Updated: April 28, 2005
de Mayo next week**! I know it's not a huge celebration in
Canada but there are many places that it is celebrated with lots of charisma!
What we do celebrate here is Victoria Day Weekend
- only a few weeks away and we're over the hump and headed into summer.
Mark your calendars now for the first kick-off party which will be Irie's
Patio Opening party on Monday,
Check out the scoop on the much-anticipated spring music series brought to you by Kayte Burgess at The Richmond Lounge beginning on Wednesday, May 11th.
Chris Smith, one of Canada's premiere music managers, graciously gave me his very first interview for which I am eternally grateful - check out the whole story below!
So ladies, if you don't have plans on Saturday, April 30th, stop by the Laser Rejuvenation Clinic for the Client Appreciation Day and get a huge savings card - you could win a free service! You can also learn about all the great services they offer. Men are welcome too!
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.
Kayte Burgess at The Richmond Lounge’s Wednesday Nights
Toronto welcomes back to the stage Kayte Burgess for a series of original showcases. Come and join us for this special series at The Richmond Lounge which will feature Kayte’s newest material. Each week Kayte has invited special guests to join her in giving us the smooth vibes of spring. What a great line-up! Kayte's kickin' band consists of Joel Joseph, Adrian Eccleston, Roger Williams and Don Pham. Kayte has showcased her R&B and soul singing talents for the likes of Quincy Jones, Mariah Carey, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. She has natural and magnetic presence and a true command of the stage. We hope to see you there!
WEDNESDAY, MAY 11
KAYTE BURGESS AND SPECIAL GUEST JENNIE LAWS
The Richmond Lounge
342 Richmond Street W. (entrance to the right of Fez Batik)
Doors open at 9:00 pm
WEDNESDAY, MAY 18
KAYTE BURGESS AND SPECIAL GUEST CHRIS ROUSE
The Richmond Lounge
342 Richmond Street W. (entrance to the right of Fez Batik)
Doors open at 9:00 pm
WEDNESDAY, MAY 25
KAYTE BURGESS AND SPECIAL GUEST DWAYNE MORGAN
The Richmond Lounge
342 Richmond Street W. (entrance to the right of Fez Batik)
Doors open at 9:00 pm
Chris Smith Speaks Out
(Apr. 8, 2005) Chris Smith kept his word to me in granting me an interview and today was that lucky day. Talk about an exclusive!
The office of the award-winning music manager, Chris Smith, is unusually serene; including the bubbling fountain perched on a coffee table as well as a trace of incense burning. How contrary to his hectic schedule as he delicately juggles the musical careers of such artists as Tamia, k-os, Philosopher Kings, Nelly Furtado, jacksoul and Jelleestone, to name a few. Seven of his artists have risen to the platinum status in Canada, an unlikely feat in the industry’s uncertain climate. Practically every wall space, table space or ledge is covered by awards, plaques or trophies for his artists – a testament to the success of Chris Smith Management ("CSM").
Chris speaks about the ongoing structuring of Chris Smith Management and BlackSmith Entertainment, ideal candidates to retain formal management, the role of a manager and finally, some of his latest projects, including Divine Brown, an artist that I ‘managed’ briefly in 2000-2001.
LE:How did your vision for Chris Smith Management get shaped?
Chris: Hammond (my uncle) asked me to go on the road with him 15 years ago. I fell in love with the music scene. My family is all in music. I took the business route. I asked permission to branch off and build my own company. I was fighting it out in New York and then I thought, why don’t I go back to Canada and become somebody there?’ I realized once I became an established player here, then the Major label presidents from Canada would help me develop relationships with label presidents in the other major territories once I established my identity as one of their platinum managers. So, that was really the strategy
LE:What were the obstacles?
Chris:At that time, it was difficult to get the attention of labels for
music from Canadian urban or Jamaican artists. Reggae was a big thing for me then. Still
is. That’s why I started my first reggae label – FiWi Music (FiWi
meaning ‘Our”). Jarvis (Church)’s sister-in-law
convinced me to go out with her to see the Philosopher
Kings. That fateful date was the beginning of a very
successful management relationship with the Kings.
At that time, it was difficult to get the attention of labels for music from Canadian urban or Jamaican artists. Reggae was a big thing for me then. Still is. That’s why I started my first reggae label – FiWi Music (FiWi meaning ‘Our”). Jarvis (Church)’s sister-in-law convinced me to go out with her to see the Philosopher Kings. That fateful date was the beginning of a very successful management relationship with the Kings.
LE:When did Nelly (Furtado) come along?
Chris:Rose, an intern [at BMG] at the time said ‘hey,
there’s a girl called Nelstar’.
Rose was persistent about Nelly and her persistence finally paid off - she said
she was going to perform at the Honey Jam. As
I was going to see Nelly, I invited
Jarvis along to check out some new talent.
So I didn’t discover her randomly - I was tipped off by Rose, who’s in the group Lal. That’s the story.
LE:What do you tell someone who wants to get involved in the music industry as management?
Chris:First, you should take courses in marketing and sales in a post-secondary business program . You know, it’s a business, so in order to deal with record execs on a certain level, you have to have some business understanding.
None of our artists on the roster is typical. Each one is unique because that is what attracts me – someone unforgettable. I don’t have any artists that are quite like any other.
The mandate for being a great manager is to first understand business and how to find a unique product. Then comes the Manager’s opportunity to bring a unique plan and team to each artist. And each record release.
LE:What’s the important thing for artists to remember before seeking out formal management?
Chris:First, you’ve got to be a great independent artist. An artist with an independent mindset makes for a great, extraordinary major label artist.
Of course you look for those things that can go right into the marketplace versus taking 3-4 years. I am more inclined to step to the talent that I can move right away. But if it’s really special and needs development, that’s also something to consider – if you have the resources and vision. You have to spend your time and money wisely.
LE:What are two pieces of advice that you would give to Canadian urban artists?
Chris:Stop trying to sound like Americans!
LE: Entertainment (the record company) is now a full service label. What made that step necessary for you?
Chris:[I thought] if [the labels] don’t know how to make a record for someone like this, I do! Why am I teaching and showing and persuading you [how to make certain kinds of records]? Why don’t I go out and put my name on the line? Take the risk, and own more of the risk…and the success.
When you have a great artist, they pretty much take you there 99% of the way. When they’re special and motivated, you don’t have to tell them anything. You just have to get their business sorted out and keep them focused. I’m not trying to pretend that I make records for artists. I just knew it was time for me to take greater responsibility and get more directly connected to the creation of the entire product.
LE:What’s been one of the highlights of your career since the inception of CSM?
Chris:There are many. There are so many moments flashing through – it’s not the Junos, it’s not the Grammys, it’s not The Source Awards, it’s not the Billboard Awards … I’m not there yet. I think I’m halfway up that mountain. Critical mass has not happened. But every day brings a new high point.
LE:Where do you see room for improvement in the Canadian music industry?
Chris:Get some of the old cats out and get some new kids in there that know what’s up! And get kids that can make music that will compete with the American artists that dominate the airwaves and retail..
LE:But not with an American sound?
Chris:Yeah, that’s right. They can sound close to it, to be competitive, but they don’t have to try to be American, they should bring their own mix of influences to their ‘sound’. Even though we know the history of Blacks in Canada, we still look to America for the sound and the template but I think we should draw more from our own mix of cultures and influences.
LE:There is some buzz around Divine Brown – what records has she broken with the release of ‘Old Skool Love’?
Chris:Most increased spins. “Old Skool Love debuts on the mainstream AC audience tour at #19 and on the All Format audience chart at #26. They are the best ever chart entries at these formats for a Canadian debut single.” The buzz is really about ‘Wow, somebody made REAL soul music that isn’t an American label!’
Divine is the best of contemporary soul. Meaning that we’ve used a lot of hip hop beats on a lot of her tracks. The album hits the streets May 24th, I believe.
LE:What’s in your CD player right now?
Chris:Only my artists and Sade. Sade never leaves Changer #6. Other than that, I’ve got John Legend, Flipside (from California) and all my own artists….who are ALWAYS in heavy rotation at home and the office.
LE:What do you want people to remember you for? I’m not just talking professionally, I’m talking personally as well.
Chris:I am proud of all of our accomplishments. But I definitely don’t mind being known as the manager of Nelly Furtado or any other artist on our roster that achieves a dream. I want to be known for the thing that is most successful. A winning formula, and a roster full of ‘home-run’ hitters. If you talk to some people, I’m the manager of the Philosopher Kings, that’s all they know. If you talk to my son’s friends, I’m the manager of Prozzak. That’s what they remember.
LE:What would make your soul feel satisfied?
Chris:My only goal in life is to provide for my family through helping others with their dreams.
LE:Do you think that marketing training is the difference between a good manager and a poor one?
Chris:I’m only successful I think because I fail so much. Like Babe Ruth who hit more homeruns than anyone else. What very few people know is that he also struck out more times. So, I go up to bat and I keep swinging. People have Plan B’s – I don’t have a Plan B.
LE:So, the plan is for success and that’s it.
Chris:I never liked the idea of drawing money out of the bank machine, and worrying about the balance. (laughs) Success means ever increasing financial and creative independence. For myself, and hopefully for those around me. This is what drives me.
LE:Is there anything that you feel that people misunderstand about you?
Chris:Yes. My commitment to elevating the Canadian music scene and Canadian artists. All the people that are f**king up the business, need to get the f**k out. Because they don’t understand the business and they’re too selfish to ever help anyone but themselves. They don’t have the heart – they’re in this for the wrong reasons.
LE:Are you talking artists or management?
Chris:Both! They both need to get out. There are artists that need to be management and some management that really want to be artists so they should both quit – take a time out, I call it.
Then all the racist people should relax and accept how wrong their decisions are when they don’t understand an Artist’s background, and their journey. They will overlook artistic brilliance because they don’t understand the ‘voice’ , the personality. There’s still a lot of racism. I think that we’re about 10 years from this being a little bit better in terms of day to day decision-making at labels.
Canada or globally?
thinking about Canada right now. I’m here to prove that a Black artist just in Canada alone, can make $1 million off touring. Just off touring. That’s my goal. A Black artist – not a pop artist. I will manage or have on my label, the first Black artist to make $1 million off touring in Canada in one year.
hope to get that call from you.
Many thanks to Chris for the opportunity to conduct this interview and for giving us a glimpse in the world of music management. For any more detailed information, please check www.chrissmithmanagement.com.
Clinic: A New You
We are having a client appreciation day on Saturday April 30th. You can get a card by giving us your address and drooping in on the 30th to get a card where you can save anywhere from 10-100% on services. The service must be booked on or before April 30th for any other date in the future and a deposit will be required in order for the percentage on the card to be carried to future date. By bringing a friend with you, they too will receive a card. Upon receiving their card, and providing they book a treatment, you will receive a further 10% off your own procedure. Each additional person who might come with you and follows the same protocol will result in a further savings of 5% for each acquaintance. Refreshments will be served. One hours complimentary parking available in Hazelton Lanes underground parking.
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.
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Motivational Note: Don't Get Even. Get Ahead!
By Willie Jolley, www.williejolley.com
Most people live by the motto, "Don't Get Mad, Get Even!" I want to encourage you to think even bigger and grander. Anger can create powerful emotive reactions, if you do not control it. Either you control you anger or it will always control you!! In my book, “A Setback Is A Setup For A Comeback,” I have a chapter entitled, "Harness Your Anger. Use It, Don't Lose It!" In this chapter I share that Anger is a natural reaction and can be a powerful motivator. Yet, you must not let the response be undisciplined but rather when you get angry I suggest that you use it as fuel for greater achievement and accomplishment. You must realize that Anger is the word Danger, without the D, which stands for Discipline. You will have times when you get hurt and angry but you must maintain your composure and make a critical decision in the face of painful situations. You must decide to develop and exert discipline and think before acting. You must learn to harness that anger and use it to motivate you to respond in a positive way rather than a negative way! Change your thinking from "Getting Mad and Getting Even" to "Don't Get Even. Get Ahead!" I believe that "Massive success is always the best revenge!" Willie Jolley is an award winning speaker, singer and author.
Infamous Fiddler MacIsaac May
Have Lost His Instrument But Not His Lip
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Greg Quill
(Apr. 20, 2005) Ashley MacIsaac has lost his fiddle. "I think I know where it is," he says during a far-ranging rant against a capricious and predatory media, corrupt politicians, gay club bouncers, "lazy white scum" street beggars, the recording industry and a lover with whom he recently parted under less than happy circumstances. "I was at a party, with some Russian guys, a couple of nights ago. I think I left it there ..." The missing instrument is not the saddest thing in MacIsaac's sad world. It signifies a more troubling turn of events: the thrill of playing music has abandoned him, he confides. The magic that has sustained the Cape Breton fiddle prodigy's astounding career for 20 of his 30 years is gone. "It has been seven years since I enjoyed being a musician. I don't even listen to music, except in dance clubs and gay bars, where you can't really avoid it. "It's just a job, and such a job ... I can't enjoy it now, except maybe when I can get to play my traditional pieces for really old Cape Bretoners. The rest is about selling ... and I may as well be selling cookies." He has just completed a CD of original rock and dance songs that "don't contain a single note of fiddle, only songs of a personal kind, mostly about this broken relationship, but also about my own beliefs (and) my own culture, my politics. "I feel sorry someone will have to listen to some of these songs and know what's behind them — things got nasty towards the end ... But even if it's off someone else's pain, I'll make money any way I can." Produced in Toronto by John Kanakis, whose credits include Soul Decision, jackSoul, John Allan Cameron and Chantal Kreviazuk, the recording will be released in coming weeks on the independent Canadian label Linus Entertainment. MacIsaac will preview some of the material at tomorrow night's performance at Club 279 above the Hard Rock Cafe at Dundas Square. He says he will also play some traditional material on the instrument that has earned him critical raves around the world — if he can remember where he left it.
He's branching out in other ways. About when he lost contact with his musical muse, he found another: painting. His work is primitive stuff, at least as far as technique and style are concerned, and the content was simplistic and inelegant to this reporter's eyes. One has a black man riding a unicycle "to demonstrate his willingness to work, unlike the lazy white scum who come up to you 20 times a day asking for change and cigarettes when they could easily find jobs." Another has Parliament Hill's Peace Tower "looking very phallic and threatening." But like most folk art, it serves as honest commentary. Several of MacIsaac's paintings will be on display during May at Just Desserts on Yonge St. at Wellesley. "I have a larger painting I couldn't bring with me," the fledgling artist explains. "It's a version of The Last Supper, with Osama bin Laden sitting in Jesus’ place, and the Queen, Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini, George Bush Sr. and George W., Kim Jong-Il, the Pope, Ariel Sharon and Ronald McDonald eating KFC out of buckets and dividing up the world. Politics is second nature to me, being from Cape Breton." Getting people to talk — especially about him — has become MacIsaac's stock-in-trade. Stories about his crack addiction, bankruptcy and eye-raising sexual peccadilloes involving teenage boys, most of them aired in public with MacIsaac's willing participation, have made him something of a social pariah. Creating controversy has replaced music as his life's pursuit, to the detriment of his financial prospects, he admits. "I've earned six figures every year since I was 19, but it's getting harder to keep it up. Every time the media hook into me, I lose work. The $15,000 gigs are falling off." He says the media deliberately distort his onstage antics — his 2000 alleged racist rap rant, and his 2003 taunting of an Asian woman in an Ottawa audience with a SARS-related slur — and misinterpreting his better intentions. "I was attempting to show in the most graphic way an artist can how ugly racism is," he says of these incidents. "The woman in Ottawa is a friend of mine — and she got the point."
A few weeks after the first event, he boasts, he was shaking then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's hand at a Canada Day concert on Parliament Hill. But even when he tries to set the record straight (well, let's face it, there's nothing straight about MacIsaac) in his ghost-written 2003 autobiography, Fiddling With Disaster, and CBC's recent Life and Times documentary, fate and corporate interests are aligned against him, he claims. "The publisher promised me final edit, but I never did get a chance to do that, and it all came out wrong ... things I didn't say, would never say, got into that book. And after the director of the documentary accused me on camera of putting on a racist show, I refused to talk to him, so they never got close to the truth in that film." He has equal disdain for music execs. "I expect nothing from record companies except indignation — and a big advance. I've had six record deals in 10 years, and all they've ever been good for is the money I was able to get up front. I'm indignant to them and they're indignant to me." His portrayal by the media, he says, has often been the cause of death threats and violent confrontations. Early last week he was ejected from a gay club through no fault of his own, then kicked in the back by a bouncer who had recognized him. "But I had the last laugh. The guy got up into my face, so close I was able to piss on his leg." And so the rant continues, without anger or bitterness. The Maritimes yarnspinner — cocksure, bemused, charming — remains convinced he can blather his way into any listener's heart.
Bringing Rock To T.O.'s Airwaves Was A Struggle
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - William Burrill
(Apr. 26, 2005) Radio history! That's what we're talking about. And in doing so, let's not forget to sing a slightly belated "Happy 40th Birthday" to CHUM FM, a station that was bought for a song back in 1964. Although whatever the song might be was hard to figure out and whoever was listening to that song was even harder to figure, since 40 years ago FM stations were considered a joke, being sold off for a buck a piece down in the States. Furthermore, the 1964-model FM radio receiver was a very rare gizmo indeed and the 1964-vintage FM radio listener was the one being chased by the men in white with the butterfly net. It'll never last six months, the naysayers said. Fast-forward 40 years and not only do we find CHUM 104.5 FM still alive and kicking, but what it is kicking is the competition's butt. Stations that have been fighting CHUM FM tooth and nail this year tried many neat tricks to draw listeners: The closest competitor in the fall Bureau of Broadcast Measurement rating results (the godlike entity that keeps score on who's listening to what in radio land) saw CHUM FM was first in the basic 12-plus with an 8.5 score while EZ Rock (CJEZ 97.3) held second with a close 7.8 rating, and former chart topper CHFI was still in the race with a 6.9 BBM score. So, how did CHUM AM — the No. 1 teeny bopper station in T.O. — come to acquire its historic FM licence? To find out more, let's go right to the source, the man who did the deed. We're talking about radio legend Larry Solway, who among many, many other things, invented Talk Radio Toronto Style.
While every other DJ in mid-1960s T.O. was busy being as polite as possible to station listeners, there was Solway, refusing to get in a battle of wits with unarmed listeners as he slammed down phone after phone. Take that, you moron. And take it they did indeed, for listeners loved Solway. It was somehow cathartic in those stifled times to listen to someone — "right there on the radio, Marge, I swear!" — call a pompous dolt just that. And not just hang up. Slam dunk the receiver so the caller would never hear out of that ear again. But we digress. Sit back and listen now as Solway recalls the labour pains of giving birth to our first FM station in Toronto exactly 40 years ago (plus or minus a year). "I was in Ottawa to make our original CHUM FM presentation for Fine Arts Radio," Solway recalls. "We were to be all-classical but we did often throw in, for short bridges between longer pieces, a little jazz riff. The original promo for the station — the heart of which was: `We will not be a source for the ultimate tape recording.' Richard Thomas said that. We put together a great group of talkative individuals: Peter Kay (who later anchored CJRT), Thomas, Pete Griffin, later to become a hit with Geets on FM — but the last I heard is off in the middle of nowhere, Smiths Falls I think, plodding along. We also introduced one of Canada's best-known voice-over guys, Walter Soles. He came to me with a great voice and horrible diction wanting to escape his father's insurance business. "One year later I went before the CRTC (or maybe it was still the BBG) to tell them we were going to abandon our classical format. It wasn't working. We were going to be the first station to play what we then called `underground' music. "No one was playing album cuts — the Fuggs, Jefferson Airplane and all. We were pioneers. Only problem was, very few people owned FM radios and those who had AM/FM sets hardly knew what to do to tune in the FM side. We were desperate. Alan Waters wanted me to agree to switch to elevator music like his friend Jeff Sterling did in Montreal. I battled him. Persuaded him to give me six months to turn things around. I called all the record guys in and told them we were their bread and butter and we needed help. If they were selling albums, it was because of us. "In the first days, with Garry Ferrier as P.D. we put on a big show. We brought (American rock radio legend and so called "Fifth Beatle") Murray The K up from New York for the first week. We got a lot of ink but it was a hard grind. I remember Waters worrying that any audience CHUM FM got would be taken from CHUM AM. But we went with the underground sound, the album cuts, and cool laid back DJs "The rest is ..." Radio history.
Elephant Man Drafts US Acts For New Album
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - The self-styled Energy God, Elephant Man will release his fifth album Ova Di Wall this summer. The final track listing for the VP Records set has not yet been finalized but according to Elephant Man, his most recent chart toppers Bun Bad Mind, Chaka Chaka Dance and Father Elephant will be among those making the final cut. ‘The album is going to be a surprise to everyone. I did about ten exclusive tracks for the album. It’s going to be crazy. Each time I release an album, I feel the vibes getting bigger and better,’ Elephant Man told this column via telephone from the US earlier this week. Sesame Street, a recent local chart hit is earmarked as the first international release from Ova Di Wall. Elephant Man has been featured on a number of remixes with international acts including Janet Jackson, Lil Jon, Will Smith and Missy Elliott. He has enlisted the assistance of rhythm and blues singer Syleena Johnson, Lil Jon, Pitt Bull, Will Smith and R. Kelly for his Ova Di Wall album. ‘We didn’t get the clearance from Usher’s record company to use his track on the album, but we have some other big names like Syleena Johnson, Will Smith, Pitt Bull, Lil Jon and R Kelly. When you hear the stuff you are going to be surprised’, Elephant Man said convincingly. Ova Di Wall is the follow up to Elephant Man’s 2003 set Good to Go. The album which has sold more than 265,000 copies in the US according to sales tracker Nielsen Sound Scan, featured the Billboard chart hits Pon di River, Pon di Bank, Signal the Plane and Jook Gal (Wine Wine). Elephant Man is currently winding up his Ova Di Wall Tour in the US. The tour began on March 22 and has made treks in areas including North and South Carolina, the East and West Coast and even to the Midwest. The tour ends on April 24 in Tallahassee, Florida. ‘The tour has been going very good. I am really glad I came out on this tour, because the dancehall side of the music did stay a way. I had to come out and liven up the fans. We have to get back the dancehall into the mainstream’, said Elephant Man. He added ‘This tour is different from the other tours that I have done. This particular tour has shown me that the kind of work that we have put in is paying off. We have seen old, young, Jamaicans, Yankees and white Americans at the shows each night. I think the collaborations that I have done with the American artistes, have opened up doors for the music, and as a result, my fan base has gotten wider.’
Grammy Heavyweights In Aruba For Soul Beach Music Fest
Source: Donna Adkins, 818-728-1687, firstname.lastname@example.org; Eileen Almonte, 212-868-1900 x233, email@example.com; Cristina Rivas, 212-868-1900 x224, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Apr. 22, 2005) Oranjestad, Aruba - The island where happiness lives is proud to announce the fifth annual Soul Beach Music Festival, which promises to deliver five days filled with pulsating rhythms and grooves! The Soul Beach Music Festival transforms the hottest spot in the Caribbean, Aruba, into a music lovers playground this Memorial Day weekend (May 25-30) featuring performances by numerous Grammy Award winners and a fun-filled night of comedy. With the mesmerizing beats of the great Lauryn Hill, to the magical harmonies of hit-makers Boyz II Men, to the lyrical genius of Wyclef Jean, the island paradise serves up an unforgettable musical extravaganza! The mix of musical talents on hand for the fifth annual Soul Beach Music Festival includes multiple Grammy Awards winners, chart-topping musical history makers and some of the most critically acclaimed artists in the recording industry. On Saturday, May 28, R&B and hip-hop legend, Wyclef Jean, performs alongside United We Funk featuring the Dazz Band, Lakeside and ConFunkShun. Both Lauryn Hill and Boyz II Men hit the stage on Sunday night, May 29. Groundbreaker, Lauryn Hill, touted as the mother of hip-hop invention, was the first woman ever to win five Grammys at the 1999 Grammy Awards, including top prize for Album of the Year. Not only have musical icons, Boyz II Men, been called the most successful R&B group of all time, but they also have been involved in three of the longest running number-one pop singles in history blending their unique and remarkable harmonies. An evening of comedy on Friday, May 27 will add to the excitement of the spectacular weekend with fantastically funny performances by comedians Mike Epps, Alex Thomas, Brandon T. Jackson and Horace HB Sanders. Aruba-devotees will enjoy a night full of knee-slapping live comedy as the appetizer followed by two incredible nights of star-studded musical events hosted by Doug E Fresh and featuring special guest D.J. Biz Markie. Aruba is proud to host the fifth annual Soul Beach Music Festival as this years line-up is truly exceptional, said Minister of Tourism and Transportation Edison Briesen. It has been a pleasure working with Mark Adkins and his production team on the four previous festivals and with the overwhelming success of Soul Beach in the past, the island is gearing up for another stellar event this Memorial Day weekend. "It's been truly incredible to watch the Soul Beach Music Festival grow and receive such a great response from both artists and fans," said Mark Adkins, producer of Soul Beach Music Festival. What started out as an idea to share the show with a large audience has evolved into an exclusive Caribbean destination attraction for music lovers.
Tickets prices are $65 per concert or $180 for a three-night package (plus applicable service charges), and can be purchased through Alken Tours at 800-221-6686 or Liberty Travel at 1.888.218.8200, or online at www.soulbeach.net. Air-inclusive hotel packages, including Soul Beach tickets, are also available via the above travel retailers. For more information on the fifth annual Soul Beach Music Festival in Aruba please call 1.800.TO.ARUBA or visit www.aruba.com or www.soulbeachmusicfestival.com
Aruba, where happiness lives, is truly a vacationer's paradise. Located only two-and-a-half hours by air from Miami and four hours from New York City, the island is ideally situated outside the hurricane belt and boasts year-round cooling trade winds and perfect weather with average annual temperatures of 82 degrees Fahrenheit and less than 20 inches of rainfall per year. Aruba serves up 27 luxurious hotels/resorts, championship golf courses, sumptuous spas, vibrant casinos, extraordinary international cuisine, exclusive shops and boutiques, exciting land and water activities, unique cultural to-dos, world-famous music festivals and events and more. Raking up the accolades, Aruba is consistently recognized as one of the top honeymoon hot spots in the world and was the first destination ever to offer an Online Bridal Registry which allows couples to register for honeymoon components online. The island is also the perfect family escape. Arubas Palm Beach was recently ranked the number five most family-friendly beach in the world by the Travel Channels Worlds Best Beaches. Additionally, Aruba offers an extraordinary line-up of One Cool programs that meet the growing demand for diverse vacations. The One Cool programs offer thousands of dollars in savings on a bevy of attractions and services throughout the year. Programs include the One Cool Culinary and Culture, One Cool Adventure and Nightlife, One Cool Golf and Spa, One Cool Family Vacation and One Cool Honeymoon. The backdrop of a pristine tropical escape coupled with the unforgettable hospitality of the islands people keep Arubas first-time guests delighted and its repeat visitor rate at 40%, the highest of any Caribbean destination.
For more information on planning a trip to Aruba, contact the Aruba Tourism Authority at 1-800-TO-ARUBA or visit www.aruba.com Host sponsors of the Soul Beach Music Festival are the Aruba Tourism Authority, the Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association (AHATA), Microsoft Corporation, Black Enterprise and American Airlines. Sponsored locally by: SETAR, De Palm Tours and TEXACO. Primary Host Hotels for the Soul Beach Music Festival are Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, Radisson Aruba Beach Resort & Casino, Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Aruba and the Wyndham Aruba Beach Resort, Spa & Casino, Secondary Host Hotels Sponsors are the Hyatt Regency Aruba and Divi Resorts.
Sanctuary Urban Sets Sizzling
Spring/Summer Release Schedule
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 22, 2005) New York, NY – Sanctuary Urban Records Group president Mathew Knowles has unveiled a powerhouse line-up of record releases that position the imprint as a leader in urban music. With a bevy of upcoming releases scheduled, including a major film soundtrack and an album of new music from the late Rick James, Sanctuary Urban Records Group is thriving under the leadership of Mathew Knowles. The label is steadily accomplishing the goals of Sanctuary Group CEO Merck Mercuriadis in developing an urban brand that matches the worldwide influence and success of the company’s long tenure in rock and pop music. “As Sanctuary forges ahead into the urban arena, there is no other executive that I would want as a partner. Mathew Knowles was handpicked to develop an urban brand and has quickly established a world class roster of recording artists, artist managers and management clients that I don’t believe any other executive could have done, especially in such a short amount of time,” says Mercuriadis. “We have enormous respect for Mathew, the team he has put in place and the talent that he has brought to this company. We are excited about Sanctuary Urban’s very impressive release schedule. ” Some of Sanctuary Urban’s 2005 releases include albums from RAY J (Raydiation, 6/28); PAPA REU (Life & Music, 6/28); KEITH SWEAT (Grown & Sexy; 7/26) and the soundtrack for the Fox Films movie ROLL BOUNCE (8/23). The company will also release new music from R&B chanteuse SUNSHINE ANDERSON, and an album of new music from RICK JAMES. The Rick James album will be released in conjunction with the late singer’s estate, and features a duet with his daughter Ty James. This album is planned for an August 2 release. “Sanctuary Urban Records Group is growing faster than even I imagined, and I think BIG. Though we are growing quickly, we have not forsaken quality or creativity when it comes to signing artists to this label. Our artist roster is exceptionally talented, and our upcoming releases solidify Sanctuary Urban as a label that takes music seriously and handles the business of music smartly. That philosophy will fuel our success as I continue to build Sanctuary Urban into a dominant brand,” says Knowles.
About Music World/Sanctuary Urban Group, Inc.
Source: Sanctuary Urban - Kymberlee Norsworthy; Kymberlee.Norsworthy@sanctuarygroup.com
Building Brands You Know
Music World/Sanctuary Urban Holding Group, Inc. is the leading music company that markets urban music and entertainment to consumers worldwide with multiple-platform content including recorded music and audio-visual products such as DVDs. The company includes Sanctuary Urban Records Group (SURG); Sanctuary Urban Management; URBANE, a merchandising division; a booking agency and a publishing company. Between its label and management arms, Sanctuary Urban is home to world-class artist and management client rosters that transcend demographic borders. SURG recording artists include Jon B; Bizarre; Chaka Khan; De La Soul; The O’Jays; Keith Sweat; Glenn Lewis; Sunshine Anderson; Papa Reu; Mason Rd. and Ray J. The Sanctuary Urban artist management roster includes Beyonce; D12; Bizarre (of D12); Play; Sleepy Brown; Kelis; Destiny’s Child; Mario; EVE; Floetry; RJ Helton; Darwin Hobbs; Iceberg; J Young; Mary Mary; Nelly; Kelly Rowland; Solange; Morgan Smith; Angie Stone; St. Lunatics; Styles P; Carl Thomas; Ted & Sheri; Trinitee 5:7; Michelle Williams, Youngbloodz and Xzibit. URBANE handles merchandising for tours and develops promotional items for corporations. URBANE most recently handled all of the merchandising for the R. Kelly/Jay-Z Best of Both Worlds Tour. The booking division handles performance opportunities for the majority of the management roster. MusicWorld/Sanctuary Urban Holding Group, Inc. is a division of UK listed The Sanctuary Group, the world’s largest independent music company and the world’s only 360 degree music company.
Bikini-Clad Sisters Deserve A
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter
(Apr. 23, 2005) Hip hop used to get blamed for inciting violence; then came concerns that it was promoting materialism. Now the bad rap includes the genre's depiction of women. T&A has long been a staple of music videos, but these days the overabundance of scantily clad beauties promoting hip hop is in the spotlight. With its January issue, leading African American women's magazine Essence launched a yearlong "Take Back the Music" initiative to explore how black women are portrayed in popular music and the media. "In videos we are bikini-clad sisters gyrating around fully clothed grinning brothers like Vegas strippers on meth," wrote the editors. "The damage of this imbalanced portrayal of black women is impossible to measure. An entire generation of black girls are being raised on these narrow images. "And as the messages and images are broadcast globally, they have become the lens through which the world now sees us. This cannot continue." Breakin' In: The Making of a Hip Hop Dancer, the directorial debut of Toronto TV journalist Elizabeth St. Philip, sheds light on some of those "bikini-clad sisters." The hour-long film, which premieres at Hot Docs on Monday, follows three 20-something Torontonians for a year as they compete for roles. "I watch music videos and I've always really been curious about who these women are," said the 30-something St. Philip, medical producer for CTV. "I've heard a lot of other people talk about what they think of women in music videos, but I'd never heard their perspectives." She scouted music-video auditions and talent agencies and spoke to industry insiders to find her subjects: Linda, a single mom who lives in Regent Park; Michelle, a kinesiology student; and Tracey, a professionally trained dancer. "I had preconceptions about the industry," said the director. "I didn't know very much about it. I found out that there are a lot of different women doing this. A lot of them are very intelligent. They have a goal of getting into the entertainment industry and this is their stepping-stone. And that was interesting and refreshing to find out." Still, the film shows the sleazy side of auditions run by leering men and unveils the women's personal hardships.
"Michelle is the good girl and the perfect daughter and is the one who was the most conflicted about the whole industry and whether she wanted to be in it; and she has a lot of other options," explained St. Philip. "Tracey is just like an Olympic athlete whose mind is always focused on the final outcome. She was always careful about her choices and always chose roles where she would be remembered her for her talent. "Linda has a big struggle, because there's not a lot of money and her goals are so big — she wants to be a superstar. She has the most at stake, because she's investing in this one dream and it's a one in a million shot. She's very willing and open to using her sexuality to get attention. She thinks, `What do I have that I can use to get ahead?' "That's her reality and anybody watching the documentary can take away what they want from that and decide for themselves." Breakin' In: The Making of a Hip Hop Dancer screens Monday at 9:15 p.m. at the Bloor Cinema and April 30th at 9 p.m. at the ROM. It also airs May 24 on CBC's Rough Cuts.
EWF Architects Form Devoted Spirits For
‘A Tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire’
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 27, 2005) Discouraged by a barren and vast wasteland of funk-soul? The elements have returned. Three former principles of the best-selling R&B band in the world have teamed to recreate the sound that is Earth, Wind & Fire. Guitarist/vocalist Sheldon Reynolds and keyboardists Larry Dunn and Morris Pleasure, who have each spent a decade with EWF have united as Devoted Spirits to record “A Tribute To Earth, Wind, & Fire.” The 21-song masterpiece is currently in stores and has been heralded as the best EWF offering since the original group. The disc features rearranged EWF hit tracks, but this ain’t your ordinary tribute disc. Not only do Reynolds, Dunn, and Morris have their hands in the composition, but according to their press release, Devoted Spirits was joined in the studio by an impressive cast of musicians; most noteworthy was EWF founder and leader Maurice White, who gave his blessings on the project. Other legendary musicians contributing to the album include Norman Brown, Gerald Albright, Sounds of Blackness, original EWF guitarist Johnny Graham, Ronnie Laws, Bobby Watson (Rufus), and Teri Lynn Carrington. “The idea was that we wanted to just capture the feel.” Reynolds says about the experience of the album. “There was a certain spontaneity and chemistry. A lot of times you have these great players on a basketball teams and baseball teams that shine, but there’s no team so they never win a championship. Whereas when you have that chemistry between the players and there’s the sharing of the wealth, it leads to a greater success. In the original Earth, Wind and Fire, that’s what you had. You had the chemistry going on, they loved what they did and it showed.” Music fans have already commented that Devoted Spirits has captured the fire of EWF – perhaps even better than the current line-up of the famed band, which features the familiar front man Philip Bailey and Verdine White on bass. “With Larry, who I call the original devoted spirit,” Reynolds continued, “who helped invent that sound, that unexplainable sound, chord structure and synth lines he was playing – it’s something you can’t put your finger on exactly what it is, but you know that’s what makes it works.”
Works it does. The early response from critics has been positive. As a matter of fact some involved in both this project and the current touring EWF group have said that Devoted Spirit taps into the soul of the mega-group better than those carrying on the name. “When we first took the project to [Thump Records] Jay King, he said that and had actually told that to one of the current members.” Dunn reveals. The former elemental keyboardist says that Devoted Spirits is taking the EWF tracks to their original state. “When I got into it, we had the likes of Charles Stepney who worked very closely with Maurice [White] and was really like my mentor. Just one of the greatest keyboard players/arrangers ever. And even Verdine White mentioned that if Stepney had lived, he would’ve been bigger than Quincy (Jones). Don’t get me wrong, Quincy is phenomenal, but Charles was a real keyboard player and was just wonderful.” For his part in raving about Devoted Spirits, King says he was just being honest that the “Tribute” tracks were the “best Earth, Wind and Fire stuff” out. “Larry called me and said ‘Sheldon has this project and he wanted to know if you were interested in it, he want to talk to you about.’ But I though a tribute album might be corny. I asked Larry what he thought about it and he said it was good and that Sheldon spent a lot of time with it. When I got it, I couldn’t believe it. I said, ‘This is so good. This is like Maurice and Philip again. They’re back.’ It was like they rearranged these great hits. It wasn’t like they remade songs, it was like hearing a new record. When I heard ‘Sunshine,’ I said, ‘This sounds better than the original.’ There is just not a bad record on here.”
Could this lead to a battle of the bands? Maybe, but while Devoted Spirits modestly accepts the cheers of critics and fans, the group boasts that they may have one up on any other musicians doing the funk fusion that EWF ignited in the ‘70s. “I’m very happy that they’re out there performing because it keeps the legacy alive,” Dunn kindly says. “But to be frank about it, there are a lot of new kids and old alike that are buying the CDs, but their buying the vintage stuff. Live, it’s kind of impossible for them to pull that off because there’s only like a few members left – Philip [Bailey] singing, Verdine playing bass. When we were there, there were 14 people on that stage,” Dunn says, calling out celebrated elementeers Michael Harris, Al McKay, Andrew Woolfolk, Johnny Graham, The Phenix Horns. “We had been rehearsing and playing that stuff since ’71. So by ’79 it was just on automatic pilot…writing was just second nature, we just knew the direction." In addition, King says, that while he is particularly forthcoming, he wasn’t trying to start something between the two funk factions. “I wasn’t saying it to be facetious or to be mean-spirited. I was saying it out of all honesty. This was the best I had heard of Earth, Wind and Fire. I get to hear Earth, Wind and Fire again.” Nonetheless the direction Dunn spoke of seemingly took a turn as the band headed into the ‘80s. “ I think there was too much emphasis on us crossing over, whereas in my mind, the thing that had already crossed us over – or presented us or made us available – to more ethnic groups was the fact that we were true to the original band idea, which was the rock, soul, Afro-centered, and jazz, and I think it got away from us. The touring group now only has a few original members so it’s kind of hard to replicate that,” he says. Dunn and co. believe that they’ve grasped the essence of the band from really paying attention when EWF was in the studio and on the stage.
“We’re not trying to direct it toward a certain audience. We’re making Earth, Wind and Fire music and we’re making what the fans love. If you start second guessing and trying to structure it, it won’t sound like it.” Reynolds says that he, Dunn and Morris Pleasure talk about EWF’s intricacies. “We talk about what Al played or what Johnny was playing and how they played off each other, the drums and the rhythms. So when we were putting it all down, we remembered that. It wasn’t about laying specific parts that had these robotic placements. It was about the feeling. You can’t always explain it. It just sort of happens. Devoted Spirit's "A Tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire" is available on Thump Records Classic R&B and is in association with Experience Hendrix, LLC. Looking to shop and compare? If you're in the LA area tomorrow night, April 28 at B.B. King's at the Universal City Walk, you see Devoted Spirits perform. In the meantime, the Philip Bailey and Verdine White-led Earth, Wind & Fire heads out on a summer tour with rock/pop band Chicago beginning in June.
Meet Leela James:
Soulstress. Prodigy. Radical. Phenom
Source: ICED Media Tynicka Battle email@example.com
(Apr. 27, 2005) For music lovers, the industry's pledge of artistic revolution has become a pipe dream. Fortunately, every so often the universe births an anomaly--a virtuoso whose essence defies categorization and whose artistry serves as a barometer for musical greatness. She is Leela James. Soulstress. Prodigy. Radical. Phenom. Indeed, Lady James represents many things, but what she'll never be mistaken for is an ingénue. One listen to her nostalgic debut, A Change Is Gonna Come (named after Sam Cooke's 1964 hit), and it's evident that James is a pupil and conduit of classic soul. "You can't fake or buy soul," says James. "It's either inside of you or it isn't." Invoking the fiery spirits of Tina Turner and Parliment-Funkadelic with the soulful timbre of mavens such as Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin and Mahalia Jackson, James embarks on a melodic pilgrimage offering her special brand of "back porch" soul. "I call what I do 'back porch' soul because it reminds me of being home and listening to my daddy's record collection." A Change Is Gonna Come ingeniously serves as a personal covenant about relationship do’s and don'ts. From the exalting tribute "Music," which begs the pardon for today's generic music to the confrontational "Ghetto," warning an unrequited love to stop his advances before she loses her cool to the funky "Rain," to the legendary title track, the songstress delivers a blueprint survival guide for the strong and broken-hearted. However, it's panes such as the defiant "My Joy," melancholy "MisTreating Me," remorseful "When You Love Somebody" and the gutsy "Didn't I" that James bellows with haunting conviction. "I can't sing about things I can't relate to because it wouldn't be sincere. I have to feel the song," she says. Surprisingly, the Los Angeles songbird's emotive vocals and ardent lyrics belie her youth and diminutive appearance. "Because I have a high-pitched speaking voice and I don't have a 'big mama' soul look, people are always surprised when they hear me sing." Perhaps, James' vocal prowess is a culmination of years of performing on the indie circuit and opening for R&B dignitaries such as Stephanie Mills. Allow Lady James to hip the world to her soul and funk inspirations and they'll discover that her back porch soul diet was served up in church pews and family functions.
"I was raised on gospel, blues and funk," explains James. "My father had a huge record collection--B.B. King, Al Green, Marvin Gaye--that I listened to, so I'm simply a product of my environment." Although the former Cal State business student developed a cult following during a yearlong tour, she's certain to harvest a healthier crop of loyalists with the help of some notable producers. Forming a musical alliance with Commissioner Gordon, the album's executive producer, who also worked on Lauryn Hill's Miseducation, James handpicked her dream team. Enlisting the talent of renowned chairmans-of-the-soundboard such as Kanye West, Raphael Saadiq, Wyclef Jean, James Poyser, Chucky Thompson and Mtume, James served as co-writer for the project. "It's great when others can lend their talents to help guide you toward your vision," says James. "All of these men have such an incredible history of music, so it was a pleasure to collaborate with them."
Judging by Lady James' fervour and indelible talent, the industry has been blessed with another dignitary--one who not only evokes soul, but lives and understands it. "I want my music to be more than just good memories," James says. "Bringing back lyrics that touch people hearts and melodies that stick to their ribs, is a change I believe everyone is ready for." www.leelajames.com
'Shakin’,' Not Stirred: Jazz Artist Lisa Deveaux Releases
(Apr. 25, 2005)*Color her enterprising, disciplined, creative, driven, breathtakingly beautiful and stunningly unique. All her life, Chicago-native Lisa Deveaux has been a scrumptious, spice-fortified dish in possession of all these essential ingredients. They have afforded her an enviable style of living and the independence that comes with dancing to the beat of one’s own drum. Each of these marvellous attributes is revealed in the singer/songwriter's luscious debut CD, "Shakin' That Jazz," a breezy and romantic song cycle of tropical soul/pop that's as jazzy as it is funky as it is classy. Lisa's sexy, crystalline soprano/alto voice rides the waves of the melodies and grooves with all-natural grace and ease. She holds the honour of recording the duet "By Design" with the peerless Carl Anderson in what was among his final recordings. She co-composed four songs: the effervescently swingin' "Shakin' That Jazz" (a sly yet sweet flip of an infamous Prince lyric), as well as the evocative love songs "Lazy Monday Afternoon," "First Time" and "You Are The One." She also lends her vibe to fresh arrangements of two timeless classics: "I Wanna Be Where You Are" (composed by Leon Ware), and a very special version of Carole King's 1971 classic "So Far Away" that Lisa dedicates to the memory of her father. Some of the West Coast's finest musicians (saxophonist Everette Harp, pianist Bobby Lyle, violinist Karen Briggs, percussionist Munyungo Jackson and Lakeside's Stephen Shockley) contribute to the earthy magic that is Deveaux. And each song is filled with sensuality, joy, and the God-given right to claim a life enriched with one bold goal: "Let's Have It All!" This has resulted in two of Lisa’s songs being included in the internationally acclaimed Café de Soul compilation Vol. 5. The inclusion of her song “Second Nature,” has made it the most buzzed about volume in the series thus far, and afforded Lisa international touring opportunities.
It was in the wings watching her father, actor Don X. Williams, soak up the validation of adoring fans that Lisa first sensed that the bright lights was where she belonged. "People are waiting in line to talk to my daddy," Lisa beamed with pride. "I want some of that!" Her mom promptly involved Lisa in a multiplicity of performance arenas: dance, piano and voice. At 13, Lisa joined a local theatre repertory group where she performed numbers from musicals such as Purlie, Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope and The Wiz. "I was shy growing up," Lisa confesses. "The stage helped me become more expressive, and singing became the way for me to say what I wanted to say and feel comfortable." While Lisa honed her artistic crafts at Florida A&M University and the prestigious Herbert Burghoff Studios in New York, she was ever mindful of having something solid to fall back on. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in entertainment management and musical theatre from Columbia College in Chicago, she cashed in on her fashion forward knack for styling by studying at Chicago's Pivot Point International School of Cosmetology. After numerous awards, she opened her own salon, Lisa & Co. The flexibility of not being tied down to a 9-to-5 allowed Lisa to frequent the piano bars and supper clubs of the music-rich Windy City where she "sat in" with numerous artists. Among the first, at the Cotton Club, was smooth jazz impresario Norman Connors, who assured Lisa that if she was serious about music, she should move to Los Angeles. While navigating the treacherous waters of Hollywood - networking and showcasing her vocal talents - Lisa wisely took her back-up skills to the next level, specializing in the styling of celebrities such as Diana Ross, Bernie Mac and Wanda Sykes. As successful and potentially complacent as she became, she never deviated from her musical pursuits, landing background singer gigs with now-departed legends Barry White (who emphasized strict professionalism) and Phyllis Hyman (who became Lisa's mentor). The only factor keeping Lisa from an overdue spotlight of her own was...her self. Two important people would help her scale that hurdle. First was actress/fitness trainer A.J. Johnson, who helped chisel petite Lisa toward the dazzling full potential of the African American, Native American, Creole and Czech beauty that was within her all along. "I had to get my self image and self esteem together," Lisa shares. "A.J. whipped me into the best shape I have ever been in. Now, on stage, I don't feel like I have to hold anything back."
Shortly after while doing make up for Chris Rock on the set of Head of State in Washington D.C., Lisa bumped into an old friend from Chicago, film director Robert Townsend. He'd achieved the dreams they both talked about years before, and asked Lisa where she was with hers. Robert told me my lack of achieving my goal was from excuses I'd made for myself. So he gave me a step-by-step plan. For every assignment he handed me during the day, I'd have to call or fax over my progress that night. After two weeks, he said, 'Now, don't call me until you're inviting me to your CD release concert.' Nobody had ever done that for me before. The dream was always in me. Knowing the steps is what I lacked." "The Townsend Method" resulted in Lisa self-financing her debut album, "Shakin' That Jazz." One listen and it is clear that she is striving for the boundless artistry and success of her favourite singers Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, Sade, Natalie Cole…and Phyllis Hyman. Spreading love, optimism and bright aural sunshine, self-proclaimed "Island Girl" Lisa Deveaux is a radiant poster woman for making one's dream reality. The bonus is, along with the captivating picture, you get a dreamy CD you won't want to remove from your sound system.
Cassidy: Problem Child, Trouble
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Poet
The music industry now boasts a rabid dog-eat-rabid dog mentality and with every passing day, new artists emerge on the road to riches like commuters in rush hour traffic. What's an artist to do to set himself apart from the rest? If you’re Cassidy, you could make people take notice by eating an already repped and made MC alive, or you could just thank Hov himself mid-bar for blessing you with a hot line to make one hell of a hot song, or you could just sit down with AllHipHop.com and bless the masses with the truth to surviving in a game where the only rules are the ones you make yourself. Cassidy picked option D) all of the above. The first MC of significance to take the mic and run on Swizz Beats’ Full Surface label has gotten much attention for being among many things, a battle rapper - a mixtape prince who’s still brushing the dirt off his shoulders from singles gone wild. Now as he attempts to put his street creditability back on solid foundation, while ducking the blows of his current opponent "the sophomore jinx." Still as cocky as ever, creative control in hand with the mind and grind of a true hustler, Cassidy spits new meaning to by any means necessary.
AllHipHop.com: What is an actual hustler to you?
Cassidy: Anybody that can come up with a plan and execute it. To get at a dollar, make some money, or not even money just to generate, some type of profit. Like if somebody’s hustle is to pickpocket people and you’re walking down the street, and they pickpocket you, you might not approve of it. But if you hungry and you starving, and somebody teach you the same trick, you might go and pickpocket somebody else. So whether you approve of it or not, it just depends on the situation.
AllHipHop.com: So what about somebody’s whose hustle is bootlegging your CD’s?
Cassidy: Um, that's an honest hustle. There's nothing wrong wit’ that.
AllHipHop.com: But you’re an artist, and that’s money you’re not seeing, and you’re a hustler.
Cassidy: I think the artist got the beef with the wrong people. The people that the artist should have the beef with, it’s the people that distribute they music - you know, that put it in the places that it’s suppose to be, those is the people that is responsible for the music getting lost. The bootleggers is just you know grinding just trying to get at a dollar, if there’s an opportunity on making some money off bringing the music to the streets first, that’s what they going to do. That’s just like common sense. You can’t really knock them for that. The same way it could hurt you, it could help you too. You know, you might see a fake Polo shirt or a fake Gucci shirt that may not be authentic. You can really tell a bootleg. It might sound almost the same in the CD player, but you can really tell that it’s a bootleg so the quality different. You get what you pay for. Some people like to buy the bootleg and hear what they hear at first and then they might go buy the real album. Sometimes a person could buy the bootleg and play it for a whole lot of people and promote your album and make people go buy the real thing. Before I had a album out, I was on mixtapes and on underground CD’s and that's how I got my name known. If it wasn’t for the mixtapes and the bootleggers, I would have never had a name from the beginning.
AllHipHop.com: Let’s move into the album. You caught a lot of flack for the last one, Split Personality.
Cassidy: I want to say that I’m spitting a more conscious message. ‘Cause like, if you got to make people understand you, then you got to make people get into the mood. You want them to be into the first album. I drop “Hotel,” and then "It Didn’t Get No Better." See, I didn’t want my first album being a girl-dedicated type of album. That’s what it was ‘cause that’s the way you presented it to the world - like you drop two songs dedicated to the girls, and that’s your single so n***as are going to automatically think you that type of artist. I didn’t want to hit them with to many conscious songs you know ‘cause they then they might think that you just a conscious rapper, and get it mixed up. I feel you should bring out a balance out some type of way shouldn’t be lopsided.
AllHipHop.com: Is that why we’re seeing Nas and Quan on the new one instead of R. Kelly and Snoop?
Cassidy: That song came out, it wasn’t a planned out thing. Nas and them came to the studio and we wasn’t expecting to do a song. I was just playing some music off my album, and they was feeling it. Nas, I did a song with him before but you know what I’m saying, like Nas is one of the best ever so, you know if you get in there and do something with him it’s gonna be crazy. And then Quan being the new n***a that he trying to bring out, it just basically was just like a good situation.
AllHipHip.com: What about the rest of Personality Change?
Cassidy: My album is crack. I mean all the way through - 12 songs, one bonus, I’m saying all singles all of them could me singles. I got another sexy joint that the ladies, even the young crowd, is going to feel it. I definitely wanted to put Raekwon on the album, ‘cause I wanted a classic cats. Like Nas came out with classics so I put him on my album, and Mary J. Blige she came out with a classic so I put her on the album. I got a song called “Six Minutes” where its just spitting no hook, no chorus, just n***as spitting 40 [or] 50 bar verses with me, Fabolous, Lil’ Wayne. It just depends on which way you want go with it, got a song called “C Bionics” where I event my own language. It’s like, even though you don’t know the language, it’s easy to understand. It’s like flipping the word Snoop might say “for shizzle my nizzle” and you might know they talking about.
AllHipHop.com: Give us a quick example.
Cassidy: You say like I hoped out the cribdot / The hard tididop / I got the chain the ranges and the wididioch / Hurt niggas eye from the size of my rididiox / By the bar blow jars of the pidot / And I’m with my dog so we all take shidiots
AllHipHop.com: Why’d you do this?
Cassidy: I don’t want n***as running with my flow before the album drop that’s there none of them words is, that’s just like just an example of how you can flip it. I did three different styles of that, I did three different ways of flipping the language up on each verse and I called it “C Bionics” instead of Ebonics. I called it c bionics because my name begins with a C, and I did the thing Nas and Quan. That’s like a deep thinking joint vibe out you know on the highway just in the zone joint.
AllHipHop.com: People have away confused you of talking highly of your self with you being a cocky arrogant.
Cassidy: Yeah, there's a thin line between being cocky, arrogant, and being confident. The reason I like [Allen Iverson] is ‘cause he like the underdog, he so little - he so small didn’t have the start of a lot of these other basketball cats had but it always seem like he go out there and drop like thirty forty points, and it’s like he letting you know he's going to do it. He's so cocky and confident. You definitely got to be the most confident in your s**t, like if you don’t believe in it then nobody else is going to believe in it. When I was signed to Ruff Ryders, I used to do little s**t for Eve, like ya know what I saying everybody that was around, I ain’t one of them brother's that tried to get credit off that neither. And that’s all apart of growing and stepping so I don’t really want to think like battling n***as like besides Freeway.
AllHipHop.com: You didn’t want people to know about the Freeway situation?
Cassidy: Not saying that I want them to, but I ain’t want to stop n***as from making they money , and stop n***as from eating because of that.
AllHipHop.com: But battling is apart of the game though…
Cassidy: True but, you need to stick and stand behind whatever you promote yourself to be. Anybody I battle, I’m not going to feel - like a boxer, once you get in the ring you going to try and knock a n***a the f**k out. But what if a n***a was making millions and millions of dollars a fight, and you knock a n***a out so crazy that he can’t even get no money to fight no more? You might just feel bad like damn this n***a used to be popping, and now he can’t even get no money from this s**t just because he wanted to battle me.
AllHipHop.com: Die-hard fans say that you declined a battle with Murda Mook. Is there any particular reason why?
Cassidy: I never declined a battle with Murda Mook. I just never got involved with that kid because he’s a nobody to me. He might have fans on the street and be on the verge of doing his thing but I already did my thing. I already battle thousands of cats in the street. He’s taking the same path I took years ago. For me to battle him wouldn’t benefit me. No one even knows who Murder Mook is. Maybe a couple of hood people who watch the DVDs and things like that but the majority of people in the world don’t know who that kid is. For me to stoop down and get involved and go back and forth with him and lose focus on what I should really be focused on isn’t even worth it.
AllHipHop.com: He once recorded a song called "F**k Cassidy." Have you even addressed him at all?
Cassidy: I did address the kid on the SMACK DVD. I let him and the streets know what it was so if you were a loyal fan and you saw the SMACK DVD, I answered the questions to all of that. I don’t feel right doing it on my album or the radio that’s going to make someone else more popular. I’d rather do it for a DVD that’s made for the streets anyway. Ever since then, the kid’s been pretty quiet so I guess that he realized that there’s a better route to become successful than to try and come through me.
AllHipHop.com: Do you believe that you're capable of ending somebody’s reign?
Cassidy: Oh, all day. Like, I already ended a career, when n***as find out the battles that I was in. Them n***a’s careers is already ended. There are n***as that will ever get signed because I done already made a [mockery] of them.
AllHipHop.com: And we don’t get to know who?
Cassidy: But see, Certain people know. And when it’s the right time, it’ll come out.
Latifah: Shop Talk
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Octavia Bostick
Forget the fact that Queen Latifah hasn't done a Hip-Hop album since 1998’s Order in the Court, the fact remains that Queen is most assuredly Hip-Hop royalty. From the time she dropped her debut album fifteen years ago, Dana Owens has been putting “Ladies First” by repping to the fullest. Constantly challenging herself to reinvent herself the Queen’s fearless ambition has her living out loud from music, television, film, fashion and even literature, Coupled with the passion and commitment that has allowed her to introduce Hip-Hop to previously unfamiliar territory, like the world of the Oscar nomination, or even the face of Cover Girl. Nothing is out of reach for the cultural icon. Just released, Beauty Shop has the Queen sporting a good look as the producer of hilarious spin-off. The Queen let her hair down as she spoke to a room full of media at movie’s pre-screening. Her standout cameo in Barbershop 2, laid the groundwork for her character Gina to fly solo. AllHipHop.com was among the roundtable in our discussion of the film, the music, and all things of the empire, perhaps better called The Queendom.
AllHipHop.com: So, the ladies want to know, did you pick Djimon to be your love interest?
Queen Latifah: Yes, there aren’t but so many men who can play my love interest and really deliver. You gotta be tall, you gotta have presence, you gotta be able to hold on to a woman my size, you can’t be all timid you gotta get nice grip. [laughs]
AllHipHop.com: LL Cool J is slated to be your next love interest is that correct?
Queen Latifah: Yep, I'm running out of dudes.
AllHipHop.com: The cast said they wanted to be in the movie because of you. What do you say to that?
Queen Latifah: You know when they say that, it trips me out. That’s one of those pinch yourself moments, ya know. I think that's cool. I don't know how that makes me feel: proud, happy, it sure makes casting easier. When people want to be in it, I don't have to beg and bribe. I can just say let’s make a deal and lets go. But I think that's why the energy on the set was so high. The vibe was just right, everyone clicked everyone got along. I really loved coming to work everyday.
AllHipHop.com: Talk about staying true to the game as far as having the same people with you that you've had from day one, such Shakim Compere, and having made such strides in other arenas.
Queen Latifah: I would not have made it through this far without my partner, and we're each other’s rock, sword, and shield, so to speak. Outside of God, it's my parents and us. You need people that can be honest with you and that are gonna stand by you, regardless as to whether your hot or not, and now all of this stuff is getting bigger and things are flowing up here. But it was a climb, and there have a couple of straight drop outs you know where things got tough. We sacrificed a lot to keep things going and we've always been loyal to each other. You gotta have people you trust. I feel for people who switch managers and agents. I have had to work this agency a lot. I had to work William Morris a lot, because it wasn't always like that. [At one point], I was like you know what keep that agent, give me that junior agent that's hungry and don't know that much, but she wants to work. Now we've come up together. This business is funny. People turn on you. In Hollywood, when it gets boring, they’re on to the next and that's why I’m not just acting. I got to produce. I have to create business, get behind the camera that way. I am controlling my destiny a little better. But I can't do it without my team. It's no point; it wouldn't even be fun anymore. If I couldn't do it with them, then I’m just like, “Aight, I'm outta here. I'm gonna go start an adventure tour and run a riverboat somewhere.” [laughs]
AllHipHop.com: What's going on with Flava Unit right now?
Queen Latifah: We're finishing up a new deal, so we're about to put some more music out.
Queen Latifah: Whatever's hot.
AllHipHop.com: Are you as an artist, going to be putting out another Hip-Hop album soon?
Queen Latifah: I have one done already. It's been done for a while; I have to do some new records, huh? But I just had to put that other album out first you know, I just had to slide on over to that side for a minute, and just let the singing breathe for a minute because that's another side of who I am. That's why I called it the Dana Owens Album. It's really just been a countdown to that album for most of my life; it's always been inside me.
AllHipHop.com: Do you feel like since you got your start in Hip-Hop, that the Hip-Hop community feels abandoned by you, or do you care?
Queen Latifah: I think some people feel that way, and I definitely do care. I feel bad, because people are like, “Man, you gotta put a Hip-Hop album out. We need you.” [I] Gotta pick things, I gotta focus on things when I do it. I can't just do it, throw it out there and forget about it. I gotta push it and that requires energy, and I’m not trying to fight with anybody or beg anybody to play my record, either. You feel it or you don't, and hopefully you feel it.
AllHipHop.com: There's a part in the movie where your shop gets destroyed and you say how you can never catch a break and you want to give up. What situations in your career parallel that and what motivated you to push on?
Queen Latifah: There's been a couple of times when [Shakim and I] both felt like that. Usually, maybe it's a finance thing and we're putting all this money into this one thing and waiting for it to please pay off. Or you bide your time, and hustle, and meet with people, and it's like oh great I want to do this deal I'm ready for it to happen and then something happens, and the deal falls through. Or you see people take your ideas and reinvent them, and sell them and that can be a bummer but luckily there's a wealth of ideas in here and that ain't good Karma. Usually, Shakim and I aren't down at the same time. He's down, then I'm up and I'm gonna pick him up ,and vice versa. So we're pretty good at balancing each other’s mentality. Sometimes we just have to vent and let it off, and come back and fight another day. Just like the people in the shop come through for Gina, that's how we are with each other.
AllHipHop.com: Have you spoken to Kim since she was convicted?
Queen Latifah: I tried to call her, but her voicemail was full. But I’m gonna reach out again just to let her know I support her. You know, because she's standing up for people who ain't even standing up for her, and getting convicted. I really hope they don't give her any jail time, but this kind of stuff sometimes it requires you to give people time, and I just don't think justice would be served putting that girl in jail. I think lessons are learned – “Okay, point taken: don't lie and don’t stand up for people who ain’t standing up for you.” This is a lesson to the whole hood, I mean we all live by this code, but everybody doesn’t go by it. People are always giving you up. Sometimes it wasn’t even worth it, but I just want her to know I support her because I love her to death. She's one of the sweetest people in the world and she's been the same person from the first time I met her, til’ now, in terms of how she's always treated me, and talked to me. She’s always been cool people, so I really feel bad to see something like this happens - as if she hasn't been through enough in her whole life and career already.
AllHipHop.com: Any chance on you writing another book?
Queen Latifah: I'm supposed to write a children’s book so that'll be the next venture.
AllHipHop.com: You have an attitude in life that you tell people how it is, and they respect you because of it. Where does that come from?
Queen Latifah: I have no idea. I've always kind of voiced my own opinion on things. My parents never talked to us like children. They always talked to us like small adults. We were like little people. I was reading the newspaper at an early age, and discussing current events. Those were the types of things that went on in my house growing up. I remember when Anwar Sadat was assassinated, and I was only like eight years old and I cried like a baby because I watched this whole peace process and that’s when I was really getting introduced to this world, and really getting a sense of how this world is. So I've always had an opinion on things, and when I have a strong opinion or a belief, I've always been raised to stand up for what I believe in. I'm not always right, no one is, but it's just how I do things.
Dupri Preps Young, Fly & Flashy, Taps Todd 1 To Head TV/Film Division
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Nolan Strong
(Apr. 24, 2005) So So Def CEO Jermaine Dupri continues to build his brand, with the release of a new compilation of southern artists and the formation of So So Def Entertainment, a new company that will lead the mogul’s foray into television. Jermaine Dupri Presents…Young, Fly & Flashy Vol. 1, is a new collection of up-and-coming So So Def artists paired with nationally known southern Hip-Hop artists. “Young, Fly & Flashy is the definition of myself and the lifestyle of So So Def,” Dupri explained. “So So Def has had a lot of success with compilations over the years when Lil Jon was my A&R guy. He created the compilation series, but really focused more on bass music. Young, Fly & Flashy is more about today's hip-hop sound. It's heavy on the So So Def branding so people will know and recognize that So So Def is still a strong presence in the streets - we'll be here another 20 years." In addition to the new So So Def artists, the album features appearances by J-Kwon, Stat Quo, Pastor Troy, KP & Envy and Bun B. Young Fly & Flashy…Vol.1 hits stores July 19.
In related news, Dupri has announced the formation of So So Def Entertainment, which will serve as the film and television arm for the So So Def brand. Todd “Todd-1” Brown, who helped produced such seminal shows as "Yo! MTV Raps!," "Rap City," "Source All Access," Interscope’s “The Next Episode” and others, will lead the division. "I am excited about Todd-1 joining the So Def family, I have watched the moves that he has made throughout his career and we welcome his talents here," Dupri said. According to Dupri, the new company has already developed a special that will soon debut on BET titled “Welcome to Atlanta.” Additionally, So So Def Entertainment is producing an untitled special for VH1 and will soon release new projects spanning television, DVD home movies and theatrical films. "I look forward to the opportunity of expanding on such a successful brand and taking it to the world of film and television which is my specialty," Todd-1 said.
Multi-Platinum Artists The Black Eyed
Peas Release Monkey Business On Tuesday, June 7, 2005
Source: Universal Music Canada
April 22, 2005 - Global multi-platinum, A&M/Universal Music recording artists The Black Eyed Peas have completed their eagerly anticipated fourth album, entitled Monkey Business - the follow up to their 2003 breakthrough release, Elephunk which sold over 7.5 million copies worldwide and close to 700,000 copies (and counting) in Canada. Led by its first single, "Don't Phunk With My Heart" and its accompanying video directed by The Malloys (Black Eyed Peas' "Shut Up," Foo Fighters, blink-182, Ben Harper), Monkey Business arrives in stores on Tuesday, June 7th. In support of Monkey Business, The Black Eyed Peas launch their North American tour in Atlanta on June 11. The Peas will be on the road across the continent through August. Featuring 16 tracks, including collaborations with Godfather of Soul James Brown ("They Don't Want Music"), Justin Timberlake ("My Style") and Sting ("Union"), Monkey Business spans a hip-hop spectrum from pop to surf to soul. Recorded in Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, London, Miami and even the Peas' tour bus and a Japanese bullet train, the album was produced largely by will.i.am. After two critically acclaimed albums (1998's Behind The Front and 2000's Bridging The Gap), The Black Eyed Peas broke through with Elephunk. Released in summer 2003, Elephunk spent 95 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart. The success of Elephunk was propelled by three #1 hit singles, "Where Is The Love?" "Hey Mama" and "Let's Get It Started". "Let's Get It Started" won a 2005 Grammy for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group and nominations for Record of the Year and Best Rap Song. "Hey Mama" was also nominated in the latter category and its video snagged an MTV Video Music Award. "Where Is The Love?" was honored with 2004 Grammy nominations for Record of the Year and Best Rap/Song Collaboration. The Black Eyed Peas also took home awards from Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, Sweden, Brazil and Australia, along with statuettes from MTV Europe, MTV Asia and MTV India, and a pair of nominations for the U.K.'s prestigious Brit Awards. A major national Canadian Tour is set to be announced in early May.
Nicole C. Mullen Wins 2 Dove Awards For
'Everyday People' CD
Source: Bill Carpenter / firstname.lastname@example.org / www.capitalentertainment.com
(Apr. 26, 2005) *Christian pop star Nicole C. Mullen's first CD to crossover to the urban/black music market, “Everyday People,” has won two Dove Awards, the Christian music industry's answer to the Grammy, in the prestigious categories of Female Vocalist of the Year (only the 2nd black woman to do so) and Urban Album of the Year. A wife and mother of three, Mullen's soulful ballad “Without You” and the funky “Message for Ya,” a bass-heavy collaboration with funk legend Bootsy Collins, have been receiving mad love at urban radio stations. Mullen will perform both songs on the weekly musical TV series, “Soul Train” on Saturday, May 14, 2005 (check local TV listings for airtimes or log on at www.soultrain.com). The CD "Everyday People" was nominated for a Grammy award as Best Pop Contemporary Gospel album in February 2005. As further sign of her acceptance in the urban market, Mullen is taping an upcoming TV episode of BET's “Lift Every Voice.” She will also be seen in an upcoming issue of Hype Hair magazine (featuring a great new photo shoot) and a beauty layout for Right On! Magazine. But, for Mullen, the most important thing is the message in her music. "The songs on this project were inspired by my fans," says Mullen. "The stories that they have shared with me have left a lasting mark on my life. These songs are about real-life issues and struggles, and the hope that Jesus brings to all of our lives." Among the everyday songs are: “Bye Bye Brianna” - about a 7 year old blind girl who drowned to death, “Valorie” - about domestic violence, “It's About Us” - a love song and “Gon Be Free” which highlights the plight of the Troski slaves in Ghana.
Tessa Souter --
Showcasing the Sweet Rhythm of Her Music
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Deardra Shuler
(Apr. 26, 2005) My early morning call rallied British singer, Tessa Souter, who had spent a late night performing her varied repertoire of jazz, British, Latin, folk and middle eastern songs at Sweet Rhythm, a club located in the West Village. It is this repertoire and the soulful way she sings her songs that makes Souter unique as a vocal stylist. Born of English and Trinidadian parents, in many ways, Tessa, is a musical griot. A melodious provocateur of lyrics and harmony, Ms. Souter is quite accomplished and adept at shaping a song through her precise sense of timing and interpretation. “I lived in London until I was 10 and then I moved to the countryside” remarked Tessa. “London was busy and noisy but I had a hankering for the country so when we moved to Devon, I found it rather peaceful. I didn’t know my birth father as a child so I didn’t realize I was black. I just looked like I had a tan. I thought I was my stepfather’s child and he was white. I didn’t find out I was interracial until I was an adult. I mean, as a child, the other children would ask why I was brown and call me names so I did start to wonder why I didn’t look like the rest of the family. I thought I looked rather Indian, actually. At 12-years of age, I heard that my stepfather was not my real father but it wasn’t until my late 20s that I found out who my father was and that he was black, Trinidadian and a singer. I actually found his name in the telephone directory by accident. I called and then I met him. He was happy to see me but it was a bit odd because he had a family. I was a secret from his family for awhile but later I did meet them,” reflected Tessa. Tessa is a late bloomer in the music business, having only started to perform professionally 6 years ago when she arrived in New York. “I didn’t know anything about the music scene in England previously. But now I do perform in London’s Pizza Express on Dean Street. In London, you don’t trip over musicians like you do in America. There are a couple of Jazz Clubs in Central London: “London’s Pizza Express and “Ronnie Scotts.” Yet, the jazz scene is weirdly more happening in London. Perhaps because its more concentrated there. There are cabaret clubs there like Pizza on the Park. These clubs are packed and the streets are full of young people who go to see jazz. Whereas, in New York, it seems the jazz clubs have more difficulty attracting crowds.
Perhaps its because there is such a wide variety of things to do in New York” pondered the attractive songstress. Tessa has recently released a CD entitled “Listen Love,” a recording that reveals her flair for jazz, flamenco, Middle Eastern and Brazilian music. It opens with “The Peacocks” by Jimmy Roles and Norma Winstone. Also featured is Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” which Souter does through a Middle Eastern approach. Sounding much like a female Pharaoh Sanders one is not surprised to see that she has put her own spin on “The Creator Has A Master Plan” which is also among the cache of songs on her CD. “I listened a lot to folk music in Devon. The folk music I listened to sounded very Celtic. The Moorish culture back in the 15th century had a great deal of influence on Celtic music, thus also had a huge influence on flamenco. In New York, I live in a Dominican neighbourhood and the music there is very Latin but in England wherever I would be, I would hear in music the flavour of a lot of cultures, therefore I was predisposed to Indian, Brazilian music and jazz. I listened to a lot of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Wayne Shorter, Sarah Vaughn, etc.” claims the singer. It is also evident, when listening to Tessa Souter’s music that she is influenced by Jon Lucien. “A Nigerian friend of mine used to have a record store and he turned me on to a Jon Lucien record. I played it all the time and in fact, I used his song, “So This Is Love” on my CD. The song is rather romantic and I find that I am a romantic type of person. You tend to like what you are. Jon Lucien is a very romantic person. I actually met him and I noticed how romantic he is as a person. I saw that he loves with passion not like an ordinary kind of love. For example, one day his wife broke her leg and Lucien, was so affected by it, he nearly passed out. That demonstrated how connected he is to his wife. That is love with great passion” marvelled the eclectic warbler. “You Don’t Have to Believe” is one of Tessa’s own compositions and reflects the romance that is very much part of her nature. “I think music is such an essential thing. If you strip it down to your real self, than things will come up about yourself that you may not have even realized. I imagine that what I am is a huge mix of different cultures and that tends to come out through my music. My father was Trinidadian, but I suspect he has Indian in his ethnicity as well. I have an Indian look and so does one of my sisters, who is my father’s daughter.”
Prior to establishing a career as a singer, Souter studied English Literature at London University. After college, she got a job editing reports and proposals and then began working for Parents Magazine. She became a freelance copy editor and eventually wrote articles for Elle and Vogue magazine. “I came to America on holiday after being invited by someone I had interviewed. I decided to vacation a month in America. I went to Boston and then visited San Francisco. Once, I got to San Francisco, I just stayed. I cleaned houses for a while until my writing took over and just never went back to England. I stayed in San Francisco for 4 years and then moved to New York where I have been living for 8 years.” Tessa has written a book “Anything I Can Do.” It is a guide to making your creative dream come true. “Anything to do with the Arts is in this book,” remarked the unique performer. “My book, for example might say: “OK, so you want to be a writer -- so go ahead and write.” My book tells you how to go about it. I have chapters on how to get started, I have a money chapter, and I give real practical steps on how to accomplish your goals in life, no matter what it is, you want to do. For example, I always liked to sing but I got married very young and had a son so then I was just a mother for a time instead of being a singer. When my son grew up, I became free to do my own thing. With some encouragement from a boyfriend, I started going to open mikes and my singing took off from there. My first performance in New York was in 1999. I started singing in a few clubs and really, that is how I truly learned to sing. I didn’t even know 10 songs originally but as I continued to sing, I realized I had to diversify and learn more songs so I picked songs that influenced my life and therefore those songs became my message. And now, music has become my life.” explained the ever evolving performer. “I can’t bear someone telling me how to sing or what to sing. I remember once being at a concert where BB King was performing. There were thousands of people at the concert and BB was chatting with the audience before each song. People were truly enjoying listening to BB sing and chat. Then suddenly, out of the thousands that were listening and enjoying BB, some idiot screamed out to BB: “Just shut up and sing!” You could see that everyone in the audience was very embarrassed by this. Then, BB said: “Ok, then!” And, for the rest of the gig, he just sang and didn’t talk again. I learned a lesson from that. Although, it was quite natural for BB King to react as he did, I saw how BB had allowed one person to spoil his performance for everyone else by acquiescing to that one person. Something like that happened at one of my performances, too. Everyone was having a great time and then I saw this couple who sat with bland faces, arms crossed, showing no reaction whatsoever. It threw me off. I became concerned about and preoccupied with what that couple thought of my singing because I wanted that couple to like me. Now, however, I realize you cannot please everyone nor will I ever be able to please everyone. I have since learned that there is room for imperfection. I think in the end you have to do the thing that gives you the most joy” stated Souter of her learned lesson.” Ms. Souter who performs often at Sweet Rhythm also sings at The 55 Bar every month. She will appear at The 55 Bar on May 13th. Interested parties can learn more about Tessa Souter by logging onto her website at: www.tessasouter.com.
Evans, Lexi, Tweet
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Mr. Jawn Murray
(Apr. 26, 2005) Jawn’s Juice columnist Jawn Murray has three new CDs featured in the Juicy Picks section of his April 26 column:
Faith Evans: On her first effort sans P. Diddy’s Bad Boy Entertainment (a long overdue departure) Faith Evans proves that freedom certainly enhances creativity. The vocal powerhouse continues to channel Karen Clark-Sheard (one of her inspirations) on this disk of ’70s-fused rhythm and blues gems. “Again” has already proved to be a hit at radio and tracks such as “Jealous,” “Get Over You” and “I Don’t Need It” could easily follow suit. Many are raving about the Chucky Thompson-produced “Mesmerized” (it’s even Evans’ favourite cut on the album), but the Carvin Haggins and Ivan Barias-helmed “Stop n Go” showcases the singer at her best. The First Lady is a must-have!
Lexi: After years of recording R&B-laced contemporary gospel CDs, Lexi has finally found her niche with A Praise in the Valley—a solid live recording of both praise and worship and Sunday morning suited material. Lexi brings forth the complete church experience on her latest release, and songs such as “I’ve Been Redeemed,” “He Got Up” and “Testify” cause the music listening encounter to become interactive. “My Heart Belongs to You” featuring Nicole Binion is the highlight of the CD, and this beautiful worship ballad should impact greatly at both gospel and contemporary Christian radio formats. The dynamic Kim Burrell (“Not Until”) and William “Praise Is What I Do” Murphy (“Wherever the Lord Is”) also appear on the CD. Cop this release!
Tweet: It’s hard to imagine Tweet topping her debut Southern Hummingbird; but after one listen to It’s Me Again, you’ll agree she has. The disk showcases the softer side of Tweet. While she may still be “Smoking Cigarettes” and having man problems, the singer evokes happiness through songs like “Two of Us" where she shared vocals with her teenage daughter Tashawna. Though Missy Elliott’s rambling is annoying on "Turn Da Lights Off," the song is still a catchy club banger as soon as the pudgy producer shuts up. “Sports, Sex & Food” is clever and fun, as is the subtle “Cab Ride,” which incorporates the theme song of Taxi. Tweet shines on “My Man,” a power ballad that has the singer abandoning her normally breathy vocal styling for a more gospel-styled showing. Other highlights include “Small Change,” “I’m Done” and “Could It Be” featuring Rell. The second time is just as good if not better than the first for Tweet. To see the rest of Jawn s Juice, go to: HERE!
Fans Back Jann
Excerpt from The Toronto Star
(Apr. 24, 2005) It is a testament to Jann Arden's enduring fan base that the Calgary singer/songwriter can enter the chart a nose behind Mariah Carey, without anything like the equivalent fanfare. Despite its eponymous title, this is Arden's eight album in a dozen years, dating back to her 1993 debut Time for Mercy. As broken-hearted as her songs often are, Arden is as beloved for her disarming lack of pretension and self-deprecating sense of humour as she is for her confessional songwriting. No doubt those attributes will be in ample display during Arden's upcoming Live at the Rehearsal Hall session on Bravo!, taped earlier this month and airing May 3. The disc, recorded with long-time collaborator Russ Broom and featuring such titles as "Life is Sweet" "How Good Things Are" and "A Perfect Day," has been hailed as the most optimistic of Arden's career.
Joni Mitchell Heading Home
Source: Canadian Press
(Apr. 21, 2005) Regina — Singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell will be returning to her home town of Saskatoon in May to take part in the Lieutenant Governor's Centennial Gala, it was announced Wednesday. “This is a rare opportunity to pay tribute to one of Saskatchewan's and indeed, Canada's great artists,” said Lt.-Gov. Lynda Haverstock. “She has never been paid homage in the presence of her mom and dad in her community of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, by any of us, so this is really going to be very, very special.” Ms. Mitchell joined Wednesday's news conference via a pre-recorded video message. “As my contribution to the Centennial, I've created an album called Songs of a Prairie Girl,” said Ms. Mitchell. “I rounded up from my whole repertoire the songs that made references to Saskatchewan.” Asked about rumours that Ms. Mitchell is suffering from nodules on her throat, Haverstock couldn't tell reporters whether the singer would be performing at the gala. “We're going to utilize an eclectic approach to paying tribute to her and we're hoping that she'll be engaged in some ways other than just sitting with her mom and dad.” Brent Butt, creator and star of the Saskatchewan-made television series, Corner Gas, will be the master of ceremonies for the event.
John To Marry Canadian Partner
Source: Associated Press
(Apr. 25, 2005) London — Pop singer Elton John will marry his long-time partner David Furnish later this year or early next year, his publicist said Monday. Britain's The Mirror tabloid newspaper reported Monday that John, 58, would marry his 42-year-old Canadian partner before Christmas. Laws recognizing homosexual civil partnerships come into effect in Britain in Dec. 5. John's spokesman Gary Furrow told British Broadcasting Corp. the nuptials may be postponed until 2006. "A date and a venue has not been set, so it may not be until next year," Furrow told the BBC. John was reported in The Mirror as saying the wedding could be held in Windsor, west of London, where Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were married earlier this month. "We definitely want to do it about the middle of December, probably in Windsor," John was quoted as saying. "But there will be no honeymoon. I'm on tour." The pair may be among the first British gay couples to take advantage of new laws recognizing gay civil partnerships. The law, which is only applicable to homosexuals and not as an alternative to heterosexual marriage, grants lesbian and gay couples the same tax, pension and inheritance status as married couples. John has publicly credited the Toronto-born Furnish, his partner for 11 years, with helping him to overcome addictions to alcohol and drugs.
Healey CD Wins Jazz Award In Toronto
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Mark Miller
(Apr. 26, 2005) Toronto -- Jeff Healey's Adventures in Jazzland was honoured as "best recorded performance of traditional/classic jazz" at the 34th-annual Canadian Collectors' Congress held in Toronto on the weekend. The CD is Healey's second in a jazz setting; the Toronto singer, guitarist and trumpeter, 39, enjoyed international success as a blues-rock musician in the late 1980s. Other finalists for the award, which is devoted exclusively to Canadian recordings, were Club Django and singer Terra Hazelton from Toronto, Vancouver's Louisiana Joymakers from Vancouver and Yukon pianist Grant Simpson. The award was introduced in 1999 by the Canadian Collectors' Congress, an international forum for record collectors, researchers and fans devoted to the early styles of jazz.
Day For Mariah
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 21, 2005) *Mariah Carey had enough muscle behind her first Island Def Jam album “The Emancipation of Mimi” to free 50 Cent from his six-week reign atop The Billboard 200. Mariah’s eighth studio CD sold 404,000 in its first week on shelves in the U.S., putting her well ahead of 50’s “The Massacre,” which drops to No. 3 this week on sales of 140,000. New albums from heavy metal group Mudvayne and alt rock outfit Garbage debuted at No. 2 and No. 4 respectively, while Faith Evans’ “The First Lady” (Capitol) drops from 2-5 this week with 63,000 units sold. The 18th instalment of "NOW That's What I Call Music!" dips 4-6, Beck's "Guero" (Interscope) slides 3-7 and Green Day's "American Idiot" (Reprise) falls 7-8. Gwen Stefani's "Love, Angel, Music, Baby" (Interscope) jumps back into the top 10 with a 15-9 move, and The Killers' "Hot Fuss" (Island) also rebounds, moving 11-10.
To Head So-So Def Entertainment
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 21, 2005) *Producer Todd Brown, known in hip hop circles as Todd-1, has teamed up with Jermaine Dupri to form So So Def Entertainment. which will serve as the film and television division of the successful brand. "I am excited about Todd-1 joining the So So Def family, I have watched the moves that he has made throughout his career and we welcome his talents here," says Dupri, whose many hats includes his new position as President of the Urban Music Division for Virgin Records. Todd-1's production credits include shows such as "Yo! MTV Raps," "Rap City," "Source All Access," "Interscope Present's - The Next Episode" and "5 Deadly videos" on the Playboy channel. In his new role at So So Def Entertainment, Todd-1 will create and oversee all new projects pertaining to television, movies, and DVD's. The first project under the new venture is "Welcome to Atlanta," a documentary for BET that features some of Atlanta's finest from music, television and sports. "I welcome the challenge of working with So So Def Entertainment," says Todd-1. "Jermaine has one of the most successful brands in hip hop, and I look forward to the opportunity of expanding on such a successful brand and taking it to the world of film and television which is my specialty."
Ice Cube Working On New Album, Preparing 'XXX'
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Tiffany Hamilton
(Apr. 20, 2005) While Ice Cube is keeping busy in the film world, the acclaimed writer/director/actor isn’t neglecting his rap career and recently divulged details of a new album. "I am planning to release the single by early summer " Ice Cube told AllHipHop.com. “Once I put the finishes on it, I plan to drop the album by late summer." In addition to the album, Cube continues his foray into Hollywood and as previously reported, is in negotiations to star in a remake of the 1948 comedy Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. “I don't really want to disclose anything right now, I am really superstitious and I want to wait until the deal is final, Cube said of the movie. Cube’s superstitious aside, the rapper’s last project, Are We There Yet grossed over $81 million dollars as of April 15th, while his other films, such as the Barbershop and Friday series of movies have grossed hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office and through DVD sales. Cube’s latest movie, XXX State of the Union, is the sequel to the 2001 film XXX which starred action hero Vin Diesel. Diesel and original director Rob Cohen opted out of the sequel, but stayed on as executive producers. Cube was selected as a replacement for Diesel since both have deals with the studio, which produced the original version and the sequel. “I am honoured that they even considered me, to star in a film of this calibre is definitely a dream come true,” Cube said of the action flick. “If they decide to do a XXX 3 depending on how this does, I am definitely interested in playing the part again." XXX: State of the Union hits theatres worldwide April 29th.
The Ave Magazine Launches Open
Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Jayson Rodriguez
(Apr. 21, 2005) Brooklyn-based Hip-Hop magazine The Ave is launching a monthly artist showcase tonight (4/21) titled “Mic Check,” which will feature performances by up and coming rappers, singers and spoken word artists, as well as a fashion show. The event, according to Editor-In-Chief Anslem Samuel, is way for the magazine to connect to their readers on a more intimate level. “The showcase is a definite extension of The Ave brand and a direct connection with our readership,” Samuel told AllHipHop.com. “Being that we area a quarterly publication, it is extremely important that we keep the name out not just in the industry but with the actual readers themselves. “And this showcase helps us tremendously in doing that,” he asserted. “Mic Check” will be held at the Cherry Lounge in Harlem. New York, which isn’t coincidental, according to The Ave’s Director of Operations, Kaajal Shah. “The Cherry Lounge in Harlem is the perfect venue for “Mic Check,” Shah said. “Harlem has always been the home of black artistic expression, and with “Mic Check” we hope to build on that tradition. The showcase will serve as a launching pad for both emerging artists and unique forms of expression.” “Our goal was to bring the Prospect Park section of The Ave to life by creating a venue for up and coming, and signed artists alike, to try something new and fresh,” added Ben Leff, co-CEO of The Ave. Comedian Kenny Williams will host “Mic Check,” which is being held in conjunction with BrownIzes Ent. and Wordstock Inc. “Mic Check,” begins tonight at 8PM, with an open bar sponsored by Navan beginning at 7PM. Admission is $10.
Omarion, Bow Wow & Marques
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 22, 2005) *Omarion, Bow Wow, Ciara and Marques Houston will team for a summer tour, which kicks off in July and will run through September. "It's gonna be a lot of chaos. It's gonna be a lot of pandemonium. It's gonna be outrageous," said Bow Wow. "The way we're doing it is not like your normal concert. When you go to your normal concert, it's four people on the bill. Everybody has their own set. We're doing it like how you come to wrestling and the ring is in the middle. It's gonna be more like a live movie than a show." One of the songs sure to be on the roster is “Wanted,” an Omarion/Bow Wow duet that will appear on the latter’s upcoming album “Wanted.” Meanwhile, Houston’s sophomore solo CD "Naked," led by the single "All Because of You," will drop on May 24 via T.U.G Entertainment/Universal Other tracks on the set include "Do It" featuring the Ying Yang Twins, "Everything" and the title cut, which will be the second single scheduled to hit radio in mid-May. Houston is also developing a film he co-wrote titled "The House," which will also star – who else – Omarion. As previously reported, shooting will begin this fall on a sequel to “You Got Served,” which starred Houston, Omarion and the rest of O’s former B2K crew.
Shows Off 'Diamonds' With Jay-Z
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
(April 22, 2005) Rapper/producer Kanye West earlier this week offered the first taste of his sophomore Def Jam album, "Late Registration," when he played the single "Diamonds" on New York radio station Hot 97. Def Jam president Jay-Z was on hand for the debut of the track, which West said references his experiences working with Roc-A-Fella Records in recent years. Although a track list has yet to be unveiled for "Late Registration," which will arrive July 12, West has previously revealed that John Legend and John Mayer both make guest appearances. Rapper Common told Billboard.com last month that he expected to appear on the album before all was said and done. As previously reported, West produced Common's upcoming album, "Be," and will release it May 24 via his G.O.O.D. Music imprint in tandem with Geffen. "A lot of the tracks I wasn't using turned into beats for 'Late Registration,'" Common said. "His album is sounding very, very good. I am planning on being on it. He has some songs in mind, so we'll complete something." "Late Registration" will be the follow-up to West's 2004 breakthrough, "The College Dropout," which peaked at No. 2 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 2.6 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. West has also become one of the most in-demand producers in urban music, having worked with Usher, Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys and the Game in the past several years.
Joins New Billboard Latin Presenters
Excerpt from www.billboard.com - Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
(April 22, 2005) P. Diddy leads the list of newly added presenters for the Billboard Latin Music Awards. He will be joined by actors Jimmy Smits and Ray Santiago plus artists Alicia Villarreal, Joan Sebastian, Ana Gabriel, Graciela Beltran, La Mafia, Pitbull and La Onda at the April 28 event, to be held at Miami Arena. A host of soap opera stars will also present awards, including Jose Angel Llamas, Flora Martinez, Alejandro Chaban, Mauricio Islas, Tamara Monserrat, Alejandro Felipe, Danna Garcia, Miguel Varoni and Gabriela Spanic. Other presenters from the TV ranks include "Zapata" star Lorena Rojas, "Al Rojo Vivo" host Maria Celeste Arraras, "Caso Cerrado" host Andres Garcia and the finalists from the music reality show "Nuevas Voces de America." Among the previously announced performers for the show are Marc Anthony, Paulina Rubio, Christian Castro, Marco Antonio Solis, Juanes, Thalia, Juan Luis Guerra, Olga Tanon, Conjunto Primavera, Franco de Vita, Aleks Syntek, AB Quintanilla III and Daddy Yankee. As previously reported, Solis is the leading finalist with mentions in eight categories as a solo artist and with Los Bukis. He is also due to receive the Billboard Lifetime Achievement Award, given by the magazine in recognition of an outstanding career and artistic achievements.
To Do List: Mogul Eyes Biggie Duets Album
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 25, 2005) *The first order of business for P. Diddy since unloading half of his Bad Boy Entertainment on Warner Music for $30 million is the release of a new solo album, as well as a Notorious B.I.G. duets album, reports the “New York Daily News.” As previously reported, the new joint venture between Diddy and Warner Music calls for the release of music from Bad Boy's current roster along with singles from its deep catalogue of past recordings. The first album from the newly named Bad Boy Records will come from the Atlanta-based Boyz N Da Hood (who have been referred to as the NWA of the South), followed by an album from B5, an Atlanta-based boy band. Diddy also said he expects to put out eight to 10 CDs a year. Mase, who returned to Bad Boy after taking a long hiatus to find Jesus, was rumoured to be feuding with the Bad Boy founder, but Puffy says: "As of right now, he is remaining on the label. We get along."
Hill To Headline Stockholm Jazz Fest
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
(Apr. 26, 2005) Stockholm -- Grammy-winning singer Lauryn Hill is one of the biggest attractions during this year's Stockholm Jazz Festival to be held in July, organizers said yesterday. Some 25,000 people are expected to attend the concerts, which will also feature Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth, Lee Ritenour, Johnny Lang, Angélique Kidjo and Toots Thielemans. Hill, a former member of the rap trio the Fugees, set a record for female artists in 1999 when she won five Grammy awards for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. In 2002, she released the CD MTV Unplugged 2.0. The festival is produced by Canadian-born John Nugent, who has also been the producer of other music festivals. AP
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
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Amerie, Touch, Amerie, Sony
Elvis Costello, King of America, Elvis Costello, Rhino
Grandmaster Flash, Message, Grandmaster Flash, DBK Works
Grandmaster Flash, They Said It Couldn't Be Done, Grandmaster Flash, DBK Works
Joni Mitchell, Songs of a Prairie Girl, Joni Mitchell, Rhino
Mint Condition, Livin' the Luxury Brown, Mint Condition, Image
The Game, Untold Story [Chopped and Screwed], The Game, Fastlife
Tru, Truth [Chopped and Screwed], Tru, Koch
Various Artists, Blazing Hip Hop Instrumentals: The Music of 50 Cen, Various Artists, Fastlife
Jewison Blasts Culture Of Celebrity
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Luann Lasalle, Canadian Press
(Apr. 25, 2005) MONTREAL - There are actors and movie stars to choose from for Canadian filmmaker Norman Jewison. But at least half of the "movie stars" under the age of 30 likely need not apply. Jewison made it clear at a literary festival on Sunday that he prefers working with actors, preferably those with theatre experience who can immerse themselves in any role without necessarily playing the lead. He included such names as Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, Christopher Plummer and Michael Caine. Then there are movie stars, which Jewison said, "There's something about their heads, the camera likes them." And he listed the late Steve McQueen, who starred in Jewison's The Cincinnati Kid (1965) about an up-and-coming poker player, as a movie star. Another movie star, according to Jewison, is Arnold Schwarzenegger, now California governor. Young stars don't seem to hold much promise for the 78-year-old Jewison. "Half the movie stars today under the age of 30, I don't even know," he said in an interview, discreet enough not to name names. "It's all a hype. Come on. How do you know whether anybody can act? You're told that they're a big star, you know, or somebody's got a cute ass or they've got great boobs. "I can't buy it. I think we're living in an age of such manipulation," he said.
"Someone's hot," he said of the unnamed stars, adding that movies have to be financed. "Then it becomes `Who have you got?' Then it becomes a compromise and you have to put a star into your piece." Jewison has directed films such as In the Heat of the Night (1967), which won five Academy Awards, A Soldier's Story (1984) starring Washington and Moonstruck (1987), which won Cher an Oscar. He began directing television in Canada and the United States in the 1950s and made his first movie Hollywood movie in 1962, 40 Pounds of Trouble, with Tony Curtis. Even further down the ladder in Jewison's esteem are celebrities and the obsession with celebrity culture. "It's ridiculous," Jewison said after speaking about his autobiography, This Terrible Business Has Been Good to Me at the festival, Montreal, World Book Capital 2005. He pointed to singer Madonna as someone with "a small amount of talent" who marketed it into being a celebrity. "We're all being suffocated. I can't believe that people are obsessed like they are now with celebrity. I don't know what's going on," he said. Then he paused. "I'm sounding so grouchy. Am I wrong?" He doesn't sound like he feels he's wrong.
"Celebrity is celebrity. We live in an age of celebrity, for God's sake. It's craziness. It's exploitation. It's the media for God sake's that's responsible for most of the exploitation. "I mean even the pope all of a sudden became a celebrity. It was the pope (John Paul) dying. It was a man dying who all of a sudden the world was totally in awe of and in love with and I don't think that existed a year ago." He also doesn't believe that actors' political opinions deserve the same attention as their art. "Of course not, but they're going to get the attention because of People magazine and Entertainment Tonight and Extra and all those God damned shows." Jewison, usually behind the camera, said if he were in front of it, he wouldn't choose to be a movie star. "Well, I'd be an actor — a character actor," he said, citing Humphrey Bogart and Meryl Streep as great character actors.
Toronto Resident Has Doc At Cannes
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Susan Walker, Entertainment Reporter
(Apr. 21, 2005) The night that Stuart Samuels presents his documentary Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream at the Cannes Film Festival will mark his arrival at a high point on a path of film appreciation that has taken him from theory to practice. The former film studies professor used to take his University of Pennsylvania students to Cannes in the 1970s, treating the festival as a classroom. Film studies was a new discipline then and Samuels helped shape the first curriculum. Much of what he knew about the way visual culture develops was distilled in a book he wrote nearly 25 years ago. That was Midnight Movies, now transferred to screen as a documentary that will get its world premiere at midnight on Friday the 13th, along with a sneak peak of a new film from one of his Midnight subjects, George Romero. Samuels, who moved to Toronto eight years ago and holds dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship, has taken a curious circuit around the film and video world. From 1967 to 1981, he taught film studies. "Then I made a jump from academic life to what I thought was the hottest area of visual representation," says the filmmaker. He entered the world of music videos, first as a programmer at "NightFlight," a kind of alternative to MTV on the USA Network, then as a producer. His credits include a Rolling Stones tour video, a Dionne Warwick AIDS concert and work with Lou Reed, Sting and an eclectic list of musicians. Samuels got involved in bringing high-definition television to North America. That focus on the visual naturally led him to the subject of his first documentary. Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography was released in 1993 and earned a bunch of "best documentary" prizes from critics in the U.S. before doing the rounds of the world's film festivals and becoming a DVD for the film-lover's library.
With Toronto's Simcha Jacobovici, Samuels co-directed and co-produced Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies and the American Dream in 1998, based on the book by Neal Gabler. That year Hot Docs named Samuels best feature documentary director. Midnight Movies, he hopes, will bring audiences to the theatre for a different kind of documentary experience. The film looks at six pivotal films that came out between 1970 and 1977 and has interviews with the directors, audience members, theatre owners and critics. The films are John Waters' Pink Flamingos, David Lynch's Eraserhead, George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo, Perry Henzell's The Harder They Come and Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Picture Show. These were the films that broke aesthetic boundaries and gathered a following outside the mainstream movie houses. They were shown at midnight screenings, over and over again. Samuels charts the way things changed, not so much the filmmakers as the capacity for audiences to accept what they were doing. (Rocky Horror Picture Show, he notes, still runs as a midnight feature in Toronto.) The recent spate of documentaries to enjoy commercial success, says Samuels, have been based on personal journeys: "the filmmaker as content." With Midnight Movies, independently financed to the tune of $400,000, he hopes to raise the bar for documentaries. "I want to open up the investigation and understanding of one of the most powerful influences on our lives," he says.
Filmmaker Saw City Hall's Rough Period But Still Has Faith In
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Chris Young, Staff Reporter
(Apr. 23, 2005) Two things about Min Sook Lee: she loves Toronto, and she has always been interested in local politics, whether as a girl growing up here, or more recently as a reporter filing for the likes of CBC and Toronto 1. But she's also a documentary filmmaker, and late in 2003 decided to perch her cameras at City Hall and wait for the spit to hit the fan. She ended up with Hogtown: The Politics of Policing, a blow-by-blow account of the 2004 struggles of the Toronto Police Services Board as allegations of corruption, a wave of gun violence on the city streets and a battle of the budget and of public trust were whipping around City Hall's new wave led by Mayor David Miller. Hogtown premieres today at 2 p.m. at the Isabel Bader Theatre, part of the Hot Docs Festival. It will be broadcast later this year on Toronto 1. What compelled you to make this film? I'm very interested in politics, and I wanted to look at local politics. What happens in our own backyard often takes place under the radar. This is kind of an irony — this is the level of government that affects your life the most. But this was something of a special time, too, in local politics. You basically set up your cameras and waited for something to happen. I was pretty sure something would happen because, politically, the federal and the provincial governments had all changed in six months. It seemed to me, too — and I think it is the same for a lot of people who live in Toronto — that right now we're sort of in a renaissance of loving the city. Why do you think that's happening? I'm not sure I can answer that. But I know that I'm part of that rediscovery. I'm emphatically a huge Toronto lover. I grew up here. I was born in Korea — in Gwangju, a city in the southwest — but I grew up in Toronto in a time that was very exciting, in the 1970s.
The Crombie to Sewell years. Yes. During the Lastman years, I think Toronto fell into a period of neglect, of disinterest. I think we all collectively went through that period and at a certain point we said: ``No, we can do better.'' As a filmmaker, I knew that City Hall would be a very interesting stage where all kinds of unpredictable dynamics could happen. You've got 44 city councillors who are officially, theoretically, unaligned with any party, and you have a mayor who on paper has very little power. Actually getting something done at City Hall is a remarkable feat of leadership. You don't have the autocratic rule to shut down debate. You have to have moral suasion. You have to have councillors believe in you and buy into a vision. I started shooting in January, immediately after the municipal elections, and one of the issues that started heating up the headlines was gun shooting and violence. Statistically, violent crime has gotten lower. We are one of the safest cities in North America. But like every major urban city, like every society, fear of crime is almost a primal fear, something that attacks the fish part of our brain. When did you realize that this police board issue was starting to hit the fan and would be your focus? The cue was definitely in early January, when a new chair was sworn in at the police services board. A week after that, two things happened: the former chair Norm Gardner's inquiry started ... and there was a media smear against Alan Heisey, the new chair. The events basically led me to the story. Through this whole (period) the board itself was down a couple of members, there were people getting up and leaving meetings abruptly, breaking quorum — was this democracy in action here, or a system that was broken? The best quote I ever heard about democracy kept occurring to me: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried." I love it. It's messy, it's time-consuming, it's like, ``God, do we have to go through this again?'' That's what it is. Can it work better? Definitely. Can it be healthier and more transparent? Yes, always. The police board at this time was clearly having a very difficult time with members. I think consideration could be given to the whole structure of the police services board. Does it make sense to have these people on the board for just 18 months? Does that give you enough time to understand an issue like that?
How did you come out of this as far as your appreciation or not of institutions like public assembly? The other day, someone who finished watching the film said to me, "I'm not thinking anything but, `What a mess.'" And I'm quite the opposite, actually. It did seem as if they got mired, and dysfunctional, and messy, but if you step back and look at what came out of it, something was achieved. Today, we have a police services board that looks nothing like we've ever had in the history of Toronto — more people of colour than ever — and I think that's critical. For a city that prides itself on multiculturalism and diversity, and knows that in 10 years it will be more than 50 per cent non-white, it has to be this way. But not only that — a police service that has had a chief that would not even recognize racial profiling as an issue, it's phenomenally useful to get rid of that kind of mentality.
Feds Shovel $25m Into Toronto Film Fest
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Martin Knelman
(Apr. 27, 2005) "As you know, this has been a long process," said Tony Ianno, Liberal MP for Trinity Spadina, inside a tent on a parking lot at the northwest corner of King and John Sts. You can say that again, Tony. Ianno and three other federal cabinet members were there to announce a $25 million commitment from Ottawa toward a year-round headquarters for the Toronto International Film Festival. For months, that promise had been the most hotly pursued coming attraction in film festival history. Eight weeks earlier, Queen's Park trumped Ottawa by making its commitment of $25 million to Festival Centre — a $122 million permanent home scheduled to open in 2008. And by the time yesterday's announcement was made, it had the unmistakable flavour of a trailer for another coming attraction — the next federal election. "Everyone wanted this to happen," said Ianno, who represents the riding where Festival Centre will be built and who is expected to have a tough time holding his seat against NDP challenger Olivia Chow. "It was just a matter of finding a way." According to Heritage Minister Liza Frulla, culture is the soul of Toronto, and the government wanted to be part of it. At a gala dinner on the opening night of last year's film festival, Frulla sat with Warren Beatty and Annette Bening. But the man with the budget to get it done was John Godfrey, the minister of state, infrastructure and communities — who has happy memories of his own hanging out with Sigourney Weaver at last year's festival. "I feel like Jerry Maguire," quipped Godfrey. That's because mayors all across the country keep saying to him, "Show me the money." And he replies: "Help me help you." According to insiders, it was Joe Volpe, the leader of the GTA Liberal caucus, who pushed the deal through. At yesterday's event Volpe may have been overstating the case a tad when he called Toronto "the cultural and economic capital of North America." But he struck the right note when he added: "Toronto is more than a balance sheet." For the benefit of those who drifted in after this movie started: The festival has entered into a partnership with Hollywood producer Ivan Reitman, whose family has owned the parking lot for decades, and the Daniels Corporation, a high-end developer. Reitman and Daniels Corp. plan a 41-storey condo building called Festival Tower. The festival would occupy the lower five storeys, with five screening rooms, a gallery and the film reference library. The festival would become much more of a year-round presence, reportedly tripling its economic impact from $67 million to over $200 million.
But to achieve all that, it needs $196 million in start-up capital — including $122 million for its part of the building, plus an endowment and operating funds. So far, counting Ottawa's pledge, it is just under halfway towards its goal. Yesterday was a happy occasion both for the people receiving the news and those delivering it. How often these days do Liberal cabinet ministers encounter a crowd of smiling people cheering them on? There's a catch, though. Yesterday's pledge is part of the government's pending budget — which could become academic if it is not passed before Parliament is dissolved. However, Conservative Heritage critic Bev Oda claims in a letter that I was off base recently when I suggested Stephen Harper might be unenthusiastic about funding Toronto culture projects. "We recognize the need for cultural infrastructure," she wrote. And in a telephone interview yesterday, she said the Festival Centre project would not be jeopardized. "We would honour every agreement the government has signed," she promised. "We are not out to take anything away from the arts community of Toronto. And I would hope to see more clarity on that point in your column." I'm delighted to put that on the record.
Speaking of trailers, the first week of May features at least two notable celebrations of arts pioneers. First up is Nightwood Theatre, which has been dedicated for the past 25 years to making the theatre friendlier for women, with such events as its annual Five-Minute Feminist Cabaret. On Monday, Nightwood will throw a FemCab birthday party at the Isabel Bader Theatre. Hosts Diane Flacks and Karen Robinson will introduce guests, including Cathy Jones, d'bi young, Nancy White, Anne-Marie MacDonald, Kim Renders and Djanet Sears. A pre-performance reception features New York feminist icon Gloria Steinem. For tickets call 416-978-8849 or go to http://www.uofttix.ca. The Isabel Bader Theatre will also be the venue a week from tomorrow night, when Sharon, Lois and Bram are reunited for one night only in a benefit concert for Mariposa in the Schools. That organization has been providing performing arts programs to schools and communities across Ontario for 36 years. In recent years, that has become more difficult, especially in less affluent areas. And for once, Sharon, Lois and Bram are not looking for an audience of children. Indeed, the show is called Adults Only.
Anderson Takes The Lead
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - “If it’s worth your while do something good to me.”
Yes, that’s correct. One of Hollywood’s most beloved comical actors is one of the few who can boast a repertoire of films with a cumulative tally grossed at $1 billion. And he’s just finally getting his just desserts with a leading role in a major studio film. Mr. Anderson, who has appeared in flicks diverse as “Kangaroo Jack” and “Barbershop,” will officially kick off his leading man status with this weekend’s comedy offering, “King’s Ransom,” directed by Jeff Byrd. “Because it’s funny,” the hefty Los Angeles native replied when asked why should film-goers see the comedy romp about a wealthy and arrogant businessman whose ex-wife-to-be has plans to take him for everything he is worth in their divorce settlement. Determined to one-up her, he established and elaborate scheme to kidnap himself. But he’s not the only one who has designs on an abduction plot. “I think we’ve assembled a great cast, we tell a great story,” he continued, “and hopefully I haven’t disappointed many people with the work that I’ve done in the past. So why not come and see a project that I’m actually a lead in?” And while the vivacious Kellita Smith heat things up in the movie, playing the scorned and savvy spouse, “King’s Ransom” also includes notable turns by Nicole Ari Parker, Regina Hall, Charlie Murphy, Loretta Devine, Jay Mohr and Donald Faison. “The script was a nice script to begin with,” Mr. Anderson added. “We just fed off each other’s energies. So whatever they brought, I just wanted to make sure that I hit the ball back over the net when they hit it to you and that’s what we did.”
Mr. Byrd, who directed the 2003 Showtime movie “Jasper, Texas,” told “The RU Report” that working on “Ransom” was a welcome departure from the heavy material that was dealt with in his previous work. “Doing that film was emotionally draining,” he revealed. And although he developed a friendship with Mr. Anderson through a mutual acquaintance over the years, the job wasn’t a guarantee to be his. “The caveat was Anthony had to approve of me,” he explained. “That was the stamp of final approval.” And thankfully he landed the gig, executed the vision and is now singing Mr. Anderson’s praises. “Anthony, to me, is like a stealth bomber,” Mr. Byrd continued. “He’s a comedic genius. Anthony has a great grasp on comedic timing and where to find the drama in the character. And that’s what I love about him. He taught me a lot, and taught the other actors a lot about that comedic timing and how to deal with it.” Mr. Faison, who became a household name 10 years ago starring in the “Clueless” franchise, also found great inspiration working with Mr. Anderson. And he also learned a lot in the process. “He did a lot of movies and just to talk to him about his journey and how he got to where he is now was a great experience,” the “Scrubs” star offered. “We’re about to see a new Anthony Anderson. He’s growing as an actor and we kind of started at the same time, so to talk to somebody who is on the same mission that I’m on is always insightful.” Mr. Anderson isn’t letting this newfound fame go to his head either. Happily married with children (and exonerated from bogus rape charges), the fast-talking actor emanated a humbled energy in person. He’s so grounded that when he saw the promotional rollout campaign for “Ransom”, he, admittedly, was awe-struck. “You know what was wild,” he explained: “I saw that [billboard for the movie] on a bus and I didn’t know that my name was going to be above-title. Honestly, I didn’t know. But when I saw the posters, that’s when it dawned on me that ‘wow, this is really happening.’”
But don’t get it twisted. The new era of work for Anthony Anderson doesn’t stop at “King’s Ransom,” which is distributed by New Line Cinema and set to play in over 1500 theatres this weekend. He’s currently shaking thing up with a recurring role on the gritty TV drama “The Shield,” playing opposite the Emmy Award winning Michael Chiklis and the three time Tony Award-winning actress Glenn Close. “I’m not going to lie, everyday I go to work and I have a scene with Glenn Close and Michael Chiklis, I literally try to make them sweat in every scene,” Mr. Anderson shared. “I want them to sweat. Just with the work, not even with the intent of the character and all of that. I want them to work. Just like I want them to want me to work in the scene. That’s where I’m coming from with it. When you watch it, I don’t ever want it to become lopsided. I got to bring it!” Alright! Okay! And then there’s the John Singleton-produced Sundance Film Festival hit “Hustle & Flow,” which will arrive on the big screen this summer. Mr. Anderson and his co-star Terrence Dashon Howard have been receiving high marks for the independent film about two Memphis-based pimps going through a mid-life crisis. Mr. Singleton, critically acclaimed director of “Boyz N The Hood” and “2 Fast Furious,” reportedly mortgaged his home to help raise the $3.5 million it took to produce the film, which was subsequently picked up by Paramount Pictures for $9 million. “[It’s a] great film,” he proudly affirmed, adding, “and I’m not saying that just because I’m in it. If I wasn’t in it and I saw it, I would tell you the same thing. It’s much more deeper than [pimps and hoes]. It’s really about two men really trying to find themselves. It’s just a powerful piece. Hands down, there isn’t a weak link in that film, with regards to writing, with regards to directing, with regards to acting, with everything.”
Up next for Mr. Anderson is Martin Scorsese’s remake of the Hong Kong cop flick “Infernal Affairs,” titled “The Departed” and set for release late next year. The eagerly anticipated film also stars Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Mark Wahlberg. It will surely set him up nicely as a serious acting force to be reckoned with. “I am an actor, this is what I do,” he boasted. “This is what I trained at since I was nine years old. Trained by Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Al Freeman, Jr., Bill Duke….and people like that.” “I’ve been recently given the opportunity to show the other side,” he continued. “This is something that me and my team have always designed, this is our plan, it’s just now coming together.” Watch out world, a new Black man is ready to capture the brass at the box-office. And if Samuel L. Jackson (“Coach Carter”), Ice Cube (“Are We There Yet”), Will Smith (“Hitch”), Tyler Perry (“Diary Of A Mad Black Woman”) and Bernie Mac (“Guess Who”) hitting #1 at the box office during the first three months of 2005 is any indication, then Mr. Anderson may be on the right track for equal success. For times and a theatre locations showing “King’s Ransom, please log onto www.enjoytheshow.com.
By Jawn Murray, AOL BlackVoices columnist
(Apr. 21, 2005) There was a time when actress Regina Hall dreamed of becoming the queen of broadcast journalism. The Washington, D.C., native even earned her master's degree in journalism from NYU to solidify that dream. But things quickly changed after Hall was cast as an exotic dancer in 'The Best Man.' Since her breakout turn in 'The Best Man,' Hall has gone from performing seductive splits in films to causing side-splitting laughter in comedies like the 'Scary Movie' franchise and 'Malibu's Most Wanted.'
The Best Man' was your first film role and you've worked pretty consistently since then. What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
You meet some really interesting people. Not just celebrities, but you get to meet the people who you do interviews with and the people who say, "I love your work." It's an odd thing because comedies don't really have award shows and you don't really get accolades for your talent in the same way that dramas do. It was a highlight when I met this guy and he said, "I love your work," and he used to watch 'Scary Movie' all of the time. He said it got him through medical school. That was really nice! You never think about it actually making someone laugh or taking their mind off of something stressful. It's so nice to encounter so many great people.
Working with comics like Cedric The Entertainer and Mike Epps on the upcoming remake of 'The Honeymooners,' I know there was constant laughter on the set. What are some of the funny things that happened while shooting that film?
We used to do some crazy stuff all day. It was one those sets where Mike would stand around and - tell jokes and we would make up old school dances steps from songs we would remember. Somebody would be like, "Remember Monkenstef?" (She begins singing their hit 'He's Mine.') "He's mine/ You have had him once but I had him all the time!" I remember us trying to figure out who could name the most obscure groups and figure out their songs and trying to do a dance to them. I also remember one day we were shooting and we had this dog and Mike was supposed to throw the ball and the dog was to supposed to run after the ball. I swear it was like seven takes, this dog looked at the ball like "Y'all going to go get it?" and he didn't move the whole afternoon. Go to AOL Black Voices for the rest of this interview by Jawn Murray – CLICK HERE.
Questions: Stephen Chow
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Simon Houpt
(Apr. 22, 2005) NEW YORK — Stephen Chow, a manifest mix of Jim Carrey, Bruce Lee, Charlie Chaplin, and Looney Tunes cartoons, has a comic penchant for babbling in an invented slang, which Asian audiences adore but North Americans don't. He paid his dues with six years as the host of a children's TV show before breaking into features in 1988. He has made more than 50 films since then. Interviewed in New York with an interpreter by his side, Chow answered all the questions in his own broken English. I understand you were never formally trained in English, but you watched American movies as a boy. I learned English from the Hollywood films, from Sesame Street, Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino.
And you learned movement from Charlie Chaplin? I think he's the greatest comedian. Just imagine if I could become mute, unable to talk, if I just rely on body language and expression and everything -- it is more difficult to present your feelings. When you watch the Chaplin movies -- for me it's something very important to define a good comedy -- after you watch it, you feel happy, you feel the world's more beautiful. Funny you should say that, because Kung Fu Hustle takes place in a dirty backwater Chinese slum, and it's full of gross-out humour. Do you want someone to see it and think the world is a more beautiful place? That's what I'm trying to do, but I don't know the result. Can it fulfill my expectations? I have no idea. I'm trying to bring happiness to people. I call myself an actor, not a martial arts star or a comedy star. I just try to act in a movie. Some people treat the movie as a comedy, but if you tell me it's not a comedy, that actually it's a drama, I won't be so surprised. There are so many different elements inside: something funny and something dramatic and something exciting. You've been a huge star in Asia for years, but basically invisible to North American movie audiences. Shaolin Soccer, which came out in Hong Kong in 2001 and was released here last spring, was supposed to be your big break but it flopped, with less than half a million dollars at the box office here. But it was made for an Asian audience and adapted for an American release. Kung Fu Hustle, on the other hand, was written, conceived, and created for an American audience. How did your approach change?
First of all, start with subject matter, kung fu. I'm a big fan of martial arts and all of kung fu, but also the subject matter is already well known by the whole world. Kung fu is a good start, but then how to present the story? I wanted to eliminate all the slang. If it is possible to present the idea with action or without lines, instead of talking, I go for it. Kung fu is the packaging: "Okay, here is at least something you understand, kung fu." Chinese kung fu involves a lot of fancy action and exciting movement. But it's only packaging. Ultimately it goes to innovation and the story, the characters, everything. That's the most important thing. So whether it can be successful or not, it all depends on these important things. But you need the packaging. A lot of the kung fu in this movie is really extreme, absurd, and cartoonish. Are you making fun of martial arts because it has gotten so big and dumb in Western movies like Charlie's Angels and The Matrix? If I'm making fun of kung fu, it's in a good way, with love, with respect, because I do love kung fu and I think I learned a lot from the Chinese martial art. But you know, I have to admit that there are some kung fu films in the past that are quite ridiculous and silly. But I think it's quite normal if you have some good qualities and some bad taste as well. When you first broke into the business, you used to make about 10 Hong Kong comedies a year. Now we're lucky to get one movie from you every two years. Why are you slowing down? I'm not intending to slow down, but with Kung Fu Hustle, I do everything [acting, writing, directing, producing], so it takes time, and also it takes time to think out how to make a different kung fu film than before. There's already a lot of kung fu films in different styles, so it has to be different from any of them.
A number of years ago you applied for residency in Canada but were rejected because of alleged connections to the triad, Hong Kong mobsters. You defended yourself by saying that the triad owned some film production studios, but that didn't mean you belonged to the mob. Do you resent Canada for that decision? No, because it's such a long time ago. It was a misunderstanding. They didn't quite realize the situation of the Hong Kong movie industry at that time. Now it's quite different because I'm an independent film producer and I have my own company. But at that time, I was hired by some company and [Canadian bureaucrats] thought there was a problem, but I was just an employee. "Why would you be an employee of this company?" they asked. That's something I couldn't answer. Why? Because I'm an actor! I need to work!
Ossie Does Us ‘Proud’
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 22, 2005) *“Proud,” the last film by the late Ossie Davis, will screen Saturday at the Tribeca Film Festival and is scheduled to premiere Memorial Day weekend in New York, Washington and Los Angeles. The film’s true story follows the men of the USS Mason, who were the only African-American sailors to take a Navy warship into combat in WWII. Like Ossie Davis, himself a WWII vet, the men served in a segregated military, but found strength in the midst of struggles against racism from their camaraderie and pride in their own excellence. Ossie Davis’ character, Lorenzo DuFau, passes the story of his time on the Mason on to his grandson (Albert Jones) and two friends, who then become the 1940s sailors in a dramatic movie that depicts the events of the men’s service on the USS Mason. As a destroyer escort, the men shepherded convoys across an Atlantic infested with Nazi U-boats. They faced the storm of the century and were instrumental in saving a convoy. In spite of enduring racist incidents in a segregated Navy, they found an unexpected welcome in Northern Ireland. In "Proud," Stephen Rea plays the Derry man who welcomes them and Darnell Williams is the war correspondent, Thomas Young, who traveled with the Mason. The film was financed by designer Tommy Hilfiger, who was introduced to the story by the book and documentary done by Mary Pat Kelly. The events of 9/11 convinced him to finance the film himself. Hilfiger’s daughter, Ally – the recent producer and co-star of MTV’s reality show “Rich Girls,” became the producer on “Proud,” while Kelly signed on to write and direct the film. Davis was the first actor to sign on. "He blessed the movie with his presence," said Kelly and Hilfiger. Davis, who died of natural causes on Feb. 4, attended an early test screening of "Proud" in Washington, D.C., with his grandson, Jamal Day, who plays trumpet on the movie score. Davis wore his USS Mason ball cap and told the audience he wore it all the time so interviewers would ask about it and he could tell them about the film. Meanwhile, Davis’ final four-episode appearance on Showtime’s “The L Word” begins this Sunday. Davis played Melvin, the father of half-sisters Bette (Jennifer Beals) and Kit (Pam Grier) who continues his struggle to connect with his daughters during a visit. Melvin has issues with Bette being a lesbian, while Kit’s alcoholic and unstable history stands in the way of their reconciliation.
Errol Morris Thinks Outside The Docs
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Geoff Pevere, Movie Critic
(Apr. 22, 2005) Next Friday evening, the 12th annual Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival will present its Outstanding Achievement Award to the American documentary filmmaker Errol Morris. This will be supplemented by screenings of five of his films (Vernon; Florida; The Thin Blue Line; A Brief History of Time; Fast, Cheap and Out of Control and Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.) during the event and, on Saturday, April 30, "An Evening With Errol Morris" hosted by the Boston film critic Gerald Peary. No argument here. At age 57, with seven features and one Oscar (for The Fog of War) to his credit, Morris is arguably the most influential non-fiction filmmaker of his generation. His strikingly idiosyncratic approach to style and structure, which places equal emphasis on visual and narrative content, has left its mark on dozens of documentaries, and there are few filmmakers who trouble the relationship between film and reality quite so profoundly (or provocatively) as Morris. Reached in Los Angeles, some distance from his hometown of Cambridge, Mass. — also turf to one of Morris's primary inspirations, the veteran cinema verité practitioner Frederick Wiseman (Hospital, High School) — Morris offered his views on a number of things pertinent to contemporary documentary practice, including the pursuit of truth, the frustration of making political advertising, and why drama is looking better than ever.
On last year's U.S. presidential campaign and making political commercials supporting the Kerry camp: As we all know, that did not have what I would call a favourable conclusion. Much of the work that I wanted to do never got shot and much of the work that I actually shot never got on the air. The whole process of actually trying to do political advertising I found to be one of the more discouraging things that I've ever tried to do as a filmmaker. Having said that, I still would love to be involved in politics. Part of what I think about is what kinds of programs I can do, what kinds of movies can I make, that will have underlying political content.
On saying goodbye to documentary: I have been reluctant to make another documentary feature. I don't know whether you want to call what I do straight documentaries or not, but I've wanted to do something different than what I've done in the past. Maybe it's reinventing filmmaking for myself. I'm still very wedded to true stories, but I would like to explore movies that make more use of fictional storytelling in the context of telling a true story. I've found that it's really, really difficult to do what I do on a documentary budget. It was never easy, and in fact much of what I did do was on budgets that were considered to be really much larger than what people would normally spend. I love shooting visuals. I love shooting the kind of material that is much more closely associated with feature filmmaking.
On just what documentary is, exactly: I always believed that documentary wasn't one thing, it was a myriad of things. That it made no sense to talk of documentary as just cinema verité. After all there are diary films, there's straight verité, there's narrated historical documentaries, there are documentary art films of one kind or another. I would include some of the greatest documentaries in this category, like Dziga Vertov's Man With a Movie Camera. There are all kinds of documentary. In fact what I do is, I think, its own odd category. One of the things that's interesting about it is that it doesn't have to be one thing, that it is a kind of experimental filmmaking. You can reconceive the nature of documentary each time you make one.
On Frederick Wiseman: Wiseman has been an inspiration to me over the years. He once said to me `How can you like my films? They are the antithesis of what you do. After all, they're shot handheld, they are strict verité, they seem to obey conventions at odds with what you do.' I have pointed out to him that it's not the style which to me determines the underlying content of the film. His films are very much expressionistic films regardless of the style in which they're shot. I have always seen him as a kindred spirit.
On documentary "truth": I read occasionally that people see my films as being post-modern in the sense that I'm a person who doesn't believe in truth, doesn't believe that there's some world out there that we can seize upon, we can learn about, that we can come to know. I have to say that I'm rather appalled by the view because I think that everything I have done has been motivated by a search for truth. The Thin Blue Line perhaps most explicitly so, because I immersed myself in a three-year-long investigation trying to determine who shot police officer Robert Wood, with the belief that it's not a question that has no answer, it's a question that has a definite answer.
On the documentary common denominator: One of the things that's really interesting about documentary, and you could ask the question, I'll ask it of myself: If documentary is so different, if there are so many different styles of documentary, so many means of expression, is there something that holds it together? Are there elements in common that are shared? And there is one central element in that, in fiction filmmaking, often we may be talking about true stories or about the real world, but people know that there is a disconnection between a movie story and what might really have happened. In a documentary we are talking about the world. Whether it's real people or it's real situations, or a combination of both, there is that relationship to what really happened to what is out there. If you like, it's the relationship to that world out yonder. And that's what makes it so endlessly fascinating. Because we are constantly asked to consider the relationship between images and reality. In a certain sense it captures what's so deeply fascinating about photography itself. Here we have something that obviously is causally connected to the real world, related to the real world, comes from the real world, but what is it exactly? Can we capture reality on film? Can we explore reality on film?
And if I look back at the various movies I've made, they've all been attempts to kind of grab hold of reality in some way. Or, and this is I guess the ironic, perverse element in many of them, people's avoidance of reality.
Hot Docs Show Many Faces Of Jewish Life
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Judy Stoffman, Entertainment Reporter
(Apr. 25, 2005) When refusenik Jews of the former U.S.S.R. were finally allowed to leave for Israel in the early 1980s, they were big news. The country's communist masters had marginalized them, yet refused their requests to emigrate, until international pressure mounted. An example of what happened to these people shows up in Odessa, Odessa, a feature by Israeli filmmaker Michale Boganim about Jewish refugees from the Russian port city. Some of them ended up in Brighton Beach, N.Y., some in Israel. Their lives are ruled by intense nostalgia for the place they left, which grows ever more luminous as it recedes into the past. A documentary that has the rhythm, the poetry and the sharply etched characters of a story film, Odessa, Odessa (playing May 1 at the Isabel Bader Theatre at 4 p.m.) is perhaps the most remarkable of the 12 Israeli films screening here starting tomorrow at Hot Docs, the documentary film festival. Israel — following Germany, Australia, South Africa, Taiwan and the Netherlands last year — is this year's featured country. "It's the smallest country we've ever featured," says Chris McDonald, Hot Docs' executive director. Though it has a population of only 6.7 million, Israel has seven film schools and a number of filmmakers, some living abroad. Michale Bogadim lives in Paris.
Her film begins and ends in the Black Sea port, its empty streets bathed in a surreal blue light, where only a handful of Jews are left, ancient widowed women living in decrepit apartments, twittering in a mix of Yiddish and Russian. They speak of the outbreak of World War II and the destruction of their synagogue as though they happened yesterday. In Brighton Beach, we meet a gallery of grotesque exiles worthy of Fellini — an old, tattooed Jewish boxer, a blowsy nightclub singer with big hair and runny eye makeup — trying to recreate the carnival atmosphere of their birthplace. In Ashdod, Israel, the same haunting song is played or sung repeatedly as the Odessan community gets together to celebrate the anniversary of the victory of Russia over Germany five decades previously, and to mark New Year's Eve. Without voiceovers or any other directorial intrusions, Bogadim draws a complex picture of the Wandering Jew, unable to feel at home anywhere, not even in Israel. "In Odessa, we were Jews," says one elderly woman. "In Israel we are Russians. Our children will be Israelis." Another notable achievement is Wall directed by half-Jewish, half-Arab director Simone Bitton (April 28 at 4 p.m. and April 29 at 9:45 p.m. at the ROM), which follows the construction of the infamous barrier Israel is building to try to keep out suicide bombers and shows how oppressive it is to people on both sides. Incredibly, some of the workers putting the concrete slabs in place are Palestinians, who are happy to have employment. In Applefeld's Table by Adi Japhet Fuchs (tomorrow at 3:30 at ROM), Aharon Applefeld, now 72, speaks eloquently about his life while sitting in his favourite café. When he arrived in Palestine at age 14, after having been interned by the British along with other children for trying to run a blockade, he was virtually mute, so scarred was he by his experiences. Applefeld has written 30 books of fiction and memoirs from the material in the cellar — vivid memories of his terrible experiences as a young child caught in the Holocaust in Romania and hiding in the forest after the murder of his parents. Say Amen by David Dery gets its world premiere at Hot Docs (tomorrow at the Bloor Cinema, 9:15 p.m.; April 28 Innis Town Hall at 9:30 p.m.). It's about the pressures to find a wife placed on a gay man (the director) by his rigidly Orthodox family. Both Odessa, Odessa and Say Amen will play here again next month as part of the Jewish Film Festival.
Film Fest To Help Canadian
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell, Movie Critic
(Apr. 26, 2005) The Toronto International Film Festival is throwing its global programming and marketing savvy behind the efforts of Canadian filmmakers to sell their wares to the world. The festival yesterday announced the creation of the Industry Initiatives Office. The idea is to put the skills, experience and international profile the film fest has honed over its 30-year existence towards the patriotic pursuit of making Canadian movies better. Noah Cowan, the festival's co-director, described the initiative as "sort of like the NBA draft" in the way the festival will seek to find and develop new talent from the ground up. At a time Hollywood films dominate the landscape more than ever, it is up to festivals to nurture "intelligent, artistically minded cinema," Cowan said. "If we want to get more of that into our festivals, we have to make sure that people are making it. To that end, the Industry Initiatives Office will offer the following new services for Canadian filmmakers:
Marketing Assistance Program (MAP): It will help Canadian filmmakers get their work out to rest of the world. Beginning this year, it will provide marketing and publicity help and subsidized services to four Canadian filmmakers, climbing to 12 in three years, who don't have an agent or distributor.
Shadowing Program: Producers are an important part of the filmmaking process, since they must first get the money and then the talent to make a movie. This program will assist rookie producers by having them work with two international and two Canadian producers. The size of the program is expected to double by 2007.
Facilitation/Introduction Services: Festival staffers used to informally refer to their liaison work between filmmakers and other industry players as "the dating office." This will formalize the process, Cowan said.
Talent Database: A Web-based database offering information about and for Canadian films and filmmakers, using the festival's vast library and other materials. Think of it as a Canuck version of the Internet Movie Instant Database.
These initiatives are in addition to existing programs assisting Canadian filmmakers, including the Talent Lab mentoring process and the Telefilm Canada Pitch This! program for honing presentation skills. Kelley Alexander, the festival's director of industry, will assume the new title of director of the Industry Initiatives Office.
Human Face On Tiger Tragedy
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Guy Dixon
(Apr. 26, 2005) In 1989, a young professor, Rajani Thiranagama, head of the anatomy department at the University of Jaffna in Sri Lanka, was killed while riding her bike home after grading exams. Once a supporter of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the LTTE or more popularly known as the Tamil Tigers), she left the movement and, under extreme risk, began collecting evidence of human-rights tragedies suffered by Tamils at the hands of both Tamil insurgents and government-aligned forces. Her murder has made her the face of the underground human-rights movement in the region. Now, nearly 16 years later, in the National Film Board of Canada documentary No More Tears Sister, her older sister alleges that LTTE insiders told her privately that Thiranagama was killed because she was undermining their independence struggle. Local protests condemning her death were crushed and their organizers threatened and killed, according to the film. Human-rights reporting in the region, as in so many conflicts worldwide, became an increasingly clandestine act. "I think this film and the story of Rajani [touches on] many generic issues about human rights, about justice, about armed violence. They are not exclusive to Sri Lanka," said the older sister, Nirmala Rajasingam, in a telephone interview.
Both she and the documentary's director emphasized that blame for human-rights abuses should be placed on all sides of the conflict, including the Sri Lankan army and the years of repression by the Sinhalese-dominated government which helped to spark the Tamil fighting (to say nothing of the initial tensions between Sinhalese and Tamils caused by British colonial policies which were perceived as favouring certain Tamil groups). Rajasingam, who was also once a pivotal figure in the LTTE movement, has so far accused the Tigers of killing her sister only at small gatherings. This is the first time she has come out so publicly. The Tigers have never claimed responsibility for the murder and no one has been charged, she noted. Because of her accusations, the NFB has taken a number of precautions, such as keeping the project quiet during its two years in production and not giving out information about where Thiranagama's family currently lives. In fact, the Film Board is becoming somewhat expert in maintaining security surrounding controversial documentaries, particularly after last year's premiere of What Remains of Us, a documentary that directly puts some Tibetans at risk of imprisonment. Security concerns are nothing new to Thiranagama's family. Rajasingam, for instance, can no longer return to Jaffna because of worries about her safety. "I'm not underground, but I'm being very cautious about where I go, what I say, who I meet, that sort of thing. Once the film is shown, I'll have to take greater precautions," she said. She won't be attending today's premiere at the Hot Docs festival in Toronto, which has a thriving Tamil community with varying views on the nationalist struggle. "We as a family and myself personally, we made a very conscious decision to go public about the killing of Rajani. We thought long and hard about it. It was our decision. We were ready to tell the story, because really the whole discussion about Rajani's murder wasn't a closed chapter," Rajasingam said. There has been at least one other film about Thiranagama made in Sri Lanka, but without the family's involvement. The family hated it, said Helene Klodawsky, the director of No More Tears Sister. The NFB film was shot with the full co-operation of the family, although family members did not have the final say in its content, Klodawsky emphasized. The documentary has been endorsed by a host of notables including former Ontario premier Bob Rae and former United Nations special rapporteur on violence against women, Radhika Coomaraswamy. It is narrated by Michael Ondaatje.
Rajasingam, who talks at one point in the film about how she feels responsible in some ways for what happened to Thiranagama, is careful to add that she is the one making the film's main accusations, not the other family members. But what unfolds in the documentary is not just a story of how a family got caught up in armed rebellion. It's a far more complicated story of how Rajasingam, the older sister, was buoyed by 1970s leftist radicalism and early insurrections in the country. She wound up becoming involved with the Tigers and was imprisoned by the state. Thiranagama had also become a strong supporter of leftist causes while in medical school. Her husband was a Sinhalese radical who could not bring himself to support the Tigers. This ultimately tore their marriage apart. While studying in Britain, Thiranagama made her sister's imprisonment into an international cause, which in turn provided an important boost for the LTTE movement. But the more the sisters were drawn into the Tigers, the more they began to question the armed struggle, particularly as fighting between nationalists and Indian peacekeeping forces escalated in the late 1980s. By then, the sisters had quit the LTTE. After another stint in Britain, Thiranagama returned to Jaffna to reopen the anatomy department at the university, while also working to document human-rights abuses perpetrated by all sides of the fighting. She was then murdered. As the film shows, those who are left behind to brave the fighting, most often women and children, change armed struggles into multifaceted, humanitarian crises. What often lingers is a fearful silence, which perhaps only a foreign documentary can help pierce: At least that's what some from the Sri Lankan community have said after attending early screenings of the documentary, according to Klodawsky, the film's director. "One man described it in a very moving way, 'We're surrounded by barbed wire. Our houses are not surrounded. The barbed wire is around our minds,' " Klodawsky said. "So, on the one hand, there was a very strong desire to see this film made. On the other hand, people could not talk [on camera]." Filming the documentary was very intense for the family, and one of Thiranagama's daughters even plays her mother in a number of re-enactments. This is a family which describes itself as very ordinary and middle class. The father had been a schoolteacher and administrator. Education was stressed. The daughters read Jane Austen and George Bernard Shaw and sang Christian spirituals (which the remaining sisters sing again in harmony in an opening scene in the film when they are reunited in Colombo). But after Thiranagama and Rajasingam's radical student days and subsequent activism, the family has had to get used to being in the political crossfire.
Sri Lanka is in "a really bad and very dark period," Rajasingam said. Atrocities continue and dissidents are increasingly being targeted, while Tamils receive little protection from the state, the film notes. It's as if they aren't considered citizens, Rajasingam added. "The state has kind of washed its hands and doesn't appear to be serious about ultimately achieving a soon-enough political solution," she insisted. "It is in this climate that this film is coming out." The hope among those involved with No More Tears Sister is that it will encourage others to speak. "Now, even though killings are continuing at a very high rate, other voices are cropping up, inspired by the [human-rights movement's] long and arduous, very insistent, courageous work," Rajasingam said. "Rajani remains an inspiration. They keep her memory alive."
Rambo Director Cosmatos Dead
Source: Canadian Press
(Apr. 25, 2005) VICTORIA—Rambo and Tombstone director George P. Cosmatos has died aged 64 in Victoria, B.C., which he often called "my resting place." He had been diagnosed with lung cancer shortly before his death last week. "He was full of restless curiosity, always trying to figure things out," recalled Victoria-raised filmmaker Atom Egoyan. "I think he made some great films, like Tombstone. He was such a great craftsman." Born in Florence, Italy and raised in Egypt and Cyprus, Cosmatos broke into film as assistant director on Otto Preminger's Exodus (1960). Known for his ability to "fix" troubled projects, he delivered what many consider his finest achievement in 1993 — Tombstone, starring Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell — after he was brought in to replace fired director Kevin Jarre. Cosmatos dismissed with characteristic bluntness criticism over the violence in Rambo, the tale of a combat veteran's one-man mission to rescue captive soldiers. "It's a psychological release for people to have a hero who can do the fighting and dirty work while we eat our popcorn," he once said. Cosmatos was predeceased by his wife Birgitta Ljungberg Cosmatos in 1997. He is survived by his son Panos.
Detroit To Launch ‘Motown To Movietown’
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 26, 2005) *Clifton Powell, the most slept-on actor in Hollywood, has been cast in “Blackjack,” an independent film to be shot in Detroit as part of the city’s “Motown to Movietown” initiative. "We want to bring positive notoriety back to the city of Detroit. We are committed to the 'Motown to Movietown' initiative and want to revitalize and expand the image of Motown with an innovative twist," says Elliot Tabron of Winlane Sports and Entertainment Agency, LLC, backers of the initiative. "We want to create opportunities for aspiring artists and entertainers and provide job opportunities in the Detroit community and throughout Michigan. Winlane Sports and Entertainment Agency will host a press conference about the film’s role in the venture on May 10 at Detroit’s Renaissance Club. To date, over 100 movies have been filmed in the state of Michigan, including: “Beverly Hills Cop 1” and “2” “Die Hard 2,” “Grosse Pointe Blank,” “8-Mile” and “Roger & Me.”
Theatre Audiences Are Smarter, Says Val Kilmer
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
(Apr. 26, 2005) London -- U.S. film star Val Kilmer risked the ire of his fellow countrymen yesterday by confessing he thought British theatre audiences were "smarter" than American ones. Kilmer, 45, whose film roles include Heat, Batman Forever and Top Gun, is to make his London stage debut in June in The Postman Always Rings Twice, a theatrical version of the hit film first made in 1946 and then in 1981. Asked how British audiences compared to Americans, Kilmer was blunt. "They're smarter. They read books," he told reporters. "It does seem that the standard simply keeps deteriorating on Broadway. The shows have become more Vegas-like. Theatre here just has higher standards." Kilmer said he had always wanted to act on stage in Britain, having come to the country first aged 14 to watch productions in Stratford-on-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. AFP
Bardem, Woo On 2005 Cannes Jury
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail
(Apr. 26, 2005) Paris -- Salma Hayek and Javier Bardem are among the members of the jury at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Sarajevo-born director Emir Kusturica heads the jury, which also includes writer Toni Morrison, Indian actress Nandita Das, and directors John Woo, Agnès Varda, Benoît Jacquot and Fatih Akin. This year's festival will run May 11-22. Twenty movies from 13 countries have been selected to compete. The awards will be announced on May 21. AP
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 25, 2005) *Halle Berry has signed on to star in the psychological thriller “Perfect Stranger” for Revolution Studios. James Foley ("Confidence," "Glengarry Glen Ross," "At Close Range") will direct the Oscar winner in the story of a woman (Berry) who gets caught up in the world of obsessive love and death online when she goes undercover to investigate a friend's murder. The film is set to begin filming this winter.
CBC Announces Job Cuts
Source: Canadian Press
(Apr. 26, 2005) Toronto — Formal notice was given to publicity and Newsworld International employees at the CBC on Tuesday, letting them know their positions have been declared “redundant.” “Seventy-four people have had their positions declared redundant, or have had their contracts terminated or . . . not renewed,” said CBC spokeswoman Ruth-Ellen Soles, adding that a bumping process would begin and some employees would end up in other jobs at the public corporation. The paperwork made official what was announced earlier this month — that marketing for the corporation would be contracted out, and that Newsworld International is closing. Thirty-four of the job losses are due to efforts to save money by farming out the publicity for English TV, radio and the Internet. The positions will be eliminated by the end of June, Ms. Soles said. “This is a sad day for the CBC,” Newspaper Guild national president Lise Lareau said in a statement. “It will lose these special people and their unique knowledge and talent. Once you let it go, you can't get it back.” The guild said it has never seen evidence of a detailed business plan to justify the cuts. It says it believes the change will result in higher costs, not savings, and will likely mean less service to many CBC programs.
Forty Newsworld International jobs will disappear in July because an investment group led by former U.S. vice-president Al Gore has decided to close the Toronto-based channel, which was created by the CBC in 1994. The 24-hour news channel airs the CBC's evening newscast, as well as Britain's ITV Evening News, over satellite television in the U.S. Mr. Gore's group is expected to use Newsworld International's existing slot on American satellite TV provider DirecTV for a new channel aimed at young viewers. “I think that it was always understood that if the contract was not renewed by the Gore group and that if we couldn't find somebody else that wanted to use our material the same way the Gore group did, that that would happen,” Ms. Soles said.
TV Movie Based On SARS Crisis To Air May 29
Source: Canadian Press
(Apr. 21, 2005) Plague City, CTV's movie of the week that was filmed this past winter in the Toronto and Hamilton areas, will air Sunday, May 29, the network announced Thursday. Starring Kari Matchett as a nurse who finds herself at ground zero during Toronto's 2003 SARS crisis, the film is described as both a medical and political thriller as it follows the deadly SARS virus from China to its arrival in Toronto. CTV says the announcement was made to coincide with the second anniversary of the April 2003 travel ban imposed on Toronto by the World Health Organization. CTV says the movie, part of their Signature Presentation series, is based on true events, bolstered by research with medical experts. "This movie is a tribute to the scores of health care workers who stood fast and weathered one of the most compelling events in recent Canadian medical history," says Susanne Boyce, CTV programming president. Boyce says most of the characters are actually composites of real individuals. The cast also includes Lannette New, Ron White and Rick Roberts.
Alfre’s ‘Housewives’ Son Is Cast
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 22, 2005) *The son of Alfre Woodard’s “Desperate Housewives” character has finally been cast and according to rumours, he and his mama are about to stir some stuff up come next season. Mehcad Brooks, 24, will debut on this season’s final two episodes as a recurring character with an option to become a regular in season two. The Austin, Texas native just wrapped production on Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Glory Road” for Disney; his credits include a four-episode arc on Fox’s “Boston Public.” Although ABC has kept quiet about specific details surrounding the characters of Woodard and Brooks, here’s what we heard: Brooks will likely play Josh Applewhite, described in ABC casting notices as a "very attractive 22-year-old strait-laced African-American man." His mother, Betty (Woodard), is a religious fanatic whose behaviour has made Josh shy, reserved and dealing with a repressed sex drive. We also heard that the Applewhites move onto Wisteria Lane after fleeing a situation involving Josh and a girl in their previous town. Whatever happened back in the old ‘hood has made Betty extremely over-protective of her son – so much so that she hardly lets him out of the house. "Goodbye for Now," the episode introducing Brooks, is currently expected to air on May 15.
Part Of UPN’S Aids Awareness Campaign
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 25, 2005) UPN’s “Eve” will delve into the AIDS issue with Tuesday’s episode “Testing, Testing, HIV,” airing at 8:30 p.m. Shelly, played by rapper Eve, is trying to “go there” with her new boyfriend, but he won’t give it up until she takes an HIV test. Afraid to brave it alone, she rounds up her girlfriends, as well as her man, and heads to the clinic – where realities about the disease are brought to life through humour. "Eve" is among many Viacom-owned network shows to address the serious issue via its three-year-old "Know HIV/AIDS" initiative, part of a partnership with the non-profit Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. In scripted programming, "CSI: New York," and "Judging Amy," both on Viacom’s CBS," have featured HIV/AIDS-themed shows this season. Viacom’s Showtime network in June will feature a three-episode arc on "Queer As Folk" in which Hunter, a heterosexual teen played by Harris Allan, is ostracized at school for being HIV-positive. Kelli Lawson, executive vice president of corporate marketing for Viacom’s BET, says the company’s outreach efforts are effecting change. In a survey of blacks conducted by Kaiser last August, among 18-to-24-year-olds exposed to Viacom's campaign, half said they had discussed safe sex practices with their partner because of the Viacom campaign. And nearly 77 percent of that group who were sexually active said they were more likely to use a condom because of the campaign. "It really is a tremendous initiative, and the results have been phenomenal," says Lawson "It's been just such a huge, huge effort. It has made a difference."
Hill’s All-Star Finale
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 25, 2005) *UPN’s “Kevin Hill” will feature a gang of guest-stars for its May 11 season finale. The series stars Taye Diggs as a hotshot lawyer whose bachelor/player status took a turn when he was left to raise the six-month-old daughter of his deceased cousin. Meagan Good will star in the season finale as the child's mother Melanie, who pops up with her new fiancé (Wayne Brady) and lawyer Francine (Diggs’ wife Idina Menzel) to file for sole custody of her baby. Toni Braxton will also guest star as “Terry the Salon Owner.” Eric Laneuville directed the episode.
Will & Grace Win Salary
Battle With NBC
Excerpt from The Toronto Star
(Apr. 26, 2005) LOS ANGELES (AP) — Will & Grace should be back on television for an eighth season. The Hollywood Reporter, citing unidentified sources, said Monday that NBC and the show's producers have reached a deal for the 2005-06 season. The network declined to comment. Canadian Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally won salary increases in the one-year deal, despite speculation they might have to settle for pay cuts, the trade paper said. The actors each will receive between $13 million to $15 million (U.S.) for the season, or roughly $600,000 per episode, the paper said — compared to the estimated $400,000 per episode they got this season. Mullally and Hayes will earn as much as Messing and McCormack for the first time since the series debuted in 1998, the Reporter said. NBC, which had been riding high on the strength of comedies including Friends, has had difficulty cultivating replacements for its long-running or departed shows.
Burnett Has ‘Hope’ For Reese
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 26, 2005) *TV producer Mark Burnett is eyeing “Touched by an Angel” vets Della Reese and Roma Downey to host his new reality project inspired by the long-running CBS drama. "It's an unscripted show that will focus on bringing hope to people," said Burnett of the show, tentatively titled “Giving Hope.” "It will be about people in Kansas who have lost their farm and helping get them back on their feet. …We might profile people under a mountain of medical bills and finding ways to get them out from under it. That's what we'll be looking at -- providing hope and changing lives.” Burnett said he's planning to shop the idea to prospective network buyers "in the next few weeks."
On Broadway, Thinking Of Stratford But Feore's Having A Ball With Denzel
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian
(Apr. 23, 2005) Call him The Man Who Wouldn't Be King. Ask Colm Feore if he's interested in being the next artistic director of the Stratford Festival and his reply is immediate: "It looks to me like simply the worst job in the country." Don't get him wrong. The 46-year-old actor spent 14 seasons there and loves the place passionately, but he has little appetite for what he calls "the enormous amount of administrative frippery" that goes along with the job. It's no wonder Feore has no desire to rush into the breach once Richard Monette retires in 2007. The actor has a lot on his plate at the moment — besides the omelette and salad he tears into with gusto at a French bistro just off Broadway. He's enjoying some of the best notices of his career as Cassius opposite the Brutus of Denzel Washington in the production of Julius Caesar currently playing to sold-out audiences in Manhattan. And then there are two other projects in post-production: The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a film thriller where he appears opposite Laura Linney, and the TV miniseries Empire, where he plays, oddly enough, Julius Caesar. "I've been stabbed and I've done the stabbing," laughs Feore. "Doing the stabbing is better." He also admits that it's nice to be involved in a hit with a big box-office name. "I often used to make a wish list about what could bring me to Broadway: a Shakespeare, a good part, a limited run, a great director and a big stinking movie star so people would actually buy tickets." He grins. "Every wish was answered." Feore has been in the play twice at Stratford, in 1982 when he played Cinna and in 1990 when he had his first go at Cassius. For Feore, this isn't a matter of mere repetition, but a chance to go "deeper into what the man is really about. I've never felt more confident or comfortable. I'm up there doing the same things I've been doing pretty much all my life and that seems right to me." Dan Sullivan's production of the play sets in firmly in what Feore calls "CNN country," a world of terrorists and political upheaval that could be Beirut, or even New York City.
"Some nights we walk out of the theatre," says a perturbed Feore, "and there's crowds of Homeland Security guys with new weapons, 30 clips of ammo. Why? Just because." He repeats the phrase with sarcastic venom. "Just because." "Try taking your kids to the Statue of Liberty these days. You walk through all these armed guys and you think, `Hey, no one is dying here. What the hell is going on?'" Feore shakes his head. "Every night, I listen to Denzel deliver that great line, `Who is here so vile that will not love his country?' and I get chills down my back. That's the kind of attitude we're living with every day." Ask Feore what he thinks of his two-time Oscar-winning co-star and his answer is immediate. "He's damned good. I have a great time acting opposite him every night. He looks right through you and it's like he's saying, `Bring it on, man. Whatever you've got, bring it to the party with you.'" He also appreciates Washington's no-nonsense attitude. "He came in the first day and said, `I'm just here to be a player in this group.' There's no entourage, no bulls--t. He's there to act and I think he does a hell of a job." Julius Caesar is a strictly limited run until June 12 and after that, Feore is juggling numerous options, including a possible return to Stratford in 2006. He also denies the frequently heard rumours that he's been approached to play Gandalf in the stage version of The Lord Of The Rings opening in Toronto next year. But what about putting his name in play for the No.1 job at Stratford? As he considers the question, Feore seems to be playing Brutus rather than Cassius — weighing the pros and cons of a momentous decision. "Why would anyone want to do it?" he begins. "There's no pleasing everyone and you have such an enormous responsibility to the audience, to the profession, to Shakespeare." But it's just that responsibility that winds up intriguing Feore. "There has to be some thinking done about how to reinvigorate interest in the place," he insists. "We have to convince young people that you can spend an evening in the theatre and be better for it. Not medicinally. Your soul needs something we're offering here." Feore's use of the first-person pronoun is pointed out to him and he concedes that "I always speak corporately of Stratford, even though I know I shouldn't." He continues to warm to his theme. "Yes, I know times are tough, but that's when you have to address what the needs of our audience's souls actually are and figure out how to feed those needs. "When in doubt, raise your standards. When in doubt, ask more of people, not less. When in doubt, be more demanding and more rigorous." Good advice. It's certainly worked for Feore. Maybe it could work for Stratford as well.
in Golf Hall
Excerpt from www.eurweb.com
(Apr. 22, 2005) *Fijian golfer Vijay Singh, 42, has been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. "There were only 500 guys that played golf in Fiji," Singh said Wednesday. "To be where I am is really incredible. It's hard to even think about it. When you look at where I grew up, how I practiced, where I went from there ... you can't explain it in a few words." Singh was the only player elected from the PGA Tour ballot, receiving 56 percent of the vote.
Challenges In Store For
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Susan Walker, Dance Writer
(Apr. 23, 2005) Rebekah Rimsay has been acting up. Last year the National Ballet of Canada's first soloist won the William Marrié Award for Dramatic Achievement, for her standout comedic performance as the myopic Stepsister in James Kudelka's Cinderella. This year she is taking on two new roles: she's the sexy maid Virginia in Kudelka's An Italian Straw Hat, and she's the co-owner of the new Ground Café on Queen St. W. She and her husband, architect Stan Zalewski, opened Ground Café at the end of March after purchasing a building near Roncesvalles that they renovated to serve as a showcase for Zalewski's design work, a welcoming environment for his clients and a hub of community arts activity. Upstairs are the offices of the architect's Square Peg Studio; downstairs, she's ordering up pastries, organizing menus and running to city hall for building permits between ballet rehearsals. Walking into the café business with no previous experience, Rimsay has allowed her personal taste to be her guide. She was lucky enough to run into a former National Ballet School fellow student, Kyla Eaglesham, who was just opening her own bakery and became a chief supplier. She has covered the walls of the café with the work of local artists, and she envisions the place becoming a venue for readings and musical events and a glimpse of the ballet world through costume displays. Rimsay, as naturally outgoing offstage as she is an engaging performer on it, joined the National Ballet in 1990, directly after graduating from the National Ballet School. Born in Fort Collins, Colo., she moved with her family to St. John's, Nfld., when she was 5, after her father, a biochemist, got a research position at the university. "It was supposed to be a temporary move," she says, "but we just stayed."
Rimsay's mother, a modern dancer, opened a dance school in St. John's with a partner who taught ballet. "Somehow I always gravitated to ballet, even though my main influence was modern," Rimsay recalls. When she saw a notice for National Ballet School auditions on a bulletin board, she tore it off and brought it home. She was 10; her mother encouraged her to apply and she was accepted into the summer school the first year. At 11, she joined the full-time program. That first year so far away from home, she admits, "was really tough." Her class, which included National Ballet of Canada principal Greta Hodgkinson and company member Sophie Letendre, was the first to graduate under the auspices of school director Mavis Staines. Rimsay earned scholarships and received the Ondaatje Ballet Award and awards from the City of Toronto and with her strong facial features and auburn hair, Rimsay stood out in the corps de ballet. It wasn't long before she was getting cast in principal roles. She danced the part of Lise in La Fille mal gardée and Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream. She could do the regal roles, such as the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Queen of the Wilis in Giselle, but if there was a courtesan or a blowzy broad to be cast, Rimsay was a shoo-in. She was a spirited gypsy in Romeo and Juliet, the street dancer Mercedes in Don Quixote and the wench in Swan Lake. And while she also excelled in non-character roles in the Balanchine ballets and Kudelka's abstract works, such as Cruel World ("a thrill for me to dance"), Rimsay was developing into a dancer who could bring a character to life. Kudelka, whose Italian Straw Hat opens May 1 at the Hummingbird Centre, previously cast Rimsay and coached her in the part of Catherine Sloper in his own Washington Square; then he created the role of Dot for her in The Contract. For his Cinderella, which premiered last May and returns to the Hummingbird tonight, the choreographer gave her a character that is certain to become one of her signature roles. Cast with Jennifer Fournier as one of the two social-climbing stepsisters, Rimsay wears a huge pair of spectacles and trips across the stage in pointe shoes like a Lucille Ball of ballet.
Comedy does not come easily to a ballerina, says Rimsay — "we spend our whole training period and much of our career trying to be beautiful and trying to be the pretty girl." When humour is called for, the dancer may have to work against everything she's learned about how to look graceful and ethereal on stage. Rimsay is not the classic malicious stepsister of Cinderella, but she's no beauty either. The dancer says she has learned a lot from watching principal character dancer Victoria Bertram. As the comically drunken stepmother in Cinderella, the evil Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty, or whatever role she's performing, Bertram makes a role model for any dancer with a desire to act. "She's not afraid to change her face and look really mean and yet she can be the smooth, beautiful and elegant Lady Capulet," says Rimsay. "To watch that range to me is so exciting. It's what I love and what I aspire to be." As Virginia, the randy maid in An Italian Straw Hat, Rimsay will go beyond comedy into pure farce and into risky territory where Kudelka has choreographed moves that could bring a blush to the cheek of any dancer attempting them. "How do I put this delicately?" she hesitates. "There's a lot of humping." A pretty accomplished choreographer herself, having contributed two works to the last two National Ballet choreographic workshops, Rimsay will continue to make opportunities for herself in dance. But clearly Rimsay is putting down roots in the real world too. From the stage to the Ground, as it were.
You Have Book
Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Rebecca Caldwell
(Apr. 25, 2005) E-books have yet to crack the publishing industry, but that hasn't stopped literature from tackling computer technology as a storytelling device. From Rocki St. Claire's Hit Reply to Meg Cabot's Every Boy's Got One, and the upcoming And God Created the Au Pair by Benedicte Newland and Pascale Smets, a recent spate of old-fashioned low-tech printed books have all abandoned traditional narrative for Internet terminology, using e-mails, chat-room dialogues and instant messaging instead of regular prose, chapters and verses. Authors say the use of e-mails is not simply a gimmick, but a way of reflecting the world they see. St. Claire, for instance, says she was inspired to write Hit Reply in e-mail format when she kept hearing about her friends' on-line adventures, particularly one friend who renewed a relationship with a high-school boyfriend after tracking him down on Google. "E-mail really sparked the story, and I couldn't imagine any other way to tell it, because it was so much about the impact and effect of e-mail on our lives. There was never any doubt to me that that was how I wanted to tell the story and the biggest challenge would be how to get across what I normally get across in narrative and dialogue through e-mail." St. Claire, who has published five other books, in the romance and thriller genres, said that one of the biggest difficulties in writing a book in e-mail format was that everything is described in the past, not the present, and without "real-time" emotions the recollected scene had to be driven by a character's personality. In particular, she felt that conveying the dramatic meeting of two romantically linked characters who live in different parts of the United States as an e-mail after the fact posed a problem.
Then there was the issue of the language of e-mail: Most regular users will testify that e-mails ignore the conventions of regular letter writing, such as attention to correct spelling or punctuation and the reliance on emoticons (such as smiley faces) and other abbreviations (such as using BTW for "by the way"). In Hit Reply, one character named Gray -- a cool, laid-back musician -- never capitalizes anything, a source of amusement for his would-be girlfriend and her friend who joke that he is "shift-key challenged," although the author says his style was more a reflection of his character rather than a signal of the actual sloppiness of e-mail. For the most part St. Claire, a 47-year-old mother of two who writes from home, says that she opted for standard English usage, limiting abbreviations since she felt her audience of predominantly women in their 20s and 30s wouldn't be as familiar with the latest short forms as would a teenager glued to her BlackBerry. "I decided to go for slightly more acceptable, more like book-format writing and not use that many acronyms and abbreviations because I didn't want to disenfranchise people who are not really Internet-savvy," she said. Even those who are Internet-savvy may not be on top of the latest technological developments, another issue St. Claire worried about. "I reference a computer on a desk enough times that I thought -- in two years, so many people will have moved to laptops that this isn't going to make sense any more," she said. "The biggest challenge is that you don't get so hooked on technology that in five years it will seem completely outdated."
Of course, e-mail books can be seen as a modern version of the epistolary novel, a popular 18th-century form whose pioneering experimentation with different viewpoints and heightened psychological insights into the characters changed the course of the English novel. Both e-pistolary and epistolary novels reflect a shift in the culture -- new technology for e-mail books, an increase in literacy, and by extension letter writing, during the 18th century. And interestingly, two of the greatest epistolary novels, Pamela (1740), the very first example, and Clarissa (1748) both written by Samuel Richardson, concern the romantic and sexual lives of a young heroine -- much like modern e-pistolary books. Is there something about the letter, and now e-mail, that lends itself to revealing the affections of the heart? Certainly the creation of on-line dating services such as Lavalife has reinvigorated the method by which people are starting relationships. Why shouldn't new technology reinvigorate the romance novel? "E-mail has become a romantic technology in the same way as letters were," says Nicholas Hudson, a professor of English literature at the University of British Columbia. "To send someone a letter in the 18th century was very often a romantic gesture. In Clarissa, one of the problems there is that she shouldn't be receiving letters from this rake -- she should be sending them back, but because of the circumstances of the novel she is reading them and replying to them, which puts her in a very compromising position." Hudson notes that both e-mails and letters let the writer control the level of intimacy, which makes them useful tools for courtship, and for judging the writer's character and their relationship to the recipient.
"Letters and e-mail have a parallel because they have scope for lessening distance or opening up distance," Hudson said. "And any kind of written correspondence will speak differently to different kinds of people, so you're always adjusting the tone depending on whom you're addressing. So they create an opportunity for interesting adjustments of style and presentation of characters in relationship to different people and how they present themselves. In all sorts of ways, e-mail and letters offer fruitful ways of examining relationships and presenting characters in their relationships." Regardless if they are aware of the e-mail novel's literary antecedents, readers are responding well, St. Claire says. "The most consistent response I get is that 'I didn't expect to like it so much,' " she said. "It's really struck a chord -- there's something really universal about wanting to connect with someone you've lost touch with, and the ease of it nowadays."
Will Ferguson Wins Leacock Humour Medal
Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Canadian Press
(Apr. 21, 2005) ORILLIA—Calgary author Will Ferguson is this year's winner of the Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. About 60 people gathered yesterday at the Stephen Leacock Museum's banquet hall for the 58th annual award luncheon. "The white smoke is about to rise," joked Richard Johnston, president of the Stephen Leacock Association, in front of a backdrop of a fireplace and picture of the humorist. Mark Leiren-Young bounded up front to collect Ferguson's $10,000 prize for the book Beauty Tips from Moosejaw. Speaking from his home in Calgary, Ferguson said winning the award was wonderful news. He said his book, a series of travel articles chronicling Canada's most remote pockets, helped him rediscover his country. "It's a wonderfully varied country," said Ferguson, who won his first Leacock medal in 2002 for the book Generica (renamed Happiness TM).
Thinner Thighs: 3 Animated Leg
By Raphael Calzadilla, BA, CPT, ACE, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro
(Apr. 25, 2005) What part of your body seems to carry excessive flab and makes you totally uncomfortable in jeans or pants? It may be your butt, belly or hips, but I think a few hands may rise in the air with the answer -- inner thighs! The focus of this article is to provide truth about how to reduce and tighten the inner thigh area and also to dispel one big myth. Many of you have been raving about the animated exercises, so I’m providing an inner thigh workout with eDiets' easy-to-follow exercise animations to help get you to your goal.
The workout is designed as a specialty workout. It’s not designed to be the "be all and end all" for tightening and reducing flab on the inner thighs. Let’s dispel one big myth. Always remember that spot reduction is not possible, so losing flab only on your inner thighs is not going to happen. The human body just doesn’t work that way. For inner thighs to become leaner and tighter, overall body fat must be reduced through a combination of proper nutrition, exercise and consistency. Your nutrition plan must have you eating frequent, healthy meals and snacks to control blood sugar levels, but it must also place you in a slight calorie deficit (less than maintenance). This is the only way to shed the flab. I won’t kid you, this process does take time, but with some persistence and perspiration you can make your inner thighs leaner and tighter. The formula never changes; it’s the lack of consistency that holds many people back. If you haven’t joined eDiets, it’s time to get this issue out of the way. Your legs won’t get slimmer without a purposeful and easy-to-use meal plan. I also recommend our fitness plan that provides great workouts, animations and descriptions. This inner thigh specialty workout only needs to be done once or twice per week on alternate days. The specialty routine also assumes that you workout with weights and perform cardiovascular exercise approximately three days per week. If you don’t follow the above program, try to make it part of your lifestyle slowly and with care. Then, add my specialty inner thigh routine when your fitness level increases. This routine will add some tightness to your inner thighs without the need of joining a gym. Let’s have some fun!
The Inner Thigh Specialty Workout
Fitness Band Standing Leg Adduction
· Attach a fitness band to a door at ankle height (the band should come with a door attachment).
· Attach the fitness band to your left ankle.
· Stand with your left side facing the door with your weight on the right leg, and your right hand on a chair or table balancing your body.
· Place your left hand on your hip.
· Maintain a slight bend in the knees throughout the exercise.
· Contracting the inner thigh muscles, move the left leg passed the right leg stopping when you feel a contraction on the inner thigh.
· Slowly return to the starting position.
· After the set, perform the movement with the other leg. Key Points:
· Exhale while moving the leg across the body.
· Inhale while returning to the starting position.
Perform 15 slow and controlled repetitions for each
leg and then immediately go to the next exercise.
Lying Leg Adduction
· Lie on your right side with your right arm supporting your upper body.
· Your right leg should be straight and your left leg should be bent.
· Support your weight on your right arm and left leg.
· Contracting the inner thigh muscles, lift your right leg up until you feel a contraction of the inner thigh muscles.
· After completing the set on the right side, perform the exercise on the left side.
· Exhale while lifting your leg up.
· Inhale while returning to the starting position.
· You may use ankle weights to increase the level of difficulty.
· If you are an intermediate exerciser, you can add resistance to the inner thigh as you are lifting. You can resist your inner thigh with your hand or use a weighted object.
Perform 20 slow and controlled repetitions on each side and immediately go to the next exercise.
Ankle Weight Standing Leg Adduction
Although we did a similar movement with the fitness band in the first exercise, I want to change the band to an ankle weight and go for a real burn on the inner thighs.
· Place an ankle weight on your left ankle.
· Stand erect with your weight on the right leg with a soft bend in the knee and your right hand on a chair or table for balance.
· Place your left hand on your hip.
· Contracting the inner thigh (adductor) muscles, move your left leg past your right leg.
· Slowly return to the starting position, stopping when the left leg is in front of the right leg.
· Exhale while lifting the weight.
· Inhale while returning to the starting position.
· If you have one leg that is more dominant than the other, start out with the less dominant leg first.
Perform 15-20 slow and controlled repetitions.
After completing the routine, take a 60-second break and repeat the above sequence two additional times (this is the ultimate goal). Beginners should perform one set, intermediates two sets, and advanced exercisers three sets. Just remember to focus all your attention on the inner thighs and perform the movements with perfect form. If you decide to get serious about your nutrition and overall exercise program, then adding my inner thigh specialty workout will help in your quest for a pair of slimmer legs -- just in time to buy those new loose-fitting jeans. As always, check with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program.
EVENTS –APRIL 28 – MAY 8, 2005
SATURDAY, APRIL 30 AND SUNDAY, MAY 1
The Orbit Room
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Wade O. Brown, Shamakah Ali, Rich Brown, Adrian Eccleston, David Williams.
SUNDAY, MAY 1
College Street Bar
574 College Street (at Manning)
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French.
MONDAY, MAY 2
IRIE MONDAY NIGIHT SESSIONS
Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.
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, MAY 2
VIP JAM WITH SPECIAL GUESTS
783 College Street (at Shaw)
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Rich Brown, Joel Joseph and Shamakah Ali with various local artists.
SATURDAY, MAY 7 AND SUNDAY, MAY 8
The Orbit Room
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Wade O. Brown, Shamakah Ali, Rich Brown, Adrian Eccleston, David Williams.
SUNDAY, MAY 8
College Street Bar
574 College Street (at Manning)
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French
Have a great week!