming out later this year. He had been a fan of sneakers from a young age. ‘I had always liked Nike Air, Puma and Air Jordan. Now they are my competitors’, said the Game. He describes the sneaker line as something original and more comfortable.  ‘The sneaker line is called The Hurricane. It launches in November. It’s a canvas shoe that’s very original and more comfortable. It’s sort of like an Air Force One but very original. I was presented with this opportunity and I am going to capitalize off of it’, he said.  For the Game, acting is another branch of what he is trying to accomplish.  His debut film The Millionaire Boys Club was recently completed for his Black Wall Street Films company. It was directed by Jamaican born director Cess Silvera. Silvera had directed the underground hit Shottas.   ‘It’s a great movie and basically another hood film. It’s hot. Michael Williams who played Omar in The Wire is my co-star in this film. I am trying to get involved in much sh@t as I can without killing myself,' the Game pointed out. Although he has never been to Jamaica before, the Game is a fan of reggae music.    ‘Reggae is just as big as it was when Bob Marley was alive. The little Marley (Jr. Gong) is doing his thing now. I would love to get down to Jamaica. I plan on doing so later this year’, he said.   The Game’s next album is due out in early 2006.      Footnote: Jimmy Henchmen from Czar Entertainment facilitated this interview with The Game.




Ebony Eyez 'In Ya Face' Remix Video Features Trina

: Iced Media, Langston Sessoms, Project Manager,

(Aug. 3, 2005) In the hip-hop world, it’s rare to get a woman’s perspective. It’s even more rare to have a woman deliver a knockout of a rap album. Ebony Eyez does both on her masterful debut album, the exceptional 7 Day Cycle.  The St. Louis rapper, who appeared in 2004 on J-Kwon’s platinum Hood Hop album and in 2005 on the XXX2 soundtrack, wants her album to present a balanced look at the life of a strong, confident modern woman. “Seven is the number of completion and we’re looking at the typical seven days of a woman,” she explains. “It’s about the typical emotions we go through in a 7 Day Cycle. I’m trying to represent and speak from a woman’s point of view and let people understand everything. We’ve got songs for Friday and Saturday, when maybe you want to go to the club. We’ve got the relationship songs where everything is going bad for you. It’s all about the different things women go through in seven days.”  One of the best club songs of the new millennium, lead single “In Ya Face” features a thumping, infectious beat courtesy of The TrackBoyz, who produced J-Kwon’s hits “Tipsy” and “Hood Hop.” Ebony Eyez got the concept for monster club song after being propositioned by one too many overeager men.   “It was kind of a joke song at first,” she recalls. “We were out one night at the club and this dude came up to me and was like, ‘Let me see you bend over.’ I was like, ‘If I bend over will you let me put my ass in your face?’ Then I came to the studio and I was like, ‘Let me do this song.’ It’s not meant to be taken so literally. It’s an equal opportunity song. If you think it’s OK to say those kind of things to me, then I feel it’s OK for me to say that.”  Ebony Eyez again takes an assertive approach on “Lame Ass,” another future club smash, and on “Act Like A Bitch,” a defence of her self-assertiveness. “I like to be in control of things,” she explains. “I don’t like lame dudes coming up with no personality and no persona about himself trying to holler. So I have to tell those types of dudes to move with their lame ass. I like a strong, confident man, someone that’s sure about himself. If you’re not sure about yourself, you can’t really go nowhere in life. You’re going always be a follower, not a leader.”  So it should come as no surprise that Ebony Eyez takes the lead and dismisses a no-good boyfriend on “Take Me Back.” Ebony Eyez explains the reasons for her dissolution of the relationship through the smooth song, which was inspired by her real-life experiences. “I’ve been in a few bad relationships with a few brothers that should have done things a certain way and didn’t,” she says. “Now they want to call me and ask them to take me back. No, it’s not happening and I’m going to tell you why I’m not going take you back. I’m going to start from the beginning and on the last verse, I’m speaking to the women and giving them instructions on how they should do it.”

Elsewhere, Ebony Eyez details a loving relationship on the smooth “Hot Chick” and hits her creative apex on “Dear Father,” an impassioned, guitar-driven song she wrote as if she were talking to God. On the emotional song, she frankly discusses the failing health of family members, her financial struggles and her relationship problems. “It’s a real look at how my life is at the moment,” she says. “A lot of people think everything changes overnight once you get a record deal. I’m trying to let it be known that it’s not the case. It means that you’ve got to work harder when it happens. I’m still dealing with the same problems, driving the same car, living in the same place right now. I was up late one night and started feeling the urge to write. I had the track already and I felt like I needed to write a letter to God right now.”  With so many different sounds and musical feels on 7 Day Cycle, it is no wonder that Ebony Eyez often vibes off the beat before she starts writing her lyrics. “I like to listen to the beat and let it talk to me,” she says. “It gives me the instructions of what to do with the song a lot of times. I make sure that I flow for a minute, but I always kind of go somewhere else for a few bars to make sure that I keep people’s attention. I like to give people that like to really hear lyrics something and then people who don’t really pay attention to lyrics sometimes.”  Born and raised in St. Louis, Ebony Eyez has been a microphone fiend since she was a child. By age 9, she was already in a local group and spent most of her free time practicing her rapping and dancing skills. The group never took off, but after a few years off from music, she resumed writing lyrics.  Ebony Eyez then tried college, but music was still calling her. She formed a rap duo with another female rapper, but her partner in rhyme soon deserted. Ebony Eyez decided that was a sign to push even harder to reach her dream of rap stardom.   “I realized that I had put so much time and energy into this and I’m not the type of person that can do something and just give up on it,” she says. “I’m too stubborn for that, so I was like, ‘It’s time to go hard.’ I just went hard with it.”  Through a mutual friend, Ebony Eyez got in touch with rising music executive Big Bob, who was managing J-Kwon. Bob reconnected her with her friends The TrackBoyz, then riding high thanks to their work with J-Kwon. The TrackBoyz were impressed with Ebony’s work and started recording with her.  Ebony’s energetic rhymes earned her slots on J-Kwon’s platinum Hood Hop album and the XXX2 soundtrack. Now, with the buzz surrounding “In Ya Face” and 7 Day Cycle building, Ebony Eyez is ready to show why she’s the first female rapper from St. Louis to break nationally.   “I’m trying to stand on my own two feet,” she says. “I’m raw, real and ready to show what I’ve got. I’m trying to make a statement.”  Consider it done.

Ebony Eyez's Official Website:

::VIDEO "In Ya Face" featuring Trina

Windows Media:
Real Video




The Legend Of Luther Continues

Excerpt from - By Karu F. Daniels (New York, NY)

(Aug. 3, 2005) Happy to be one of the very first to report details about the forthcoming Luther Vandross tribute album.  Titled, “To Luther, With Love: A Tribute To Luther Vandross,” J Records will release the Clive Davis-helmed project featuring some of today’s most talented and world-renown music superstars, from Queen of Hip-Hop/Soul Mary J. Blige and pop singer Celine Dion, to platinum-plated R&B superstar Usher and Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx.  The set will be released on September 20.  Confirmed artists and songs to be featured on the album, thus far, include Mary J. Blige (“Never Too Much”), John Legend (“Love Won’t Let Me Wait”), Donna Summer (“Power of Love”), Usher (“Superstar”), Celine Dion (“Dance With My Father”), Fantasia (“Till My Baby Comes Home”), Patti LaBelle (“Here and Now”), Wyclef Jean (“Always and Forever”), Aretha Franklin (“A House Is Not A Home”), Jamie Foxx (“Creepin’”) and KennethBabyface” Edmonds (“If Only For One Night”).   And don’t be surprised if tracks by Elton John, Alicia Keys, R. Kelly, and Beyonce round out the collection.  According to an insider close to the production, requests are coming in daily to contribute to the album.  Since the 1981 platinum-selling release of “Never Too Much,” Mr. Vandross’ recording career spanned over two decades and resulted in a lifetime of chart topping hits.  Through the 1980’s, the Bronx N.Y. native recorded a string of platinum albums, including “Forever, For Always, For Love,” “Busy Body” and “The Night I Fell In Love.”   His last studio album, 2003’s “Dance With My Father,” received four Grammy Awards (including Song of the Year for the title song) and has generated worldwide sales exceeding three million copies.   Collectively, Mr. Vandross’ body of work has sold in excess of 30 millions records worldwide, winning eight Grammy Awards, numerous Soul Train, BET, NAACP Image Awards and American Music Awards. He passed away on July 1, 2005, but his musical legacy continues to live on.




AJ & Free Say Goodbye To ‘106 & Park’

Excerpt from

(Aug. 1, 2005) *Will BET’s “106 & Park” ever be the same without hosts AJ Calloway and Free? The pair, who have been holding down BET’s highest-rated program since its inception five years ago, bid farewell to the program during its live taping on Thursday. "There is nothing like '106 & Park.' It's a staple in the African American community for five years and we hope it will continue," AJ said, with tears in his eyes and wearing a t-shirt that read “Still Free.” Free wasn’t in the building, but joined AJ via cell phone for her final bow.  “They were definitely not let go,” said Stephen Hill, executive vice president of entertainment and programming. “They’ve decided after five great years of the highest rated music video show on television that they wanted to do something different." quotes inside reports that say the pair had creative differences with upper management that had snowballed in recent months. No replacements have been named by BET, but Hill said in an article on the network’s web site: “On Monday we’re going to have a couple of folks you’ve seen on there before and a few other surprises.” Meanwhile, AJ and Free are looking ahead to their own projects. Free is reportedly about to fire up her rap career with rumoured attention from Def Jam, while AJ announced that he’s starting a management company, opening a restaurant and working on a television pilot. It had previously been reported that he was filming a pilot for UPN entitled “The Show with AJ Calloway.” 




Maurice White Album

Excerpt from

(Aug. 1, 2005) *Earth, Wind & Fire founding member Maurice White has signed with Concord Records to release a solo project that pairs singers and live bands for a reworking of some of his songs. So far, White has hooked up with the Roots and R&B singer Bilal on "Can't Hide Love," as well as Chaka Khan and Soulive on "Shining Star.” Tentatively-titled "Interpretations," the album is due early next year.




Footprints Puts TOK Back On The Billboard Charts

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson

(July 28, 20050 Dancehall boy band TOK are back on the Billboard chart this week, as their former local chart topper Footprints produced by Donovan ‘Vendetta’ Bennett and featured on the Drop Leaf rhythm, debuts at number 65 on the R&B Hip Hop Singles & Tracks chart.   Footprints which can be found on the group’s latest album Unknown Language spent multiple weeks at the top of local and overseas reggae charts.   TOK’s last appearance on the Billboard chart was in the spring of 2004 when Gal Yuh a Lead peaked at number 36 on the R&B Hip Hop Singles & Tracks chart. That song was produced by Bobby Konders for the Massive B label.




Keke Wyatt #1 Most Added At Urban Radio

Source: Vickie Charles, Universal Motown Records,; Kia Selby, K&K Public Relations,  

(Aug. 1, 2005) New York, NY - Soulful singer/songwriter Ketara "Keke" Wyatt's much anticipated return to the R&B music scene has been wholeheartedly embraced by urban radio, with KeKe's first new single in five years, "Put Your Hands On Me," snagging the #1 most added spot at the format, her debut single from her highly regarded upcoming album, Emotional Rollercoaster, scheduled for release in the fall of 2005. The aptly titled sophomore effort marks a much-heralded return for the acclaimed KeKe, her debut effort as a newly signed Cash Money artist. Emotional Rollercoaster includes a wide range of sizzling tracks from the accomplished songstress, and features such superstar producers as Brian Cox  (Usher) and Bad Boy hitmaker Stevie J., as well as Steve Morales, who has worked with female superstars such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. The album also showcases production efforts by Cash Money impresario Mannie Fresh, and guest appearances by fellow label mates Baby aka Birdman and Lil Wayne, among others. Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, but now living in Kentucky, KeKe has been favourably compared to contemporary R&B female superstars such as Mary J. Blige and Faith Evans, among others.  Her trademark style of fluent, sometimes gritty, hip hop-influenced R&B brought her much attention early on in her career, with KeKe appearing in a very early version of Destiny's Child before eventually being discovered by American Idol's Randy Jackson. KeKe signed to MCA Records in 2001, offering up a rousing debut album, Soul Sista, a critical and commercial success that sold more than 600,000 units and unveiled the smash debut single, "My First Love."  The hit song featured frequent KeKe collaborator Avant, who joins the singer/songwriter once again on Emotional Rollercoaster.  "My First Love," was a #1 Urban Mainstream Record in 2001 and remained on BET's 106th and Park for six consecutive weeks.




Jaguar Wants Women To Get ‘Wright’

Excerpt from

(August 2, 2005) *R&B singer Jaguar Wright is urging women to stop allowing themselves to be written off as sexual objects, “and in more graphic and demeaning ways than ever,” she says in a commentary that appears in the Aug. 6 issue of Billboard magazine (on newsstands now). In the piece, Wright rattles off a list of women she considered role models while growing up. Naming "Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Nina Simone" and others, she says, "these were the women I was drawn to. Women who possessed power, poise, uncommon beauty and brash attitudes." Wright continues: "I'm not saying their sexuality wasn't part of their appeal -- because it obviously was. However, it was their talent that was paramount." But those days are over, she laments. "If they cannot see your beauty with your clothes on, what makes you think they will see it with your clothes off?” she says. “Whatever happened to leaving something to the imagination?” "What do we do now that they only want our bodies and not our souls?" Wright asks. "Now that they would rather see us on our knees in music videos than on our feet at live music venues?  "That's a question we will all have to answer, sooner rather than later," she says. "I just hope we care enough to make the right choices for the next generation of women who rock so they won't have to throw rocks at windows begging for someone to let them into a game they were born to play."





August 2, 2005

Green Day, American Idiot [Bonus
VCD], WEA International
Jamiroquai, Synamite, Sony International
Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz, Crunk Juice [Chopped and Screwed], TVT
Sweatshop Union, United We Fall, EMI
Teairra Mari, Roc-A-Fella Presents, Roc-A-Fella
Vanilla Ice, Platinum Underground, Ultrax
Ying Yang Twins, USA (United State of Atlanta) [Chopped and Screw, TVT

August 9, 2005

Hootie & The Blowfish, Looking for Lucky, Vanguard
Michael McDonald, Greatest Hits, Rhino







Canucks Amuck In L.A.

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -  Rob Salem

(Jul. 31, 2005) LOS ANGELESJay Baruschel is bouncing off the walls. His youthful exuberance is more than understandable — the gawky 23-year-old actor is having himself one hell of a year.  As are, yet again, his fellow Canadians.  I always wrap up each tour of the annual U.S. network fall previews with a "Frostback Report," spotlighting all the Canadian talent with major roles on new American series. And every year I try to single one out, as a poster boy for our exported industry.  And this is surely Baruschel's year. He's made the list before, of course. He came out of nowhere in 1997 as a host of the entertainingly educational Popular Mechanics for Kids — the same show that produced nascent Hollywood hottie (and Gemini winner) Elisha Cuthbert. Both of them broke through on U.S television in 2001 — he on the college comedy Undeclared, she on 24.  Since then, he's done a couple of movies (Almost Famous, The Rules of Attraction), and another network pilot (The Stones), and returns this coming season on a new WB hour, Just Legal, on which he co-stars opposite '80s icon Don Johnson.   "He's unbelievable," Baruschel enthuses. "The nicest guy. We get along famously. I'm his little buddy. And I admire his work ethic. I wasn't sure that I would ever say the words, `Don Johnson is an amazing actor,' but he really is."  Not to mention one of his father's heroes. "My mother was just saying to me, `Back in the early '80s, when everybody was snorting coke and your father was obsessed with Miami Vice, who would have ever thought that our son would one day be hanging out with Sonny Crockett.' "  Of course, that's nothing compared to who the kid got to interact with last year on the big screen — Clint Eastwood.  "That's the only person I've ever worked with that my granddad would have known who he was. He actually reminded me a lot of my grandfather. We got along really well."  So America has indeed been very, very good to Jay Baruschel. And yet all he really wants to do is go back home.

"I am amazingly grateful," the young actor acknowledges, "but really, this is all gravy to me. Acting has never been what I wanted to do. It was just like the best job I could find. It's a very finite thing for me. All I want to do is go back and make my own indie films in Canada. I'll fund them myself, or go out and get `dentist money,' so there's nobody breathing down my neck. I want to do for Montreal what Peter Jackson did for Auckland, and what Woody Allen did for New York."  He was born in Ottawa but raised in Montreal, which is where he still considers home. "I still live in Montreal," he boasts. "I will never live here. I will never move here. I'm only ever here to audition or work. I mean, I have a Maple Leaf over my heart — literally (a golf-ball-sized tattoo on his chest that he proudly displayed for critics four years ago).  "My goal is to make as much money here as I can, and then go up and pay taxes in Canada. Because taxes in Canada mean something. And the way I rationalize that to Americans is, I'm just doing what American corporations have been doing throughout the world for hundreds of years."  Though perhaps a little more patriotic than most, Baruschel's is a more or less typical Canadian success story. "To Americans, we come from relative obscurity, and yet we always have like a minimum five years' worth of experience."  That is certainly true of most of this year's frostback stars — 11 in all, as usual not counting the legions of Canadian actors (the Eric McCormacks and Kiefer Sutherlands and Jill Hennessys) already on the American airwaves.  ABC is the new industry leader, with five Canadians starring on new fall series — three on Commander in Chief, a dramedy that puts Geena Davis in the White House, with Kiefer's dad Donald as her political arch-nemesis, and Leslie Hope (who, you may remember, played the Kiefer's doomed wife on the first season of 24) as the Attorney-General.  It has just been announced that Species' alien temptress, Natasha Henstridge, has joined the cast as Sutherland's aide.  ABC's Invasion has two Canucks — Kari Matchett, a Gemini-winning guest and then regular on Blue Murder. Joining her on the alien-attack adventure is Tyler Labine, who was last here at the critics' preview with the short-lived series That was Then, and re-enacted the last days of John Belushi in the recent Mork & Mindy TV-movie.  Fox, the former record-holder for imported Canadian talent, has only one this year, the veteran Kristin Lehman, who co-stars in the crime procedural Killer Instinct, after lead roles on Century City and Tilt and movie roles including The Chronicles of Riddick and the just-completed The Sentinel.

NBC has no new Canadians at all, but CBS compensates with two, with another two on its sister station, UPN.  Jennifer Finnigan, with three daytime Emmys to her credit for her tenure on The Bold and the Beautiful, is a new mom on the CBS legal drama, Close to Home. Cobie Smulders, whose episodic credits include The L Word and just about every other major series that ever shot in Vancouver, is now a regular on the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother.  Tamara Taylor, the former face of AT&T, is also a series veteran (Party of Five, Six Feet Under, Dawson's Creek, etc.) and in-demand movie actress (Senseless, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Serenity), now part of the cast of UPN's Sex, Love & Secrets. She is joined on that show by Elmira's own Lucas Bryant, whose episodic credits include Queer as Folk, The Eleventh Hour and, somewhat ironically, An American in Canada.  But this year's Frostback Report is somewhat special, since it also includes Canadian shows. Degrassi: The Next Generation has been a trailblazer in this regard, and this year garnered its first award from the Television Critics Association. Trailer Park Boys has turned up on, of all places, BBC America. Kenny Versus Spenny rules the Game Show Network. Paul Gross, already a familiar face here from Due South, returns Aug. 7 when the Sundance Channel airs the first season of the theatrical satire Slings & Arrows.  But the big news this tour is the Americans' unprecedented enthusiastic embrace of the long-running Canadian hit DaVinci's Inquest.  The show has been picked up in syndication right across U.S., including the Chicago "superstation" WGN, which threw a welcoming lunch for star Nick Campbell here during the tour.  It is not the first time, Campbell told me, that there has been American interest in the show. "A&E was after us from the very beginning," he says. "But they don't pay anything. And you've got to come after Murder, She Wrote."  This current effort was somewhat more successful. "We've already been sold in 90 per cent of U.S. markets," Campbell beams. "The advertisers love it. It was the same in Canada — even before the show went on the air, I went to a lunch in Toronto with all the salesmen, and they had me up on their shoulders like Don Cherry."  Flushed with success, the U.S. syndicator of DaVinci is already looking at other prospects. What might be the American appeal, he asks, of the homegrown comedy hit Corner Gas?  "Oh course," he hastens to qualify, "we'd have to add a laugh track. "Canadians are a much more sophisticated audience than Americans."




A Past Of 'Buried Pain And Animosity'

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Simon Houpt

(Aug. 3, 2005) New York — Every actor who goes out for an audition has a story for the casting director about why he or she is perfect for the part. But when Damien Nguyen took his shot at the lead role in The Beautiful Country, which opens Friday, he had a more convincing story than most. Set in 1990, the film is about a member of the bui doi, that maligned subgroup of Vietnamese born during and after the war to native mothers and American G.I. fathers. Binh (Nguyen) is about 20 years old when he flees Vietnam for Texas to find the father he never knew (Nick Nolte). With his four-year-old half-brother Tam in tow, he endures harrowing conditions on a journey that takes him from an overcrowded fishing vessel into a hopeless Malaysian refugee camp, thence aboard a disease-ridden freighter run by human traffickers known as snakeheads, to the blunted promise of long-term servitude in the cramped Chinatown of New York and, finally, a muted resolution. True, Nguyen's parents are both Vietnamese. But in 1974, when he was not yet four, his family made a similar rough passage to the new world. He, five siblings, his parents, and a grandmother spent three distressing days on an overcrowded boat in the South China Sea before putting ashore in the Philippines, where they were placed in a refugee camp for a month before American sponsors paid for them to come to the U.S. No single sponsor could afford to support nine people, so after a stint at a California refugee camp, the family was scattered to four locations throughout Orange County. Within a few months, though, Nguyen's father, an ex-military officer with a highly developed sense of pride and need for control in his life, had taught himself a modicum of English and secured a job that earned enough to bring the family back together, albeit initially under penurious circumstances.

Nowadays, Nguyen figures it is probably a blessing that he was so young at the time. "I had the luxury of being a child and not having all the fear and the pain and all the uncertainty that my parents had," he observes, seated in a small meeting room in a Park Avenue hotel. "In my mind, I was just thinking this was a family vacation." In a way, the myth of that extended vacation lasted decades, since Nguyen's parents never discussed their decision to leave or the passage they made. But when he was cast in The Beautiful Country in the fall of 2002, their elation allowed them to tell those long-buried stories. "I think before that it was just so painful, a Pandora's Box they weren't ready to open and just let out all the pain and animosity they had," Nguyen surmises. He is dressed in the struggling actor's formal wardrobe of jeans and a suit jacket. Still in the first blush of press interviews, he admits to being a little dazed from all the attention. Binh's story may be set in 1990, but its primary elements of forced cultural dislocation and exploitation of refugees are as current as newspaper headlines. In late June a leading snakehead figure known as Sister Ping, who charged desperate Chinese as much as $40,000 for passage from China to New York and whose practices had led to the drowning deaths of at least two dozen illegal immigrants over the years, was convicted in a New York court of smuggling human cargo. She is awaiting sentencing. But Nguyen saw Binh's story in more universal terms, as the tale of a man simply looking for a place he could be valued. "Certain things in his journey are universal to all walks of life, whether you're the person who has to leave his home because he has no other choice or the person who has to go out there and find a place he can call home," says Nguyen. "It could be a young child trying to find his place in a new school or new surroundings, trying to make friends, trying to find his place where he fits in." There's an irony in what he says, since making the film initiated a re-examination of his own early attempts to find his place in the world. Growing up a California kid, Nguyen had embraced his new country with the sort of enthusiasm only a young child can muster. "I detached myself from my culture, my Vietnamese identity, as much as I could, as fast as I could, because I wanted so badly to fit in with all the other kids. I wanted to talk the same, I wanted to look the same, I wanted to dress the same," he recalls. "It wasn't until years later, as I got older, that I started asking questions about my identity and saw the mistakes I'd made."

Nguyen, 34, has been acting professionally for about eight years, scraping by on the bit parts that are all too familiar to ethnic actors. "A lot of the roles have no substance or are just more background roles that require very little input, with just a few lines," he says. "Even the people casting the parts don't really put in a lot of effort. They have an idea of what they want, and if you meet that criteria or come close, it's pretty much your part." Naturally, he's hoping his role in The Beautiful Country might give him a boost, though his performance is so minimalistic that it might be hard for casting directors to see him in a more expressive role. "He has these inner qualities that make him a good actor," says the film's director, Hans Petter Moland. "He has a dignity and a resilience and a quiet strength that's really what's needed for this character, perhaps more so than certain physical qualities. That's rare, you can't act it, it's like charm." There's already been one change in Nguyen's life because of The Beautiful Country. His trip to Vietnam to shoot the film marked the first time he'd been back since leaving more than 30 years ago. He got to spend a few hours with an aunt and uncle he'd never met before, and they regaled him with unexpectedly comic stories of his father as a hell-raising youth. He spoke at length with Vietnamese who were deeply envious of those who got out of the country after the war. Perhaps the most profound effect came just from sitting on the streets of Saigon while life went on around him. "People would talk and go about the daily grind, and you can't help but think that any of those people I made contact with, I could have been. I could have been the guy selling the bowl of soup to me, I could have been the guy moving his produce from one place to the next, I could have been the guy riding his scooter down the street, moving bricks that he's about to lay," says Nguyen solemnly. "It helped answer a lot of questions that had been stored up inside of me."




They're Canadian ... And Sexy

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell, Movie Critic

(Aug. 5, 2005) Canadian filmmakers are set to make a strong statement at this year's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and many of them have sex on their minds.  Well-known Canadian directors are returning to the festival in greater numbers than last year, easing concerns that the domestic industry had fallen into a lull.  A decision by the festival to eliminate its long-standing Perspective Canada program may have contributed to the feeling.  Yesterday's unveiling of the Canadian slate at the fest proved such fears groundless.  New works by Allan King, Sturla Gunnarson, Clement Virgo, Thom Fitzgerald and Bernard Émond bring some name recognition to the Canadian contingent, along with already announced new films by David Cronenberg (A History of Violence), Atom Egoyan (Where the Truth Lies) and Deepa Mehta (Water).  There will also be a retrospective of the films of NFB ace Don Owen, whose 1964 teen drama Nobody Waved Good-bye is a landmark of Canadian cinema.  Owen was on hand to receive a big hand, and he said he's excited to be at this year's festival. He's interested in all the films and he's also "looking forward to the groovy parties."  The veterans will be joined by an eager flock of newcomers, who sent submissions to a record high, with 220 features and 513 shorts being screened by red-eyed TIFF programmers.  The list was culled to 100 films confirmed to date for the festival, of which 26 are features (19 of them world premieres) and 44 are shorts.  Films from the west and Quebec were judged to be particularly strong this year.  And if there's one recurring theme amongst the incredible variety of offerings, it would have to be sex, said Steve Gravestock, TIFF's associate director of Canadian special projects.  "I can tell you that we saw many films concerning sexual awakenings, family relationships, loss of memory, creativity, romantic relationships ... and sexual awakenings," he told a press conference at the Metropolitan Hotel, which was jammed with filmmakers anxious to hear the TIFF slate.  One film in particular might convince Torontonians that they have a very sexy city, Gravestock said. It's Clement Virgo's Live With Me, which is based on the sexually explicit novel of the same name, written by Virgo's wife, Tamara Faith Berger.  "It's almost like the whole city is enveloped and obsessed with sexuality," Gravestock said of the film. "It's a very sensual world."

Another sexy offering is Amnon Buchbinder's Whole New Thing, starring newcomer Aaron Webber as a 13-year-old raised in the wilds of Nova Scotia by hippie parents who believe in casual nudity and free love.  The film is co-written by Daniel MacIvor, who also co-stars along with Rebecca Jenkins, Callum Keith Rennie and Robert Joy.  Family relations of a different kind are the preoccupation of Louise Archambault's Familia, which has been chosen to open the Canada First! program for emerging filmmakers. It features a Quebec mother and daughter, played by Sylvie Moreau and Mylène, who are struggling to understand themselves and each other.  A pleased Archambault told the press gathering Familia is about "a cycle of behaviours" involving children trying to change recalcitrant parents.  "How do you change behaviour that is non-desirable behaviour of your parents? Good luck!"  The quest for change is also the theme of veteran Toronto documentarian Allan King, whose new work Memory for Max, Claire, Idea and Company can be seen as a companion piece to his acclaimed 2003 festival offering Dying at Grace.  Dying at Grace was about people at the end of their lives, while Memory views elderly people who suffer from memory loss, which, for many, is a fate worse than death. King, who was at the press conference, said his film is a way of addressing his own fears about aging, but also about changing attitudes.  "I smelled a rat as soon as I got into the subject of Alzheimer's and dementia because everything I touched suggested very bad medicine and very bad analysis of the disorders. There's a terror around the whole subject, which is seriously disabling care for people who are aging and having memory problems," King said.  "I think the film will change attitudes to that, if people can get over their fear of losing their minds and what that means. The fact is, people don't lose their identity, they don't lose their feelings. In fact, they're heightened."  Health issues are also a concern for Halifax helmer Thom Fitzgerald, who made The Hanging Tree, one of the star offerings of the 1997 festival.  He's back with Three Needles, an AIDS epidemic drama set in China, South Africa and Canada, and starring Lucy Liu, Chlöe Sevigny, Stockard Channing, Sandra Oh and Olympia Dukakis.

Another returning festival veteran is Toronto's Sturla Gunnarson (Rare Birds), whose Beowulf & Grendel delves into the legend of the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf. It's based on ancient Scandinavian folklore and was a major influence on Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  The power of myth is also the guiding force behind Michael Mabbott's comedy The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico, a mockumentary about a charismatic but troublesome country rocker, played by real-life musician Matt Murphy, frontman and guitarist for Super Friendz, a now-defunct Halifax band.  Guy Terrifico has a wealth of cameos from Ronnie Hawkins, Kris Kristofferson, Levon Helm and other music stars who play along with the gag.  The film debuted at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, in March, and Murphy said it was a great experience to play a character not unlike fabled country-rocker Gram Parsons. But it's possible he did too good a job.  "I'm kind of concerned because there's a part in the movie where people chant, `Hump the drum!'" Murphy said.  "It happened already when we were in the Austin. We showed the film and when we went to play, I got up and sang five songs and people were already saying, `Hump the drum!'"  Guy Terrifico already has a Canadian distribution deal through Odeon Films, said director Mabbott, and he's hoping to land a stateside one at the festival, if not before.  Quebec's Bernard Émond energized the Toronto and Cannes festivals with his previous dramas La Femme qui boit and 20h17 rue Darling. He's back with his latest work, La Neuvaine, which is billed as "a masterful and moving exploration of personal faith."  Also announced yesterday was Postcards from TIFF, a series of vignettes from past festivals that have been collected to honour the fest on the occasion of its 30th birthday.  The video postcards will screen on Rogers TV and at the TIFF box office.  For more information on TIFF's Canadian slate and other festival offerings, call 416-968-FILM or visit the website.




Toronto Film Fest Rolls Out 2005's Cancon

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Gayle MacDonald

(Aug. 3, 2005) After screening a coma-inducing 733 entries, organizers of the 30th Toronto International Film Festival unveiled their Canadian programming slate yesterday, which will include repeat appearances from festival favourites such as Sturla Gunnarsson, Thom Fitzgerald, Clement Virgo, and Louise Archambault. In total, there will be 103 cinematic works by Canadian filmmakers on centre stage this year, including a number of stellar Quebecois films, led by Archambault's tale of familial bonds, Familia, which will kick off the second annual Canada First! program. Gunnarsson's Beowulf & Grendel (a modern-day twist on the Anglo-Saxon epic poem) and Fitzgerald's Three Needles (set in China, South Africa and Canada, and starring Lucy Liu and Chlöe Sevigny) will screen as world premieres under Special Presentations. Virgo's steamy story of a female sex addict on the prowl one hot summer, Lie With Me, will have its world premiere in Visions. The film is based on a novel by Virgo's wife, Tamara Faith Berger. At a packed press conference in Toronto yesterday, TIFF also announced that Canada's maverick filmmaker Don Owen -- whose seminal 1964 feature Nobody Waved Good-Bye set the bar for English Canadian cinema -- was named yesterday as the candidate to profile at this year's Canadian Retrospective. The retrospective will feature 16 features, shorts and documentaries made by the Toronto-born artist, who was described by TIFF chief executive officer Piers Handling "as a pioneer, a filmmaker who had an innate feel for Canadians and the issues of the day."

In total, there will be 10 films screened in Canada First!, including seven world premieres: Dylan Akio Smith's The Cabin Movie; Julia Kwan's Eve & the Firehorse; David Ray's Fetching Cody; Robin Aubert's Saints-Martyrs-Des-Damnés; Aubrey Nealon's A Simple Curve; David Christensen's Six Figures; and John Hazlett's These Girls.  Michael Mabbott's comedy The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico and Denis Côté's Les États Nordiques round out the remaining feature films to be showcased in Canada First! Contemporary World Cinema features three world premieres from Canada, including Sean Garrity's Lucid, about an insomnia-plagued psychotherapist named Joel; Ann Marie Fleming's absurdist comedy The French Guy; and Amnon Buchbinder's poignant and hilarious Whole New Thing. Also in this program are three Quebecois films, Jean-Marc Vallée's hit C.R.A.Z.Y.; Ricardo Trogi's Horloge Biologique; and Bernard Émond's La Neuvaine, about personal faith. Four feature Canadian documentaries, all world premieres, will also screen for audiences, including Allan King's Memory for Max, Claire, Ida and Company; Metal: A Headbanger's Journey from Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen and Jessica Joy-Wise; Robin Neinstein's Souvenir of Canada, based on Douglas Coupland's best-selling novel; and Astra Taylor's Zizek!, about the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek. Short Cuts Canada will feature 44 quirky and offbeat shorts exploring everything from sexual awakening to romantic relationships, loss of memory and more sexual awakening. Owen's first feature film, Nobody Waved Good-Bye, made for the National Film Board, followed 18-year-old Peter (Peter Kastner), who lived with his middle-class family in suburban Toronto about the same time the Beatles were taking the world by storm. The teen and his girlfriend (Julie Biggs) rebel again their parents' values and morals, and both run away from home. In 1984, Owen made a sequel to the film, called Unfinished Business, that reconnected with Peter and Julie, whose 17-year-old daughter Izzy runs away from home.

In addition to the retrospective, there will be a book published, Don Owen: Notes on the Filmmaker and His Culture, by Steve Gravestock. Also planned is an art exhibit of Owen's painting at a local gallery, from Sept. 10 to 24. The Canadian Open Vault segment of TIFF -- which screens Canadian classics at the festival -- features Michel Brault's 1967 complex loss of innocence drama Entre la Mer et l'Eau Douce (Between Sweet and Salt Water).  Also yesterday, the festival announced that award-winning author Michael Ondaatje (In the Skin of a Lion, The English Patient) and movie producer Peter Jensen (Manderlay, Show Me Love) will act as creative mentors at TIFF's second annual Talent Lab. The lab accepts 22 emerging Canadian directors, writers and producers who brainstorm creatively in a four-day workshop. Three internationally renowned guests will also take part in the lab, including Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham), documentarian Kim Longinotto (Divorce Iranian Style), and veteran producer Jeremy Thomas (Tideland, Sexy Beast).




Fantasia Ready For Her Close-Up

Excerpt from

(Aug. 3, 2005) DREAM COME TRUE: So people are starting to buzz about “American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino joining the cast of the filmed adaptation of “Dreamgirls.” Well is it true? Well, kinda sort of. According to a spokesperson for the 21-year High Point, NC native, she did audition for a role in the forthcoming Bill Condon-directed musical, based on the legendary six-time Tony Award-winning Broadway show. But nothing has been made official as of yet. According to inside sources, two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington has been lobbying for the multi-platinum-selling J Records chanteuse to be a part of the production, which starts shooting in January and already features a cast of top-notch talent from the music and movie worlds.  Grammy Award winner Beyonce Knowles has been cast in the lead role as Deena Jones (a Diana Ross-like front-woman of the fictionalized 1960’s trio The Dreams), while Eddie Murphy and recent Oscar darling Jamie Foxx has signed on to round out the lead male cast-members. At press time, Usher has not signed on for the movie, according to his publicist. So what is the Denzel connection?

Apparently, he directed Ms. Barrino in her screen tests and may show up in a cameo in the movie, as a part of a packaged deal. Fantasia is supposedly strongly considered for the role of the vocal powerhouse Effie Melody White, which was originated onstage by Tony and Grammy Award winning diva Jennifer Holliday.  There’s even talk that she may play the role of Lorrell Robinson, which Loretta Devine portrayed in the original production.  Either way, her audition process has been received well by some of the big decision makers on the movie. Other names being bandied about for various roles in the hottest production to hit Black Hollywood -- since Steven Spielberg’s career-defining adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel “The Color Purple”-- are DeLeon Richards-Sheffield, Free (formerly of BET’s “106th & Park”), Kerry Washington, Kelly Price, Jill Scott, “American Idol” stars Frenchie Davis and Tamyra Gray, and Vivian Green. Ultimately, all casting decisions has to be signed off by entertainment powerhouse David Geffen, who has kept all-things-“Dreamgirls” close to his chest over the past two decades since getting in on the ground floor of the original Henry Krieger-Tom Eyen musical in 1982.  Dreamgirls,” the story of three talented singers from the mid-west and their rise from anonymity to mainstream superstardom, is expected for release by Christmas 2006, and distributed via Dreamworks/Warner Bros. Pictures. In the meantime, Fantasia has two tracks, being worked simultaneously, at radio (“Ain’t Gonna Beg” and “It’s All Good”) and a memoir being released via the Viacom-owned Fireside imprint, titled “Life Is Not A Fairy Tale” due on October 13. She’s doing a string of spot dates, and a new tour package may be solidified within the coming months.




Medicare Running Scared, Filmmaker Moore Says

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Jul. 31, 2005) TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Michael Moore said his next documentary already has HMOs quaking in their boots.  Moore has not yet begun shooting the film Sicko but his planned critique of the U.S. health care system, he said, is making ``freaked-out" HMOs warn employees what to do if approached by the filmmaker.  "At this point, we haven't shot anything yet and they're totally discombobulated," Moore said at the inaugural Traverse City Film Festival.  Moore, who lives near Traverse City, founded the film festival with local movie buffs to showcase excellent films.  Moore described good movies as a bridge across the political divide for people "tired of the hate, tired of the yelling, tired of...the screamfests, the talk radio."  Though the festival is showing films like Casablanca and the upcoming Bill Murray movie Broken Flowers, Moore's involvement sparked a conservative Texas group to sponsor a rival festival showing Hollywood classics and conservative-themed movies. That festival was to begin Saturday.  While Moore's Traverse City Film Festival puts politics on the back burner for a weekend, he makes no apology for making politically themed films.  "When in this great democracy did 'political' become a dirty word?"







Ready For Their Close-Ups, Eh?

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Gayle MacDonald

(July 30, 20050 Montreal-born actress Jennifer Finnigan had snuck away to her trailer at the Sony Studios lot in Culver City, Calif., hoping to take a few moments to return some long-overdue phone calls on a break from her upcoming crime series, Close to Home. She'd barely settled in, she recalls, when one of the show's assistant directors started shouting her name. She was wanted back on set. The 25-year-old strawberry blonde snapped shut her cell phone and flew out the door, almost smacking a short, trim, impeccably dressed man, whose face immediately split into an ear-to-ear grin. "Jennifer, I just want to thank you for agreeing to do this show," Jerry Bruckheimer -- surely the most powerful man in TV these days -- told the up-and-coming Canadian actress, whose prior roles include a turn in the short-lived, screwball sitcom Committed, repeat appearances in Crossing Jordan, and an Emmy-winning stint as spunky Bridget Forrester on The Bold and the Beautiful. Finnigan just stared at the 59-year-old Bruckheimer, who, besides making such blockbuster films as Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, has three new TV shows out this fall, on top of such holdover hits as the three CSIs, Without a Trace, Cold Case and The Amazing Race. Then she burst out laughing. "I couldn't believe it," says the actress. "Here was this very nice man thanking me for doing the show. And I'm thinking, 'Are you kidding me? I should be thanking you.' " Which, of course, being a polite Canadian, she then did. Effusively. "The casting director," she explains, "told me there were 14 typed pages of names" of actresses applying for the role of Annabeth Chase, a ballsy assistant district attorney and new mom. "They were about to shut down production because they couldn't find their girl. They pushed production [back] three times," adds Finnigan, whose dad, announcer Jack Finnigan, is a fixture on the Montreal radio station CJAD. Initially, Finnigan says, she didn't try out for the part because she was still attached to NBC's ill-fated comedy Committed. "I didn't think I was allowed to," shrugs the actress, explaining the plug had not yet been pulled on the show. But her agent sent her a Close to Home script and told her the studio wanted to see her. "I said, 'As a guest star?' " remembers Finnigan. "They said, 'No, as a lead.' "

Now Finnigan is part of a pack of Canadian gals who -- after years of often being relegated to the fringes of prime-time American TV -- are nabbing the big roles. Besides Finnigan, this September you can catch Spalding, Sask.'s Kari Matchett in the new supernatural thriller Invasion (ABC/CTV), and Montreal-born Jessalyn Gilsig, a former guest star and now full-time sexaholic on Nip/Tuck (FX/CTV); and, mid-season, Aylmer, Que.-bred Polly Shannon in the sitcom What About Brian (ABC/CTV). Coming back this fall is Nepean, Ont.'s Sandra Oh, who plays the hard-nosed Dr. Christina Yang in Grey's Anatomy (ABC/CTV); Leslie Hope, of Halifax, who was killed off in the first season of the espionage thriller 24 but will now co-star alongside Donald Sutherland and Geena Davis in Commander-in-Chief (ABC/CTV); Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.'s Evangeline Lily as the unpredictable Kate on Lost (ABC/CTV); and Ottawa-born, Toronto-bred Kelly Rowan, who plays the wine-swilling WASP Kirsten Cohen on The O.C. (Fox/CTV). Finnigan has no clue why so many of her countrywomen are centre stage. But she adds that the Canadians she has met in Los Angeles seem to have a "different sensibility" that is "refreshing."  "Every time I meet a Canadian in this city, I'm struck by the fact they have a sense of humour about themselves, a sense of humour in general . . . and, perhaps, a less jaded point of view." Matchett, who studied at the National Theatre School in Montreal with classmate Oh, also can't put her finger on the reason for the preponderance of Canadian women at the top of the call sheets. "I have no idea why it's happening," says the Prairie girl, who recently starred in the TV movie Plague City: SARS in Toronto and in the 2002 curling film, Men With Brooms. "Maybe it's just the way the stars have aligned. "But I know from personal experience there's no reticence or prejudice coming from the Americans about hiring Canadians. They don't care if you're Canadian or Australian or whatever. They just cast who they think is going to do the best job." Hope, who spent 19 years toughing it out in Hollywood until she got her big break in 2001 opposite Kiefer Sutherland in 24, sees her business as one of hard knocks, huge highs and pots of luck. While she admits she was "hugely sorry" when her character Teri -- wife to superagent Jack Bauer -- was shot dead by the evil Nina, "it was one of my best working experiences ever. And I thought Teri's death was a terrific and sensational end to a great season of TV," adds Hope. "I've been in the business for over 20 years, and . . . 24 raised my profile again in America.  "And after my TV death," she adds dryly, "it certainly let the industry know that I was available to do something new."

Canadians such as Margot Kidder (the Superman movies), Neve Campbell (Party of Five, the Scream films), Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City), and Wendy Crewson (24, and movies such as Bicentennial Man and Air Force One) took the lead in helping to shift the wind in Canada's casting favour. Now Finnigan and her fellow actresses are following in their footsteps. Finnigan got her start on a kids' show, the Canadian teen sitcom Student Bodies, in the late nineties. Her career trajectory after that, she explains, was something of a fluke. Her mom, a travel agent, was securing a flight for a literary agent. They got chatting, and she told him about her daughter's acting aspirations. "He said to my mom, 'Well, you may as well send me a demo reel and I'll pass it on to a manager.' " He did, and almost instantly she got a call asking her to fly down to California to audition for The Bold and the Beautiful. A few years and three Emmys later, Finnigan made the break from daytime to prime time with Crossing Jordan. Now she's working 17 hours a day shooting the 13 episodes of Close to Home that are scheduled to be in the can by December. The CBS/CTV show, which explores the seedy underbelly of suburbia -- the nasty stuff that goes on behind the white-picket fences -- is her toughest assignment yet, both because of the gruelling shooting schedule and the disturbing subject matter. The season opener, for instance, is based on the real-life case of a man who kept his wife and kids imprisoned in their own home for a decade. "Because I'm the prosecutor, I'm the one always questioning the victims about their situation. It's very intense and sometimes very difficult because these people's stories are so terrifying and sad," says Finnigan. Matchett's Invasion is equally dark, but in a different way. It was created by former Hardy Boy Shaun Cassidy, who ironically was Matchett's fantasy date growing up in Lethbridge, Alta. The show mimics Lost, with lots of mysterious creatures, and things going bump in the night. But rather than an airplane wreck, Invasion begins with a powerful hurricane that rips through the Florida Everglades. Matchett plays a divorced mother of two (her park-ranger ex is played by Eddie Cibrian, formerly of Third Watch). After the storm, she's found naked, and with amnesia about the night's bizarre goings-on, in a gator-invested swamp. The show's characters then get swept up in a conspiracy thriller in which aliens appear to be taking over their small town, one neighbour at a time. Matchett, who travelled down to L.A. to give the TV pilot season a whirl last year, says her initial experience was an eye opener. And not a pleasant one. She landed a role in the pilot for a show called The Webster Report, which was heavily favoured to be picked up by one of the networks. But in the end, it didn't fly. Matchett, married to Edmonton-born director T. W. Peacocke (they met filming The Rez), was crushed. "It's wrenching when you put your heart and your work into something and it doesn't go anywhere. You sit there and think, 'Why did this show make the cut, and mine didn't?' So this time, to have our show actually go is thrilling and exciting. And I'm really grateful for it." Nip/Tuck's Gilsig is equally ecstatic to have been offered a full-time spot on her show, which she readily admits has a superficial premise but "is actually much meatier" than it might appear. A graduate of both McGill and Harvard universities, with a hefty list of theatre credits to her name, as well as recurring roles in Boston Public and The Practice, Gilsig says she has a lot of respect for Nip/Tuck, its creator Ryan Murphy, and the writing.

"You're watching all these beautiful people in a beautiful setting, with all the material things that anyone can crave," says Gilsig. "And yet there is such sadness and depravity in their lives. [And the characters] know it in some very painful place." The actress says the main thing she's learned after working in Hollywood for the past seven years is patience. "When you've been here for a while, you lose a little bit of that 'Where's this going to take me? How is this going to change my life?' I've learned to appreciate what I'm doing, when I'm doing it." Back at Sony Studios, Finnigan is getting called, again, to start shooting. She's in 98 per cent of the scenes. But before she hustles off, she explains how recently she was touched by a stranger's thoughtfulness when a Canadian flag was hung near her trailer. Turns out, however, that it wasn't for her. Bruckheimer's new show, Just Legal, is shooting next door to Finnigan's. And the young male lead in that series is Montreal native Jay Baruchel (Million Dollar Baby), who has been teamed up with Don Johnson in the legal drama for the WB network. "Our trailers are right beside each other," laughs Finnigan, who worked with Baruchel as a kid in Montreal on a local show called My Home Town. "It was hung for him." But if she was disappointed at first that her countryman got the honours, it was over in a flash. Baruchel, after all, is a true-blue patriot. A die-hard Montreal Canadiens fan, he apparently even has a red maple leaf tattooed over his heart.  Finnigan and her fellow Canadian actresses may not wear their patriotism quite that openly -- but that doesn't mean they're not happy to be putting a Canadian stamp on American prime time.




Ben Hits His Stride

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Andrea Baillie, Canadian Press

(Aug. 1, 2005) So, you like to make fun of that schmaltzy summer singing contest known as Canadian Idol?  For the record, Ben Mulroney — the perpetually upbeat, ultra-tanned host of the TV singing contest — couldn't care less about your snooty opinions. "I'm not concerning myself with the people who think this is a joke," Mulroney said as he sipped a smoothie in his dressing room before a recent Idol rehearsal.  "They're not paying my bills ... I've got 2.1 million people that watch this show religiously ... I want to make them happy."  Such is Mulroney's impossibly earnest mission as he cruises through a third summer of Idol.  The son of Canada's 18th prime minister is hitting his stride as the latest edition of the show shifts into high gear this month. The wooden delivery and the painful adlibs are gone. This year, some of Idol's most heartfelt moments have come during Mulroney's impromptu pep talks to devastated contestants.  He's also sharpened his claws, deftly trading barbs with Zack Werner — the acerbic judge known for skewering Idol hopefuls.  "These kids need someone to remind them that what they just did was very brave. And they need to be reminded that our judges — as wonderful as they are and as vital as they are to the show — are not the show. The kids are the show."  The show, of course, is also about Mulroney, who has become one of CTV's best-known personalities, recently anchoring the network's coverage of the Live 8 music extravaganza. Still, the 29-year-old knows there will always be those who think he has risen to the top solely because of his famous surname.  "Despite working in TV for almost five years, I think the fact that I didn't start in a place like Tuktoyaktuk and move my way to Toronto is probably a (reason I get criticized)," he says. 

In fact, he never set out to be a TV personality. After spending most of his formative years at 24 Sussex Drive, Mulroney went on to earn an undergraduate degree from Duke University in North Carolina, and then entered law school in Quebec City.  From there, Mulroney — who admits he'd have been an "awful lawyer" — landed the CTV gig after network execs saw him being interviewed at the Progressive Conservative convention in May 2000.  Although he wasn't particularly interested in doing television, he admits it was "pretty cool" when CTV came calling. "I looked across at my friend I was working with. He was busy at work drafting some document for a lawyer and I said `CTV just called, they want me to be on TV.'"  Next came CTV's The Chatroom, on the network's TalkTV channel. That was followed by eTalk Daily and a gig on the red carpet at the Oscars.  Critics have not always been kind, calling Mulroney "treacly" and "egregious." But John Brunton, the show's executive producer, argues that an Idol host, who must spend hours on end chatting with contestants during the initial audition process, has to be open and approachable — a "nice guy."  Caroline Mulroney says her brother has always been comfortable in front of the cameras. "He's always been good in family videos," she laughs in a telephone interview from New York City, where she lives. "He's always been very funny. He's very good at telling a story, he's got a great sense of timing."  Does she ever mock her brother about his Idol hosting duties? "Mercilessly," she says. "It's very amusing to all of us."




Animated Rockers Are Meaty Canucks

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Raju Mudhar

(Aug. 2, 2005) Move over, Gorillaz and Prozzak, the Sons of Butchers are gonna rock you!  In the strange pop-culture crossover arena that is the animated band, Canada is about to add some home-grown players to the stage.  The Sons of Butcher are Ricky and Sol Butcher, and their simpleton friend Doug — not that Ricky and Sol are rocket scientists. Born in Steel City (a barely veiled Hamilton), the Butcher boys inherit some enchanted instruments after their father dies, so they decide to combine his twin legacies: to become the world's foremost axe-grinding, cleaver-weaving rock and roll butchers.  Yes, it's pretty silly and foolish, but you can judge for yourself this Friday at 9:30 p.m. on Teletoon, when the Sons of Butcher cartoon show premieres. It's part of a sneak preview of the network's fall programming, in which this 13-episode rock and meat odyssey will be part of The Detour, Teletoon's late-night adult-oriented programming.  Just like Damon Albarn's Gorillaz, the Sons of Butcher also happen to be a real band. In fact, the animated musicians bear the likenesses of the real-life guys. Trevor and Jay Ziebarth (brothers, but not in the casting) and Dave Dunham are Ricky, Doug and Sol respectively.  This effect "just freaks you out," says Trevor Ziebarth. To achieve it, the trio act out their segments in front of a green screen. Their heads are then grafted on to their animated bodies.

Why this creative choice? "Because we're cheap," says producer Max Smith. "The real problem was that Jay was the only one who knew how to do anything with animation ... one day he took some photos and animated the heads, and we figured it'd be a lot less work."  Before Smith came along, the three friends were goofing around and recorded a couple of songs as a joke band. Then Trevor met Smith while working on The Red Green Show. Originally what they had in mind was a Web cartoon, but Smith suggested pitching it as a series.  They first approached MTV with a father-son concept, but the station wanted to keep things young so the Butchers got turned into brothers. MTV took a pass anyway, but Teletoon agreed to take it on as series.  Of course, this creative path has been a bit crazy for the guys.  "Never in my highest hopes did I think Teletoon would order 13 episodes," says Dunham, who along with Trevor writes all the music for the series.  Of course, now the hope is for 13 more.  "I'd love to get a chance at a second season," he says. "We'd never acted or written anything before. We were new at everything."  Their producer is the son of Steve Smith, the writer-comedian-producer most of us know as Red Green. His pushing was one of the reasons the show got off the ground.  The senior Smith's guidance consisted of "general things, like, `This script sucks, you should throw it out. This isn't a story, this is 30 jokes in a row,'" laughs his son.  The guys admit the first batch of Sons of Butcher episodes have plenty of improv points and the humour is definitely of the stupid hoser-rock variety.  Just like in the cartoon, when performing in real life, the band members clad themselves in full body spandex and rock out. They are finishing an album and had hoped to tour to coincide with the Sons of Butcher launch, but plans fell through.  "The (live) shows are great. We've only done four at the moment, but people really get into them. They're goofy, just what you'd expect with three big guys in spandex," says Trevor.




Venus And Serena, ‘Real’ And Uncensored

Excerpt from

(Aug. 1, 2005) *You don’t need to be an avid viewer of “Venus and Serena: For Real,” the Williams sisters’ new reality show on the ABC Family channel, to know that the siblings have a tight bond, or that they lead unbelievably busy lives between the tennis and their numerous personal endeavours.  What surprising things we do find out during the show’s run Wednesdays at 10 p.m. is Serena’s devotion to her dog Jackie, Venus’ raw emotions following a tournament loss and their off-the-court activity of hanging out, visiting family members, shopping, socializing, taking private jets and dealing with their endeavours in fashion and interior design.   “A lot of times you do see celebrities doing shows, but nobody is doing what we do,” affirmed Venus last month to the Television Critics Association in Beverly Hills. “We’re working girls. We do not take days off.  This summer I have two weeks off, and the rest I’m playing or training. So I think this show is going to show that element of how hard we work, and it’s going to show the life behind when you lift the Wimbledon trophy, what it takes and all the drama in between.” Just weeks before the interview, Venus had not only lifted the Wimbledon trophy following her victory over Lindsey Davenport in the finals, she jumped, crouched, pumped her arms and jumped some more in unfiltered exuberance unlike any Grand Slam celebration in the history of the sport. The win, Venus told reporters, has recharged her battery for future tournaments.  “The first times that I won my Grand Slams, I kind of eased up a little bit [afterward], didn’t go to practice as much,” admits Venus, 25.  “But this time, I’m just so much more motivated I want to work even harder and run harder. I know I have it.” Unfortunately, filming on the show had wrapped before Venus’ historic come-from-behind Wimbledon victory and exaltation, but viewers of the pilot three weeks ago have already witnessed Venus in the opposite situation, with rarely-seen tears and frustration following a tough loss.  Both sisters say that such personal moments caught on camera didn’t feel intrusive at all.  “There weren’t too many moments that I can pinpoint to say we were uncomfortable, because we knew going into this that if we’re going to do this, then we’re going to have to pretty much open our lives,” said Serena, 23. “We both were pretty comfortable in that because we’re not doing anything that we’re trying to hide.” She adds, “We've been in the limelight pretty much all our lives, so we're kind of used to it.”

But Venus chimed in: “The only time I felt a little bit uncomfortable was when I was by myself.  I felt very vain somehow, like, ‘You’re watching me?’ But when I was with my sisters, I was fine.”   The cameras also follow Serena around the offices of her clothing label Aneres, lounging around the sisters’ home in Boca Raton, Florida and taking part in a photo shoot. The activities are reflective of her normal, everyday routine – so hectic that Serena didn’t even know Venus had gone back to school.  “Oh really,” said Serena, looking at her sister in shock. Both began to laugh, along with the room full of reporters.   “Yeah, I’m taking Swimwear, Design Studio and Computer Design 2,” Venus said. “I’m going to be finished one of these days.”  Critics of Venus and Serena often point to their numerous extra-curricular activities as a sign that tennis is not a priority, unlike other professional players whose focus stays within the sport’s double boundary lines.  “We definitely don’t live, breathe and eat tennis,” said Serena. “I personally can not do something that much because I would lose a lot of love for it.”    “I think as more time goes by, there are less misconceptions about us,” adds Venus. “At this stage I think people are really able to see that we work very hard for what we do and nothing is given to us. In the beginning there were a lot of rumours that, ‘Oh, we weren’t friendly,’ and ‘Oh, we didn’t play enough tennis,’ or ‘Oh, Venus and Serena, when they play they’ve already decided the outcome of the winner, or ‘Oh, it’s boring because they’re playing in every single Grand Slam final.’ There’s always something and the better you do or more covers that you get, there’s always going to be something. So it’s kind of fun to see what’s going on in your life that you don’t even know about.”  Reporters have always asked the sisters to list pet peeves about each other, but their tight bond usually gets in the way of any honest answer.  But no this time. Serena went first.  “It’s hard for me sometimes to be around her because she’s always doing something,” she said, staring at Venus and smiling. “Like even now, she just said she’s going to school, and I feel like, ‘Gosh, I should be working on getting my degree. What am I doing?’” Serena also hates that Venus rarely loosens up.  “It’s so hard because every time I look around, she’s at home,” Serena says. “She never wants to play with me. We don’t’ have playtime anymore because she’s always on the computer.  Honestly, she spent one Saturday, all day, on, what was it? or something like that? I was like, ‘Are you serious? Why don’t you come to the pool?’ Other than that, we don’t really argue, but I’m like, ‘Come on, just stop being so smart.’”

Venus, on the other hand, can’t stand Serena’s lack of phone etiquette.  “She doesn’t always return calls,” Venus said.  “It’s quite difficult to find her.  People ask me, ‘Can you find Serena?’ I’m like, ‘You’re on your own. Good luck.’ But she always finds me for the important ones. If I send her a text, I have better luck than a call.” So far, we haven’t seen Serena actively dodging calls on their reality show, but we’ve witnessed the way she yelled at her beloved dog Jackie after the pooch somehow pulled her master’s turkey out the fridge and gobbled it up.  The Jack Russell, who sat peacefully next to Serena during the interview, has been with her since she was 17.  “I haven’t gotten on that train where all the celebrities have a dog,” Serena laughed. “I’ve had her for six years, and she’s been traveling with me since 1999. If you know anything about Jack Russells, they’re really hyper dogs, and they’re completely crazy. But it’s great because she can keep me energized.” She’ll need the energy, with the schedule she keeps, but Serena and her sister say they actually thrive on the constant ripping and running between their various activities.  “I think people are just going to see that we laugh more than anything else,” Venus summed up. “We’re normal people in somewhat of an abnormal environment. But we have the same struggles as everyone else, and people get to see that a little bit more.”







Louise (Finally) Gets Her Gun

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

(Aug. 2, 2005) Three-time Dora-Award winner and Tony nominee Louise Pitre would make a rousing Mamma Rose in Gypsy, an enchanting Vera in Pal Joey, and a matchmaker made in heaven as Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! Should you need audio proof, listen to her rendition of The Man that Got Away or I'll Be Seeing You in her exquisite and deeply melancholic solo CD Shattered, released last year.  But she's sung none of those roles or any other from the American musical canon. So far, her claims to fame have been contemporary musicals and revues, with or without European connections: different shows based on the life and repertoire of Edith Piaf, a revival of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, Fantine in Les Misérables, and, of course, the mother in Mamma Mia!, the British musical based on the songbook of the Swedish outfit Abba. What gives? "I never get asked to do classic musicals. That's just the way it's gone," explains Pitre. So when the producers of Annie Get Your Gun -- which opens today at Toronto's Massey Hall for a limited run, co-starring Billy Ray Cyrus and directed by Donna Feore -- asked her to play sharp-shooting Annie Oakley in a revival of the 1946 Irving Berlin, Wild West musical, she didn't hesitate. "It's an amazing score," adds the petite and outspoken French Canadian during a rehearsal break in downtown Toronto. "They're demanding songs. They are rangy enough but not like today's songs. Nowadays everybody wants you to sing the shit out of everything and it's just ridiculous. . . . Now what we think is impressive is someone who can sing a really, really high note in a really, really high voice and hold it for 35 seconds or whatever. Who cares? That's not musical. This is. You have a beautiful melody and beautiful lyrics and you just sing the song. It actually tells you something about the character, advances the story." Character and story are not concepts usually given their due in musicals, particularly classic ones where the book is just a few connecting plot lines to take the show from one great song to the next. (For this revival, Stratford's Don Carrier has written a more racially sensitive book to replace Herbert and Dorothy Fields's tattered original.) Anyone who has seen Pitre on stage, whether in musicals or in concert, knows that her performances integrate singing and acting so convincingly that it's hard to tell where one begins and the other ends.

"In Canada, you're an actor or you're a musical theatre performer," she says with a I-have-no-time-for-this attitude. "I'm sorry but I'm an actor. I'm so an actor. If you sing a song and deliver it well, let me tell you, honey, that's acting. We all know what it looks like when people get out there and sing empty notes. Watch American Idol. With a show like Annie, you would die a sudden death if you thought you could get out there and just sing the notes. It's about something real and you better mean it." With one or two minor exceptions, the score for Annie Get Your Gun has been kept in the original brassy, higher-note key it was written in -- for the original Broadway belter Ethel Merman, no less -- while also maintaining the country twang of songs such as Doing What Comes Naturally and You Can't Get a Man with a Gun.  The combination of Broadway and country is all too familiar to Pitre: After three and half years living in New York's Upper West Side -- two of which she spent in the original Broadway company of Mamma Mia! -- Pitre and her partner Joe Matheson decided to come home and bought a Victorian farmhouse 90 minutes outside of Toronto. Now she's playing Annie and he's touring Canada as Hank Williams in a tribute show. "We're both country to the hilt all of a sudden," she says "New York was wonderful, we met some lovely people there and made some great friends. We had a neat life, an apartment in the Upper West Side, got to know all the other dog people," she recalls with a genuine, Piaf-like regrette-rien.  "After the last [U.S.] election, we stopped and asked ourselves if we really wanted to be there. My father passed away and we're down to just my mom. Those things make you evaluate what's going on with your life." Her feelings about both America and Canada are far from clear cut, as her move would suggest. In fact, our conversation ends on a subject that Pitre is emotionally and intellectually passionate about: what Canada is not doing right, culturally speaking, and what lessons, if any, the American model can teach us.  "We have to produce more material. Canadians have to get out of their bullshit attitudes that our stuff is not as good because it's Canadian. And every new work that's Canadian doesn't have to be about being a Canadian. Good lord! Frankly, I'm over it," Pitre fires off.  "Say and think what you will about our neighbours down south, when they like something and it's theirs and it's from home, you can't get any more supportive than that. It's a very proactive attitude."




Julia Roberts To Take Bow On Broadway

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Jul. 31, 2005) NEW YORK (AP) — Julia Roberts, movie star, is heading to Broadway next spring.  The 37-year-old actress will make her Broadway debut in a revival of Richard Greenberg's Three Days of Rain. The production will begin a limited 12-week engagement next March at a theatre to be named, producer David Stone said Friday from Los Angeles. He said the play, which Stone will co-produce with Marc Platt, will be directed by Joe Mantello.  No other details about Three Days of Rain were announced, although Stone said he was in California for casting discussions about the play's two other roles.  "Joe and Julia spoke about which would be the best play to do, and they decided Three Days of Rain was the best," Stone said in explaining how the project came together. "It was a play they both felt passionately about."  Mantello also directed the hit Wicked — another Platt-Stone production — as well as Take Me Out, Greenberg's Tony-winning drama about a gay baseball player. This fall, he will oversee the Nathan Lane-Matthew Broderick revival of The Odd Couple, opening on Broadway in October.  Three Days of Rain was first done in New York in 1997 at off-Broadway's Manhattan Theatre Club. The play, a mysterious family drama, starred Patricia Clarkson, John Slattery and Bradley Whitford.  It is one of the first acting gigs Roberts has committed to since giving birth to twins last December. Her screen hits include Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias and Erin Brockovich — for which she won an Oscar in 2001.





Leaving Everyone In His Wake

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - San Grewal, Staff Reporter

(Jul. 31, 2005) On a brilliant weekday morning in the middle of Toronto's recent heat wave, Steve Jarrett, his wake surfboard under one arm and his black canvas workbag over the other, walks toward his office, which is floating in shallow water.  He delicately slides his company's wakeboarding boat off its trailer into the launch at Ashbridges Bay, then jumps in. His Ford F250 truck is parked at the mouth of the launch and without the custom-built 20-foot boat sitting on the trailer, the rest of Jarrett's toys, tied down to the truck, are more noticeable: a 125 cc motocross bike, a yellow windsurf board, a wakeboard and another wake surfboard.  The differences between a snowboard and a wakeboard and a windsurf board and a surfboard might be imperceptible to most people, but Jarrett has made a name for himself — and a nice living — by knowing and appreciating them.  He's just come back from the family cottage in Huntsville, where he taught his nanny how to wakeboard (a combination of snowboarding, skateboarding and surfing that involves jumping off the wake created by a tow boat). His children, aged 3 and 7, have long been slaves to the smooth waters of Muskoka, where Jarrett spends most of his time when he's not at his other office.  His work office, a sprawling space in Toronto's west end, is headquarters of his company, SBC Media, one of the largest action-sports magazine publishers in the world.

SBC has a roster of seven magazines that are sold around the globe and it sponsors dozens of action-sports events.  Jarrett is also the man behind Wakestock, the mammoth action-sports event that will arrive on the Toronto Islands in two weeks. That's why he's putting the boat into the water — to take sponsors and media out to Centre Island all week so they can check out the Wakestock 2005 site. He and Bill Jones, his partner in SBC's event division, founded Wakestock seven years ago and SBC has run the event ever since.  Wakestock is now the biggest stop on the professional wakeboarding world tour. By drawing more than 40,000 people last year, the event grew too big for Wasaga Beach, its home for four years. This year more than 50,000 fans of the action-sports scene (which includes motocross and BMX as well as all the board sports) are expected to descend on the islands in mid-August.  It's a lifestyle that's all about youth, but don't let Jarrett's silver hair fool you. He's still the Big Kahuna of the action-sports scene. He played a large part in taking what is now the fastest-growing sport in North America from a small sub-culture to a cultural phenomenon and there is probably no one in Canada more plugged into its past, present and future.

Jarrett started his career as a kid in land-locked Mississauga who windsurfed for fun. "In the mid-'70s they introduced the semester system in schools," he says, "so if you worked really hard you could finish school early." He did. After graduating from high school a half-year early, he devoted all his free time to the sport and began competing internationally. Windsurfing dominated Jarrett's life during his undergraduate years at the University of Toronto.  In the last year of his honours degree in economics and political science, things came to a head. It was 1979 or '80, Jarrett recalls. He had a paper due, but went to the Bahamas to compete in a windsurfing event. After the competition ended, he sat on a beach and wrote the final paper for his degree, a week late. Back in Toronto, the professor wouldn't accept it.  After four years of stretching deadlines to compete around the world and cutting classes to go windsurfing on the swells of Lake Ontario, Jarrett finally ran up against someone who just didn't understand the surfer's ethos and wouldn't let him bend the rules. He never received his degree (he remains one course short) despite maintaining a B-plus average.  "I might be the only person who didn't graduate from the University of Toronto because I was surfing," says Jarrett, standing outside the discreet building where SBC Media is headquartered.  But he already knew the education he needed couldn't be taught in a classroom.  It was a time when the legendary surf culture of Maui and Huntington Beach was spreading faster than an epic wave to unlikely surf scenes in places like Toronto, Winnipeg and Saskatoon.  The rise of windsurfing predated the explosion of surfing and, even, the huge renaissance in skateboarding. Windsurfers were doing things that no one had done before, not even surfers and skateboarders.  "In 1981, while (I was) in Hawaii, on my way back from a world championship in Japan," Jarrett says, "windsurfers were just starting to go into the big surf waves off of Maui. We could sail out to big 20-foot breaking waves, jump 40 feet in the air, do a bunch of tricks and then ride the wave back in. It was phenomenal."  He moved to Maui's legendary north shore — quite literally. He slept in his board bag on the beach, and within a week or two later had made a well known store called Sailboards Maui his haunt, helping out in return for new equipment.  "Sailboards Maui turned out to be the place to be, while the whole lifestyle and culture was taking off," he says.  He came to see the business potential in windsurfing. "I could recognize before most people that this sport had some legs to it. I could see that there was a lifestyle around it."  At the time the whole action-sports phenomenon was in its infancy.

"Surfing was around and skateboarding was around," Jarrett says, "but they were still part of a scene that other than a few places really only existed underground." So unless you lived in California or Hawaii, even though you might identify with the laidback rebel/daredevil image of the surfer or skater, you couldn't participate in it authentically.  You might have ordered some rad Vans through the back of a BMX magazine, decked yourself in Quiksilver and Billabong, but you were still just a poser.  But in Canada, though, a country that sometimes seems to have more lakes than people, windsurfing had huge potential. It gained cool status in the early '80s as a sport that almost anyone could get into. Lake Ontario was soon dominated by serious windsurfers. "I could see this California surf culture manifesting itself," explains Jarrett, who was selling surf shorts out of the trunk of his car at windsurfing events. "Young Canadians could call themselves surfers even though they didn't live in Hawaii or California."  Jarrett saw both a business opportunity and a chance to spread the gospel of surfing to a larger audience. His magazine empire began modestly. "When I was in Maui, a friend of mine in Toronto and I had started talking about a magazine. We didn't have a name or a product, but windsurfing was growing like gangbusters, so I said, `What the hell.'"

He came back to Toronto in the fall of 1981 and the following January launched WindSport magazine at the Toronto International Boat Show.  "I had shot most of the pictures while I was in Hawaii and I wrote every article myself," he says. He was also able to sell advertisements to manufacturers and retailers desperate to reach a market that wasn't being served by the mainstream media.  In 1990, nine years later, he launched Snowboard Canada (the company's flagship publication), then SBC Skateboard a year later and SBC Wakeboard the following year — a time when very few people had even heard of the term "wakeboarding." The company now also publishes SBC Kiteboard, Skier and SBC Business, a trade magazine sold to retailers and manufacturers within the exploding action-sports industry. With a staff of 35 full-time employees in Canada and the U.S. and over 40 part-time contributors around the world, SBC is also positioned to launch new titles.  Readership ranges from about 120,000 per issue for some of the smaller publications to well over 400,000 an issue for its snowboarding mag, which Jarrett purposely brands around the world as "Canadian" because of Canada's trend-setting reputation within the sport.  Part of Jarrett's success lies in delivering a market to advertisers without compromising authenticity. On one trip to Centre Island in mid-July, Jarrett picks up a Red Bull rep in the boat near the foot of Bay St. (Red Bull is the energy drink popular among action-sports athletes and fans.)  SBC has partnered with Red Bull because of the company's organic approach to supporting the action-sports scene. When we get to the island, Jarrett walks barefoot around the Wakestock event site, mapping all the details and timelines out with the rep.  "We don't want to hit people over the head with branding," Jarrett says later. "Red Bull will have a presence, but it's more subtle. They understand what this lifestyle is all about.  "If you look at our magazines you'll find the same ads in all seven. That lifestyle factor is the driving force of action sports, that's what made our magazines a success. There's an authentic rebel factor tied with the action-sports scene, there aren't a lot of rules and regulations — and your parents aren't doing it."  Unless, of course, your parents are like Steve Jarrett.  After we drop off the Red Bull rep back near Bay St., we dock the boat and head to the west end, where SBC is tucked into a nondescript red brick building with no sign.  "If people knew where we were located and that some of the biggest names in professional skateboarding, snowboarding, wakeboarding and motocross come here all the time," says Jarrett, "we'd be swamped."

As we park, two of his employees, women in their mid-20s wearing miniskirts, T-shirts and flip-flops, come out the front entrance. We run into another group as we walk up the front stairs, all of them in advertising sales, wearing shorts, skateboard shoes and plaid Volcom shirts.  Jarrett, too, dresses in Volcom, Billabong, DC and other brands with deep roots in the action-sports scene. He doesn't own thousand-dollar suits, live in a fancy mansion or drive a German sedan. Almost all his money goes back into the company.  Inside, SBC looks like any other professional magazine office. Blown-up covers of SBC titles line the walls of the front reception area and the hallways. In the production area, desks are covered with the latest Apple computers, scanners, colour printers and other publishing hardware.  But a fully stocked Red Bull fridge sits near the top of the stairs. And, off the main floor, at the bottom of the building Jarrett lifts a large industrial door on rollers.  Inside the cavernous storage space is something you wouldn't find in many offices: two skateboarding half pipes for staff and pro athletes who come here to ride. Once in a while the space gets rented out for photo shoots and music videos.  Back on the second floor, Jarrett introduces some of the staff. For the third time in two days he retells a story about the easterly wind that blew off Hanlan's Point a couple of Fridays ago, the remnant of a hurricane that slammed into Florida: "They were five-footers, wrapping all the way around the point. You could have surfed them right until they broke onto the beach."  Almost all the staff are in their 20s and 30s. Matt Houghton, the 32-year-old group editorial director who oversees content for all seven SBC titles, goes over some production issues with Jarrett.  The two editors who run the hugely successful SBC Skateboard magazine are 28-year-old Ryan Stutt and 29-year-old Harry Gils, who sport dark Che Guevara hats. Jarrett says the key to the company's success is the staff — young people who come from the action-sports culture and take the lead in delivering content to readers just like them.  We pop into Brian Jarrett's office. He's an accountant who was lured away from a big firm a few years ago to manage SBC's books. He's also Steve's brother. He cradles his dog Riley in his arms. "It's pretty loose around here," he says, "but everyone gets their work done."  When asked who's older, Brian laughs. "Steve's two years older, but he's about 20 years younger in attitude."  When asked if he ever thought of pursuing a different career, something more practical like accountancy, Jarrett says, "I thought of law. In the eyes of my parents I was always goofing around with these sports and I was postponing responsible adult life.  "But it seems to be working out okay."  He's never thought about the late paper that cost him an honours degree. When it comes up, Brian says he's never heard the story.  "It never really mattered," Jarrett says.




Shaq’s $100 Million Deal

Excerpt from

(Aug. 3, 2005) *As hoops analyst Stephen A Smith put it in his new ESPN show “Quite Frankly” yesterday, “nobody was interested in going to South Beach for anything other than the ladies until Shaquille O’Neal got there last year.”    For that reason alone, Smith suggested, the big man was worth every penny of the $100 million, five-year contract the Heat gave him on the first day of the NBA's player-movement window. Shaq’s agent, Perry Rogers, said the deal makes sure that the three-time NBA Finals MVP remains the highest-paid player in the league, and it's believed that no player will make more than O'Neal's $20 million in each of the next two seasons. O'Neal, engaging in some R&R with his family in Rome, said he was "very excited" about the deal.  "This contract allows me to address all of my family's long-term financial goals while allowing the Heat the ability to acquire those players that we need to win a championship," he said in a statement released by the team.





Behind Cirque's Curtain

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - Murray Whyte, Entertainment Reporter

(Aug. 1, 05) To the usually captivated lay person's eye, the various spectacles associated with Cirque du Soleil — the originator of the all-in-one experience of theatrical movement, circus, dance, drama and artful acrobatics — are of a single quality: Seamlessly, thoroughly spellbinding.  Have a look behind the curtain, though, and the seams show. "It's like a football team, or a basketball team locker room," said Andrea Molnar, one of several much-needed, full-time physiotherapists on Cirque's staff. "We're always addressing muscle strain, ligament strain, and the occasional major injury that requires surgery and rehab. So, professional sports is a really good equivalent. "  Cirque's artists are no strangers to the strains of physical activity. More than 70 per cent of them, in fact, spread across five permanent and six touring productions from Las Vegas to Australia to Europe to Japan, are former professional athletes. Cirque has had formal recruiting relationships with sports federations around the world for years, ushering high-level athletes into a very active form of semi-retirement.  So, back at home base in Montreal, Danny Zen's training studio is a unique place, to say the least. Part creative atelier, part boneyard, Zen's responsibilities run the gamut: "Training, staging, safety, rehab, equipment, creation, costuming — all of it," says Zen, an affable 40-year old Quebecois whose actual title, rigging designer, tells only part of his story.  "My job starts from the ground level to all the way up," he says. That magical aspect, everything you don't see, is a lot of work."  For Corteo, Cirque's latest travelling show that opens here on Thursday, there has been no less of it. That seamless conjuring, whether it's Cirque's well-honed bodies locked together in human sculpture, plummeting from on high along satiny bolts of fabric, or tumbling headlong through the air, is largely thanks to Zen's work.  Corteo, for example, required "Lustres" — massive 157 kg chandeliers that could rise and fall from Cirque's big top at a metre per second, with performers dangling from them. It was Zen's job to take it from the realm of imagination and make it into concrete, functional reality.  "Nothing on the planet looks like that, so you've got to develop it from scratch," said Zen, with a good-natured shrug.  The creative director had another plan for angels that Zen had to make fly. Not a problem for a master harness designer, of course, but then it was decided that the angels had to sing, meaning the harnesses had to be reinvented so as not to impinge on their breathing.  All in a day's work? For Zen, yes. "This is what drives me, being part of the creative process. You're scratching your head every day."  Zen's burden, however, is much heavier than even all this. Injuries are common among the performers. Some of them are serious.  Recently, in a Corteo performance in Quebec City, one of the performers tore ligaments in his knee, sending him to Zen's studio for six months of rehab.  Small hurts are common, Molnar said. Major injuries less so — one, maybe two a month, across Cirque's global span — but in every instance, they're Zen's responsibility.  "The artists' safety is up to me," he says. "It's a lot of pressure. If something goes wrong, I'm the one they have to come to."  Zen started with Cirque in 1990 as a welder, and gradually built Cirque's on-site training and design studio from a party of two — "when I started, I had one guy," he says — to a full-time staff of 45.  Through it all, it's been his mandate to do physically what Cirque has always done creatively. "The idea is to push the limits and find some new territory," he said. "But the more you push it, the higher the risk."  Which, over the years, has gradually ratcheted the pressure on Zen ever higher. But his name seems appropriate: The soft-spoken Zen is placid and matter-of-fact, though he'll admit to tense moments ("I have to tell you I was happy the premiere was over, because I was sweating," he said, laughing).  But when your job is to conjure the otherworldly from nuts and bolts, muscle and bone, it helps to be rooted firmly on the ground.  "A human being, it's a nice machine, but it's fragile at the same time," he said. "As you try to push your own boundaries, you discover things your body isn't designed to do — and it will tell you."




Aniston Talks For First Time About Split With Pitt

Source: Associated Press

(Aug. 2, 2005) New York — In her first interview since splitting with Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston says she was "shocked" by the breakup and is trying to "pick up the pieces in the midst of this media circus." Aniston broke down twice during the interview for the September issue of Vanity Fair, on newsstands nationally Aug. 9. Mostly, though, the actress comes across as resilient. "Am I lonely? Yes. Am I upset? Yes. Am I confused? Yes. Do I have my days when I've thrown a little pity party for myself? Absolutely. But I'm also doing really well." Holed up in her Malibu, Calif., bungalow, the 36-year-old actress says the media coverage and tabloid rumours have been hard to deal with — especially reports that she didn't want to start a family. "A man divorcing would never be accused of choosing career over children," she says. "I've never in my life said I didn't want children. I did and I do and I will!" Aniston filed for divorce in March, citing irreconcilable differences after 4 1/2 years of marriage. The couple separated in January. Aniston says she was aware of Pitt's attraction to Angelina Jolie, his Mr. and Mrs. Smith co-star, but doesn't blame their split on her. "It's just complicated," Aniston says. "There are all these levels of growth — and when you stop growing together, that's when the problems happen." But when pictures showing Pitt and Jolie together with her 3-year-old son, Maddox, on a beach in Africa were published, the former Friends star says, "the world was shocked and I was shocked."

She was also hurt by a fashion spread in W magazine — a concept of Pitt's — that showed the actor and Jolie as a 1960's-style married couple. "There's a sensitivity chip that's missing," Aniston says of Pitt. Says Aniston: "I just don't know what happened. ... I feel as if I'm trying to scrounge around and pick up the pieces in the midst of this media circus." Otherwise refusing to talk badly of Pitt, the actress says she doesn't want to mimic the bitterness of her parents' divorce. "I love Brad; I really love him. I will love him for the rest of my life," says Aniston. "I don't regret any of it, and I'm not going to beat myself up about it." "The sad thing, for me, is the way it's been reduced to a Hollywood cliché — or maybe it's just a human cliché." Another false report, Aniston says, is her relationship with Vince Vaughn, her co-star in the upcoming movie The Break Up. "I like a lot of people, but I'm sooo not 'in like' with anybody." Aniston also hasn't lost her sense of humour. On Pitt's recently dyed blond hair, she says, "Billy Idol called — he wants his look back."




Sheryl Lee Ralph Gets Married In LA

Excerpt from

(August 2, 2005) *Guests were there on time at 5 p.m. for the star-studded wedding of actress Sheryl Lee Ralph and Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes in Los Angeles Saturday, only to see the ceremony begin about an hour-and-a-half later, a witness told us. The long day began with vows at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church. Among Ralph’s 10 bridesmaids were Patti LaBelle, Judge Mablean Ephriam, A.J. Johnson, Nicey Nash, Loretta Devine, Victoria Rowell and Jenifer Lewis – who strolled down the aisle diva style “like it was her wedding,” a source joked.  Ralph, 49, wore a champagne-coloured silk charmeuse Tadashi gown with Swarovski crystal straps and a train stretching out seven feet behind her. A gold silk peu de soire brocaded coat completed the look, along with a $16,000 Mikimoto pearl-and-diamond tiara.  The 48-year-old groom sported a Jasper black tuxedo with a white tie, a stephanotis boutonniere, and $15,000 Mikimoto pearl-and-white gold cufflinks.  Miss Patti dabbed at tears as Ralph came down the aisle to a soloist singing Luther Vandross’ classic, “So Amazing.”  The mothers of the couple were escorted down the aisle to Richard Smallwood’s “Total Praise.”  The ceremony before some 425 guests hit a small pothole, as Ralph’s matron of honour Dr. Sandra Swann grew dizzy and fainted just as the exchange of vows began, according to the witness. She later recovered.  The reception, held at L.A.'s City Club, featured Ralph in a Tadashi silk peu de soire ivory halter dress with a veil from her native Jamaica, courtesy of her mother. An R&B group sang Etta James’ "At Last" for the couple’s first dance as hungry guests got busy with the provided soul and Jamaican food buffet. The four-tiered wedding cake was comprised of carrot, chocolate, rum-cake and pink-champagne flavoured layers. Ralph and Hughes met through a mutual friend and have been engaged since 2003. It is the second marriage for both. On Sunday, the couple took off for a week-long honeymoon at the Paraiso de La Bonita Resort & Thalasso Resort on the Riviera Maya in Cancun, Mexico.




24 Year-Old CEO Authors New Book: 'How To Think Big ... When You're Small'

Source: Dante Lee,,, , 562-209-0616

(Aug. 2, 2005) Long Beach, CA - Motivation, inspiration, insight and plain ole common sense are all featured in 24-year old Dante Lee's new book to be released this September.  The book, How To Think Big...When You're Small, offers a comprehensive set of 24 keys to success in life and business.  Lee is the CEO and president of Diversity City Media, a very successful multicultural marketing and public relations firm based in Long Beach, CA. With annual billings of about $500,000 - and clients like Verizon, McDonald's, NASCAR, BET, and Heineken - he has proven that a small person can change the world.  In 2002, Lee graduated from Bowie State University with a Bachelors degree in Computer Science, and was the only person in the school's 100-year history to graduate from a 4-year program in three years. While in college, he also interned as a computer programmer at NASA and FDIC.  Nowadays - in addition to heading Diversity City Media, Lee is also a founding partner of Beasley Creations (, an innovative sporting goods company that is known for their invention of table golf.  "We are all small," Lee says, "but by thinking big - we change the world. It has been done before, and it can be done again - This time by you."  For more details about the book, visit:







Avoid Fatal Fitness Mistakes

By Gary Matthews, eFitness Guest Columnist

(Aug. 1, 2005) Twenty years ago I was very influenced by the bodybuilders and training systems of the day. Hitting the weights five or six times a week, splitting upper and lower body workouts and working out twice a day was seen as normal.  Every set was taken to positive failure, with three or more forced reps on top of that, and if that wasn't enough I would throw in a few negative reps to top it off. This type of training would leave me totally exhausted and render me sore for days after every session.  The constant battering to my body lowered my immune system and I would always be sick or injured. I would take time off training and then go back to it again, all the time gaining nothing in size or strength.

Can you imagine years and years of hard work like this all for nothing? The sad reality is that I still see it going on around me now. The cold hard facts are that over 80 percent of the regular trainees in your gym are overtraining. That's right -- 80 percent! Disturbing, isn't it?  Traditional training techniques like volume training are ineffective and downright dangerous, having been passed down from the previous training generations and unquestioningly followed at all costs.  The only people making any progress on these systems are the so-called "bodybuilding stars" who have superb genetics (about 2 percent of the general population) and are taking massive amounts of steroids (very expensive and dangerous).  So please don't fall into the same overtraining trap as many others have If you haven't made any gains for a long time now and maybe suffer from one or more of the symptoms found below, stop!! Stop wasting your time and effort for nothing.

  Recurring colds and sickness

  Sore joints and muscles

  Unwillingness to go to the gym to train

  Loss of appetite


  Chronic fatigue

Put a stop to overtraining by understanding that the two main components of strength training are the intensity of the exercise and the recovery after the exercise. Infrequent, short, high intensity weight training sessions, followed by the required amount of time to recover and become stronger, is what is needed to increase functional muscle size and stop overtraining.  Look at the scientific principles found below and practice them in the gym. You will be on the road to greater gains in muscle size without the problem of overtraining.

Limited Energy Level

A strength-training program should be short and simple; you only have a limited amount of energy per training session.  Scientific studies reveal that blood sugar levels (energy) start to deplete after 30 minutes, so exercise selection and the time taken to perform them is crucial.  What you should be aiming for is stimulating as many muscle fibres in the shortest period of time available, leaving the gym and going home to grow.  To do this, you will have to perform high intensity workouts consisting of multi-joint, compound movements in the shortest amount of time so that blood sugar levels don't deplete.

Progressive Overload

Progressive Overload is the main exercise principle you need to be aware of in order to get the results that you're after with strength training. The three most important points are:

  Complete your exercise with perfect technique.

  Push to total failure when doing a set.

  Overload the weight on the bar progressively.

Basically this means that when the body is stressed by high intensity training beyond its normal demands, it will adapt to these new demands of improved strength.  Once your muscles have adapted to a particular weight then it'll be time to overload them further (add more weight, speed, repetitions). You'll need to keep on repeating this process of overload and adaptation if you want to become stronger.

Training Frequency

The sad reality is that the popular high volume type of training techniques that you find in bodybuilding books and magazines (and used by the stars) are irrelevant to the majority of the population and have a high failure rate. What is good for the latest bodybuilding star is probably not good for you. Everybody has different genetics; most of us have poor genetics and are not taking steroids like the stars.  The only way the majority of us can make any gains at all is to perform short intense workouts followed by long periods of rest so that you don’t over train.


Many studies conducted at universities around the world have shown clearly that recuperation from strength training requires far more rest time than previously thought.  Infrequent, short, high intensity weight training sessions, followed by the required amount of time to recover and become stronger, are necessary for you to increase your functional muscle.  Here's what you need to do: Allow your body enough recuperation time for overcompensation to take place, so that the muscles can adjust to their new strength and growth.

Exercise Selection For Intensity

I can't stress enough how exercise selection is absolutely crucial. There are only a few exercises that you really need to perform. These consist of multi-joint movements.  These particular exercises are far superior to isolation exercises (working one muscle group at a time) because you are required to use more muscles from every muscle group.  By following these principles you will not only develop greater muscle size but also banish overtraining for good.

Gary is the author of several ebooks, including "Maximum Weight Loss in Ten Weeks" -- the complete e-book and time-saving solution for burning away unwanted fat, and "Maximum Weight Gain in Ten Weeks" -- easy-to-use and follow techniques that serve as a guide to muscle growth without having to "live in the gym."

Visit Gary's website at




EVENTS –AUGUST 4 - 14, 2005




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




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




Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.
10:00 pm
EVENT PROFILE:  Welcome to Negril Ontario, that is!  Yes, Carl’s been at it again and has completely revamped his back patio for his faithful Irie patrons.  And now that the weather is warmer, you just HAVE to come out party on the new and hip patio.  Rain or shine as the patio is covered for our convenience.  A real celebration of summer at the hippest patio in Toronto!  DJ Carl Allen will be spinning the tunes while Kayte Burgess and Adrian Eccleston bring the live music. 




Indian Motorcycle
  King Street (at Peter)  
10:00 pm  
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring host Chris Rouse, Calvin Beale, Joel Joseph and Shamakah Ali with various local artists. 




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




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




Have a great week!  

Dawn Langfield   
Langfield Entertainment