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NEWSLETTER

Updated:  July 21, 2005

Are you keeping cool?  Better get ready for another  long weekend in Ontario coming up next weekend!  The best one with Caribana and Harbourfront and lots of other goodies going on.  And a special treat before the weekend begins on Wednesday  - Sonia Collymore joins the FLOW 93.5 stage in the TD park for a crazy hot showcase.  See details below.

And a concert that just makes me all giggly with anticipation - the Sugar Water Festival also this Wednesday, July 27th with the soulful divas of Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Queen LatifahSee below for the hot details!  Guys, this is where the girls will be!  Universal Canada brings us another FREE CD offer - this week Marques Houston!  The first five people to hit REPLY to this email WITH YOUR FULL ADDRESS will win!  For a taste of Marques Houston, CLICK HERE
 
This week is full of entertainment news below - MUSIC NEWS, FILM NEWS, TV NEWS, and OTHER NEWS!  Have a read and a scroll!  This newsletter is designed to give you some updated entertainment-related news and provide you with our upcoming event listings.   Welcome to those who are new members.  Want your events listed by date?  Check out EVENTSWant to be removed from the distribution, click REMOVE.

 

 

::HOT EVENTS::

 

 

FLOW 93.5 Presents Soul In The Summer – Sonia Collymore

FLOW 93.5 presents Soul in the Summer, an outdoor live concert series – this Wednesday featuring artist Sonia Collymore on Wednesday, July 27 at 12:15pm and 1:00pm at the TD Centre Courtyard.  Brown bag it or buy something from one of the vendors and enjoy your lunch with a splash of reggae!  Sonia's 2005 JUNO Award Winning debut album WYSIWYG will be re-released nationwide through Fusion3 Distribution and will available in all major record stores on Tuesday July 26th.   (www.soniacollymore.com).

Part of the 93 Days of Summer, brought to you by the TD Centre and FLOW 93.5, Toronto's Hip Hop and R'n'B!
 
WEDNESDAY, JULY 27
SONIA COLLYMORE IN CONCERT
TD Centre Courtyard
66 Wellington Street West (King and Bay)
12:15 pm and 1:00 pm

 

 

 

The Sugar Water Festival Featuring Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Queen Latifah
Wednesday July 27, 2005- Air Canada Centre

The Sugar Water Festival brings together three of the most dynamic personalities in music today, offering a unique mix of Jazz, Hip-Hop, R&B and Rap in a festival atmosphere.  Don’t miss these incredible women and this soulful evening!

Queen Latifah was certainly not the first female rapper, but she was the first one to become a bona fide star.  She had more charisma than her predecessors, and her strong, intelligent, no-nonsense persona made her arguably the first MC who could properly be described as a feminist.  Her third album, “Black Reign”, was the first album by a female MC ever to go gold.  Latifah herself soon branched out into other media, appearing in movies and sitcoms and even hosting her own talk show.  Her performance in the acclaimed movie musical “Chicago”, garnered her Best Supporting Actress nominations from both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.

Jill Scott grew up in north Philadelphia and began her performing career reading her own poetry.  Subsequently, she collaborated with Eric Benet, Will Smith, and Common and broadened her performing experience by touring Canada in a production of the Broadway musical Rent.  She released her debut album, “Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1”, in July 2000.  Scott's star power soared over the next year, eventually earning her a Grammy nomination in early 2003 for ‘Best Female Vocal Performance’ for "A Long Walk."

Erykah Badu drew comparison to Billie Holiday upon her breakout in 1997, with “Baduizm”.  A singer/songwriter responsible for all but one of the songs on Baduizm, she found a number 12 hit with her first single "On & On," which pushed the album to number two on the R&B charts. 

Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart are the funky divas behind the neo-soul duo, Floetry. Ambrosius and Stewart emerged in the mid-nineties as songwriters in demand.  The pair has written tracks for Michael Jackson, Jill Scott, Glenn Lewis and Bilal. 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 27
SUGAR WATER FESTIVAL
Featuring Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Queen Latifah|
Air Canada Centre
40 Bay Street
7:00 pm
Tickets available at all Ticketmaster outlets, Air Canada Centre box office
Or call 416 870-8000 to charge by phone
Or order online at Ticketmaster.ca or cc.com
Tickets (incl. GST) $89.50 $69.50 and $49.50 plus convenience fees

 

 

 

::SCOOP::

 

 

Mary Mary New Release

Source: Sony/BMG Canada

They’re back!!  Get ready for the highly anticipated self-titled release from Mary Mary.  The dazzling duo, Tina and Erica Campbell, once again delivers a trend setting, audible packed, musical composition of incredible messages of hope and inspiration through this release that is reality driven and faith based.  Inspiring the streets with a message of hope, this release expresses the heart of Mary Mary.  Featuring the single “Heaven”, a hip-upbeat tune of encouragement, to “Yesterday”, a tune that articulates how to forget about the past and reach for hope for the tomorrow.  Mary Mary touches a wide demographic of all ages, races, faiths, and nations.   

“It’s the right music at the right time.  We believe people will be uplifted, encouraged, inspired, and blessed by it.  It will make some dance, some cry, some think, some smile, and others wonder who this “Jesus” is and why do they love Him so much?  And ultimately, how can I get closer to GOD!!!” – Mary Mary

Mary Mary Celebrate New Release Tomorrow

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 18, 2005) The Grammy-winning platinum-selling R&B/gospel duo Mary Mary -- Erica and Tina Campbell -- will treat the group's fans to a free live performance followed by a meet-and-greet/autograph-signing event at Wal-Mart (5401 Fairington Road, Lithonia, GA 30038) tomorrow, Tuesday, July 19, at 6:30pm.  The Mary Mary event celebrates the release of Mary Mary, the duo's eagerly-awaited third full-length album. Erica and Tina are two real-life sisters who have brought revolutionary R&B, urban and hip-hop elements to the world of contemporary gospel music as Mary Mary. Mary Mary, the duo's new album, features guest artists Kirk Franklin and Kim Burrell.  The group's new single is "Heaven," produced by Warryn Campbell. (Erica's husband, Warryn Campbell helmed the first two Mary Mary albums, the
RIAA gold- and platinum-certified Thankful and the RIAA gold-certified Incredible). Growing up in Inglewood, California, Erica and Tina first sang publicly in the local church choir and received their first break in 1998 with a song on the "Prince of Egypt" soundtrack. In 2000, Mary Mary's platinum debut album, Thankful -- featuring the hit "Shackles (Praise You)" -- earned numerous awards including a Grammy for Best Contemporary Gospel Album and three Dove Awards, six Stellar Awards, a Lady of Soul Award, a Soul Train Award.  Incredible, their second album, became the nation's #1 Top Christian Album in 2002 and featured the Dove Award-winning hits "In The Morning" and "Thank You," featuring Kirk Franklin.

 

 

 

::RECAPS::

 

 

Recap - Saukrates / John Legend / k-os

Admittedly and regrettably, I was committed elsewhere and arrived late for the concert and missed Sauks performance – of which I still have not seen.  I look forward to the next opportunity! 

Having seen John Legend perform excerpts from Get Lifted a few times at smaller venues in Toronto, I was anxious to see him at the Molson Amphitheatre on Friday, July 15th.  His first class performance was phenomenal.  I find his raspy vocals stirring and there’s an emotion behind them that reminds me of artists from back in the day, namely, Marvin Gaye.  He has moved far beyond writing for other artists (including Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson, Jay-Z, Common, the Black Eyed Peas and, of course, Kanye West) and now embraces his writing skills and vocal gift for his own.  Except for a small glitch with his piano, the show proved that John is capable of filling venues and catering to a large audience on his own.  Ample props due to a star in his own right.  (www.johnlegend.com)

I hate to admit that I was overwhelmed at the masses that turned out to see a Canadian urban artist in a packed stadium – I’m talking about the one and only k-os.  I had to stand back several times and just look out over the numbers of surfer dudes, college kids, middle-aged moms, professionals and kids beckoning out to k-os during his performance!  Never have I seen a turnout like that and am thrilled for k-os that he serves it up like that.  It’s inspiring to those that are coming up and those that are still on their way.  And the number of people that knew each and every lyric was exceptional and it further indication that k-os reaches an audience at a time when consumers are excited about his message and his somewhat irreverent style.  Not even to start on his incredible band!  k-os’ Joyful Rebellion is an entertaining collection of tracks and when he hit them with "B-Boy Stance”, and "Crabbuckit", the noise from the stadium could be heard as a dull roar from far outside the stadium.  Props to an artist whose intention is to bring it real and gritty and for the ability to touch people that are hungry for k-os’ delivery of truth.  (http://www.k-osmusic.com/)

Live Review: K-OS in Toronto

By Jane Stevenson - Toronto Sun

 (July 19, 2005) TORONTO - It was total k-os last night at the Molson Amphitheatre. And in this case, that was a good thing.  Toronto hip-hop innovator k-os, who employs equal parts rock, reggae, folk, R&B, and soul into his genre-dying sound, played his biggest hometown show yet in front of 9,000 fans.  Previously, he's only played the El Mocambo and The Opera House.  But that was before the success of his 2004 sophomore album, Joyful Rebellion, which won three Junos and four MuchMusic Video Awards this year and spawned such hits as Crabbuckit, B-Boy Stance, Man I Used To Be and the current single Crucial.  In a shout-out to the city, k-os and his superior five-man music squad performed on a stage decorated like a street complete with a graffiti-decorated brick wall backdrop, chain-link fences and lamp standards.  In fact, k-os -- dressed in his signature hoodie and sunglasses -- made his first appearance from the interior of a telephone booth as he opened the hour-and-25 minute concert with B-Boy Stance.  Adding to the excitement was the presence of roving TV cameras and bright lights as the performance was being filmed for "future commercial release" as both signs posted around the amphitheatre told audience members along with a man who came out on stage and checked crowd sound levels before the concert even got underway.  Admittedly, the MC/singer, whose band included lightning fast turntablist/DJ Lil Jaz (Mr. Nelly Furtado) and dazzling guitarist Russell Klyne, had a stronger first half with such delirious set highlights as B-Boy Stance, Commandante, Emcee Murdah, Superstar, Hit The Road Jack/Crabbuckit, and Man I Used To Be, that all had fans dancing maniacally in the aisles.  The evening's most political statement also came early as k-os introduced Commandante thusly: "This is an ambush! As in f--k George Bush!"

The energy level also went up on stage whenever one of five talented dancers took over to show off some mighty moves or when k-os, who sometimes sat down to play keyboards, jumped off stage during Papercutz for some serious crowd-surfing.  Unfortunately, the second half of the show tended to meander a little bit with a lot of audience participation on the vocals when all I really wanted to hear was k-os' sweet voice. 

Opening last night was local rap veteran Saukrates and rising neo-soul singer-pianist John Legend, the latter who's been a frequent visitor to this city, most recently headlining his own show at The Docks back in March.  Legend, a protégé of Kanye West who has also appeared on songs by Jay-Z, Dilated Peoples and Alicia Keys, sprang out of the same Philly neo-soul scene that includes Jill Scott and his major label debut, Get Lifted, has turned him into one of this year's biggest things in R&B circles.  Wearing a brown leather blazer on a warm summer night, Legend certainly gave a sweaty 55-minute performance and when his piano developed a mind of its own during Number One, he stopped the show.  "You've got to fix this piano!" he yelled at one of his roadies. "It's f---ed up!"  Sure enough, when Legend raised both of his hands in the air the piano could still be heard playing.  "That's what happens when you have computers doing some of the playing," said the pianist, who was backed by a seven-piece band. "I had an Ashlee Simpson moment. I apologize."  That puzzling intermission aside, the highlights of Legend's set list included those of the funkier variety such as Alright, I Can Change and Used To Love U.

 

 

 

Crash Recap

Canadian director and screenwriter Paul Haggis brings to us the unflinching movie, Crash, which I saw on the weekend.  This film takes an uncompromising look at racial tolerance in America – and an inevitability of how we are all divinely linked together as human beings despite race, social standing and gender.  The cast is HUGE including Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Chris Bridges (Ludacris), Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe, Larenz Tate, Michael Pena, Tony Danza and Loretta Devine.  They all live in Los Angeles and their volatile and fragile lives will all collide within 36 hours.  Of special mention was the character that Ludacris played, Anthony.  Ludacris has a strong on-screen presence and is a natural in this role.  Look for related film news on him under FILM NEWS below. One of the most powerful scenes is with a lesser known actor, Michael Pena (as pictured).

You will find yourself pleading with the characters to do the right thing and will be appalled when they don’t.  At the very least, this movie will ignite dialogue, which as Don Cheadle said, is the point. That’s all I’m going to say – GO SEE IT!  (This review is unsolicited!)

 

 

 

::THOUGHT::

 

 

Motivational Note: Settling for the Leftovers

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Willie Jolley

We spoke of how most people settle in life for the leftovers life gives rather than creating for themselves a banquet table. They dream little dreams, think little thoughts, and get little results. Why? Because most don't think they can do any better. They settle for mediocrity rather than going the extra steps for excellence. They don't think they can do it. And if you think you can or think you can't, either way you are probably right. You accomplish what you think you can accomplish. You can if you think you can and you probably won't if you think you can't. Most people simply will not try. They go to their graves with their dreams still inside of them. Well, in America there is simply no excuse for failure. We live in one of the greatest countries in the world. This is a country with unbelievable opportunities, and most of us act like the man who was told to go into a bank and take whatever he wanted. He took a penny and left because he didn't think he could handle anymore! He thought it would be too hard to keep the wealth. Folks, we are what we think about. Think big! Join Award Winning Speaker, Singer and Best Selling Author, Willie Jolley, for “Motivational Speaking 101”, where you can learn how to move along the road to financial success with your professional speaking career from “…One of America’s Top Speakers!” Email us at info@williejolley.com for more information.

 

 

 

::MUSIC NEWS::

 

 

Stones Roll In To Practise

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Katie Rook

(July 14, 2005) They're back. The Rolling Stones are in Toronto, preparing for their 2005 World Tour at the Greenwood College School. The location was confirmed yesterday by entertainment industry impresario Gino Empry. When asked whether Greenwood, near Mount Pleasant Road and Davisville Avenue, would be a locale for the Stones, he replied: "As far as I know. They have a couple of spots they're practising at."  Jerry Stone, who knows Keith Richards and Mick Jagger personally and owns Stone's Place, a Queen Street West bar, confirmed the band would rehearse at Greenwood and said roadies and backup crew are expected in town soon. "You starting to bug them already?" he asked. Music pulsed from behind the school's blacked-out windows this week and a handful of people dressed in black who loitered outside the exits would allow only that a "private event" was being held inside. The neighbourhood has been buzzing with news of the Stones' arrival for days.

"It's the most exciting thing that's happened on Davisville," said Lorne Hogan, a contractor who lives beside the school. "There are famous people at the end of our street." Mr. Hogan could hear the bass last night, but said he wasn't distracted by it.  The band has rehearsed at Maple Leaf Gardens, Crescent School, the Masonic Temple and Downsview Park before other world tours, Mr. Empry said. Toronto is where the band's tour promoter, Michael Cohl, lives. "They like Canadians. We're very polite and we don't demand they do certain things and bother them," Mr. Empry said. Hosting an internationally renowned band has been a little off-putting for Greenwood staff members who confirm they have limited access to the premises this month.  It's "won't get no satisfaction" for fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the legendary rockers because the entrance to the school's property is sealed off by gates very similar to the mesh fencing used to control crowds at concerts.

 

 

 

Willie Nelson: The Coolest Cowboy

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Dawn Walton

(July 18, 2005) CALGARYWillie Nelson isn't the customary kind of celebrity. The country legend has made more records than his publicists can keep track of. He has more movies under his belt than most full-time actors. He's a philanthropist who is as interested in helping American farmers stay afloat as he is in forging ahead with stem-cell research. And he's never been immune from controversy. Yet, at age 72, he doesn't watch the clock to shuffle off one reporter in exchange for the next. "How long have I got?" I ask. "As long as you need," he replies.  Indeed, get ready for the long, hot summer of Willie. He's just released a new album -- Countryman -- and is in the midst of a Canadian tour (he's already played Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Lethbridge, Alta.). He has a new movie -- The Dukes of Hazzard -- and with it what some are calling a too-sizzling-to-watch music video with nubile co-star Jessica Simpson. And he's gearing up for the 20th anniversary of Farm Aid. "It all sort of came together at one time like a harmonic convulsion or something," he explains. In truth, Countryman has been a decade in the making. His reggae effort -- yes, reggae -- was conceived in 1995 when he trekked to Jamaica to meet with Island Records founder Chris Blackwell. While the reggae tracks peppered with country were being recorded, including the Jimmy Cliff classic The Harder They Come and a duet with legend Toots Hibbert, Universal records absorbed Island. Blackwell left the company and the album was shelved. It was revived when Nelson joined Lost Highway Records, and released last week. "It's great because I felt it was good back then and I wanted to get it out," Nelson says.

But it hasn't come without a hitch. The album cover features marijuana leaves and shades of red, green and yellow to reflect Jamaican culture. Buy the CD at Wal-Mart, however, and palm trees replace the pot leaves. It was Universal's way of being responsive to a major retailer that prefers to be thought of as F, not R-rated. But in the liner notes, Nelson, not one known to turn down a left-handed cigarette, apologizes for anyone who was deserving of credit, yet not mentioned: "Either we were too blunted to remember, or it's been lost in the smoke clouds over the years. . . ." Nelson, whose acting credits include The Electric Horseman, The Journeyman and a guest spot on The Simpsons, will appear later this summer as Uncle Jesse in the big-screen adaptation of The Dukes of Hazzard. Playing the lovable patriarch in the remake of the 1979-85 television show that revolved around car chases and good old southern kids wasn't a stretch. "All the fans that I talk to really like it," Nelson says, "Of course, they're all Dukes of Hazzard fans anyway, most of my fans are." But the movie, and the promotion around it, has been plagued by criticism. The actor who played the mechanic Cooter in the original series says the movie is too sleazy, both in sexual content and profanity, and is asking fans to stay away. And a Christian group called the Resistance has condemned Jessica Simpson's These Boots Are Made for Walkin' video (featuring Nelson) for the homage to the character she plays in the movie, Daisy Duke. It seems it wasn't Simpson's very short shorts and very tiny top that bugged the Resistance as much as it was the "slutty" scenes of her writhing over the Dukes' car, "General Lee," while washing it in a bikini.

"They're just jealous. Just jealous," Nelson says, laughing. "I don't think she really worries too much about what other people think. As long as she's happy with it," he says. Hasn't that been pretty much his attitude toward life, too? Nelson has gone through four marriages, a burnt-down house, the suicide of his son and a climb out from under a mountain of tax-related debt. Does he worry about what other people think? "You really can't afford to," he says. Nelson has never been a kick-back-and-watch kind of star. Last week he announced plans for Farm Aid, which he co-founded two decades ago with rockers John Mellencamp and Neil Young. The concerts have helped raise about $28-million (U.S.) and awareness about the collapse of the family farm. All three artists appear at the Sept. 18 concert in Chicago, not far from the original concert venue in Champaign, Ill. But Nelson, a Texan and a patriot, said Farm Aid is no longer just about saving the little guy. It's about showing how the family farm can make people healthier, save the environment and help prop up the U.S. economy. He sees a future with organic crops and alternative energy sources (such as biodiesel made from vegetable oil for vehicles), which will make the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil. (His tour buses and his family vehicles all run on biodiesel already. He has even set up BioWillie fuel for sale at a truck stop near Austin, Tex.) "In all the years I've been working with the farmers, now I [can] see a light at the end of the tunnel. Here's a way for these guys to make a comeback," he says. And just how does Nelson keep coming back with more, year after year? "I think if you don't use, you lose it," he says. "I'm not really the guy to look to for advice," he adds, laughing. "I'm kind of like the canary in the mine. You watch and see when I'm going to fall over."

Remaining dates on Willie Nelson's Canadian tour (with Kathleen Edwards): tonight, the Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary; Wednesday, Prospera Place, Kelowna, B.C.; Thursday, General Motors Place, Vancouver.

 

 

 

The Greatest Summer Single Ever

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Carl Wilson

(July 16, 2005) In 2005, pop music is about anything but pop music. It's about tsunami aid and African debt, celebrity trials and sexual misconduct. Most of all it's about technology, the iPod as ubiquitous cultural feeding tube, the mobile-phone ring tone as 11-second chart wonder. Or rather, it was, until R&B singer R. Kelly -- in his second decade of multimillion-selling fame, and short weeks before his own imminent sex trial -- made pop all about the songs again, thanks to the most off-the-hook summer-single ploy ever. Coincidence? Not. But if a star has been accused of having issues with drugs, guns, Scientology or -- for the most-unfortunately nicknamed "Pied Piper of R&B" -- degrading videotaped sex with very underage girls, I don't want him making talk-show testaments, sham marriages or hurried dashes with umbrella-toting bodyguards to unmarked limos. No, I want him to court public sympathy by dreaming up entertainment so baroquely fantastic that people will demand clemency just so he can make more, aware it's wrong but unable to help themselves. In case of emergency, break creative glass ceiling. So: What about a five-part musical saga involving two married couples, several adulteries, a cop, a gay pastor named Rufus and his secret lover Chuck, a handgun, multiple cellphones, a closet and a condom, each chapter set to a water-torture suspenseful score, ending abruptly in a cliffhanger with a reverberating string-and-kettle-drum crescendo?

That is the marvel that is R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet, Chapters 1 to 5. The epic appears in its full perverse glory on his new, instant No. 1 album, TP.3 Reloaded. But first segments were released one by one to radio from April to now, to succour the medium in its grimmest, iPod-menaced hour. Kelly aimed to revive the golden-age radio serial. R&B stations happily played along, making it a hit and, for many of us, an obsession. (Don't read further if you don't want to know what happens. I've never, ever felt the need to issue a spoiler warning about a song before now.)  There's also a video, whose TV premiere last week was the top-rated show in BET history. Shot with the cheap back-lighting and dun sets of a daytime soap, Kelly and a group of actors enact exactly the scenarios in the song -- like the moment in Chapter 1 when Kelly, hiding from a jealous husband in a bedroom closet the day after a tryst, fumbles with his phone "to quickly put it on vi-i-i-bra-a-a-te!" The actors mouth the lines as if speaking, but Kelly croons the actual dialogue, and more. It's like a reverse tone-deafness in which all human speech and thought are replaced by the buttery vocalese of R. Kelly. In Chapter 2, the jealous husband, who is also gay pastor Rufus, uses his own cell to get Chuck to come announce "the shocking truth," their own plan to marry. When he hangs up, Kelly off-handedly sings, "click!" And, reader, that's what the whole piece is like! Later, Kelly sings the siren of a police car pulling him over! Don't even ask about the part where Kelly sings to his wife to hurry up and orgasm because he has a leg cramp! And she still tells him what a great lover he is! Let's just say it ends badly! And circuitously!

In the manner of an Andy Warhol movie, it's too knowing to be inadvertent, too earnest to be satire and too bat-guano nuts to make sense. But Kelly, who happens to have the voice of a 21st-century Sam Cooke, bulldozes any and all attempts to maintain an ironic distance with his overcharged delivery. It's not so bad it's good; it's so unabashedly itself that it's beyond bad and good -- it's so R., it's Kelly. One (or five) of a kind though it is, Closet has precedents. The cheater-cheated theme is a staple of Kelly's back catalogue, and the storytelling is like a cannabis-fried version of country-blues ballad Frankie & Johnny or the Persuaders' Thin Line Between Love and Hate, flipping back and forth to Jerry Springer and Desperate Housewives. It's also an amoral take on the revival-tent-style morality plays that draw throngs of black Americans on today's urban-gospel theatre circuit, the source of last year's minor hit movie Diary of a Mad Black Woman. And this being R. Kelly, there's also a whiff of Boogie Nights-era pornography, all pile carpet and faux-wood panelling. But the key is radio and TV daytime soap operas -- which, like Closet, are domestic, talk-heavy and full of flawed but sympathetic characters, and unfold in revelations and cliffhangers that never resolve the story. Closet has no chorus because it's a soap -- a chorus would be a climax, which in a soap opera must be deferred indefinitely. Call it tantric plotting. In fact, Kelly has already announced that there will be at least five more chapters to Closet, probably more. (Which explains why Chapter 5 made such a lousy ending -- it wasn't one.) Embarking on a potentially infinite project is one way to assert your belief you won't go to jail. Feminist scholars also suggest soap opera's open, interconnected narrative structures mirror feminine social identity. And that's just what Kelly needs. Not only to curry favour with female fans, who love the goofy, homely realism of his erotic imagination (that leg cramp, or the chopped tomatoes in Sex in the Kitchen) and the humility with which he'll sometimes interrupt his horndogging to pay obeisance to family and God; but to dismantle his other face, the hysterically hypermasculine sex predator, and make amends.

Unlike Cooke or Marvin Gaye, Kelly still seems locked deep in his own closet. Closet grazes against cultural taboos -- tolerating homosexuality, acknowledging the playa-ho double standard -- but as always, Kelly drops it and lets himself off scot free. So, while the first five (well, four) parts remain the greatest summer single of ever, if Kelly wants his artistic clemency, the next five instalments of Trapped in the Closet better look something like this: 1. Kelly and traffic cop fall in love; 2. Now ex-wife and ex-girlfriend beat down Kelly with own video camera; 3. Kelly and cop take spa day with Jay-Z, followed by volunteering at women's shelter; 4. Kelly begins taking hormone replacement; 5. Kelly adjusts to life as male-to-female transsexual: And I look in the closet! That's my bra in the closet! My bra in the claaaaw-sit! (. . . sit, sit, sit, sit . . .) Then maybe we'll talk.

 

 

 

Sugar Water Is Pretty Sweet

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 16, 2005) *Though the Sugar Water Festival featuring Queen Latifah, Jill Scott, and Erykah Badu sold only 6,000 tix for the Jones Beach 15,000 capacity venue last Tuesday, the soul sisters made quite a ruckus, MTV reports. The New York performance also featured Floetry. The New York Post stated, however, that the half-full set was not as rowdy as when Queen Latifah took the stage. The Post reports that Scott's and Badu’s performances were “hurt by empty seats” and that only the Queen prevailed, though her set was “too short.” Latifah set the tone with her rap hit “Ladies First” and then performed a few R&B and pop standards, including "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," and "Hello Stranger (Seems Like a Mighty Long Time)" — sung to and with her dad, stepping onto the stage from the wings. Latifah closed with “U.N.I.T.Y.” The Post heralded Scott’s and Badu’s sets to a degree, but concluded that neither took command as Latifah did. MTV says that Scott was welcomed with the fans on her feet. The soulstress opened with “Golden” and a number of her hits from her debut “Who Is Jill Scott.” Erykah Badu came on without introduction and began singing “Green Eyes” from 2000’s “Mama’s Gun.” Later in her set, Badu went into a personal narrative, MTV reports. She talked about how she smoked pot, gave it up. Began drinking and gave it up which led to materialism of a gift-giving boyfriend. But then a voice told her to get rid of her man and “pack light,” which led to her hit “Bag Lady” about women finding themselves.  The show ended with the three headliners back on stage paying tribute to Luther Vandross by singing his hit “Never Too Much.” The trio will perform the song on “Good Morning America” this morning at 7 a.m. on ABC. The Sugar Water Festival runs through August 10 and is expected to expand into Europe & Asia in 2006.

Remaining US dates are:

Friday, July 15 PNC Bank Arts Center Holmdel, NJ
Saturday, July 16 Tweeter Center Camden, NJ
Sunday, July 17 Mohegan Sun Casino Uncasville, CT
Thursday, July 21 Chastain Park Atlanta, GA
Friday, July 22 Chastain Park Atlanta, GA
Saturday, July 23 Verizon Wireless Amphitheater Charlotte, NC
Tuesday, July 26 DTE Energy Center Detroit, MI
Wednesday, July 27 Air Canada Centre Toronto, Canada
Friday, July 29 Lakefront Pavilion at Northerly Island Chicago, IL
Saturday, July 30 Germaine Amphitheater Columbus, OH
Sunday, July 31 UMB Bank Pavilion St. Louis, MO
Tuesday, August 2 Fiddler's Green Amphitheater Denver, CO
Thursday, August 4 Chronicle Pavilion at Concord Concord, CA
Saturday, August 6 Mandalay Bay Arena Las Vegas, NV
Tuesday, August 9 Greek Theater Los Angeles, CA
Wednesday, August 10 Greek Theater Los Angeles, CA

 

 

 

Missy Elliott Cooks Up Summer's Tastiest New Album

Source: LaTrice Burnett , Atlantic Records

(July 15, 2005) "The Cookbook" is Elliott's sixth full-length release, and her first since 2003's smash "This Is Not A Test!"  Along with the aforementioned Ciara and Fat Man Scoop, the set features such guests as Mike Jones, Mary J. Blige, Grand Puba, Fantasia, and the legendary Slick Rick. The album sees Missy teaming with her longtime production collaborator Timbaland, as well as a who's-who of studio superstars, including the Neptunes, Craig Brockman (Beyonce, Angie Stone), Qur'an, Warryn Campbell (Mos Def, Snoop Dogg), and Scott Storch.   Among the many highlights to be found on "The Cookbook" are the starter of "Joy (featuring Mike Jones)," the emotional main course of "My Struggles (featuring Mary J. Blige and Grand Puba)," the Neptunes-produced dessert of "ON & ON," and the liquid refresher, "Teary Eyed," also slated as the album's next single.  With "The Cookbook," Missy Elliott serves up her  tastiest dish to date.   The Missy-produced "Lose Control (featuring Ciara and Fat Man Scoop)" is quickly shaping up to be another major hit for the first lady of rap.  In just a few short weeks since hitting radio, the irresistibly anthemic track has already bulleted into the top ten at CHR/Rhythmic outlets and into the top twenty at Urban.  Although "Lose Control" has only just officially impacted at CHR/Pop radio, the single is already bulleting up the top 40.

Meanwhile, the "Lose Control" companion video has become a cross-channel smash.  The clip - directed by Elliott's longtime collaborator Dave Meyers - is the #1 most played video this week at both BET & MTV2, has hit the top 5 at MTV, and is the #2 most-played video in the country across all channels. In addition, the clip is ON VH1 - where it has been chosen as a "Flava"  pick on next week's Top 20 Countdown, is in Power rotation on VH1 Soul, and is getting heavy play on MTV Jams, MTV Hits, and MTV U.  "Lose Control" was also featured on Fuse's popular Hip Hop Confidential, and the clip is now the channel's #6 most-played video.   Missy - in association with MTV.com and MTV2.com - is giving her fans an exclusive taste of "The Cookbook." "The Leak on MTV.com" is offering an exclusive streaming preview of the album, running from June 28th until its July 5th street date at www.mtv.com/music/the_leak. Meanwhile, "Lose Control" is the #1 most-streamed video on MTV.com.  In addition, BET.com  will be hosting an album listening party for "The Cookbook" the week of release.   Missy has slated a series of appearances to herald the release on "The Cookbook." She made a spectacular performance on the "BET Awards 05" show earlier this week.  On July 5th, she'll pay a visit to BET's 106 & Park, followed the next day by a stop at MTV's Total Request Live.  She will also appear on MTV2's "Sucker Free Sunday" and BET's "Hosted Saturday."

 

 

 

Radio Ruling Will Hurt Our Artists

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Tom Barlow

(July 19, 2005) Over the past few weeks I have followed closely the media coverage regarding applications to the CRTC for satellite radio licences in Canada.  I have two concerns. First, that the licences have been granted to corporations outside of Canada and, second, that longstanding successful Canadian content protections have been brushed aside.  As a Canadian artist I feel that satellite technology offers unprecedented opportunities.  With virtually unlimited channels, listeners will be able to have a myriad of choices not currently available via commercial radio's increasingly narrow play lists. Artists who had no hope of radio play will suddenly have access to national exposure.  This can only strengthen and invigorate the music community with both artists and listeners reaping mutual benefits.  But why throw out or radically dilute Canadian content rules? Putting Canadian content into CanCon-only channels will ghettoize and marginalize artists.

The fundamental question here is: Is there such a thing as Canadian culture?  If there is not, then there can be no argument for jealously guarding it.  But if being a Canadian is more than just an accident of geography, if we have our own stories, our own unique insights and our own method of conveying those insights through music, then we must passionately protect our art and artists or risk becoming homogenized into nothingness.  We have seen the devastating effect of erasing a people's culture in indigenous populations around the globe. People lose their centres and are unable to define themselves.  There can be no mistake that we see the world profoundly differently than our neighbours do.  We may listen to many of the same bands and enjoy some of the same music but we are more than northern Americans. The Tragically Hip, Sam Roberts, and K-OS are all successful Canadian acts who inspire our nation but don't resonate to nearly the same degree in the U.S.  Is this because they are inferior? Obviously not. But I challenge a single American programmer to tell me who Bill Barilko is.  It is not the role of American corporations to protect Canadian culture, yet we are handing those very corporations the veins through which our culture flows.  Twenty years ago, if you had asked a rock radio listener if they wished to hear Bon Jovi or some unknown local band called the Tragically Hip, no doubt the Hip would not have been chosen. But CanCon rules gave the Hip a turn at bat. That's all the rules do, they give us a chance to compete. The recent CRTC decisions have threatened to take us out of the game.  This attack on Canadian culture has been made in the name of choice. I find the irony profoundly disturbing.  Here we have an American economic/political structure that has protected and fostered opaque, monolithic, monopolies at every level of the music business, from radio to live performance, trumpeting the consumer's right to choose.  All the Canadian listener will have earned is the right to never hear the next great uniquely Canadian voice. They will have been effectively denied their right to choose.

 

 

 

Rap Mogul Sings His Own Praises

Source:  Torstar News Service

(July 19, 2005) Jermaine Dupri is certainly no slouch. With a leg up from his tour manager father, the North Carolina native started off at age nine as a breakdancer for Diana Ross and Cameo. At 14 he became the youngest ever charting producer with a group called Silk Tymes Leather, and five years later discovered the teen duo Kriss Kross. He launched his own So So Def label and crafted hits for Mariah Carey, Da Brat and Bow Wow.  Today, Dupri, 32, holds the titles of Virgin Records Urban Music President and Janet Jackson's boyfriend. On the strength of producing three No. 1 songs to Usher's Confessions album, he was recently recognized by The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. He's also just opened an Atlanta eatery, Café Dupri, and has a solo record Gotta Getcha with a steamy video featuring the missus.  During a recent Toronto publicity blitz, the rap mogul was shamelessly singing his own praises and defending his would-be brother-in-law.

  • On his day job: "I'm the president and I still make records. As a president I got to do things that are good for my artists, but as an artist that made records before, people constantly ask, 'When are you going to put out another record?' And it's not like my records sold less than a million copies. Even my first album went gold in Canada. ... It does help to get the attention to my new artists. But I never really want to piggyback no artists off me. I always just sign them and put them out and I work them and make them who they are."
  • On respect: "People label me as one of the best, but they don't really want to label me as one of the best, because I'm so young. I'm successful because I have so many different things going on ... there's certain people on this Earth that got to get stoned and continue to keep walking through it and you'll see your better days whenever its supposed to come to you. I feel like I'm that dude."
  • On his latest video: "The younger kids that watch music videos they gotta understand I'm grown, I'm 32-years-old, it's not really cool for me to do anything younger. Even watching this whole Michael Jackson case, there's such a contradiction in this world, because you got people that want to cater to the young and be young and keep it youthful, like Michael — he wants to build with kids and have them around him — and then people look at it as he's a child molester. It's almost like a no-win situation. You have to do what's true to you. "

 

 

 

 

Kid Koala: A Man With Many Plans

Excerpt from www.metronews.ca

(July 20, 2005) Talk about organized: scroll through scratch DJ Kid Koala's doodle-filled website and you'll stumble upon plans not only for his musical projects plotted out for this year (Space Cadet And Astrogirl), but also ones slated for 2007 (Disco Station) and 2009 (Creatures Of The Late Afternoon)."These are slow-cooker projects, because they're quite labour-intensive and time-consuming," the 31-year-old Montrealer says ahead of his Harbourfront Centre showcase Saturday as part of its Dim Sum: Sampling Contemporary Chinese Culture theme night.  Right now, Kid Koala is immersed in a multimedia project and new graphic novel, which are about — get this — "a mosquito trying to play clarinet in Storyville." He'll launch both projects later this summer.  The new, as-yet-unnamed novel exhibits the same skewered humour evident in his 2003 debut graphic novel, Nufonia Must Fall, which was an illustrated love tale between an unemployed robot and a workaholic femme.  "My house is slowly being taken over by this model city with all these clay mosquitoes all over the place," Kid Koala says. "For this next tour, we've built miniature sets that stand about three feet high for the three-story buildings, a couple of feet for all the other buildings."  And the accompanying music? "The stuff I'm digging for is a lot of swing music and practising a lot of turntable things that sound like what I think a mosquito would sound like playing jazz clarinet," he laughs.  Kid Koala's innovation and, um, humour, has been his modus operandi since 1995, when U.K. record label owner Jon More first signed him to his Ninja Tune label. Using a variety of comedy-based and off-the-wall "how-to" records, Kid Koala materialized in 2000 with his debut, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, accompanied by a 32-page comic and video game -and loads of critical acclaim.  In addition to opening for the likes of Radiohead and Björk, Kid Koala has also performed alongside Grade 4 students from Brampton. He also played recently at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.  "Sometimes those are the types of moments that inspire you," Kid Koala says. "Anything could happen."

 

 

 

D’Angelo Returns

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 20, 2005) *D’Angelo makes his return to music on a remix of Common's new single "Go,” produced by Jay Dee.  The “Brown Sugar” singer was last seen being arrested for a DUI last November, and last heard on a 2002 collaboration with singer Raphael Saadiq.

 

 

 

Oran 'Juice' Jones Returns On GRP's Def Jazz

Source: J'ai St. Laurent-Smyth; jai.stlaurent-smyth@umusic.com

(July 20, 2005) On Tuesday, August 9, 2005 GRP Records will release Def Jazz, a collection of smooth jazz interpretations of rap, hip hop, and R&B classics from the house of Def Jam Records.  Each of these 10 tunes, performed here by an all-star roster from the world of contemporary jazz, was carefully selected from the archives of the hip hop giant Def Jam - a company celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2005.  Def Jazz is the brainchild of record producer Tony Joseph, a former radio and club DJ who has enjoyed breakthrough success with Unwrapped, a series of largely instrumental CDs fusing smooth jazz and hip hop. For this urban jazz project, Joseph, along with GRP/Verve's VP of A&R Bud Harner, assembled some top names in jazz to tip their hats to some of the biggest stars of rap and hip hop.  Among those featured on Def Jazz are Gerald Albright, Rick Braun, Joey DeFrancesco, Roy Hargrove, and Jeff Lorber.  These outstanding instrumentalists are just some of the musicians who pay tribute to these Def Jam tracks, which range from undiscovered gems to more modern hits. Songs such as Jay-Z's "Can I Get A..." and LL Cool J's "Back Seat" and "Doin' It" are among the tunes Joseph selected for Def Jazz. One of the highlights on Def Jazz is a remake of "The Rain," the #1 R&B smash hit by Oran "Juice" Jones. Joseph chose to revisit the classic, but with a new twist. "The spin is Juice has a daughter now," Joseph explains, "who catches her man with another man."  In the role of the daughter is emerging neo soul singer Ledisi, and she is joined on the track by Jones himself.  Through a random connection, Jones found out about the remix and was excited to join in on the action. Some of the other standouts on the disc are "Hey Young World" (Slick Rick) featuring Albright on sax and Kevin Toney on vibes and Wurlitzer, "All I Need" (Method Man) with Hargrove on trumpet and DeFrancesco on Hammond B-3, and "Ghetto Jam" (Domino) showcasing Braun on trumpet and Dwight Sills on guitar. With the release of Def Jazz, Joseph is now eager to take the music to the stage. He envisions a mixed line-up of both young musicians and seasoned veterans for some live old school/new school flavour. Def Jazz [B0004890I-02] available on CD August 9, 2005.

 

 

 

Baggage Screener Fired Over Terrorism Rap Lyrics

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(July 16, 2005) Houston -- When Bassam Khalaf raps, he's the Arabic Assassin. His unreleased CD, Terror Alert, includes rhymes about flying a plane into a building and descriptions of himself as a "crazy, suicidal Arabic . . . equipped with bombs." Until two weeks ago, Khalaf worked as a baggage screener at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Andrea McCauley, a spokeswoman for the regional Transportation Security Administration office, said the agency checks criminal records before hiring screeners, but it does not investigate what people do in their spare time. Khalaf, 21, was fired July 7, according to a TSA termination letter that cited his "authorship of songs which applaud the efforts of the terrorists on Sept. 11, encourage and warn of future acts of terrorism by you, discuss at length and in grave and alarming detail various criminal acts you intend to commit, state your belief that the U.S. government should be overthrown, and finally warn that others will die on Sept. 11, 2005." Houston-born Khalaf said Thursday that he is not a terrorist. He called his songs art and pointed to rappers who have rhymed about terrorism, including Eminem. AP

 

 

 

Rising Dancehall/Reggae Toaster Mr. Peppa Roars With Talk

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kevin Jackson

(July 14, 2005) Recently I was flipping through the video channels, and came across the music video for rising deejay Mr. Peppa’s latest single Talk.  A very commendable effort. The video essentially captures the concept of the song, which basically speaks about the jealousy, bad mind and envy.  Shot in sections of Kingston almost two months ago, the clip was directed by Endless, a production company which also does web site designing.  Mark Pinnock of Natural Bridge Records, the company which co-produced the track Talk along with the members of the Ward 21 crew for the I-Rob rhythm, told this column that Mr. Peppa’s fresh sound and appeal should augur well for the saturation of the video.   Said Mr. Pinnock ‘In the video, Mr. Peppa is reflecting on the past and recounting the struggles that he has been through to get to where he is now. But along the way he encounters people who envy and talk all manner of things. It just shows you that bad mind has no level’.   Mr. Peppa has been making some noise for a while now. In the past he was featured on the Rice and Peas, Bitter Blood and Bad Weather rhythms.  “He has a fresh sound; he is a package which is probably lacking in the business. He is astute and he wants to transform himself into somebody. Not only is he lyrically talented but he is trying to take it to another level in terms of presentation, style of dressing and teaching through his music,” Mr. Pinnock explained.

 

 

 

Chaka And Tribe Honoured: Billboard-Aurn R&B Hip Hop Awards Pay Tribute

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 15, 2005) *Legendary soul singer Chaka Khan and rap cats A Tribe Called Quest, made up of Phife, Q-Tip and DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad, will be honoured at the Billboard-AURN R&B Hip-Hop Awards in Atlanta on Aug. 5. Khan and the Tribe will receive the Founders Award at the event. "Music is my calling, and making a career of music has been a tremendous blessing to me," Khan said. "I am grateful to Billboard for honouring me with their Founders Award. Feeling this kind of love and appreciation for my talent is truly humbling. After three decades in this business, I will accept the award with sincere gratitude, but I most want to be considered a woman with a gift who used it to bring joy into people's lives and who continues to get joy from making music." The Tribe, y’all, also gave thanks for the honour. Phife stated, "We are truly humbled by this award. We feel blessed to receive this much love. Being consistent as well as consistently being ourselves is our legacy; never being afraid to fail or succeed or to try something new."  The awards ceremony will close the Billboard-AURN R&B Hip-Hop Conference & Awards, set for Aug. 3-5 at Atlanta's Intercontinental Hotel.

 

 

 

Eminem's Weary Of Fame, 'Encore' Is Last Album

Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Nolan Strong

(July 15, 2005) Eminem, born Marshall Mathers, is reportedly hanging up the microphone.  The Detroit Free Press reported that Mather’s latest album Encore will be his last release. Insiders told the paper that the rapper has been planning on retiring to concentrate on production and other ventures. Eminem’s manager Paul Rosenberg told the paper that Encore was “certainly the cap on this part of his career” and that decision to retire was held off by the retirement of fellow Hip-Hop superstar, Jay-Z. “He didn't want to seem like one of those guys who's playing a trick on his fans, or playing with their heads," Rosenberg told The Detroit Free Press. "It's part of the same struggle he goes through in his music -- 'How much of my inner thinking should I be putting out there?'” Rosenberg also stated he was surprised no one caught on to the possibility of Eminem retiring, due to numerous clues on the Encore album. An insider also stated that Eminem has grown weary of the spotlight and was struggling writing as “Eminem.”  “Em has definitely gotten to the level where he feels like he's accomplished everything he can accomplish in rap," D-12 member Proof added. "He wants to kick back and get into the producing thing." Insiders said Eminem’s inner-circle of friends knew in advance that Encore would be the best-selling rapper of all time’s last album. Eminem is not doing interviews this summer and representatives for Eminem did not comment as of press-time.

 

 

 

Janet, Jimmy & Terry Back Together

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 18, 2005) *Twenty years ago, production team Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis brought the youngest member of the Jackson clan out of her “dream street” doldrums and helped to make her a superstar.  “Control,” Janet Jackson’s classic 1986 album, spawned a number of classic hit singles and set the bar for many more collaborations to come, including the multi-platinum “Rhythm Nation 1814.”  In 2006, the three will hook up again for Jackson’s new as-yet-untitled album for Virgin records, due in 2006. Lewis expects the process to fall into a familiar rhythm.  "It used to be a lot of involvement from all of us, and at some point when Janet became more confident with her writing ability, she [did] the bulk of the writing," he tells Billboard. "And it's kind of back full circle. We're all kind of back in there doing it again together, which I really enjoy."  Jam adds, "It's the physical nature of sitting in the same room and really hashing it out. It's like, 'You're not going to leave until we got a lyric,' so it's fun." Jackson’s boyfriend Jermaine Dupri is the executive producer on the set and has overseen some recording at his studio.

 

 

 

Kanye, R. Kelly Bolster Johnson's Next 'Chapter'

Excerpt from www.billboard.com - By Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(July 19, 2005) Kanye West, R. Kelly, Common, Twista and Jermaine Dupri have lent their talents to "Chapter Three: The Flesh," the third album from vocalist Syleena Johnson. Due Sept. 13 via Jive, the set was previewed in April via the single "Hypnotic" featuring Kelly and Fabolous. The accompanying video clip can be viewed on Johnson's official Web site.  "The Flesh" also features Common on "Bulls Eye," Twista on "Phone Sex," Johnson's former Soulife labelmate Anthony Hamilton on "More" and a repeat performance from Kelly on "Special Occasion."  Johnson's last album, 2003's "Chapter 2: The Voice," reached No. 1 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart and has sold 269,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.  She returned to the charts last year guesting on West's "All Falls Down," which peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart and No. 7 on the Hot 100.

 

 

 

::CD RELEASES::

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

David Bowie, Collection [EMI], Virgin
J-Live, Hear After, Penalty (Ryko)
Laura Branigan, Very Best Of, WEA International
Little Richard, Baby Face, Pazzazz
Robert Palmer
, Don't Explain, Disky
Robert Palmer, Very Best of the Island Years, Island
The Hollies, Air That I Breathe [Disky], Disky
UB40, Who You Fighting For? [Canada Bonus DVD], EMI
Various Artists, Best of Ska, Vol. 5, Pazzazz
Various Artists, Jermaine Dupri Presents...Young Fly and Flashy, Vo, Virgin

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill Acoustic, Maverick
Assassin, Futur Que Nous Reserve Til, EMI
Buck 65, Secret House Against the World, WEA International
Cher, Gold, Geffen
Dope, American Apathy, Artemis
Limp Bizkit, Limp Bizkit [Germany EP], Universal International
Rahim, Jungles, French Kiss
Ruff Ryders, Redemption, Vol. 4, Artemis
Shawn Desman, Back for More, BMG International
The Game, Untold Story, Pt. 2, Fastlife
Various Artists, Source Hip Hop Hits, Vol. 10, Image
Young Jeezy, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101, Def Jam

 

 

 

::FILM NEWS::

 

 

Michael Clark Duncan Talks About His Former Alternative Lifestyle

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Marie Moore

(July 14, 2005) Each conversation with Michael Clarke Duncan leads one to believe his life should be up there on the screen. It has been acknowledged that the night Biggie Smalls was shot down in a hail of bullets, Duncan was to be his bodyguard. That night he changed places with Babyface’s bodyguard. Duncan wanted to get home early, he recalled. “I really wanted to go right back home, and I know rappers like to hang out and go to different parties.” Now we learn the gentle giant in “Green Mile” use to break legs. While discussing not being pigeonholed into a goody two shoes Duncan disclosed he wanted to play a murderous killer in a diabolical thriller. Particularly the film director Michael Bay will be working on next: “I like to smile and be jovial. It keeps the wrinkles off your face. People say, ‘Can you be mean?’ I say I grew up on 47th Street in Chicago, one of the worst parts of town and I came out unscathed. You got to know how to survive. I’ve seen people killed right at my feet.  “I called my agent—sometimes people are late with your money. I told him you get me that money or else. Don’t play with my money because I have bills to pay. I used to collect for people. I said if you don’t get me my money I’m going to go down there in my black truck, with my black gloves and black jeans and they will never see it coming. Blacks get kind of frustrated when you play with their money.”

Believe it or not, Duncan wanted to be with the LAPD. “I did security most of my life, you know. I took the test, I took the 700-question psychological test that asked you every 10th question the same question, only they worded it differently.  I sat in there for like three hours and took that test, and the guy said, “You're going to be in. Then the Bud Light commercial came up and I went down that route.” In New York to promote “The Island,” Duncan was very specific about what he would do if he had a clone. “I'd have to get rid of him. If I see another Michael Clarke Duncan, I know pretty soon he's going to be in my house. And pretty soon he's going to take over my whole life. So one of us has got to go — right away.” It stands to reason Duncan would not want anyone taking over his life. Duncan has had a good life in spite the bad times and “homelessness.” “Being a successful actor, working in Hollywood, I don’t think you can ask for anything more than that,” he offers. “I am very fortunate and very lucky to be here talking to you.” While we sat and talked, Duncan’s Mexican beauty was upstairs in their hotel room. “It’s serious,” Duncan declares. “It's serious. This is our promise ring. She gave this one to me. I gave her one. This was too little for my finger and so I just got a chain out of my drawer and put it around my neck. [Laughs] I met her at a strip club actually in Los Angeles. I knew that someone was going to ask that. But that's where I met her. She was an exotic dancer.” Now she dances for you? “That’s it.”

 

 

 

Nothing Ludacris About Chris Bridges

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 15, 2005) *With back to back films that have received much praise by movie critics, rapper Ludacris – or Chris Bridges as he is known in Hollywood – has already been referred to as one of the few rapper-turned-actors to earn respect in Tinsel Town.  His latest work, the John Singleton-produced “Hustle and Flow,” arrives in theatres next Friday on a wave of Sundance buzz, not to mention incessant TV promotion from distributor Paramount/MTV Films.  The movie is Luda’s third feature film following another critical fave “Crash” earlier this year, and the not-so-loved, “2 Fast 2 Furious.” “I’d say Crash was my breakout role. I think it put me into that category of being considered a serious actor as opposed to just another rapper acting,” Luda says. That corrosive “just another rapper acting” title would've surely stuck with him had “Crash” not immediately followed “2 Fast,” which starred the Champaign, Illinois native as a garage owner who controlled the underground Miami street racing scene.   “That wasn’t too far out of my character,” he says of the 2003 role. “That was kinda like a good transition as far as my first acting part, getting my feet wet and understanding what’s going on instead of just jumping into the shoes right away.”

Once “2 Fast 2 Furious” was 2 through, Ludacris quickly shifted out of that gear and headed toward more substantial fare that would allow his acting chops to shine; a crash waiting to happen, if you will. “‘Crash’ was kind of a leap,” he says of the acting expectations. “But I’m glad that I pulled it off and I’m glad about all the reviews that we’re getting.” As contemplative carjacker Anthony in Paul Haggis’ “Crash,” Ludacris handled his character’s dialogue, emotion and contradictions with natural flair, holding his own opposite established actor Larenz Tate as his friend and co-carjacker. On paper, a carjacker wouldn’t seem like a stretch for the street-drenched rapper to play convincingly, but writer/director Haggis made Anthony a three-dimensional, complicated individual who hated misogynistic rap lyrics and other aspects of hip hop detrimental to the black race – character traits that challenged him in new ways as a young actor.   “The way I’m going about this movie career is kind of like the same way I do music,” he explains. “It’s just about picking certain things that I know are gonna be different each and every time and just trying to progress and never do the same thing twice, because people get bored and you’ll get typecast.”

In “Hustle and Flow,” Ludacris plays a Memphis rapper named Skinny Black opposite lead character DJay (Terrence Howard), a pimp with dreams of becoming a rap superstar.  Skinny Black would, again, appear not to be a stretch for the Atlanta-based rapper, but writer/director Craig Brewer, like Haggis, likes to push his characters beyond simple stereotypes. During filming on the Memphis set, Luda still considered himself a newcomer and chose to lay back in the cut with his eyes and ears open at all times.  “One thing I learned is that when you’re doing a scene with somebody, it’s like you’re competing against the people in the same scene with you and you gotta fight and just try to be the best you can be,” he says. “It’s almost like how rappers compete against one another.”  Both “Crash” and “Hustle and Flow” were rejected by all the major studios while still in script form, sending their respective writer/directors Haggis and Brewer to shoot their babies independently, then shop them again months later as finished products. Ludacris found the hustle very familiar. He says: “I remember Paul Haggis and Craig Brewer saying they were looking to shop the movie in different [studios], and [execs] were saying that they wanted to change certain things, and they were like, ‘We’re not going to change it.’ And that’s what’s important about making independent movies.   “It’s really crazy how the movies that I’ve chosen are a direct representation of how I do my own business,” he continues. “Because in the music industry, when I was trying to shop my own demo tape, people were saying they wanted to change certain things and I wasn’t for it.  I put out my own album basically how [Haggis and Brewer] put their money on the line doing these movies.  And that’s how I got my major deal – from doing it on my own. I feel like that’s how you can be the most successful in entertainment, just putting your nuts on the line.”

Luda refers to his careful navigation through the entertainment industry as “pimpin’,” and boasts his skill at it proudly in his latest single “Pimpin’ All Over the World.”    “To me, pimpin’ is just taking advantage of a situation,” he explains. “A lot of critics would probably want to say that pimpin’ is automatically talking about taking advantage of women.  That’s definitely not what I’m trying to do.  On the song, I am shedding light on all of the beautiful women all over the world that people need to know about, but it’s really just bringing light to all the places I’ve been.” One of those spots is Amsterdam, which provides the setting for a new DVD version of his current album “Red Light District” that features a live concert in the city and a Luda-led tour through the infamous spot that serves as the album’s title - where prostitution and marijuana are legal and on constant display.  “The bigger picture is that there are a lot of things that are legal there that are of course illegal in the United States of America, but there is less crime and a lot less violence in the Red Light District of Amsterdam,” says Luda. When you put limitations on people, it’s almost like rules are made to be broken. If you liberate people and let them do what they want to do, maybe so many people won’t do certain things.”  Another spot near and dear to Luda’s heart is South Africa, where the rapper chose to film his video for “Pimpin’ All Over the World.”  “We made history by being the first rap artist from the United States to shoot a video in South Africa,” he says proudly. “It’s like my favourite place right now out of all the places I’ve been.  I think the women are beautiful there, I think the land is beautiful, it’s just crazy because in my neighbourhood, everyone’s perception is of South Africa is that it’s all jungles and poverty, and I just wanted to show a whole different side of what people have never seen.”

Even more touching for Luda is the love for his music throughout South Africa.  “I’m very surprised and amazed every time I leave this continent of North America at how wherever I go, people are really feeling my music,” he says. “It’s just crazy how far it reaches.”

 

 

 

Documentary Explores Poker, American Dream

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Sean Daly, Special To The Star

(July 16, 2005) LAS VEGAS—There are more than a few ways to finance an independent film: hit up the relatives, seek out loans, solicit corporate sponsorship... Susan Genard tried them all. Then she hit the poker room.  "Out of the blue I popped into Hollywood Park Casino in L.A. and turned a $200 (all figures U.S.) tournament entry into $8,000," the former semi-pro player remembers. "I thought, `This is a much better way to make money for our movies.'"  Two years later the fledgling producer and single mother from Santa Monica, Calif., is finally putting the finishing touches on No Limit: A Search for the American Dream on the Poker Tournament Trail.  The documentary, which Genard hopes to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, is directed by her former boyfriend Tim Rhys of Portland, Maine.  Though no longer romantically involved, the pair share custody of their 6-year-old son Jonathan — who also appears in the film — and are partners in L.A.-based Camden Pictures.  No Limit, the company's most ambitious project to date, follows 40 of the biggest stars in the game as they travel for eight months, beginning in September 2003, en route to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.  A 20-minute extended preview of the film (which is still seeking U.S. and Canadian distribution) was screened for players and press on July 5 at the Palms Hotel and Casino.  "It seems to me like Susan really gets the mentality (of the game)," says poker ace Phil Gordon. "Everyone who plays this game plays it for a different reason. But all of us play it because we are driven to compete."

That drive is what drew Rhys to the film. "I can relate to all of these poker players because they are risk takers every day," he says. "The movie is about how risk-taking applies to the American Dream."  Genard, a UCLA graduate and senior editor at MovieMaker (Rhys is publisher), believes the appeal of No Limit will extend far beyond fans of the game.  "I don't think you have to like spelling to like Spellbound. I don't think you have to like fast food to like Super Size Me," she maintains. "I think it is just an interesting slice of life."  She's not alone: More than 80 million Americans and Canadians identify themselves as poker players.  "The dotcom generation loves poker. It gives you a sense of control you don't find in other games," Howard Schwartz, proprietor of Las Vegas's Gambler's Book Shop, told Time.com. "It's a roller-coaster ride with an adrenaline high."  One that Genard couldn't resist taking part in during the shoot, often winning just enough cash (mostly in live games) to keep the production rolling.  "When it was a choice between tuition to preschool and the movie, I had to pay the cinematographer because we were on a schedule and we had to shoot," she admits.  "You can't say, `We can't afford it this week,' because the tournament is only happening this week.'"  Gambling on her dreams also meant personal sacrifice for the filmmakers. Earlier this year, Genard won a seat at the World Series of Poker valued at $10,000, but was forced to sell it to make ends meet.  "I still have daily stress about how I am going to pay my bills," she says. "I don't own a house. I rent. I need a new car. And I got my kid into a great charter school, but I don't know how I am going to afford private school later."  Luckily, the card rooms are always open.

 

 

 

A Dylan Doc That Truly Rocks

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Andrew Ryan

(July 16, 2005) BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF.Bob Dylan finally came out from behind the curtain -- but nobody really believed he'd turn up to see the results. That wouldn't be Bob Dylan. For days, there were whispers floating around the summer TV-critics tour that the man himself might surface for the world premiere of No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, the first sanctioned profile of the reclusive icon, directed by Martin Scorsese, no less. The documentary, scheduled to air Sept. 26 and 27 on PBS, features the first full-length interview with Dylan in decades, in which he provides sage perspective on what are arguably the five most momentous years in modern music history. There was a great sense of occasion surrounding the premiere, with PBS requesting the RSVP a month in advance. PBS flacks denied them, but the rumours Dylan and/or Scorsese might show up persisted right up until the time when critics filed into the private theatre on the Fox lot. In the end, neither turned up, though it didn't matter. The movie speaks volumes about both men. No Direction Home is an astounding piece of filmmaking. Although it focuses on a seemingly compact segment of Dylan's life -- the years between 1961 and 1966 -- it's the most telling portrait yet put to film. Scorsese works best when he's obsessed by his subject -- see Taxi Driver or Raging Bull -- and he's created a compelling portrait of the enigmatic Dylan. Although it runs 3½ hours, No Direction Home goes by in a flash. Working in the documentary format, Scorsese has made his best film in a decade. He has spent the last five years assembling the film, with much time devoted to scouring thousands of hours of Dylan footage. The movie opens improbably at the end of the five-year period, with previously unseen footage of Dylan in concert during a 1966 U.K. tour. Dylan and his band mates are shown grinding away on their electric instruments as British fans jeer and hoot. In his mod pinstripe suit, Dylan is visibly perturbed by the crowd's response.

Cut to five years earlier and an establishing shot of Dylan's remote, rural hometown of Hibbing, Minn. "In the winter it was rightly cold," muses Dylan, who grew up Robert Zimmerman, son of a local retail merchant. His only connection to the outside world came from the radio, from which he absorbed the wide-ranging musical styles of the '50s. He never differentiated between genres as he took in the overwrought mush of popular crooner Johnny Ray and the relatively dangerous rock-and-roll being turned out by Gene Vincent. He was equally drawn to country star Hank Williams and blues diva Billie Holliday. Mostly, though, young Zimmerman loved folk music in all its forms. He was fascinated by little-known folk artists such as John Jacob Niles and Odetta, but found his all-consuming passion in the socially conscious music of Woody Guthrie. The teenager listened to every Guthrie recording he could buy or borrow. "You could listen to his songs and learn how to live," says Dylan. Scorsese interviews one of Dylan's former teachers, who recalls one of the singer's earliest shows -- his very first before an audience. His raucous, folk-influenced performance at a high-school assembly caused the principal to pull the curtain. Talking about those days now, Dylan admits his initial musical bent came from his simultaneous romantic designs on two young women. "Both these girls," he says sheepishly, "brought out the poet in me." The film abruptly jumps ahead again to the 1966 U.K. tour. Fans interviewed outside a show in Newcastle rail against Dylan and accuse him of selling out. "It makes you sick listening to this rubbish now," scoffs one livid youth. And then back into the past and the portrait of a disaffected young man slouching his way through academia. Dylan recalls his days at the University of Minnesota with some disdain: "I didn't go to classes," he says, "I was enrolled." Around the same time, the young man changed his last name to Dylan, though not, as folklore suggests, as a tribute to writer Dylan Thomas. "It just popped into my head one day," he shrugs.

More than once in the doc, Dylan refers to himself as a "musical expeditionary." He downplays his decision to move to New York in the winter of 1961. The wild-haired youth's arrival coincided with the rise of the Greenwich Village scene, in which beat poets like Allen Ginsberg and social commentators like James Baldwin were hailed as voices of the new generation. "I was ready for New York," says Dylan simply. In musical terms, Greenwich Village was an oasis of rebellion back then, a time when America's top-selling musical artists were Johnny Mathis and Doris Day. Dozens of coffee houses sprung up and local legends came into existence. The most notable names included Joan Baez and burly folksinger Dave Van Ronk, both interviewed in the film. Then there were the lesser-known folkies such as Cisco Houston and Brother John Sellers. Once again, Dylan absorbed what was unfolding, processed it, and the results were filtered into his first on-stage forays in such Village clubs as the Gaslight, and in occasional filmed performances. There is tenderness displayed in Scorsese's selection of archival footage. A 1963 clip of Dylan singing Man of Constant Sorrow, taken from a local TV showcase, is heartbreaking in its rawness. Though his voice is strong and the words ring strong and clear, Dylan is still the baby-faced kid from Minnesota. Scorsese deftly underscores the moment with panning shots of the song's lyrics, a technique he repeats throughout the film. There is undeniable mastery at work in No Direction Home. This is not Biography or a Life and Times profile. This is Martin Scorsese's very personal hard focus on Bob Dylan. And the remarkable face-to-face interview -- which comprises perhaps a fifth of the screen time, doled out in segments in which Dylan reminisces about the years Scorsese chronicles -- is easily the most forthcoming discussion with the singer ever filmed. He is remarkably lucid, his present-day thoughts shedding new light both on his own life and on a seminal era in modern rock 'n' roll history. At last, this is Dylan on Dylan. Over and over, the film snaps back to footage from that fateful U.K. tour, with material partially culled from D. A. Pennebaker's seminal 1967 documentary Don't Look Back and other sources. Scorsese has chosen the nastiest moments, with the tousled troubadour harassed by Brit journalists and, for the first time in his young career, hearing boos from a crowd. Backstage, Dylan is stunned, asking band members, "Why are they booing me?" There are shots of fans hollering "Go home, Bobby!" The English truly didn't care for Bob Dylan back in 1966.

Few directors match Scorsese in his ability to match music to visuals, and in this case the soundtrack is the subject. At all times the film is a personal chronicle of Dylan's discomfort with his own stardom, which apparently began with the chart-topping success of Blowin' in the Wind in 1962. The song was an early Sixties anthem, recorded by dozens of artists, including Trini Lopez and the Jerry Lewis Singers. Regardless, to young America Dylan was bigger than Elvis or Lennon, and the Midwest hero was never comfortable with his fame. The film has a rare clip of a Dylan appearance on The Steve Allen Show, in which the host gamely tries to interview Dylan, who mumbles and looks at his shoes. Scorsese unravels the Dylan saga over that five-year period, juxtaposed between newsreel-style images of events that rocked America -- the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the civil rights movement and the distant rumblings of Vietnam. It was an era of change, and Dylan provided the soundtrack. The director shows the arc of the singer's career through the inclusion of footage from four editions of the Newport Folk Festival. In his first appearance in 1962, Dylan comes out shyly, a skinny youth in a work shirt; the crowd goes wild. Folk legend Pete Seeger sits on-stage nearby, beaming. Dylan looks far more confident and serious in the clips from the next two Newport performances, as befits a young protest singer. But Dylan had changed by 1965. He put aside his acoustic guitar and went electric, and the folkie fans were not happy. In the scenes from that year's Newport festival, Dylan performs Like a Rolling Stone and two more songs with his band and exits to boos and anger -- from an American audience. According to those interviewed, Seeger came close to cutting Dylan's amplifier cords with an axe. Which is where the Scorsese method comes full circle. Heroes are built up to be torn down, and Dylan was a hero of mythic proportions in the Sixties. When he tried to mature as an artist by shifting from protest songs to a more mainstream sound, people reacted. American fans, like the British ones, were angry with Dylan for changing. They felt betrayed. The unspoken subtext in Scorsese's version of events: Dylan never sounded better than he did in 1965. He was likely at his creative peak, but was rejected by those who loved him most. Irony is too cruel sometimes. The film closes with more scenes from Dylan in the U.K. As it happened, it was the last time he would tour for the next 20 years. Shortly after returning to the States, Dylan would sustain the fateful -- some say staged -- motorcycle accident that brought about a self-imposed retirement. That final U.K. tour was clearly a misery for the singer, shown backstage looking weary and agitated, reading vicious newspaper reviews and telling band members "I just wanna go home." But the man behind the curtain is revealed in the closing moments. The band takes the stage of London's Royal Albert Hall before an unruly crowd. Some yell "Traitor!" Dylan tries to introduce a song. The crowd howls. Dylan smiles his sly smile and leans over to guitarist Robbie Robertson, and shouts over the din, "Play fucking loud!" and the band launches into a glorious version of Like a Rolling Stone.

Now that's Bob Dylan

 

 

 

Vancouver Studio Not Trying To Be King Of Hollywood Jungle

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Tim Lai

(July 18, 2005) The distributor responsible for the highest grossing documentary of all time -- you know, that left-wing one with an angry Michigan man ranting against the U.S. president -- is sticking to a conservative business strategy. While Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 was a box-office juggernaut last year, independent studio Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. claims it doesn't want to be the king of the Hollywood jungle. Instead it wants to fill in the niche markets, such as horror, urban and art-house genres. Nevertheless, two of Lions Gate's 2005 releases have been financial and critical successes, although the movie industry has been suffering a slump at the box office. In February, Diary of A Mad Black Woman, a comedy about a woman dealing with a divorce, hit No. 1 with $22.7-million (U.S.) on the weekend it came out in North America. It went on to gross about $50-million. Crash, a film about intersecting characters living through the complexities of racial tolerance in Los Angeles, has been a critical darling since opening in May. So far, it too has grossed about $50-million. Lions Gate receipts total 2.7 per cent of the North American market share so far this year at $120-million. That number may seem rather small for an entire studio compared with individual films like Batman Begins and War of the Worlds, movies that have grossed well over that amount. However, when factoring in production costs, the Vancouver-based company's strategy is roaring.

"Lions Gate's growth will continue to be based on targeting audiences that we can serve well, filling gaps in the markets that are underserved and focusing on areas where we can achieve a sustainable and competitive edge," chief executive officer John Feltheimer said recently on a conference call with investors and analysts. Diary of A Mad Black Woman and Crash cost about $12-million to produce -- combined. "We liked the model of the business. We liked the fact that these guys will spend no more than $10-million [per film]," said David Miller, an analyst with Sanders Morris Harris. "You're not going to see these guys make $100-million movies like War of the Worlds or anything like that. There's not going to be any risk of a writedown." All 10 analysts covering Lions Gate give the studio a thumbs up, according to Bloomberg. Not one gives the studio a "hold" or "sell" rating. Shares of Lions Gate have quintupled in a 24-month period. The stock closed Friday at $11.85 (Canadian) on the Toronto Stock Exchange. "I think it's a unique opportunity to invest in the film industry," said Corey Hammill, an analyst with Paradigm Capital. "They're prudent in their spending habits." Last month, Lions Gate reported its fiscal 2005 financial results, recording a $20.3-million (U.S.) profit, boosted by films like the horror flick, Saw, and the comic-book caper, The Punisher. The studio bounced back from losing $92.1-million in 2004, as a result of its acquisition of competitor Artisan Entertainment. There was brief anxiety over Lions Gate accounting practices, but Mr. Miller said there is no cause for concern over material accounting problems since there was no restatement of financial figures. The company was just testing its internal controls for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.

As for 2006, Mr. Feltheimer forecast revenue in excess of $800-million and free cash flow of $95-million. He said Lions Gate will capitalize on its existing franchises to further expand the company. The sequel to Saw is expected out this fall. Lions Gate leads the horror genre with a 21-per-cent market share. It acquired the distribution rights from Tyler Perry, the creator of Diary of A Mad Black Woman, to release DVDs from Mr. Perry's series of films. Lions Gate will also turn Crash into a television series for the FX Network in the United States. As Lions Gate expands its film and television divisions, analysts say the company will continue to ride the strength of its library -- the biggest one in the industry with more than 8,000 titles such as Dirty Dancing, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the Care Bears series and the Saturday Night Live franchise. "They have their home-video library, which provides a level of stability for their cash flow versus other production companies," Mr. Hammill said. And the fact that all employees have stock options in the company makes it an attractive investment, Mr. Miller said. "Everyone in the company has very low salaries, but also has an options-related package, so everyone in the firm has the incentive to see the stock go higher." A roaring success Lions Gate Entertainment Corp claims it doesn't want to be the king of the Hollywood jungle. Instead, it wants to fill in the niche markets such as horror, urban and art-house genres. Considering its low production costs, the Vancouver based company's strategy is a big time success.

Lions Gate Taps L.L. To Lure Black Women

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 18, 2005) *Lions Gate Films is trotting out rapper LL Cool J as eye-candy to attract black female moviegoers.  The first piece of bait under a multi-year deal between both parties will be a black version of "Fatal Attraction" in which the rapper/actor stars as an everyman who gets into serious trouble when he cheats on his wife. "What we are looking to do with LL is to get high-quality material that will attract talent," says Michael Paseornek, president of production at Lions Gate. "We are not looking to develop gimmicks but make real movies. LL has a huge following and is very credible with women.” Under the multiyear deal, LL Cool J will get a producer's credit on each film. "This is the perfect transition for me as I can now pour all my energy and creative juices into this fresh and exciting producing venture," says LL. Lions Gate has two more LL projects in the pipeline in addition to the urbanized “Fatal Attraction.”  The films -- budgeted at less than $10 million, similar to Lions Gate's deal with actor/playwright Tyler Perry ("Diary of a Mad Black Woman") -- are looking to appeal to the black female market, which Lions Gate thinks is an underserved and often ignored segment. "We'd love to make two of these a year," Paseornek said. "And we'll keep them coming if the marketplace responds."

 

 

 

‘Island’ Living For Duncan And Hounsou

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 19, 2005) *Michael Clarke Duncan thought that his appearance in “The Island” was so fleeting that he would be spared of having to do press interviews for the film’s Friday opening, unlike his more visible co-stars Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson and Djimon Hounsou.  “Next thing I know, a month ago, I get this big press schedule from Dreamworks,” he laughs. “I’m like, ‘I didn’t do nothing, I’m just in the movie five minutes!’ They’re like, ‘But your position turns the movie this way.’” So here we are in New York, several weeks before the Michael Bay-directed sci-fi thriller hits theatres. Duncan is working the press junket shuffle looking about 100 pounds lighter than when you last saw him in the Robert Rodriguez film, “Sin City.”    “I looked at my stomach one day and it didn’t look right,” Duncan says of his decision to shed his gut. “It didn’t look cute. I had on some Speedo trunks, the legs looked good, the chest looked good, but below the chest, that stomach just wasn’t quite there.  So I decided to lean up a little bit and lose about 85, 95 pounds, and start training hard in kickboxing to kind of keep my stamina up.” Duncan says he feels so good now that he could star in an action flick as someone who actually gets to participate in the action.    “I can’t wait to do a movie with Jett Li or somebody, and have him kick me all over the stage, but look good doing it,” he laughs. 

In “The Island,” Duncan plays Starkweather, one of about 3000 humans who live in a self-contained facility in the mid 21st century. McGregor’s character, Lincoln Six-Echo, is a fellow resident who believes that Starkweather won a lottery that gets him out of their controlled environment and onto “The Island,” the last spot on the planet not contaminated by a recent ecological disaster. But when Starkweather wakes up during some kind of operation and is seen screaming through the halls, Lincoln figures out that he is one of 3000 human clones, whose only purpose is to provide "spare parts" for their original human counterparts. Realizing he must tell the world what is going on before he is "harvested," Lincoln escapes with fellow resident Jordan Two-Delta, played by Johansson. Hounsou, in a rare career turn, plays a bad guy - an ex-Special Forces commander named Albert Laurent who leads a private army to track down Lincoln and Jordan.  The actor says his role, as written in earlier drafts of the screenplay, seemed a little far-fetched.     “When I first read the story, it read slightly different towards the end,” said Hounsou. “It was my concern that the back story on Albert Laurent was somebody who was highly educated and part of a special force – Foreign Legion and so forth – and those guys, a lot of them are smart. A lot of them are highly educated people. But towards the end [of the screenplay], he gets duped so easily that it’s [not believable]. It just didn’t feel right. And so eventually, we worked it out with [producer] Walter Parks and Michael Bay, and it came to be what it is now.”   This wasn’t the only point of contention between Hounsou and Bay. In fact, the spirited director - with a penchant for depicting fiery explosions and car chases in his films - got on everyone’s nerves by screaming direction to his actors in an abrupt, cold manner.  “It’s funny because he doesn’t mean it,” Duncan says. “Michael’s like one of those little Chihuahuas that bark and it’s like ‘Aw, he’s cute.’ You don’t really feel the dog, you just know that he barks every time somebody comes by.  If you take it personally, then you’ll get upset.  But that’s him – that’s the way he was in “Armegeddon,” that’s the way he is now.”

Hounsou, however, felt the bark and the bite of Bay while filming on the set.  Michael got me hurt,” he says carefully. “We were doing a scene on a street in Detroit. My teammates and myself were supposed to burst out of this armoured truck with machine guns and start shooting people.  After a couple of takes, Bay described what he wanted and he came back shouting, ‘You guys are a bunch of sissies!’ And my men turned around and said, ‘Who the f*** is he calling sissies?’ And right after that, I kind of hurt myself, sprained my ankle really badly.” Hounsou admits that Bay’s frenzied direction was something he wasn’t used to dealing with as an actor.  “It’s so much more challenging,” he says. “You know you’re doing it with Michael, you know that he’s very demanding of actors. He’s a bad boy in a candy store. He just has all the toys he can play with and just doesn’t have time to express what he wants. There were days that I hated shooting because it just didn’t feel…I’m used to more organic and meaty roles. Because you’re running 24/7 with Michael, it feels out of place a little bit.”  While Duncan took his five-minute, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role in “The Island” seriously, his attitude about the ethical questions the film raises about cloning is more laid back.  “We have so many things that are going on in this world,” Duncan says. “With ‘The Island,’ when people say, ‘Well what’s the message behind it?” I say, ‘There is no message. It’s a movie.  Get some popcorn, get some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, a soda and you go in there and enjoy yourself.  Your stomach may be mixed up in the end with that mixture, but it’s a fun movie.  There are too many things we need to get serious about, and “The Island” is not one of them.’”

 

 

 

LisaRaye McCoy: Actress Updates Our Man In Jamaica

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com - By Kevin Jackson (In Jamaica) / MYfeedback@eurweb.com

(July 20, 2005) *You may know actress LisaRaye McCoy from her roles in the Players Club, The It Factor, Beauty Shop, Gang of Roses, Go for Broke, All About You, Date from Hell and Parenthood. In a recent visit to Jamaica, she spoke to this writer about the challenges of acting and juggling motherhood. High on her agenda is the divide between 'Black' and 'White' Hollywood. According to her, it is still a struggle for black actresses to make their mark. 'There is more to us (black actresses) than just a handful of A-list actresses. One doesn't represent all of us. There are many of us out there. They shouldn't shy away from building a star. White Hollywood takes a chance on their actresses, but when it comes to us, we have to be someone to be on the cover of the magazine. They should not be afraid to make us black actresses famous', said LisaRaye, while being interviewed at the Hedonism 3 resort in Runaway Bay. "It's my third time here and I am loving it. It just feels like a big family here." Regarded as one of the sexiest actresses in Hollywood, LisaRaye is making heads turn in the television series All of Us which was executive- produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. The show's cast includes Elise Neal, Duane Martin, and Tony Rock. LisaRaye portrays the sassy character Neesee, the ex-wife to Duane Martin's character Robert James. "Í enjoy doing television. I prefer the stability of television and it's a steady pay cheque each week. If you are making a lot of money from movies and you do two films a year, then you are set," said LisaRaye. "I am a single parent of a 15 year-old daughter, so I need to be at home with her. The schedule that television allows me right now works quite well." And parenting is definitely another very important issue for her. "I changed my career for my daughter. Two years ago when she graduated from the eighth grade to high school, I decided I needed something stable to be home with her," she said.

Originally from Chicago, LisaRaye is the daughter of an entrepreneurial family who owned hotels, a bank, a steel mill, car wash and real estate. She made her acting debut in an independent film in Chicago in 1997 before taking on a role which would give her the attention that she craved. "Á few months before I filmed the Players Club, I did an independent film in Chicago called Reasons. That film got me to California where I did videos to pay the rent. I then auditioned for the role of Diamond in the Players Club, and as they say, the rest was history', said Lisa Raye. Asked how she handled the compliment of being dubbed as one of the sexiest women in Hollywood, she said: "You learn to stay humble and to stay who you are. What I am doing naturally is working, so I won't change a thing'. According to her she is yet to come across a role that was too challenging for her. "Í haven't found that role yet. Every role has been different. Right now I am doing comedy on television and I welcome it with open arms. So far it has been fun." As for further moves in the industry, Lisa Raye says that she feels things are more obtainable now than they were a few years ago. 'Í am seeing the move I can make in other areas in the business. You could've asked me a few years ago about an Oscar award and I would've told you that I don't give a damn. But now, having my good friend Jamie Foxx winning one, it's closer to home and it looks obtainable. In white Hollywood to get recognized it's something of an accomplishment for them, to have an Oscar," she said.

Her influences include Angelina Jolie, Jodie Foster, Vivica A Fox, Gabrielle Union and Kimberly Elise. She would love to work with Angelina Jolie and just about any actress who has had a different experience to bring to the table. "I would like to do a romantic comedy or even an action role," she said. LisaRaye recently launched her lingerie line at New York Fashion Week. It is called Lux and Romance. She also has a jeans line called X-ray Jeans. There are also plans to start up a pageant geared towards young women between the ages of 12 and 16 years of age. "Í am starting up a pageant. What I want to do is to give away scholarship money. It's more like a talent show. Give the girls seminars on etiquette, walking, self-esteem, hair, makeup and a piece of sisterhood and encouragement," she concluded.

 

 

 

Dearly Beloved, And An Accommodating Bartender

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Aparita Bhandari

(July 20, 2005) Nep Sidhu doesn't crash weddings to meet women. He has a girlfriend. He is drawn to the parties by a more self-serving reason -- the booze, especially high-quality booze. And, he claims a higher purpose in inviting himself to "the most important day in someone else's life." "It's community service," the 27-year-old visual artist said. "It's like giving back. We make sure everyone is having fun, having a good time." The new comedy film Wedding Crashers, released last Friday, came second at the box office, raking in $32.2-million (U.S.) in North America on its opening weekend. But there are differences between the characters played by Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in the film, and Mr. Sidhu and his party partner, who asked not to be identified. Unlike the movie duo, Mr. Sidhu and pal haven't made a quasi-business out of their little hobby. Instead, the two have honed their act to mesh with the nuances of Indian weddings, usually lavish affairs. An exorbitant amount of money is spent to keep up with, if not outdo, the Sharmas. Some parents start saving for their child's wedding from birth, especially if it is a daughter. The wedding guest list almost inadvertently spirals out of control; so unexpected guests can blend in without difficulty. And at most Indian weddings, a cash bar is an absolute no-no. Punjabi weddings are especially known for the free flow of assorted spirits. For Mr. Sidhu, this is what makes a wedding fun. "If the booze is of a higher quality, it's a good wedding to crash," the Toronto resident said. "If they have imported beer versus regular beer, liqueurs you can't pronounce the name of, Grey Goose vodka instead of Prince . . ."

Over the past five years, Mr. Sidhu has crashed about a dozen weddings. He started off as a solo act. In talking with members of his extended family or friends' families, he found out about weddings that sounded like fun and latched on to them. Then he met a wedding-crashing cohort at an informal gathering. They clicked at "not the highest intellectual level," Mr. Sidhu admits, and now the two keep their fingers on the pulse of the local wedding industry at banquet halls in Toronto's industrial west end. Information about coming extravaganzas trickles down from friends, family and people they know in the wedding business. Mr. Sidhu said the best wedding so far was one thrown by a Punjabi family originally from England, where the liquor was fine. The worst weddings, in his view, are the ones where there's no alcohol served; he and his friend then "stomp off" to the parking lot. "There's usually a minivan where 40- to 50-year-old men are sharing from a bottle of warm Crown Royal," he says, laughing. "There's nothing like it." But it isn't just about the alcohol. Mr. Sidhu said he and his friend also contribute to the party by making sure the guests have a good time. They also set goals to endear themselves to strangers, even to make it into family photographs. They are aided by the fact that most Indians address even unrelated elders as uncle or aunty. "We act like there's some sort of long-lost relationship," he said, explaining that he and his friend approach guests and address them as uncle or aunty. "They'll look kind of uncomfortable. And then we start throwing out any of these general events that any Indian family goes to and they're kind of left with this confused gaze. And there, at their most vulnerable point, you hit them with a hug. And then they start warming up to you. "Sometimes you get the urge to be in their family photos. And you kind of just hang around the family photographer, and then just grab them and say, 'How about one of me and aunty and uncle?' Or you go to the [bride and groom] and say, 'Oh my God, I can't believe this day is finally here.' You find yourself very close to the family by the end [of the wedding]."

The duo has recently been moving away from "thoroughbred Punjabi" weddings, as Mr. Sidhu characterizes them. At those nuptials the women are usually cordoned off by their brothers, fathers and other male protectors. Mr. Sidhu and his friend like to mingle with the opposite sex on the dance floor. "We go to Hindu Punjabi, Goan, Bengali weddings," he said. "They are much looser in terms of having fun. And you can only dance with guys for so long." Still, every sort of wedding has at least the pull of "Eau de Aunty," as Mr. Sidhu puts it. He likes to compliment women who have dressed up for the party but are left standing alone by their husbands. "You just want to make them feel good about themselves." However, the duo's wedding-crashing days are nearing an end. "We are getting older," Mr. Sidhu says. "Besides, it's not exactly something my parents can brag about when compared to someone else's MBA son."

 

 

 

Notorious B.I.G. Coming To Big Screen

Source:  Reuters/Hollywood Reporter - By Borys Kit

(July 20, 2005) LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The life of slain rapper Notorious B.I.G. is getting the big-screen treatment.  Fox Searchlight has hired journalist Cheo Hodari Coker, the last person to interview B.I.G. before his death, to write the script. Director Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day") is in negotiations to take the helm.  Born Christopher Wallace, then taking the moniker Biggie Smalls because of his more than 6-foot, 400-pound frame before settling on alias Notorious B.I.G., the rapper went from a Brooklyn crack dealer to East Coast hip-hop sensation. He helped establish Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy label as a hip-hop presence and aided artists like Lil' Kim and wife Faith Evans.  B.I.G. was involved in a feud with West Coast rapper Tupac Shakur, who was gunned down in a Las Vegas drive-by in late 1996. In March 1997, B.I.G. was shot as he was leaving a party at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.  B.I.G.'s murder has never been solved. In 2002, Evans and Wallace filed a civil suit against the LAPD and the City of Los Angeles, alleging that police were involved. A mistrial was declared earlier this month, and a new trial is expected.  The film will be produced by B.I.G.'s mother, Voletta Wallace, and his former managers Wayne Barrow and Mark Pitts. Barrow said the trio had been trying to get a film off the ground for the last five years.  "People wanted to give us check and do a film that they wanted to do, but Searchlight gave us the opportunity to really be able to come in and tell the story the way it was supposed to be told," Barrow said. "It's not just a hip-hop film, it's a film of life and a film of love. We didn't want to sell our souls to the devil, so to speak, just to get a check. The story is too important, not just to us but to hip-hop."  Barrow said he hoped to be in production early next year, and the most challenging aspect of the film will be casting.  "The most important element to casting B.I.G. is what we consider the swagger," Barrow said. "They have to have the element of the man and be able to capture the essence of who he was and his manoeuvring, his relishings of life. You can't instill this in an individual, you just have to have it."  Coker has written for Vibe, the Los Angeles Times and Premiere. He is the author of "Unbelievable: The Life, Death, and Afterlife of the Notorious B.I.G." The biopic will not be based on the book, and Coker will work closely with the Wallace family to write the screenplay.  Coker also did a rewrite on a Bob Marley biopic at Warners and is working on an untitled thriller for Fuqua.

 

 

 

Will Smith's New Film Company

Excerpt from www.allhiphop.com - By Nolan Strong

(July 16, 2005) Will Smith is leading a group of investors to form The Momentum Experience, a new company that will distribute films and movies straight-to-DVD. Smith, along with Tisha Campbell, Duane Martin, Blair Underwood and producers D'Angela Steed and Nia Hil formed the company out of a desire to control images of African-Americans in film. The company will distribute the films in non-traditional venues, such as playhouses and concert theatres. The company plans on showcasing live artists and comedians before each film as well.

 

 

 

Jackie Chan Tired Of Hollywood Typecasting

Source: Associated Press

(July 17, 2005) HONG KONG—Jackie Chan says he prefers making movies in Asia because he can try risky new genres, while Hollywood casts him in action comedies meant to be box office hits.  "In America, it's just Rush Hour 1, Rush Hour 2 and Rush Hour 3, then Rush Hour 4. If Rush Hour 4 fails, that's it. But if it doesn't fail, there will be Rush Hour 5," Chan said.  Chan was paired with Chris Tucker for two Rush Hour movies. The 51-year-old actor has said the third instalment is stuck in neutral because Tucker is making too many demands.  Chan said he understands Hollywood producers are risk-averse because of the huge investments involved. He also knows his roles are limited because his English is limited.  Still, he aspires to the diversity of a Robert De Niro. "Should I make movies just for box-office? Should I become enslaved by movies? I don't want to stay at the same spot," he said.  His Hong Kong movies have shown more variety. In last year's New Police Story, he played a cop disillusioned by the death of his team.  In his new film, The Myth, he plays an ancient Chinese general who is reincarnated in modern times and searches for his love interest from his previous life, who has survived because she took a longevity pill.  Stanley Tong, director of The Myth, said he was impressed by Chan's ability to handle a stoic character. "It's a great challenge for his acting, but he did it," said Tong, who also directed Chan in Rumble in the Bronx.  Chan said he wants to try legal and military films. He's also working on a project with famed Chinese director Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers).  Known for doing his own stunts, Chan understands his days as an action star are numbered. He says he usually suffers pains in his waist, knees and shoulders when he wakes up.  But Chan said he'll simply turn to directing, action choreography or producing. "I'm not afraid. I've seen too many ups and downs in the industry."

 

 

 

Show To Focus On 9/11 Passengers

Source:  Associated Press

(July 19, 2005) PITTSBURGH—The Discovery Channel will air a re-creation of the terrorist hijacking of Flight 93 on the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.  The program will be called The Flight That Fought Back and will include about 45 minutes of re-created scenes depicting what happened before the plane crashed in a southwestern Pennsylvania field. Forty passengers and crew members were killed.  The show is being produced by London-based Brook Lapping Productions, which is getting co-operation on the project from United Airlines and some family members of those killed.  Flight 93 was en route to San Francisco from Newark, N.J., when it was hijacked and ultimately crashed in Somerset County, about 100 kilometres southeast of Pittsburgh. The official 9/11 Commission report said the hijackers crashed the plane as passengers tried to take control of the cockpit.  Executive producer Phil Craig said the show isn't meant to be a definitive look at what happened that day and there are still unanswered questions about what went on. For example, the show will portray the hijackers getting into the cockpit, but not how they got there since that isn't known, he said.  "There are some dialogue scenes on the plane; 90 per cent of these are based on tape evidence and the memories of people who spoke to people on the flight," he said. 

 

 

 

Casting Couch: Gossett & Chestnut; Murphy & Rock

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 19, 2005) *Louis Gossett Jr. and Morris Chestnut will play Miami detectives in the film drama, “Caribbean Manhunt,” reports AP.  Gossett will star as a cop battling drug traffickers, while Chestnut’s character will fight against South American smugglers shipping drugs through the Caribbean. The filming is set to begin in Jamaica next month through November, at which point the crew will move to Miami to finish the project.

*Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock are teaming for a heist comedy to be directed by Brett Ratner for Imagine Entertainment, reports Variety. The story would star the comedians as a couple of blue-collar guys looking to pull off the perfect heist. The idea reportedly came from Murphy, who expressed a desire to work with Rock. Brian Grazer will produce the as-yet-untitled project to be released by Universal. 

 

 

 

Four Black Films Premiering At Toronto Festival

Source:  Canadian Press

(July 20, 2005) Five titles, including four world premieres, have been added to the Toronto International Film Festival's celebration of worldwide black cinema.  Leading the pack will be U.S. director Wayne Beach's Slow Burn, starring Ray Liotta as a DA who must solve a murder mystery or be implicated in the case himself. The cast also includes Jolene Blalock, LL Cool J, Taye Diggs and Mekhi Phifer.  Added to the festival's Visions program will be world premieres of Jean-Pierre Bekolo's Les Saignantes — a France-Cameroon co-production about politics and sex in a Cameroon of the future — and Khalo Matabane's Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon, a South African film about a young black writer who strikes up a friendship with a Somalian refugee.  And added to the Contemporary World Cinema showcase will be Shadowboxer, the directorial debut of American producer Lee Daniels (Monster's Ball) with Helen Mirren as a contract killer dying of cancer, and another South African title, Gavin Hood's Tsotsi, a North American premiere about six days in the life of a violent thug.  This will be the first year the festival will not have its Planet Africa program, but planners say there will be more black cinema titles announced shortly. 

 

 

 

Latifah Eyed For ‘Wives Club

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 20, 2005) *Queen Latifah is being talked about for a possible role in the upcoming Broadway version of “The First Wives Club,” reports the New York Post.  The film that starred Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton as divorced women seeking revenge on the wives who left them for younger women. Paul Lambert, the producer of the stage version, is said to be courting Latifah, along with Bernadette Peters, Megan Mullally and Stockard Channing to take over the roles. As previously reported, Lambert and his business partner Jonas Neilson have persuaded Motown songwriting legends Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, of Holland Dozier Holland, to come out  retirement and compose the score.

 

 

 

::TV NEWS::

 

 

Desperate Housewives, Will & Grace Top Series Emmy Nods

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Terry Weber

(July 14, 2005) Dark satire Desperate Housewives and veteran sitcom Will & Grace topped the list of Emmy nominations for primetime series Thursday, capturing 15 nods each. Both received nominations in the best comedy series category alongside Everybody Loves Raymond, Scrubs and last year's winner, the critically adored but ratings challenged Arrested Development. ABC's surprise castaway drama Lost, a surprise hit for the network, led the way among dramatic series with 12 nominations. Among the networks, HBO again far out stepped the competition with 93 nods. The pay channel's TV movies The Live and Death of Peter Sellers — starring Oscar winners Geoffrey Rush and Charlize Theron —and Warm Springs, which counted Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Helen Hunt among its cast members, were the most nominated programs. Each received 16 nominations. The nominations were announced early Thursday in Los Angeles. Awards in 27 categories will be handed out on Sept. 18.

Joining Lost in the best drama category were HBO series Deadwood and Six Feet Under as well as clock-watching thriller 24 and White House favourite The West Wing. In the acting categories, three of Desperate Housewives' five main actors received best actress in a comedy series nominations. They included Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman. Everybody Loves Raymond's Patricia Heaton and Malcolm in the Middle's Jane Kaczmarek rounded out the category. Raymond, which just completed its final season, rang up a total of 13 nominations including one for lead actor Ray Romano. He was joined by Arrested Development's Jason Bateman, Scrubs' Zach Braff, Will & Grace's Eric McCormack and Monk's Tony Shalhoub. In the dramatic category, the nominees are last year's winner James Spader for Boston Legal, Hank Azaria for Huff, Hugh Laurie for House, Ian McShane for Deadwood and Kiefer Sutherland for 24. Best actress in a dramatic series nominees included The Shield's Glenn Close, Six Feet Under's Frances Conroy, Alias' Jennifer Garner, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit's Mariska Hargitay and Medium's Patricia Arquette. Lackawanna Blues, The Office Special and The Wool Cap joined The Life and Death of Peter Sellers and Warm Springs in the best TV movie category. Best miniseries nominations went to Elvis, Empire Falls, The 4400 and The Lost Prince. Best reality series contenders include The Amazing Race, American Idol, The Apprentice, Project Runway and Survivor.

 

 

 

Poor Comedy Market Helped Sink Duo

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Scott Collins, Special To The Star - Los Angeles Times

(July 16, 2005) HOLLYWOOD—It may be hard to remember now, with prime time ruled by desperate housewives and dancing stars, but the independent producers Carsey-Werner once dominated TV with comedy.  During the 1988-89 season, the three highest-rated programs — The Cosby Show, Roseanne and the Cosby spinoff A Different World — were all made by Carsey-Werner Co. In just a few years, the company almost single-handedly revived the sitcom, a format that many TV executives felt sure was dying before The Cosby Show debuted in 1984.  But in recent years, Carsey-Werner has had little to laugh about. As one of the last major independent suppliers of network TV series, the studio lost millions developing and producing such duds as Whoopi and The Tracy Morgan Show. Last month, partners Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner said the company would pare down TV production operations and dramatically scale back development of new projects.  In a phone interview last week, Werner, 55, noted that Carsey-Werner is bowing out, perhaps fittingly, just as TV comedies are going through another rough patch. For the week ending July 3, for example, just two of the 10 most-watched programs were comedies: repeats of CBS's Two and a Half Men and Everybody Loves Raymond — and Raymond already has aired its series finale and won't be back in the fall.  "Someone is going to come up with another comedy hit," said Werner, who is also chairman and co-owner of the Boston Red Sox. "But the way we were (developing shows) was very challenging. ... Marcy would say we're like a Mazda Miata, and everybody else had these big rigs.''  It's a quiet end to a one-time TV powerhouse that has brought in an estimated $3 billion (all figures U.S.) in revenue over the last decade. But Carsey-Werner basically became the equivalent of a mom-and-pop grocer in a Wal-Mart world. For all its successes, the company still struggled alongside other studios — such as Warner Bros. Television and 20th Century Fox Television — that enjoy enormous advantages in getting new series picked up by sister networks. Since the mid-1990s, when the government overturned rules prohibiting networks from owning a stake in shows they broadcast, independent studios have faced increasingly limited prospects.

"It's a tough go for anyone working out there on their own,'' said Tim Brooks, a TV historian and co-author, with Earle Marsh, of The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows. "Usually today, studios are associated" with a network.  The 60-year-old Carsey was said to be travelling and unavailable for comment, although a company spokesman emphasized that, contrary to a published report, she's not retiring from the entertainment business. However, it's clear that the partners had different views of the company's potential.  "Marcy has felt — and she's entitled to feel this way — that the challenges of getting a show on the air have become too daunting," Werner said. "I'm stubborn enough to try to find another process for TV comedy development."  Werner declined to provide details other than to say that he's had "conversations with a couple of networks" about moving forward.  The pair began working together at ABC during the 1970s, when the network was being reinvented by programming guru Fred Silverman with escapist fare like Happy Days, Mork & Mindy and Dynasty. They left ABC to form Carsey-Werner in 1981, where they eventually created hit shows for ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.  After The Cosby Show became a No.1 hit for NBC, the pair solidified their success with a series of sitcoms centred on lead actors with strong personalities: Roseanne, Grace Under Fire, Cybill. Often, the stars were memorable even when the shows weren't: Jackie Mason in Chicken Soup, for instance, or John Goodman in Normal, Ohio.  "Most of (their) shows have generally had someone who could become a real TV star at the centre ... and they've had a voice and something to say," said Garth Ancier, chairman of the WB Network, who worked on The Cosby Show during an early executive stint at NBC.

Many shows came to reflect the personality of their stars, perhaps even more so than was typical for sitcoms. "What they were best at is getting talent and, for good or evil, giving the talent the power in controlling the project," said Bruce Helford, a writer on Roseanne who later created The Drew Carey Show.  Carsey-Werner also tried to instill an informal atmosphere at their Studio City headquarters, where staff members could get lunch from the company's private chef. At mealtime, "everybody got in line, from executive producers to production assistants," recalls Helford. "It wasn't always the best food, but it was a great sense of family."  But the last five years have proved particularly tough for the company. Whoopi and Tracy Morgan were costly flops, and the industry's increasingly consensus-driven style of working was at odds with Carsey-Werner's more entrepreneurial ethic.  "A hundred people had to weigh in on an idea," Werner complained of the development process.  CBS filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Carsey-Werner in 2001, demanding that the company repay $53 million in production loans for Cybill (the parties reached an out-of-court settlement earlier this year).  The Carsey-Werner nameplate won't exactly disappear. The company will remain active as a syndicated distributor of its past hits: However the counting is done, that library is likely worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It will also oversee the eighth and perhaps final season of That '70s Show.  But it's unlikely the Carsey-Werner logo will again appear on the closing credits of many new sitcoms.  As Brooks said, "It is kind of sad, in a way, because (Carsey-Werner) was one of the best examples of an independent studio."

 

 

 

For Ehm, It's The Cradle That Rocks

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rita Zekas

(July 16, 2005) When you think of Erica Ehm, you think quintessential rock chick. She was, after all, the first female veejay on MuchMusic.  No, she was "never a rock chick," she demurs, tucking into a virtuous salad at Bistro 990, followed by a vigorous helping of their legendary frites.  And why not frites? Ehm has lost the baby fat from her second child, Jessie, now 18 months old. Her son, Joshua, is 5 years old.  Besides, if you eat the frites drenched in balsamic vinegar, there are no calories. And if you eat them standing up, you lose weight.  But we digress.  Ehm left MuchMusic in '95 and is the co-creator/host of Yummy Mummy, "a parenting show for the music video generation" on Discovery Health Channel here and in the U.S. and the Life Network here.  Ehm was a club kid in the Much days. She didn't know from kids.  "I loved it, but Much was so one-note," Ehm says. "I was bored; I grew out of it — I did Much for 10 years. The bands all liked me because I didn't want anything from them. I could hang out with Dwight Yoakam and I became friends with them without being a groupie. I got to know them without strings attached. And I wrote music.'' (Her songs have been recorded by Van Morrison, Cassandra Vasik and Tom Jackson, and she wrote the theme song for the animated series Pippi Longstocking and the feature Some Things That Stay). ``When you are on TV, people think you are so one-dimensional, this flat person on a screen. I liked music, books and fashion. I've never done drugs; I never tried cocaine. I'm not a rock 'n' roll girl — I made my own rules. Now I'm learning the rules of being a mom."  She has gone through different reincarnations on the road to maternity including a talk show on CFRB radio, her TV talk show Real Life with Erica Ehm, and appearing on the series Popstars and Power Play, which dealt with "thrill-seeking boys with toys things."

On Power Play, she flew in a jet fighter and did loop de loops. She swears that she didn't unclench her butt cheeks until she got back on solid ground.  She flew on a glider and took a ride in a one-person submarine but drew the line at setting her behind in the fastest roller coaster in the world.  "When I signed my contract, I said I'm not ever going to do that: I'm not getting on a roller coaster. I never did drugs. I'll not get on a roller coaster. I don't cave to peer pressure."  She made her stage debut in Unidentified Human Remains, starred in the indie feature Jigsaw and had a cameo as a journalist in Atom Egoyan's Ararat.  She is contributing editor for What's Up Kids mag and wrote the stage musicals Caillou's Big Party, Big Comfy Couch and Caillou's Big Book Club. She also wrote She Should Talk: Conversations With Exceptional Women About Life, Dreams and Success.  Yummy Mummy is not just about purple dinosaurs, though it does have animated sequences. Ehm mixes expert guests like doctors, celeb guests like singer/songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, and non-boldfaced moms discussing such subjects as belly dancing and finding the best car seat for a newborn or the perfect bra and becoming bosom buddies in the process.  "Bras, all different bras, different shapes," she qualifies. "After you have kids, you need to get properly fitted to go from droopy to sexy. And it's not specifically just for moms. The guys will enjoy the piece on bra fitting because the girls end up in a window (of Linea Intima on Avenue Rd.) after they had a few sips of wine. It looked like Amsterdam," she says, laughing.  It's all about rediscovering their sexiness and getting back to yumminess.  "When I first did the (Yummy Mummy) demo six weeks after delivering my daughter, I was 40 pounds heavier but they never flinched," Ehm says. "I run, I do yoga and I feel good in my skin. I have muscle memory."  As co-creator of Yummy Mummy, Ehm, 43, drew on her own life experiences. "I lived a single girl life, out in restaurants,'' she recalls. She still doesn't cook. "I took time for myself. I was clubbing. I didn't understand how difficult a child would be in my life. I cried for four days (after her son was born) because I was afraid to pick him up. It took six months for me to bond 100 per cent with my son."

When she chatted with other moms in the playground, Ehm discovered she wasn't an anomaly.  "When the doctor put a baby in your arms, if you didn't love it immediately, it didn't make you a monster mom. They don't tell you this once you have pushed the baby out. My job is to spill some secrets and absolve women of their guilt. Women should feel good about themselves: happy mommy, happy kid."  A lot of playground moms also brought up the contentious stay-at-home-moms-versus-the-career-moms issue.  "I'm a feminist 100 per cent," Ehm stresses. "A woman makes her own decisions. You don't fault one for working or staying at home. You are allowed to do what suits the family with no guilt; feminism allows you to have control. Stay-at-home moms feel insignificant because society is telling them they are not important but they build communities, they go to meetings and run charities. Women working feel guilty because they are told their children are not thriving.  "Yummy Mummy is a zeitgeist thing. The tables have turned and mommies are now in control. More women are staying home and more women are saying to their partners, `Honey, you are into it 50 per cent with me. You're helping with the cleaning and groceries.' Husbands are now in the trenches and take the babies out."  Ehm, who has a part-time nanny herself, admits, "Sometimes my husband is my wife." She met her husband, who works in online banking and is a wannabe musician, through a matchmaker who predicted: "He is a career-minded athlete, loves music, is independent — he sounds like Erica Ehm."  So the matchmaker, who happened to know Ehm's mom, Evelyn, cold called her. Evelyn was skeptical — her daughter didn't do set-ups. But she made an exception.  "He drives up to the house in a car," Ehm recalls. "The guys I usually dated had no car — they were artists. He was wearing a big, messy sweater. I loved the messy sweater."  Ehm's husband popped up in the show as a photo in a picture frame and her sister, a marketing writer, was a guest in a segment on sex toys.

"The underlying message is that it's okay to pay attention to yourself and become yummy again," Ehm explains. "It is not a documentary but gives useful tips with playful stories. The show is entertaining. A woman brought the sex toys in from a shop and my sister was intrigued by several, including The Rabbit, which was featured on Sex and the City. We are both too shy to walk into stores like that."  That said, they'll tackle serious topics like tantrums, how to talk to kids about death and postpartum depression.  "I think I probably had postpartum depression," Ehm admits. "My mom came over and asked, `Do you need me to help?' I said, `Do you mind doing my laundry?' I'm crying and thinking, `You are so independent and you are asking your mom to do your laundry.'  "My mom is so cool; she is training for a marathon. She said, `Don't you know how good it feels for you to ask me for help?' Later on, I only cried during sucky commercials."  What does she think about Tom Cruise lambasting Brooke Shields for taking antidepressants postpartum?  "Let Tom Cruise get pregnant and deal with it," Ehm says. "Of course you need medication. Only a man would say that."

 

 

 

Enduring Appeal

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vinay Menon, Television Critic

(July 16, 2005) An elderly woman in a wheelchair asks a stranger to push a street-crossing button. When he kindly obliges, the traffic pole improbably tips over, destroying a parked car.  The man stands mutely, palm pressed over his mouth with disbelief. His stunned eyes say it all — what just happened?  Like hundreds of other unsuspecting Quebecers, he's just been had. He is, in the internal parlance of Just For Laughs Gags, a fresh "victim."  At first blush, the CBC series (Fridays, 9 p.m., plus frequent reruns on the Comedy Network), in the tradition of Candid Camera, is easy to dismiss. There is no dialogue. No plot. No characters. No overarching narrative. Viewers are simply treated to a disjointed onslaught of mischievous pranks.  In one gag, a woman is clutching the entwined strings of several helium balloons. She is also secretly tethered to a hidden cable that slowly lifts her into the air whenever an unsuspecting victim approaches.  As victim after victim rushes to her side, grabbing her dangling legs, struggling to keep her anchored on firm ground, their stunned expressions are priceless — what is happening?  None of this seems cruel or malicious, a common malady of contemporary prank shows. Silly? Yes. Lowbrow? Sure. Absurd? Certainly.  But, for some reason, hilarious. Slapstick humour has a theatrical lineage going back hundreds of years. The first celluloid pie-in-the-face was recorded back in 1909. Yet the comedy endures, against all odds. Though rarely seen in a pure form these days, sight gags, exaggerated violence and physical hijinks still manifest on television, in everything from cartoons to sitcoms to sketch comedy to "reality" programming.  The funniest thing about it? It's still funny.

Just For Laughs Gags, now in its sixth season, is more about reactions than actions. In this manufactured age of unreal "reality," the series is a zany portal into human nature at its most revealing.  "The main thing is we play with the real feelings of people," says creator and executive producer Pierre Girard. "In any culture, in any country, people recognize themselves in those gags."  "Universal experience" is something you hear often when talking about the show, especially at this time of year. Montreal's Just For Laughs Festival, a world-class showcase of stand-up and theatre, started last week and continues until July 31.  Girard and his creative team are also working on a Gags feature film, scheduled to premiere in 2007. Why not? The TV show is broadcast in more than 100 countries. Gags has developed a loyal following of pratfall enthusiasts, from Great Britain to Singapore and Italy to Russia.  It has also become a hit in the sky, airing on more than 85 airlines, including Air Canada, Delta, United, Air France, China Eastern Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Air Seychelles, Cyprus Airways, Finnair, Air Kenya, KLM, Kuwait Airways, Air Senegal, Royal Brunei, Air India and Japan Airlines.  A conservative estimate, says Girard, is that 1 billion people watch his show each year. This would make it the most-watched Canadian show in the world, even if many viewers are part of a captive audience, held at 30,000 feet above sea level.  "Physical comedy, both in film and on TV, is frequent fare in in-flight entertainment because the visual humour speaks universally to an airline-passenger audience comprising diverse cultures, tastes and even languages," says Rob Brookler, spokesman for the World Airline Entertainment Association.  Or as Robert Thompson, a television professor at Syracuse University, notes: "A guy slipping on a banana peel is as funny in the South Pole as it is in New York City."

In another of the show's gags, an actress is sitting on a park bench. She suddenly jumps up and frantically points to an imaginary menace near a victim. It's impossible not to laugh as the victim bolts upright, dancing around, looking at his legs with open-mouth horror, convinced some phantom creature is about to attack.  Why do we still find such routines amusing?  "Slapstick humour has been popular for years and will remain so because it goes after something that is basic," says Shawn Rosengarten, the show's manager of television sales. "It's really just human nature."  Alan Ray, an assistant professor at the University of the Pacific, and author of Comedy is a Man in Trouble: Slapstick in American Movies, says, "Slapstick is the lowest common denominator of comedy. We all get it. It's the ultimate surprise. It's physical and it's very visual."  If you apply a liberal definition to slapstick, or even broaden this discussion to include "physical comedy," there is a rich tradition dating back to the black-and-white, silent film era.

From Charlie Chaplin to Jim Carrey, the Three Stooges to Laurel and Hardy, MadTV to Monty Python, Mel Brooks to Peter Sellers, the Marx Bros. to the Farrelly Brothers, Mr. Bean to Ali G, Jack Tripper to Cosmo Kramer, the Keystone Kops to Carrot Top, a madcap legacy has survived decades of creative invention and reinvention.  But, by strict definition, slapstick has mostly vanished from the cultural radar today. This makes the success of Gags all the more puzzling.  "There is a sophistication to humour that I think people are looking for today," says Ed Robinson, president and general manager of The Comedy Network, the station that first broadcast Gags.  "But there are basic things, for whatever reason, that people react to in a consistent way. I don't know what it is about a physical mishap that triggers a reaction, but it does."  With all the recent chatter about "the death of the sitcom," you wonder if writers are trying too hard to create the next Seinfeld. Is television comedy getting too smart for its own good? And is "slapstick" a pejorative term?  "Slapstick, among the literati of comic writers, is considered a less legitimate form unless it's in the black-and-white, silent era, with Chaplin or Keaton, in which case it's okay," says Thompson. "But slapstick slips into places where you might least expect it. Will & Grace has plenty of slapstick. America's Funniest Home Videos has been plugging along for seasons and it's all about slapstick."  "The television sitcom has run out of ideas," says Ray. "What is happening is most of these writers go to Ivy League schools and they just don't experience life like the rest of us."  Adds Girard, "Sometimes when you try to be too intellectual, you forget what's funny."  Thompson says many of today's best sitcoms, including Scrubs and Arrested Development, require viewers to enter into a long-term relationship or risk being terminally confused. "Whereas a hidden-camera gag show makes no difference when you come in or drop out," he says. "It's totally modular."

Ed Robertson, an author and cultural historian, says the sitcom is not dead, it's just in a cyclical lull. And he says trace elements of slapstick are so pervasive, we don't notice anymore.  This is true from animated series (The Simpsons, Family Guy, King of the Hill) to sitcoms (Malcolm in the Middle, The Bernie Mac Show, Scrubs, The Comeback).  "Even shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, which seems sophisticated because it relies on irony and improvisation, has a lot of elements of pure slapstick," says Robertson.  "The `pants tent' episode comes to mind, along with the `thong' episode, as well as the one with the strawberry shortcake. Like Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David was a huge fan of the old Abbott and Costello routines, not only for their timing but also their genius for physical comedy."  Lowbrow should also not be confused with easy. Consider the amount of work that goes into Gags: Only 60 per cent of what's filmed gets used. To film one gag, more than five hours of raw footage is shot, involving between 25 and 35 victims.  With each passing season, it also becomes harder to come up with new gags. A team of 26 writers toss around ideas even though, these days, only one in 40 will be staged.  No matter. Fans are emerging from across the planet.  "We get emails from airline passengers every week," says Rosengarten. "So we're now in the process of developing a strategy for the DVD and home market."  Girard and Rosengarten say 98 per cent of victims are happy after a gag is revealed. There are some exceptions. (One female victim sobbed uncontrollably during a coffin gag; she had buried her father the week before.)  "That's the biggest problem," confesses Girard. "You don't really know who you are dealing with, if somebody just had heart surgery or something."  In one gag, a "police officer" flags down motoring victims on a one-way street, directs them into a three-point turn, then gives them a ticket for going the wrong way. Their faces are plastered with bewildered expressions as they process this insanity — what just happened?  As Robinson says, "There is something about seeing the misery of others that makes you feel better about how miserable your life is not."

 

 

 

CBC Workers Endorse Strike Action

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Gayle MacDonald

(July 20, 2005) Still licking its wounds from the protracted NHL hockey lockout, the CBC was hit with more bad news yesterday after employees voted 87.3-per-cent in favour of taking strike action in order to hammer out a collective agreement by mid-August. If the CBC and its 5,500 unionized production and support staff remain at an impasse by the Canadian Media Guild's contract deadline of Aug. 15, a strike could cripple broadcasts of several high-profile sporting events, including the Canadian Football League games, the Rogers Cup tennis showdown and the Canada Games -- all slated for that month. Traditionally the union digs in its heels in the final weeks leading up to the contract showdown, but this negotiation has been particularly tense since the CMG has vowed to fight tooth-and-nail a CBC proposal to hire more workers on a contract basis. Arnold Amber, president of the CBC branch of the Guild, said yesterday's "overwhelming support" for strike action is a "flat rejection of the revolving-door approach to employment that the corporation is putting forward. "We know that's not the right way to go about creating quality programming for the Canadian public," he said in a release. The vote was held between July 8 and July 14, with roughly 67 per cent of the unionized employees turning out to mark a ballot. Amber called that turnout an "incredible accomplishment for a mid-summer vote," adding that it "speaks volumes about the dissatisfaction our members are feeling with CBC's management proposals."

But CBC spokesperson Jason MacDonald said yesterday the strike mandate is not a surprise. "We expected it," MacDonald said. "A positive strike mandate does not mean there will be a labour stoppage. Employees recognize what [a strike] could mean for the corporation." MacDonald added that employees have been without a collective agreement since March, 2004, a situation "which does create some uncertainty." In the meantime, the CBC has contacted the CFL, the Canada Games, and so on, to "let them know the timelines and what the possibilities are. . . . But a strike mandate or not, our focus is still on being at the table and negotiating. And there is still time for us between now and mid-August to reach a collective agreement." The two sides have been at the table, off and on, since May, 2004, trying to reach a single collective agreement covering -- for the first time -- more than 5,000 on-air, production, technical and administrative employees at the CBC (not including employees in Quebec and the city of Moncton, who have separate labour agreements). The employees were formerly in three separate bargaining units. Besides contracting out, employees' rights to reassignment in the event of downsizing and compensation for overtime are other key issues the union says are unresolved. "We want to use this strong mandate in the weeks ahead to get a deal at the table and we're prepared to work around the clock to do so," Amber said. "The Guild has never been on strike at the CBC. But I've been negotiating for 25 years and this is the worst set of proposals I have ever seen from the corporation."

 

 

 

'Star Trek's' Scotty, James Doohan, dead at 85

Source:  Reuters/VNU

(July 20, 2005) LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor James Doohan, best known as Scotty, the feisty, Scottish-accented chief engineer on television's original "Star Trek" series, died on Wednesday at his home in Redmond, Washington, his manager said. He was 85.Doohan, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease last summer, died of complications from that degenerative illness and pneumonia, Steve Stevens told Reuters.  A native of Vancouver, British Columbia, Doohan was a prolific voice actor on Canadian radio before making his move into television in the 1950s.But he will be remembered for playing Lt. Commander Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, the can-do chief engineer aboard the starship USS Enterprise on the original "Star Trek" series, which ran from 1966-69 on NBC. He reprised the role for several big-screen "Star Trek" features.  One of his character's chief functions on the show was to operate the transporter used to "beam" crew members to and from the Enterprise -- often in response to an order that entered the pop culture as the catch phrase "Beam me up Scotty."  Doohan's last public appearance was in October, when he was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 

 

 

LL Back In The House

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 15, 2005)    *LL Cool J is in back in the “House.” The rapper-actor will guest star in the season premiere of the Fox medical series as a death-row inmate stricken with a mysterious deadly ailment. The episode airs Sept. 13.

 

 

 

::THEATRE NEWS::

 

 

Get Ready For 'Canada's Young Meryl Streep'

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Michael Posner

(July 16, 2005) Six months, and counting. More precisely, six months, two weeks and a couple of days is all the time that's left between now and Feb. 2, 2006, the date of the first preview performance of The Lord of the Rings, at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre. At $27-million, LOTR is the most ambitious and expensive musical production in theatre history. No one, therefore, is more conscious of time's winged chariot hurrying near than Kevin Wallace, the show's lead producer. Jetting back and forth between England, where the show's $1.2-million stage is being built, and Toronto, Wallace is himself lord of the show's many concentric rings -- all its creative and technological elements, as well as marketing and merchandising. To his own considerable surprise, everything is so far on schedule. After two rounds of auditions, casting for the show's 55 roles (four more than he had originally budgeted) should be completed -- and announced -- by the end of July. David Mucci, associate producer David Mirvish's line producer, is now negotiating the contracts. The enormous 30-tonne, 14-metre circular stage, incorporating some 16 computer-controlled pneumatic lifts being built by Delstar Engineering in Britain, is just about done. Advance ticket sales have broken through the $8-million mark, surpassing Wallace's own projections. By opening night, March 23, 2006, he thinks it could hit $25-million, although more conservative estimates say a box office advance of between $15-million and $22-million is more likely. The principal focus of the last six weeks has been casting. Facing an intimidating line-up of eight jurors, scores of actors, singers, dancers and circus performers auditioned. They also had to pass boot camp -- a series of gruelling fitness and movement tests.

Wallace was impressed by the country's level of theatrical talent. "I think it's an incredible cast," he said over dinner last week. "People are going to feel -- my goodness, I'm seeing all of these people in the same production. They're not used to seeing such a density of talent." One young woman in particular made their jaws drop. "I can't tell you her name just yet -- she'll be playing Arwen -- but every time she walked into the [audition] room, it lit up. The depth of technique was just stunning. She's like Canada's young Meryl Streep. Someone said, 'Does she know she's better than Bernadette Peters?' And the answer is she doesn't. But if she were in London, she'd be playing lead roles at the National Theatre." At the same time, he will likely - as per his agreement with Actors' Equity - use as many as five British actors in principal roles. Among the show's creative brain trust -- it includes director Matthew Warchus, choreographer Peter Darling and musical director Christopher Nightingale -- Wallace says there was a lively internal debate about casting the Hobbit roles and for the actors playing Gandalf and Saruman. As a matter of policy, Wallace says he never insists on hiring an actor the director does not want. "I'll try to see that my position is represented, but once you deal with the basic requirements of singing, dancing and acting, it comes down to chemistry and taste. In the end, Matthew [Warchus] has to go for it. You have to defer to the director, because you never have the same precise vision of how it should be played." The greatest surprise so far? "The level of physical expertise that Peter [Darling] was going to require. With some of our favourite actors, it wasn't that they weren't fit. But they weren't sufficiently in touch with their own bodies. They didn't have the finesse. To hire them would have been to put them at risk."

Wallace was also struck by the ability of the women particularly to master the sound of Varttina, the Finnish folk group that co-wrote the show's score with Indian composer A. R. Rahman. "We'd arranged for Varttina to come over in October when we start rehearsal," he explained. "But these women could already deliver the sound. So we were really spoiled for choice here. There are no 'passengers.' These are Amazonian women. Whatever it is about the culture here, these actresses came in and just nailed it. There was a level of intensity and hunger that wasn't there in the male ensemble." On the technology front, Wallace in late June wrote a cheque for $400,000, the latest instalment on the $5.2-million he has budgeted for sets and props. "It's not a prototype, which is a relief to me. But we have 16 of these pneumatic lifts, the movements of which have to be programmed and co-ordinated." The overlay on the steel guts of the stage will be the 14-metre textured floor painted to resemble an ancient tree that's been cut down. Upon that stump the story takes place. Originally, the producers planned to use a more limited revolving stage for the start of rehearsals in late October. But they have now decided that even before the cast moves into the Princess of Wales, it should rehearse with the actual stage. Thus, it will be disassembled in Cambridge and shipped to a warehouse in Toronto for reassembly. Then it will have to be taken apart once again before being loaded into the actual theatre. Estimated extra cost: $250,000. "I think it's well spent," says Wallace, "because otherwise we'd find ourselves redoing sequences once we got into the theatre." The additional costs for stage and cast have pushed him, he says, to the limit of the show's projected $27-million budget. Fortunately, lead sponsor Air Canada, already committed to spend $3-million to promote the production, last month agreed to provide an additional $1.432-million in airline tickets, to accommodate the 50-odd Brits who are making heavy use of the transatlantic aviation lanes.

To generate more buzz in the United States, a critical market, Wallace will be visiting New York, briefing journalists one-on-one. "I'll be surprised and disappointed if we're not a news item on the 24th of March. We must be." Wallace's co-producer Sol Zaentz is in pre-production for his next feature, Goya's Ghosts, set in Spain, directed by Milos Forman and starring Javier Bardem and Natalie Portman. But Zaentz is kept regularly informed about the show's development. Separately, Wallace has arranged for Tolkien scholars to verify the authenticity of every word of the script, including its nonsense portions; has commissioned a four-part TV documentary about LOTR's creation, which he hopes will be aired on Global early next year; has established what will soon be an interactive website to promote the show; and has signed a London based businessman to set up his merchandising operation. As much of it as possible, he says, will be sourced in Canada. "We're very conscious of being guests here. And the apparel will be high quality, something that will last. And while we're not the greenest show ever, there's a certain respect that needs to be paid to Tolkien, so the merchandise should be complementary to that ethos." While the Toronto show is coming together, Wallace is also planning for the London production, which will open either in December, 2006 or the spring of 2007 at the Dominion Theatre. After a presentation to U.K. ticket agents a month ago, one company offered to write a £1-million cheque to guarantee tickets for the first booking period. That, he said, was an enormous vote of confidence because Wallace and Co. are acutely aware that they must still persuade a world of skeptics that it is possible to stage Tolkien's sprawling trilogy.

 

 

 

Billy Ray Not Achy Any More

Excerpt from The Toronto Star -  Richard Ouzounian

(July 20, 2005) Billy Ray Cyrus is in love with a man.  But before you get your mullet in a twist, be advised that the dude who's messin' with his achy breaky heart is none other than a long-deceased Broadway composer.  "I love Irving Berlin," he declares with that good-ol'-boy grin. "The only other guy I ever felt that way about was Ronnie Hawkins."  His newfound infatuation can easily be pegged to the fact that Cyrus is in rehearsal for Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun, which opens Aug. 2 at Massey Hall.  But even though he's already been through a variety of careers ranging from pop star to four years heading the cast of the TV series Doc, he's a blushing virgin when it comes to the theatre.  "Can I tell you something?" he asks shyly. "I've never even been in a high school play before this. We've had one day of rehearsal and it's been the best acting lesson of my life."  Cyrus joined the cast at the eleventh hour, after another performer withdrew citing "personal problems."  But deciding whether to do the show gave Cyrus some personal problems of his own.  "I'd like to say that the first time I heard the music, I was crazy for it, but it just wouldn't be true. In fact, I couldn't understand the songs. They might as well have been sung in Japanese backwards.  "Then the oddest thing happened. I was on my bus on the way to play the Wheeling Jamboree last week and I was wigging out because they needed an answer the next day. Well, I put the ol' headphones on and started listening to the music over and over."  A big smile breaks over his face, like dawn in the Great Smoky Mountains.

"Suddenly I got it and I became possessed by this music. Not only did I want to sing it, I had to sing it!  "How do I feel about being here? Nervous, challenged and honoured at the same time. There's something special about the people doing this show."  Even though he may not know much about musical theatre, Cyrus called that one correctly. With a cast starring Louise Pitre, Jonathan Wilson and Sandra Caldwell, direction by Donna Feore and musical direction by Rick Fox, he's certainly making his stage debut in the major leagues.  It's the end of a long day of work, but Cyrus seems more happy than tired as he stretches out in the rehearsal hall to have a chat.  He'll be 44 next month, but he actually looks younger now than he did at the height of his fame more than a decade ago.  He still wears a cowboy hat, jeans and boots, but his trademark mullet's gone, as is the leering scowl that set hearts fluttering and caused him to be voted "Third Sexiest Man Alive" in People Magazine's 2000 poll.  "Man, that kind of stuff crushed me. I never wanted to be sold as a sex god. That's not what I'm about at all."  What he actually is all about is lot more complicated and interesting than that.  He was born Aug. 25, 1961, in Flatwoods, Ky., the son of state legislator Ron Cyrus and homemaker Ruth Ann Adkins.  He first recalls "singing gospel songs in church with my parents" when he was 4, but that was replaced a few years later by a less pleasant memory.  "My mom and dad got divorced when I was 6. From that time on, it seemed like that's how life was going to be. Nothing was going to be easy. I wasn't going to fit in anywhere. At school, I was the ugly kid from the broken home. It was tough."  Cyrus put a lot of his feelings into his music — something he still does to this day.

"When I bought my first guitar, I wrote down my goals. `Dear God, please give me the wisdom and the vision to do the things on this earth I'm supposed to do, to be the person I'm supposed to be. And through my music give me the ability to touch people's lives around the world.'"  He looks up, shaking his head. "It would have been fine if I had left it there, but then I said the dreaded curse: `I want to be known as the next Elvis.'"  Eventually, Cyrus was to see his wish come true, but it was a long time coming — and once it did, he was sorry that it had.  By the time he was 20, he had formed his own band called Sly Dog.  "Every week, I'd drive the six hours to Nashville, trying to break into the country scene. And every week, someone else would tell me that I was too rock 'n' roll."  Cyrus finally moved to Los Angeles, but "everybody out there told me I was too country."  So he came back home. His career was stalled and his first marriage ended in divorce. Things were going nowhere until the summer of 1990, when he was asked at the last minute to open for Reba McEntire at a concert at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky.  "Polygram sent a guy to check me out and that's how it all began." Cyrus wanted to begin his recording career with a heartfelt tribute to America's armed forces, "Some Gave All," but the record execs insisted he debut with something more commercial.  "This guy came and played me a rough demo of a song called `Don't Tell My Heart.' I loved it and said `That's me.' I worked it up right away with my band and we played it that night in a club. People kept coming up to me and saying `Play that achy breaky song again.'"  "So I told the record company I'd do the song, but they'd have to change the title."  "Achy Breaky Heart" came out in 1992 and became a monster hit, and Billy Ray Cyrus turned into a major celebrity.  "I was living in a Chevy Beretta when I cut that record. Honest. I was homeless. Everything I owned on earth was in the back of that ol' jalopy."  Then, overnight, he was a millionaire, luxuriating on 200 prime hectares that he bought in Tennessee. He married again, this time to Leticia "Tish" Finley and it seemed like he was set for life.

But the superstardom was short-lived and the album sales grew smaller and smaller. Soon he became yesterday's news and his hit song was the butt of constant jokes.  "I'd been all the way to the top of the mountain," he recalls with a melancholy twang to his voice. "But the only bad thing is that what comes up must come down and once you've been up there, the bottom seems even lower."  The part-Cherokee Cyrus recalls his personal darkness growing deeper and deeper until he finally withdrew to a teepee pitched on a hillside as he searched for guidance.  "I believe that all good things come from God, but I'm a very imperfect person, one of the very best sinners God ever created."  His daughter Miley broke through his depression by going to him one day, putting her head to the ground and saying "Listen, Daddy, you can hear the grass grow. Wouldn't you like to hear that again?"  Cyrus still chokes with emotion as he recalls the moment. "My life had got to spinning so fast that I forgot one of the greatest blessings in life is to stand still and listen."  He cocks his head to one side. "You know, my dad once told me when I was a kid that if I ever got lost, I should just stand still and I'd find myself. I should've listened to him a long time ago."  He's a happier man these days, with acting jobs, concert gigs and recording opportunities all waiting for him.  "I know I'll probably never get to the top again, but I don't honestly think I could take it. Once is enough in a man's lifetime."  But rest assured, the Billy Ray of yesterday isn't completely dead and gone.  His eyes light up as he shares his latest song, yet to be recorded, which should please long-time fans whose hearts are still aching and breaking for the past.  "I want my mullet back/ My old Camaro and my eight track/ Fuzzy dice hanging loose and proud/ ZZ Top playing good and loud/ Things have changed, man, that's a fact,/ But I still want my mullet back."

 

 

 

Burglary Amusing Class Romp

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Robert Crew, Arts Writer

(July 15, 2005) After 35 years, Elbert Hendricks and his wife Mildred have just returned home to Jamaica from the United States.  Drawing on his long career in security, Elbert has built a supposedly thief-proof house, with steel bars from Japan, auxiliary water and power supplies and even an escape hatch.  So when a thief comes calling, Elbert is supremely confident that he'll never get inside. But it's a long, long night ...  The Burglary, by Jamaican-born Anthony Winkler, who was among the opening-night audience at the Jane Mallett Theatre last night, is a straightforward, exuberant comedy contrasting the lives of the haves and the have-nots.  The abundant humour in the play — often earthy and robust — mainly comes from the comic inversion of what's considered normal.  The Thief, who lives in a cave, is able to argue quite persuasively that he should take possession of everything in the Hendricks' house.  He's hurt and upset that the Hendricks should consider him stupid and ugly; after all, he knows the capital of Iceland. And he is positively outraged at suggestions that he is a socialist and that his mother didn't beat him enough as a kid.  Kevin Sinclair is the ragged Thief, playing him with lots of offended dignity and a vast, winning smile, if without real menace.  Nevertheless, Kim Roberts' Mildred proves a formidable foe, girding for battle like a Valkyrie, but varying the pace and tone with moments of introspection and sharply timed asides.  Paul Anthony finds fewer layers but gives a sustained and solid performance as the often-bewildered Elbert.  The smartly designed production moves briskly under ahdri zhina mandiela's direction.  Mildred admits to being homesick for the "sex, violence and shenanigans" that she saw so much of on television in the United States.  But as it turns out, there's plenty of all three to be found in her own backyard in Jamaica, much to everyone's satisfaction.  A fun evening.

 

 

 

 ::SPORTS NEWS::

Woods Plays In The Sand

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 15, 2005) *Tiger Woods finally hit the sand at the Old Course three times, but managed to keep the front spot in the British Open yesterday. While the sport and fans said a sentimental farewell to Jack Nicklaus – playing the final major of his storied career, Woods got off to an even better start Thursday than he did five years ago on the way to a record-setting victory. In 2000, Woods opened with a 67, made it through all four days without going in a bunker and finished eight shots ahead of everyone else to claim the champion jug.  This time, he put together seven birdies in a stretch of nine holes for a 6-under 66 - even though he put three balls in the sand, leading to his only two bogeys. An ominous sign for the rest of the field: When Nicklaus said goodbye to the other three majors - the 1999 PGA Championship, the 2000 U.S. Open, this year's Masters - Woods won each time.

 

 

 

 ::OTHER NEWS::

Level Playing Field On Peter St.

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Raju Mudhar, Toronto Star

(Jul. 16, 2005) It has been in the works for more than two years, and this weekend the rumours finally meet reality. Level (102 Peter St., 416-599-2224) is ready for the public, and clubbers at last get to judge the place for themselves.  At a sneak preview earlier this week, construction workers were busy putting the finishing touches on the four-floor party space, and initial impressions of the 1,900-person-capacity space show that it follows some of the big trends in clubland.  Tricked out with booths for bottle service, the space has the entertainment district's cognoscenti chomping at the bit to get in and take a look.  "I've been receiving rumours about it for over a year," says Hellenic Vincent De Paul, one of the owners and operators of http://www.clubcrawlers.com, a community message board where clubbers post. "Even when I've been talking with other club owners and promoters, a lot of people have been asking, `Hey, what's going on with Level?'"  John Cavalieri, the general manager of the new club, lists the whispers he's run across.  "I've heard that we ran out of money, that we don't have our liquor licence, that we were waiting for some special marble to come from overseas ... There have been like five dates that we were supposed to open," he says. "And none of that is true."  The stories started back when the building, once occupied by a furrier, was bought by owners Frank and Dean. The initial name was supposed to be Circus, but Cavalieri says there were too many negative connotations: "You know, people saying these clowns have opened a circus, and stuff like that."  He says even though there are probably a hundred clubs across North American named Level, it fits the place.

Cavalieri says massive renovations were the reason it took two years to get it open. The bulk of the second floor has been ripped out, giving the first a larger feel. The largely red room has fibre-optic cabling through the bar and LCD screens mounted on the walls.  One wall is lined with booths while opposite sits a long, shiny, metallic bar. There is more bottle service on the second floor, as well as catwalks for people-watching. Cavalieri says it has been a "design as you go" process — trying an idea out and, if it doesn't look good, starting over.  The third floor, with a separate entrance, will be a VIP area targeting an older crowd. Although not expected to be completed until Sept.15, this area will be known as Suite 106 (the address on the door outside).  Much anticipated is the rooftop patio, called the Wetbar, with a capacity of 405 people. Its white decor will have a water theme, including a waterfall as soon as you enter. Although it won't be ready for this week's opening, one of the VIP areas will have a whirlpool tub in which a bikini-clad waitress will float as she serves drinks.  "This club will not be music-driven like most of these other places. It's about entertainment, and an experience," Cavalieri says, pointing at a go-go cage near the entrance.  "You see this? We're going to have a ballerina in there. And there are some more cages upstairs, and there are going to be some fetish dancers in them," he says.  Cavalieri, a 14-year veteran of the business affiliated with Palazzo and Privilege down the street, is confident he knows what will bring patrons in.  "In this area, being new is your edge," he says. "I mean, I've already got five corporate events booked, and we haven't even opened yet. That never happens. Things will obviously be good for the first while, but you've got to treat people right to keep them coming back."  He also foresees that Level will be bringing people back to Peter St.

"All the action has been over on Richmond and John, so those new clubs pulled people over there. That's fine, that's how it is, but now that we're here, we'll be pulling them over to this side, which can only be a good thing for the entire district."  The competition may or may not agree, but one thing going for this club is that, despite its size, it doesn't feel cavernous, unlike some other recent arrivals in the area. At the very least, the time for rumours is over, and clubbers will get the chance to see if they want to get on the Level.

 

 

 

Cultural Institutions Ask For Government Top-Ups

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By James Adams

(July 20, 2005) Five major Toronto-based cultural institutions are asking the Ontario government for $54-million in "top-up money" to help them complete their ambitious building campaigns. If their appeals are successful, the Ontario contribution could trigger a matching investment from the Martin government in Ottawa, in effect echoing the $233-million largesse the two levels of government gave to seven Toronto-based cultural institutions in 2002. The chairmen of the boards of the Royal Ontario Museum, the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Canadian Opera Company, the National Ballet School and the Art Gallery of Ontario or their designated representatives met as a group with Ontario Culture Minister Madeleine Meilleur and Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal David Caplan at least twice last month. The expectation is that the proposal can go forward to the premier's office and full cabinet in September or October. A source close to the negotiations described the Ontario government as being "positively predisposed" to the requests, not least because the five institutions also are considering their own matching contribution pegged to what the governments give. "I think we also demonstrated that our costs are being professionally maintained," said AGO director Matthew Teitelbaum whose board president, Charlie Baillie, participated in the government talks. The united front is occurring at a crucial time in Toronto's cultural renaissance, as organizations strive to find the final 10 or 15 per cent needed to complete their projects. As William Thorsell, director and CEO of the ROM, said recently: "The climb gets steeper, colder and more strenuous as you get close to the top of the mountain." Construction is well under way on many of the projects that were given seed funding via the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Agreement three years ago. The COC's Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art (which, along with Roy Thomson Hall, another 2002 recipient, is not asking for "top-up" funding) and the ROM are expected to complete most or all of their facilities within the next 12 to 16 months.  At the same time, the government investment has leveraged an unprecedented amount of donations from private individuals, companies and foundations -- so much so that among the five petitioners, government support is now less than the 40 per cent Ottawa and Queen's Park originally agreed would be their maximum contribution to the total capital budgets of the cultural institutions.

The ROM, for instance, initially projected a $200-million budget for its two-part expansion and renovation. To date, the museum has raised more than $175-million. This includes more than $115-million from the private sector -- long-time benefactor Joey Tanenbaum gave $3.5-million just two weeks ago -- and the $60-million in government aid (or 34 per cent of the $175-million raised) that was committed before a shovel was in the ground. Now the ROM's major capital budget has been set at $211-million, with another $17-$19-million earmarked for the construction and interior design of new ROM restaurants and shops. To reach that objective (and keep government support at the 40-per-cent "formula"), the ROM is asking the McGuinty government for $12-million. Similarly, the AGO wants $15-million from Ontario to help realize Frank Gehry's overhaul (now budgeted at $207-million), while the Conservatory is looking for $12-million (total budget: about $85-million) , the National Ballet School $5-million (total budget: about $98-million) and the COC's Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts $10-million (total budget: about $185-million). "We want to keep up the momentum that we've established," said RCM president Peter Simon last week, "because we won't have another chance like this for a long time. . . . We all want [the buildings] to make as big a splash as possible," especially since the city is thinking of starting an international summer arts festival in 2007 or 2008.

 

 

 

Campaign Seeks Nobel Prize For Oprah

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 19, 2005) *A Washington D.C.-area publicist has launched a petition drive to get talk show goddess and humanitarian Oprah Winfrey a Nobel Peace Prize. "This is something that's been inspired by God," Rocky Twyman, 56, told People magazine. "It's a grassroots campaign in its very beginning stages."  Twyman cites Winfrey’s humanitarian work, generosity, charity and "high fashion" as inspiration for his grassroots campaign, which has a goal of collecting about 100,000 signatures by December. "We're just really impressed with what she has done to raise the level of consciousness about hunger, poverty, homeless, women's issues and, of course, the issue of AIDS," Twyman told the New York Daily News.  Neither Winfrey nor the Nobel committee has commented on Twyman’s effort, which also includes plans to send the nomination petition to previous Nobel winners Nelson Mandela and former President Jimmy Carter in hopes that they'll forward it to the Nobel Peace Prize committee in Norway.

 

 

 

Nelly Gets His Kicks With Reebok Deal

Excerpt from www.billboard.com - By Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

(July 19, 2005) Hip-hop star Nelly has teamed with Reebok for a signature collection of footwear, apparel and accessories. The line will be gradually rolled out during the holiday season at athletic specialty retailers and boutiques, with wider distribution to follow early next year.  "I've always been into sneakers and throughout my career I've always wanted to have a signature pair of sneakers that truly reflect my personal style," the artist says. "It made the most sense for me to partner with Reebok because they fully understand and respect the culture of sports, music and entertainment."  The new line will be supported via Nelly's appearances in advertising and commercials under the umbrella of Reebok's "I Am What I Am" campaign.  Nelly joins fellow rap heavyweight Jay-Z as the subject of Reebok lines. As previously reported, the company is also teaming with the Jay-Z-led Def Jam Records to offer an eight-week fall internship at the record company.  Nelly is in the midst of a short tour of Australia that plays Sydney tonight (July 19). The dates come in support of his 2004 simultaneously released albums, "Sweat" and "Suit."

 

 

 

Inuit Barbie ‘A Dream Come True'

Source: Canadian Press

(July 14, 2005) Toronto — A Barbie doll with a unique Canadian identity is set to hit store shelves next week. Inuit Legend Barbie was designed by Christy Marcus, a fashion student at Ryerson University. Marcus, who is of Inuit heritage, won a competition celebrating Barbie's 45th anniversary which challenged students to design a Barbie collector doll. The doll's hair is styled in a side braid and she is wearing a fur-trimmed dress with panels that resemble Inuit prints.  Inuit Legend Barbie will be available at select stores starting July 18. Famous names who have designed past Barbies include Kate Spade, Bob Mackie and Giorgio Armani. “Designing the costume for Inuit Legend Barbie is a dream come true,” Marcus said in a statement. She'll begin the final year of her Ryerson program in the fall.

 

 

 

Harry Potter Smashing Canadian Sales Records

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Jen Gerson

(July 20, 2005)  TorontoHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is poised to become the best-selling book of all time in Canada. Jamie Broadhurst, director of marketing at Raincoast Books, estimates that between 650,000 and 700,000 books were sold on opening weekend in Canada. And the new book is tracking ahead of Order of the Phoenix -- the best-selling novel in Canadian history -- by about 15 per cent. Indigo, Chapters and some Coles bookstores reported an average of 1,200 transactions a minute in the two hours following the much-anticipated midnight release of the sixth and penultimate book in the series. The largest book chain in Canada is recording sales 30 per cent higher than the last Harry Potter instalment. On Amazon.ca, The Half Blood Prince is already the second bestselling book in the website's history, surpassed only by The Order of the Phoenix. Globally, advanced orders of the new book reached 1.5 million. In Canada, Harry Potter books one through five have sold eight million copies in total.

 

 

 

Abdul on Fox’s ‘Dance

Excerpt from www.eurweb.com

(July 20, 2005) *Fox announced Tuesday that "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul will have a “special role” on the network's "So You Think You Can Dance," a new reality show debuting tonight. The former choreographer will be a sort of roving correspondent, appearing in several locations teaching regular everyday folk how to cut a rug. "Whether in factories, office buildings or shopping malls, Abdul will use her unique skills of dance and motivation to teach large groups of real people how to find their groove thing and really shake it," said the network.

 

 

 

 ::FITNESS::

 

 

6 Keys To Maximum Results

By Tom Storms, CPT, eFitness Guest Columnist

(July 18, 2005) I used to love going to the gym -- the sounds, the smells, the grunts, the groans. Nothing seemed more inspiring. Then life got in the way. I got busy. Very busy.  Working with my fitness clients and athletes took up a lot of time, and, frankly, I wasn't too thrilled about taking the time to drive to the gym anymore. I do have a life, you know.  Then there was the fight for parking, not to mention the fact that I had to wait to use the equipment while someone else finished up his or her workout. I didn't really like the music they played so loudly. I had to shout over it so my training partner could hear me, and the sales staff was constantly hounding me for referrals.  But I have to tell you about my new favourite place in the world to work out -- my home studio. In fact, I like it so much that I recommend that everyone train at home if a gym membership isn't up your alley. It's got everything in it that I want and need to successfully train. And get this -- it didn't cost me an arm and a leg.

Training at home has been so successful for me and some of my clients, I've set up an online facility that will allow me to personal train anyone in their home. (You can give it a look at www.thebodymatrix.com.) The greatest part is you don't even need equipment if you don't have any. Bodyweight workouts are phenomenal for conditioning and weight loss. Obviously, if your goals are more specialized, some equipment may be necessary.  How much do you have to spend each year for a health club or gym membership? Now add up all the years you've gone to the gym and all the years you will go to the gym for the rest of your life. That's a big chunk of change! When you think about it, it makes total sense to buy your own equipment and do it at home.  There's no drive to the gym. No waiting. No annoying sales people. You can listen to the music that you want to (or put a TV in the gym for cardio training). Oh, and it's always open. Want to get in a good workout on Christmas day? You can.

Here's the tricky part. You can't just go out and buy whatever equipment seems popular on TV or in magazines. Do that and you'll be unhappy in less than a month. You need a plan to determine what you need to successfully achieve your fitness goals.  The following six points are MUSTS if you want to save time, money, and maximize your success in a minimum of time.

1. Define your personal fitness goals as specifically as you can. For any fitness-related goal there are a number of methods you can use to be successful. But first you have to know where you're going.  Do you want to get stronger? Do you want to build muscles? Lose weight or reduce your body fat? Increase endurance? Reduce stress? Are you preparing for a sport? All the above? Without knowing that you could end up spending more money than you need to on equipment that you'll never fully utilize. Not to mention you may fail in your attempts to achieve your goals.

2. How much space are you willing to devote to your home gym? If you've only got a 5 x 5 space at home, you're really going to have to be efficient. Don't expect to fit large pieces of fitness equipment into such a small space.  Be realistic. Maybe it's time to clear out the room you're using for storage or that corner of the garage that is just wasted space. Maybe you've got some space, but you'll need to make your gym a little more portable so you can store it away when it's not in use.

3. Familiarize yourself with your options on types and brands of exercise equipment. Find out what you'll be comfortable with. Would you invest in a house or car without looking at several options or a test drive? Remember, this is an investment in you.  There are all types of equipment, from treadmills and crosstrainers, to selectorized weight equipment, to barbells and dumbbells. Check out equipment on the Internet or in catalogues. Stop by the exercise equipment retailers and actually see it and even try it out before you even consider buying.  Believe me, this is time well spent. When the time comes to discuss equipment with the appropriate person, be it a salesperson or a fitness professional, you won't be completely in the dark about determining your wants and needs and end up buying something you hate or won't use.

4. Consult with a fitness professional. Take advantage of a professional's "in the trenches experience" and educational background. Again, this saves you time and money by preventing you from wasting money on useless or poorly designed equipment. You may also find that your fitness professional may have relationships with fitness equipment retailers which will allow you to buy your equipment at a discount.

5. Always buy top quality equipment from a reputable retailer. Yes, it costs more money, but as the saying goes, "You get what you pay for." This is so true when it comes to exercise equipment. Avoid the temptation of trying to save a couple dollars by buying equipment that may not be up to your required standards. Buying top quality equipment will last you a lifetime.  If you have any doubt, compare how much you have or could have spent on gym memberships over your lifetime with the cost of your new fitness equipment. I have no doubt that you will always spend less money on your home gym than you ever would by purchasing a lifetime of gym memberships.

6. There is also an issue of maintenance. Even the best equipment can experience the occasional breakdown. Try getting a mail-order company to service your equipment. It's not easy. Your local retailer can usually resolve your problems in no time at all.

There you have it. These recommendations will help you tremendously. Please keep in mind that it's not as easy as it seems. But it's worth the extra time, especially when you're making such a serious investment in yourself. That's why I encourage you to seek the help of a fitness professional.  If you're sick, you go to the doctor. If you've got a tax problem, you see an accountant. Have a toothache? You're off to the dentist. Leaky pipes result in a call to the plumber. So why is it that so many people attempt to solve their health and fitness problems without consulting an expert?

You can visit Tom's website at www.personaltrainingfitness.com

 

 

 

EVENTS – JULY 21-31, 2005

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

MONDAY, JULY 25
IRIE MONDAY NIGHT SESSIONS
Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.
10:00 pm
 
EVENT PROFILE:  Welcome to Negril Ontario, that is!  Yes, Carl’s been at it again and has completely revamped his back patio for his faithful Irie patrons.  And now that the weather is warmer, you just HAVE to come out party on the new and hip patio.  Rain or shine as the patio is covered for our convenience.  A real celebration of summer at the hippest patio in Toronto!  DJ Carl Allen will be spinning the tunes while Kayte Burgess and Adrian Eccleston bring the live music. 

 

 

 

MONDAY, JULY 25
VIP JAM WITH SPECIAL GUESTS  - NEW LOCATION
Indian Motorcycle
  King Street (at Peter)  
10:00 pm  
NO COVER  
  
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring host Chris Rouse, Calvin Beale, Joel Joseph and Shamakah Ali with various local artists. 

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 27
SONIA COLLYMORE IN CONCERT
TD Centre Courtyard
66 Wellington Street West (King and Bay)
12:15 pm and 1:00 pm

EVENT PROFILE:  FLOW 93.5 presents Soul in the Summer, an outdoor live concert series – this Wednesday featuring artist Sonia Collymore on Wednesday, July 27 at 12:15pm and 1:00pm at the TD Centre Courtyard.  Brown bag it or buy something from one of the vendors and enjoy your lunch with a splash of reggae!  Sonia's 2005 JUNO Award Winning debut album WYSIWYG will be re-released nationwide through Fusion3 Distribution and will available in all major record stores on Tuesday July 26th.   (www.soniacollymore.com). Part of the 93 Days of Summer, brought to you by the TD Centre and FLOW 93.5, Toronto's Hip Hop and R'n'B!

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 27
SUGAR WATER FESTIVAL
Featuring Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Queen Latifah|
Air Canada Centre
40 Bay Street
7:00 pm
Tickets available at all Ticketmaster outlets, Air Canada Centre box office
Or call 416 870-8000 to charge by phone
Or order online at Ticketmaster.ca or cc.com
Tickets (incl. GST) $89.50 $69.50 and $49.50 plus convenience fees

EVENT PROFILE:  The Sugar Water Festival brings together three of the most dynamic personalities in music today, offering a unique mix of Jazz, Hip-Hop, R&B and Rap in a festival atmosphere.  Don’t miss these incredible women and this soulful evening!

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

SUNDAY, JULY 31
SOULAR 
College Street Bar
574 College Street (at Manning)
10:30 pm 
$5.00
 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French

 

 

 

Have a great week!  


Dawn Langfield   
Langfield Entertainment  
www.langfieldentertainment.com