Langfield Entertainment
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NEWSLETTER

Updated:  April 21, 2005

Spring is in full effect – thank goodness.  I just don’t quite believe that the cold weather is gone for good yet though!  Condolences this week go to Ebonnie Rowe and her family for the loss of her father, Owen Rowe of Montreal.  Mr. Rowe was a former red cap porter and came to Montreal from Barbados to get a university education. He was once quoted as saying, “Montreal's Black community is now the offspring of the railway porters.”  Our warmest sympathies. 

Don’t forget the United Way Jazz Jam tomorrow night with a special discounted offer (below).  And I have a special offer from the ladies at Laser  Rejuvenation – truly, call them for a consultation – lots of goodies they can offer!

Check out the rest of the entertainment news below - 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

 

 

::HOT EVENTS::

 

 

Special Offer To Attend United Way Jazz Jam This Friday,   April 22, 2005

Source:  United Way of Greater Toronto

United Way is offering a limited number of tickets at a very special discounted price.  The regular ticket price of $55 is discounted to the special price of $25. These tickets are available to you by calling TicketMaster  at 416.870.8000 and simply provide the code LIBRTY (Liberty with no "e") and you can order tickets at this "special" promotional price.  Or, purchase tickets online with the same password or code applies... LIBRTY

An evening of smooth jazz from United Way’s African Canadian Committee to the jazz lovers of Toronto with Molly Johnson, Liberty Silver and Eddie Bullen.  Join Toronto’s own, internationally acclaimed jazz all-stars in a rare gathering right here at home. Molly Johnson, Liberty Silver and Eddie Bullen donate their award-winning talent to benefit United Way.

All proceeds go to United Way of Greater Toronto.

FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2005
United Way JAZZ JAM
George Weston Recital Hall
Toronto Centre for the Arts
5040 Yonge St. (just north of Sheppard)
8:00 pm
For more information, please contact Joy Bullen at 416-777-1444 ext 387 or jbullen@uwgt.org

 

 

 

Caribbean Cancer Awareness Forum – Saturday, April 23, 2005

TORONTO: The Canadian Cancer Society, Scarborough Unit, is pleased to announce that a Caribbean Cancer Awareness Forum will be held on Saturday, April 23 from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.  The Cancer Awareness Forum is being held at the St. Paul’s L’Amoreaux Church located at 3333 Finch Avenue East (at Warden). Key speakers from the Toronto-Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre include: Dr. Sunil Verma, a medical oncologist, will discuss detection, signs and symptoms and treatment of cancer; and Pauline Wisdom-Gilliam, a clinical dietician, will focus her presentation on healthy eating habits in the prevention of cancer. In addition, this event will feature community agency displays and information regarding the activities and services of the Canadian Cancer Society and other organizations that have information pertaining to cancer-related issues.

Free parking is located at Bridlewood Mall. In addition to refreshments being provided, several door prizes will be drawn. For additional information regarding the Caribbean Cancer Awareness Forum, or to register, please call the Scarborough Unit at 416-431-1800 (ext. 28).

 

 

 

::SPECIAL OFFER::

 

 

Laser Rejuvenation Clinic:  A New You
 
 Escape the harsh, cold, clinical environment of the typical medical-surgical facility. Laser Rejuvenation Clinic provides state-of-the-art aesthetic laser and surgical medical procedures for all conditions in a spa-like setting.  A refuge that provides for the most effective treatment for hair removal, erasing wrinkles and an enlightened approach to beautiful skin.  All of life’s little imperfections can now quickly be a thing of the past.  The Laser Rejuvenation Clinic currently has one of the most advanced laser systems in the world and is able to provide a multi-faceted and diverse treatment protocol for various cosmetic skin and dermatological disorders to all age groups.  See below for their April specials – let me tell you, these women know what they’re doing and you’ll leave feeling like you’re a new and improved person.

Laser Hair Removal
  ...reduce dark, unwanted hair and ingrowns by summer

The two most popular areas to be treated at our clinic are the Bikini line
 and Underarms. Now you can get both done for the price of one!

Buy Bikini Package
Get Underarm Package
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Regular price $130+gst

 

Polish your skin with Microdermabrasion
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The Diamond DermabrasionTM system, uses a gentler approach to evenly ablate the skin surface. It features a patented dual control system and adjustable applicator head that deliver a steady, effective stream of fine diamond-shaped crystals directly onto the skin. The vacuum and crystal projection controls enable each treatment to be customized to your skin care needs.

 

SUNLESS SPRAY TAN
BUY A TAN AND GET THE 2ND FOR 1\2 PRICE!

Get that gorgeous bronze tan you've always wanted year round without the risks that are associated with exposure to the sun. Experience our instant Rejuvenating Glow with our state-of-the-art Airbrush Tanning System. This treatment is a staff favourite!

 

Products can make a visible difference in rejuvenating your skin.
You can purchase any three DerMed products for only $169!*
*Excluding pumpkin exfoliating cream & Antioxidant serum/eye serum. See our consultant
to discuss which products are suitable for your individual needs.

www.laserclinics.com

 

 

 

::THOUGHT::

 

 

Motivational Note:  You have a choice

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - Jason Michael Gracia Founder and President http://www.motivation123.com

You have a choice to make at this very moment. You can continue to travel down the corridor of your life without making a move toward any door, or you can break out of the routine and start living life at an entirely new level. Regardless of your choice, you'll eventually reach the end of the line. I suggest you open as many doors as possible before that time arrives. Have an excellent week and remember: Never settle for less than you want and never overlook what you already have.

 

 

 

::MUSIC NEWS::

 

 

Juno Wrap-Up

By Aisha Wickham, UMAC Executive Director

From April 1-3, Artist Relations Director Debi Blair, Past President Tony Sutherland and I were in Winnipeg to celebrate the 34th Annual JUNO Awards. It was a terrific weekend filled with food, parties and music. Wow...representing the urban music industry is hard work sometimes. :) I'm pleased to report, however, that the state of the industry is strong!  Over the course of the weekend at the Welcome Reception, lunch meetings and record label parties, it was a great opportunity to congratulate many of the JUNO nominees, catch up with industry folks that I hadn't seen since last year's reception in Edmonton, and to connect with strategic partners such as Heather Ostertag and Mark Watts of FACTOR; Lou Gannon and Steve Lawrence of the African Nova Scotian Music Association (ANSMA); Steve Horne of the East Coast Music Association (ECMA); and Ludlow Rodney of the Calgary Reggae Music Festival.

On Friday and Saturday night, UMAC presented two jam-packed showcases at the Empire Cabaret in downtown Winnipeg. The performances were great, and the packed club and line-ups outside demonstrated that people across the country have a strong appetite for live Hip Hop, R&B and Reggae performances.  Saturday night at the Awards Gala Dinner, I watched with pride as R&B princess Keshia Chanté opened the show with an energetic performance, and then took home one of the first awards of the evening for R&B Recording of the Year. She said, "Just recording an album was a dream come true!"  I also smiled like a proud mother as the African Guitar Summit gave a phenomenal performance and took home the award for World Recording of the Year, and Sonia Collymore gave a charming speech as she accepted her JUNO award for Reggae Recording of the Year. I had to leave early to prepare for our showcase, and I heard that I missed an "unbelievable" performance by soulful soprano opera star Measha Brueggergosman.

On Sunday, I attended the Songwriter's Circle, hosted by Burton Cummings. The Songwriter's Circle, presented by SOCAN, is a gathering of some of Canada's best songwriters at which they reveal the inspiration and meaning behind their musical creations. Jully Black gave a stirring performance (accompanied by Gordie Sampson on guitar). Jully had the audience enraptured with the story of her 2004 CUMA-nominated song, "I Travelled". The motivation for writing that song came from the example set by her mother, who immigrated to Canada from Jamaica and raised her nine children alone. She also performed a song she wrote for Destiny's Child called "I Know", which was written in the voice of a baby girl talking to her mother telling her "it'll be OK."

The televised awards show on Sunday night was definitely true to the Winnipeg JUNO Committee tag line "the flatter the land, the harder the rock", but it was amazing to watch K-OS's six-minute performance and his clean sweep of the awards in the categories for which he was nominated (Single of the Year for "Crabbuckit"; Rap Recording of the Year for Joyful Rebellion; and Video of the Year for "B-Boy Stance").

Overall it was a terrific weekend, and now it's time to turn our attention to getting ready for the 7th annual Canadian Urban Music Awards, coming in October! Stay tuned for details coming soon!

 

 

 

 

Artist Profile: Sonia Collymore

Source: By Wendy Vincent, UMAC Publicity Director

UMAC celebrates two-time Juno Award Winner!  Meticulous, polished, humble, ambitious, gregarious and straight up focused. That is how I would describe Canadian Reggae superstar Sonia Collymore. Fresh off of her JUNO Award win last weekend for Best Reggae Recording with her debut full length CD, WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get), Sonia is one of Canada's most versatile and savvy artists.  In fact, her win at the JUNOs marked Sonia's second occasion to score top prize at the awards in the Reggae Recording category. Here are the wins she has racked up with lightening speed since she launched her solo career in 2000:

* 2005 JUNO Reggae Recording of the Year (WYSIWYG)
* 2003 JUNO Reggae Recording Of The Year ("You Won't See Me Cry")
* 2001 Canadian Reggae Music Award - Top Female Reggae Singer
* 2000 Canadian Reggae Music Award - Top Reggae Single for "Breathe"
* 2000 Canadian Reggae Music Award - Top Female Reggae Newcomer

Sonia says her musical role models are "Beres Hammond for his songwriting ability and Marcia Griffiths for her longevity in the business and her ability to re-invent herself." Sonia also cites Canadian Reggae singer turned Gospel artist, Nana McLean, for her strong voice.  Like many artists, Sonia started off in the church singing harmonies. "As a child, I grew up listening to reggae when my father would spend weekends in the basement playing Reggae music. Professionally, I toured with Nana McLean as a harmony singer for one year. This was followed by an opportunity to tour with Beres Hammond for six years, and then I started singing solo in 2000."  Sonia sees big things for Reggae music in the near future. "Reggae is fast becoming the popular genre," she says. "With artists like Gwen Stefani recording albums that combine Pop and Reggae, it's presenting our genre to a wider audience. Even artists like Alicia Keys are doing re-mixes of their popular songs in Reggae. Within the next 5-10 years Reggae will take over like Hip Hop did. I plan to be on the forefront leading the women in this genre."

Sonia has a busy performance schedule ahead of her. She will be performing at the Kings of Kings 10 Year Anniversary Bash on May 7 and the Celebrate Toronto Street Music Festival on July 9. She'll be heading west to perform at the Calgary International Reggae Festival on August 20.  The JUNO win has created a new interest in her album, so Sonia will definitely be doing more touring and promotion in the coming months. The album is available nation-wide at major record stores, and online at www.soniacollymore.com.

Congratulations on your success, Sonia. We look forward to hearing much more from you!

 

 

 

Eternia: Where I Been – The Collection

For nine years Eternia has tightened her skills in street ciphers, live performances, and studio sessions across Canada, the U.S., and Australia.     In 2001, Eternia released her solo promotional track "Work It Out" on commercial and campus radio.   The track "Sorrow Song" was released summer 2002 by Universal Music Canada and Phem Phat Productions, and the video - released October 2002 - has been circulating on Much Music, Much Vibe, Musique Plus, MTV Canada, and exclusive U.S. and Australian networks.  February 2004, the video "Just the Way it Is" was released which features an all-star East Coast Canadian lineup: Classified, Eternia, D.L. Incognito, and Maestro.    Summer 2004, Eternia released the music video "Understand If I" featuring Freestyle of the Arsonists, which also enjoys continuous airplay on Much Music, Much Vibe, and MTV Canada - the single featured on both Freestyle's Battle Axe Records release “Etched in Stone” and Eternia's upcoming solo album entitled “It’s Called Life”.  She has opened for acts such as Common, D-12, Planet Asia, Jurassic 5, Blackalicious, J-Live, Del the Funky Homosapien, Hieroglyphics, Mr. Lif, Zion I, and Company Flow among others; she showcased at SXSW this year and has plans to tour throughout the summer/fall to support The Collection and her upcoming album release.

“Where I Been – The Collection”
Release Date:  April 19, 2005
C.D.  Urbnet - 9.99 USD / CDN
Urbnet Communications
P.O. Box  10617, 998 Bloor St. W.
Toronto, ON M6H 1L8  Canada
sales@urbnet.com

www.eternia.ca

To buy the CD online:  http://www.urbnet.com/records/shop-cds.asp

 

 

 

Jazz Of All Stripes Will Pour Out At Distillery Fest

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

(Apr. 20, 2005) The young Distillery jazzfest has quickly earned praise for its imaginative programming, and this year's upcoming line-up lives up to that standard, offering music of all styles.  It's a bargain, too, since for $25 (advance) or $30 at the gate you can sample at least six or seven bands each evening. The acts number around 100 and include mainstream and contemporary jazz, vocalists, alternative jazz and creative improv, worldbeat, jazz fusion and cabaret acts.  Artistic director Larry Rossignol has noted that there is something for everyone over the two weekends (May 20-22 and 27-29) of the third annual festival. "It will please sophisticated jazz fans as well as newcomers to the music, with the best of local talent in both mainstream and alternative fields performing."  There's jazz on the four weekend afternoons on four of the stages, with some programming aimed at kids.  The 500-seat Fermenting Cellar, now called the JazzFM91 Theatre, will be the venue for special presentations, two sets each night.  Cuban-born pianist and Juno winner Hilario Duran debuts his 17-piece big band May 21. It will play his compositions and big band charts he did for Cuba's national jazz orchestra and legendary group Irakere. Improvising orchestra NOJO celebrates its 10th anniversary with a mixed program May 20 plus guests, violinist Hugh Marsh, a 12-piece string section and rapper Phatt Al.  On May 27 trumpeter Nick Ali leads Cruzao Grupo Monstruoso, the 15-piece version of his award-winning jazz funk outfit Cruzao, a quintet. Three acts perform on the Bebop Heaven evening May 22 Kollage, pianist Bernie Senensky's septet and James Warburton's The Spirit of Jazz. 

On May 28 three groups will compete for the second annual Emerging Artists Award, won last year by Cuban-born pianist David Virelles. In contention May 28 will be the quartet led by saxophonist Tara Davidson, the quintet led by pianist Greg de Denus and the New Cuban Generation Project led by singer-pianist Glenda del Monte Escalante. Adjudicator is JazzFM91 chief Ross Porter.  The festival's Pure Spirits Patio and the weather-proof Canteen Patio will host jazz of all kinds, especially vocalists.  Performers there include New York bassist Mark Helias' post-bop trio with saxist Tony Malaby and drummer Tom Rainey, bassist Michael Bate's Outside Sources foursome and another bass-led trio headed by Mike Downes. Other bands booked include the Bebop Cowboys.  Fifteen singers have been signed up, including Emilie-Claire Barlow, Dee Kaye Ibomeka, Beverly Taft, Carol McCartney, Micah Barnes and Angela Scappatura.  The Gibson-Jessop Gallery is where you'll find solo pianists of all stripes. Their ranks include Doug Riley, Brian Dickinson, Dave Restivo, Lee Pui Ming, Eve Egoyan, Gord Sheard, John Kameel Farah, Greg de Denus, American Deanna Witkowski and Haligonian Paul Simons.  There's a host of string virtuosi who'll perform in the Canteen Patio and Dancemakers Studio. They include slide guitarist David Tronzo, lap steel guitarists Myk Freedman and Don Rooke, guitarists Michael Occhipinti (with a classical string trio) and Reg Schwager (with cellist Kiki Misumi), groups led by bassists Henry Heillig and Roberto Occhipinti, cellist Kye Marshall's combo, Steve Cole's Twenty-five Strings and more.  This edition of the festival has as always a strong line-up of free jazz and new music combos featuring the likes of drummer Barry Romberg's trio, the Queen Mab Trio (Marilyn Lerner, Lori Freedman, Ig Henneman), saxman Glen Hall's Outsource, the unique vocal duo of Christine Duncan and Paul Dutton, bassist Michael Morse's Dignity of Labour Ensemble and many more.  The festival's cabaret idiom is represented with such acts as guitarist Tony Quarrington's Deep River, trad jazzers The Happy Pals, violinist Ed Vokurka's Gypsy Jazz and Joaquin Hidalgo's Cubanos.  For more information, go to http://www.distilleryjazz.com.

 

 

 

Alanis Going Acoustic On Summer Tour

Source:  www.billboard.com - -- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(Apr. 19, 2005) As exclusively revealed here last month, Alanis Morissette will embark on her first acoustic tour this summer in support of a newly recorded acoustic edition of her landmark 1995 debut album, "Jagged Little Pill." The tour will begin June 7 in Toronto, to be followed by the Maverick album six days later. The set will be sold exclusively by Starbucks for the first six weeks. "We'll play the album from start to finish," the artist told Billboard recently of the summer jaunt, "although we'll probably play around some with the order. We'll also throw in some other songs from the last 10 years." Morissette added she is in no way saying goodbye to these songs: "I'll be playing them until I'm dead."  The six-week jaunt will play theatres through a July 17 finale in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Here are Alanis Morissette's tour dates:

June 7: Toronto (Hummingbird Centre)
June 8: Detroit (Masonic Temple)
June 10: Minneapolis (Orpheum Theatre)
June 11: Chicago (Auditorium Theatre)
June 14: Philadelphia (venue TBA)
June 15: New York (Radio City Music Hall)
June 17: Boston (Wang Theatre)
June 18: Baltimore (Meyerhoff Symphony Hall)
June 20: Cincinnati (Aronoff Center)
June 21: Nashville (Ryman Auditorium)
June 22: Atlanta (Fox Theatre)
June 24: Miami (Jackie Gleason Theatre)
June 25: Clearwater, Fla. (Ruth Eckerd Hall)
June 26: Orlando, Fla. (Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre)
June 28: New Orleans (Saenger Theatre)
June 29: Houston (Jones Hall)
June 30: Ft. Worth, Texas (Bass Hall)
July 2: St. Louis (Fox Theatre)
July 3: Kansas City, Mo. (Midland Theatre)
July 5: Denver (Paramount Theatre)
July 8: Portland, Ore. (Schnitzer Hall)
July 9: Vancouver (Orpheum Theatre)
July 10: Seattle (Paramount Theatre)
July 12: Oakland, Calif. (Paramount Theatre)
July 13: Los Angeles (Walt Disney Concert Hall)
July 15: San Diego (Copley Symphony Hall)
July 16: Phoenix (Dodge Theatre)
July 17: Costa Mesa, Calif. (Orange County Performing Arts Center)

 

 

 

Mary J’s Midas Touch

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 20, 2005) *“We hustle!” is right.  The words shouted by Mary J. Blige on the remix of Cassidy’s “I’m A Hustla” reflects the singer’s renewed status as the "it girl" when it comes to hooking up hot remixes. While The Game's "Hate It Or Love It" featuring 50 Cent hit No. 1 this week on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, the remix  - featuring Game reciting a respectful ode to Blige’s career while the singer herself drops reflections of her own – debuted at No. 57 on the chart this week.  Renamed “MVP,” the remix is the unofficial lead single from Blige's untitled new album, according to “Launch.” "It's incredible, man. I never heard nothing like it,” said Dre of production team Cool & Dre, who produced the remix. “I never seen nothing like a record that's been on the radio for four days, officially, and it already is No. 57 on the R&B charts. She made a record that made you forget the original. You know, after a while when something gets played so much, so many remixes, you're like, 'Yo, I'm tired of this beat already.' She made it fresh again."

Speaking of fresh beats, Cassidy’s track for “I’m A Hustla,” already a bonafide head-nodder, was made even tighter by Blige’s lyrics, which tout her own grind skills with authority.   Mary and Ja Rule hooked up for the underground mixtape heater “Streets Done Raised Me," and the vocalist also re-teamed with Jay-Z for a track that may turn out to be the next single from her new album.  "It's an up-tempo club record with energy," the song’s co-producer Andre Harris of Dre and Vidal told MTV last week. "It's called 'Can't Hide From Love.' It's the jump-off record. Mary's coming back, letting the person know 'You can't hide from love. I'm chasing you. Don't hide from it.' It's hot, it's a burner."  Blige also put in work on Will Smith's new album “Lost and Found” via the track "Tell Me Why," and she'll join Jamie Foxx on the song "Love Changes" for his forthcoming album.  And that’s not it...Blige will also be a featured guest on Santana's next CD, singing a ditty written by Rob Thomas and featuring Big Boi on the mic, reports MTV.

 

 

 

Funk, Pop And A Whole Lotta R&B

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Melissa Nilssen

(Apr. 20, 2005) Robert “Kool” Bell of the hit 70’s and 80’s band Kool And The Gang is well overdue for a celebration, so to honour his 40th year in the music industry we can look forward to the September release of his special Anniversary album called “Kool And The Gang: 40 Is Still Kool.”  Not only has Bell been busy mixing up a fresh album, he and the gang are making their way around the world touring and even fiddling their fingers in film making. “We’re still touring a lot, we spend a lot of time in Europe, Africa and Asia,” Bell explains about his eventful schedule. We can definitely look forward to seeing ‘the spirit of the boogie’ return to the states when the band hits LA for a tour.  Meanwhile the boys are doing all they can with gruelling schedules of early morning radio tours while also in the studio perfecting their album of over 60 “Kool” songs.  In fact, Bell and the crew have so many songs in the making that the album may have to be broken down into two discs. “The album is still Kool,” Bell insists with a chuckle, “ but it will have all new music.” No need to worry, the Kool & the Gang sound won’t be drowned out by lost years on the charts.  Seventies Funk and 80’s R&B are thrown together with a new millennium twist to create the hip sounds of his up and coming album.

“It’s going to be some jazz roots, the funk thing that we've done over the years with some Pop flavour,” Bell explains.  “We have some interesting things that we are working on.” Unfortunately this time around, James “JT” Taylor, the bands former lead singer, will not be putting any vocal skills to use for this album, or any skills for that matter.  JT amicably left the group in the 80’s to pursue a solo career and later rejoined in 1995.  Now ten years later the band has evolved with new instrumentalists and singers. Shawn Mackur, from Buffalo, plays the guitar and dabbles with his vocals.  Skip Martin, of the Dazz Band (yes, he does double duty with both bands), plays the trumpet and sings, while Rodney Ellis, from Memphis, Tennessee, is in charge of percussion and also sings. “It’s kind of like full circular,” Bell explains about the evolution of his new band.  “When we started, we started as a band.  Now we’re a band that sings,” he laughs. Bell started his streak of funk while playing jazz with his brother in 1964 and later formed the band Jazziacs.  The band spilt their soul all over the New York City clubs and went through several other names before they became the ever-popular “Kool & The Gang.”  The name seemed to spread a funky vibe to music listeners all over the country and the band hit it big.  You can still hear their hit song “Celebration” booming on dance floors around America and the world. Kool And The Gang also gained success from songs like “Get Down On It” and Top Tens like “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swinging.”  That history has brought them to today with more than just music in the making. 

“We are working on a documentary which we should be finishing in Paris next month,” Bell says. But he doesn’t want to stop at just a documentary with all the history the band has seen.  Bell has been meeting with a few writers and is working towards a goal of getting the Kool And The Gang story on the big screen. “We’ve got a story to tell here,” he explains, “and we want to make sure they tell the right story!” You can look forward to hearing all new music with the September 2005 release of the 40th Anniversary Album, “Kool And The Gang: 40 Is Still Kool.” In the meantime, you groove to their current Sanctuary Urban CD "Hits Reloaded," a remake/tribute album of some of the Gang's classic hits with guest artists like Ashanti, Angie Stone, Lil Kim, Lisa Stansfield, Sean Paul, Youssou N'Dour, Blackstreet, Blu Cantrell and RedMan.

 

 

 

Don Palmer Tumbles Into T.O.

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Mark Miller

(Apr. 14, 2005) Don Palmer arrived in Toronto from Halifax last October in much the same manner that he went to New York from Halifax in 1959. He just slipped into town without fanfare.  Back then, the 20-year-old alto saxophonist from Cape Breton had just left the Royal Canadian Artillery Band in Halifax and was keen to study improvisation with fellow altoist Lee Konitz, one of the seminal modernists on the New York scene. Now, just turned 66, Palmer can review the career that followed -- 16 years as a successful freelance musician in New York, another 26 as a popular teacher at Dalhousie University in Halifax -- and still find himself effectively starting over again in Toronto.  Twice over, actually. He has been musing about such a move for at least 20 years, but it wasn't until he took a tumble 18 months ago on Lady Hammond Road in Halifax and broke his two front teeth that he found the resolve to follow through. "That's what got me up here," he explains, over coffee in a west-end Toronto bakery, just around the corner from his new digs. "I realized how fragile life in general is, how transitory. If I want to do any playing, I'd better do it now." But first things first. "I'm still learning how to play again," Palmer notes, citing the adjustments required by the dental repairs he has undergone since the accident. ("It was terrifying, man," he says of the fall, which must be one of a reed player's worst nightmares. "It took me a week to think about anything but shooting myself.")  So it is that Palmer has been laying low since his move from the coast five months ago -- practising mostly, teaching occasionally at Humber College in place of one of his former pupils, Kirk MacDonald, and sitting in at The Pilot, a Toronto tavern and jazz spot, with another of his old charges, Mike Murley.

Even at the best of times, he's not by nature the hustling type; affably soft-spoken and almost immodestly modest, he has only now begun to stir, lining up a matinee of his own at The Pilot for this Saturday. "I'm not sure I have the confidence to walk in someplace and say, 'I'm here,' " he admits, explaining away the absence of any strategy to make his presence known in a new city. If that sounds like typically Canadian self-effacement, Palmer agrees without apology. "I wouldn't change it; I've known guys who are really aggressive about their careers and I always thought it cost them something in the way they approached their music." Yes, he certainly would have known a lot of guys in New York who were aggressive about their careers. And yet he, too, thrived there in his own way, developing a reputation as -- in a friend's dryly affectionate description -- "the best third-alto player in town." He worked with swing orchestras, jazz bands, rock acts and Latin ensembles; he played for recording sessions and Broadway shows. You name it, he did it, albeit often anonymously. "What saved my ass in New York was how well I could read [music]," he recalls. "You and I would audition, and we both know you're twice, maybe three times, as good a saxophonist as I am, but I got the job. I could read anything." His training as a military bandsman served him especially well in that respect. "In the army band we had played Hindemith's Symphony for Wind Ensemble; every bar was in a different time signature. I was 18 years old and I had all day to learn how to play it." But Palmer didn't last for three years with Tito Puente's famous Latin-jazz orchestra -- an unlikely place for a redheaded Cape Bretoner, surely -- just because he could read music on sight.  Under the guidance of Lee Konitz, and in turn of Konitz's mentor, the legendary pianist Lennie Tristano, Palmer had also developed an incisive, even biting style as a soloist in the bop tradition.

Indeed, his jazz skills brought him frequent calls in the early 1970s to play with the celebrated Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra on Monday nights at the Village Vanguard; his introduction to the band reveals the tangled web he had woven through the New York music scene by then. As he tells it, he was waiting one Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden for a sound check with The Four Tops when he noticed an alto saxophonist with another act pacing nervously backstage and glancing at his watch in anticipation of a looming engagement elsewhere.  Palmer generously offered to fill in for the run-through. "Sunday night, the phone rings," he remembers, picking up the story, "and it's that saxophonist -- it was Jerry Dodgion -- and he's asking if I'd like to play with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis band. When I got to the gig, he was sitting in the lead-alto chair. What happened, I guess, is that he had asked someone if I could play." Palmer pauses before adding, "He must have asked a friend of mine. . . ." Palmer peppers his account of those New York years with similar disclaimers, not least the fact that, toward the end of his time in the city, he lived at 8th Avenue and 53rd Street and thus was available to Broadway's theatres and studios on virtually no notice. "I got a lot of my work because people found out that there was this alto player who owned a tenor and a baritone, who could read, and who was able to get there in 10 minutes." However he came by it, Palmer brought a wealth of experience back to Canada when he returned in 1975 to Sydney, N.S., out of concern for the well-being of his parents. Three years later, he was appointed director of jazz studies at Dalhousie University and quickly moved to the centre of the Halifax jazz scene, as active off campus as on.

He was a founder of the Atlantic Jazz Festival in 1987, worked with bassist Skip Beckwith and drummer Jerry Granelli in the trio Alive and Well around the turn of the 1990s, and has been central to fellow Haligonian Paul Cram's various creative schemes, including the Benghazi Saxophone Quartet, Upstream and the Paul Cram Orchestra. More broadly, he has seen several of his former students enjoy success in other Canadian centres, although he observes, of his role as a teacher, "The nice thing is that if you do it right, none of them sound like you." The best-known of his erstwhile protégés are cases in point -- Kirk MacDonald, Mike Murley and Montreal-based Joel Miller, all tenor saxophonists who sound not the least like each other, much less like their old teacher. That, of course, leaves Palmer with an elusive sort of legacy to date, one filled out on record by just a 1970 LP with Tito Puente, two CDs with Alive and Well, and three alongside Paul Cram. In truth, Palmer still has his own mark to make. Hence his move to Toronto. But that fall on Lady Hammond Road in 2003 has apparently taken its toll on his playing. He's no longer quite the Don Palmer of old. Or so he says. Perhaps he's being modest yet again, tempering everyone's expectations, including his own. Or perhaps he's just being realistic. "I'm not going to try to be whatever I thought I was," he suggests, putting his past behind him in favour of an uncertain future. "This is who I am now, and this is what I'm going forward with."

 

 

 

Presley Dares To Be Herself

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

(Apr. 14, 2005) If you're musically inclined and the sole offspring of one Elvis Aaron Presley, probably the wisest thing to do is just suppress those rock `n' roll urges forever.  Throwing caution and common sense to the wind, however, Lisa Marie Presley took a crack at the typically unwise next-generation career thing in 2003 with To Whom it May Concern, an album of hoarse pop-rock tunes in the Sheryl Crow orbit that went on to earn her grudging respect from critics and gold-record sales in the States.  Rather than wait another 35 years to make a follow-up, Presley has gamely leapt to the put-up-or-shut-up challenge this month with a second disc, Now What. And although it still clings a little too closely to the polished chick-rock anonymity of its predecessor, the sound is gruffer, more bad-tempered (there's enough cussing to merit a "parental advisory" warning) and generally more distinctively Presley's own than it was the last time around.  A better record than the first, then, and one that suggests Elvis's kid — herself a mother of two "very musical" children aged 12 and 15 — might actually make a go of pop stardom, after all.  "Those are big shoes to fill, but I wasn't trying to fill them," says the pint-sized Presley, 37, lounging about in baggy jeans and a ratty blue top before her MuchMoreMusic live appearance at Queen and John Sts. last night. "I was just trying to make my own thumbprint, possibly through naiveté. I didn't realize what I was up against until the middle of it."  Daddy's shadow wasn't the only thing that the younger Presley had working against her the last time out.  There was, of course, that three-year marriage (her second) to Michael Jackson during the mid-'90s, a subject — mercifully forbidden during this interview — that still seems to mystify the bride as much as it does the general public. There was that subsequent thing with Nicolas Cage. But there was also the fact that she'd never performed in front of a proper audience before releasing To Whom it May Concern.

"That was mistake No. 1. Most people have been performing for a while before they put a record out," says Presley, who infamously fell off the stage during a live bit for The Today Show two years ago. "So I put it out and then had to do all these TV performances. I had to get used to talking to interviewers, which I'd never done my whole life, then singing in front of an audience and being live on TV, so it was just one thing after another. I had to sort of grow up quickly. Thankfully, through the touring, I think I did and I found my way. Eventually.  "It took a lot of blundering and stumbling and being nervous to figure it out. I'm not really someone who likes attention on me and being front and centre, whereas being front and centre, you have to have a certain amount of vanity and I didn't have that."  This time, Presley — a commendably down-to-earth human being, by the way — is up against the unfortunate reality that contemporary pop music tends to ignore "female artists who aren't 12 and half-naked or trying to act like they're punk and trying to be edgy."  Now What managed an impressive debut at No. 9 on the Billboard album chart this week. But despite a couple of killer prospective singles in "Turbulence" and "Thanx" — both co-written with Pink collaborator Linda Perry — it's considered too "rock" for Top 40 radio and too "pop" for rock radio and has met with a collective shrug from programmers ("It did nothing," Presley says flatly). Regardless of the record's fate, though, Presley says she's already achieved her primary goal.  "Music's always had a big impact on my life and I just wanted to write a record that would do that for other people," she says. "And when everything was said and done on the first round, I realized I had made fans on my own, for who I am."

 

 

 

It's Time For Dionne

Source: Gregory Williams  --  switchhousepress@yahoo.com

(Apr. 14, 2005) Currently, Dionne is WOWING audiences across the country while on the road performing with the (nine-city) Pantene Total You Tour sponsored by BET & Essence Magazine (which kicked off March 5, 2005 in Chicago at the McCormick Place Convention Center), along with fitness expert Donna Richardson Joyner, comedienne Myra J, hip-hop pioneer/actress MC Lyte and gospel singer Yolanda Adams.  Dionne's performances have the audience on their feet and awestruck by her singing and stage presence. During a tour stop in Detroit, Dionne made special appearances at an ACS (American Cancer Society) kickoff rally at Marygrove College and at an inner city Boys and Girls Club. At the ACS event, which was the kickoff rally for Relay for Life, which will take place summer 2005 in Detroit, Dionne delivered an address, signed autographs, gave away t-shirts and posed for pictures with attendees. Later that afternoon, upon arrival at the Boys and Girls Club, the kids greeted Dionne by creating a welcome banner for her and honoured her with a Boys and Girls Club staff t-shirt to commemorate the event. She spent time talking with the kids about what they wanted to be when they grew up, who their favourite entertainment artists were and about why she supports the Boys and Girls Club effort, among other topics. Before leaving for that evenings performance, again Dionne autographed posters, gave away t-shirts and posed for pictures with the kids.  In the midst of her busy touring schedule, she also made time to return to the New York area to do a special performance as NYC's Cherry Lounge on March 24, 2005 to the delight and amazement of new fans and admirers. On May 17, 2005, this hip hop/R&B singer will be releasing her solo/autobiographical debut album "Dear Diary" on the 50/50 Music/Kandi Entertainment label. With the beauty of diamonds, a skilled voice as smooth as silk, her fresh approach to song delivery and lyrical diversity on the subject of love and relationships, Dionne brings a refreshing change from what you’ve come to expect from the current genre of new female artist. Dionnes album covers a vast array of material pertaining to contemporary female issues. A native of Great Britain, Dionne first appeared on the music scene as lead singer for the Arista Records UK girl group Infiniti. She is also a recent college graduate from New Jersey's Kean University in the area of criminal justice. With her good looks, brains and talent to die for, everyone will stand up and take note of Dionne!  A 7 track promo CD and DVD clips are available for review upon request courtesy of 50/50   Music/Kandi Entertainment Records & SwitchHousePress.  Check out Dionne @ www.dionnemusic.com

 

 

 

Snoop, The Game, Steve Harvey And Others Make West Coast Peace Treaty

Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Houston Williams

(Apr. 14, 2005) Conscious West Coast rapper Kam once released a song called “Peace Treaty” and yesterday, the Left Side held a landmark meeting of unity that included some of the biggest names in California. Kam's 12-year-old song has come to life within Rap music.  Those in attendance included rappers like Xzibit, Young MC, Snoop Dogg, The Game, The D.O.C., Kurupt, Nate Dogg, Warren G, King Tee, Daz Dillinger, Suga Free and Lil’ Eazy-E, among others. Comic/ personality Steve Harvey moderated the proceedings.  The Game of The Black Wall Street said that this show of unity is the beginning of a new era for the West Coast Hip-Hop scene.  “Today was very monumental for West Coast music as a whole. Some 80 West Coast Rap artists, up-and-coming as wells as veterans, filled a conference hall at the Universal Sheraton in North Hollywood California,” Game told AllHipHop.com. “Suge Knight nor Dr. Dre showed up for the event, because they were both busy in their own respective rights. I, myself, spoke on behalf of Dre and Aftermath [Records] and Steve Harvey spoke on Suge's behalf. All in all, I think it was much needed and I also believe that it’s the beginning of a more diverse and unified West Coast Rap Movement.”  Snoop Dogg, who has had beef with a number of his coastal brethren, arranged the conference and told MTV News this was the time for a change. "I felt we should come together as one, organize, unify and start making records with each other and be about a cause," Snoop said after the meeting. "It's time for us to start standing up for something. It's called ‘Protect the West.’ We're all moving together, we ended all our beefs."  Snoop has resolved all of his conflicts with Jayo Felony, Suge Knight, Kurupt and others.

West Coast-based journalist/activist Davey D proclaimed that the West needed peace at the time when many Rap factions appeared to be fragmented.  “This is a beautiful thing that needs to be supported from all sectors. If the artists can come together on their own accord that means the corporate radio stations that profit off beef need to cease and fall in line and do what they can to support the effort,” said Davey D. Afeni Shakur, mother of Tupac Shakur and former Black Panther, told AllHipHop.com that she hoped that the West Coast’s peace resolution would continue throughout the youth in particular and the community as a whole.  “I am prayerful that the young community can come together – all sides and all ends – will come together and institutionalize some methods of conflict resolution. And just be more creative about how we can solve the problems. I believe young people have the potential to do anything that they want. In the 60’s, we believed that we needed to make change in the government and we gave our whole selves to that.”  Candy Man 187 of Tha Havenotz, a group closely associated with Tupac prior to his death, said that this summit was a positive step to avert future tragedy and spark similar change in the East.  “The West has lost some of our greatest - Tupac, Mac Dre – and n***s is finally realizing that this beef s**t ain’t worth it. We on some ridah s**t now,” said Candy Man. “Now its time to spread the love. We gotta spread it over [to the East Coast]. Its gotta spread to the East Coast. We are all willing to come together for a greater cause.” Snoop explained that that greater cause included networking and the event doubled as a business summit for rappers to meet and build relationships.  Davey D cautioned that the rappers in the peace treaty should be wary of possible external forces that could derail the process.  “One thing about the West Coast is that you will have the police working extra hard to try and undo a truce cause that’s what they did after 1992 when [warring gangs] came together try to break the unity,” he stated.  The Game and Snoop, admitted members of rival gangs, plan to kick off the How the West Was One Tour on Friday.  In 1990, the West staged a similar show of solidarity. “We're All in the Same Gang" was an anti-gang violence posse song that featured West Coast luminaries like Ice-T, Tone Loc, M.C. Hammer, N.W.A., Young M.C., Above The Law, Digital Underground, King Tee, Body & Soul, Oaktown's 3.5.7, Michel'le, Def Jef, Eazy-E and J.J. Fad.  Mike Concepcion, the legendary gang member-turned-peace activist, put the 1990 movement together. Concepcion continues to work for peace to this day.

 

 

 

Hip Hop: Cuba's New Revolution

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Catherine Jheon, Special To The Star

(Apr. 16, 2005) HAVANA—You won't find giant plasma screens, an aquarium full of exotic fish or even a stereo system at the headquarters of the state-run Cuban Rap Agency. The plain concrete building, housed within the grounds of a former private mansion and tucked away on a quiet residential street in Miramar, Havana's tiny neighbourhood, seems almost an afterthought.  But its mere existence represents a huge conversion in the government's attitude toward hip hop, whose practitioners were until recently given jail sentences, not record contracts.  While Cuban rappers aren't exactly throwing their hands in the air and chanting "down with Fidel," they are pushing the boundaries on freedom of expression in this Communist nation. Deadbeat dads, jineteras (prostitutes) hustling for American dollars, poverty, racism and police harassment are all topics up for grabs by Andres Daniel Rivalta Echevarria, better known as Papo Record.  The 26-year-old is the first agency-supported rapper to finish an album, to be released later this month. Record, who is quick to cop an attitude in his poor-boy cap and crisp white slacks, says being affiliated with the Cuban Rap Agency has neither stifled nor stigmatized him.  "The agency doesn't prohibit us," says Record. "Even the rappers who are very critical of Cuban society haven't had any problems with the agency. But, at the end of the day, it's about expressing truth and making good music."  Pablo Herrera, who produced Papo Record's album, agrees. "The rappers affiliated with the agency represent the best Cuban hip hop musicians in the country, so there's no fear of losing credibility by being part of a government institution."  The eight groups hand-picked by the agency through a series of auditions receive aid in the form of copyright, help with tours and promotion at home and abroad. "The agency has been an important tool for my music and my career," says Record.   If the rumours are true, Cuban rappers should give props to Harry Belafonte. Over cigars and rum on a hot Havana night, the legendary crooner reputedly convinced his buddy, Fidel Castro, that hip hop is a legitimate voice of the Cuban revolution. That conversation is said to have lead to the creation of the rap agency in 2002.

Pablo Herrera, Cuba's first and highly respected hip hop producer, who met Belafonte at a meet-and-greet arranged by the agency in its inaugural year, is familiar with the legend. "I didn't get to ask him about his chat with Fidel so I don't want to add to the myth of Harry and Fidel talking for five hours about the importance of hip hop," says Herrera, "But I know Harry is a fan of hip hop." The more likely story is that the Cuban Rap Agency, aimed at promoting the island's MCs and DJs, grew out of the Hermanos Saiz Association, the state's cultural youth wing. As young amateur rappers gained fame and recognition, they needed an organization to nurture them as professional rappers.  Initially, the government denounced hip hop as a counter-revolutionary American export. Suspicious of its foreign sound and aggressive style, police frequently shut down shows, even throwing rappers in jail.  "The government didn't know what to make of it at first," says Herrera. He recalls how, as late as 1999, members of a popular group, Anonimo Consejo (Anonymous Advice), were jailed after performing "Las Apariencias Enganan" (Appearances Deceive), a song about police harassment.  What was once suppressed and misinterpreted as hostility towards the Cuban government is being embraced as a powerful revolutionary tool. In an oft-quoted 1999 speech, the Cuban Minister of Culture Abel Prieto even called for the "nationalization" of hip hop, effectively legitimizing the genre. Anonimo Consejo, the very group jailed for its crimes in rhyme, is now among eight groups affiliated with the Cuban Rap Agency.   Cuban hip hop first surfaced in the early 1990s in the sprawling housing projects of Alamar, 30 minutes east of Havana, during the "special period" of economic free fall following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Disillusioned youths found solace in the music they heard wafting from Miami radio stations and began creating their own.

The result is an undeniably unique sound fusing salsa, son, rumba, reggae, African chants and rap as exemplified by the country's best known hip hop group, the Grammy-nominated Orishas. Once the nation's darlings, mention of the Orishas now prompts much eye-rolling. Some rappers accuse them of selling out since the foursome essentially defected when they relocated to Paris.  Just last year the island's most respected veteran rappers formed a collective called The Cartel, a group dedicated to ensuring that Cuban hip hop remains true to its roots as social commentary.  Cuban rappers, who tend to be poor and black, are generally more politically and socially conscious than their American counterparts: More Afro-Cuban pride than bling bling.  Sitting in her sparse office, the Cuban Rap Agency's director, Susana Garcia, hardly fits the image of a home girl.  Wearing a plain white T-shirt and sensible shoes, Garcia, who is in her 40s, admits she has much to learn about hip hop, but sees it as an authentic voice of the Cuban youth. "The Cuban government supports hip hop because it is an artistic manifestation of the issues Cuban people are concerned with," says Garcia. While the agency's director insists the Cuban government is not against rappers being critical, Garcia admits, "no country has complete freedom of expression and Cuba is no different."   On a sticky Friday night, at Casa de la Comedia's open-air venue in Old Havana, prepubescent kids, sexy mommies and Havana hipsters all sweat to the beat of Cuba Libre, a 12-piece band seamlessly fusing traditional Cuban sounds with rap. The scene is familiar to Herrera.  "I'm blown away by the acceptance of hip hop in Cuba. But it also makes sense. Hip hop is so popular because it represents something original and authentic. Cuban people can relate to the living conditions expressed in hip hop, the hardships expressed in hip hop and the dreams expressed in hip hop. The power of hip hop is that it speaks to the people."

 

 

 

Meet Sunny Hawkins, Gospel's Jill Scott

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Robbie Mescudi

(Apr. 15, 2005)  The opening track “Send Me I’ll Go” is a beautiful ode to Jesus. The song “Sick” has the distinct flavour of a hip-hop club mix. And the melody and lyrics on the ballad “It’s Like Air,” is a confessed homage to 80s soul-stress Anita Baker.  All in all, “More of You,” which is the debut CD from contemporary gospel recording artist, Sunny Hawkins is a musical Masterpiece!  The album which is being hailed as the Gospel equivalent of Jill Scott’s debut release was written and produced by Sunny, and her husband songwriter-producer, Jamie Hawkins, along with producer, Michael Witwer.  The album features an eclectic mix of 12 gospel oriented funk, pop, rap, and soulfully infused melodic grooves and soothing ballads.    “We started out writing R&B at first,” says Jamie, who co-wrote and produced the 2002 hit song “You Know That I Love You” for Donnell Jones. “What happened basically is [that] it wasn’t jelling at first, this particular time.  Sunny came to me and said, ‘Why don’t we make a gospel song?’  And well, you know,” he says modestly, “we [do] have the Church in our background.”  Jamie is the son of legendary Gospel greats Walter and Tramaine Hawkins. He is also the nephew of Edwin Hawkins, who pinned the 1969 classic "Oh Happy Day," one of the biggest selling gospel hits of all time. The song became a major pop radio smash, and caused quite a stir within the gospel community.  “Back then, that was like, ‘Oh my God, you’re doing something completely new and different’ says Jamie, and “some church folks didn’t really care for it.”   Where traditionalists would clamour that More of You deviates from pure church music, the Hawkins see it as another level of its evolution. “I think lyrically, if anything, I think it is the new step,” says Jamie, adding that much contemporary Gospel music has a type of church style, lyric-wise, or “church lingo” which they intentionally avoided. “It’s simply written to the person who has been in church or the person who’s never stepped foot in church.”

Sunny, who has written for both Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle, also sees the larger context of their music. “Even as far back as Mahalia Jackson people were upset that some of her music used some blues [music]. I grew up as a student of music.” She reels off a roster of heavies: Ella Fitzgerald. Aretha Franklin. Reba McIntyre. Barbara Streisand. “And so there’s not just one box that either of us pull from when it comes to musical influence. So it’s easy for us to write across styles. I’ll definitely say that a lot of it just happens to be our own artistic sensibilities”  Artistry which can he heard on their song “Sick.”  “There came a point for me where I kind of recognized I was in a cycle of ugliness,” she says quietly. “Because all of the things I would choose to do, and know that I didn’t need to be doing those things. All of those [choices] would end in tears for me, or heartbreak for me. You know, it’s not like I was some victim of circumstance. I was doing things that were just off. And there came a time when I said, ‘Okay Lord, I’m tired of being balled up in this fetal position based on my own stupid actions. This whole album is really personal.” It’s one of the pleasures of doing an independent album, observes Jamie. “You don’t have a lot of people saying that you can or cannot do this sound or this kind of vibe.”  So what’s the whole collaborative process been like for the newlyweds?  “It’s [been] a wonderful way to work out our marriage,” chuckles Jamie. “We kind of learn a lot just from the songwriting process.  She’s [Sunny is] an incredible singer and lyricist.  And she throws in her production tips.  The “tidbits” is where the confrontation comes. “But the beauty of that is, that in that energy comes some great stuff that neither one of us would expect.”  Call 323-377-1645 or go to  www.sunnyhawkins.com for more information. – rm

 

 

 

Idol Lives Up To The Title

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

(Apr. 18, 2005)  Kelly Clarkson will always have bragging rights to being the first American Idol victor, but she may also go down in the books as the only graduate of the Idol franchise to actually demonstrate some justification for her instant pop stardom.  Performing at a sold-out Massey Hall packed to the rafters with shrieking young girls on Saturday night, the diminutive, 22-year-old Texan — making her first trip to Toronto on a 35-date headlining tour to support her second double-platinum album, Breakaway — seemed entirely comfortable in the spotlight bestowed upon her three summers ago and gave no indication that she would be relinquishing it at any point in the near future.  True, any clear artistic identity of her own remains buried beneath the safe, boardroom-vetted songwriting stocking her albums and Clarkson's newly "rocked"-up repertoire treads the same generic girlie-pop territory recently travelled by her contemporaries Hilary Duff and Ashlee Simpson. There is, however, one crucial difference setting Kelly Clarkson apart from most of her pop-tart peers: The gal can really sing.  Clarkson's robust, soul-schooled voice was mainly left to sanitized R&B and goopy balladry on her 2003 debut, Thankful, but the slightly more rough-and-tumble sound of her newer material has revealed a talent for gut busting, Joplin-esque brawlers that she indulged on more than one occasion (including a cover of Janis's own "Piece of My Heart") on Saturday night.  From the hearty opener "Since U Been Gone" through weepies like "Because of You" and "Where Is Your Heart" (co-written with expat Winnipegger Chantal Kreviazuk) to the toweringly overwrought Evanescence-lite of "Addicted" and the booming guilty pleasure "Miss Independent," Clarkson generally dispensed with subtlety and let her pipes rip full-tilt while an efficient backing band played at a ferocious volume behind her. Even the Eurythmics' chilly "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" was rendered thunderous enough to goad a roomful of 12-year-olds without the foggiest idea who Annie Lennox is into rapturous fist-pumping.  The constant vocal overload can get a bit exhausting, and the finest moment of the evening actually came when Clarkson reined it in and gave a fragile, nuanced reading of the ballad "Beautiful Disaster" — a rather nice little tune, that, and one that suggests this is a singer who'd do well with some more unconventional material — accompanied only by violin and guitar.  Still, given the origins of her career and the fact that this is her first-ever headlining tour, Clarkson was remarkably at ease on stage, charming in an "Aw, shucks" kind of way and far more likeable than many of her pop-chart peers. There are far worse ways for your daughters to spend their money these days.

 

 

 

Matchbox Twenty Singer's Solo Debut Heads Toward More Of An R&B Sound

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vit Wagner, Pop Music Critic

(Apr. 18, 2005) The first thing you notice about the Rob Thomas who is in Toronto promoting his debut solo album is that he looks almost nothing like the Rob Thomas who has spent the past decade fronting the popular mainstream rock band Matchbox Twenty.  In place of the familiar curly locks is a thick but severely cropped thatch of hair.  It's a dramatic enough makeover that Thomas's pal, country singer Tim McGraw, didn't even recognize him when they crossed paths earlier this year at the Grammy Awards.  "He gave me that look that I give people when I'm not quite sure who they are," Thomas says. "He said, `Hey, how are you doing?' And walked off. I thought, `He just blew me off.' I said, `Tim, it's Rob.' And he said, `Oh my God, I'm sorry man.'"  Thomas sports the same shorn look on the cover of Something to Be, which hits stores tomorrow. He insists the altered appearance is more coincidental than deliberate.  "In retrospect, I'm glad I did it," he says. "At first, it seemed odd how many people didn't recognize me when I cut my hair. And then I realized that I had become a haircut."  Something to Be, including the single "Lonely No More," doesn't offer quite as dramatic a departure from the singer's Matchbox Twenty persona, but it does shift the sonic emphasis from rock to something more in the neighbourhood of R&B.  "There is no way the songs would have sounded that way if Matchbox had done them," he says. "First off, you would have had two guitars, a bass player and a drummer. On Matchbox records, the focus is always guitar. And on this record, there is much more focus on the bass and the drums. It's not necessarily R&B, but hearing the bass and the drums is inherent to soul music."  Thomas has noticed a similar shift rehearsing with his new touring band.  "In Matchbox, when we're f--king around we might jump into a Zeppelin tune or a Tom Petty song. But with this band, it's Earth, Wind and Fire or Bill Withers. It's fun."

The Matchbox Twenty sabbatical is temporary. The band, formed in Florida a decade ago, took stock last year after touring to support its third album More Than You Think You Are.  "We felt that if we made another record now we'd be in danger of becoming any negative thing that any critic has ever said about us," says Thomas.  "Up until this point, nobody could really touch us because everything we did, we at least did sincerely. This is the music we enjoyed making. There was not pretence to anything we did.  "This would have been the first Matchbox record where we would have felt that we were trying to make a Matchbox record. So everyone agreed it was a good time to go and do something different."  Something to Be is actually the third musical guise for Thomas who, in addition to his work for Matchbox Twenty, wrote the Grammy Award-winning song "Smooth" with Carlos Santana and sung on albums by Mick Jagger and Willie Nelson.  "You can't work with people like that and not be humble — and not feel like, Oh, there's the destination," says Thomas, who turned 33 earlier this year.  "This is the journey. I'm not there. I'm not even close to that. I'm not a Willie Nelson or Mick Jagger or a Carlos Santana.  "Maybe I could be. I'm starting now. And I've had a great beginning to my career but I've got so much to learn and be before I can even touch that.  "I believe that when I'm old people will talk about a band like Wilco the way they now talk about Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen. Commercial success doesn't buy you that.  "I don't want to be the Lovin' Spoonful. Nothing against the Lovin' Spoonful, but 20 years from now I just hope I'm still listening to my old stuff and my new stuff on the radio.  "I love the fact that U2 and Bruce Springsteen enter the Hall of Fame while they are still making noise in the world. They didn't just get dusted off for the ceremony."

 

 

 

Ike Rockets Back With A New Tina

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Brad Wheeler

(Apr. 18, 2005) Ever the exaggerated figure, Ike Turner made his way to the stage as a band member announced his arrival. "We've got the Father of Rock 'n' Roll in the house." Dressed in a white jumpsuit, adorned with black cartoon drawings, rhinestones and pink accents, the 73-year-old performer looked both fit and absurd. The "father of rock 'n' roll" business stems from his role in the 1951 recording of Rocket 88, a rollicking piano-driven R&B number thought to be the world's first rock song.  Turner reprised Rocket 88 on his 2001 comeback album Here and Now, and yet he failed to render it at Toronto's funky Reverb room. Mostly he stuck to boogie-woogie piano instrumentals, along with material from his days with the Ike and Tina Revue.  For good and for bad -- and assuredly there were both -- Ike and Tina Turner will forever be linked. Singer and famously leggy Tina moved on from the partnership decades ago, but it would appear that Ike, perhaps insecurely, has not. For dominating the back end of a spirited 80-minute performance was one Audrey Madison, a Tina-knockoff and the latest in the line of Ike's female protégé/companions. Audaciously attired in black spandex pants and a straining red bodice, Madison had bravely dug into Ike's closet for one of Tina's blond, leonine wigs, and if she took the hair, she also borrowed the strident vocals that came with it. "Worries and troubles, Lord, they just won't let me be," she screeched on Bobby (Blue) Bland's I Smell Trouble, a slow sad-toned blues that ended with Turner crazily manipulating the tremolo bar on his guitar, as has long been his custom to do. The strutting, booty-shaking Madison continued, matching up well vocally to Melissa Etheridge's I'm the Only One, a version saved from bar-band level by a measure of soul from the horn section.

The Otis Redding ballad I've Been Loving You Too Long began tenderly before devolving into a series of moaning pleads and screaming offers by Madison -- propositions that were met receptively, often lewdly, by Turner, who sat behind an electric keyboard that rested on the part of the stage that protruded into the audience. "You can make me do anything you want me to do," she sang. And from Turner, "You got what I want, you got what I need." Boom! The eight-piece band interrupted with a crashing one-note downbeat, before Turner continued, "And guess what baby/ I want you to whip it on me." On like that it went before the horn-led crescendo firmly finished matters. Although the songs that followed were diminished a bit by all that, the soft-then-rough Proud Mary was strongly performed, as was 1973's River Deep, Mountain High, a number helped by its Texas-funk treatment. Sly Stone's Higher, which closed the show, was marred by Turner's off-key guitar solo. Turner told the fair-sized audience that he had taught the emotive Madison to sang. He had "taught her good," he said, and if she was wasn't up to par on this night, we could "throw some rocks up here." Turner knows from thrown rocks. Ex-wife Tina's 1986 autobiography I, Tina firmly cast Ike as a thuggish, abusive husband.  He is no longer the brooding pariah, though. He laughed between songs and generally seemed to be enjoying himself, at one point receiving a bouquet of roses from a female fan. A phlegm-plagued singer, Turner struggled vocally on Louis Jordan's irresistible Caldonia and Tampa Red's Black Angel Blues, but made up the shortcomings with strong guitar work, laying out bold, streaking solos taut enough to hang laundry on. He played while seated, and when he finished his licks he would place the guitar on his lap and begin with the keyboard, playing in a barrelhouse manner. At show's end, Turner took in the applause -- wide-grinned and flashing two-fingered peace signs, Nixon-style. We don't have Nixon to kick around any more; and Turner, his reputation and attitude rallied, doesn't deserve the boot any longer either.

 

 

 

Producer Behind Ying Yang Twins Launches New Label

Source:  Eunice Moseley's Pulse Of Entertainment; Freelance Associates; Eunice Moseley, President; Email: freeassoc3@aol.comApril 19, 2005, 12:05 AM ET

(Apr. 19, 2005) D Rock (member of Ying Yang), was a label mate of mine,” Beat-In-Azz (formerly known as DJ Smurf) says about his discovery of the Ying Yang Twins. “I was a solo artist (on Ichiban Records) in Atlanta. I did a track for him and as pay back he was on my album. He showed up with Kaine (the other Ying Yang) and they were hot together. I told them they needed to stay together and signed them to my Collipark Records label (on TVT Records).” Rapper/producer Beat-In-Azz changed his name from DJ Smurf because he says that Disney said they didn’t like the image conflict. His real name is Michael Crooms, and he is not new to the Hip-Hop game having released his first album in 1995, “Versastyles” on Wrap Records; then in 1997 “Collipark Music" on Benz Records, and in 1998 “Non-stop Booty Shake” on Fortune Entertainment. In 2004 he did a mix-tape and the “Dead Crunk” releases on Ichiban/Ryco.  “I started out as a DJ, went to being an artist, to producer, to CEO and producer,” Michael Crooms says. Right now Michael says his focus releasing the new Ying Yang Twins release “U.S.A. (United States of Atlanta)” with finishing touches on the music video for the single “Wait.” Other producers on the album include Lil’ Jon, Three Six Mafia, Timbaland, Mannie Fresh and KLC.

“Everybody think we’re like Lil’ Jon, crunking, but we’re not, we’re rappers,” says Ying Yang. “We have been on the road for five years. We make music for our home boys, talking about what we are.” The Ying Yang Twins has also developed their own label PUNN Entertainment. They already have artist ready and waiting Hard Boys and Da Muzicianz. Advice these fellows leave us with is this, “Stay in school. Education is needed. This is 90% business. We need more doctors and lawyers, but do what you feel,” says the Ying Yang Twins and “If it makes you feel natural, people do it, eat and sleep it. Don’t stop school,” Michael Crooms aka producer Beat-In-Azz says.

Of note:  Uplifting Minds II entertainment conference comes back to Los Angeles June 25-26 with seminars and national talent competition held at Four-Point Sheraton at LAX and Westfield Fox Hill Shoppingtown. It's sponsored by Radio One's 100.3 The Beat, the L.A. Watts Times and EURWEB. Actress Jasmine Guy (Showtimes Dead Like Me) and actor/comedian Kel Mitchel (UPN's Dance 360) will be among the judges at the competition showcase. For more information call toll free (866) 366-2160 or email freeassoc3@aol.com.

 

 

 

The Source Mag Delivers Exclusive

Source: PRNewswire

(Apr. 20, 2005) NEW YORK  The Source Magazine, the leading voice for the Hip-Hop community for the past 17 years, delivers another timely and exclusive cover story with its May issue when it asks the question, "Is Hip-Hop The New WWF?" The Source goes on to provide in-depth reporting and analysis on the state of Hip-Hop in light of the recent 50 Cent/The Game beef and subsequently staged "truce." The May issue also features an exclusive interview with an insider within The Game's Black Wall Street camp who reveals shocking news on the confrontation at Hot 97 and the truth about Game and G-Unit. In recent weeks, the New York Daily News, Reverend Al Sharpton and others have turned the discussion of responsibility for violence in Hip-Hop from a focus on the artists back into the corporate headquarters of the music industry's largest record and radio companies. This follows over two and a half years of reporting by The Source on forces working to destroy Hip-Hop, including corruption, racism and monopolization within the music industry.

Highlights from The Source's exclusive May issue cover package include:

Profits Of Rage, words by Ryan Ford

"In the world of professional wrestling, actors earn a living with staged violence and drama. With MC's like The Game and 50 Cent cashing in on fabricated gangster stereotypes, it's time to question Hip-Hop's commitment to the truth."

Live From Black Wall Street, interview by The Source Mind Squad

"I think this whole thing has brought real Hip-Hop to a halt. Hip-Hop as a whole loses real big when things like this happens and The Game knows that and he's looking for a productive and positive outcome."  The Game's beef with The Source was coerced by his labelmates ... when he said 'fu*k The Source' and still got 4 mics for his album, that was a big wake-up call for him."

Speak Of The Devil, words by Dasun Allah

With Tupac's 'One Nation' album he wanted to prove he could sell records by unifying people as opposed to destroying people. Instead of making Tupac's vision of unity available to the public, the late artist's words were married with the works of Iovine's uber-thugs."

The May issue is the first in a series of upcoming exclusive cover stories, leading into the launch of the all-new millennium version of The Source, Hip-Hop's most important magazine. The August 2005 issue will feature a re-design of the magazine's contents including its logo-the first change to its logo in over 14 years-and the introduction of The Source 5.0, a DVD/CD-ROM disc that brings content from the magazine to life, creating a fully interactive experience for the magazine's readers.

The Source is the most widely-recognized and well-respected brand name in communications for Hip-Hop fans across the globe, earned through The Source Magazine's role as the most trusted media voice for the Hip-Hop movement for over 16 years. The Source is the #1 selling music magazine on newsstands in America, reaching nearly 9 million readers per month. Co-founder and CEO David Mays, along with Co-founder and Chief Brand Executive Raymond Scott, have successfully built The Source business brand into a renowned trademark, with extensions in music, television and consumer products such as clothing and DVD's.

 

 

 

Toronto's Downtown Jazz Swims In The Mainstream

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Mark Miller

(Apr. 14, 2005) Toronto -- The Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival continues to play it safe in its programming for 2005. The festival unveiled its 19th season yesterday, June 24 to July 3, which balances the mainstream stylings of saxophonists Sonny Rollins and Joshua Redman, trumpeter Arturo Sandoval and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band with the pop directions of singer-pianists Diana Krall and Dr. John, vocalists Matt Dusk, Madeleine Peyroux and Lhasa de Sela, trumpeter Roy Hargrove's RH Factor, pianist Bugge Wesseltoft and hip-hop duo The Herbaliser. The festival's other main-stage attractions include the jam band Medeski, Martin & Wood, Algerian singer Rachid Taha and the fusion trio of bassist Stanley Clarke, violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and banjo player Bela Fleck. Downtown Jazz will once again make Nathan Phillips Square its base and employ some 35 other halls, clubs and parks around the city.

 

 

 

Edmonton Getting A Reborn Jazz Festival This Summer

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By James Adams

(Apr. 19, 2005) Toronto -- Jazz fans in Edmonton got some good news yesterday as the board of the Edmonton Arts Council voted to invest $50,000 in a new jazz festival starting June 24. The Alberta capital has had an annual festival, Jazz City, since 1980 but this year financial difficulties forced its parent organization, the Jazz City International Festival Society, to announce its cancellation earlier this month. That society, which has an accumulated deficit of more than $200,000, was refused a $75,000 grant from the art council after it failed to present an audited financial statement this spring. Last week, the Edmonton Jazz Society stepped into the breach and said it would organize a smaller-scale festival for about $150,000.

 

 

 

Universal Music Canada & New York's VP Records

Source:  Universal Music

(April 14, 2005)  Universal Music Canada, the country's leading music company is pleased to announce having entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with top independent reggae label, VP Records.  Effective immediately, Universal Music Canada becomes the sole distributor of VP Records' immense roster of Caribbean music. VP Records, based in Jamaica, Queens NY, is a pioneering force in the reggae music industry.  From roots & culture to soca and dancehall, VP Records is the only record label that represents the full spectrum of Caribbean music.  "VP Records has been a cultural link between Caribbean music and its ever-growing world of enthusiasts for 25 years," commented Randy Lennox, President & CEO, UNIVERSAL MUSIC CANADA.  "We're very proud to associate ourselves with VP Records and its vast musical and cultural heritage." For the past 25 years, VP has stayed true to the grassroots from whence it came; always serving its core audience first, moving swiftly to keep up with the sounds of the street.  At the same time, with the international success of artists such as Sean Paul, Wayne Wonder, Elephant Man, Tanto Metro & Devonte, amongst others, VP has expanded its leadership in the effort to present Caribbean culture to a mainstream. "We are very excited about the opportunity to work with Universal Music in Canada," said Randy Chin, co-owner, VP RECORDS.  Canada, with its extensive Caribbean population, is one of the leading markets in the world for Reggae and we are pleased to be with the leading distributor in that market."

 

 

 

Arabesque is “The Frenzy of Renown”

Source:  Arabesque

From the sidewalks of Beirut to the streets of Atlantic Ave. BK, everyone is gabbing about Big Besque. With the recent signing of Arabesque (aka Aramaic) to UK label Sin Nombre, work on the debut album has intensified. We can now confirm that the album will be titled 'The Frenzy Of Renown'. Due to be released in the third quarter of 2005. Also prepare for a rigorous 12” barrage in the approaching months. Next month he shoots his second video for his first single off the album “Stardust”, which will be shot in Toronto by director Marc André Debruyne. Congrats to Arabesque for his contribution in the first Arab American Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The Arab American National Museum, expected to open later this year, will be a historic landmark in Michigan and in the United States. It will be the first to document, honour and display the lives and contributions Arabs and Arab-Americans have made and continue to make to our society. Besque appears on the Cali based SCION comp due out this spring. He begins work on a cartoon pilot called Phuture MC’s with Tara Chase and Ivana Santilli this spring. Lookout for our Arab friend on tour in the US and European dates this summer in promotion of “The Frenzy of Renown.“

Arabesque official site - aramaic-online.com
Label - www.sin-nombre.co.uk

 

 

 

New Floetry

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 20, 2005) *British R&B duo Floetry will drop their second album “Flo'ology” in July, reports “Rolling Stone.” "This entire album -- we've put in the kitchen sink, our elbow, our ankle, the whole thing," says Natalie Stewart, who sings and produces alongside Marsha Ambrosius. Produced in part by Raphael Saadiq, the new record includes the tracks "Closer," "Freely" and "I Die." Tonight, Floetry will perform at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts as part of a concert in honour of singer-songwriter John Whitehead (the O'Jays, Lou Rawls). The women also recently taped an episode of HBO's Def Poetry Jam.

 

 

 

Andre 3000 Bored With Rap

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 19, 2005) *There comes a time in every rapper-turned-actor’s career when the call of the big screen can no longer share equal time with the mic.  Sadly, such is the case with OutKast rapper Andre 3000. "I hate music right now," the 29-year-old born Andre Benjamin told the “Toronto Sun.”  "I've been doing music for 10 years now, and after a while you kind of get dead on it and look for more inspiration." Andre just wrapped John Singleton’s “Four Brothers,” a new film starring the MC as one of four foster brothers, alongside Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson and Garrett Hedlund. Speaking to the “Toronto Sun” shortly before the film wrapped its four-month shoot in the city, Andre said switching his career focus to acting comes as his biggest challenge yet. "Film's a hard transition," he said. "Rappers spend their whole career trying to build up an image that is sometimes hard to get away from. In acting, you have to be able to reach out to all emotions - you have to sometimes look silly -- and most entertainers spend their careers trying to get away from that." Andre says music is no longer creatively fulfilling for him. "It's funny," he said. "Tyrese loves music and sees film as another way to promote his music, and I just want to get away from it. I'm not loving music, it's not giving me what I want. I've got to look for something exciting, something I feel good about. Acting gives me results."

 

 

 

Missy Opens 'The Cookbook' In June

Source:  www.billboard.com - -- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(Apr. 18, 2005) As tipped here in February, Missy Elliott will release her new album, "The Cookbook," May 28 via her the Gold Mind imprint/Atlantic. Although a track list was not available at deadline, the set will feature the Neptunes-produced "On and On" and "Lose Control," which features Ciara and Fat Man Scoop.  "I really do think this is my best album," Elliott told Billboard recently. "I was in a really great space with this album. I wasn't in a great space with some of the other albums I've done." She added, "I played Lil' Kim the album the other day, and she told me it was incredible and that there was not one song on it that she didn't like."  "The Cookout" is the follow-up to 2003's "This Is Not a Test!," which debuted at No. 13 on The Billboard 200 and has sold more than 686,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.  Elliott also told Billboard she is working on a film about her life. "Paramount is interested in doing the movie, and right now I'm looking at writers for it," she said. "I don't want to star in the movie. People see only famous artists as having superstar status."  "But people want to know about the struggles," she continued. I'm sure that's what made Eminem's '8 Mile' a success, because people wanted to know what his house and mom were like before he started in the music business. People can't even imagine what I've been through."

 

 

 

Oowee Gets Put On By Big Snoop

Source: Amanda Tropila, atropila@susanblondinc.com

(Apr. 18, 2005) New York, NY– Rap’s freshest face Oowee has just confirmed a spot on Snoop Dogg’s nationwide ‘How The West Was One’ tour, which kicked off on April 15.  This will be the first full nationwide tour Oowee has embarked upon, and for a 19 yr old, what better way to kick start his rap career. Oowee first worked with Snoop Dog when they recorded the track "Why Cry" together for Oowee’s debut album, Mannish. The track was then picked up by California radio stations and forced Oowee’s label and the two rappers to shoot a video for the track. Snoop took a shine to Oowee’s work ethic and his flows. “This kid’s the real deal. He’s going to be a star,” Snoop says of his young protégé.  “Why Cry,” a smooth West Coast jam, is Oowee’s second single from his debut album Mannish, slated for release in June through Bogard/Asylum Records. The preceding single “Chain Swingin’” features Petey Pablo, and is fast becoming a Southern hip-hop anthem owning the radio airwaves across the South.  With two notorious rappers backing him up and two hot singles at radio, Oowee is an expression soon to be echoed “down south, up north, east to the west side. Excited about the forthcoming tour, Oowee said, “I’ve been rehearsing all my life for this. Since aged 9 all I wanted to do was rap.” Adding, “I wanted people to hear me. Now I get the opportunity to share the stage with a true pioneer and Hip Hop legend.” With a set-list filled with a great balance of high energy anthems and laid back flows, Oowee is set to make all of the 30 date tour very memorable.

 

 

 

The Songbook Of Micah Makes Billboard History

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 14, 2005) Gospel newcomer Micah Stampley is making his presence felt with his record-setting debut release, The Songbook of Micah.  The disc bowed on March 29 and made a splash on the Billboard charts entering at #3.  The Dexterity Sounds/EMI Gospel recording artist's debut is the second highest for a male gospel artist in Billboard history.  To put that in perspective, Stampley's debut surpasses those of gospel superstars Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin and Smokie Norful.  Stampley's debut single "War Cry," is steadily climbing radio charts, while "Take My Life (Holiness)" is number three with a bullet on Billboard Monitor's first ever printed gospel chart and maintains the number five position on the R&R gospel chart.  Stampley's powerful vocals and message have captivated both listeners and critics alike.   Next for Stampley is a series of performance dates that will keep the traveling husband and father busy into the fall, including stops in Atlanta for the Trumpet Awards' Black Cultural Explosion, New Orleans for an Essence Music Festival empowerment seminar, and back to Atlanta for Bishop Jakes' Gospel MegaFest.

 

 

 

Me’Shell NdeGeOCello Gets Jazzy

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 14, 2005) Multiple Grammy Award-nominated singer/songwriter, bassist and producer Meshell Ndegeocello's latest project, “Dance of the Infidel” is due out via Shanachie Records on June 21.  The instrumentals on the set are 70s Miles Davis flavoured fusing jazz with elements of Funk, electronica, R&B and more.  Miss Ndegeocello never ceases amazement. Via her ensemble called The Spirit Music Jamia, which means “school” in ancient African, the set boasts sublime collaborations with Cassandra Wilson, Lalah Hathaway and Sabina of The Brazilian Girls. While the jazzmatazzmic vibe highlights Ms. Ndegeocello as a bassist, it brilliantly juxtaposes her talents with an all-star cast including Kenny Garrett, Jack DeJohnette, Oliver Lake, Don Byron, Wallace Roney, Ron Blake, and Michael Cain amongst others. It’s like you’ve never heard her before. And it’s damn good!!!

 

 

 

Abijah Number 1 On Two Charts

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kevin Jackson / MYfeedback@eurweb.cim

(Apr. 14, 2005) Singer Abijah has taken the number one spot on the TPN Radio Top 20 Reggae chart in Italy this week.  His cover of Bob Marley’s Sun is Shining has risen to the top giving Abijah his first number one hit.   Abijah’s chart history dates back to 2001 when Revelation hit the local charts. His follow up single Press On was another top 10 hit. Over on the South Florida Reggae chart, Sun is shining remains at number two for a third consecutive week.  Reports out of London and New York have indicated that Sun is shining which has been in steady rotation over the past few weeks, might give Abijah some chart action soon. In related news, Abijah’s forthcoming album on VP Records is expected to be released in time for the summer. The still untitled disc will feature production work from a variety of producers.  Abijah’s debut album was released in 2002.

 

 

 

It's Official: Diddy's With Warner

Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Nolan Strong

(Apr. 14, 2005) Sean “P. Diddy” Combs has formally entered his Bad Boy Records imprint into a 50/50 joint venture deal with Warner Music Group, the mogul announced today. Combs will be aligned with Warner’s Atlantic label. Under terms of the deal, Bad Boy will be able to utilize Atlantic’s marketing and promotion.  “I am thrilled to be working with Lyor Cohen and the entire WMG family,” Combs said in a statement. “It was important for me to have the opportunity to grow Bad Boy, and I can do that with WMG. This is a perfect situation for me and Bad Boy, and I can’t wait to get out there and continue making music history.” The deal includes Bad Boy’s catalogue and roster of multi-platinum artists, including B5, Boyz N Da Hood, Mase, Carl Thomas, 8 Ball & MJG, Mario Winans and P. Diddy. “We’re thrilled to welcome Sean and Bad Boy Records to the Warner Music fold,” Cohen stated. “We believe Sean’s entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to push the envelope creatively will be a perfect fit for Warner Music Group. The Bad Boy name has not only stood for hip-hop music for more than a decade, but has evolved into a unique and vital brand.” Combs’ Bad Boy label has sold over 75 million records since its inception just over ten years ago in 1994.  Combs is currently consolidating his businesses, which gross almost $500 million a year and moving his businesses to 1710 Broadway, in New York. At the corner of 54th Street in Times Square, the building was designed in 1917 and was once home to Ford Motor Company.

 

 

 

Mario Joins Destiny’s Child Tour

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 16, 2005) *Destiny’s Child will let Mario love them all summer long. The 18-year-old crooner has signed on to open for the trio during the European and American legs of their world tour. “I'm very excited about it. It will be my first tour like this,” said the “Let Me Love You” singer from Baltimore.   Mario (remember he prefers it to be pronounced as 'marry-o') and the gals will kick off the European stretch of the tour, billed “Destiny Fulfilled…And Lovin’ It,” at London’s Earls Court Exhibition Center on June 2.

 

 

 

We Remember Johnnie Johnson

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 15, 2005)  *Johnnie Johnson, the legendary pianist who worked behind Chuck Berry and inspired his rock-n-roll classic ‘Johnny B Goode’, has died after suffering  from pneumonia a month earlier. He was 80. After joining Berry’s band in 1952, Johnson began writing songs for Berry on the piano for the singer to convert to guitar.  Johnson would later sue Berry over unpaid royalties for songs that he said he co-wrote. His claim was rejected on the basis that too much time - over 20 years - had passed. Johnson had enjoyed recent success after being rediscovered by younger rock 'n' roll fans.

 

 

 

::CD RELEASES::

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Al Green, Essential Al Green, Collectables
Assassin, Futur Que Nous Reserve T'Il, EMI
Bobby Valentino, Bobby Valentino, Def Jam
Iyanla Van Zant, Giving Thanks, Sounds True
Iyanla Van Zant, Giving to Yourself, Sounds True
Iyanla Van Zant, Living from Your Center, Sounds True
Mariah Carey, Emancipation of Mimi, Island
Martha Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Zoe
Nivea, Complicated, Jive
Ray Charles, Anthology [United Multi Consign], United Multi Consign
Ray Charles, Genius Loves Company [Bonus DVD], EMI
Solomon Burke, Got to Get to You, Collectables
Teddy Pendergrass, Best of Live, Collectables
Toni Braxton, Un-Break My Heart: The Remix Collection, La Face
Various Artists, Essential Soul: Nitelife, Madacy
Various Artists, Pura Gasolina, Madacy Latino

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Aretha Franklin, Jazz Moods: 'Round Midnight, Sony
Fine Young Cannibals, Finest, Rhino
Little Richard, Directly from My Heart, Universe
Little Richard, She's Got It, Pazzazz
Tupac/Biggie, Untold Story, Deff Trapp
Various Artists, Smooth Sax Tribute to Barry White, Tribute Sounds
Various Artists, Ultimate Tribute to U2, Cleopatra

 

 

 

::FILM NEWS::

 

 

CBC Sunday Showcase Commissions Nigel’s Fingerprint

Broadcast Date:  Sunday April 24, 2005; 10:05 pm (11:05 pm Maritimes & 11:35 pm Newfoundland) on CBC Radio One

CBC Radio A & E is launching an exciting new partnership with Toronto's prestigious ReelWorld Film Festival. Following hot on the heels of ReelWorld’s springtime festival, three short dramas will be featured in a special evening of radio. The three shorts were commissioned from previous ReelWorld Festival audience favourites and are being adapted for radio by their screenwriters. This entertaining evening will be hosted by ReelWorld’s founder, actor/producer Tonya Lee Williams.

Based on the award-winning short film of the same name, Nigel’s Fingerprint is the story of 6-year-old Nigel Jenkins, a bi-racial child who wonders why is he brown and his father is not.  Set in 1974, when Nigel’s father finds his son trying to wash away the colour of his skin, he searches for the right way to explain why Nigel's colour is a gift. Winner of the Kodak Award for Best Canadian Short Film at Toronto’s ReelWorld Festival and The Diploma of Honour at the Roshd International Film Festival in Iran, the film was also nominated for a Melvin Van Peebles Award at the San Francisco Black Film Festival.  Nigel's Fingerprint has screened at festivals including:  The Seattle International Film Festival, Chicago’s Women in the Director’s Chair and the Marco Island Film Festival.

The radio play stars many of the same cast members from the film version including:  Teyas Yew Woon as `Nigel’, Andrew Kraulis (The Skulls, Full Disclosure, The Crossing) as his father ‘David Jenkins’, Rukiya Bernard (Relic Hunter, Doc) as his mother “Mona Jenkins’ and veteran actor Kathy Imrie (Shaft's Big Score, Go For Broke, Soul Food) as the sage and spirited grandmother. Kim Kuhteubl is an award-winning producer, writer and actor.  With her company, Dish Pictures she has produced The Best Girl, a 21-minute drama that screened at festivals including:  The Palm Springs International Festival and The Hollywood Black Film Festival and was licensed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and also by BRAVO.  Winner of various awards including the Ontario Media Development Corporation’s Al Waxman Calling Card Award for Drama, Nigel’s Fingerprint, the company’s second short drama, has been pre-licensed for its national premier on Showcase.  Featured on the cover NOW magazine for her work, Kim has performed in theatre, television, animation and radio with over 90 combined credits. 

For further information, contact info@dishpictures.com.  For information about the film version, please contact Moving Images Distribution in Vancouver at (604) 684-3014.

 

 

 

Reviving Film Censorship Defies Courts, Group Says

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Kirk Makin, Justice Reporter

(Apr. 14, 2005) The Ontario government appears to be defying a court ruling by reviving its film-censorship powers, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association says. At a court hearing today, the CCLA will argue that last year's court ruling gave the province a one-year grace period to rewrite unconstitutional laws, and that the government should not be granted an extension when the period runs out in two weeks. The case dates back to 2002, when Toronto's Glad Day Bookstore and its owner, John Scythes, were convicted of distributing a film that was not approved in advance by the Ontario Film Review Board. The store appealed to the Ontario Superior Court, which ruled that it was unconstitutional for the province to engage in "prior restraint," under which all films and videos had to be approved by a censor board before being screened. Mr. Justice Russell Juriansz ruled that the provincial Theatres Act violated freedom of expression. He said punishments available for those who disseminate objectionable or harmful content were sufficient to deter potential offenders. The decision was a major triumph for Glad Day, a gay bookstore that has repeatedly challenged censorship powers over the years. Judge Juriansz suspended the effect of his ruling for 12 months, however, to allow the province to "disentangle" its film-classification system from the unconstitutional censorship scheme.

But CCLA general counsel Alan Borovoy said a draft bill introduced by the Liberal government has "mysterious" provisions that appear to recreate the very powers that were struck down by the court. "This appears to be a rather dubious attempt at legislative reincarnation," Mr. Borovoy said in an interview yesterday. Mr. Borovoy said a letter sent to him by a senior Ontario bureaucrat refers to the proposed new legislation and says that "all films are to be submitted to the (Ontario Film Review Board) for approval and classification before being exhibited or distributed . . ." A legal brief submitted for today's hearing by CCLA lawyer Jamie Cameron states that the draft legislation fails to respond to the court ruling. Noting that the province managed to rush legislation banning pit bulls through the legislature in record time, she urges the court to refuse the province's request for an extension of the grace period. "A declaration that allows unconstitutional legislation to remain in force is an extraordinary and discretionary remedy," the CCLA brief states. "Because it necessarily perpetuates a Charter violation, an extension should only be available in limited, narrow circumstances." The brief says there is no evidence in the case file that the government is unable to comply with Judge Juriansz's ruling before the grace period expires. "It reveals, instead, that the government did not make compliance a priority; that it belatedly introduced legislation that has provoked criticism and controversy in the Legislature, and that it now faces a problem of its own making."

 

 

 

Chasing Pirates Of The Silver Screen

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Gayle MacDonald

(Apr. 19, 2005) The foursome arrived at the Montreal theatre -- neatly groomed and spiffily dressed -- for the opening night of the highly anticipated comedy, Meet the Fockers. Three college-age guys and a girl joked in the line-up while waiting to buy their tickets. They bought popcorn, Nibs candy and diet cokes. They waited patiently in their seats through the interminable trailers, and dutifully turned off their cellphones.  Nothing seemed suspicious until the lights dimmed, the opening credits for Meet the Fockers began to roll -- and then they swiftly switched seats. The girl, wearing a knit poncho, stayed in the middle, flanked on either side by her two mates. One of the males hopped over the row in front, and took a seat immediately in front of the woman. That's when theatre staff moved in. Trained in the fine art of spotting camcording crooks, the employees suspected the guy had moved to ensure that no-one stood up, mid-movie, and ruined the bootleg tape.

Escorted into the lobby, the theatre operators found a tiny, extremely expensive, hand-held camera tucked neatly under the girl's poncho, with the lens poking through the loose knit. Police were called. And the four were charged with -- of all things -- trespassing. They walked out into the night with, basically, a limp slap on the wrist. The camcording of major motion-pictures is fast becoming a pervasive and increasingly sophisticated racket that is frustrating distributors, filmmakers, exhibitors and studios -- and costing them billions. Many U.S. states have tough camcording laws that make it a felony. Here, it is not a criminal offence to record a feature-film screening in theatres. That mightily irks the players in the Canadian film industry, who plan in a few weeks to travel to Ottawa and lobby the federal government to make camcording a criminal offence. "We're after a law with some teeth," says Adina Lebo, executive director of the Motion Picture Theatre Associations of Canada. The flagrant disregard of copyright (specifically the camcording of films that are then downloaded onto the Internet or burned into DVDs, and sold internationally) has incensed the movie industry in this country. And they want legislation in place before the film business ends up in the same mess as the music sector. "The pirates are very clever about hiding these cameras, putting them on their shoulders and under hair, even clamping them onto seats," says Susan Peacock, vice-president of the Canadian Motion Pictures Distributors Association (CMPDA). "Thanks to modern technology, these devices are getting smaller and smaller, and the quality is often shockingly good." In the past year, Peacock adds, the piracy of major motion pictures on opening weekends has jumped tenfold. And the wishy-washy laws that currently pertain to camcording mean enforcement of the crime "is very difficult," she says. "Right now, copyright infringement is illegal, but often we don't know their names, we can't make them tell us, so it's impossible to enforce. The theatres have been extraordinarily co-operative -- they're the ones on the front line -- but the only remedy they've been able to come up with is a threat of charge of trespass.

"You can kick these criminals out of the theatre, but that's about all." Nuria Bronfman, spokesperson for the Famous Players theatre chain, agrees that until the law is changed, exhibitors' hands (and the police's too) are largely tied. "Sure we have posters and advisories in our theatres that say camcording is not an acceptable practice, and you will be asked to leave. But we can only ask people to give us their camera, and to wait around until the RCMP or police show up. "We can't hold them, and we can't take away their property. We can ask them to hand it over, which as you can imagine doesn't work very well. Currently, the police can only confiscate and arrest as long as there is a copyright charge from the distributor." In the U.S., the Motion Picture Association of America and its international counterpart, the Motion Picture Association, estimate that the U.S. motion-picture industry loses in excess of $3-billion (U.S.) annually in potential worldwide revenue due to piracy. According to Serge Corriveau, national director for the CMPDA, Canada is a prime target for covert camcording, due to its proximity to the United States. Movie chains in Montreal -- which offer the added bonus of French films -- are particularly favourite ports of call for the pirates. Last September, Corriveau tracked seven so-called camcording cartels. Now he has over 20. The toughest to catch, he adds, are the groups on the Internet, such as Maven and Centropy, who allow users to download the feature films from websites. "These groups are very proud, and they put their logos and their company names up prominently," says Corriveau, formerly a 26-year veteran with the RCMP. "But most of the time they're not legally on the website and they jump from one site to another. It's very difficult to infiltrate these people." On a recent flight from Toronto to Montreal, Ted East, head of the Canadian Association of Film Distributors and Exporters, sat beside a gentleman who was watching on his laptop "a pristine copy" of The Aviator, which was still in theatres. East did a slow burn, and when the film ended, said to the man, "I didn't realize that was out on DVD. "He smiled at me, and explained that his son had downloaded it from a site, and gets him any movie he wants," recalls East. "To my eyes, it looked to be of perfect quality. . . "We need there to be a criminal implication to camcording to discourage people from doing this." Bronfman adds that with digital cinema looming on the horizon, there will soon be a whole raft of new opportunities for copyright theft. "We have to make sure we have laws in place now to adequately protect our industry," she said.

 

 

A 'King's Ransom' And Then Some

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kenya M. Yarbrough

(Apr. 15, 2005) *Born in Chicago, raised in Oakland, Kellita Smith is most familiar as Wanda McCollough, the busy, reserved executive wife of Bernie Mac on “The Bernie Mac Show.” What might be surprising is that Smith is actually a sassy, outspoken and very clever comic. She is currently appearing in the movie “King’s Ransom,” which stars Anthony Anderson, and it is exactly that difference of her own witty personality from her TV character, that led her to the role of Renee in the film. Smith was called to read for a much more subdued role.  “When I first got the script they wanted me to read the part for Angela,” she explained. While the Angela character was a meatier role, Smith was drawn to the smaller part because the Renee character seemed to be “more fun,” she said. “So I asked if I could read for the part. It was so much different than the part I played on TV. After I read for it they kind of expanded the part.”  Smith turned the role of Renee into a scene stealer. She got to do the “more fun” part and says she had a lot of fun doing it.   “It’s always good to be able to do your thing and get paid, even if it’s for a few dollars,” she said.  All jokes aside, Smith is very serious about and very thankful to be doing what she really enjoys. She could never take her opportunities for granted, particularly after finding her place through a journey of dead-end jobs and some hostile circumstances. Smith confessed that she stumbled and discovered her love of acting after being fired from four jobs in a row – one being a stint at Macy’s department store.  When asked exactly what she did at Macy’s, Smith replied, “I did nothing -- a little socializing – but I moved the merchandise.” Smith explained that in order to sell the product, she had to do a little socializing.   “But someone said I was socializing too much. The next job was an insurance company – I was trying to do something for the ladies at the office because we weren’t being treated well, so we got together in the green room and we wrote down some of our issues, faxed it, and sent it to the main bosses. The next morning there was a box ... and they told me to take it to my little cubicle and, ‘All the things that fit, just put that in there, and we’ll graciously walk you to the door. Whatever doesn’t, we’ll send it to you.’ I figured maybe I should try acting and so I did. I was horrible – but I loved it.”

Because of Smith’s love of acting, her talent grew. It took her out of her Northern California home, on a tour, a play, and on the road for a couple of years. “I lived in New York for a couple of months and then moved to Los Angeles and that’s all she wrote,” she said.  The actress described the moment that she knew she this was her true calling. “I had an out of body experience in Atlanta at the Fox Theatre where I was watching everything and that’s when it consummated for me that this is what I was going to do – even if I had to have Top Ramen all the time. I had a passion for it. It’s my ultimate high and I can’t imagine doing anything else – except for maybe marrying a tycoon or something. I think that’s what actors chase often – that supreme endorphin rush. So I guess I’m co-dependent.”  Smith has taken her co-dependency to new highs, starring in a hit TV show and several movies. However, it’s her dependency and need for acting has helped a lot of people in need. True to her word, Smith is very involved in and number of philanthropic endeavours including the Women of Essence breast cancer support group. Smith added that she’d like to perhaps one day start a school or halfway house, or some type of community centre.   “I think I was given this avenue for several different reasons and it’s to contribute back to Oakland. I’m like a little Robin Hood – trying to get the gold and take it back to my spot,” she said. “For me, I connected with knowing that this avenue just wasn’t for me to be famous and make some money – it’s for me to allocate. I absolutely know why I’m here and why I have been able to progressively move like I have,”  The actress is steadily conquering Hollywood and is moving on to the behind-the-scenes power roles of the Tinsel Town. Smith is doing some producing now and hopes that she will be a trailblazer for aspiring actors, writers, producers, and directors – though for the moment is straying away from the directors chair.   “Directing looks really hard. I’m an elementary public school girl, so I’m going to keep the easy – I’m going to produce and delegate,” Smith joked. “But I think it’s necessary because everyone doesn’t get to get to a certain place in this business, so we have to throw the rope back over. So I would have to have my hands in some aspect of producing so it won’t be hard next time for a brown girl.”  Furthermore, Smith agrees with several black actors that while there is progress in the entertainment industry, there is plenty room for more to be made.   “I think at this point it’s up to us as entertainers who cross over into acting. We as African-Americans have to participate in this business on a higher level to move our culture and our society forward in terms of certain characters that are depicted and certain movies that are reflective of who we are, but it has to be us in those positions. Often times those scripts are written, they just aren’t green-lit, so they just don’t get done.”

While Smith hacks away at the industry’s glass ceiling, she is also juggling more roles in front of the camera. Up next is the film “Roll Bounce,” with Bow-Wow, Chi McBride, and Nick Cannon. The film is set in the 1970s and follows a young roller rinker named X, as he prepares to battle on wheels in a skate-off. “Roll Bounce” hits theatres this summer. First up, though, is “King’s Ransom,” which opens next Friday, April 22. Meanwhile, “The Bernie Mac Show,” in its 4th season, airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on Fox and is headed for syndication in the fall.

 

 

 

Two Jail Tales Are In Theatres This Week

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Marie Moore / MYfeedback@eurweb.com

(Apr. 15, 2005) “House of D” and “State Property 2” hit theatres this week. Ironically, they are both jail tales. “House of D” is a coming of age story about Tommy (Anton Yelchin), who forms an unlikely bond with Lady (Erykah Badu). Lady is a prostitute imprisoned in the infamous Greenwich Village Women’s House of Detention. Lady’s role is pivotal in Tommy’s life and he becomes eternally grateful to her.  “When I first read the script, I laughed all the way through,” Badu says in the film’s production notes. She did not show up for the interviews. Badu is further quoted as saying, “The dialogue is amazing to me. It is so powerful—the interaction between this boy and the different people he befriends and loves. There’s no prejudice. There’s no judgment. It’s all about growth and innocence. I could really see and get to know David’s [David Duchovny] heart as a result of reading it.” As an “X-Files” fan I got to know David’s heart in 1999 when he wrote and directed an “X-Files” called “The Unnatural,” which starred Jesse L. Martin. The story centred around Martin, a “Negro Baseball League player” who was pictured in a 1947 photo with X-Files founder Arthur Dales. A couple of years ago, he went on a TV game show to raise money for a Harlem charity. “The House of D,” also written and directed by Duchovy, is a product of his growing up in New York City and often passing The Women’s House of Detention he told The Film Strip: “It was just having that one image in my mind, that Women's House of Detention which is on 11th and 6th.  Now it’s a garden and knowing that was an actual urban transformation that happened, I thought it was a really cool kind of a poetic thing that has happened. Besides, women could actually hangout the bars.   “So on the one side I thought that was interesting and on the other side I though, you know, they could really influence people. There, they could yell to the outside of the prison. We don't have interaction with prisoners in this world that we live in now. They're removed in this time and place. There, they were they're right in your face as you walked your dog, went to school and I thought, well, something could happen. Something dramatic. Somethin' movie like.

“I thought the movie was about a boy growing up. And it was also about a man kind of uncovering a mystery of his own life. Why he's miserable. Erykah Badu can’t physically help, but she’s a voice that helps him make decisions about his life.” Any interview with funny man Robin Williams is not only entertaining, but also an enlightening one. Williams was very serious, however, when he spoke about starring in “House of D.” “I read the script and went, ‘This is interesting.’ I met with David. He had written it and so I wasn't worried about like, 'How is he going to shoot this?' He said that we were probably going to shoot it in New York and I said, 'I'm in.' You know if you're going to do a movie about The Village it's pretty nice to shoot in The Village and not be in Toronto. Not that shooting in Toronto is bad. Nice people there. But shooting in New York is the shznit, if I may be so bold because we were shooting in SoHo,” Williams explained in his Snoop Dogg talk.

Damon Dash, back with his prison saga, “State Property 2,” had a very different jail tale to tell. In this interview, no stone was left unturned:

What were you thinking, having a scene with a child playing with heroin?

Actually, it was coke. It was to be as shocking and provocative as possible. The purpose of movie making is to invoke emotion, not to advocate anything, but just to show how real things happen. So to a degree, I'm quite sure that that has happened before with people that sell drugs and have kids and I showed that that can happen. I wasn't advocating it. I wasn't making any light of it really. To a degree it had a comic look, but it's definitely to be shocking. So I'm glad that you were shocked.

Did you find it difficult directing non-professionals on the set?

Not really, but that's just because I knew everyone. So basically as I was writing the movie I was writing it for those people. I already had it cast in my mind and so I knew what to take from them. Everyone that I actually worked with I'd hung out with in some way, shape or form or had worked with before on another level somewhere else. So it wasn't hard at all. I just wanted them to be themselves actually. I didn't try to make them go too far their actual personality. Like [Omillio] Sparks, the guy who played Baby Boy, as I was writing it I knew exactly what I wanted from him every time, every scene and he executed it a hundred percent.

What did you want to do with 'State Property 2' that you hadn't done with the first one?

Just about every element of it really. When we first made 'State Property,' the intention was for it to go straight to video. I never anticipated a theatrical release or for it to be as well received as it was. Actually, Jay-Z and all my other partners were like, 'Don't put it out' because it didn't properly represent or reflect the kinds of things that we wanted to do as far as the quality of the production. So I wanted to step that up. I wanted to check everything that I had learned from making other independent films and apply it. Basically, this is a supposedly a demographic movie, something that goes directly to the urban demographic and anyone else that gravitated towards it would be gravy to me. So that's why I chose to make it as stylized as possible and I just wanted the script to be a little better. And then I wanted a little humour in there because I don't know any gangster that's not funny. Most of the one's that I know have a sense of humour. They just handle their business when they have to.

Who are your heroes?

Martin Luther King is definitely a hero of mine. Muhammad Ali. Russell Simmons. 

How do you figure each one of them would view this film?

I think that for what it is and what I tried to do I think that they would all appreciate it to a certain degree and I think that they would understand it.

What would Martin Luther King say about this film though?

I don't know. I don't know him that well. So I can't say what he would say really. But I think that in his mind I think that there would be an accomplishment that I was able to direct and produce it and write it. I think that'd be the part that he would review more than anything as opposed to the content of it because the times are so much different now than they were before. At that time a Black man couldn't even look a White person in the eyes much less direct, produce and write a movie. So that would be the accomplishment to him I would think.

So the next accomplishment comes with what then?

As far as making the movie? I mean, I've made other movies. I think that I'd love to get an Oscar. I'd love to be able to direct a movie that wasn't such a demographic film, one that would be sensible for the rest of the world and show my skills on that level as far as movie making goes. Other accomplishments? I have 'America' magazine. I have my record companies. I have my electronic companies. I have my sneaker company. I did work with Keds. I have my movie companies and my television that I just launched. I want to be looked at as not just a good urban dude. I want to be looked at as good and competitive with everyone else that's doing it. I want to be looked at like NBC. I want to be looked at like [Steven] Spielberg. I want to be able to walk into a room with Spielberg and have him respect me as if he's saying, 'He might be just as good as me or better.' That's not to say that that's too good for a kid who comes from Harlem.

What's the difference at this point between the two of you then?

The money. I haven't had the opportunity to make a movie that costs a $100 million, but I think that as far as actual experience goes he definitely has me on that by far. He's better than me as far as directing goes, but I think that I could put the right people around or produce a movie that could be competitive with his if lined myself up with the right people.

If you could go there right now…

I'm going there.

What would you do then?

I don't know. I really don't know just because I'm a work in progress as it relates to the movie business. I have a real serious respect for it and so I have to evolve to get to that and I would never just cut. I need to learn. I need to know. I need to sit on a set. I need the experience. One thing that I do should be better than the next. I'm definitely a student of the game and so eventually I think that I'll be as good as Spielberg and not that I'm ready now to be as good as him, but eventually I aspire to be that good or as good as Martin Scorsese or Stephen Soderbergh, all of those different people. On a different level also I'd like to be able to cut the checks whenever I want to and have a DreamWorks or something that's independent spirited, but still have the corporate power.

What do you want the audience to walk away with?

As far as this goes? Well, like I said, this particular movie was catered specifically to a particular demographic and I think that it's the best movie ever done that caters to that demographic. But I think that it's so good that hopefully it'll translate to people from different demographics who look at it and like it. Even if they don't like it, if they judge it, the fact that they've seen it is an accomplishment to me. They might not necessarily understand it, but as long as they respect it enough to look at it and be curious enough to know why I did what I did and have a comment about it. 'What were you thinking with this? I didn't like it.' I mean, it's your choice to have an opinion, but as long as I can invoke something in anyone that's an accomplishment to me. I just want to invoke some type of emotion.

You said that gangsters are funny. What's so funny about gangsters?

I didn't say gangsters are funny. Everyone is funny. Everyone has a sense of humour. That's not to say that being a gangster is funny. What I'm saying is that we're all human beings here. Whoever is serious all day long is having a fucked up life. I mean, they're just not enjoying the fruits of life. To say that someone doesn't laugh is ridiculous I don't care who it is. Whether it's right or wrong, it's the truth. So basically when I make movies I want to make the truth and not what's politically correct. I want to make things that are socially conscious, but it has to be the truth. I mean, it's like censoring the news. Whatever is going on in the world is going on regardless of whether it's right or wrong, whether it's shocking or provocative or not, it's going on. It needs to be reported. And that's what I want to do.

But we see everyday that Black boys and men are being shot down in the community. so basically you’re just showing what the news is showing on a daily basis. also, it seems like you’re glorifying guns.

No. It's never glorified. Someone ends up in jail for it. Like when you see 'The Terminator' or when you see 'Snatch' or you see another movie that's not urban at all, why isn't it ever looked as so negative for the community or the culture. I think that we're so heavily critiqued, and I think that we're under such a magnifying glass that we can only do one thing. I don't think that's fair. That's the reason why I chose to put humour with it. It's like a spoof. It's not realistic.

But on the streets Black brothers being shot down is realistic though, right?

Well, I think that anyone getting shot down anywhere is realistic. Whether you're white, Black, Chinese or whatever, being shot is a negative thing regardless.

So the film is targeted to a demographic…

Right and they know that it's not real.

But you’re a guy who's a part of pop culture. kids buy your music and clothes and those who don't live in New York might not know that it's a spoof.  Are you worried that you’re purveying this stereotype?

Honestly, it's demographically shot and I don't think that anyone other than someone who knows Beanie Sigel, and the reason why I made the movie in the first place was so that Beanie Sigel could get some kind of attention because he makes records that don't necessarily get the acknowledgement that they deserve. He's never had over two thousand spins on the radio. MTV has never played his record. So I was providing another venue for him to be creative like he is and it's a movie. The Governor of California used to be 'The Terminator.' So you can't do that. You can't have a double standard like that and you can't say that we have to be pigeonholed into making one kind of movie. In the same breath that I made 'State Property II,' I made 'The Woodsman' which is about a pedophile. I cut through all bases. You can't just say that I have to make one kind of movie. It's not fair and anyone that talks to me I would say, I don't have to take this dumbness and that's why I spoofed it and that's why it is funny.

There was an article where you were quoted as saying, ‘fuck the people who don't like what you're doing.’

Absolutely.

I don't get that from you though.

Well, when I say that I say this. I have to give a hundred percent effort at everything that I do and never intend to do anything wrong. I give it my best. So I can't see how someone couldn't see that and if they don't that means they're too judgmental and they're looking at the wrong shit. So that's why it's kind of like fuck them. It's like, 'Look, if you're going to take so much time to judge me and you're going to look at the bad things instead of what the bigger picture is you're going to stay in one place at one time regardless. You probably won't be productive for the rest of the community anyway.' So that's how I look at things. Like, who is to judge me and who am I to judge anyone just as long as whatever I'm doing is being reflected in a positive way and not a negative way. As long as I'm putting money in people's pockets and as long as the culture is being uplifted and I'm creating opportunities and doing things that have never been done before like a scene or like the bigger picture is what's more important to me. I don't really care what judgmental people think. I really don't. I never have. I don't mind the accolades. It's important to me to do things that are socially conscious of my culture. I like to be an ambassador of the people. I like to create opportunity. But for those that want to hate, I mean, I've brought too many things for someone to tell me that the bad outweighs the good. That's what I mean by that.

Who mentored you in general, in terms of the business of film and music?

Well, no one traditionally mentored me. I think that my mother had a lot to do with the confidence that I have and the way that I play the game. Like, I'd rather play the game and move then not play at all. I'm not scared to lose. I'm scared not to try and that all came from my mother and she instilled that kind of confidence in me. She died when I was fifteen. I've taken different things from different people. Like, I love Martin Luther King and what he did just because he was so eloquent just in the way that he carried our culture and brought an awareness to the rest of the world in a non-violent way and took the time and walked with the people. He wasn't militant or from afar. He was there marching with everyone and he sat in those churches while people were outside trying to get in and talked his talk. But he walked his walk and he died for his cause and he spoke in such a great way. So I love that part of him. I love Muhammad Ali because he always stood up for what he believed in, but at the same time he was a fun guy who took care of his business at a time when that was not very healthy. He could've gotten himself into a lot of problems. He could've gotten himself killed. He was so good at his art and his craft and he made it fun. So I've always loved him. I love Russell Simmons because of the doors he's opened and the lifestyle and how positive he's been for our community and how he's been as an ambassador of the hip hop culture and how he's evolved as an individual. I've always loved Russell for that and the good advice that he always gives me. He's such a peaceful individual. He never has anything bad to say about anyone. So it's a lot of different people in a lot of different ways.

Question:  If you have to chose between film, music and fashion which one would it be?

I wouldn't. That's like saying you have to chose between your first kid, your second kid or third. I mean, they're all equal to me. I love them all. They just need a certain amount of attention depending on how old they are.

What about your acting career, will you act in other people's films?

I would if I look cool. I'm not trying to go out of pocket and play myself. I'm good at acting like me. I don't know if I can do some Shakespeare stuff. I don't know if I would do all of that. It depends on the character and how good the movie is.

Were there any other jail films that moved you?

'Short Eyes.' That was like doing time. That made you not want to go to jail. I got that jail feeling.

Do you do any work with inmates?

I can say that I have so many friends that are in jail that it's enough. Well, you know, there are people, there's a movie I'm making called 'The Council' and this guy does a lot for the voting rights of people in jail. So anyway that I can support stuff like that I can do. But you don't know how many letters I write and how many collect calls I take and how many times I go visit a jail and be searched up in the jail and be treated in a way that I don't think that I deserve. So I do think that I understand the help that they need, and I help if I can. But I have so much to do that I do what I can.

Is street credibility important to you?

Being truthful is important to me and that's credible. Street credibility is bullshit to me. You are what you are and that's real. To pretend that you're something other than what you are, there's nothing credible in that.

Can you talk about your project team roc?

Yeah. I have this program. It's basketball program and it's about three hundred kids. It's girls and boys. I provide a basketball facility and I also provide tutoring and I've sent a couple of kids to boarding school. There's like a Damon Dash scholarship and things like that that I've been doing for like five or six years. It's not something that I promote that much because I don't do it for that. I do it because it's my way of giving back, but I don't need the credit for it like that.

Will you and Jay-Z be competing for artists?

I don't compete. I've never competed with anyone in my life. I really don't. I think that it's great that he decided to go and be a corporate individual. Me, I chose to remain an independent spirit and I'm not employable. We have a situation through Universal. He decided to run Def Jam. I decided to run The Damon Dash music group and I'm in no competition with him at all. I think good luck to him. I think that it's going to be interesting to watch him deal with other artists problems instead of his own. That'll be interesting.

What can you say about your TV show?

That whatever show I do will be hot. It'll be dope. It won't be what's expected of a reality show. I think that it will be enlightening to my community and my culture directly. Hopefully, I can broaden BET's awareness OF other people instead of just those who love hip hop because they're intrigued by what I'm doing and the quality of the production. I'll step it up while I'm doing this.

Will the there be another sequel to this film?

I don't know. I left that door opened. I don't know if by that time we'll have the same powerful impact. If it's a serious moneymaker, then I'll have to do what I have to do.

 

 

 

Heavy D. Starring In, Will Smith Executive Producing 'Medal of Honour Rag'

Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Nolan Strong

(Apr. 18, 2005) Veteran rapper and actor Heavy D. has been tapped to star in Tom Cole’s 1976 play “Medal of Honour Rag,” which is being executive produced by Will Smith.  “Medal of Honour Rag” is being directed by veteran actor Delroy Lindo and centers on a clinically depressed Vietnam veteran named Dale Jackson and his relationship with a New York psychiatrist. “It’s the most challenging work I've done to date," Heavy D. revealed to AllHipHop.com. "So many brothers who came home back [from the war] had to deal with so much depression and the fact that there was nothing waiting for them at home. I'm honoured to be directed by Delroy Lindo. Will Smith, who has been a friend of mine for since we both started, has been very supportive and encouraging.” Rehearsal for the play starts next week and the show runs from June 1st-July 11th in Los Angeles, California. On the rap side, Hev recently produced Beanie Sigel’s hit single “Feel It In the Air,” and has wrapped production on his new untitled album, which is slated for a summer release.  The majority of the new album was produced by Hev and also features contributions from Mike City, Warren Campbell, Trackmasters and Tim and Bob, the duo behind Bobby Valentino's hit single “Slow Down.”

 

 

 

Coming To DVD: ‘Jackie Robinson Story’; ‘Brother to Brother’

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 16, 2005) *Today may be Tax Day for most of us, but in Major League Baseball, April 15th is known as Jackie Robinson Day - a day to honour sports legend Jackie Robinson for breaking baseball's colour barrier. It also marks the announced release date of his landmark film, “The Jackie Robinson Story” on DVD – restored and in colour for the first time. Each disc also contains a restored original black-and-white version. All proceeds benefit The Jackie Robinson Foundation, established by Jackie's wife Rachael Robinson to provide funding for education for academically gifted students of colour with financial need. The DVD also includes information about Foundation as well as a video showcasing recent JRF Scholarship Recipients. *The indie drama “Brother to Brother,” from African-American filmmaker Rodney Evans, will be released on DVD June 14 from Wolfe Video. Starring Anthony Mackie and Roger Robinson, Evans's drama explores a modern black artist and the inspiring legacy of the Harlem Renaissance. The disc contains a director's cut of the film, commentary from Evans, eight deleted scenes, an interview with Evans, the original theatrical trailer, an anamorphic wide screen transfer of the film, and more. The film will also air on PBS in conjunction with the DVD release. For more information, please visit www.BrotherToBrotherTheMovie.com.

 

 

 

Canadians To Vie For Top Honours At Cannes

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Apr. 19, 2005) PARIS (AP) — Two Canadian films will be among 20 movies to compete for top honour at the Cannes Film Festival in May, organizers announced today.  David Cronenberg's History of Violence will be among those in competition at the 58th festival at Cannes, the world's most prestigious film fest.  The Sarajevo-born director Emir Kusturica heads this year's festival panel.  Films hailing from 13 countries are to compete for the Golden Palm award, to be announced May 21.  The 12-day festival opens May 11 with one of three French films, Dominik Moll's Lemming.  Other selections include Last Days by American director Gus Van Sant, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada by actor Tommy-Lee Jones, Don't Come Knockin' by Germany's Wim Wenders, Manderlay by Denmark's Lars Von Trier, and L'enfant by Belgium's Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne.  Movies by two legendary American directors beloved to the French will be among those presented out of competition: Woody Allen's Match Point and George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith.  A British movie, Chromophobia by director Martha Fiennes, will close the night of honours on May 21, although a rerun of the winning movie be shown on the final day, May 22.

 

 

 

::TV NEWS::

 

 

What Al Gore Sees In Zed

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Alexandra Gill

(Apr. 19, 2005) Vancouver — Al Gore has often been perceived as one of the most Canadian-friendly politicians in the United States. So perhaps it's only fitting that the former vice-president is now looking north of the border for advice -- and a possible business deal -- on how to operate Current TV, his new, experimental, 24-hour cable channel, that goes to air Aug. 1.  Mind you, Gore isn't modelling his channel on just any northern TV show. When Dave Grafstein, Current TV's top software programmer, visited CBC Television in Vancouver last week, he was there to find out more about a groundbreaking, multiplatform program so distinctly Canadian and different from anything out there on the U.S.-dominated dial, it takes its name from the Canadian pronunciation of the letter 'zee.' ZeD is a late-night, arts-and-culture program that airs weeknights from October to April, but has an even busier Website (http://www.zed.cbc.ca), where independent artists from around the world upload their own short films, videos, animation, visual art, short stories, poetry, music and far-out ideas. If the submissions pass basic copyright requirements, they are published on-line, for free perusal by the site's 45,962 subscribed members. The best submissions are bought and aired on ZeD's TV program as part of a funky nightly mix that features slick, studio-produced videos, live performances, guest interviews, dispatches from culture correspondents across the country and profiles on everything from lesbian park rangers, to artisans who make jewellery out of dead bugs. The TV show is now hosted by Ziya Tong, a sassy digital-media specialist with an eclectic résumé that includes an encyclopedia-sales stint in Alaska.

Since launching three years ago, ZeD has won numerous accolades and awards (including an Emmy nomination for outstanding achievement in advanced media technology). And as of last count, yesterday afternoon, 51,475 original submissions had been published on-line. "We're the world leaders in interactive television, without a doubt," says McLean Mashingaidze-Greaves, ZeD's executive producer. "They rightly want to see how we're doing it." Current TV will be similar in that nearly half of its news, culture and short-form topical programming will also be viewer-produced. But with a 24-hour schedule, its original-content needs will obviously be much higher than ZeD's.  "We just showed their software programmer what we are doing and how we get content from the Web to television," says ZeD's senior producer, Sudha Krishna. "I think he was fairly impressed, but they haven't sent any high-level executives yet. They have all sorts of technical details to work out. "They haven't asked for any specific deal with us, but they have a pretty strict time line and they know we have the knowledge. I imagine this guy will go back and say, 'Here's what they do and this is what they can do for us.' " Ironically enough, Current TV will replace Newsworld International, the CBC news channel that Gore and 20 other private investors bought last May. The new channel is being relaunched by board chairman Gore and chief executive officer Joel Hyatt. The channel will be available in 19-million cable-subscriber homes, and targets viewers 18 to 34.

While Mashingaidze-Greave is flattered by the interest from Current TV, he's not the least bit worried about new competition in a niche sector. "I don't mind if they copy us because we're a moving target, constantly reinventing and doing new stuff," says the native Torontonian and former AOL Time Warner executive who has worked with Spike Lee and P. Diddy. Speaking by phone last week from the PBS Technology Conference in Las Vegas, where he had just delivered the keynote address, ZeD's executive producer pointed to a number of his program's more recent innovations, including interactive webcam discussions with viewers and last month's experimental collaboration with the CBC Radio Orchestra and Canadian hip-hop star k-os. The drama behind the live-studio recording of the original, cross-genre single that resulted was captured in a one-hour ZeD-produced documentary, which will be broadcast this summer on CBC. "It's kind of unfortunate that millions of Canadians haven't heard of ZeD," says Mashingaidze-Greaves. "But I'm really proud of the team we have, and proud that CBC gave us the opportunity to create this program. They entrusted the entire late-night slot to me, this crazy, bohemian, dreadlocked, irreverent black guy. I'm not sure that ever would have been done anywhere else."

 

 

 

New Gay Channel Finding Doors Closed

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Antonia Zerbisias

(Apr. 19, 2005) Call me out-raged.  Outraged that, when the overwhelming majority of Canadians believe that gays and lesbians should have equal rights, the country's biggest communications behemoths want to keep them out ... of sight.  That's how it's playing out for OUTtv, the new gay and lesbian digital lifestyle channel that debuted last week, replacing Pridevision on the Rogers dial.  But this is most definitely not a knock against Rogers, which has been enlightened about distributing both channels fairly.  In fact, in its digital channel shuffle this month — which still has me furiously flipping in search of Fox News and MSNBC — Rogers bumped OUTtv to the not inappropriately numbered channel 269.  That's straight in the middle of its "Lifestyle" tier of services, including Fine Living and FashionTelevision, which both have a high diva-quotient too.  Pridevision, meanwhile, after some regulatory rearranging, is a stand-alone pay channel, an adult channel with adult content, further up the dial.  But OUTtv, which inherited the old Pridevision license, is no racier than anything you find on most other channels. It boasts comedies, dramas, travel and talk shows, many of which have already aired elsewhere.  The difference is, when the "You may kiss the bride" part comes on the wedding show, the bride may have a beard.  Compare how Rogers has treated OUTtv with what Shaw Communications has done.  Shaw, which not only owns the country's second biggest digital cable system but also has the Star Choice satellite distribution outfit, has placed OUTtv in its "adult" fare package, along with Playboy and Hustler, where it charges extra for it.  What's more, it has dropped Pridevision completely.

Star Choice, meanwhile, doesn't carry OUTtv at all.  These moves are not only discriminatory, they violate regulations set by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).  They are also devastating financially. That's because Shaw controls 33 per cent of the digital TV distribution business.  To add to OUTtv's woes, Bell ExpressVu, Canada's biggest satellite outfit with a 35 per cent share, has packaged OUTtv with its Playboy and Venus adult channels. It's asking $2.50 for the service, way more than it charges for other "category one'' digital channels.  "Category One" are the Canadian digital channels licensed in 2000, all of which were must-carry services for the cable and satellite companies.  But, back in 2001, when all those channels launched with a free preview period, Shaw refused to give Pridevision the same access to potential subscribers. Afraid of a backlash, it would not unscramble the channel the way it did other offerings, including SexTV.  That's despite the fact digital boxes include parental controls to prevent unwanted content from coming into the home.  Still, although it had a distribution handicap during the preview, Pridevision was one of the most popular of the new channels.  Trouble was, at least according to Pridevision's filings with the CRTC, Shaw continued to push the channel back into the closet, with discriminatory treatment that resulted in it becoming a stand-alone pay channel. That decision, Pridevision's management would complain, forced them to program more and more adult content, in order to sell more subscriptions.  Fast forward to last year when a money-losing Pridevision was sold to entrepreneur Bill Craig.

As a gay man himself, with children, he didn't feel that Pridevision was representative of the gay lifestyle, and so he decided to launch OUTtv, flip its license with Pridevision's and make the latter strictly adult.  He did that all with the CRTC's approval. But Shaw and ExpressVu refuse to go along — and there will be a special hearing on the matter next week.  In his temporary Church St. digs, where he's camping with his staff among cardboard boxes in the offices of Xtra! magazine, Craig argues that all he wants is equal treatment and fair packaging for OUTtv.  "It's very frustrating," he says, that "these two distribution behemoths continue to constrain our little operation and may indeed snuff us out with their tactics and practices."  Calls to Shaw executives were not returned.  A Bell ExpressVu spokeswoman said this "is a business discussion between two partners."  That may be.  But it smells awful queer to me.

 

 

 

Arrested Development Arrested?

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rob Salem

(Apr. 18, 2005) It's won critical acclaim, industry accolades, Emmy honours ... and you are probably never going to see it again.  It has been universally praised as one of the funniest, most outrageously envelope-pushing comedies ever on television — by everyone but the viewing public. When it comes to those bottom-line, bill-paying ratings, Arrested Development still can't get itself arrested.  The show, which ended an abbreviated second season last night in un-bloodied, un-bowed and typically unorthodox style, is listed by Fox executives as officially "on the bubble," industry-speak for "not coming back unless someone comes up with a really good reason."  Which is not nearly as significant as who now happens to be saying it.  Though former Fox honcho Gail Berman was an early Arrested Development supporter, she has now moved on to a cushy new movie job at Paramount. Her successor at Fox, Peter Ligouri, parachuted in from cable cousin FX, has no such invested affections, and will no doubt be anxious to make his own mark with a slate of fresh new comedies (albeit shows chosen from a development list initiated by the previous administration).  One apparent shoo-in for next season's Fox schedule is the Las Vegas car salesman comedy New Car Smell, created by the sibling team of Mark and Robb Cullen, who did such a great job for Ligouri at FX on the albeit short-lived Lucky.  He also has a restaurant comedy from Sex and the City's Darren Starr, a cop comedy from Simpsons scribes Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, and several other "wacky family" comedies to chose from, including one about a 13-year-old kid dealing with a gay dad.  So nobody's even going to miss Arrested Development. Except those few of us who actually watched it — 6 or 7 million, tops, Canada included. Which is probably just as it should be, since the show has adamantly insisted all along it wasn't for everyone, and in fact often seemed to go out of its way to alienate any poseurs or pretenders who might belatedly try to jump onto its bandwagon. And to satirically bite the hand that, with increasing reluctance, fed it.  It is surely no coincidence that, last month, when the network announced a cutback in the season order from 22 episodes to 18, there was an in-joke reference on the show to a construction order for the Bluth family business being axed by the exact same amount.  Or that, as Fox chipped away at the show, characters have metaphorically lopped off several prominent body parts: Buster Bluth (Tony Hale) losing a hand to an enraged seal; brother Gob (Toronto-born Will Arnett) hacking off a couple of fingers in a magic trick gone wrong; other brother Michael (Jason Bateman) getting his calf muscles sliced in a botched operation.  And then there was the brilliantly in-jokey moment where recurring guest Henry Winkler literally jumped a shark.

The laughs never came easy on Arrested Development — you often had to work for them. There were no laughtrack cues, no requisite punchlines-per-page, no neatly buttoned-down ends of scenes ... not even particularly likeable characters.  All according to plan. "They're unapologetic (about) who they are," showrunner Mitch Hurwitz had explained at the beginning of this beleaguered season. "And we have such fearless actors ... they play these people warts and all.  "But part of that isn't just the ruthlessness and the selfishness, but the neediness and the vulnerability. I mean, there's just so much vulnerability in every one of these performances. I credit the actors for making them vulnerable, and I credit the writers for making them hateable."  Now credit the network and an uninterested audience in making them history.  TV DVD: Thank the powers-that-be for DVD, a delightfully shiny and idiot-proof medium with enough storage capacity to accommodate entire seasons of television into colourful, shelf-friendly, multi-disc boxed sets.  For example, Arrested Development, which, regardless of its fate on Fox next season, will live on two collectable sets.  Last week's TV-type DVD releases spanned the widest possible extremes, from the fourth season of the home-grown Trailer Park Boys to the long-awaited (though sadly, bonus-free) first season of the `70s sitcom classic, The Bob Newhart Show.  The rest of the month will see the arrival of the first seasons of Dynasty, Highway to Heaven and the short-lived Miracles, the first and second seasons of The Waltons, and the second seasons of Degrassi and the much-beloved Andy Griffith Show.  May kicks off with a re-packaged set of the first three seasons of Everybody Loves Raymond — not at all coincidentally tied to the end of that series' run later in the month. A similar set re-releases the first three seasons of Six Feet Under, which is expected to start its fourth and final season on air in June.  Another recently deceased series, though not voluntarily, Star Trek: Enterprise debuts on DVD with a first-season set just days before its last episode airs.  Also coming to DVD for the first time this summer: The first seasons of both Denis Leary series, The Job and Rescue Me; as well as The Partridge Family; Entourage; Joan of Arcadia; Scrubs; Fat Actress; and the first and second seasons of Newsradio, Quincy and Moonlighting.  But the biggest re-packaged re-release of all, as far as I'm concerned, is the entire 158-episode run of The Dick Van Dyke Show in a completely digitally remastered and fully annotated 25-disc set, due to hit shelves the last week of May.  Just in time for my birthday.

 

 

 

BET Unveils Spring & Fall Shows

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 14, 2005) *It might as well have been Soul Train up in Manhattan Center Studio Tuesday as BET used a locomotive theme to roll out its new programming for spring and fall at the annual upfront advertising presentation in New York.  Ludacris, Kanye West, Nelly and John Legend were on hand to perform as the network formally kicked off a year-long celebration of its 25th anniversary – which will culminate with a televised mega-special also this fall. Rap entrepreneur Damon Dash came out to plug his upcoming reality series “The Ultimate Hustler,” an “Apprentice”-style show set in the music business involving eight "wanna-be" executives. Other new shows introduced were “Blowin’ Up: Fatty Koo,” which follows music group Fatty Koo as they try to make it big; and “Remixed,” BET’s spin on the current reality makeover trend in which the recipient gets “intellectual and personal development with assistance from a special ‘life coach.’” Also making appearances at the presentation were network talent AJ & Free from 106 & Park; Big Tigger and Melyssa Ford of BET Style; Jeff Johnson, host of the recently-launched urban documentary series The Cousin Jeff Chronicles; and others. "BET's position as the Number 1 network for African Americans is as solid as it has ever been, with ratings continuing to climb even with a changing competitive marketplace," said President and Chief Operating Officer Debra Lee. "Our increased investment in original programming and a newly-established development division to feed that commitment should send a powerful signal to advertisers and media buyers about the outstanding future of our network."

 

 

 

Tom Snyder Diagnosed With Leukemia

Source:  Associated Press

(Apr. 18, 2005) New York — Tom Snyder, a late-night talk show fixture for years, has been diagnosed with leukemia. Snyder announced on his website that doctors have told him that he has chronic lymphocytic leukemia. "When I was a kid leukemia was a death sentence. Now, my doctors say it's treatable! With pills or chemotherapy or a combination of both," he said. Snyder, 68, says he had been low on stamina, felt bloated and gained about 50 pounds — all symptoms that led him to seek tests. Coincidentally, he says his younger brother also has been diagnosed with the same disease. "Suffice to say that 2005 has not been a bell ringer for the Snyder boys," he wrote in an earlier posting. Snyder hosted NBC's The Tomorrow Show from 1973-82. He also had a four-year run on CBS' The Late Late Show With Tom Snyder, which he left in 1999. The show was reformatted for new host Craig Kilborn. Despite the news, Snyder was as upbeat and opinionated as ever. He brushed on topics such as Social Security, morning network television, the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry and celebrity memoirs. He finished with the signoff: "Back soon, same time. Same station. 'Night all!"

 

 

 

Aretha at the Emmys

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Apr 18, 2005)*Aretha Franklin, herself a fan of daytime drama “The Young and the Restless,” will be a presenter at the 32nd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, to be held May 20 at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall.  The show will be broadcast that evening at 9 p.m. on CBS. "Watching the soaps is still one of my favourite things to do," Franklin said in a statement. On June 3, 4 and 5 the Detroit Diva will headline the McDonald's Gospelfest at Madison Square Garden.  Later in June, the Queen of Soul’s releases her new album, “A Woman in Love,” and will support the disc with a summer tour. 

 

 

 

::THEATRE NEWS::

 

 

Sold-Out Wicked Will Return Next Year

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(Apr. 14, 2005) Toronto's going to have a chance to get Wicked again.  Producer David Stone revealed yesterday that the smash hit musical about the witches of Oz will be returning to the Canon Theatre from Oct. 7 through Nov. 19, 2006.  The show has been sold out at every performance since it started previews on March 8, and there isn't a regular ticket to be had from now until the closing on April 24, even if you click the heels of those ruby red slippers as hard as you can.  (There are, however, 20 seats available on a daily lottery if you want to brave the crowds that start gathering outside the box office two hours before curtain time at each performance.)  Eighteen months may seem like a long time to wait, but the tour is in great demand and it's already completely booked in various cities across North America until that time.  "Toronto embraced the show so completely," said Stone from his Manhattan office "that it had to be the first place the tour returned to. It's so unfair that there are all these thousands of people who want to see Wicked but just can't get in."  The show will have grossed more than $10 million in Toronto during its stay here, which is an astonishing figure for a seven-week run.  Stone reiterated his love of Toronto. "Opening our national tour here is the most flattering thing we could do. When we asked ourselves `Where should we start the tour?' we only had one answer. Toronto."  Wicked will be spinning off another company to remain in Chicago after the touring version finishes its run there and Stone acknowledges that "There had been some talk that we were snubbing Toronto by opening a sit-down run in Chicago, but the timing of the tour schedule made it impossible for us to try an extended run anywhere else."  Stone also denied rumours the tour would close after its return to Toronto. "There's a lot of other cities," he laughed, "that want us back again and some we haven't even played yet."  Tickets for the 2006 Wicked encore are now on sale at http://www.mirvish.com or by phoning 416-872-1212.

 

 

 

Anthony Mackie Continues To Soar

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Karu F. Daniels (New York, NY):TheRUReport@aol.com

(Apr. 14, 2005) “…You know, you can comfort a snake – but he’s still gonna bite.”  BIG MACKIE: New-school thespian Anthony Mackie is in a league of his own.   Not too many of the current crop of actors-on-the-rise can boast the credits that the 27-year-old New Orleans native has.  Since leaving movie audiences with an indelible impression in the critically acclaimed “8 Mile” two-and-a-half years ago, Mr. Mackie has worked on Broadway alongside Whoopi Goldberg (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) and even dabbled in the complexities of Chekov (“Drowning Crow”).    On the silver screen, he literally bared his all in Spike Lee’s controversial “She Hate Me,” and has logged time with Denzel Washington (“The Manchurian Candidate”), Harrison Ford (“Hollywood Homicide”), Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby”).   Talk about keeping good company.   Or is it just good “agenting”?    “Hard work!,” is what the talented Mr. Mackie attributes the break-out success to. “I mean, this is a very fickle business, and I put myself in a position where people couldn’t pigeon-hole me.”   “People can’t look at my resume and say, ‘Well he can only do this,’” he continued.  “When they look at my resume they can say, ‘Okay, he’s good at Shakespeare, he’s good at Chekhov, he’s good at theatre, he’s good at film.  He’s done work with Spike Lee, worked with Clint Eastwood.’  I can’t think of another actor, black or white, under 35 with a resume like mine.”   Alrightee then.

Don’t mistake his confidence for arrogance.  Mr. Mackie knows he got a good thing – in his acting craft.  And he continues to be on the grind to master it.  “I still gotta hustle like a fat cat to get a job,” he quipped. “You know, it’s like people know who I am, they recognize me, but getting them to hire you is a different story. You know, I mean, Hollywood has a tendency of hiring like the same six people.  You know what I’m sayin’?  And I’m not one of their six yet.” Okay. This brother sure knows how to put things into perspective. Currently residing in Harlem USA, the Julliard alum (“I studied acting at Julliard in a four year intensive conservatory program.”) is currently knocking theatre audiences dead as Darius McReele, a sharp-witted and intelligent former death row inmate turned politician in Stephen Belber’s thought-provoking play, “McReele.”  Directed by Tony nominated Doug Hughes (“Frozen”), the play is presented by the Roundabout Theatre Company and is playing at the Laura Pels Theatre in the Times Square section of New York City through May 1.  “Theatre,” he said, is his preferred medium to work in.  “I mean, theatre, you know, is very redeeming.  You know, you can be bad one night, and come back the next night and have the performance of your life.  In film, if you’re bad once, you’re bad for the rest of your life.”  “In film, you know, it’s one of those things that’s really interesting,” he continued.  “You know, you can give an amazing performance and the editor can go in and mess it up.  You know what I’m sayin’?  But once you’re on the stage, once you touch the board, you know, can’t nobody mess up your performance but you.  You know what I’m sayin’?” Mr. Mackie won an Obie Award for 2002’s “Talk,” which played at The Public Theatre.  He counts “The Cosby Show” as one of his favourite TV shows, while also giving props to Don Cheadle and Meryl Streep for their acting prowess.  He says he’s single  -- but has been known to make a few potential suitors swoon in the Big Apple. On celluloid, he has a barrage of flicks ready for release including: “The Man” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy coming in September; “Haven” with Orlando Bloom and Zoe Saldana on deck; and “Heaven’s Fall” with Timothy Hutton and Leelee Sobieski based on the monumental Scottsboro Boys trial of the 1930s. 

His star-turn in the independent hit “Brother 2 Brother” will get a second act when it arrives in DVD format in June 14. In the daring and courageous film, directed by Rodney Evans, Mr. Mackie plays a gay black art student channelling the spirit of Harlem Renaissance legends James Baldwin and Langston Hughes through his own self-discovery in the new millennium.  “’Brother to Brother’ is an amazing film. It’s reached a level of success and awareness in the Hollywood community that I never imagined,” he beamed.  “I mean, when I did ‘Brother to Brother,’ you know, I did it just as an idea, as an artistic venture for myself.  You know what I mean?  Because growing up in the South, you grow up homophobic, sexist and racist.  You understand what I’m sayin’?  So moving to New York, it was a big culture shock for me.  And that was something that I wanted to deal with as an artist because a lot of my friends are homosexual.  And I’ve always had an uncomfortable nature around them.  You know what I mean?  So that was something that I wanted to deal with and work on.”   He plays gay quite convincingly. The flick won three 2004 Outfest Awards, four 2004 Independent Spirit Awards and a Special Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.   “’Brother to Brother’ was the first script I read that, you know, dealt with homosexuality that wasn’t, you know, just like a snap queen, drag queen type movie,” he added.  “I mean some gay men are, you know, drag queens, but some just are regular guys that date men.  And ‘Brother to Brother’ was the first script that I read where it was a three-dimensional person.  It was an actual human being.” On May 2, BAMcinématek, BAM Rose Cinemas' repertory film program, will present a special screening of “Brother to Brother” followed by a Q&A with the director and cast members (www.bam.org). He added that one of his dreams is to bring the story of Shakespeare to the silver screen – with an all-Black cast. “Get James Earl Jones to play ‘King Lear.’  He can do it,” Mr. Mackie pontificated.  “Get a dynamic actor, we got a bunch of them.  Morgan Freeman could play King Lear.  And I bet brothers would jump at the opportunity.  We got, Harry Lennix, we got some phenomenal actors that are classically trained actors.  Don Cheadle, Jeffrey Wright, phenomenally trained actors.  And like, I don’t need to be the lead, I just want to be a part of it.  I just want to stand on set and watch them work.”  “It’s not just about money for me.  This means something to me.  This is not my job, this is my career.” Spoken like a true pro.

 

 

 

The Wedding Singer To Become Broadway Musical

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Apr. 16, 2005) New York -- The Wedding Singer, the celluloid celebration of the 1980s starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, has been transformed into a Broadway musical and booked for a New York opening for April, 2006. No casting has been announced for the stage version of the show. The musical, which has music by Matthew Sklar, a book by Tim Herlihy and Chad Beguelin, and lyrics by Beguelin, will have its world premiere in Seattle next January. Preview performances begin in New York in March at a theatre yet to be announced. AP

 

 

 

::SPORTS NEWS::

 

 

Tiger’s Shot To Be A Nike ad; NBA’s Global Outreach.

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(Apr. 14, 2005) *It couldn’t have been a better commercial for Nike had it been scripted.  Tiger Woods’ famous shot en route to a win at the Masters golf tournament Sunday stopped short of the hole – and held long enough for the Nike golf ball to position its trademark swoosh before the TV cameras – then miraculously fell into the hole. According to the “New York Post,” Nike has confirmed that it's working along with long-time ad agency Wieden & Kennedy on a TV spot featuring the gravity-defying drop. "We're working on it," acknowledged Nike Golf spokesman Chris Mike. "It was a marketer's dream."

 

 

 

Football Moves Networks

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

*”Monday Night Football” is moving from ABC - its home for the last 35 years – to the basic cable network ESPN beginning with the 2006 season.  A new broadcast deal between the NFL and the networks also brings football to NBC for the first time in six years. The peacock will air games on Sunday nights - which the league now considers its marquee television showcase. NBC will start its Sunday broadcasts with a pregame show at 7 p.m. ET; kickoffs will begin at 8:15. “MNF’s” move to cable, which includes an earlier start time of 8:40 p.m., is expected to cost ESPN — which previously broadcast Sunday night games — $1.1 billion a year over eight years, two sources familiar with the deals told The Associated Press.

 

 

 

::OTHER NEWS::

 

 

Key Porter Publisher Anna Porter Will Continue To Support Her Writers

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Sandra Martin

(Apr. 14, 2005) Anna Porter is stepping down as publisher of Key Porter Books at the end of next week. Her departure on April 22 is the second stage of an exit strategy that began last July when she sold the controlling interest in her publishing company to H. B. Fenn, the largest Canadian-owned book distributor in the country.  Harold Fenn, founder and president of the company, confirmed that his son Jordan will become publisher of Key Porter Books. The younger Fenn has been vice-president and associate publisher since the change in ownership. Under the terms of the sale, Porter had agreed to stay with the company until the end of April, principally to mentor Jordan Fenn in the precarious world of Canadian publishing. That training period is now over. "It is very hard for somebody to take over the running of a company in any meaningful way if the previous head of the company is hanging about, and so I don't intend to hang about," Porter said in an exclusive interview with The Globe and Mail this week. She will hang about for her authors, "although not in the office," she added, a wicked grin flashing across her face.  Her stable includes Farley and Claire Mowat, George Jonas, former U.S. ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci, photographer Fred Bruemmer, journalist Joey Slinger, and oncologist Dr. Robert Buckman. Porter will shepherd their books at least through the fall publishing season. "This certainly isn't goodbye." "We want to continue a relationship with Anna where she is involved as a consultant working with Jordan and she will continue to be part of our management meetings," said Harold Fenn by phone from New York, where he is attending a sales conference. His son Jordan was at the Bologna Book Fair in Italy and couldn't be reached for comment.

Looking relaxed after a week-long holiday in Florence with her eldest daughter, Porter, a renowned workaholic, sat at the marble table in the book-lined boardroom of Key Porter Books and explained why she was calling it quits at the company she had founded in 1979 with then-magazine publisher Michael de Pencier. "I sold the company last year after the most trying three years of my more than 30 years in publishing," she said. "I was tired, really, really tired and I thought I might feel a little less tired as time went on." That wasn't the case. She is still suffering from the financial, emotional and psychic aftershocks of the bankruptcy of General Distribution Services Ltd., Jack Stoddart's publishing and distribution conglomerate. "I did not expect that Jack's company would go down," she said. "Our books were in his warehouse and our receivables were in his computer and we ended up losing a very, very, substantial amount of money," she added, explaining that she had had to buy her own books back from the defunct distributor.  The sweat equity in Canadian publishing is enormous. It is very onerous to work so hard and for so long without the flow-through of American or British bestsellers to help your bottom line, she said. But if a career spent in Canadian publishing has not given her excessive personal riches, it has rewarded her with an abundance of cultural capital, as the insignia of both the Order of Canada and of Ontario on the lapel of her black blazer attest. Succession is the most serious problem facing the industry today, she says. Porter is not the only major figure in Canadian publishing to be thinking about retirement these days. West Coast publisher Douglas & McIntyre sold its perennially award-winning children's line, Groundwood Books, to House of Anansi Press in February. At the time, Groundwood publisher Patsy Aldana suggested that succession planning was one of the principal reasons behind the move. "I am delighted that the question of Groundwood's succession is now assured," she said in a press release. And only last month, Tim Inkster told The Globe that 2005 would be the last full season for The Porcupine's Quill, the literary press that was the first to publish Jane Urquhart, Michael Winter, Russell Smith and Elizabeth Hay.

The generation of literary nationalists that came of age in the culturally euphoric years after Expo 67 are all now heading for their old-age pensions, and that includes Porter. Her age is noticeably absent from her listing in Who's Who. "You can figure it out," is the response to a direct question. Now in her sixth decade, with two grown daughters who have no interest whatsoever in following their mother into the publishing business, Porter has been considering her options, especially now that her husband, Toronto libel lawyer Julian Porter, is heading toward the big 70. A refugee from the 1956 Hungarian uprising, Porter arrived in Canada with her mother via New Zealand and England in the late 1960s. She helped shake the somnolent Canadian publishing business out of its doldrums after she was taken on as a junior editor at McClelland & Stewart. Under the mentorship of the late Jack McClelland, she quickly rose to become editor-in-chief of the company. "He was a brilliant publisher, a terrific editor," she said. She reveres him as a great personality who could always get his ideas across, but also as somebody who taught her that being an editor means having the empathy to work with authors without challenging their egos. "Your personality has to be subsumed by somebody else's in order to help them write the book they are writing," she said, and you have to realize that being an editor is not about "what you want them to say, but helping them to say what they want to say, only better." She has always been more than an editor, though, and her new freedom will allow her to do more writing. The author of three crime novels, Porter has also written The Storyteller: Memory, Secrets, Magic and Lies, a widely admired memoir of her Hungarian grandfather. There's another Hungarian-based book that's simmering in her consciousness. About 10 years ago, Barrick Gold founder Peter Munk told her the story of how a man named Rudolf Kasztner had helped many Jews escape from Hungary during the Second World War, including Munk himself, who was then a young boy. "He saved more people than Schindler," Porter said, who has researched the story in Israel, discovered some documents buried in an archive in Hungary and found that Kasztner has a daughter who is still alive. "I've written some of it, but I've just got to get at it, because it has been sticking in my gut all of this time. And I've been desperately wanting to write a murder mystery as well." Porter will also spend more time sitting on boards, at least partly because governance is an issue that has more than piqued her interest over the years. "I feel very strongly that Canadian publishing companies that get public funding should be open to looking at unsolicited manuscripts," she said. "It puts me in the uncomfortable position of getting about 15 a day, but it is part of what we owe the country." As for her own company, she feels it is time to move aside for a younger generation eager to work up a sweat for Canadian writers. "It's in good hands."

 

 

 

Author Camilla Gibb's Research In Ethiopia Underpins New Novel

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Susan Walker, Entertainment Reporter

(Apr. 16, 2005) In 1995, when Camilla Gibb completed her year of research in Harar, Ethiopia, she wasn't thinking about becoming a novelist. She was going to be an academic, a social anthropologist specializing in Islamic studies. The dissertation that earned her a Ph.D. from Oxford University was about religion, politics and gender in Harar.  Something about it depressed her. "It was this dry, boring thing with all the blood and the life sucked out of it," she says. "Everything that had moved me had been expunged — all the intimacies and the relationships that I longed to write about."  If the job market for social anthropologists had been better when Gibb returned to Toronto, the novelist in her might have found another outlet. But Gibb was forced to take a job as a career placement officer and began to wonder if she'd ever work in her chosen field.  Then, as if in a fairy tale, she was introduced to someone who wanted to help. She blurted out that she wanted to be a writer. Asked how much time and money she would need, she said, "six months and six thousand dollars." Her wish was granted: This anonymous angel turned up the next week and gave her the money in cash.  It was an investment that paid off. Gibb won the City of Toronto Book Award in 2000 for her first novel, Mouthing The Words, and after The Petty Details of So-and-So's Life came out in 2002 she was named to the Orange Futures List of young writers to watch, compiled by the jury for the Orange Prize.  Her experiences in Harar kept pressing to be told. Five years ago, while she was completing The Petty Details, she says, "I had a glimmer of an idea of how I could tell the story, but I had to put it aside." Sweetness in the Belly (Doubleday) would eventually be written twice, first in the voice of a child and without the London sections that dovetail with the protagonist's life in Ethiopia.  Concerned that she could be accused of misappropriating the lives and stories of women in another culture, Gibb created Lilly, daughter of an English-Irish hippie couple who drag her around Europe and North Africa. Lilly is orphaned after her parents are suspiciously killed in Morocco. Left to be raised in a Muslim shrine, she becomes a devout student of the Koran and travels to the ancient city of Harar intending to enter another shrine. Instead, she is thrust into a poor household where she slowly learns to become a Harari and not just a farenji or foreigner.  This part of the novel is set in 1970, but in many ways Lilly's experiences duplicate Gibb's sojourn in the ancient city 25 years later. "I lived with a family that had nine kids. The family compound was divided: The mother and the daughters and the young boys lived on one side, the father and the other boys across from them. I wore a veil and I wore trousers under my skirt. They treated me like I was an unmarried daughter," says Gibb.

At the time she didn't know of any other Westerners in the city. Sitting across from her interviewer, in slim jeans, a jacket and tee shirt, Gibb, now 37, doesn't present as a woman who'd fit easily into a community where females are kept hidden and separate from the men. She has a broad, open smile and a lively curiosity that allows her to engage easily with those she meets.  It wasn't as easy for her friend Agitu. When they were both undergraduates at the University of Toronto, Gibb met the young Ethiopian woman who had come to Canada on a refugee scholarship in 1989. Agitu had endured imprisonment and accusations of spying under the Communist Dergue government, but she was so modest in her demeanour that she needed someone to speak for her strength of character before the scholarship committee. "In her culture, a woman didn't meet another's eyes when she spoke," Gibb explains. Their 16-year friendship had a big impact on the author and helped determine her course of study.  Some of Agitu, she says, is written into the character of Amina, who is the refugee Ethiopian woman carving out a life for herself and her two children in the London housing estate of Lambeth on the south shore of the Thames. This part of the novel takes place between 1981 and 1991 and tells the story of another woman-centred community, where Amina awaits word of her imprisoned husband in Ethiopia and Lilly trains as a nurse and opens a centre for refugees.  In A Sweetness in the Belly Gibb conveys the sights and smells of Harar — chewing khat in darkened rooms and the hyenas that roam the streets at night — that she couldn't bring into her dissertation. But she also incorporates some of the insights gained as a researcher. "In some ways, I want people to come away with a more complicated picture of Islam. I'm interested in how all this diversity is possible under a broader rubric. I'm interested in how diverse practices (such as the worship of saints) get distilled to their essence when Muslims come to the West."  Born in London, Gibb left with her mother and brother when she was 4 and grew up in Toronto. There are characters in all of her books who are dealing with a sense of abandonment and the related issue of creating an identity for themselves.  For all its foreignness, and the complex history, religion and politics it contains, A Sweetness in the Belly, she says, is "still a very Canadian book," inspired by a strong friendship between two women from very different cultures.  Writing has sustained Gibb's curiosity and her fascination with the foreign. Chances are the medical background she absorbed writing the latest book led to the topic of the novel she's now working on. "It's something about illness," she says. "An illness that isn't named. It's a bit of a mystery."

 

 

 

Jane Against The Grain

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Pevere, Beverly Hills, Calif.

(Apr. 17, 2005) Jane Fonda has just pre-empted what seems like the 15th question asked by a persistent Australian journalist in about seven minutes. She leans forward, fixing her gaze on the only other woman at the press roundtable besides herself. The persistent Australian journalist's question — about how Fonda manages to look so "amazing" — drifts unfinished into the air.  "How come you're not asking any questions?" Fonda asks cheerfully. "The only woman at the table besides me. I mean, I've just written a book on women owning their voices and I keep looking at you but you haven't asked anything."  The frankly abashed woman explains to Fonda that she's a publicist, not a journalist, but Fonda seems unsatisfied with the answer.  Perhaps not every woman is as comfortable taking ownership of her voice as Jane Fonda is, or maybe the publicist figured it was futile competing with the persistent Australian journalist — who instantly takes a second shot at asking that vital question about Fonda's looks.

How does she manage to look so, you know, amazing?  "Good genes," replies the 67-year-old actress, producer, activist, controversy magnet, author (of the just published My Life So Far) and eldest daughter of middle-American screen icon Henry Fonda.  "Good genes, I'm happy, and I kind of watch what I eat — except for that Snickers bar that I polished off this morning." She smiles weakly and shrugs.  "I don't know. Just living right, I guess."  Fonda clearly isn't terribly interested in discussing how good she looks or how she gets that way. Maybe it's because it seems so undignified to do so at a table surrounded by about 10 men, or maybe it's because it's the 15th question posed by the persistent Australian journalist — who has craftily managed to occupy the chair to Fonda's immediate right — and she'd like to hear from someone else.  But it's probably also got something to do with celebrity. After 15 years of being out of the spotlight, Fonda represents another era: an era when famous women had more to talk about than how good they looked or how they got that way. The pre-Jennifer Lopez era.  Besides, who by now doesn't know that Jane Fonda, among her many incarnations over the years — sex kitten, anti-Vietnam activist, trailblazing producer-star, multiple Oscar winner — also happens to be one of the fittest women on the planet? The star of what Fonda boasts in My Life So Far is still the top-selling home video (Jane Fonda's Workout) of them all? Or, now that she's been everywhere talking about it, a recovered bulimic? Surely the answer to her "amazing" looks lies somewhere between aerobics and bulimia, but most likely closer to the former. But really, who cares?

Not Jane Fonda, apparently, who speaks much more expansively about things like politics, her favourite recent movies (Kinsey, Finding Neverland, The Aviator and I Huckabees rank prominently among them), her pained relationship with an emotionally frozen father, and her recent decision to apologize (yet again) for being photographed while seated at a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun in 1972 than she does her svelte and youthful figure.  The issue here is how much the worlds of celebrity and politics have changed since Jane Fonda opted out of them 15 years ago, changes that are rendered even more stark by the fact that Fonda's re-entry into the spotlight is at least partly facilitated by her co-starring role in next month's Monster-in-Law, a romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez. When you get right down to it, what more do you need to compare powerful showbiz women then and now than by putting the star of Klute in the same camera frame as the star of Maid in Manhattan?  Asked if she thinks the current status of romantic comedy as Hollywood's pre-eminent women's genre has developed at the expense of the kinds of roles she once blazed industry trails to create, Fonda opens her mouth and says ... nothing. For the longest time.  "I'm stumped," she finally admits. "I don't know. I kind of ended up having to make my own roles. I began to produce films or work with producers on films that conveyed things that I wanted to say, starting with Coming Home and The China Syndrome.  "I kind of created my own roles, and I don't want to do that any more because they take so long. And I'm of a certain age." This, she adds smiling.  But the answer also suggests that while Jane Fonda may still be among us, Jane Fonda roles are not. Jennifer Lopez movies, however, most certainly are.  While Fonda insists that her role as J.Lo's Cruella de Vilean mother-in-law was fun to do and that "I love the character," she also reveals that she gave half her salary "to support the work I do."  (Fonda, an Atlanta resident, is the founder of the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and the Jane Fonda Center for Adolescent Reproductive Health at Emory University.)  Fun is as fun does, but that doesn't exactly sound like the most compelling reason to come out of what by all accounts was a perfectly contented retirement.  "What's so fun," she clarifies, "is that none of this has anything to do with me or my life or my experiences.

"I don't really think much about acting," she adds. "I have other things on my mind.  "I didn't miss it while I was out of it and I'm not sorry I left. But it was fun to come back and I hope to do a couple more before I die."  Nor did she miss being caught in fame's glare, a fact that came ringing home when she saw the round-the-clock paparazzi pursuit of her 35-year-old co-star.  "Oh my God," she says with eyes rolling. "Fortunately I'm of an age where that kind of thing won't go on, but I don't envy the young ones today. We never had that kind of scrutiny.  "It was never this kind of, from the moment you step out your front door, everything you wear, everything you do ..." She trails off and frowns in disgust. "Yuck."  Fonda claims she never liked celebrity because it prevented her from doing what she really wanted to do, which was to be an activist.  "I like people," says Fonda, "and the thing I don't like about celebrity is that it puts up barriers between you and humanity."  Lately, what Fonda has been attempting to do is bring those barriers down, a task that is sometimes easier said than done. This month she went on 60 Minutes and apologized for the 1972 anti-aircraft gun photo. She does not apologize for visiting her country's former enemy capital, and she most emphatically does not apologize for opposing the war in Vietnam.  But she does admit, and has done so for years, that being photographed in the seat of that artillery weapon was one of the biggest miscalculations of her life.  "I first apologized in 1980 on national television with Barbara Walters," Fonda says. "I mean I've been apologizing for 20, 30 years.  "I think it says a lot about the war itself, and how in denial the country is, that people still can't hear the apology and can't internalize it.  "We've not come to terms with the war," she insists. "And it's hard to come to terms with something like that because you have to re-examine what you feel about your country and the fact that it's possible that your government will lie to you and put you in harm's way based on a lie. That's hard."  She insists on drawing a clear distinction between the ongoing chorus of right-wing attackers who keep firing their own anti-aircraft artillery at Jane Fonda and the veterans of the war with whom she's constantly attempting to build bridges.  "I separate the two," she says. "And I have very different feelings about them.  "I get letters all the time, I carry them with me. I get letters from vets even now after all this time saying, `I am able to forgive you.' And it makes me so happy because it means that healing has started."  Fonda is summoned to her next encounter with the J.Lo-era entertainment press, but before she leaves she leans across the table toward the silent publicist.  "Next time," Fonda says with a sly smile, "speak up."

 

 

 

David Gilmour, Once An Unrepentant, Hard-Drinking Womanizer, Has Changed His Ways

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Rebecca Caldwell

(Apr. 18, 2005) The backdrop of David Gilmour's latest novel may seem familiar. A Perfect Night to Go to China is rooted in downtown Toronto, particularly Kensington Market and Chinatown -- retracing the paths of his previous five books. But while the scenery is similar, the emotional landscape the book travels through is brand-new territory.  Gone are the pill-popping, hard-drinking, womanizing scoundrels, such as Gene in Back on Tuesday, or Bix in How Boys See Girls. Instead, the reader is presented with Roman, a fiftysomething father faced with the loss of his six-year-old son Simon, a loss made all the more agonizing because of his own complicity. Roman left the door of his house unlocked one night when he nipped out to a neighbourhood bar. In the 15 minutes he was gone, Simon simply vanished. The book is a profound meditation on loss, a journey into loneliness and despair and finally release. The lust may have left his writing, but the love is still there, and, as corny as it sounds, it is in fact love that changed Gilmour. "I'm happily married, I'm completely faithful to my wife, and have been for years, and I just got tired of writing about sex and drinking and a whole way of life that I actually quite loved," he says with the zeal of a born-again romantic. "And I did love it -- it wasn't a pose. But then I fell in love with my wife and suddenly it all seemed outgrown, dated and rather unattractive, it was just time to stop. And when I stopped imagining it in my real life, I stopped having to imagine it in my writing." While Gilmour's days as what diplomatic interviewers would record as a notorious flirt are over, he still has the charm of enthusiasm. At any moment, he'll stand up and pace about his downtown Toronto living room as if movement will help him illustrate his point. Or he'll spring to his bookcase to pull out some of the volumes that have inspired him over the years: Anton Chekhov, Elmore Leonard, Truman Capote and, most recently, Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, which he has read in its entirety. Twice.

The dark subject material of A Perfect Night to Go to China came to him in a hotel room in Halifax, where he was stashed for the night after a taping of Mary Walsh's book program Open Book. Only later, when leafing through his collection of notebooks, crammed with random ideas jotted down over the years, did he notice an entry dating from the early nineties with essentially the same plot. "I thought it had landed out of nowhere, but in fact I had had it in my head for 12 years," he says. The loss of a child is not something Gilmour has personal experience with, but the idea of it terrifies him. When he speaks about his children, Gilmour glows like a pregnant woman in her first trimester. There are three in his life: daughter Maggie, 27; son Jesse, 19; and six-year-old stepchild Amelia Ellis, the daughter of his third and current wife, Tina Gladstone. A photograph of Jesse as a young boy sitting wistfully on a porch is taped onto the computer in his home office, providing daily inspiration. "I think I could survive anything except the death of my children; I think if something happened to my children I would honestly have to kill myself," he says. "When you see your children born, there is an arena of vulnerability that opens up, and it's actually terrifying because you realize you've never been here before, and if anything happened to them, your life would be over. "Francis Ford Coppola -- he's never made another good movie since his son died. There's this interview where he said, 'All I used to want to do is make movies and have my own studio, but after my son died, I didn't give a shit.' "

Perhaps because of Gilmour's sentimentality, A Perfect Night to Go to China was his most difficult book to write, he says. It's not that it was a terribly lengthy process -- it took a fairly standard three years to complete -- but it did go through an astonishing 17 drafts. Some of the new versions were merely cosmetic; others were more serious. It wasn't until the last version that the "John Cassavetes-type conversations," as Gilmour called them, disappeared, and the dealing with the loss of Simon takes centre stage. The biggest addition was Gilmour's introduction of a dream world -- a sunlit Caribbean island where Roman can see Simon, a fitting underworld for the 21st century. "I did not get the book until the 17th draft because I would not engage," says Gilmour. "I thought I'll do a noir, I'll do a stylish number, I'll do a cold number. And every time people read it they said, this is a repulsive book. This man has lost his child and he seems to think this is a stylish opportunity. My editor Patrick Crean said to me, either write the book and engage with the subject, you losing your son, or write another book." Gilmour doesn't mind the effort; forging a career as a writer is something that has appealed to him ever since he was a child, although it took him until his mid-30s to produce his debut Back on Tuesday (he is now 55). He balanced books and journalism, publishing about every five years as he built up a career as a television broadcaster reviewing films for CBC Television on The Journal; later hosting Gilmour on the Arts for Newsworld. He quit mainstream television in 1997 and has adjusted to the anonymity of a stay-at-home writer with ease. "What I do miss is that there is a kind of superficial banter you have when you work in a large office. These are worthless, superficial conversations, but life can be a little bit drab without that. They add a little sparkle to your life -- that is the only thing I miss about it," he says. "I stayed in television long enough. The trick to television is don't overstay your welcome." His only other regret seems to be his deliberate cultivation of his reputation as a wild man -- much like the heroes in his books. Gilmour's real-life creation certainly generated a lot of press but he's keen to have people realize that he's started a new chapter in his life. "I really thought if I sort of cast myself as a Henry Miller character I could draw attention to these books. Unfortunately it gave people an excuse to dismiss them," Gilmour says. "I created a bit of a legacy with these books which has been very hard to shake. All I ask for this book, which I think is a really pure and loving creation, is a fair shake. Don't punish me because I was imprudent and boastful, just give this book a chance."

 

 

 

::FITNESS NEWS::

 

 

10 Great Ways To Burn More Fat

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

"Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome."
-- Samuel Johnson, Author, 1709-1784

You're so busy you have absolutely no time to work out, right? Wrong. It's important that you make the time and I'm here to help you do it. In this busy world filled with work pressure, family and stress we sometimes have to use a lot of creativity to sneak in workout time.  I've constructed some quick tips to keep you moving, your muscles stimulated and your blood flowing in minimal time. Now you have no excuse.

Here are my 10 fat burning tips for people on the go:

1. When you first wake up commit to 10 minutes of continuous exercise. Choose only three movements and perform each in succession without stopping for 10 minutes. For example, Monday you can perform modified push-ups, followed by crunches for your abs followed by stationary lunges. On Tuesday you can perform freestanding squats with hands on hips, double crunch for abs, and close grip modified push-ups (hands 3" apart) for your triceps. Just 10 minutes! Just take a quick breather when you need it.

2. Perform timed interval walking in your neighbourhood or at lunch. If it takes 10 minutes to walk to a certain destination near your office or in your neighbourhood, try to make it in eight minutes. You can also do this first thing in the morning before work as well as on your lunch break.

3. If you have stairs in your home or in your work place, commit to taking the stairs a specific number of times. Tell yourself that you'll take the stairs six or eight times (no matter what).

4. While seated, perform some isometric exercise to help strengthen and tighten your muscles. For example, while in a seated position, simply contract the abdominals for 30 seconds while breathing naturally. You can also tighten and contract your legs for 60 seconds. Perform about three sets per area. You'll feel your muscles get tighter in just three weeks if you perform this a few times per week.

5. For about $15.00 you can invest in a pedometer. It's a small device you can carry that records the amount of miles you walk per day. Each week simply try to add just a bit more to the mileage. For example, let's say you walk one mile total during the day in the normal course of activities. Simply try to make it two miles total the following week. Just make a game of it. You'll burn more calories.

6. Tired at night and just want to sit in front of the TV? Try this technique: take periodic five-minute exercise breaks and perform some muscle stimulating and calorie burning exercise. For example, take five minutes and perform only ab crunches. Then, when it's time for another five-minute exercise break, perform modified push-ups for five minutes. Then for a final five-minute break, perform stationary lunges. Try to do as many as possible in five minutes and try to beat your amount of reps during each subsequent break. It won't seem daunting because it's only five minutes at a time, split over a 30 or 60 minute timeframe. Instead of rest breaks, you'll take exercise breaks. You don't really need to watch that new commercial do you?

7. How about performing one exercise movement per day for seven to 10 minutes? For example, Monday: free-standing squats for seven minutes. Tuesday: chair dips for seven minutes. Wednesday: crunches and hip lifts off the floor for seven minutes. Thursday: modified push-up for seven minutes. Friday: stationary lunges for seven minutes. It's quick, simple and teaches consistency.

8. Want things even simpler? Take the longest route every time you have to walk somewhere -- even if it's to a co-workers office.

9. Double-up the stairs. Every time you take the stairs, simply take a double step or every other stair. It will be just like lunges and the Stairmaster combined. Great for the legs and butt.

10. Perform any of the above with your spouse or a friend. I'm sure you can find someone who is in the same situation. The support will give you more motivation and you just may find that you can create even more workout time for yourself.

Hey, I know this won’t make you an Olympic athlete or give you six-pack abs, but that’s not the goal. I just want to see you making an effort to improve. If you take two to three of your favourite tips above -- that will be the beginning of something great.

 

 

 

EVENTS –APRIL 21 – MAY 1, 2005

 

 

 

FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2005
United Way JAZZ JAM
George Weston Recital Hall
Toronto Centre for the Arts
5040 Yonge St. (just north of Sheppard)
8:00 pm
Tickets - $55 or $40 Contact Ticketmaster at 416-870-8000 or www.ticketmaster.ca

For more information, please contact Joy Bullen at 416-777-1444 ext 387 or jbullen@uwgt.org

EVENT PROFILE: An evening of smooth jazz from United Way’s African Canadian Committee to the jazz lovers of Toronto with Molly Johnson, Liberty Silver and Eddie Bullen.  Join Toronto’s own, internationally acclaimed jazz all-stars in a rare gathering right here at home. Molly Johnson, Liberty Silver and Eddie Bullen donate their award-winning talent to benefit United Way. All proceeds go to United Way of Greater Toronto.

 

 

 

SATURDAY, APRIL 23 AND SUNDAY, APRIL 24
THE A-TEAM
The Orbit Room
College Street
10:30 pm 
$8.00   
 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Wade O. Brown, Shamakah Ali, Rich Brown, Adrian Eccleston, David Williams.

 

 

 

SUNDAY, APRIL 24
SOULAR
College Street Bar  
574 College Street (at Manning)  
10:30 pm 
$5.00   
  
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French.

 

 

 

MONDAY, APRIL 25
IRIE MONDAY NIGIHT SESSIONS
Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.
10:00 pm
 
EVENT PROFILE: Newcomers and regulars alike were enjoying the vibe and promised to come back for more next week.  So, if you know what's good for you, make your way down there next Monday to enjoy the crazy and genius combination of Kayte Burgess and Adrian Eccleston - arrangements that will tantalize your ears and soul. 

 

 

 

MONDAY, APRIL 25
VIP JAM WITH SPECIAL GUESTS  
Revival Bar  
783 College Street (at Shaw)  
10:00 pm  
NO COVER  
  
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Rich Brown, Joel Joseph and Shamakah Ali with various local artists. 

 

 

 

SATURDAY, APRIL 30 AND SUNDAY, MAY 1
THE A-TEAM
The Orbit Room
College Street
10:30 pm 
$8.00   
 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Wade O. Brown, Shamakah Ali, Rich Brown, Adrian Eccleston, David Williams.

 

 

 

SUNDAY, MAY 1
SOULAR 
College Street Bar
574 College Street (at Manning)
10:30 pm 
$5.00
 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French

 

 

 

Have a great week!  


Dawn Langfield   
Langfield Entertainment  
www.langfieldentertainment.com