Langfield Entertainment
40 Asquith Ave., Suite 207, Toronto, ON  M4W 1J6
(416) 677-5883


Updated:  February 10, 2005

Well, it's that time of year again - Valentines.  For all us singles, it's time to stock up on the chocolate (no coincidence that the holiday and chocolate go hand in hand)!  For the couples, celebrate away! 

Black History Month is in full swing - Soweto Gospel Choir will knock your socks off next Thursday and tickets are going fast, so jump on the gospel train!  Harbourfront’s KUUMBA continues its legacy of traditional and non-traditional events - please check it out below - you will find something that you will enjoy!   Just nominated for a Juno is Dione Taylor who performs at Top O’ the Senator until February 13!  As always, Irie is still hoppin' on Monday nights so get catch the Irie vibe!

Check out the rest of the entertainment news below - MUSIC NEWS, FILM NEWS, TV NEWS, OTHER NEWS, and SPORTS 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.






Soweto Gospel Choir’s Toronto Performance - February 17, 2005

Source:  Hummingbird Centre For the Performing Arts

The renowned Soweto Gospel Choir, referred to as the “Voices From Heaven”, will give a one-night Toronto performance at the Hummingbird Centre For the Performing Arts on Thursday, February 17 at 8:00 p.m. as part of their North American premier tour with only two stops in Canada.  Torontonians will experience the exuberance and inspirational performance from the 24-piece ensemble singing their South African spiritual songs as well as other popular songs including Jimmy Cliff’s Many Rivers to Cross.  Founded in 2002, the voices for the Choir were selected from various church choirs as well as from the general public to create this ensemble, which includes traditional African drummers and dancers. 

Under the musical directorship of David Mulovhedzi, the Choir has become renowned for uplifting music, colourful costumes and dance.  The Choir has received many prestigious international awards.  Most recently, Soweto Gospel Choir won Best Choir of the year 2003 at the American Gospel Music Awards and also at the 2003 South African Music Awards.  The Soweto Gospel Choir is an ambassador for the helpless children of Soweto and victims of HIV/Aids.  Proceeds from their concerts support these initiatives through their Charity Nkosi’s Haven/Vukani (meaning to arise, do something!).  Their first CD Voices From Heaven will be introduced on their North American tour.

The Hummingbird Centre For the Performing Arts is Canada’s premier performance venue and an historical and cultural landmark in Toronto.  It is operated for the benefit of the people of Toronto and the continuation of cultural diversity and entertainment excellence in Canada.  The Soweto Gospel Choir concert is presented by The Toronto Star.

Hummingbird Centre For the Performing Arts
1 Front Street East, Toronto.
Tickets: $25, $35, $45 & $55
Tickets can be purchased by phone at 416-872-2262 or on line at, by visiting Hummingbird Centre Box Office or any Ticketmaster location.
Groups of 10 + (416) 393-7463
For more information visit or 

For further information, please contact: Andrea Delvaillé , Andrea Delvaillé & Associates, Telephone: 416-496-8413




KUUMBA at Harbourfront Centre

(Jan. 18, 2005) KUUMBA means Creativity in Swahili.  This year's edition of Kuumba at Harbourfront Centre celebrates African Heritage Month with two jam-packed weekends of music concerts and dance premieres, engaging and provocative readings and panels, a film series curated by the Get Reel Film Festival, a visual arts exhibition premiere and a variety of family activities.  Kuumba's full tenth anniversary activities begin on February 5 and February 6 and continue February 12 and February 13, 2005. All events, except where noted, are free admission and appropriate for all ages. Complete Kuumba program below: The Kuumba cultural programme is also part of Harbourfront Centre's Winter exploration of HE. The changing nature of the male identity and shifting notions of man's role in society are embedded as sub-themes in select Kuumba events. For more information the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit .  All Kuumba events are located at Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West, Toronto).




Juno Nominated Dione Taylor Performs At Top O' The Senator – February 8-13, 2005

Source:  Soular Productions

(Feb. 7, 2005) The Canadian Academy Of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) and CTV announced the nominations for the 34th annual JUNOAwards, Canada’s Music Awards.  Among the nominees are the key players in Canada’s music industry including artists, producers and music industry professionals. Dione Taylor’s debut recording “Open Your Eyes” from Matay Records/Festival received industry acknowledgement with a nomination for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year!   The JUNOS will be aired on CTV on Sunday April 3 at 8:00pm.

FEBRUARY 8 – 13, 2005
The Top O’ The Senator
249 Victoria Street
Showtime: 9:30pm
*Dinner Reservations Recommended*
For further information please contact:




Irie Mondays

”Irie has servers who are nice to diners, and who seem to be at peace with serving food and believe that all diners belong, even those who are neither wearing black, nor under 40 nor skin and bones.”

- Joanne Kates, Globe and Mail

”I loved the Afro-Caribbean ambience, flaming torches, tribal masks, charming service and a pervasive mood so laid back it flirted with the horizontal.”

-James Chatto, Toronto Life Magazine

Let Irie awaken your senses.  Irie Mondays continue – food – music – culture. 
Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.  
10:00 pm







Motivational Note: Health Is Your First Wealth

Excerpt from - by Jewel Diamond Taylor, e-mail

Health is your first wealth. No degree, car, home, diamonds, rims, pools or awards can replace the blessing of good health. Be sure to do the right thing to protect and maintain your health. Don’t wait until bad news knocks on your door.  If you're waiting to be inspired with a great burst of energy to start exercising and eating better... it may never happen. I've seen in my own life how dissatisfaction led me to action. Looking at photographs of myself and facing the truth on the scale took me out of denial. Photographs, weight scales and blood pressure monitoring don't lie. They reveal what is happening in your body. Let your dissatisfaction motivate you to action. Are you dissatisfied with your weight and lack of energy? Take action! Stop talking about your issues. Stop the blaming and the excuses. Your body will turn against you unless you learn to take care of it. As Americans, we eat too much fatty, frozen, fried and fast foods Your eating pattern is developed over time from taste, habit, misinformation, peer pressure and media pressure. Poor eating can only lead to expensive medical bills, loss time from work, stress and a shorter life span. Poor nutrition affects your ability and joy t play ball well, dance, deal with stress, pursue your dreams and goals, enjoy your family and even your ability to enjoy your sex life. Instead of allowing the pain and dissatisfaction to frustrate you, let it motivate you to start doing what needs to be done. Peace, progress and weight reduction can begin...once you begin.







UMAC Celebrates The 2005 Juno Nominees From Urban Music Genres

Source:  UMAC

(Feb. 7, 2005) Today the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) and CTV announced the nominees for the 39 categories of the 34th annual JUNO Awards. UMAC congratulates all of this year's JUNO nominees, and we also want to make special mention of the artists from the urban music genres who received nominations.

k-os, the 2004 Canadian Urban Music Award-winning artist for Hip Hop Recording of the Year ("B-Boy Stance"), received three nominations: Single of the Year for "Crabbuckit", Rap Recording of the Year for Joyful Rebellion, and Video of the Year for "B-Boy Stance" (co-directed by Micah Meisner). With the release of Joyful Rebellion, which is certified Platinum in Canada, he recorded the highest Soundscan debut ever for a Canadian urban artist. k-os will also be performing on the awards show, which takes place on Sunday, April 3 at 8 pm at Winnipeg's MTS Centre.

Keshia Chanté, who took home three trophies at last year's Canadian Urban Music Awards, received two JUNO nominations: New Artist of the Year and R&B/Soul Recording of the Year for her Gold debut album, Keshia Chanté.

Check out these nominees...

Gary Beals - Gary Beals
Keshia Chanté - Keshia Chanté
Resurrected - jacksoul
What It Is - Ray Robinson
More - Tamia

F.A.M.E. - Concise
Life's a Collection Of Experiences - DL Incognito
Joyful Rebellion - k-os
Bang Bang - Kardinal Offishall
Say Something - Kyprios

Empty Barrel - Blessed feat. Kardinal Offishall
WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) - Sonia Collymore
Bare As She Dare - Carl Henry feat. Ce'Cile
It's All Bless - Korexion
Uncorrupted - Steele

All Of My Life - Aluna
Feel Love - DJ's Rule
Money Shot - Hatiras
Ghetto Love - Extended Original Version Original 3
All Things (Just Keep Getting Better) - Widelife with Simone Denny

Vivid: The David Braid Sextet Live - David Braid
Extra Time - The Mike Murley Quintet
Deep Cove - Ryga / Rosnes Quartet
Exponentially Monk - John Stetch
Elenar - François Théberge

That's For Me - Susie Arioli Band featuring Jordan Officer
Eclipse - Kate Hammett-Vaughan Quintet
Make Believe Ballroom - Marc Jordan
The Girl In The Other Room - Diana Krall
Open Your Eyes - Dione Taylor

Red Dragonfly (AKA Tombo) - Jane Bunnett
5 - Alain Caron
New Danzon - Hilario Duran Trio
City of Neighbourhoods - NOJO with Sam Rivers
Sekoya - Sekoya

Fresh Horses - Jim Byrnes
No One To Blame - Rita Chiarelli
Come On In - Downchild
Soap Bars & Dog Ears - The Jimmy Bowskill Band
I'm Just a Man - Garrett Mason

Other nominees of note are:

King Achilla Orru for Dho-Mach (Sacred Gift) and Mighty Popo, Madagascar Slim, Donné Robert, Alpha Ya Ya Diallo, Adam Solomon & Pa Jo for African Guitar Summit in the WORLD MUSIC ALBUM OF THE YEAR category.  In the Gospel genre, 2004 Grammy-nominee Fresh I.E. (for his album Red Letterz, Aileen Lombardo for Living Water and Greg Sczebel for Here to Stay are up for a JUNO award for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album Of The Year.

For more information on the 2005 JUNO Awards, visit




Avril Lavigne Nets Five Juno Nominations; Diana Krall Has Four

Source: Angela Pacienza

TORONTO (CP) - The Junos looked with love on a punk princess-turned-woman, a smoky-voiced jazz siren, a rapper with a conscience and several bratty boy bands that reached the status of rock royalty this past year.  Avril Lavigne (news) led nominations Monday for the annual music showdown, earning five nods including artist of the year, fans' choice and best songwriter.  Under My Skin, on which the young star sang about more mature topics than with her breakout hit Complicated, was also nominated for album of the year and best pop album. The CD earned one of its producers, Raine Maida, normally the frontman of Our Lady Peace, a nomination as well.  Jazz star Diana Krall had four nominations, while k-os, Celine Dion (news), Feist, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Shania Twain, Billy Talent and Simple Plan received three nominations each.  Krall's The Girl In The Other Room marked the West Coast singer's first album of mostly original material. She shared the songwriting duties with husband Elvis Costello (news).  Punk-pop outfits Billy Talent of Toronto and Simple Plan of Montreal each had a stellar year, selling lots of CDs and criss-crossing Canada and the U.S. performing in packed venues. The bands, favourites among skateboarding teens, will face off in the best album and group of the year categories.  Crabbuckit, a high-energy track with gospel-style handclaps from Toronto rapper k-os's Joyful Rebellion CD, is among the nominees for single of the year.  The others are: River Below by Billy Talent, One Thing by Finger Eleven, Not Ready To Go by The Trews and Party For Two by Twain and Mark McGrath (news).  Producer Bob Rock, Sum 41, Ron Sexsmith (news), Marc Jordan, Keshia Chante, Fefe Dobson (news) and Matt Mays were among the double nominees.  Better known for writing hits for Rod Stewart (news) and Cher, Jordan was recognized for his jazz CD, Make Believe Ballroom.

"It's the music I've loved all my life," he said, following a press conference announcing the nominees. "I got to write it and sing it for myself."  The best new artist category mingles an eclectic mix of artists; teens Chante and Dobson will fight against the country-rock stylings of Mays, indie torch singer Feist and jazz crooner Matt Dusk.  "It's a big thing for me," said a beaming Chante, the youngest of the group at 16. "It's my first (CD), my premiere."  For 25-year-old Mays, a Juno nod has been a long-time coming. He's been making music for over a decade with various bands including the Guthries.  "It's gone from me getting turned down to me getting offered all sorts of great stuff," said the Halifax performer.  Hosted by comedian Brent Butt, the Junos will be awarded April 3 at a ceremony and concert in Winnipeg. As well as crowning the year's kings and queens of the music charts, mainstay rockers the Tragically Hip will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.  The bash will be broadcast live on CTV.  There are 39 categories this year including a new one, best adult alternative album. Juno organizers, the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, hope the fresh category will embrace some of the country's more eclectic musicians, who often get pushed out of the top categories by mainstream artists.  "There's some music that we didn't seem to be getting into the exact correct category," said academy president Melanie Berry. "It was time to look at that and try and frame a category that would fit these phenomenal Canadian artists."  Mays, Sexsmith, Sarah Harmer (news), Sarah Slean (news) and Rufus Wainwright (news) will compete for the award.  "It's for the oddballs," joked Sexsmith, a critical favourite who has traditionally has been noticed in the songwriting category because he doesn't quite fit anywhere else.  The best country recording category will see newcomer George Canyon face off against veteran performers Terri Clark, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Shania Twain and Paul Brandt.  Usher, U2, Eminem (news - web sites), Green Day and Norah Jones (news) are up for the title of best international album. The category is entirely based on sales.  Canadian Idol competitors fared well with season one finalists Ryan Malcolm, Audrey De Montigny and Gary Beals getting a nod each.  "It's a total trip to be in the same sentence as Avril and Celine," said Malcolm of his competition in the best pop album category.  On the Net: 




"10 Questions With..." Neill Dixon, President Of Canadian Music Week

Source:  UMAC

Neill Dixon has a 35-year history in Canada's music industry, and has played a significant role in its growth and development. A former talent booker, record label promotions executive, independent record label owner and international artist manager, Dixon has been an active participant in every aspect of this industry. Dixon joined Canadian Music Week in 1983, and since taking over as President in 1991, has grown the event into Canada's leading music conference and festival. The 2005 Conference takes place March 2-5 in Toronto.

Q1: Tell us a bit about what you do at CMW.

Dixon: I am the President and CEO, so the buck stops here. It's up to me to raise sponsorships, book panelists, organize the showcases. I also travel to other conferences around the world to network and continue to build contacts that will help CMW continue to grow.

Q2: Who are some of the people that inspired you?

Dixon: I was very inspired by Elvis Presley's manager 'Colonel' Tom Parker. Parker was once described as "the devil who traded the singer's rock 'n' roll soul for the demon Hollywood dollar." But really the Colonel was mentor, a friend, and that's what artists need: someone who can offer more than just business advice. Clive Davis once told me hard work and preparation will overcome a lot of obstacles. I have never forgotten that advice. Too many artists today want the big lifestyle but aren't prepared to work for it.

Q3: You have extensive experience and success in music/artist promotion. Where do you see some up and coming artists go wrong in that area and what suggestions can you offer?

Dixon: If you believe MTV and BET, the life of an artist is all about Courvoisier, Cristal and Cadillacs. But what it's really about is 5 a.m. wakeup calls and doing interviews with a bunch of different radio stations who are all asking the same dumb questions! Canadian artists have to learn self discipline and to be singularly focused enough to truly succeed.

Q4: In your words, Canadian Music Week is the "single most important event in this country's music industry." Can you elaborate on that?

Dixon: Canadian Music Week's mantra is "Where Music Means Business". We get the biggest names the brightest minds and the industry leading opinion makers sharing their hard earned knowledge. What could be more important?

Q5: Your career in the music industry began in the 60's so clearly you've seen a lot of change. Good or bad, how do you feel the urban music scene in Canada has changed in the last 10 years and where do you see it heading?

Dixon: Well, you can't always control where you are planted. Artists tend to think it's easier south of the border, but you can control your experiences here and launch an international career from Canada. Bloom where you are planted. The Canadian urban scene has grown more in the last two years than it had in the last twenty.

Q6: After working with such great artists like B.B. King, Martha Reeves and Gordon Lightfoot, all of whom had very pure and original sounds, what do you think about mainstream music today (i.e. the sampling, remixes etc)?

Dixon: Fashion and styles change, and so does music. I happen to think sampling and remixes are an art form that has created something new, building on the foundations of the past, not unlike other art forms such as dance, painting, etc.

Q7: Why do you think Canadian artists who are just as talented as those in the US aren't given main stream status?

Dixon: They will, with the huge success that other Canadian artists in rock and country have had internationally, it's only a matter of time before more urban acts start breaking through.

Q8: Do you think it is important for Canadian artists to break into the American market or should the focus be on increasing awareness and support within Canada?

Dixon: Both. The U.S. is critical to an urban artist. Canada is only 2% of the world the math.

Q9: Why do you think it has been so difficult for urban music to expand and develop in Canada?

Dixon: It's simple - the lack of radio outlets. There are hardly any Top 40 stations (which support urban artists) left in Canada because the teens aren't seen as an attractive an audience as, say, middle aged housewives. And do I have comment of the state of urban radio in this country. It's really underserved!

Q10: Based on what you've seen in your travels around the world how does the Canadian industry compare to other music industries around the world (in terms of infrastructure)?

Dixon: The Canadian music industry is behind the rest of the world. Not only do our artists leave to build a viable career, but so do engineers, producers, songwriters and others. It's time for the regulators to revisit the MAPL system (Music, Artist, Producer, Lyrics) to reward products that are more Canadian, and develop a point system for songs that are recorded Canadian Studios, signed to or distributed by Canadian labels.

Thanks, Neill, for your unique perspective.




Golden Child Takes Hip Hop Crown In 2005 Flow 93.5 Soul Search

Source:  FLOW 93.5

(Feb. 7, 2005) FLOW 93.5 is pleased to announce that Toronto-based rapper Golden Child is the Hip Hop winner for the 3rd Annual FLOW 93.5 Soul Search, as determined by FLOW 93.5 listeners, who cast their votes through online and text voting.  Over the past week, more than 300,000 votes were cast for the Top 5 Hip Hop Finalists, who each auditioned live on The Morning Rush last week to earn votes. Golden Child received more than 128,000 votes from FLOW 93.5 listeners.  "Hip Hop music is all about bringing your story to the people and letting them connect to your life," said Golden Child. "It's great that I've been able to do that through the Soul Search, and I'm going to keep doing it! Stay tuned when it hits the streets."  Golden Child's grand prize includes:

· $2,500 cash
· Song production and studio time with two of Canada's hottest producers: Marcus Kane and Illfire
· 5,000 units of CD manufacturing
· The opportunity to represent Toronto at the province-wide Urban Star Quest competition that takes place during Canadian Music Week (March 2-5, 2005)
· A prize pack from our title sponsor, Fifth Gear Auto Sound & Performance

The R&B winner for the 3rd Annual FLOW 93.5 Soul Search, which was announced on January 24, was 13-year old soul sensation Jillian.  For complete details on the FLOW 93.5 Soul Search, please visit




Awesome Productions And Management Inc. Signs Deal With EMI Music Canada

Source:  Capitol/Virgin Music Canada

(Feb. 8, 2005) EMI Music Canada and Awesome Productions and Management Inc. (A.P.I.) proudly announced today that they have entered into an exclusive Manufacturing and Distribution deal for the territory of Canada. Awesome Production and Management Inc. will operate as a traditional record company signing both domestic and international music.  There will also be an artist management component and international licensing arm attached to the company.  A.P.I. will have offices at EMI Music Canada.   "Awesome's entrepreneurial vision for A.P.I. and his commitment to the development of dance, urban and rhythmic music in Canada is a much-welcomed addition to EMI Music Canada and our Associated Labels Division. We all look forward to working closely with Awesome to help him realize his vision". - Deane Cameron (President, EMI Music Canada) "I'm thrilled and excited about launching Awesome Productions and Management Inc. and EMI is the perfect home for it.  A.P.I. is another step forward in achieving my long-term goal, to develop a global artist.  The relationships and support that I have within EMI Canada are going to be the greatest asset to this companies success". - Asim 'Awesome' Awan (President, A.P.I.) The President and founder Asim 'Awesome' Awan has an impressive resume for his involvement in dance and rhythmic music in Canada.  In 1999 'Awesome' joined Popular Records as A&R consultant where he released Saukrates's independent album The Underground Tapes, Jully Black's hit single "Rally'n" and developed the Juno award-winning artist 2 Rude.  In the dance genre Awesome worked very closely with the Double Platinum artist EIFFEL 65. In 2002, 'Awesome' started a co-venture with Donald K Donald, AWESOME/DKD INC.  They released albums from Spek, Platinumberg featuring Bless as well as the Awesome Collective Vol.1 a compilation designed to develop Canadian urban artists that included Big Black Lincoln, Bishop, Jenna G, Reign, Kuya, etc.  The first release on the new label, scheduled for February 15th, will be a chillout/lounge compilation entitled SHEEVA LOUNGE VOL. 1.   The first domestic release, scheduled for the fall of 2005, will be the debut album from Juno award winning duo The SOUND BLUNTZ. The group has twice won Junos in the category of 'Dance Recording of the Year' during the 2003 and 2004 Juno Awards for their singles "Billie Jean" and "Something About You" respectively.  




 Cummings, Bachman Inducted Into Songwriters' Hall

Source:  Canadian Press

(Feb. 8, 2005) They've been festooned with awards through the last few decades, but rock icons Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings agree their latest honour is the big enchilada — having their songs recognized as timeless pieces of Canadian history.  In a ceremony Tuesday night, the pair joined a list of inductees into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame that included Quebec artist Claude Leveillee and ragtime pioneer Shelton Brooks.  "To me this is right at the top of the list," Cummings said in an interview with The Canadian Press.  "You know gold records are beautiful and everything but they are (awarded) for sales. But the songwriting award itself, this is where it all starts."  Bachman, fresh from rehearsing The Guess Who song No Time with Cummings and a band consisting of stars like Tom Cochrane and Jeff Healey, agreed.  "Somebody told me way back when I was a teenager learning to play guitar... there's always going to be a younger, faster guitar player, but if you can write good songs... that song will come back and last forever," he said.  A case in point is their famed hit American Woman, which has recently seen a revival in films like the Oscar-winning American Beauty. Rocker Lenny Kravitz covered the song in the Austin Powers comedy The Spy Who Shagged Me, making it a hit again around the world, a fact some found curious since Kravitz is an American, singing a song perceived to be anti-U.S.  But Cummings reiterated what he had said in the past, that the song was not meant to be a political metaphor. Instead, he said, it really was about women.  "We had been touring the States incessantly and then we came back to Canada and as I Iooked out from the stage the girls just seemed to be younger and fresher (than Americans)," he explained.  "So my thought process was not American woman, stay away from me, but Canadian woman I prefer you to the American woman."  But he admits the lines about war machines and ghetto scenes could be construed to be political, yet he dismisses them as being largely "gobbledygook."  Nonetheless, Cummings and Bachman are happy about their success with the song.  This is the second year for the fledgling Hall of Fame.  It currently exists only as a website, but the stated aim of the non-profit organization is to honour the accomplishments of Canadian popular music songwriters. The Canadian Music Publishers Association and the Songwriters Association of Canada are also involved.  Universal Soldier, written by Buffy Sainte-Marie, was among the songs inducted Tuesday night, along with O Canada and A Huron Carol.  The ceremony, featuring performances by a list of musicians, was to be broadcast live on CBC Radio One.  The show gave Bachman and Cummings yet another chance to relive their heyday. But Cummings noted their songs are being kept very much alive as movies continue to assemble soundtracks using hits of yesteryear. Cummings joked about seeing 1999's American Beauty.  "I tell people this is why Kevin Spacey got the Oscar, because when he gets in the car and lights up a big joint and starts driving away, he pushes the cassette deck in and American Woman comes on. I was sitting alone in a theatre and I floated about a foot off my seat," he said.




Much Sugar For Guess Who

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -  Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist

(Feb. 9, 2005)  It was an event filled with quiet pride and typically Canadian humility as more than 1,000 music fans and music industry movers and shakers last night jammed the John Bassett Theatre in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the second annual Canadian Songwriters Hall Of Fame Awards, honouring English and French-language composers past and present.  "I've never been as proud to be Canadian as I am this evening," a grinning and tearful Burton Cummings said from the podium after accepting his induction award, along with Guess Who colleague and songwriting partner Randy Bachman, from music legend Gordon Lightfoot, last year's inaugural inductee.  Nodding towards his formerly volatile band mate, Bachman added, "He was born to be wild ... I was born to be mild," before thanking his parents for financing his music lessons, and producer Jack Richardson, who was in the audience, for shaping the sound of the Guess Who, who rivalled The Beatles in 1970 in record sales.  "This award tops it all," Bachman said.  The duo was recognized for five specific songs — "American Woman," "No Sugar Tonight," "Mother Nature," "No Time" and "These Eyes" — all of which were performed at the two-hour concert that aired live on CBC Radio. Outstanding renditions of show closer "American Woman," which began with a bluesy acoustic jazz riff featuring Toronto guitarist Jeff Healey and Cowboy Junkies singer Margo Timmins and led into a full-tilt hard rock tribute featuring local rocker and songwriter Tom Cochrane, and a soulful, R&B-based "These Eyes" by Jacksoul, brought the crowd to its feet.  And not for the first time. Buffy Sainte-Marie, also inducted for her caustic anti-war ballad "Universal Soldier," got a standing ovation after her chilling performance of her enduring classic. As did Canadian western troubadour Ian Tyson, in a broad-brimmed white Stetson, after performing "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" and "Cool Water" — written by Winnipeg-born Hollywood movie cowboy Bob Nolan in the 1930s — with the singing group Quartette, led by his first wife and former singing partner, Sylvia Tyson, president of the fledgling CSHF.

Hall Of Fame founder and retired music publisher Frank Davies, and former RPM magazine publisher and Canadian music content lobbyist Stan Klees were also honoured with special awards for their contributions to the livelihood and welfare of Canadian songwriters.  Klees recalled the idea that compelled his partner, the late Canadian music activist Walt Grealis, to push for legislation that would force Canadian radio stations to play upwards of 30 per cent of Canadian content, a move credited with having spawned the multi-million dollar domestic music industry.  "Remember the message of the Pied Piper parable, Walt would say: If the piper isn't paid, the music stops."  Among several other outstanding performances of songs that were recognized this year by the CSHF were Tom Jackson's graceful version of "The Huron Carole," written in 1640; singing trio Shaye's heartfelt rendition of Hamilton native George Washington Johnson's achingly sentimental love song, "When You And I Were Young, Maggie"; and Jackie Richardson's robust performance of Amherstburg, Ont.-born pre-jazz era composer Shelton Brooks' classics, "Some Of These Days" and "Darktown Strutters' Ball," first committed to vinyl in 1917 and considered the first jazz recording in music history.  Also memorable was Luce Dufault's passionate reading of Quebec composer Raymond Lévesque's pacifist plea "Quand Les Hommes Vivront d'amour." The program will air again on CBC Radio Two on Sunday at 2 p.m.




New Reggae Singer Jay Re-energizes For The Big Times

Excerpt from - By Kervin Jackson /

(Feb. 3, 2005) After taking some time off from the recording scene to re-evaluate his direction and re-energize his musical batteries, newcomer Jay has his sights set on making a big splash among his peers. The 23 year old singer who came to the public’s attention three years ago via Dave Kelly’s Mi Nuh Know rhythm with the catchy single Cute, is banking on his versatility to open the bolted doors.   'I want to put myself into the position to be more versatile. What I really want to do is a mixture of conscious music and some dancehall stuff,' Jay told this column shortly after his performance last Friday night at the Asylum nightclub’s After Work Jam session. Jay who delivered a good account of himself, amidst whistles and screams from the ladies inside the nightclub, earned some well needed stripes when he covered Jah Cure’s Longing For, Brian McKnight’s Love of My Life and Brian Adams’ In Heaven.  Though he wasn’t surprised at the audience’s reaction to his performance, Jay is hoping to get that breakthrough solo hit soon to put him on the front burner. The former Kingston College student whose real name is Winston Burgher, made his recording debut in the late 1990’s when he joined the group Front Page. The group recorded on producer Paul Henton’s M16 updating with the  track Show Me the Way.  Later on he hooked up with producer Dave Kelly and recorded Cute which got some airplay locally. However his biggest effort to date has been his guest spot on Beenie Man’s Dick, a track from Kelly’s Fiesta rhythm. Jay also teamed up with Beenie Man on Party Hard, a track produced by Kelly which was featured on the soundtrack to the movie Blue Crush.  Jay’s sister is athlete Michelle Burgher who picked up a bronze medal in last year’s Olympic Games in Athens. These days Jay is busy working on various recording projects. He is working with the Block Sand label and there is interest from Jetson’s Production, a company which is based in the United States. Among that company’s clients is the twin vocal duo Nina Sky.




Bigger Girl Brings The Soul

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Robert Everett-Green

(Feb. 4, 2005) Jenny Lewis appeared in a couple of dozen films before forming a band, including a 1992 picture called Big Girls Don't Cry . . . They Get Even. That's a fair summary of some of Lewis's tart anecdotal songs on Rilo Kiley's latest CD, although the former child actor is more inclined to even the balance than to repay old wounds. Now 28 and still writing with guitarist Blake Sennett, Lewis has sharpened her gift for clever songs of semi-desperation, set wherever the illusions of Pleasantville (another of her film titles) falter before the back-alley truths of the heart. This CD dispenses timed doses of bitter revelation, made sweet by the band's cozy arrangements and her genial-hipster singing style. It's a Hit was the most off-hand political song of 2004, and one of the most pointed, although as usual those who needed to hear probably weren't listening. Its sunny cynicism about how low the threshold of success can be still feels current a few weeks past the inaugural ball. Portions for Foxes raises a red flag of warning about the protagonist's credit rating in personal relations, a manoeuvre practised to perfection by Aimee Mann and done almost equally well here. Does He Love You? looks at the problem from the other side, in a painful open letter to the wife of the man who says he's leaving but never does. There's a bit of country hurtin' in Lewis's vocals, and a large order of orchestral ambition in the string variations of the extended coda.

The biggest production, however, is reserved for I Never, a terrific serving of vintage R&B and the best song on the album. There's a depth to Lewis's voice here that you wouldn't guess from her lightest performances (the girlish It Just Is, for example). She wisely retains the right to dangle a hint of parody as she drops into spoken word, backed by a yowling pedal steel that could signify pain or amusement. The big twinned guitar coda reminds us that Rilo Kiley is still a rock band, however much it may like to visit Detroit and Nashville. At the album's exact mid-point, however, Lewis's folkie singer-songwriter tendencies begin to surface. The tunes go into ditto mode, the lyric narratives don't mean as much as they try to, and one is left wondering why someone (perhaps producer Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes) didn't notice that the band's best statements would all fit on an EP. The good news is that Lewis has recorded her first solo disc, due out on Conor Oberst's Team Love label this summer, and described by the singer as "kind of a soul record." Here's hoping that the muse responsible for I Never stuck around for those sessions as well.




One Love Rings Out In Ethiopia

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By David Naylor

(Feb. 7, 2005) Addis Ababa — Musicians from Africa to the Caribbean pumped shuddering bass lines through huge loudspeakers in Addis Ababa yesterday to open a show honouring the 60th anniversary of the birth of reggae icon Bob Marley. Waving red, green and gold flags, thousands of Ethiopians surged toward the stage in the city's main square when the concert burst into life with Jimmy Cliff's reggae classic The Harder They Come and a souped-up version of Johnny Nash's I Can See Clearly Now, as dreadlocks swayed and VIPs danced in front of the giant stage.  Fans from the United States to South Africa made the trip for the concert to honour Marley, who considered Ethiopia the spiritual home of his Rastafarian faith and whose music married revolutionary lyrics with a belief in "One Love." "I never thought I would live to see this day," Marley's frail, 80-year-old, wheelchair-bound mother, Cedella, told the crowd. "I can see Bob Marley remains the star of the show." Newspaper torches illuminated the square as Marley's widow, Rita, and other family members took to the stage with the I-Threes, his former backup singers, to whip some of the singer's greatest hits. In the stands at the far end of the square, crowds overwhelmed a metal barricade intended to keep them off the tarmac but met no resistance. Meanwhile on the stage, performers extolled the virtues of peace and love.

"It's a symbol of togetherness without colour or ethnic prejudice," said 35-year-old Ethiopian physician Mesfine Adera, his young daughter squirming in his lap and craning her neck for a view of the stage. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi brought his wife and two young children to the event and mingled with other government officials and VIPS in front of the massive stage in Meskel Square. Organizers said they expected as many as 300,000 people would attend the free event, which is dubbed "Africa Unite" after one of Marley's many famous songs. There are, however, 2,000 seats for guests who will be paying $100 (U.S.) each. "I think it is incredible that so many years after brother Bob's death, he still inspires such an amazing show," said Yohannes, a Rastafarian who only goes by a single name. Originally from the Crystal Palace area of London, he now lives in Addis Ababa and is married to an Ethiopian. Benin music star Angelique Kidjo, Senegal's Youssou N'Dour and Baaba Maal, along with well-known Ethiopians artists were also set to perform. For dreadlocked Rastafarians the concert was an affirmation of their faith, which considers smoking marijuana a sacrament sanctioned by the Bible and worships Ethiopia's late emperor Haile Selassie, who died in 1975, as a living messiah. "This is Zion man, God is black," Yohannes said. "Bob Marley, all of his songs are fire to Satan, the dragon quake. Bob Marley is still alive, vibrant style, Rastafari," he said, dressed in white robes and clutching a wooden pole flying Ethiopia's flag. With police in blue camouflage frisking people entering the square for the concert, there was no sign of the pall of marijuana smoke that sometimes accompanied Marley's shows.

Raised in one of Jamaica's toughest ghettos, Marley became the developing world's first global star by bringing reggae music to the world with hits like No Woman, No Cry and I Shot the Sheriff. He made a pilgrimage to Ethiopia two years before his death in 1981 and is arguably the most famous Rastafarian in history. Among the rasta community he is regarded as a prophet, and his songs Buffalo Soldier, Exodus and War, among others, are now anthems for the faithful. He died of cancer at the age of 36. Some Ethiopians, many of whom are Orthodox Christians, have reservations about the Rastafarian fondness for marijuana and reverence for their late emperor. But such differences were set aside for the tribute to Marley, whose songs of African unity and personal and political emancipation crossed racial barriers and musical genres to resonate across the world. "This is fulfilling Marley's dream and love of the country and celebrating his call for unity and brotherhood," said Silesh Demssae, an Ethiopian musician and environmentalist.

Reuters, with files from AP and AFP




Bob Marley Tribute Concert To Keep Jammin'

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Feb. 8, 2005) Addis Ababa, Ethiopia -- A reggae concert in honour of musical legend Bob Marley, which drew an audience of more than 200,000 Ethiopians to Addis Ababa, could become an annual fixture across Africa, its organizers said yesterday. The Bob Marley Foundation said it hoped to take the festival to another African country next year to honour Marley, whose songs such as Africa Unite and Get Up, Stand Up have reverberated across the continent since the 1970s. "We want to see African unity," said Desta Meghoo-Peddie, the director of the foundation established to prolong Marley's legacy after his death from cancer in 1981. Reuters




Ron Winans Rises Again

Excerpt from

(Feb. 7, 2005) *After his heart stopped beating on the operating table, Ron Winans not only survived the “death,” but he returned to the studio to birth a new album, “Family & Friends 5: A Celebration,” featuring guest appearances by siblings BeBe, Marvin and CeCe and friends Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Marcus Cole, Rance Allen, the Katinas, Jesse Campbell and Gladys Knight.  This fifth album in the singer’s successful “Friends & Family” series includes such tracks as the autobiographical "I Shall Not Die but Live" and "Walking in My Season."  After becoming ill in 1996, Ron Winans was originally diagnosed with bronchitis before he was finally diagnosed as suffering a heart attack and having a torn aorta. "I just felt sicker each day and it got so bad," Winans told Reuters. "The doctor told my family that he would not operate because he thought for sure I would die on the table. He suggested that I (not) have the operation, but the Lord saw fit to . . . let my heart beat with more (regularity)."  But when Winans finally went in for the surgery he needed, his heart did indeed stop during the operation, as the doctor had warned. "But God is not limited to go to death's door," Winans says. "He can go behind the door and say, 'Not yet,' and pulled me back in."     While Winans survived the surgery, he was not given a good prognosis by doctors. Doctors told his family he would likely never fully recover and that there had been too much damage to his lungs. He was only 39, and doctors said he would never sing again. On his new CD he proves them wrong, and he plans to launch a tour in support of the new record.  "Once I got back, I said, 'Lord, if you are able to do that, I want everything back,"' he says. "They thought I was going to be a vegetable."  "Family & Friends 5" was recorded last May in Detroit at Greater Grace Temple. The event was also taped for a DVD that was released the same day as the CD. The night of the recording, Winans says they "just had a wonderful time in God. We knew that if we could just transport that . . . onto the tape, the people that heard it afterward would be blessed."




Brian McKnight Returns With New CD: 'Gemini'

Source: Motown/Universal Music

(Feb. 7, 2005) NEW YORK /PRNewswire/ -- Multi-platinum Motown recording artist, Brian McKnight raises the bar once again and just in time for Valentine's Day -- delivering a new album titled, Gemini.  Fans who can't get enough of McKnight's signature falsetto will enjoy the 13-track CD, which hit stores on February 8th. Gemini, McKnight's 8th studio album has already been taste-tested, so to speak, with two radio smash hit singles -- "What We Do Here," and "Every Time You Go Away." Both songs topped the Adult R&B and Urban AC charts, respectively.  The seductive ballad "What We Do Here," held the #1 spot at Adult R&B for five weeks in a row and incredibly, has been honoured with a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance. The sultry follow-up, "Every Time You Go Away," nailed the #1 most added spot and had some critics comparing the high octane love song to the trademark grooves of McKnight's epic milestone, "Back At One."  The new album also provides plenty of opportunities for the writer/producer to flex his versatility, like the soulful arc of "She," which includes guest appearances from Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli and Philly soulster Musiq, and the hyper-smooth "What You Gonna Do," with guest stints from Juvenile and Akon. With over 16 million records sold in a career that has produced the triple platinum (1999) Back At One, the double platinum (1997) Anytime, and (2003) acclaimed U-Turn, Brian has earned every hard-fought triumph, including the American Music, Blockbuster, NAACP image and Soul Train Awards.  The talented, singer, songwriter, musician and producer has also scored several memorable collaborations along the way with fellow superstars Nelly, Mariah Carey, Vanessa Williams, Justin Timberlake, Willie Nelson, and others. Fans can catch McKnight's performance on the Tavis Smiley Show starting on February 4th (check your local listing for time and station), as well as on Live With Regis and Kelly on February 9th.  Brian will also be the featured performer on the televised forum - State Of The Black Family - which airs on C-SPAN, (time and date to be announced) and look for the charismatic singer to co-host the Soul Train Awards set to air March 12th. Gemini hits stores on February 8th.




Three Former EWF Members Salute The Band's Legacy

Source: Great Scott PR / Rick Scott /

(Feb. 7, 2005)  Devoted Spirits, three former members of the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire, will release their debut album, A Tribute To Earth, Wind & Fire, on March 22nd on Thump Records in association with Experience Hendrix, LLC.  The group is comprised of Sheldon Reynolds (guitars, vocals), Larry Dunn (keyboards), and Morris Pleasure (keyboards, bass and trumpet), who were principal players in the iconic band that seamlessly blended R&B, pop, jazz, rock and Gospel music.  A heartfelt offering of affection and respect, the record features “Rhythm Of Love,” a jubilantly inspired song about EWF written by Reynolds that will be released as the first single for the smooth jazz radio format.  Reynolds produced the collection and Janie Hendrix executive produced.   Like the original hits, the songs on A Tribute To Earth, Wind & Fire were meticulously produced, thoughtfully arranged and passionately performed by accomplished musicians and vocalists.  Dunn was one of the architects of the EWF sound and, as an original band member, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with EWF in 2000.  Reynolds joined EWF in the late ‘80s and spent fourteen years touring and recording with the group.  Pleasure was welcomed to the band over a decade ago and served as musical director.  Sharing their passion on this tribute project were such gifted players as Norman Brown, Gerald Albright, Sounds of Blackness, Ronnie Laws, original EWF guitarist Johnny Graham, Bobby Watson (Rufus), and Teri Lynn Carrington.  While Devoted Spirits came together with the purpose of offering gratitude to the band from which they emerged, they’ve cast an eye toward the future with the aim of releasing an album of new material.    “For Larry, making this album was a sweet homecoming of sorts, honouring the body of music he helped create.  Morris and I have been both fans and members of EWF, so we’ve had the unusual opportunity of playing with our heroes and even contributing to their legacy,” said Reynolds.  “(EWF leader) Maurice (White) taught us all so much and it was his vision that we feel blessed to have been a part of.”   Last weekend, Devoted Spirits made their live performance debut with two shows during the NAMM trade convention in Anaheim, CA.  They are scheduled to perform in Seattle on February 12th at The Triple Door.  Additional concert dates will be announced as the band hopes to tour major U.S. cities this spring.  Experience Hendrix, L.L.C. is the family owned company entrusted with preserving and protecting the legacy of Jimi Hendrix.  While the core of its operation concerns Jimi Hendrix's music, name, and likeness, it is also a production company that has released DVDs and CDs that represent influences on or inspiration from the life and work of Jimi Hendrix.  It is responsible for the acclaimed American Folk Blues Festival series and Power of Soul: A Tribute To Jimi Hendrix, the multi-artist (EWF, Eric Clapton, Prince, Sting, Lenny Kravitz, Santana, Chaka Khan, John Lee Hooker, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and others) album that includes Musiq’s Grammy nominated version of “Are You Experienced?.”




St. Louis Soul Balladeer Wendell B Is No Longer A Groupie – He’s On His Own

Excerpt from - By Audrey J. Bernard

(Feb. 8, 2005) Add soul balladeer Wendell B to the list of great things coming out of St. Louis -- the home of such other goodies as Smokey barbeque, jazz music, Nelly and Cedric the Entertainer. As President of Cuzzo Music in association with Hornsby-Lee Entertainment, Wendell B has been compared to such soul soldiers as Freddie Jackson, Luther Vandross, Barry White and Will Downing who are all, not surprisingly, his mentors.  All of these brothers can sing and are as cool as a balmy breeze. Wendell B, who has been singing since the impressionable age of five as a member of the gospel group, The Sensational Wonders, followed his calling and went on to serve his Lord in the spiritual showground for the next ten years before being bitten by the rhythm and blues bug.  “At first I had to hide my interest from Mama; she was into the church -- she didn’t play that,” he fondly recalls. However, before Mama’s very eyes, her son had become a man and had successfully honed his soulful sounds by having performed with local artists through touring his hometown and surrounding areas. While on the soul circuit, Wendell B met a local legend, Master’s Touch lead singer Marvin Rice who taught him in a short period of time what it would take others years to learn such as the importance of stage presence, perfecting runs and other vocal techniques.  You see, this brother was serious about stepping up his game! One of the most important lessons he learned when honing his entrepreneurial skills was the importance of being your own boss.  The big man saw who was really making the Benjamins in the music business and wanted to carbon copy their business acumen so he formed his own record company Cuzzo Music with one of his relatives in association with Hornsby-Lee Entertainment. “My goal is to leave an indelible imprint on the business.  You see, fans deserve the best, and we plan to give them the best.  I am the first artist that is being released on the label, and we plan to follow with CD’s by such artists as Kadov, Rill, Diggy and Stacey Kaid.  As I shopped for each artist, I was looking for people of quality.”

Also, when you’re the boss you control the purse strings and set the budget on how much money you’ll spend to get your message out there.  First up is to get to know local press people so you must hire an excellent publicist so Wendell B went to the publicity pedigree school and got one of the best.  Beverly Paige. Second, you give your publicist access to your corporate credit card based on her impeccable reputation.  The New York press core know Bev, an alumnus from the old publicity school, where you knew how to treat the people who could make or break you.  However, that delicate balance was done intransigently.  The talent had to be there!  Breaking bread was a top priority because whether the review was good or bad, it should start out on a full stomach. Bev set out for us to meet her client in a beautiful surrounding and held the meet and greet party at one of New York’s finest restaurants, The Palm.  She met with no resistance from her boss who looks like he’s had a good meal or two in his lifetime.  “Let’s do this right!  These folks don’t know me and imagery is an important part of my makeup,” he exclaimed.  So, Bev invited a select number of the crème de la crème of urban press people in this City to welcome Wendell B the likes of Steve Manning, Flo Anthony, Karu F. Daniels, Cynthia Horner, Marie Moore and yours truly. The menu was like nothing you’ve tasted because sandwiched in between each course of the magnificent meal were several delicious cuts performed tastefully by Wendell B, the such as “Heaven Sent Me An Angel,” “I Just Don’t Understand” and “A Guilty Man I Was Wrong.” Wendell B’s selections were the piece de resistance and although this intimate group was comprised of only twenty people, the thunderous applause he received was of stadium level.  This gentle giant had overwhelmingly met with our approval.  A true businessman, he’s entering in the ring with style, class and the grace of God. When not performing, Wendell layered information about his debut album on his own label.  “I covered a little bit of everything through the 12 songs on my album, Good Times, love found, love lost, love scorned.” One of the songs he performed, “I Just Don’t Understand You,” showcased his tender writing ability.  “The lyrical content of the song expresses a man’s displeasure toward a woman who fails to do right.  For instance, I say in that song, ‘Mama taught me my ABC’s daddy taught me 1, 2, 3, I went to school for a college degree, but I just don’t understand you.”

Another showcase song he performed, “Heaven Sent Me An Angel,” evoked man’s heart wrenching vulnerability, too often ignored in the music.  “I have been through a lot and sometimes I get tired.  Tired and too scared to try a relationship.” Remarkably, the noted singer arranged and produced all material for his debut album which was co-produced by the Production Team, 350, comprised of Courtney Triplett, Chris Luckett and Michael Brooks, who are the staff producers for the label. No one wanted to see the evening end and, as guests filed out with their goodie bags in hand, Wendell B, who now calls Washington, DC home, reminded them all of his upcoming gig at Joe’s Pub where he picked up where he left off.  During his outstanding performance, the laid back singer vowed to spread love through song. “There’s a saying in The Bible that what comes from the heart reaches the heart.  I wanted people to be able to relate to the content, have fun and keep it real.” Hey Wendell, from where I sit, you accomplished just that and lots more.  I was so impressed with your enormous talent that I dedicated my whole column to you.  Keep up the great work and, as you promised, always “keep it real.” 




B.I.G. In Life And In Death

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Robert Everett-Green

(Feb. 4, 2005) Vibe Books and Three Rivers Press must have chosen a particularly heavy paper stock for their new biography of rapper Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. the Notorious B.I.G. Cheo Hodari Coker's 351-page book weighs almost a kilo, which is only a little more than the combined heft of my copies of Crime and Punishment, Bill Buford's Among the Thugs and J. M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians. Everything about Wallace was big: his body, his mouth, his impact on the rap scene, and his ability to produce a profit, dead or alive. He liked to pose in Capone-style suits and fedoras that emphasized his bulk. And the nervous references to him scattered through the chart-topping new album by the Game suggest that Biggie Smalls (another nom de guerre, lifted from a Bill Cosby film) still looms over rappers inclined to boast that they're the biggest and baddest. Coker's biography, whose author and subject will be feted during Harbourfront Centre's Kuumba festival this weekend, contains much factual detail, a great if depressing story line, and liberal helpings of the hagiographic prose usual in such books ("With the distribution deal in place, Christopher Wallace could focus on doing what he did best --creating an album that would rock the whole hip-hop nation"). Unbelievable: The Life, Death and Afterlife of the Notorious B.I.G. follows young Christopher from his early days as a clean-cut Catholic school kid who spent his summers in Jamaica, through his days as a drug dealer, to the results of his lucrative alliance with the privately educated Sean (Puff Daddy) Combs, who shared Biggie's perception that there was a fortune to be made by marketing a mythic view of life on the mean streets of New York. As the title implies, Biggie's unsolved 1997 murder on a New York street (a result, perhaps, of conflict with Tupac Shakur, the West Coast rapper murdered a few weeks earlier) did not end his active career. Biggie has since appeared in duets with the likes of Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, Lil' Kim, 50 Cent and of course Puff Daddy (a.k.a. P. Diddy). The miracle of hip-hop production, in which a clever producer can build a track from even a few stray utterances, makes it easy to extend the lives of the famous and dead. Tupac is still the leader in that regard, though we can look forward to many posthumous collaborations from the recently deceased Ol' Dirty Bastard (Russell Jones).

B.I.G. has even co-produced some albums from his new crib in the great beyond, though Coker doesn't say whether Ouija boards were involved. No one realized how prophetic the title of Biggie's 1997 album, Life After Death, would turn out to be. And that may not be all. Last week it became known that Combs, who starred in a Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun last year, is a bidder for four West End London theatres owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Theatre group. The London theatre press has responded with a mixture of horror and bitter humour. One Guardian writer pondered the prospect of a Diddy production of 'Tis Pity She's a Ho, foresaw a starring role for Jennifer Lopez in Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children, and predicted a Brooklyn rap revision of Hamlet, starring Diddy as "one of the all-time great hip-hop lyricists, producers and performers, looking to avenge the death of his vastly overweight former crack-dealer protégé." But why bother with Hamlet? Coker's book has incident enough to produce an action-packed theatre spectacular. Biggie, the Musical. Guys and Dolls meets West Side Story meets Superfly. It could be worse. We could be facing a feel-good Broadway musical about the acerbic, cant-despising John Lennon. Oops -- it's already happening: tickets available now, for the New York opening this summer. Imagine, just imagine, how Lennon would have hated that. Notorious B.I.G. Tribute, including the Toronto launch of Cheo Hodari Coker's biography, takes place Sunday, 2 p.m., free admission, at Harbourfront Centre's Brigantine Room, 235 Queens Quay West, 416-973-4000.




Jermaine Dupri Signs ‘106 & Park” Champion To Virgin

Excerpt from - By Clover Hope

(Feb. 5, 2005) In another classic BET "106 & Park" moment, Hip-Hop mogul Jermaine Dupri announced that he has signed freestyle champion SunNY, who was officially named to "Freestyle Friday" Hall of Fame Friday (Feb. 4) after a seven-week winning streak.   Dupri surprised the "106 & Park" audience by appearing on stage, presenting SunNY with a chain and announcing his signing to So So Def Records. "He's got style and that's what separates him from the regular rappers," Dupri told "He's ready for what you throw at him, so I figured if you throw something at him like a record deal, he should be ready for that too."   According to Dupri, it was a spontaneous freestyle session at a radio station that compelled him to sign SunNY. The Rochester native-turned-Atlanta resident had battled and defeated other unsigned rappers for seven weeks straight until his final competition Friday. Afterwards, an emotional SunNY expressed his appreciation for his mom and the support of fans.   "He adapted to the situation at hand. He never knew what beat ["106 & Park" DJ] Enuff was gonna come with," said Dupri of SunNY's performances. "You go off the judges' faces; you go off [hosts] Free, AJ's expressions and just the crowd [reaction]. Everybody's facial expression was like 'Wow.'"   Dupri himself recently made a big move, now president of Virgin Records' Urban Music division. Under terms of the new deal, Jermaine brought over his So So Def label to Virgin. SunNY is the first artist Dupri has signed since his relocation.   Unlike prior freestyle Hall of Famers Jin and Poster Boy, who also came up through the ranks of "Freestyle Friday," SunNY has the luxury of Dupri's immediate attention, JD explained. Dupri looks to take full advantage of SunNY's popularity on "106 & Park," since the show has essentially launched SunNY's career.   "With Jin, they waited too long. With [SunNY], you gonna hear a record with him in three months. You can't wait a year," said Dupri, referring to the long time-span between Jin's signing to Virgin/Ruff Ryders and his album release. "BET's gonna have another [freestyle] champion soon. You gotta go." Jin announced his signing to Ruff Ryders in surprise fashion, too, pulling out a Ruff Ryder chain at his last performance.   Dupri expects SunNY's debut album, tentatively titled Overnight Celebrity, to drop within four to five months. "If he gets a hit record, [success] should be instant for him," said Dupri.   106 & Park's weekly "Freestyle Friday" contest pits two unknown Mcs against each other. DJs and judges from the music industry select the winner, with the reigning champ returning the following week to compete against another rapper.   In addition to SunNY, "Freestyle Friday" has birthed such rappers as Jin and Poster Boy, both of whom landed major label deals as a result.




Game Back On As 'Documentary' Rebounds To No. 1

Excerpt from - Margo Whitmire, L.A.

(Feb. 9, 2005) Fans are still clamouring for the Game, prompting the return of his Aftermath/G-Unit/Interscope debut "The Documentary" to No. 1 on The Billboard 200. Despite a 28% slide, sales of 190,000 U.S. copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, are enough to stave off an influx of new titles and retake the lead.   The chart's hot shot debut is also the best-charting album of Tina Turner's career, as "All the Best" (Capitol) debuts at No. 2. The double CD anthology sold 121,000 units in its first week to beat the soul icon's previous chart high, a No. 3 peak with 1984's "Private Dancer."  Turner has been hitting the TV circuit to promote the set, which covers two decades of recordings and includes three new tracks, performing classics like "Let's Stay Together" on ABC's "Regis & Kelly" and new single "Open Arms" on CBS' "The Early Show."   Sales of Green Day's "American Idiot" (Reprise) rose 19% to 113,000 copies, fuelling a 4-3 rise, while last week's No. 1, Kenny Chesney's "Be As You Are: Songs From An Old Blue Chair" (BNA), drops to No. 4 on a 65% slip to 109,000.  John Legend's "Get Lifted" (Sony Urban Music/Columbia) makes a one spot leap to No. 5 on the strength of a 46% gain to 93,000 units.   As the original Motley Crue lineup prepares to hit the road for the first time since 1999, the band's "Red White & Crue" (Hip-O/Motley/UME) retrospective enters The Billboard 200 at No. 6 with 90,000 copies. The 37-track, double-disc set features hits like "Girls, Girls, Girls" and "Smoking in the Boys' Room," which the band will perform during the tour of the same name when it kicks off Feb. 17 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.   Eminem's "Encore" (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope) dips 5-7 despite a 9% increase to sales of 85,000 copies.   Entering at No. 8 is Grammy/Capitol's "Grammy Nominees 2005," selling 78,000 copies in advance of Feb. 13's 47th annual awards ceremony in Los Angeles. The selection features tracks by leading nominee Kanye West, Green Day, Alicia Keys and MusiCares person of the year honouree Brian Wilson. Last year's compilation bowed at No. 4 with 68,000 units and has sold 679,000 to date.  Rounding out the top tier, Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz's "Crunk Juice" (TVT) saw a 10% boost to 69,000 units, but falls 7-9, while Usher's "Confessions" (LaFace/Zomba) drops 9-10 despite a 20% gain to 69,000.  It's another strong week for Ray Charles, as the WMG/Atlantic/Rhino "Ray" soundtrack rockets 43-16, and is the chart's greatest sales gainer, reflecting a 130% upshot to 53,000 units. The late artist also enters The Billboard 200 with "Ray: More Music From Ray Charles" (Rhino), which bows at No. 46 with 25,000 copies. In addition, Charles' final studio album, "Genius Loves Company" (Concord/Hear Music), rises 35-24 thanks to a 39% gain to 50,000.  Other notable album chart bows this week include Grupo Montez De Durango's "Y Sigue La Mata Danda" (Disa, No. 34), Do Or Die's "D.O.D." (The Legion, No. 40), Unwritten Law's "Here's to the Mourning" (Lava, No. 51), Conjunto Primavera's "Hoy Como Ayer" (Fonovisa, No. 58) and Joe Cocker's "Heart & Soul" (New Door/Universal, No. 61).  Overall U.S. album sales were up 9.7% over the previous week at 11.4 million units and about 7% up from the same week last year. To-date sales remain below 2004 by about 8.7% at 5.2 million units.




Ciara Is On Fire!

Source: Tice Merriweather / 212.824.1707

(Feb. 8, 2005) NEW YORK /PRNewswire/ -- Ciara's debut album Goodies recently was certified PLATINUM by RIAA.  The album features 2 successful singles "Goodies" featuring Petey Pablo (which spent 7 consecutive weeks at #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 charts) and "1, 2 Step" which features Missy Elliott and equally proves to be a hit as well currently #1 on the Pop 100 Billboard Charts, # 2 Billboard's Hot 100 and # 4 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart.  The single also is doing well at radio currently # 2 on the Top 40 mainstream chart, # 4 at Top 40 Rhythm and # 4 and R&B mainstream.  Ciara's hot new single "Oh" features rapper Ludacris and was produced by production team Andre Harris and Vidal Davis (Michael Jackson, Usher, Jill Scott).   "I co-wrote most of this album including "Oh," Ciara enthuses. The song, a groove-heavy track and sassy vocals, are signature Ciara. In addition to cuts produced by Lil' Jon, the album also finds the young artist in the studio with Jazze Pha at the controls, producer Sean Garrett (Usher) and Johnta Austin (Toni Braxton, Aaliyah). Look out for the video to debut in the next few weeks on the video channels. With her success she has just been named the recipient of the 2005 Sammy Davis Jr. Entertainer of the Year Award (Female) at this year's Soul Train Awards as well as several nominations including Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist, Best R&B/Soul Single (Female), and Best R&B/Soul Album (Female).  The show airs March 12 in syndication. Upcoming Print Press includes Cover features in Vibe Vixen and Trace as well as fashion features in V shot by Karl Lagerfeld and Interview. Upcoming television appearances for Ciara includes, MTV TRL Awards (February 21) and Soul Train Awards (March 12).




Keys Leads Thailand Show For Tsunami Aid

Source:  Associated Press

(Feb. 4, 2005) BANGKOK—American R&B star Alicia Keys headlined an array of singers and international celebrities who entertained an enthusiastic audience of thousands to raise money for tsunami relief work.  The MTV Asia Aid event in Bangkok last night brought together Western musicians and actors from India's Bollywood film industry to aid relief efforts in countries devastated by the disaster on Boxing Day.  Thailand's own sultry pop singer Tata Young was an early performer on a bill that included India's Asha Bhosle, Good Charlotte from the United States and Taiwan's Jay Chou.  Sting, 50 Cent and Robbie Williams voiced their support in taped messages.  The crowd also saw a tape of Ricky Martin touring the devastated areas of southern Thailand last week.  Jennifer Lopez gave a performance on video, as did Irish pop star Ronan Keating, who was seen singing and playing guitar last week on Thailand's tsunami-hit Phuket island, accompanied by a throng of Thai children.  Chester Bennington of rap-rock band Linkin Park, who just returned from visiting Phuket, was among the presenters.  MTV Asia Aid will be available free to broadcasters globally to raise money for UNICEF, the primary recipient of the funds, and local charities.  Organizers hope to reach an audience of more than one billion people. 


Jackson Brown's One-Man Hip Hop Avant-Garde Show

Source: eyejammie / Bill Adler /

(Feb. 3, 2005) Jackson Brown's "Follow the Leader: Portraits of the Hip-Hop Avant-Garde,"  a one-man show of paintings, opens with a reception at the Eyejammie Fine Arts Gallery, 516 W.25th Street, this coming Friday evening from 6 to 9pm.  "Follow the Leader" is comprised of paintings and drawings of such notable figures as Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, Deborah Harry & Fab 5 Freddy,  Jean-Michel Basquiat, Russell Simmons, Run-DMC, KRS-One, Slick Rick, and Flavor Flav.  As a painter who grew up in Queens loving hiphop, the 29-year-old Brown's work naturally combines both of these passions.  His portrait of KRS-One, for example, shows the clear influence of Picasso.  His painting of Grandmaster Flash references Salvador Dali.  And his paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat are done in the style of Basquiat.




T.I. Gets 'Chopped And Screwed'

Source: LaTrice Burnett /

(Feb. 4, 2005) Grand Hustle/Atlantic has set February 8th for the release of T.I.'s "URBAN LEGEND: CHOPPED AND SCREWED BY PAUL WALL," an entirely remixed version of the Atlanta rapper's current smash album.  With the original release certified RIAA gold and rapidly approaching the platinum mark, the album has been completely retooled by acclaimed underground mixmaster Paul Wall, incorporating the psychedelic sound of "screw" to create an all-new musical experience. "Screw music" was born out of Houston's alternative hip-hop scene, fueled by the use of codeine as a recreational drug - aka "syrup sippin'."  Screw simulates the drug's trademark hallucinatory effects, producing an innovative, trance-like new hip-hop groove, a slower pace crafted by pitching down the mix until a lumbering, often eerie, tone is achieved.  Pioneered by the infamous DJ Screw, screw has become a cult sensation in Southern rap circles, with "screwed" remixes of popular hip-hop anthems circulating via widely traded mix tapes as well as throughout the Internet music sharing community. The original "URBAN LEGEND" - the follow-up to T.I.'s breakthrough 2003 Grand Hustle/Atlantic premiere, "TRAP MUZIK" - made an explosive chart debut upon its release in November, premiering in the #1 spot on Billboard's "Top R&B/Hip-Hip Albums" chart and entering in the #7 spot on the Billboard 200. "URBAN LEGEND" features the smash Swizz Beatz-produced single, "Bring 'Em Out," which is currently #5 with-a-bullet at Urban radio, as well as #9 with-a-bullet at CHR/Rhythmic outlets.  At the same time, the album's second radio track, "U Don't Know Me," is quickly climbing Urban radio playlists nationwide, coming in this week at #22 with-a-bullet. The album finds the "King of the South" joined by a crew of special guests, including Pharrell, Nelly, Lil' Kim, Trick Daddy, Lil Jon, Lil Wayne, Jazze Pha, and others. 




Nelly First Hip-Hop Act To Perform At Texas Rodeo

Excerpt from - By Nolan Strong

(Feb. 5, 2005) Nelly has scored another first - the first Hip-Hop act to play in the Star of Texas Rodeo, slated for March 23, organizers announced yesterday (Feb. 4). The booking makes Nelly the first Hip-Hop act booked in the two-week festival's 68-year history.  Patrons of the Star of Texas Rodeo come to enjoy "fifteen days of hoof pounding, heart throbbing action."  Organizers said that they were "excited to present the first rap artist," and that their goal was to keep the festival diverse.  Last year's survey revealed that almost 7 percent of the 325,000 attendees were African-Americans. Nelly, who performs March 25, joins such artists as Maroon 5, .38 Special, Charlie Daniels Band, Terri Clark and others. Tickets went on sale today (Feb. 5).  Funds from the Rodeo support education in the state of Texas. Over 1.2 million was awarded to students in prize money and auction proceeds. In related news, Nelly will headline the 36th Annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival with singer James Taylor.  The event is set for April 22-24 and April 28-May 1.




R&B Singer Says Devil Made Him Gouge Out Eye

Source:  Associated Press

(Feb. 7, 2005) NEW YORK—The devil made him do it, representatives for R&B singer Houston said in a statement explaining how his eye was seriously gouged.  Houston's publicist issued a statement last week denying reports that he tried to take his life by jumping from a London hotel window last week. The statement said Houston had "found himself in the midst of a spiritual battle against the evil that runs rampant in the entertainment industry."  Houston, whose 2004 single "I Like That" was used in a McDonald's commercial, was found in his London hotel room with a serious eye injury. He was briefly hospitalized.  "Houston was lying on his bed with a towel over his face and I removed the towel to find his eye hanging out," said Houston's bodyguard, Marco Powell. He said he had to get the devil off of his back and that's the only way he could kill the devil."




Houston's Bodyguard Denies Suicide Attempt

Excerpt from

(Feb. 7, 2005) *Houston’s bodyguard is saying that the R&B singer gouged his eye out because of a “spiritual crisis,” not as part a suicide attempt.   Marco Powell, who was in the London hotel with Houston when the incident went down Tuesday, tells MTV News: "Houston is going through spiritual warfare right now. It's like good versus evil. He grew up in a Christian family, and since he's signed his record deal he's been subjected to, in his own words, 'Sins and devils in the business' like drugs, alcohol and all this stuff that he's not used to. "He didn't want to be around that. He just wasn't happy with management - he just wasn't happy. He didn't know which way to turn. The night of the incident, we had dinner at the hotel. After dinner, he went to his room to read the Bible. He is an avid reader of the Bible. "After I finished eating, I went upstairs to check on him and I noticed blood on the floor. Houston usually has really bad nose bleeds. So I asked him, 'Are you ok? Is your nose bleeding?' He said, 'Yeah, my nose is bleeding but I'm cool. I will see you in the morning. I can't wait to get back to L.A. with my family'." Still believing something was wrong, Powell returned to Houston’s room. "He was lying on the bed with a towel over his face, so something told me it was more,” said Powell. “So I walked into the room to talk to him, I pulled the towel off of his face, and that's when I saw that he had gouged his eye out. He showed no pain and he had no remorse. He said he had to do it. He said that that had freed him from everything. He was happy after that. He said he was changed and was ready to go. That symbolic statement basically freed him from all the pain he was in. He feels like he is closer to God now."




Grammy Awards To Feature Big Opening

Source:  Associated Press

(Feb. 8, 2005) Los Angeles — The 47th Annual Grammy Awards show will open with music acts that could give Live Aid a run for its money. The show, airing live Sunday from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on CBS, will begin with performances by five nominated artists: the Black Eyed Peas, Gwen Stefani (performing with Eve), Los Lonely Boys, Maroon5 and Franz Ferdinand. They will perform separately across three stages at the start of the broadcast, the Recording Academy announced Tuesday. Usher, who is nominated for eight Grammys, joins previously announced performers Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Green Day, Alicia Keys, U2 and Tim McGraw, The Recording Academy also announced. Also planned is a tribute to Ray Charles featuring Bonnie Raitt and Billy Preston, and a salute to Southern Rock with Gretchen Wilson, Lynyrd Skynyrd and others. Queen Latifah will host the show, which airs at 8 p.m. (EST).




Fantasia Goes Platinum

Excerpt from

(Feb. 9, 2005) *It was slow coming out of the blocks in December - compared to the debut albums of other “American Idol” winners - but Fantasia’s debut CD “Free Yourself” has picked up steam, thanks in large part to the slow-building success of first single “Truth Is." This week, the set will be certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, signalling one million units sold in the U.S.  While the album moves up to No. 18 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and No. 4 on the R&B chart, “Truth Is” has just hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Urban Adult Singles chart. The single has reached No. 9 on the Urban Mainstream radio chart with Urban radio already feeling the tracks "Baby Mama" and "Free Yourself" from the album. Look for one of those to become the set’s second single.  Fantasia’s schedule will be hectic for the next several months. The single mother from North Carolina will sing "Truth Is" on Soul Train Saturday, Feb. 12; she'll belt the tune live on BET’s “106 & Park” next Thursday, Feb. 17; and on Feb. 22, she's back singing "The Lord Will Bless Me Right Now" on BET's Celebration of Gospel special.  In addition to co-hosting the Soul Train Awards gala on Mar. 12 with Nicole Richie, Brian McKnight and Nick Cannon, Fantasia will perform a medley of "Baby Mama" and "Free Yourself" during the show. She’s also been nominated for a Soul Train Award as Best New Artist, R&B/Soul or Rap (against Ciara, J-Kwon and John Legend).  In other awards news, Fantasia has also been nominated for Outstanding New Artist and Outstanding Female Artist at the NAACP Image Awards, to broadcast on Friday night, March 25th. Fantasia first entered the pop music record books in June, when she became the first artist in the 49-year history of the Billboard Hot 100 chart to debut at No. 1 with her debut single, "I Believe," which also set a one-week 2004 Soundscan sales record in the process. The song now serves as the climactic closing number of “Free Yourself,” which also includes two other memorable Idol showstoppers, the Gershwins' "Summertime" and "Chain Of Fools," a powerful homage to Fantasia's lifelong idol Aretha Franklin. 




P. Diddy Turns Down Warner, Says Offer Was Undervalued

Excerpt from - By Shawn Lawrence James and Katie Hintz

(Feb. 7, 2005) Hip-Hop and Fashion entrepreneur Sean “P. Diddy” Combs recently turned down an offer from the Warner Music Group to purchase his Bad Boy recording label.   The proposal was initially offered to acquire Combs' share of the imprint, which is presently being distributed through Universal until early next year.   The New York Times reported the deal was worth $30 million. Warner representatives refused comment but sources close to negotiations set the deal closer $60 million.   According to sources, Universal is lukewarm in response to re-negotiating their contract with Bad Boy in light of the label’s stagnant performance in 2004.   Since then, Combs openly exercised his options by courting several labels over the last couple weeks.   "While [Mr. Combs] appreciated the offer from Warner Music Group, he felt the amount undervalued both him and his Bad Boy Records label," a source that wished to remain anonymous told   Sources went on to say that Combs' decision to veto the deal with Warner was inspired by “business, creative and personal reasons” noting that the mogul wished to retain 100 percent of his business, which produced the likes of Ma$e and The Notorious B.I.G. and is set to release projects by P. Diddy, B5, Black Rob and Boyz N Da Hood in 2005.   Others speculate that Combs may be at odds with Warner Music CEO and former Island Def Jam head Lyor Cohen over sour deals the two encountered with one another in the past.   "Acquiring Bad Boy and doing a 50/50 joint venture would have given Warner the urban presence they needed," the source continued. "And with Warner being set up to go public, the partnership would have created a powerful impact on Warner’s stock offering."   Sources went on to say "Though Warner Music and Mr. Combs could not come to terms at this time, we are hopeful that Mr. Combs is still open to further discussion."   As of press time, phone calls to the Warner Music Group in regards to the matter were unreturned.




Doobie Bros. Drummer Keith Knudsen Dies

Excerpt from -

(Feb. 9, 2005) Keith Knudsen, the longtime Doobie Brothers drummer who was part of the band during a string of hits that included "Taking It to the Streets" and "Black Water," died of pneumonia yesterday (Feb. 7). He was 56.  Knudsen had been hospitalized for more than a month, according to the band's longtime manager Bruce Cohn. "I just saw him Sunday, just before the Super Bowl," Cohn said. "He was in good spirits. He was weak, but he was OK."  Knudsen began drumming in eighth grade and joined the Doobie Brothers in 1974. "After a week's rehearsal, I went on the road with the band," Knudsen said in his biography on the band's Web site.   Knudsen played with the Doobies until a 1982 farewell tour. During the band's hiatus, Knudsen and bandmate John McFee formed the country rock group Southern Pacific, which released four albums and had several hits. He rejoined the Doobies full-time in 1993.  "He's going to be missed," said Tom Johnston, the band's founder. "We're going to miss him on drums. I'm going to miss him as a buddy."   Knudsen, who lived in Sonoma County's wine country, had cancer in 1995. "It left him weak and I don't think he ever fully regained all his strength," Johnston said. He added that the band was currently performing about 100 concerts a year and is scheduled to release a new album this summer.  Knudsen is the fourth member of the Doobies to pass away, joining percussionist Bobby LaKind, bassist Dave Shogren and saxophonist Cornelius Bumpus.




Beyoncé, Groban Teaming For Oscars

Excerpt from - Carla Hay, N.Y.

(Feb. 8, 2005) Josh Groban and Beyoncé will perform the Oscar-nominated song "Believe" together at the 77th annual Academy Awards ceremony, has learned. Written by Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri, the track is from the movie "The Polar Express" and was performed by Groban on its soundtrack.  Although the performers for this year's Oscars, to be held Feb. 27 at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, have not been officially announced, sources say that Counting Crows and Minnie Driver are also expected to perform.  Counting Crows will play "Accidentally in Love" (from "Shrek 2") and Driver will sing "Learn To Be Lonely," the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Charles Hart-penned tune from "The Phantom of the Opera." Although "Opera" co-star Driver does not do her own singing in the movie, she sang "Learn To Be Lonely," which appears in the movie's end credits and on the soundtrack.  Performers have yet to be announced for the two other songs nominated for the best original song Oscar: "Al Otro Lado Del Rio" (from "The Motorcycle Diaries") and "Look To Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)" from "The Chorus (Les Choristes)."






Tuesday, February 8, 2005

BEASTIE BOYS, To the 5 Boroughs [Bonus CD], EMI
T.I., Urban Legend [Chopped and Screwed], Atlantic
THE RELATIVEZ, Money Respect Money [Bonus DVD], Artist Direct BMG
VARIOUS ARTISTS, Essential Underground Hip Hop, Vol. 2, Landspeed
BRIAN MCKNIGHT, Gemini, Motown
K-CI & JOJO, All My Life: Their Greatest Hits, Geffen
RAY CHARLES, Brother Ray's Blues, Synergy
THE O'JAYS, Essential O'Jays, Sony
VARIOUS ARTISTS, Thump R&B Classic Collection, Thump
BRIAN MCKNIGHT Gemini (Motown)
CHRIS ROCK Never Scared (Geffen)
MICHAEL BUBLE It's Time (Warner)
PINK Live In Europe (DVD) (Zomba)
U2 All Because Of You (CD Single) (Island/Def Jam)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Curtis Mayfield, Curtis Remixed, Rhino
Lee Dorsey, Yes We Can/Night People, Raven
Stanley Turrentine, Don't Mess With Mister T. [Bonus Tracks], Sony
USHER Rhythm City - Volume 1: Money, Power, Respect (DVD) (Zomba)
Various Artists, 26 R&B Classics That Rocked the Jukebox in 1945, Bear Family
Various Artists, 27 R&B Classics That Rocked the Jukebox in 1946, Bear Family
Various Artists, 27 R&B Classics That Rocked the Jukebox in 1949, Bear Family
Various Artists, 28 R&B Classics That Rocked the Jukebox in 1947, Bear Family
Various Artists, 28 R&B Classics That Rocked the Jukebox in 1948, Bear Family
Various Artists, 28 R&B Classics That Rocked the Jukebox in 1950, Bear Family
Various Artists, Smooth Sax Tribute to Aretha Franklin, Tribute Sounds
Various Artists, Tribute to DMX, Tribute Sounds
Various Artists, Tribute to Nelly [Tribute Sounds], Tribute Sounds





Ossie Davis, 87

Source:  Associated Press

(Feb.6, 2005) New York — Ossie Davis, the imposing, unshakable actor who championed racial justice on stage, on screen and in real life, often in tandem with his wife, Ruby Dee, has died. He was 87. Davis was found dead Friday in his hotel room in Miami Beach, Fla., according to officials there. He was making a film called Retirement, said Arminda Thomas, who works in his office in suburban New Rochelle and confirmed the death. Miami Beach police spokesman Bobby Hernandez said Davis's grandson called shortly before 7 a.m. when Davis would not open the door to his room at the Shore Club Hotel. Davis was found dead and there does not appear to be any foul play, Hernandez said. Davis, who wrote, acted, directed and produced for the theatre and Hollywood, was a central figure among black performers for decades. He and Dee celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1998 with the publication of a dual autobiography, In This Life Together. Their partnership called to mind other performing couples, such as the Lunts, or Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. Davis and Dee first appeared together in the plays Jeb, in 1946, and Anna Lucasta, in 1946-47. Davis's first film, No Way Out in 1950, was Dee's fifth. Both had key roles in the television series Roots: The Next Generation (1978), Martin Luther King: The Dream and the Drum (1986) and The Stand (1994). Davis appeared in three Spike Lee films, including School Daze, Do the Right Thing and Jungle Fever. Dee also appeared in the latter two; among her best-known films was A Raisin in the Sun, in 1961. In 2004, Davis and Dee were among the artists selected to receive the Kennedy Center Honors. When not on stage or on camera, Davis and Dee were deeply involved in civil rights issues and efforts to promote the cause of blacks in the entertainment industry. They nearly ran afoul of the anti-communist witch-hunts of the early 1950s, but were never openly accused of any wrongdoing.

Davis directed several films, most notably Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970) and Countdown at Kusini (1976), in which he also appeared with Dee. Both wrote plays and screenplays, and other films in which Davis appeared include The Cardinal (1963), The Hill (1965), Grumpy Old Men (1993), The Client (1994) and I'm Not Rappaport (1996), a reprise of his stage role 10 years earlier. On television, he appeared in The Emperor Jones (1955), Freedom Road (1979), Miss Evers' Boys (1997) and Twelve Angry Men (1997). He was a cast member on The Defenders from 1963 to '65, and Evening Shade from 1990 to '94, among other shows. Davis had just started his new movie on Monday, said Michael Livingston, his Hollywood agent. "I'm shocked," Livingston said. "I'm absolutely shocked. He was the most wonderful man I've ever known. Such a classy, kindly man." His wife had gone to New Zealand to make a movie there, Livingston said. The oldest of five children, Davis was born in tiny Cogdell, Ga., in 1917 and grew up in nearby Waycross and Valdosta. He left home in 1935, hitchhiking to Washington to enter Howard University, where he studied drama, intending to be a playwright. His career as an actor began in 1939 with the Rose McClendon Players in Harlem, then the centre of black culture in America. There, the young Davis met or mingled with some of the most influential figures of the time, including the preacher Father Divine, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Langston Hughes and Richard Wright. He also had what he described in the book as a "flirtation with the Young Communist League," which he said essentially ended with the onset of the Second World War. Davis spent nearly four years in service, mainly as a surgical technician in an army hospital in Liberia, serving both wounded troops and local inhabitants. Back in New York in 1946, Davis debuted on Broadway in Jeb, a play about a returning soldier. His co-star was Dee, whose budding stage career had paralleled his own. They had even appeared in different productions of the same play, On Strivers Row, in 1940. In December 1948, on a day off from rehearsals from another play, Davis and Dee took a bus to New Jersey to get married. They already were so close that "it felt almost like an appointment we finally got around to keeping," Dee wrote in In This Life Together. As black performers, they found themselves caught up in the social unrest fomented by the then-new Cold War and the growing debate over social and racial justice. "We young ones in the theatre, trying to fathom even as we followed, were pulled this way and that by the swirling currents of these new dimensions of the Struggle," Davis wrote in the joint autobiography.

He lined up with socialist reformer DuBois and singer Paul Robeson, remaining fiercely loyal to the singer even after Robeson was denounced by other black political, sports and show business figures for his openly communist and pro-Soviet sympathies. While Hollywood and, to a lesser extent, the New York theatre world became engulfed in McCarthyism controversies, Davis and Dee emerged from the anti-communist fervour unscathed. "We've never been, to our knowledge, guilty of anything — other than being black — that might upset anybody," he wrote. They were friends with baseball star Jackie Robinson — Dee played his wife, opposite Robinson himself, in the 1950 movie The Jackie Robinson Story — and with Malcolm X. In the book, Davis told how a prior commitment caused them to miss the Harlem rally where Malcolm was assassinated in 1965. Davis delivered the eulogy at Malcolm's funeral, calling him "our own black shining prince — who didn't hesitate to die, because he loved us so." He reprised it in a voice-over for the 1992 Spike Lee film, Malcolm X. Along with film, stage and television, the couple's careers extended to a radio show, The Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee Story Hour, that ran on 65 stations for four years in the mid-1970s, featuring a mix of black themes. Both made numerous guest appearances on television shows.




Ossie Davis Dies

Excerpt from

(Feb. 4, 2005) *WE REMEMBER: Actor Ossie Davis, has died, an aide said Friday. He was 87. Davis, the husband and partner of actress Ruby Dee, was found dead Friday in his hotel room in Miami Beach, Fla., according to officials there. He was making a film called "Retirement," said Arminda Thomas, who works in his office in suburban New Rochelle and confirmed the death, reports the Associated Press. Davis, who wrote, acted, directed and produced for the theatre and Hollywood, was a central figure among black performers of the last five decades. He and Dee celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1998 with the publication of a dual autobiography, "In This Life Together." In Miami Beach, police spokesman Bobby Hernandez said Davis' grandson called the police shortly before 7 a.m. when his grandfather would not open the door to his room at the Shore Club Hotel. Davis was found dead and there does not appear to be any foul play, Hernandez said. Davis had just started his movie on Monday, said Michael Livingston, his Hollywood agent. "I'm shocked," Livingston said. "I'm absolutely shocked. He was the most wonderful man I've ever known. Such a classy, kindly man." His wife had gone to New Zealand to make a movie there, Livingston said. Their partnership called to mind other performing couples, such as the Lunts, or Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. Davis and Dee first appeared together in the plays "Jeb," in 1946, and "Anna Lucasta," in 1946-47. Davis' first film, "No Way Out" in 1950, was Dee's fifth. Both had key roles in the television series "Roots: The Next Generation" (1978), "Martin Luther King: The Dream and the Drum" (1986) and "The Stand" (1994). Davis appeared in three Spike Lee films, including "School Daze," "Do the Right Thing" and "Jungle Fever." Dee also appeared in the latter two; among her best-known films was "A Raisin in the Sun," in 1961. In 2004, Davis and Dee were among the artists selected to receive the Kennedy Center Honors. When not on stage or on camera, Davis and Dee were deeply involved in civil rights issues and efforts to promote the cause of blacks in the entertainment industry. They nearly ran afoul of the anti-Communist witch-hunts of the early 1950s, but were never openly accused of any wrongdoing.

Davis, the oldest of five children of a self-taught railroad builder and herb doctor, was born in tiny Cogdell, Ga., in 1917 and grew up in nearby Waycross and Valdosta. He left home in 1935, hitchhiking to Washington to enter Howard University, where he studied drama, intending to be a playwright. His career as an actor began in 1939 with the Rose McClendon Players in Harlem, then the centre of black culture in America. There, the young Davis met or mingled with some of the most influential figures of the time, including the preacher Father Divine, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Langston Hughes and Richard Wright. He also had what he described in the book as a "flirtation with the Young Communist League," which he said essentially ended with the onset of World War II. Davis spent nearly four years in service, mainly as a surgical technician in an Army hospital in Liberia, serving both wounded troops and local inhabitants. Back in New York in 1946, Davis debuted on Broadway in "Jeb," a play about a returning soldier. His co-star was Dee, whose budding stage career had paralleled his own. They had even appeared in different productions of the same play, "On Strivers Row," in 1940. In December 1948, on a day off from rehearsals from another play, "The Smile of the World," Davis and Dee took a bus to New Jersey to get married. They already were so close that "it felt almost like an appointment we finally got around to keeping," Dee wrote in "In This Life Together." As black performers, they found themselves caught up in the social unrest fomented by the then-new Cold War and the growing debate over social and racial justice in the United States. "We young ones in the theatre, trying to fathom even as we followed, were pulled this way and that by the swirling currents of these new dimensions of the Struggle," Davis wrote in the joint autobiography. He lined up with black socialist reformer DuBois and singer Paul Robeson, remaining fiercely loyal to the singer even after Robeson was denounced by other black political, sports and show business figures for his openly communist and pro-Soviet sympathies. While Hollywood and, to a lesser extent, the New York theatre world became engulfed in McCarthyism and red-baiting controversies, Davis and Dee emerged from the anti-communist fervour unscathed and, in Davis' view, justifiably so. "We've never been, to our knowledge, guilty of anything _ other than being black _ that might upset anybody," he wrote. They were friends with baseball star Jackie Robinson and his wife, Rachel _ Dee played her, opposite Robinson himself, in the 1950 movie, "The Jackie Robinson Story" _ and with Malcolm X.

In the book, Davis told how a prior commitment caused them to miss the Harlem rally where Malcolm was assassinated in 1965. Davis delivered the eulogy at Malcolm's funeral, and reprised it in a voice-over for the 1992 Spike Lee film, "Malcolm X." Along with film, stage and television, the couple's careers extended to a radio show, "The Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee Story Hour," that ran on 65 stations for four years in the mid-1970s, featuring a mix of black themes. Both wrote plays and screenplays, and Davis directed several films, most notably "Cotton Comes to Harlem" (1970) and "Countdown at Kusini" (1976), in which he also appeared with Dee. Other films in which Davis appeared include "The Cardinal" (1963), "The Hill" (1965), "Grumpy Old Men" (1993), "The Client" (1994) and "I'm Not Rappaport" (1996), a reprise of his stage role 10 years earlier. On television, he appeared in "The Emperor Jones" (1955), "Freedom Road" (1979), "Miss Evers' Boys" (1997) and "Twelve Angry Men" (1997). He was a cast member on "The Defenders" from 1963-65, and "Evening Shade" from 1990-94, among other shows.




Spike, Denzel Honour Ossie

Excerpt from

(Feb. 9, 2005) *In Spike Lee’s 1992 film “Malcolm X,” Ossie Davis recreated the eulogy he recited at the Muslim leader’s funeral in 1965.  On Monday, Lee used an event marking the release of a specialized “Malcolm X” DVD to eulogize Davis, who died Friday in his Florida hotel room at the age of 87.  Lee showed a short film featuring highlights of Davis' career spanning over 50 years, and said he was guided both creatively and politically by Davis and his wife, Ruby Dee, both of whom have appeared in his films.  "They gave me the courage to take stands that might be unpopular," Lee said before several hundred people gathered at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem – among them, Malcolm X's daughter Ilyasah Shabazz, actors Denzel Washington and Wesley Snipes, and the Rev. Al Sharpton.  Sharpton commented on Davis’ role in the black community.  "There have been bigger box office attractions, but there never was a giant taller than him," Sharpton said. Washington, who played the lead role in "Malcolm X," said Davis, "is in good care and good company. My prayers go out to Ruby."




Edmonton Agog Over Gretzky Film

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Katherine Harding

(Feb. 3, 2005) Edmonton — For a city still obsessed with all-things-Wayne-Gretzky, it's a dream movie role. Edmonton is starring in a TV movie currently being shot about The Great One's dad, Walter, and the city is not only playing itself, but also the legendary hockey player's hometown, Brantford, Ont.  The Southern Ontario city originally won the role, but lost it after Ontario film tax credits fell through for the $3.5-million production entitled: Waking Up Wally: The Walter Gretzky Story.  "Alberta stepped in and here we are," said Susan Cavan, the executive producer. The tax-credit snafu turned out to be serendipitous. While Wayne hasn't played for the Edmonton Oilers since 1988, locals here are enamoured of the production, which is being shot in 18 days and will likely air on CBC Television this fall. The press is watching its every move -- one newspaper even ran a poll asking readers which Canadian actor they wanted to play Wayne. Keifer Sutherland won the poll but a relatively unknown actor who didn't even know how to skate before shooting began, Kris Holden-Ried, landed the coveted role.  And hundreds of residents recently streamed down Wayne Gretzky Drive, walked past a bronze statute of the blond hockey great holding one of the four Stanley Cups he helped capture for the city during his tenure as team captain, and into the cold arena he ruled for 10 years. "It's the least I could do," said Marian Shennan, a 62-year-old Edmonton resident, when asked why she volunteered to be an extra for several game scenes. "Wayne and his family have done so much for this city." That sentiment cuts both ways. "Edmonton made Wayne," Walter Gretzky said in an interview. "It's just an honour that we are here." Besides the civic enthusiasm, the film crew has benefited from the NHL lockout. Ice time is easier to get and the Oilers' organization, which is less busy these days because of the work stoppage, has bent over backwards to aid the production.  A hockey consultant, who is also employed by the Oilers, has helped to fill in the blanks, including bringing out equipment Wayne used that was previously under lock and key.

Meanwhile, Shennan brought her daughter and the three required clothes changes with her, including a "fancy outfit" for a scene that would re-create Wayne's retirement game at New York's Madison Square Gardens in 1999. "It's very Upper East Side," she said. Poignantly, Walter Gretzky, a former Bell Canada worker, can recall little of his son's glory years in the city that dubbed itself the City of Champions mostly on the strength of the Oilers' dynasty led by Wayne. The movie, which is based on the best-selling book that Walter wrote, On Family, Hockey and Healing, about his struggle after a brain aneurysm that led to a stroke in 1991, will recount his day-to-day recovery after the illness.  Even a love story has been included: During his rehabilitation, the Gretzkys' only daughter, Kim, met and later married Walter's therapist. "Huge chunks of my life are gone," Walter, 66, said about the stroke that left him in a deep depression. Walter said he slowly emerged from the experience a changed man, thanks to the help and support of his friends and family. Once a shy, intense worrywart, he is now carefree, candid and gregarious. "Life is too precious to waste," Walter said with a wink. However, the iconic hockey dad has managed to save a few precious memories that he clings tightly to -- Wayne's glitzy 1988 wedding to actress Janet Jones in Edmonton, his father's and mother's funerals and an important late-evening phone call he received at his Brantford home on Dec. 30, 1981. Wayne had just reached a hockey feat never achieved before -- 50 goals in 39 games -- and he wanted his dad, the man who was his first coach and mentor, to know. "I remember saying: 'What took you so long?' " Wayne then reluctantly told his father that he had to go because the press were waiting to interview the rising hockey great. "I'll always remember that as long as I live. He wanted to give us the news first; that's how much we meant to him," he recalled.




Hubert Davis: Taking A Shot At Family

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Guy Dixon

(Feb. 8, 2005) The scene opens with a man in his sixties performing a basketball drill alone on a court. Nestled among the small, metal-sided buildings on Vancouver's Granville Island, it's one of the most intimate courts in the city. Under the legs. Around the back. A hand feint in slow motion. He has the skill and concentration of someone a third his age. A muted trumpet plays on the soundtrack. Accompanying the scene is Wide World of Sports-type footage of the Harlem Globetrotters, the exhibition team he played for during its 1960s and 1970s heyday, showing off the skills of legendary players such as Curly Neal, Meadowlark Lemon and Mel (Trick) Davis. Davis, who is now 67, retired from the team and left his wife and son in Chicago, eventually returning to Megan, a white woman in Vancouver, with whom he had fallen in love years before. He had spotted Megan when she went to a Globetrotters game on a double date, decades ago. They were separated for long stretches of time, but would continue their intense relationship each time they reunited. After he married Maryetta, a black woman, and settled in Chicago, Megan continued to be part of what became a double life for him. Their story is told in Hardwood, a quiet, beautiful documentary short directed by Hubert, the son he had with Megan. The film is as much about basketball as it is about the way racial intolerance, still so prevalent in the 1960s, drove Davis away from Megan, and how that loss may have helped to tear apart his marriage to Maryetta, with whom he had another son, Mawuli.  The film traces the reconciliation all of them have gone through.

In addition to the praise the half-hour film has received, Hardwood has thrown Hubert, a tall, unassuming 29-year-old former McGill basketball player and first-time director, into the international spotlight after the film was recently nominated for best documentary short at this year's Oscars. Produced in part through the National Film Board of Canada, Hardwood was originally conceived by Hubert Davis as being more about his father's life, growing up poor, the son of a single mother on the South Side of Chicago and his rise in basketball, finally becoming a Globetrotter and the difficult choices he made in life. The chain of events and buried emotions between the two families were never really discussed openly, even years after Mel had divorced Maryetta and married Megan in Vancouver. "It wasn't a secret, it was just something you didn't talk about. No one in the family really got out there to talk about it," Hubert says. But when Hubert's proposal for Hardwood was eventually picked by the Ontario Media Development Corp.'s Calling Card program for developing filmmakers, and producers from the NFB and TVOntario came on board, their questions prompted Hubert to realize that the story was really about both families. "Once that transition happened, it was all open," Hubert says. It forced him to expand his original idea and to get everybody to talk through their difficulties on camera. For Hubert, too, there's a scene in the film where he talks with his stepbrother Mawuli in Chicago: "So much of it, growing up, didn't make sense for me. It just didn't. I couldn't figure out why my life was so different from everybody else's. And I guess I was ashamed of it." Mawuli responds: "That's a lot of what continues to be a part of the black family experience. It may not all quite, supposedly, fit together perfectly. But this is family, you know?"

And as Hubert Davis adds, sitting in an office at the NFB, discussing the film, "Once I opened that up and started to ask those questions, it became a windfall of emotions." His father's decision to participate in the film was partly to face up to the choices he made during his life, but Hubert sensed that he mainly did it to help him out. "Ultimately, he was trying to give me a break, to [let me] do what he knew I wanted to do. I don't think he would have done it for anyone else," Hubert says. His father knew how hard Hubert was trying to make his own films. "In a way, that was his support as a father." Mel also left all filmmaking decisions completely up to Hubert. "People were telling [his father], 'You gotta look at what he's done, give him comments and all that.' [But] the whole time, all he said to me was, 'I don't want to see it until it's finished . . . until it was all done,' ultimately saying, 'I trust you to do what you think is right,' " Hubert recalls. His father wound up being one of the last in the family to see the final cut. Watching it before it was shown at Toronto's Hot Docs festival last spring, Mel began talking about it more as a film, picking apart and praising his son's approach. Like all father-son relationships, perhaps, where the best communication is often channelled through some separate topic, such as basketball or films, Hubert found that to be a relief. "It was nice for me that he was looking at it that way," he says. Based in Toronto and working as an editor of TV commercials, Hubert was also an assistant editor on director Deepa Mehta's Bollywood/Hollywood and The Republic of Love. It was Mehta's suggestion that Hardwood tap into basketball's sudden changes across the court as a metaphor for life's changes: Mel's father left him and Megan, but Mel changed direction from that path and chose, despite the difficult circumstances, to be there as much as he could for his sons. That may seem like a cliché on paper, or some may see the film's tearful scenes as melodramatic. But that would ignore the way the film balances these with the simplest gestures, such as when Mawuli composes himself, after a highly emotional scene, remembering his childhood and glances around the Chicago park where he learned to play basketball. Such simple gestures -- a pickup game of basketball or practising a dribbling routine -- are both central to the film and life affirming. When Hubert called home to Vancouver after receiving the Oscar nomination, his mother Megan started shrieking over the phone and his father kept simply saying, "Yeah, yeah," over and over again. Although getting a lot of tickets is difficult, the NFB is trying to help Mel attend the Oscars with his son. "It's his story, I'm telling it for him," Hubert says, insisting that his father go. "I don't know, if I had a son and he came to me and said, 'Look, I'm going to do this thing about your life, we're going to talk about everything,' I don't think I would have that same courage."




Pan African Film Fest To Screen 2 Oscar Nominated Films: 'Yesterday' And 'Hardwood'

Source: Jasmyne Cannick /

(Feb. 4, 2005) Los Angeles, CA - The 13th Annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival will screen two Academy Award® nominated films during its celebration taking place February 10-21, 2005.  "Yesterday" nominated for Best Foreign Language Film will screen one time only at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, February 17. The screening will be followed by a reception hosted by the South African Counsel General for Los Angeles. The first feature film, entirely in the Zulu language, tells the story of a young mother, Yesterday, who discovers that she is HIV- positive. Her husband, a migrant mineworker, refuses to accept this, and Yesterday is left to fend for herself and her daughter, Beauty, hoping she will survive long enough to see Beauty go to school. Exquisitely shot in the magnificent terrain of Kwa Zulu Natal, "Yesterday" is a truly human story of compassion and determination. Also nominated for an Academy Award® is "Hardwood," a documentary relating the personal journey of director Hubert Davis, the son of former Globetrotter Mel Davis. This is the stunning account of how a father's decisions affect the life of his son. "Hardwood" will screen twice on Saturday, February 12 at 7 p.m. (part of the PAFF Night of Tribute) and again on Sunday, February 13 at 4:30 p.m. Director Hubert Davis, the first Afro-Canadian to be nominated for an Oscar®, will be on hand to present his milestone film. Both films will be shown at the Magic Johnson Theaters located at 4020 Marlton Avenue in Los Angeles. For more information, please call (323) 295- 1706 or visit




Genie Loves Quebec

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell, Movie Critic

(Feb. 9, 2005) The Genie Awards are celebrating their 25th anniversary as they began in 1980: People are still debating about what makes a film Canadian.  Nominations were announced yesterday for the silver anniversary edition of the Canuck movie trophy event, to be hosted by comic actress Andrea Martin and broadcast nationally March 21 by Citytv and its CHUM Television affiliates.  Quebec cinema once again dominates, with the bank-heist docudrama Le Dernier Tunnel (The Last Tunnel) leading all challengers with eight nominations.  Debate started immediately about this year's salutes and snubs, notably Annette Bening's omission from the leading actress line-up for her performance in the revenge comedy Being Julia. Is she good enough for the Oscars, but not the Genies?  The answer to that question and others has as much, or more, to do with the complicated Genie rules defining Canadian status than the whims of the nominating jury.  Filmmaker Atom Egoyan and his actress wife Arsinée Khanjian (also a Genie juror) were among the announcers yesterday, and Egoyan took the unusual step of urging people to read the Genie rulebook.  He was anticipating argument over such oddities as why American-born Bening isn't eligible to be nominated for the Genie for leading actress for her star turn in Being Julia, a performance that has already earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.  Yet Being Julia, which is set entirely in London, is one of the five Genie nominees for Canada's best motion picture, the others being Love, Sex & Eating the Bones, Ma vie en cinemascope, Mémoires affectives (Looking for Alexander) and Les Triplettes de Belleville.  And if Bening isn't Canadian enough, then why is British actor Ian McKellen granted Canuck status as one of the Genie nominees for leading actor, for his role in the drama Emile?  It has to do with the funding and the direction of the films, explained Maria Topalovich, the president and CEO of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, which bestows the Genies.  Many Canadian films are made in co-production with other countries, putting their nationality in question. In cases of minority co-productions, where most of the funding comes from outside the country, the Academy looks at the nationality of the film's director to determine the Canadian content.  István Szabó, who is Hungarian, directed Being Julia. Carl Bessai, a Canadian, directed Emile.

"The Genies are there to celebrate Canadian films," Topalovich said. "And if the director is not Canadian, then only the Canadians are eligible. If the director is Canadian, then everyone is eligible."  It may seem complicated, she said, but it's an attempt at fairness.  "With minority productions, there was a lot of controversy a number of years ago in terms of, `Is this Canadian?' Who are we celebrating and whom are we trying to promote? We thought it was a sensible way to take a look at assessing co-productions, certainly a minority co-production."  Egoyan admitted he's of two minds about what he called "arcane" Canadian content rules.  "I understand it, but it becomes odd in a year like this ... it's not a perfect way of doing it, but once you set a code you can't make changes to it.  "Part of the mandate of the Academy is to promote Canadian talent, so it was an attempt to carve out some sort of space for Canadian actors. I'm sure that Annette Bening is not going to be crying that she didn't get a Genie nomination, but I think perhaps other actors who got attention are going to be grateful for that provision."  He did express surprise, however, that his friend Don McKellar's new comedy Childstar wasn't included amongst the nominees for best motion picture. (Childstar did receive five nominations, including supporting actress for Jennifer Jason Leigh and a screenplay nod for McKellar and his co-writer Michael Goldbach.)  "I really liked that film," Egoyan said. "I thought he did a really good job on it ... But I've been on juries where films I've loved haven't made it. It's always a subjective process."  But Egoyan said the Academy has done more good than harm over the past quarter century. "I really do think the Academy has to be seen in terms of the 25 years. If you look at it as a cultural event, those films that have been recognized have really had lasting value. It's crucial that we have something that recognizes what we're up to."  What we're up to may puzzle anyone taking a fast look at the Genie contenders. For the first time in memory, the film with the most nominations — Erik Canuel's Le Dernier Tunnel — isn't included among the candidates for best picture or best director. The film's eight nods include leading actor (Michel Côté), supporting actor (Jean Lapointe) and six technical categories, but it was shut out of the top two categories.  Canuel's slot in the directing category was nabbed by Toronto's Bronwen Hughes, the only Genie recognition received by her critically acclaimed film Stander, the story of a cop who turns crook to fight apartheid. Ironically, Stander is also based on a true story and also has a lot to do with bank heists, just like Le Dernier Tunnel.

And the Canuck credentials also seem dubious for Les Triplettes de Belleville, the first animated film to be nominated for a best picture Genie. It was made by a filmmaker from France, Sylvain Chomet, who currently resides in Scotland. The movie has nothing to do with Canada, involving characters and events surrounding the Tour de France, the annual French cycling contest. But it was made in Quebec, so it qualifies as a Canadian film.  Canuck culture cops might also cock an eyebrow over the selection of U.S.-born comic Andrea Martin as the host of the 25 anniversary Genies show, which is being executive produced by her sister Marcia Martin — who promised the broadcast won't run longer than 90 minutes.  But few would quibble that Andrea Martin has earned the right to sport a maple-leaf toque, after all the years she spent in Edmonton as a cast member of the SCTV comedy show.  Andrea Martin wasn't at yesterday's nominations press conference, because she's currently starring in a stage revival of Fiddler on the Roof in New York.  But she sent a video with a quick comedy routine, in which she dressed as a bag lady and joked about needing work.  "I'll be there on the 21st! I've got nothing else!"


French Films Take The Lead

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Guy Dixon

(Feb. 9, 2005) When the Genie Awards are handed out on March 21, the question likely to be asked by cinephiles across English Canada is: What are the chances that more of the Quebec films being honoured will hit multiplex screens outside of French Canada?  The fact that even the most ardent film enthusiasts in Toronto or Vancouver may not have heard of some of the most praised Quebec films this year seems a shame, since Quebec cinema, like last year, was a key presence at the announcement of the 2005 Genie nominees in Toronto yesterday. Ma vie en cinémascope, Mémoires affectives (Looking for Alexander) and the francophone international co-production Les Triplettes de Belleville (The Triplets of Belleville) were all nominated for best picture. Only two English-language films, the small-budget comedy Love, Sex & Eating the Bones and the Canadian co-production Being Julia, made it onto the list for best picture. Similarly, Quebec films dominated the list for best leading actress, earning four out of five nominations, and the nominees for best leading actor, where the ratio of French to English was three to two. Two highly praised performances shown during yesterday's Genie Awards announcement included Pascale Bussières's portrayal of the internationally popular, though troubled Quebec singer Alys Robi in Ma vie en cinémascope and Roy Dupuis as an amnesiac piecing together his life in Mémoires affectives. "I really believe that it was another exceptional year for Quebec cinema. It's reflected in their box office and critical accolades," said Paul Gratton, chairman of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, which administers the Genie Awards. But, he added, "It's going to be a little bit more interesting this year, because I don't think you have an obvious choice [to win best picture] like The Barbarian Invasions last year. There's going to be some coin flipping that'll go on between the three main Quebec movies. They're all equally strong and anchored by strong, central performances." Another theme for this year's 25th anniversary Genie Awards was the strong showing by small, independent films, such as first-time feature-film director Sudz Sutherland's Love, Sex & Eating the Bones, a comedy about a photographer, who also works as a part-time security guard, trying to overcome an addiction to pornography. In addition to its nod for best picture, Sutherland was nominated for best director and best original screenplay.

When the film's nominations were announced, it drew a happy gasp of surprise from some attending the Genie press conference, for this was such a small film, promoted on such a grassroots level, that its filmmakers even offered a money-back guarantee at one point if any audience member didn't like the film, Gratton noted. Other small movies among the nominees include director Jerry Ciccoritti's experimental, digital-video adaptation of the Tom Walmsley play Blood, which is up for best adapted screenplay and with Emily Hampshire nominated for best leading actress, for her role as a brooding, manipulative addict. Meanwhile, veteran British actor Ian McKellen was nominated for best leading actor for his role in Carl Bessai's Victoria, B.C.-shot film Emile, about a professor returning to Canada to reconnect with his family. The Genie nominations also showed the increasing presence of international co-productions within Canadian cinema. Being Julia and The Triplets of Belleville, for instance, both made by a multinational mix of filmmakers, indicated how borderless filmmaking, and particularly film financing, has become. Meanwhile, the Charlize Theron/Penelope Cruz vehicle, Head in the Clouds, partly shot in Montreal, received seven nominations in various technical categories, from best achievement in cinematography to best sound. This year's Genies will be broadcast for the second year by CHUM on its various stations and cable networks across Canada. Sticking to last year's Golden Globe-style format, with the stars seated at tables in front of the stage, this year's award show will be hosted by SCTV alumna Andrea Martin.




Nominees In Top Categories For Genie Awards

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(Feb. 9, 2005) Best motion picture:

Being Julia, Robert Lantos; Love, Sex & Eating the Bones, Jennifer Holness; Ma vie en cinemascope, Denise Robert, Daniel Louis; Memoires Affectives (Looking for Alexander), Barbara Shrier; The Triplets of Belleville, Paul Cadieux

Best leading actress:
Isabelle Blais, Les Aimants (Love and Magnets); Celine Bonnier, Monica La Mitraille (Machine Gun Molly); Pascale Bussieres, Ma vie en cinemascope; Emily Hampshire, Blood; Jacinthe Lage, Elles etaient cinq (The Five of Us)

Best leading actor:
Michel Coté, Le Dernier Tunnel (The Last Tunnel); Roy Dupuis, Memoires affectives (Looking for Alexander); David La Haye, Nouvelle-France; Ian McKellen, Emile; Nick Stahl, Twist

Best supporting actress:
Juliette Gosselin, Nouvelle-France; Jennifer Jason Leigh, Childstar; Sylvie Moreau, Les Aimants (Love and Magnets); Ellen Page, Wilby Wonderful; Susana Salazar, A Silent Love

Best supporting actor:
Gary Farmer, Twist; Brendan Fehr, Sugar; Bruce Greenwood, Being Julia; Jean Lapointe, Le Dernier tunnel (The Last Tunnel); Kyle MacLachlan, Touch of Pink

Achievement in direction:
Denise Filiatrault, Ma vie en cinemascope; Pierre Houle, Monica La Mitraille (Machine Gun Molly); Bronwen Hughes, Stander; Francis Leclerc, Memoires affectives (Looking for Alexander); David (Sudz) Sutherland, Love, Sex & Eating the Bones

Original screenplay:
Denise Filiatrault, Ma vie en cinemascope; Federico Hidalgo, Paulina Robles, A Silent Love; Francis Leclerc, Marcel Beaulieu, Memoires affectives (Looking for Alexander); Don McKellar, Michael Goldbach, Childstar; David (Sudz) Sutherland, Love, Sex & Eating the Bones

Adapted screenplay:
Joel Champetier, Daniel Roby, La Peau Blanche (White Skin); Jerry Ciccoritti, Blood; Luc Dionne, Sylvain Guy, Monica La Mitraille (Machine Gun Molly); Todd Klinck, Jaie Laplante, John Palmer, Sugar; Jacob Tierney, Twist

For a complete list of nominees, go to




Oscar Shakes Up Presentations

Source:  Reuters  - By Arthur Spiegelman

(Feb. 9, 2005) BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. -- The long walk down the Oscar aisle will be a lot shorter for some of this year's Academy Awards winners -- in fact, some will not make it to the stage. Oscars telecast producer Gil Cates told the annual luncheon of nominees on Monday that he had major changes planned, including not inviting the victors in some categories to the stage. Instead, Cates said they will receive their awards from a presenter parked in the audience. In other cases, all the nominees in a single category will be invited up on stage and the winner then announced. And, finally, some nominees will get their Oscars the old-fashioned way, walking down the aisle to the stage after the envelope is opened and the name announced. Cates said the changes for the 77th annual Academy Awards, to be broadcast on Feb. 27, were aimed both at saving time and making sure that every nominee is seen by a worldwide television audience estimated in the hundred of millions. Many treasured Oscar moments have involved the trek to the stage, as when Italy's Roberto Benigni was named best actor in 1998 for Life is Beautiful and made an elaborate display of climbing over seats and people to get to the stage. Cates, who again this year made an impassioned plea for winners to keep their acceptance speeches short, said the main reason for the change was to "get more of the nominees seen on television." As in years past, the luncheon drew a Who's Who in Hollywood to the Beverly Hilton Hotel. A total of 115 nominees posed for a group photo that featured Leonardo DiCaprio standing in the last row near Clint Eastwood, also up for best actor, and Morgan Freeman, up for best supporting actor. In front of them, stood Jamie Foxx nominated for best actor in Ray and that film's director, Taylor Hackford. In the front row, in front of Australian actress Cate Blanchett, was diminutive British actress Imelda Staunton, with a best-actress nomination in Vera Drake, a role that is giving her international recognition for the first time. Asked how the nomination had changed her life, Staunton deadpanned, "I am totally changed. I won't do any domestic duties at all." And then when asked if the nomination had led to her being offered more roles, the 49-year-old actress said, "I bloody well hope it does. I'd like to think I am an actress in mid-career, not at the end of one." In other Academy news, the network's deal to televise the Academy Awards has been extended through 2014, Frank Pierson, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said Monday.




Favourites Foxx, Swank take SAG Awards

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - David Germain, Associated Press

(Feb. 6, 2005) LOS ANGELES - Jamie Foxx's uncanny re-creation of Ray Charles in Ray earned him the Screen Actors Guild Award for best actor Saturday, while Hilary Swank won the best-actress prize for Million Dollar Baby, playing a spirited boxer whose life takes a tragic turn.  The cast prize for best movie ensemble went to the road-trip comedy Sideways.  Cate Blanchett won the supporting-actress honour for her role as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator, and Morgan Freeman took the supporting-actor prize for Million Dollar Baby, playing a sage-like ex-prizefighter.  "Thank you for Ray Charles for just living so complex and so interesting, and making us all just come together," said Foxx, the front-runner to win the best-actor prize at the Academy Awards on Feb. 27. Addressing his director on Ray, Foxx added, "Thank you for Taylor Hackford for taking a chance with an African-American film. Taylor, you're my director of the year."  Swank offered gushing praise for her director and co-star, Clint Eastwood.  "I bow down to you," Swank said to the 74-year-old Eastwood. ``You are a talent beyond compare. If I'm half the person you are and half the talent you are when I'm 74, I will know that I've accomplished something great."  The SAG honours presented the first big head-to-head competition between Swank and Oscar rival Annette Bening, a nominee for the theatre farce Being Julia. At the Golden Globes, Swank won for best dramatic actress while Bening was honoured for best actress in a musical or comedy.  The two actresses are the front-runners at the Oscars, a rematch of the showdown five years ago, when underdog Swank pulled an upset best-actress win for Boys Don't Cry over Bening, who had been the favourite for American Beauty.

The wins gave all the actors an Oscar boost just as voting gets under way for Hollywood's top honours. Oscar ballots were mailed Wednesday to academy members, with voting scheduled to end Feb. 22, five days before the ceremony.  Freeman paid respect to fellow contender James Garner by singing a verse from the theme song of Garner's old TV Western Maverick. Garner was nominated as supporting actor for the romantic drama The Notebook and received the guild's lifetime-achievement award.  Covering all his bases, Freeman added, "I want to thank everybody I ever met."  Blanchett thanked co-star Leonardo DiCaprio and especially The Aviator director Martin Scorsese. Looking at her trophy, a statue of a performer holding the comedy and tragedy masks that symbolize actors, Blanchett said, "I think the head, shoulders, knees and toes of this belong to Martin Scorsese, who led us all and brought us great courage."  For dramatic TV series, the late Jerry Orbach won the actor honour for Law and Order. Orbach died in December.  "How bittersweet. But it's still sweet," said Orbach's widow, Elaine. "Jerry had a motto: Never leave a hit show. ... May you all never leave your hit show."  Jennifer Garner earned the dramatic actress honour for Alias, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation received the dramatic ensemble award for the entire cast.  Tony Shalhoub, star of Monk, won the guild prize for the second straight year as actor in a TV comedy. Teri Hatcher won the TV comedy actress honour for Desperate Housewives, which also won the comedy ensemble award.  The 11th annual guild awards provided a warm-up bout for The Aviator and Million Dollar Baby before they duke it out for best picture at the Oscars. Although Sideways won the guild ensemble honour, The Aviator and Million Dollar Baby are still considered the best bets for the top prize at the Oscars on Feb. 27.  The winner of the SAG cast-performance prize has gone on to receive the top Oscar four times in the nine years since the guild added that category.  Guild nominees were chosen by 4,200 randomly selected union members. The union's full membership of 98,000 was eligible to vote for winners.




Toronto's Dan Lee, 35, Drew Nemo For Pixar

Source:  Associated Press

(Feb. 3, 2005) Dan Lee, Canadian character designer at Pixar Animation Studios in Berkeley, Calif., who contributed to such blockbuster hits as Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc., died Jan. 15 from lung cancer. He was 35.  The Toronto-educated Lee had fought his illness for 17 months. He was a non-smoker and lived a healthy lifestyle that included bicycling to work, said his colleagues.  Lee began working at Pixar in 1996 and worked as a sketch artist, character designer and animator. He also worked on A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2.  Characters he designed for Finding Nemo were Nemo, Marlin, Bloat, Nemo's friends and the barracuda.  The film's director, Andrew Stanton, said Lee "really nailed Nemo right off the bat.  "Some designs need a lot of working and reworking to get them right, but with Nemo, he kind of discovered him quickly and we never changed it."  The youngest of four children born to Chinese immigrants, Lee was born in Montreal and grew up in Scarborough. He graduated from the animation program at Sheridan College and worked for a time at Kennedy Cartoons in Toronto.  




"Being Julia" Among Genie Nominees

Source:  Canadian Press

(Feb. 8, 2005) Toronto — Nominees for the 25th annual Genie Awards — the Canadian version of the Oscars — were unveiled Tuesday by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. Being Julia, the Robert Lantos film that stars Annette Bening, was nominated for best picture, along with Love Sex and Eating the Bones, the Triplets of Belleville and two French-language films Ma Vie en Cinemascope (My Life in Cinemascope) and Memoires affectives (Looking for Alexander) Andrea Martin, who is currently starring on Broadway in Fiddler on the Roof, will host the awards this year, the academy announced. "Things haven't gone too well since my SCTV days," Martin joked to a news conference in a taped segment from New York. "So when the kids in Canada found me on the street and said would you host this, the Genie thing — the I Dream of Genie thing — I said yeah ... bring on the bling." Her sister Marcia Martin will be executive producer of the Genie telecast. Filmmaker Atom Egoyan and his wife, actor Arsinee Khanjian, announced this year's nominees. "It's an ongoing festival in this country that goes on with every film that we produce," said Khanjian. "I think that is something that remains our first and foremost task to be able to make it not only available but make people aware — the audiences per se — that we have one of the richest production pools in this country." CHUM Television stations, including Citytv outlets in Toronto and Vancouver, Star, Bravo and Access will be broadcasting the awards, which will take place March 21.




Elise Hosts FAAAF Kickoff

Excerpt from

 (Feb. 3, 2005) *Actress Kimberly Elise will kick-off the Sixth Annual FAAAF/Black Reel Awards in Washington D.C. with a benefit screening of her new film, "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," on Feb. 18 at 7:00 p.m. at the Avalon Theatre (5612 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC 20015). All proceeds will benefit the Foundation for the Advancement of African-Americans in Film (FAAAF). As previously reported, the 6th Annual FAAAF/Black Reel Awards Gala, presented by JetBlue Airways, will be held Saturday, Feb. 19 at La Maison Francaise (The French Embassy) in Washington, DC.  “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” is based on the play of the same name, written by Tyler Perry. Steve Harris, Shemar Moore, Cicely Tyson and actor/producer/playwright, Tyler Perry co-star in the film, which opens nationwide on Feb. 25.




Spike Lee On Blacks In Film

Excerpt from

(Feb. 4, 2005) *Spike Lee lauds the number of black actors in television and film, but stressed the importance of increasing African American presence behind the camera.  "We have to get in gatekeeper positions," he said Tuesday during a discussion panel at his alma mater, Morehouse College. "We have to get those dual law and MBA degrees and work up the corporate ladder because everybody can't be an actor, everybody can't make a record. …Even Denzel (Washington), he's getting $20 million a movie. But when it comes time to do a movie, he has to go to one of those gatekeepers." Lee was on hand at the event to host a retrospective of his films, which coincided with the DVD release of his film "She Hate Me" and a special collector's edition DVD of his 1988 comedy, "School Daze," which was based on life at Atlanta's historically black colleges.   On the subject of DVDs, Lee said not to rule out the medium as a way to get films distributed.   "It's a huge market. It's not something that should be looked upon as a stepchild," the 47-year-old director said.




Left Eye Film

Excerpt from

*The late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes will be the subject of a new television film to be produced by Tracey Edmonds’ Edmonds Entertainment. "It's going to be a really fascinating story to tell, not only because of the stuff you read in the headlines, but Lisa had a really spiritual side to her, which is what brought her out to Honduras, where she unfortunately ended up having the traffic accident," said Edmonds, wife of Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds. "The script is really, really good, and we're clearing the music right now."




Mendes To Play Love Interest In Ghost Rider

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Feb. 8, 2005) Los Angeles -- Eva Mendes, who stars in the Friday release Hitch, will play Nicolas Cage's love interest in Ghost Rider, an adaptation of the Marvel Comics comic book. Cage plays the title character, a former motorcycle stuntman who agrees to let his body become host to a vengeful spirit -- becoming a bike-riding demon in the process -- to secure the safety of his true love (Mendes). Reuters




Oscar Noms Lunch In Beverly Hills

Excerpt from

(Feb. 8, 2005) *They’ll all be competing against each other on Feb. 27, but yesterday, it was all love as the 2005 Academy Award nominees gathered in Beverly Hills for an annual lunch event that doubles as a photo op and chance to speak to the press. Dual nominee Jamie Foxx, the best-actor front-runner for the title role in the Ray Charles film "Ray," said his wins at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and other film honours hasn’t left him depleted of things to say at the podium. "There are so many things that I want to say, I could never run out of things," said Foxx, also nominated as supporting actor for the hitman thriller "Collateral." "Like I've always said to my friends, even when we dreamt of what we want to be, we never dreamt this."  Sophie Okonedo's supporting actress nomination for "Hotel Rwanda" has thrust the 15-year British stage veteran onto another planet.  "My life is unrecognizable to what it was before. I'm not well known at all here," Okonedo said. "I haven't had quite time to adjust. I'm not used to having so much attention, so that's quite shocking."




‘Nightline’ Taps Cheadle For Sudan

Excerpt from

(Feb. 9, 2005) *Set the TiVos now for tomorrow airing of ABC’s “Nightline.”  Don Cheadle will serve as a “special correspondent” for Ted Koppel’s nightly news program in a segment examining the ethnic conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region. Rebel groups in the region accuse the Sudanese government of funding Arab militias called Janjaweed to wipe out non-Arab enclaves, a charge the government denies. Thousands of people have died in the fighting over the past two years, and nearly two million have fled and are in refugee camps.  The “Hotel Rwanda” star and “Nightline” producer Rick Wilkinson accompanied several members of Congress on a recent fact-finding mission to chronicle the genocide that has left thousands dead in Darfur, and nearly two million in refugee camps.   In "Hotel Rwanda," Cheadle plays Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who housed more than 1,000 people seeking safety from the Rwandan genocide in 1994. He says that not getting involved in the Sudan situation would be "disingenuous" of him.  “We are in a time where we are seeing these sorts of micro genocides just multiplying and the displacement of humans at such an extreme number with no end in sight," Cheadle says in a statement. "I think it would just be very disingenuous for me to have been saying all this time ... 'We can't allow this to go on and we have to get involved,' and I had an opportunity to get involved and didn't."  Following Cheadle's report Wednesday, Koppel will talk with Rusesabagina about his view of the Darfur genocide on Thursday's show.







Kevin Smith: 'You Really Like It Here?'

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Alexandra Gill

(Feb. 3, 2005) Vancouver — Some might describe Kevin Smith's 13-year obsession with the Degrassi TV series as kind of creepy.  ''That's one word for it,'' says the American indie filmmaker, who stars in a three-episode storyline, which began airing this week. ''I was going to say charming, but I'll go for creepy.''  Smith, now 34, first got hooked on Linda Schuyler's original Degrassi Junior High series while watching reruns on PBS during his Sunday-morning shifts at Quick Stop Convenience in Leonardo, N.J. "Wow," he remembers thinking. "They cast age-appropriate actors who are just so plain looking. And the acting was so wooden. It was just so damn refreshing, compared to the 90210s and stuff like that. I just fell for it." Smith tuned in every Sunday after that. And when he wrote Clerks, his $27,000 (U.S.) breakthrough film (shot in the very same convenience store), it was no coincidence that the main character's dream girl was named after Caitlin Ryan. An original Degrassi character, Caitlin (played by Stacie Mistysyn) now stars as a grown-up TV reporter in the new CTV series Degrassi: The Next Generation. In the three-part storyline that Smith helped conceive, the visiting movie director gets caught in a love triangle between Caitlin and her boyfriend Joey (Pat Mastroianni). In almost every movie he has written since Clerks, Smith has managed to sneak in at least one reference to the show. In Mallrats, he put Shannen Doherty in a Degrassi jacket. In Chasing Amy, he had Jason Lee and Ben Affleck chat away while eating pizza and watching an episode of the show. In next week's episode, Smith makes fun of Affleck. "That's what friends are for," says Smith, sprawled out on a couch in Vancouver, where his seven-day promotional tour launched this week. "I once asked [Affleck] if it bothered him, all the jokes I make about him. He said, 'Don't you think I would've said something by now? But I think that's really cute that you asked me.' "

Smith asked Affleck to play a cameo alongside him, but his friend refused. "When we were shooting that episode, it was right at the point when Surviving Christmas was coming out. He was just like, 'Dude, I am getting my ass so kicked in the press right now. You know I love you and if you tell me this is the most important thing in the world to you and you'll hate me if I don't, of course I'll do it. But please, I'm begging you. If I show up on a Canadian teen soap opera, they'll just have a field day. It's going to take away from everything you love about the show because they're just going to talk about this.' " Smith understood and instead asked Alanis Morissette, the Ottawa-born singer who he cast as God in Dogma. In next week's episode, she plays a lumber-jacket wearing high-school principal in the film that Kevin Smith and his perennial sidekick Jason "Jay" Mewes are shooting at Degrassi High. During the actual series shoot, it somehow came up in conversation that the show had never quite broken the million-viewer mark. So Smith suggested a junket. "We'll start in Vancouver," Smith told the producers, "work our way across the country . . . and maybe we'll be able to cross the million mark. They had to go find out if they had the money to do it. Canadian TV is so strange. It's such an education, the whole process." And here he is, back on the West Coast of Canada, where he once spent a semester at the Vancouver Film School in 1992. The city wasn't exactly his cup of tea. "It's so Pacific Northwest and I'm so not," he explains, tucking into a pizza, plate of fries and peanut butter-jelly sandwich with the crusts cut off from the children's room-service menu. "You really like it here?" he asks. "When I was here, there were a lot of pine trees, a lot of whale art, and a lot of totem poles everywhere. There were a lot of kids hanging out on the street - a huge slacker culture. You'd go up Granville Street and they'd just be playing their guitars for change and shit. Kids, like 15 to 21." And the peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a different kind of prolonged juvenilia?

"Yeah," he says. "Hotel food is so terrible." The conversation rolls back to Affleck, who starred in Smith's most recent film, the widely panned Jersey Girl, with his then-fiancée Jennifer Lopez. "I don't think Jennifer jinxed it, but it certainly didn't help that we were the Gigli follow-up," he says, referring to another bomb starring the ill-fated couple. "A lot of the critics just went after me for making a movie like that, which a lot of them apparently found very tepid. What, can't I make something mediocre like the rest of the movie business? Apparently not. Weird, for someone who makes such lowbrow movies, I'm held to a higher standard. It's not like I ever made Citizen-fucking-Kane here. "Would we have had a better shot without Jennifer? Sure. But having Jennifer meant that we probably got a better performance out of Ben because he was playing a guy who is falling in love with someone he was really falling in love with at the time." So he really does consider Affleck a good actor, despite all the jokes? "Obviously, I keep putting him in my movies. I do, I really do. That's why it's so disheartening and transparent to see people jumping on him right now. . . . It's really just a guy being punished because he fell in love with someone." Speaking of love, how about that kiss Smith scores with Caitlin in next week's episode? "It didn't go down well," Smith sighs. His wife, Jennifer, a former USA Today reporter, wasn't too happy about being cut out of his life in the script. "You play yourself," she argued. "You play an unmarried, childless version of yourself. Everything else about you is the same, except you're not married." Smith tried to convince her it was all just pretend. "There's no way a fat dude gets to make out with a hot chick on TV, or real life -- ever -- so you don't have to sweat it," he told her. And she wasn't insulted even further? "Yeah," he moans grudgingly. "I said to her: 'You? You're just a chubby chaser with no taste, apparently.' " And the kiss was worth all that? "Getting yelled at a little bit? Yeah!" Hmm. Charming.




LeVar Burton Gives Up A Miracle

Excerpt from

(Feb. 3, 2005) Acclaimed actor LeVar Burton is making a triumphant return to the small screen.   It’s been nearly 30 years since the German-born thespian embodied the essence of the displaced slave warrior Kunta Kinte in the much-lauded ABC mini-series “Roots.” And Mr. Burton remains as passionate about the acting craft. Even if it is behind the camera.   For his latest foray into television, the 48-year-old married father of two is sitting in the big chair. The 10-time Emmy Award winner has been selected as one of five celebrated Black directors to helm a segment of the forthcoming mini-series Miracle’s Boy.”  Adapted from the best-selling novel of the same name by award-winning young adult author Jacqueline Woodson, the three-hour, six-part drama centres around three Black orphaned teenage brothers living in Harlem, NY struggling to hold their family together.     Executive-produced by Tania Lewis Lee, the former lawyer, beloved mother, best-selling author and beautiful wife of Spike Lee, the mini-series will kick off on February 18 on Viacom’s kid-friendly network, The N Channel, formerly known as Noggin.   Mr. Burton joins Mr. Lee, Bill Duke, Ernest Dickerson, and Neema Barnett in bringing the compelling story to the small screen, the first time ever for the network. He said he got involved in the project because two of the producers are his longtime friends – an association that spans two decades via the long-running PBS literacy program “Reading Rainbow.”  

Directing is a natural progression for him, he said.  “I don’t do being idle well,” he explained.  “I need to be doing something. And when I was acting for a living, I had a lot of down time and it just made sense to me to develop other skill sets.  “When I discovered directing, it was like I really discovered why I came into this life, why I took a body.  It’s just I feel like I’m so at home when I’m directing.” Mr. Burton, who also revealed that he’s the proud grandfather of a three-year-old girl, admitted that he is a control freak and went on to say, “I feel like with directing you have to really understand, you have to really want to work with people. I believe directing is as much about leadership as it is about vision. And I really enjoy working with people and inspiring them to contribute their best efforts.  That’s one of the reasons why I like it so much.” Shooting of “Miracle’s Boy” took place in Harlem USA – a place that the former actor and director of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” said he loved being in. “I want to invest myself in Harlem. I want buy property there. I want to open a hotel there. I just love it. It’s going on uptown.” He laughed off the “living legend” title that I bestowed upon him. “You know what? It’s not whether or not I like it, it’s whether or not I feel comfortable with it,” he explained. “And I don’t feel comfortable with it yet.” Looking ahead, Mr. Burton said he has no desire to return to being in front of the camera. Being the host of “Reading Rainbow” since 1983 suffices. “I’m really focusing on my career behind the cameras these days. I got a couple of feature films that I want to develop.” “This is what I do for a living now,” the Grammy Award winning narrator of “The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.” continued. “This is how I feed my family.” He’s also planning to launch a new business endeavour next year, called LeVar Burton Books.  His motivation to focus on literacy comes from having a mother who was an English Teacher.  “Reading was reading in our home. You did not read in my mother’s house.” “I intend for the company, as we grow, to publish literature of all types and categories,” he said. “I want this company to become one of the premiere destinations for quality literature across the board, for children and families worldwide.” And as far as his “Roots” roots are concerned, he doesn’t try to shake it. He actually receives it.  Some audacious folk even still refer to him “Kunta,” he admitted. “I have that etched on my license plate.  I embrace it.  If I drive down the street and see someone else with Kunta on their license plate, how do you think that would make me feel?  I would be highly upset. Highly upset.  You feel me?” Indeed. The Talented Mr. Burton has been capturing the attention of audiences and peers for over two decades. And if he has it his way, he will continue to do so for many more to come.  But on his terms.  “Life is good. I’m very blessed. I have a wonderful family. I have a career that I love. I mean I can make a living doing something that I actually love doing, that I’m really passionate about,” he concluded.  “It’s all good.” Touche!




PBS Tells Stories Of Unknown Slaves

Source:  Associated Press

 (Feb. 4, 2005) LOS ANGELES—The names Colonel Tye, Robert Smalls and Harriet Jacobs aren't as familiar as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Betsy Ross, but they, too, are the forefathers and foremothers of America.  They also were slaves.  So were Denmark Vesey, Mum Bett, Emmanuel and Frances Driggus, and millions of other black pioneers instrumental in building a barely charted territory into one of the strongest and richest countries in the world.  Yet their stories have been largely ignored in U.S. history.  "The reason we don't know what we ought to know about them isn't because these people haven't been telling their stories," says George Washington University historian James Horton.  He's among 25 scholars who provide an unparalleled look at slavery and the remarkable stories of individual slaves in Slavery and the Making of America, airing on PBS Feb. 9 and 16 at 9 p.m.  "The diaries, the novels, the letters that we are finding now have been there for a couple hundred years. How come we didn't find them before?" Horton says.  "Part of the reason has to do with what we thought worthy of looking for."  Narrated by actor Morgan Freeman, the unique, four-hour series is told through a collage of filmed re-enactments, providing a detailed visual history of American slavery.  From the early 17th century when English settlers in Virginia purchased Africans from Dutch traders, and through the next two centuries with the Civil War and Reconstruction, the documentary explores slavery as more than just an institution of evil and persecution.  Rather, the film shows how slavery became the central economic base for the entire country's development — a base that was dependent on the labour and know-how of generations of black Americans.  "This is not African American history, it's American history. It's the history of all of us," notes executive producer William R. Grant, director of science, natural history and feature programs for WNET in New York, which produced the series.  And while the documentary ends in late 1876, Grant contends that the story of slavery is extremely relevant today. 




Making TV Rights Pay Is Olympic Hurdle

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Richard Blackwell

(Feb. 6, 2005) As two of Canada's main television networks make their pitch to the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland Monday for Canadian broadcast rights to the 2010 and 2012 Games, a key question hangs in the air: How can they sell enough ads to make the money back? The bids, to be decided Monday, are expected to reach record levels, possibly as high as $120-million (U.S.) for combined rights to the two Games. There are two competitors: CTV Inc. has joined with Rogers Communications Inc. to face off with their arch rival, Canadian Broadcasting Corp.  The cost to win broadcast rights for the Olympics has escalated exponentially in the past couple of decades. In 1988, CBC paid about $3.5-million for rights to the Seoul Summer Games, while CTV paid about $4.5-million for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. In 1998, CBC and its then-partner TSN (which is now part of CTV) paid about $165-million for rights to a package of five Games in Sydney (2000), Salt Lake City (2002), Athens (2004), Torino (2006) and Beijing (2008). Broadcasters in other countries with bigger populations pay even more.  The bidders and other Canadian media watchers say it is difficult to calculate how much ad revenue the Games will attract several years down the road , although the attempt must be made. “You make a lot of judgments on what you think [will happen], and at this point it's a lot of guessing,” said Jan Innes, a spokeswoman for Toronto-based Rogers. Keith McIntyre, president of sports marketing adviser K. Mac & Associates in Mississauga, said it's difficult for bidders to project what they will be able to charge for advertising several years from now. But “I think down the road they'll get their [money] back,” he said.

Still, said Peter Miller, head of regulatory affairs at CHUM Ltd., which is not involved in the Olympic bids, “at least the Olympics have a track record.” Past Olympic ad revenue can be used to extrapolate future income, he said, unlike the situation with new drama shows, which are a “complete gamble.”  Mr. McIntyre said a crucial factor for the Canadian broadcasters is that the 2010 Games are being held at home in Vancouver, making them far more attractive to viewers, and thus to advertisers, and potentially allowing ads to be sold at a premium. But the financial equation is more complicated than just balancing off the cost of broadcast rights versus advertising. The winning bidder also must take into account the expense of producing the Games broadcasts, which can run into the ten of millions of dollars.  However, the prestige of being the Olympic network can also bring in higher advertising dollars in the months and years leading up to the Games. The Olympic rights now include Internet and mobile phone rights — another wild card in the calculations. One other unknown variable for the broadcasters is the location of the 2012 Summer Games. The IOC will choose in July between London, Paris, Madrid, New York and Moscow. Having the Olympics in New York would be a huge gain for whichever Canadian network gets the rights, Mr. McIntyre said, because New York's time zone guarantees live prime-time coverage in Canada.  CTV made money on its coverage of the Olympics in Calgary (1988), Barcelona (1992) and Lillehammer (1994). CBC is coy about whether its Games coverage has been profitable, although the corporation's president Robert Rabinovitch admitted to the House of Commons heritage committee last November that CBC coverage of the Athens Games lost money.  Consequently, he said, CBC would be cautious about its bid for 2010 and 2012. But CBC wants the Games, he said, because “it is a jewel in the crown” and “it is very much one of the programs that brings the country together.”

For CTV, getting broadcast rights would mesh with the position of its sister company Bell Canada (both are owned by Montreal-based BCE Inc.) as official telecommunications sponsor of the Games. Bell agreed to pay almost $200-million (Canadian) for those rights last fall. While CTV executives won't talk publicly about their bid, sources at the company are playing down their chances of unseating the CBC, which they view as having infinitely deep pockets.  Both the CBC and CTV appear intent on sharing the high costs of the Olympic broadcast rights with partners. The CTV-Rogers joint bid will emphasize the combined broad range of specialty channels, radio stations and conventional stations that could carry Olympic coverage. CBC spokesman Jason MacDonald acknowledged that “we will have private-sector partners,” but wouldn't elaborate. Hamilton-based Score Television Network Ltd. has confirmed it plans to work with CBC, while Toronto-based Corus Entertainment Inc. and Global Television Network, owned by Winnipeg-based CanWest Global Communications Corp., are said to be potential partners with the public broadcaster.  Peter Sisam, vice-president of TV at Toronto sports management firm IMG Canada, which advised the IOC on Canadian broadcast rights, said the IOC decision will be based on three factors: which network can give maximum Games coverage, which can promote the Olympics and its ancillary activities such as the torch relay most effectively, and which will pay the most for the rights. “If it is close, money will be the tipping point,” he said.




Montel Launches Talent Management Firm

Excerpt from

(Feb. 8, 2005) *Montel Williams is now trying to rustle up comedians for his new talent management firm that specializes in stand-up comedy and developing clients for TV and film projects, according to the “Hollywood Reporter.”  The Emmy-winning daytime talk show host is calling the firm Letnom Management, an extension of his production firm Letnom Prods.  His plan is to start out with a roster of five performers - to be signed in the coming weeks - and then possibly expand that to about 10 clients during the next six months.  From there, he’ll build the business based on demand.  "I felt there's a need for a full-blown management firm," Williams told the trade Friday. "We need more laughter in this world, and I have met many talented people through my work and various activities. …I'm looking for talented people whether they are black, white or Asian, children or adults. There will be some complete unknowns and maybe some seasoned people who haven't found a break in a while."  Williams, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, says he’ll use his industry connections through the various acting, producing and directing jobs he has done over the years to hook up his comedians.   His new gig does not signal the end of his talk show, currently in its 14th season.  The show's contract expires in September 2006, but he said there have been talks about an extension.   "I would never let the talk show wane. I enjoy this job too much," he said.







 Kà Is Talk Of Vegas

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian

(Feb. 3, 2005) Welcome to , the newest, biggest and most expensive addition to the world-wide empire of Cirque du Soleil.  This new show has cost $200 million (all figures U.S.) to create, employs 230 people on and off stage, can accommodate one million visitors a year and is capable of generating close to $150 million annually.  From all reliable reports, is the largest show ever mounted in North America.  "In North America?" scoffs Daniel Lamarre, the president and COO of Cirque. "Surely on the whole planet Earth."  Lamarre was in an expansive mood yesterday on the eve of 's gala world premiere tonight, an event so in demand that it's being spread over two back-to-back performances to look after the 4,000 people on the guest list.  The after-party, at a rumoured cost of $1.5 million, is slated to start at 8:30 p.m. and continue "until noon the following day."  Clearly Cirque du Soleil feels it has a lot to celebrate. is its fourth show to set up shop in the lucrative Las Vegas market, joining Mystère, O and Zumanity — all still playing to solid audiences.  "The pressure is on us," admits Lamarre, "to create a different show every time. We can be proud of the work we do, but we have to remain humble as well."  is the brainchild of world-renowned Quebec director Robert Lepage and it is as much his creation as it is a work of Cirque du Soleil.  What's it about? The word "Kà" is an Egyptian term used to define the spiritual partner that accompanies each human being through life. The Cirque show's narrative is described as "the story of Imperial Twins who embark on a dangerous journey to fulfill their destinies."  "We must let audiences know that they are not to expect a typical Cirque show," cautions Lamarre. "This is the marriage of Robert Lepage and Cirque du Soleil. It's like both partners and yet it's something different at the same time."  Since the end of November, 80 preview audiences have stood to cheer this mixture of martial arts, puppetry, interactive video and death-defying acrobatics. The buzz about that's circulating around this normally unflappable casino city is quite incredible.

"The `wow' factor on this one is very big," smiles Lamarre.  I was taken on a backstage tour yesterday that certainly whetted my appetite for tonight's opening.  Every aspect of the production is handled with the combination of magical invention and surgical precision that we've come to expect from Cirque du Soleil.  The 500 complex props include huge, specially built horns imported from Katmandu and daggers trimmed with genuine Tibetan yak fur.  There are 10 larger-than-life puppets, including an 80-foot-long coral snake and one crab puppet that alone took 1,300 man hours to create.  Costumes? There are 215 of them, with each one duplicated to meet the requirements of two shows each day. The costumes took a team of 70 people more than 35,000 hours to create in the Cirque shops in Montreal.  Scenically, the show is monstrously complicated, since there is no permanent stage, but a series of floating ones, each weighing close to 100,000 pounds.  Dave Churchill, the technical director, cut his teeth at the Stratford Festival and the Livent tours of Showboat, but he affirms that "this is the toughest gig I've ever had." Still, like everyone else on the team, he seems anxious to face the opening night audience and quotes a phrase that the entire creative team of seems to have adopted as its mantra:  "There are no problems, just solutions."  And the betting is the solutions are going to be pretty spectacular.







Patriots Cement Dynasty Status

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By David Naylor

(Feb. 7, 2005) Jacksonville, Fla. — The New England Patriots sealed their place in football history early in the fourth quarter of last night's 24-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX. Locked at 14-14 in the only Super Bowl game ever tied after three quarters, the Patriots neatly marched the ball downfield with a series of short runs and passes, a surgical drive that ended with Corey Dillon's two-yard run to make the score 21-14. Then, with the momentum up for grabs and the Eagles desperately needing to respond, the Pats' defence didn't give an inch. It shut the Eagles down, got the ball back and New England added a field goal to give the team a 10-point lead. No club has come back from a disadvantage of more than seven points during the second half of a Super Bowl and the Patriots weren't about to be the first. So even though the largely pro-Philadelphia crowd got excited when Donovan McNabb hit Greg Lewis with a 30-yard touchdown pass to make the score 24-21 with 1 minute 48 seconds to play, the Pats were never in danger because the game's decisive moments had passed. New England's third Super Bowl win in four years is especially remarkable given that most considered the Patriots one-hit wonders when they first raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy with a 20-17 win over St. Louis in 2002. But after last year's 32-29 win over Carolina, the Pats dropped only two games all season before taking to the podium again last night. The three teams they defeated in the playoffs this season — Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia — totalled only eight losses during the regular season. "Indianapolis, we all know what kind of a team they are, Pittsburgh won the [American Football Conference] and bombed us during the regular season, and Philadelphia led the [National Football Conference] from wire to wire," Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick said. "We may have lost two games this season but we also beat those teams, so to me we met all comers." Last night's win had all the characteristics that have become so familiar about the Pats. It was calmly executed, involved various styles of play on both sides of the ball, and featured a team that learns as the game goes on.

And though the Patriots have won their three Super Bowls by a combined total of only nine points, they surely have a knack for coming up with the key play when it's needed. "We did a great job of adjusting to a lot of the things they gave us during the game," said receiver Deion Branch, who was selected the game's most valuable player and tied a Super Bowl record with 11 catches, for 133 yards. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady struggled early but was superb as the game wore on, tossing no interceptions while going 23 of 33 for 236 yards. Brady, who had been chosen MVP of New England's two previous Super Bowl wins, is now 9-0 in the playoffs during his four-year NFL career. Belichick, already considered the NFL's reigning genius, has now moved one game ahead of the legendary Vince Lombardi at 10-1 in postseason play. "We're happy we did it and we'll leave the historical perspectives to everyone else," Belichick said. The Eagles, playing their first Super Bowl game in 24 years, hung tough last night, often dodging instances when it seemed they might have been ready to fold. But three interceptions on McNabb — two by New England safety Rodney Harrison — and some missed opportunities while the Pats were still finding their way early on, cost them dearly. "You can't turn the ball over, that's kind of the name of the game," Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid said. "[Our players] got a taste of [the Super Bowl] so I'm sure they'll want to come back." Receiver Terrell Owens, playing his first game since Dec. 19, when he broke his right fibula and sprained his ankle, made good on his promise to be a factor against the Patriots. Owens had nine catches for 122 yards, including two catches for gains in excess of 30 yards. Tied 7-7, the Patriots opened the second half with a tight, nine-play drive that took just 3:56 and made the score 14-7. Brady hit Branch on passes of 37, 15 and 21 yards to get the ball to the Eagles' two. He then finished things off with a toss to linebacker/tight end Mike Vrabel. It was Vrabel's fifth career catch, his fifth touchdown and his second in as many years in the Super Bowl.

The Eagles, with McNabb looking far more confident and decisive than he had during the first half, responded by marching down the field in 4 minutes 17 seconds, hitting Brian Westbrook with a 10-yard pass to make the score 14-14 with 3:35 to play in the third quarter. The sharp offensive drives of the third quarter were in contrast to a first half in which both teams struggled moving the ball. The Patriots used a four-man front, instead of the usual three, to put pressure on McNabb, forcing a key interception by Harrison near the goal line late in the first quarter. The Eagles, however, still managed to score first when McNabb found tight end L.J. Smith stretching out to make the game's first touchdown catch, putting the Eagles in front 7-0 with 9:55 left in the half. The Philadelphia score marked the first time during the playoffs that the Patriots trailed in a game and one of the few times all season that New England didn't score the game's first points. The Pats tied the game with 1:10 to play in the first half when Brady completed a drive with a cross-field pass to David Givens.




Zo, Melo Host 8-Ball Challenge

Excerpt from

(Feb. 3, 2005) *Denver will be teeming with starrahs and ballers scurrying about town for the fast-approaching NBA All-Star Weekend, which kicks off Thursday (Feb. 17) with “Zo & Melo’s 8-Ball Challenge,” hosted by NBA star Alonzo Mourning and Denver Nuggets standout Carmelo Anthony. The guest list includes Ludacris, Terrell Owens (Philadelphia Eagles), Kenyon Martin (Denver Nuggets), Marcus Camby (Denver Nuggets), Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat), Troy Vincent (Buffalo Bills), Emeka Okafor (Charlotte Bobcats), Vince Carter (NJ Nets), Fabolous and members of the WWE (World Wresting Foundation). They’ll be on hand to compete for an all-expenses-paid vacation and NBA All-Star game tickets.   Thirty-two (32) two-person teams will compete round-robin style with winning teams advancing until a final round of play.   Cedric the Entertainer will host the festivities, to be held at Wynkoop Brewing Company. All of the net proceeds will benefit charities supported by Alonzo Mourning Charities, Inc. and the Carmelo Anthony Foundation Fund.   A silent auction, featuring an All-Star list of items from NBA superstars Michael Jordan, Jason Kidd, Magic Johnson, Tracy McGrady, Patrick Ewing, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade as well as Carmelo Anthony and Alonzo Mourning, will also raise money for the charities.




WNBA Expands To Chi-Town

Excerpt from

(Feb. 9, 2005) *The WNBA awarded an expansion team to Chicago on Tuesday, expanding the league to 14 teams.  The squad – its nickname forthcoming – will begin play in 2006 at the Illinois-Chicago Pavilion. The Chicago franchise doesn't have any players yet and, unlike when the league began, the WNBA won't assign any who have local ties. The were will be an expansion draft, probably in November or December, and the team will also have money under the salary cap to sign free agents.







Miss Canadiana: Beauty Queen With An Edge

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Guy Dixon

(Feb. 3, 2005) In Ottawa, she was a vision of loveliness at the Canada Day festivities proudly wearing her sash. In London, she drew such a crowd in Trafalgar Square that the police had to ask her to leave. Back in Canada, she showed up at a rally in Hamilton with such local dignitaries as MP Tony Valeri, and has toured Toronto's Chinatown, Little India and Church Street neighbourhoods. Wherever she goes, Miss Canadiana exudes poise and optimism, forever handing out little Maple Leaf flags and looking resplendent in red.  "For me, I feel like she's another person," says Camille Turner, Miss Canadiana herself. "She's not cynical and jaded like I am. She's very sweet, and she really believes in people. She believes people are just wonderful!" she adds, laughing. Turner's apparent split personality is due to the fact that Miss Canadiana is after all an act or, more precisely, an ongoing performance-art piece.  When not appearing as a figure of blithe national pride and beauty, the Toronto-based artist works in a variety of media, from textiles to digital arts. She struck on the idea of Miss Canadiana while walking through a mall in North Bay, Ont., a few years ago. Originally from Jamaica (she moved to Canada when she was 9), Turner noticed that people were staring at her. Tall and maybe more urbane than some in the mall, there was otherwise little to mark her as an outsider -- other than her black skin. Receiving the stares immediately made her come up with the idea of Miss Canadiana. Turner then mulled the idea for a few years, trying to decide how to approach arts-funding agencies with what she admits is a somewhat difficult idea to describe.

Then, on Canada Day, 2002, she simply donned a red dress, sash and kitschy Canadian-themed hat (she now favours tiaras) and showed up in Ottawa in her new role. Although the winner of a fictitious contest, Miss Canadiana nonetheless looks stunning with her braided hair falling lightly around her face, even if she lacks that pinched look and type-A personality of most beauty-pageant winners. If anything, it's that tiny flash of doubt that lies at the core of her performance: Why, despite her obvious appeal, is she still vaguely outside the standard-issue beauty-contestant mould? Is it because she's black? Is it because she seems older and more there than a typical teen queen? (Turner won't divulge her age, saying she wants to maintain at least some of the mystery of Miss Canadiana.) Whatever the basis of her mystique, no one has ever challenged Turner whenever she has simply appeared on the street or at events -- and no one questions whether Miss Canadiana is a real contest, she says. Turner will tell them if they ask, and her alter ego should not be confused with the anything having to do with the Miss Canada contest, which ended several years back, only to be replaced by various other pageants, including Miss Canada International.  "Whenever I go places, people ask to take my photo. People have asked me for my autograph. It's like being larger than life," she says. "Complete strangers come up to me and hug me, just weird things like that. It's really a bizarre thing. I'm realizing how identity is something you construct and you put on." In her appearances, Turner subtly plays up the flag-waving humour and kitsch. But even when handing out paper flags to street vendors in Chinatown, who vigorously wave back to a video camera, there's no sense of exploitation, or echoes of the art intelligentsia. It all comes off as a happy, if slightly skewed, salute to New Canada as opposed to the pseudo-British Old Canada. It's only when she discusses the work in art forums that she hears more unusual opinions. A French woman in Senegal told her that when Turner becomes Miss Canadiana, she no longer thinks of her as being black. Another time, a Latino man from South America told Turner she was acting white.

As Turner says, Miss Canadiana raises more questions than she answers: Underneath the humour, the artist is interested in questioning the lip-service paid to Canada as a multicultural, inclusive society, even as Miss Canadiana seems to be celebrating it. "There's something that I'm really trying to get at here. I feel there's this veneer of niceness, this really smooth skin, where everything's fine. Meanwhile, all the dirt is swept under the rug, and I'm really interested in ripping that off and looking underneath." Turner says she doesn't buy such niceties as Canada described as a mosaic, or the way multiculturalism is fetishized, she says, to the point where Canada is automatically called inclusive, even though many citizens don't feel included in mainstream culture. When it comes to displays of Canadian national identity, says Turner, non-white groups will be told, "You go here and do your little dances.' It's kind of a side act -- and then there is the main course. There's a lot of tokenism. It's not inclusive." Part of her thinking, she suggests, stems from the notion of home. When Turner emigrated to Canada, first arriving in Sarnia, Ont., and then Hamilton, she grew up with other kids' usual racial taunts, and the feeling at times that she didn't belong. At the same time, Canada was for her the place where her family would be reunited, after her father left Jamaica to search for a better place for them to live. "For me, my father was always somewhere else. And so home was always this mythical place that was going to happen when he would get settled. Then he would send for us, and we would be a family together. That's why a lot of the work that I do is about belonging and home, because it has always been this thing that was out there," Turner says, adding that she plans to make appearances as Miss Canadiana in Mexico and various small towns throughout Canada this summer. But there's more to Miss Canadiana than questions about multiculturalism -- something evident in Turner's laugh as she watches a video of her appearances: It's in the way the bellhops at London's Savoy Hotel hop-to for her, as she coos innocently at the attention. It's in the way deliverymen excitedly look back in her direction, while someone off-camera says how lovely she is. And it's in the way Canadians beam and wave their paper flags in her direction.  For all of the issues she raises, Miss Canadiana is also simply about fun and breaking down boundaries with her faux fabulousness. "If I walk down the street," says Turner, laughing at the video, "it's different than when she walks down the street." A Miss Canadiana installation, including a video of her appearances and a display of kitsch Canadiana collected by Turner, is showing at Toronto's WARC Gallery, 401 Richmond St. W., suite 122, until Feb. 12 (416-977-0097).




Monkey T, Monkey Do And Michael, Too

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rita Zekas

(Feb. 6, 2005) It's great when a local Toronto boy makes good with Tinseltownies, but it's even better when they are wearing the T-shirt off his back.  George Diavolitsis came into our collective consciousness when Kim Cattrall was snapped in Yorkville and featured in these pages wearing one of his Furious George T-shirts, based on a bitchy monkey with serious 'tude.  Now Avril Lavigne, Russell Crowe, Woody Harrelson and Scarlett Johansson all have a monkey on their front.  Through a highly placed pal in L.A. (who has often been approached to sell the shirt he is wearing), Diavolitsis has dispatched shirts to the cast of the series O.C. and Desperate Housewives, so don't be surprised if one pops up on Nicolette Sheridan.  Paris Hilton has one and the T's also made the rounds at the recent Sundance Film Festival, snapped up by Keri Russell and expat Canucks Neve Campbell and her brother, Christian.  When columnist Ted Casablancas picked up on the trend and ran an item in his column "The Awful Truth" this week, Diavolitsis got more than 2,000 hits on his website  Why George? "Because I look like him," quips Diavolitsis. "I'm developing the widow's peak."  Other hot sellers include a Kabbalah Madonna and he is in production with a Michael Jackson T-shirt, keyed to the media circus surrounding his trial.  Diavolitsis says the angry monkey gets the biggest reaction from celebs because "they are asked to smile 24/7 and behind that smile is that monkey."  The T-shirts come in six styles including hoodie and long and short sleeved and there are hats and undies also.  They retail between $35-$40 and are available at Kal boutique in Yorkville, Trove on Bathurst, FX on Queen St. and through his website. The Michael Jackson T-shirt is sold only on the website.  Meanwhile, it's back to the drawing board for Diavolitsis. "My training is in classical art," he says. "I want to use T-shirts as a canvas." 




Maya Arulpragasam: But where's she 'really' from they ask

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Carl Wilson

(Feb. 5, 2005) It's easier to take in the scene -- the small, pretty woman in blue silk waving her arms and shaking out her long black hair on the lip of the stage; the gaggle of young things on the floor stretching out to her in response; the media cameras separating them, bobbing above the front row like robotic birds in a dance of their own -- by watching it all in the long mirrors that line the wall of the Drake Hotel Underground in Toronto. The dark liquid reflection seems more real, more coherent, somehow, than the actual event. Maya Arulpragasam, the London-based singer known to a growing international following as M.I.A., feels the reality gap too. Once the cameras have done their thing and gone, she asks that the stage lights be brought down: "I feel like I'm in a school talent contest," she remarks. When the spotlight's glare is attenuated, the stiffness begins to melt out of her 27-year-old limbs and she settles down, settles in, at least as much as she will on this Wednesday night. M.I.A. has the kind of looks and body language that command attention, the kind that get you signed to a record deal on the spot, for example, when you bring your homemade demos round to the record company down the block (London's XL). If in Wednesday's set she sometimes seemed not to know what to do with her charisma, remember it was her first show in North America and, depending what you count, one of the first full-fledged concerts of her life. Her backing DJ (and rumoured new fiancée), the American producer Diplo, occasionally had to wind tracks back so she could find her cues. (After Toronto's warm-up, they headed to Los Angeles, and tonight they take Manhattan.) M.I.A.'s career so far is a topsy-turvy one. After about a year in the business, she has hardly played live, but she has the ears of record execs, the press, even the marketing industry: Apple is running a contest in which you can win an iPod Shuffle that plays her upcoming debut album, Arular (due Feb. 22), and is decorated by hand with the art-school graduate's signature psycho-tropical graphics, which also were projected on the walls of the Drake as she performed. (Her entrée into show biz was doing graphics for Britpop band Elastica.)

Part of the reason she looks better in the mirror may be that she's more used to the cameras than to the crowd; she seems better scaled to a screen or a frame. People distrust that quality (as preshow chatter about "hype" at the Drake attested) especially in an enviably beautiful young woman with her own blend of musical genres and a ton of fawning reviews. They ask where she "really" comes from, whose creation she is, even though the only bandwagon she is jumping on is one built of lumber scavenged from every sound she's ever heard, and booty repirated from pirate radio. (Many listeners first encountered her on a mix she and Diplo released last year called Piracy Funds Terrorism.)  When The New York Times asked her to name her favourite current tracks in a feature last weekend, she chose Jamaican dancehall, American hip-hop, British "grime" (a salad of harsh ping-ponging electronic beats and patois-laden rap) and Puerto Rican reggaeton. Her own music contains fragments of all those styles, stripped down to buzzing minimalist grooves over which she rhymes in a saucy schoolyard sing-song style. But this is no rootless child of privilege browsing in some kind of global sonic supermarket. Rather, M.I.A. is a profoundly uprooted person. Until the age of 10 she lived in Sri Lanka, where the father she never knew was a leading figure in the Tamil Tiger guerrilla army, and she and her siblings lived in hiding with their mother, dogged by the Sinhalese government from village to village in secrecy and poverty. They made it to safety in England as refugees in 1986, where they lived in a housing estate and her mother took in sewing. Music and art were key to Arulpragasam's process of crossing over into urban Western culture, and you can still hear the journey in her songs: She mixes references to civil war and revolution with lines about dating and sex and nonsense-syllable chants. This discomfits people. On the business side, MTV has demanded she clarify what she means in her single Sunshowers, which refers both to the PLO and to putting "salt and pepper" on her "mango," before they'll play the video. Meanwhile some fans complain that she doesn't seem to have a clear political agenda -- as if a straight political line has ever come across well in music, especially in pop music, a mixed-up, bastard form if it's anything. (Remember those early-nineties "industrial" remixes of Noam Chomsky lectures? Surely nobody wants to go back there.)

M.I.A.'s music is beguiling because it is confusing. Rather than embrace an existing genre or a given persona, whether sexpot or thug or Third World intellectual or sensitive painter, she asserts her right to all of them. She finds in pop's wild hybrid tendencies a readymade machine to take on all these questions of identity -- to belabour my metaphor, a mirror inside a mirror. It would be much more artificial for her to produce some kind of Sri Lankan roots music, or British dance music in some heavy "insider" style. In London she's a foreigner; in an airport line in the Blair and Bush era, she's once again the suspected terrorist she was as a child. Yet when she returns to the country of her birth with her education and her pop connections, she is a Westerner. She is only an insider to the outside, and she can't be "with us or against us" for anybody. That's why, even in its current rough-draft form, her presence and sound have such urgency in 2005. More than ever in history, we live in a world of refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced and stateless persons -- tens of millions of them -- yet in culture and politics alike, we often demand proofs of loyalty or authenticity, the kind of identity card people like M.I.A. simply can't produce. Hence her stage name. In such a mosaic, looking for coherence seemed the wrong impulse. So I turned my eyes away from the Drake mirrors to watch Arulpragasam do Amazon, a song in which she imagines herself kidnapped and held for ransom. Listening to it on Arular, and considering abduction was probably a real risk in her childhood, the song seems an act of defiance, turning a nightmare into a liberating action fantasy. But live, when she shimmied toward the crowd and sang the chorus, "Hello! This is M.I.A.!/Would you please come get me?" the plea began to turn into a pop star's love cry: Hello, world, this is M.I.A. -- come dance with me, come sing with me, come on to me, come and get it. And the room roars back to her. In M.I.A.'s music, the displaced world calls out for company as much as for rescue, the outside teases the inside, and abduction is a sort of state of grace. It isn't blindly optimistic: She knows firsthand that any "universal language" is a myth, that every kind of music, just like every village or council estate, has its own codes meant to keep you in and others out. But as one of the millions with no home, no single idiom to call her own, she is almost forced to make pop, the music that's always found in translation. And then, as for any aspiring pop star, our attention is her ransom.




Biggie's Clothing Line To Debut

Source: PRNewswire

(Feb. 9, 2005) NEW YORK -- The Late Great Notorious B.I.G started a clothing line, Brooklyn Mint, in 1996, but he never got the opportunity to see his brainchild develop.   Through the tireless commitment and vision of B.I.G.'s mother Ms. Voletta Wallace and his managers Mark Pitts and Wayne Barrow of Bystorm Entertainment, the Brooklyn Mint dream will finally be realized.  "It was important that we identified the right partner," said Barrow about the timing for the line.  "We had to have someone who understood our vision and passion to materialize the brand. "The sportswear line which represents the Legacy of the rap legend will take its inspiration from the Life-Style, Culture & Diversity of Brooklyn. The first instalment will come in the way of the Brooklyn Mint T-shirts which  will debut during the Magic Convention from Feb 14th to Feb 18th in Las Vegas.  Brooklyn Mint Tees will be available on March 9, 2005 and the full line will be available in 2006. Music mogul Jay-Z, a true friend to B.I.G assisted in securing the deal for Brooklyn Mint and also granted the brand his image to be utilized on one of the first T-shirts for the line. Proceeds from the "Brooklyn's Finest" T- shirt will be donated to B.I.G's, Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation and Jay-Z's, Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation. "Brooklyn Mint serves as a vehicle for the consumer to participate in the Legacy of B.I.G. while dismissing cultural boundaries and delivering new innovative standards in fashion," said its co-founders.




Canadian Wineries Benefit From Success Of "Sideways"

Source:  Canadian Press

(Feb. 9, 2005) Toronto — There's a buzz at wineries across Canada thanks to the Oscar-nominated road-trip comedy Sideways. Vintners say the movie — about the hijinks of a wayward bridegroom and his Pinot-loving pal — seems to have prompted tipplers across the country to try different wines. "I think it certainly has put wine tasting in the public eye," said Lous Oort of Marynissen Estates winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. "It's great." In the film, which is up for five Academy awards, wine snob Miles (Paul Giamatti) takes a whiff of one vintage and declares: "citrus, passion fruit, just the faintest soupcon of asparagus, and, like, a nutty Edam cheese." Such over-the-top descriptions have evidently tickled the funny bones of amateur oenologists. "It comes up once in a while at the tasting bar. .-.-. They say 'oh, this is just like Sideways,'" said Oort. The film has already sparked a mini tourism boom in California's Santa Ynez Valley where it is set. Visitors can take guided Sideways tours and buy T-shirts commemorating the movie. Even in Canada's wine country, it's had an impact. "Certainly it's got people talking about Pinot Noir," said Tony Stewart, CEO of Quail's Gate Estate Winery in Kelowna, B.C. "You gotta like that." In the film, Pinot Noir is the varietal most frequently imbibed by Miles and his buddy Jack (played by Thomas Haden Church, who is up for a supporting actor Oscar). In one scene, as the two prepare for a double date with Stephanie (Sandra Oh) and Maya (Virginia Madsen, nominated in the supporting actress category), Jack warns Miles, "If they want to drink Merlot, we're drinking Merlot." The high-strung Miles replies: "No, if anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any (expletive) Merlot!" In another memorable scene, Miles struggles to explain his love for Pinot Noir — sometimes called "the heartbreak grape." There is definitely something elusive about Pinot, Stewart agreed. "It's finicky," he said. "A lot of people have tried to work with it and have given up." But Miles's passion has apparently piqued the curiosity of wine drinkers. In the United States, sales of Pinot Noir have jumped since Sideways was released last fall. In Ontario, sales have increased about 10 per cent since the film came out compared with the same period the previous year. It's hard to say if the film was a factor, however. A spokesman from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario also noted that sales of Miles's much-maligned Merlot went up by about 20 per cent over the same period. Still, those in the biz aren't questioning why red wines are suddenly in demand. "We're a beer nation — the movie has got people thinking more about wine," said Andrew Brooks of Crush on Niagara wine tours. "It can't be bad for business." In addition to supporting actor nods for Madsen and Haden Church, Sideways director Alexander Payne is up for best-adapted screenplay and best director. The film is also up for best picture. The Oscars will be handed out on Feb. 27.




NY Fashion Week: Kimora Shakes, Not Stirs

Excerpt from

(Feb. 8, 2005) *Simmons… Kimora Lee Simmons…unveiled her new Baby Phat collection Saturday during New York’s Fashion Week, and it was all about high-spy wear.   The line, inspired by her love of Bond Girls, the movie “Thomas Crown Affair” and other films that showcase sexy, empowered women, featured such items as thigh high suede boots with trompe l’oeil patent leather slingback detail; a laced back black leather dress; a green tweed suit with a satin lapel with gold nameplate-worn-as-bra; and dresses, pants and blouses with slits “that revealed just a peek of skin,” according to Fashion Wire Daily. There was also a chocolate fur jacket with asymmetrical ruffled bodice, low slung white pants with a beaded waistband and puff-sleeved gray pinstriped jumpsuit--and, of course, there were Baby Phat’s signature booty shorts done up in alligator with a puffy banded leg.  “It’s all very spy girl/fighter girl,” Simmons told FWD. “The collection is very retro, with a lot of tailored, form fitting pieces with clean lines. Very rigid but sexy. We mixed a lot of elements and textures: tweed, fur, buttons, alligator and crocodile skins. It’s fabulous. And there are tons of oversized accessories that make quite a statement. It’s a strong collection for a powerful woman.” Other celebs in the house for Saturday’s jam-packed show (and to get a preview of Simmons’ new jewellery lines, the ultra-expensive Kimora Lee Simmons collection and the lower-end Baby Phat Diamond Diva collection) were Mos Def, Missy Elliott, Lil’ Kim, Tori Spelling, Ashley Olsen, Vivica A. Fox, Shannen Doherty, Paula Abdul, and her hubby Russell Simmons’ brother, Reverend Run.







10 Fitness Tips For Beginners

By Raphael Calzadilla B.A., ACE, RTS1, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro

(Feb. 7, 2005) I’m dedicating this article to the beginner. To the person who is mentally preparing themselves to get in shape in 2005. The individual who suddenly has realized after many years that they simply cannot continue being overweight, tired and listless with muscles that resemble a bowl of Jell-O.  You want to begin eating right and exercising, but you have absolutely no idea where to begin. You’re sort of scared. It is possible that you have never set foot in a health club and would almost rather not pursue this endeavor -- because it just seems so daunting. But, you know you must!  I’ve always taken great pleasure in training the man or woman who walks into the gym for the first time. I’ve always viewed it as a courageous, intelligent act of taking responsibility for one’s own health. I enjoy training beginners, because they get to learn things correctly from the start as opposed to re-learning ineffective habits they picked up from an infomercial.  Here are my top 10 tips for the beginner:

1. DON’T WORRY ABOUT FEAR -- Understand that it’s OK to feel somewhat unsure of yourself prior to starting an exercise and nutrition program. The psychological aspect is the first thing to accept. There will be a lot to learn concerning weight training, cardiovascular exercise and nutrition. However, recognize that as you begin the process, you will continually learn, get more comfortable and, most importantly, make progress.

2. DECIDE -- In most articles, this point is referred to as goal setting. However, I prefer "DECIDE," because I see too many people fail with goal setting. I realize it’s a play on words, but it seems to work. You’ll need to write down and DECIDE what it is you want to accomplish.  For example, you may decide you want to lose 30 pounds of body fat and gain two to three pounds of muscle. Maybe you’ll decide you want to be able to walk five miles without losing your breath, or possibly fit into that size 8 dress or 31" inch waist pants. Write it down and make it quantifiable. Just saying "I want to get in shape and lose weight" is not quantifiable. There’s no target.

3. GET A CHECKUP -- Having a physical is a wise decision, because it will help assure you’ll attain the most benefits with the least amount of risks. If you smoke, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or are overweight, it’s doubly important. Remember, this is about starting right.

4. STRUCTURE -- You will need guidance. That’s where eFitness comes into play. Our site is marvelous for beginners. When registering, you are asked to input your goals, current activity level, health history and several other measurements. We then provide a program that matches your goal and your current fitness level.  You receive a nutrition program and complete exercise descriptions. I know what you’re thinking, "Yes, but how do I know if I’m really doing things correctly?" Don’t worry. If you ever have a question related to your program, we have a team of personal trainers and dietitians ready to assist you. You will not be left alone.

5. GET REAL -- Take a close look at your schedule and be realistic concerning how many days and how much time you can realistically devote to exercise. This is going to be long-term, so it has to be based on reality.  Too many people start working out every day and think that’s the best approach. Wrong! Maybe you only have two to three days to devote to exercise and only 45 minutes for each session. It’s the combination of efficient nutrition and exercise that will yield the greatest benefit, not simply excessive exercise. That’s a sure way to experience burn out.

6. EDUCATE YOURSELF -- You’ll need to develop an understanding of concepts such as repetitions, sets, cardio, etc. Again, we can help. When you get to the fitness program, you’ll be lead to a glossary of fitness terminology that will help get you started in the right direction. This will give you a good overall understanding of many fitness terms you may have heard in the past.

7. EAT -- Begin to get an understanding of how food affects the body. I’m not asking you to become a nutrition guru. Simply try to understand, for example, what happens to your body when you have a big bowl of pasta compared to a smaller amount of pasta combined with chicken and a small Caesar salad.  Become familiar with the affect elevated blood sugar has on storing fat. You can receive additional education on this subject matter when you join. Just email one of our dietitians or access one of the great support boards available to members. The best part? When you join eFitness, we’ll customize your nutrition based on your food preferences. It’s based on reality.

8. MOVE -- No, not geographically. Start to work out… start to move. Your weight training won’t take a lot of time as a beginner, nor will your cardiovascular exercise. You’ll focus on form, technique, precision and breathing correctly during your workout.  You’ll find the site all-encompassing and able to answer many of your questions. Not sure about a specific weight training move? Just access my "Ask The Expert" support board, and I’ll answer your question. I won’t stop providing information until you’re clear.

9. BEWARE OF MAGIC POTIONS -- Don’t get hooked into supplements that can magically reduce body fat or infomercials that sell ineffective products to get your stomach flat. Remember, these companies are just trying to make a buck, and most of them don’t provide all the information you require to make a wise decision. They prey on emotion and impulse buying. Stay far away.

10. COST EVALUATION -- It’s important to get the most effective nutrition and workout plan for your needs. In business, it’s called cost versus benefit, but I like to call it "what the heck do I get for my money?" It’s also important to get ongoing education that doesn’t require this to be a fulltime endeavor. You need quick and timely information that won’t "break the bank." Joining eFitness is a fraction of the cost of hiring a nutritionist or trainer at a health club.

I hope these 10 tips have helped. If you knew first-hand the fantastic resources we have here, you wouldn’t think twice about joining. Commit to starting your nutrition and fitness program and reap the benefits of less body fat, becoming lean and having tons of energy.




EVENTS –FEBRUARY 10 - 20, 2005




KUUMBA at Harbourfront Centre

(Jan. 18, 2005) KUUMBA means Creativity in Swahili.  This year's edition of Kuumba at Harbourfront Centre celebrates African Heritage Month with two jam-packed weekends of music concerts and dance premieres, engaging and provocative readings and panels, a film series curated by the Get Reel Film Festival, a visual arts exhibition premiere and a variety of family activities.  Kuumba's full tenth anniversary activities begin on February 5 and February 6 and continue February 12 and February 13, 2005. All events, except where noted, are free admission and appropriate for all ages. Complete Kuumba program below: The Kuumba cultural programme is also part of Harbourfront Centre's Winter exploration of HE. The changing nature of the male identity and shifting notions of man's role in society are embedded as sub-themes in select Kuumba events. For more information the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit .  All Kuumba events are located at Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West, Toronto).




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




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




Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.
10:00 pm
EVENT PROFILE: Monday nights at IRIE continue their tradition.  Carl Cassell’s original art and IRIE itself will be featured in the January 2005 issue of Toronto Life!  It’s no surprise to me that Toronto Life has chosen Carl Cassell, in their quest to reveal those restaurants that also offer the unique addition of original art.  Let Irie awaken your senses.  Irie Mondays continue – food – music – culture.




Revival Bar  
783 College Street (at Shaw)  
10:00 pm  
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Rich Brown, Joel Joseph and Shamakah Ali with various local artists. 




Hummingbird Centre For the Performing Arts
1 Front Street East, Toronto.
Tickets: $25, $35, $45 & $55
Tickets can be purchased by phone at 416-872-2262 or on line at, by visiting Hummingbird Centre Box Office or any Ticketmaster location.
Groups of 10 + (416) 393-7463
For more information visit or 

EVENT PROFILE: The renowned Soweto Gospel Choir, referred to as the “Voices From Heaven”, will give a one-night Toronto performance at the Hummingbird Centre For the Performing Arts on Thursday, February 17 at 8:00 p.m. as part of their North American premier tour with only two stops in Canada.  Torontonians will experience the exuberance and inspirational performance from the 24-piece ensemble singing their South African spiritual songs as well as other popular songs including Jimmy Cliff’s Many Rivers to Cross.  Founded in 2002, the voices for the Choir were selected from various church choirs as well as from the general public to create this ensemble, which includes traditional African drummers and dancers.   




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




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




Have a great week!  

Dawn Langfield   
Langfield Entertainment