Langfield Entertainment
88 Bloor Street E., Suite 2908, Toronto, ON  M4W 3G9
(416) 677-5883


Updated:  July 28, 2005

Ahh, the long weekend in August.  Is there any better time to be in Toronto?  OK, so myself, I'm going to the cottage.  But for those that are hanging in Toronto, there is so much fun to be had with Caribana happening, Harbourfront activities and 1 million more people in town ... please be safe out there. 

Check out the recap for Sugar Water Festival last night (and pictures in my PHOTO GALLERY) - the reason why this is coming to you a little later today. 

Parties all over town this weekend so pick your flavour and have a good time - one of those parties is listed below at Down One Lounge.  Speaking of Caribana, wanna join the parade in full costume?  Here's your chance below to pick out your own costume and 'play mas' with D'Barbarian Invasion.  Believe me, these guys have an amazing time on the parade!

Tons of news below so I'll let you get to it - 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.






Show Time Live & Nu-Urban Soul Presents Sunday Nights Inside Down One Lounge

For less than the cost of Parking in the Downtown Core,  You can hear great live music and an After Party with DJ Nigel B.  This Caribana Sunday …come see what Toronto has to offer when it comes to LIVE music!  A live music showcase featuring some of Toronto’s finest urban performers!   This weekend it’s The Showtime Band and special guest Singers.  Want to hear some great music in an intimate club?  We’re on Front just between Yonge and Church with plenty of FREE or inexpensive parking and you’re guaranteed a quality show.  Spend some time with the men and women of the Nu-Urban-Soul this Caribana Sunday.   Doors open at 8:30 pm. Hosted by Keyth, After Party with DJ Nigel ‘B’.  Drink Specials all night.  This event is brought to you by Carl Lyte & Keith Williams.

SUNDAY, JULY 31, 2005
Show Time Live & Nu-Urban Soul presents
SHOWTIME BAND and special guest Singers.  Music by DJ Nigel B.
Down One Lounge
49 Front St. East (between Yonge and Church)
Doors open at 8:30 pm
Cover: $15.00 at the door
Or go to for discount guest list




Play Mas with Whitfield Belasco's - "D'Barbarian Invasion" – Saturday, July 30th, 2005

Here's your chance to come out and play mas in Caribana for yourself. Whitfield Belasco has been one of the premiere mas makers of Caribana in Toronto for the last 30 years. His sense of style and colour always creates a great production. This year’s theme is Barbarians with the "D'Barbarian Invasion".  Pick from costumes from one of the many sections and have fun playin' mas on the road. Just give a call to the mas camp and come on down to pick out a costume.  The costumes cost $75 and are available for pickup at the Mas Camp any time before Saturday.

45 Ernest Ave
(Perth and Bloor)
Open 2:00pm-1:00am every day until Saturday.
$75 per costume, costumes can be used in Hamilton and New York also.
Contact:; 416-532-6325





Sugar Water Festival – Recap

I went to the Sugar Water Festival last night and was took a few pics in my photo gallery which will be updated with more shortly.  The concert overall did not concern itself with all the flash and pizzazz, dancers, etc. that many concerts are but took it to the roots of the music.  I miss that.  The bands and backgrounds for each performer were fantastic and hardcore talents.  Floetry opened – of special note were the inexplicable vocals skills of Marsha Ambrosius – seriously some sort of phenomena.  Natalie Stewart also brought her ‘floacist’ skills which makes for a beautiful blend. 

Queen Latifah, Erykah Badu – with knee length braids (!) – and Jill Scott all came out and performed Nights Over Egypt – stirring up lots of anticipation for the night. 

Then, The Queen - the highlight for me.  She not only performed some of her jazz standards with the eloquence of a jazz diva but when she hit the old school hip hop … the place went crazy!  She’s such a genuine ‘good from the hood’ person which was evidenced when she walked around the entire ACC, accompanied by her body guards belting out the lyrics to U-N-I-T-Y.  The entire audience stood on their feet with gestures of pure and unwavering adoration for none other than, The Queen.  I wouldn’t want to be the one to follow her in a night of performances!

The energy shifted in the room when Jill Scott graced the stage with her smooth style.  Leading the set was "Golden," with the full ACC repeating the lyrics back to Ms. Scott.  After she left us content with the songs from her latest offering, Ms. Scott brought us to … the opera?  Wait.  Was that her singing from the rafters with clear and glass-shattering tones?  And did it go over?  After you picked your jaw off the floor, absolutely yes! 

Ms. Badu came out on stage with her braids wrapped in a mountain high knit wrap and her huge cup of tea, yet this time wearing a business suit and in place of her incense, a laptop.  We waited patiently while she fiddled with her mouse, drank some tea and performed various tracks from her previously-released CDs.  It was great to hear those tracks again as she inspired a movement, and I think she was having fun with it, but I think everyone would love to hear her release something new in the near future. 

A really great night with The Queen holding the ‘reigns’.







Motivational Note: No Shortage of Millionaires

Excerpt from - By Willie Jolley

, millionaire, we hear the word often but we have misconceptions about millionaires. I told you that there is no shortage of money in America but rather a shortage of ideas and a shortage of dreams and desire. That still might not strike home until you realize that there is no shortage of money. Statistics show that a new millionaire is created in America every 58 minutes. Every 58 minutes; one every hour of the day! We must go after our dreams and determine in our minds and in our hearts that we will not stop until we reach our goals. Our dreams and goals should always exceed our reach. We must expand our visions of ourselves, stretch out, leave our comfort zones and make those dreams come true! 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 for more information.







On The Cover: Soul Survivor; Divine Brown

Excerpt from - By Shereen Tuomi

(July 21, 2005) Divine Brown is a single mother, an actor, a blue belt in the Brazilian martial art of Capoeira, and a soul singer with a five-octave range. She has long had a solid reputation — in her native Toronto and internationally — from performing in heavyweight musical-theatre productions like Rent, Mama, I Wanna Sing and Ain’t Misbehavin’, and from sharing stages with artists like Macy Gray. In short, Brown is not a woman to be underestimated.  With all of this in her pocket, the current success of Brown’s debut single, “Old Skool Love” (at press time, it’s among the five most-played tracks on Canadian radio, and is Top 20 at MuchMusic), has come as no surprise to anybody who knows anything about her — least of all to Brown herself.  “I love the stage,” Brown says, confidently. “Being onstage was always part of the deal, in that I knew I could get a lot of good experience. I’ve always done a lot of gigging, too, but the goal was always to record my own music. What I’m doing now is a dream come true.”  As is the case with most dreams, however, this one has required a whole pile of grit and determination to make it come true. “I’ve always wanted this,” says Brown, “but when I had my daughter, it pushed my determination to another level; I had to make this work, and not just for me. I had to establish a solid foundation for my daughter.”  Still, achieving the dream of being a self-supporting singer requires a particularly steel will, and the stage actor’s life of performing seven nights a week — plus two shows on Sundays — is not particularly conducive to being a single mother. After awhile, Brown was forced to make some hard choices, and sent her daughter to live with her mother in Jamaica for two years while she focused all her energy on getting her career moving. Brown regards the choices she’s made with pride. “I think my daughter is inspired and proud of what I’ve accomplished,” she says, without hesitation. “She’s at an age where she can understand what it took to get here. And I think, as she grows up, she’ll understand how important it is to be driven, to never let obstacles get in your way.”

Despite the pressures at play in her life, though, Brown was determined not to compromise her musical vision. Resisting the urge to jump on musical bandwagons, she bided her time, developing her voice and her stage presence, honing her skills, and waiting for the right time and the right people with which to record her first album. “It’s taken a long time to get the right opportunity to record — this album has been ten years in coming,” she says. “In a way, it seems like a long time, and in other ways it doesn’t. I’ve gained so much experience; it’s been a slow build-up to the point where I was ready to do this. In the end, the universe gives you opportunities when you’re ready for them.”  The world of R&B recording in Canada is an intensely competitive one, largely because the industry generally doesn’t think of Canada as a rich R&B market. The struggle to get noticed by a record company in the first place, and the pressure to deliver a marketable product, has defeated many a wanna-be star before. And as a woman in the business, there’s the additional pressure to be not only a stellar voice, but a marketable body as well. But Brown has no stars in her eyes about the music business. “The reality is that there are a lot of games played in this business,” she says, matter of factly. “You’ve gotta recognize that, accept it. Once I put that into perspective, it became a challenge for me. Getting into shape was important; it’s an important part of playing the game.”  But in the end, it’s all about the music for Brown. Inspired in her childhood by the classic soul songs on the radio, the writing of talented women like Joni Mitchell, and the fearsome pipes and emotion of singers like Chaka Khan and Aretha Franklin, Brown was not about to settle for anything less than classic soul. “I wanted to focus on classic songwriting on this album. I remember as a young girl, listening to [Joni Mitchell’s] “Help Me,” and the pictures that song created in my mind, the places it could take me, were amazing. Simple but clear and precise songs like that really spoke to my experiences of love and life.  “That’s what I’m aiming to do. I’m so tired of hearing [in songs] about what this girl will do and what that guy’s got goin’ on.... I say, let’s bring some of that innocence back into music.”




Soca Star David Rudder Hopes All Music Will Share The Same Universal Vibration

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(July 24, 2005) Soca music star David Rudder is a Caribana staple. Since 1981, the Trinidad native has graced either the annual festival's parade route or ancillary concerts with the infectious rhythms of hits old ("The Hammer," "Calypso Music," "Permission to Mash Up the Place") and new ("The Action is Here" from his recent CD The 52-year-old father of five, who moved to Canada two years ago, performs at the IRIE Music Festival on Aug. 1. He's also working on a musical — "a calypso Moulin Rouge" — called The Brand New Lucky Diamond Horseshoe Club, after his song of the same name.  The world-weary singer spoke with the Star from his Ajax home shortly after returning from a six-hour visit to Trinidad for the announcement that the country will be hosting the International Cricket Council's 2007 World Cup.  A Good Sport  "I'm very involved with cricket in a musical way. I've written songs about cricket for a long time and one of my songs, (1988's)"Rally Round the West Indies," is now officially the national anthem of the West Indies cricket team. Whenever the team travels anywhere that's the song they play at the opening ceremonies of the game. I don't play cricket anymore. I used to play at the college level, but I have polio and after a time you can go so much and no more."

Weather Or Not

"My wife once lived in Yellowknife and she used to always talk about their —50 C temperatures. So I was expecting worse when I came here. Also, because I'm a musician I don't have to do the 9-to-5 thing; so, on the cold days I wouldn't go anywhere. Nonetheless, I try to take my wife out once a week, because we have three little babies (ages 2, 3 and 5), not necessarily to party, maybe just to eat. Last winter we went to Trinidad for Christmas and Carnival and stayed until late March. We'll do that again this year, probably for the last time, because our eldest son is going to — as he says — `big school' after that."

The Crossover Blues

"Back in the early '80s I thought that soca would have been the first world music to break mainstream. I think the music became sort of monotonous: everybody was making the `Jump, Jump, Jump' style of party songs and that kind of killed the chances. Soca is about to really find its place in the world. That's where the action is. Even some of these young Latin guys are doing soca music with Latin lyrics, but they call it Reggaeton. They think that anything that come from the Caribbean has something to do with reggae, but it's really soca music they're playing."

Close Relations

"When these hip-hop guys come for Caribana they drive up and down Yonge St., they go to a hip-hop party and then go back to Detroit or wherever, without soca music in their hearts. If the hip-hop guy comes up and hears the soca groove and takes it and puts it back into hip hop ... that's what music should be — the marriage of people and ideas. The Middle Passage vibration manifests in America as the blues; it manifests in Jamaica as reggae; it manifests in Trinidad as soca and calypso. If these manifestations could come together as one groove, then you would have the ultimate Middle Passage music: our victory after all these years, out of mental slavery."




Still Jazzed After All These Years

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist

(July 24, 2005) It's not really about jazz, and the bill is loaded with more local performers than its title would suggest, but this weekend's 17th annual Beaches International Jazz Festival is a resounding hit.  And, with some 750,000 people expected to have attended the sprawling free street spectacle by the 7 p.m. finale tonight, it's one of the high points of Toronto's long, hot summer.  The festival has in recent years, however, been crowded out of its once-prominent position in the domestic calendar by countless other city-endorsed music events that showcase Toronto's cultural mosaic, artistic director Bill King admitted yesterday as the first of two days of mainstage concerts got underway in the bandshell of jam-packed Kew Gardens.  "There's a new festival every day in this city during summer, and it's hard to make a distinctive mark with a non-ticketed event that features hundreds of artists over three nights and two days — and more if you count this year's pre-festival PartiGras in the Distillery District. Our budget for all that, and for a two-week series of jazz workshops and lectures that are now part of the festival, is just $200,000."  What started out as a business-building community booster organized by local entrepreneur Lido Chilelli has become one of Toronto's most enduringly popular music fixtures.

Fans at yesterday's concert came from as far away as California, Australia and Japan to hear Oregon-based blues singer and harmonica virtuoso Curtis Salgado and his four-piece band, California-based "cool jazz" pop guitarist Steve Oliver, Cuban expatriate trumpeter Alexis Baro, Toronto pop/R&B songwriter, guitarist and record producer James Bryan, and local saxophone eccentric Richard Underhill and The Shuffle Demons.  Crowds packed a section of Queen St. E. barred to traffic Thursday, Friday and last night while musicians performed at 45 locations on the sidewalk, road, rooftops and patios.  "The Streetfest is awesome," said King, who's determined to maintain the community focus and no-ticket policy. "I think that's what sets this festival apart. People just love to wander from one band to another, collecting samples of everything they hear — blues and jazz, R&B and world music. This is more than a jazz festival. It has the best Canadian talent I can find, augmented with the best international talent I can afford."  Yesterday's Kew Gardens concert was a perfect example of that diversity. Oliver's melodic acoustic guitar work soothed, The Shuffle Demons amazed, and Salgado's tight band — part swampy New Orleans R&B, part elemental Chicago blues — got bodies swaying.  It was a marvellous day — even if it wasn't really jazz.




Living With Music In Calgary: Calgary Folk Festival

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

(July 25, 2005) 'It's one thing to get married quick, but when it comes to writing a song, I want to be sure." That was Iris DeMent, explaining how it took her five dates to find a husband and a year to write a song about him. Her comment had a certain bitter humour, given that DeMent hasn't produced an album of original tunes in almost a decade. It also captured the contrast between intense artistic focus and casual living that typifies an event like the Calgary Folk Festival. The 20,000 people who roamed over the festival grounds on Friday and Saturday had music on their minds -- and much else. While someone on a sidestage was straining to put a song across, the people in front might be listening, reading, sleeping, or twirling a hula-hoop. I would guess that hundreds of pages of the new Harry Potter were digested while the singers sang and the banjos played. When you're in it for 13 hours (the full span of Saturday's offerings), a live festival in the open air acquires a rhythm of its own. People find ways of taking breaks without leaving the scene. The music can feel less like a focused concert event and more like a live enactment of the way people live with music every day. Lots of us do almost every kind of activity to music, from eating breakfast to riding the bus to making love. The thin trees and long Prairie days probably prevented anyone from trying that last option on Saturday. In any case, there were moments when it seemed as if the performers got around the crossword puzzles and cell phone calls, and lassoed everyone's attention at the same time. Parts of DeMent's set did that. Performing with her own piano accompaniment, she sang about old worn-out couches and the pathway to the Lord in a voice that was made for truth telling.  No doubt she's worked hard to make it sound that way: Her diction, phrasing and tone control were on a par with that of any good singer of classical lieder. It was interesting to compare the worn-down monotone of her speech and the strong penetrating vibrancy of her singing. The Holmes Brothers also gathered people in, with their fluent mixture of gospel and R&B, and their unpretentious way of making it seem as if the music was coming down to them from another place. And Koko Taylor's lead guitarist left nobody on the sidelines, as he launched an otherwise workaday set on Friday with an indecent talking-guitar number that had people shrieking with astonished laughter. There were sets and workshops that had a large dedicated following, including those that featured college-radio stars such as Buck 65 and Tortoise, and those that showed off someone's instrumental skills.

The Calgary crowd has a high regard for virtuosity, to judge from the numbers that gathered for a spirited mainstage set by the Del McCoury band, a bluegrass-pickers workshop, and a sidestage set by veteran folkie David Lindley, whose collection of instruments must be like the United Nations in a cube-van. The workshop is a concept central to the western folk festivals, though no two performers seem to understand it in the same way. Some people, put on a stage with other musicians they've never met, trade compliments and wait for their turn to play. Others try to improvise together. A few figure that since folk music is (or was) the people's music, some DIY instruction is called for. Saturday's session with Buck 65, K'naan and Arrested Development did it all, and was entertaining to boot. Buck gave a short lecture-demonstration on why hip-hop began as folk music ("folk music is poor people using music to tell their stories"), and on how to turn a Jacques Brel sample and a few scratches into a rap groove.  K'naan ran through some of his rhymes with nothing but a hand-drum (hey, kids, you could do this!), and all three parties mixed it up with a loose but surprisingly coherent freestyle effort. Hawksley Workman had the workshop thing down cold. The type-A manner of his solo shows vanished into a co-operative, even humble demeanour that had him playing drums for other people and treating the event the way a good record producer handles a studio session, as an occasion for bringing out other people's talents. He even had some amusing patter to cover an announced drum solo that didn't happen, during a workshop with K'naan and the Australian one-man band Xavier Rudd. Tortoise, true to its name, bucked the fairly tight scheduling on the side stages and started its meditative set a half-hour late, only to see some of its audience drift away for the Holmes Brothers 20 minutes later.

The Kawa Brass Band from India broke the mould entirely, showing up for wildcat performances along the dusty row of concession stands. Every festival offers someone to discover, and for me that was Wendy McNeill, an Edmonton musician whose sharp-edged songs with accordion and guitar seemed like dispatches from a post-rock cabaret. Her high-tension singing showed some of the symptoms of a recovering Alanis Morissette follower, but the creative path she's on is her own. Bill Frisell and band, on Saturday's mainstage, offered a set of beguiling revisions of the sounds and tunes of old-time American song. It was post-modern roots music at its finest, though not all seemed to get the humour that kept convulsing singer and banjo player Danny Barnes, who grinned broadly even through a dark old murder ballad. Through it all, it was impressive to see the same crowd responding to such wildly different offerings as the powerhouse zydeco band of C.J. Chenier and the lily-white songs of Sarah Harmer, who came immediately after on the mainstage.  Folk music in Calgary seems to mean anything and everything -- and especially everything.




Peace, Love And Hip-Hop Therapy

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Unnati Gandhi

(July 21, 2005) Performing in the shadows cast by this month's bombings in London, hip-hop's socially conscious group took it upon itself to shine some phunkin' light back onto the world. At the request of Black Eyed Peas lead man, William Adams, thousands among the 11,000-strong audience at Toronto's Molson Amphitheatre on July 10 held up their lit cell phones and cigarette lighters and swayed in unison to the Peas' 2002 Where Is the Love? The international hit features the lyrics: "If you only have love for your own race/Then you only leave space to discriminate," and "Instead of spreading love, we're spreading animosity/Lack of understanding, leading us away from unity." The single, which was recorded with pop prince Justin Timberlake after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, is credited with giving the funky and progressive quartet -- including 30-year-olds Adams (aka, Allen Pineda (aka, Jaime Gomez (aka Taboo) and Stacey Ferguson (aka Fergie) -- the acclaim they have enjoyed for the last three years. The group claims their music helps heal in times like these. "When Sept. 11 happened, we went on tour two days after," Gomez recalled backstage. "So we were providing therapy for the people who went through the whole experience."  Gomez, who celebrated his 30th birthday at the Toronto performance, recalled having almost completely scrapped their previous album because it felt "insufficient" in the wake of such a difficult time. "I feel like now, there's more experience to feed off of, like this London thing that's happened. [People are] looking for it, they need therapy. Can't be scared." Adams added that music bridges a gap. "People are always going to talk about something negative for months and months and months. But how do you talk about something positive for months? [People have] made it to where if you talk about something good, it's corny. "That's where music comes in. You can talk about it and have people listen."

The Black Eyed Peas, who performed at the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia on July 2, are on a 30-stop North American tour that includes 13 Canadian shows. The band is promoting their new album, Monkey Business, which debuted as the best-selling album in Canada and grabbed the runner's-up spot on the Billboard charts in the United States. It includes their hit single Don't Phunk With My Heart. Wordsmith Adams sees that as fitting, noting that the band's success began in this country before many Americans had even heard of them. "Canada has always supported us since 1998 during our Smoking Grooves tour," he said. "We've always had a great fan base here." The lead singer of the Los Angeles-based group compares Canada to their home city in terms of the good vibes it gives off. "L.A. and Canada have a lot in common. Take Hollywood away from L.A. And take the news away, take our news and how we pump fear into people away. Then L.A. and Canada have a lot of similarities as far as the melting pot-ness of it all," Adams said.

With Toronto vocalist Jully Black as one of their opening acts, Gomez said there's a distinct sound that comes out of Canada's hip-hop music. "The thing about hip-hop is that it's not just about music. You see a lot of B-boys that represent Canada. We learn about their different styles and what they bring to the game of hip-hop as a culture." He mentions a breakdance competition that takes place in L.A. every year where he first noticed the Canadian talent. "B-boys from all over battle, and that was the first time I heard a Canadian crew going up to the stage and battling. It means a lot to be confident enough to say, 'I'm representing a whole country.' " Both Adams and Gomez added that the Black Eyed Peas -- which was sans Stacey Ferguson before their last album, multiplatinum Elephunk -- have always been about playing for an intimate audience rather than big arenas. Their current tour includes smaller shows in London, Ont.; Grand Prairie, Alta.; and Kelowna, B.C. "You've got to set it up. Just because you got a big record don't mean you've got to be like, 'No, we are Michael Jackson.' No, man," Adams said. "You want people saying, 'I'm not going to go watch The Matrix tonight. I'm going to go watch the Black Eyed Peas show.' Think about all the entertainment that's out there for people to go see, and they chose to come and see our show. You have to build it real small, real slow until the word of mouth gets out." Many hip-hop heads argue that the band sold out to its De La Soul-style, anti-gangsta, positive message hip-hop when they brought vocalist and gymnast Ferguson to the group for Elephunk. But the Peas say they weren't really getting anywhere without the pop sounds she brings. The group dates back to the early 1990s, when founders Adams and Pineda poured their B-boy skills into a band called the Atban (A Tribe Beyond a Nation) Klann, picking up third member Gomez after they were signed to Ruthless Records and calling themselves the Black Eyed Peas. They released their first record, Behind the Front, with Interscope in 1998 and sold a modest 260,000. They then released Bridging the Gap in 2000, selling 200,000 units.

Compare that to the eight million records sold worldwide with Elephunk and a Grammy Award for their party anthem Let's Get It Started. "We're probably at a real high point right now, but that doesn't mean you can't build a space ship," Adams said. "We're not going to stop. To say we've reached the summit is saying, 'All right, let's go home.' " Black Eyed Peas play Victoria's Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre tonight, Vancouver's Deer Lake Park tomorrow and Kelowna, B.C.'s Prospera Place on Saturday.




Killer Mike Back With New Project

Source: ICED Media, Langston Sessoms Project Manager,

(July 22, 2005) Rap music is often categorized as the Black CNN with its tales from the hood, true to life realism and poet laureate anchors. As artists continue to paint the pictures that create and shape their reality, Killer Mike looks to step to the forefront giving a voice to the often forgotten, with his latest Ghetto Extraordinary on Purple Ribbon/Sony Urban Music.  The Grammy Award winner, rhyming with seminal group Outkast on "The Whole World," picks up where his 2003 debut Monster left off. Many things changed for Killer Mike both personally and professionally in preparing to make Ghetto Extraordinary, and according to the southern-playa, being ghetto extraordinary is "about having nothing and doing everything with it."  A true home-town, team player, Killer Mike represents the South to the fullest on his latest instalment. While his first album received a lot of great response due to its high energy, this time around, Killer "wanted to bring back the cool aesthetic to the South music. [Ghetto Extraordinary] speaks to southern hip hop culture in its purest form." As one of hip hops most articulate chroniclers, Killer Mike wants to give his fans music "that at the end of the day was relevant outside of who you imagined yourself to be as a hustler or player. I wanted to get to the grit of it."  The passionately written and produced disk contains purpose driven tracks that not only drive the listener to pay attention to what is being said, but to get crunk to as well. Over a fast paced synthesized drum pattern and rich horns, the first single, "My Chrome," produced by former Earthtones 3 duo Mr. DJ, featuring Outkast member and Purple Ribbon visionary Big Boi, let's us know that the party doesn't have to stop down in the A (Atlanta).  Inspired by the anthems of the east from his hip hop predecessors and peers, Killer Mike created "N***as Down South" featuring UGK member Bun B. "No matter where I go in the south, certain things are happening," proclaims Killer of his favourite song. "Dudes are really getting their money. They are really providing for their families. They really taking care of their elders. They really taking care of their kids. They really getting to it." As the beginning of the chorus states, "n***as down south stack cheese man," Killer Mike dedicates the ghetto street anthem to Pimp C, 8Ball/MJG, J Prince, 2 Live Crew and the other southern representatives who laid the foundation for the south to have a voice and recognition. "I made this record for all them towns that ain't from a major city in the south but they still taking care of their business." Killer Mike - Ghetto Extraordinary in stores SEPTEMBER 20.

AUDIO My Chrome featuring Big Boi




Homesick For Chocolate City?: Sy Smith Presents Go-Go Live At Temple Bar

Source: Ronda Carson / Talk & Tell Media /

(July 21, 2005) (LOS ANGELES, CA) - LA Weekly Music Award nominee, Sy Smith presents Go-Go Live, tomorrow night, Friday, July 22nd at Temple Bar located at 1026 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica, CA.  Sy Smith has organized a 12-piece band featuring an emcee, horns and percussion to supplement her existing band affectionately known as Deeznutz for a tribute to her most beloved style of music from her hometown of Washington, DC; bringing familiar radio sounds to the stage for an immersion course in the ways of Go-Go culture.  "Few places in the States can boast having their own unique sound," says Smith. "Not an accent or a dialect or a specific use of local vernacular, but a genre of music all its own." Smith continues, "The Clear Channeling of America has slowly but surely taken away the individuality of the many colorful personalities that used to exist between regions and cities in the US. So when there exists an anomaly in a land that's overwhelmed with mainstream jive and double-crossover pop, it should be recognized and celebrated; for that anomaly is a true survivor thriving only on the love shown by its local congregations. Go-Go music is one such survivor."

Chuck Brown, the godfather of go-go said it best, "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that go-go swing." In the late 1970s with the hit single "Bustin' Loose", he single-handedly set the standard for what a go-go band should strive to be. Musical but accessible, funky but still a driving tempo, familiar yet original, and everybody should be able to dance to it all night long. This is what go-go music still is to this day! Los Angeles-based recording artist Sy Smith isn't in DC anymore, so she won't lecture about go-go at Georgetown, George Mason or George Washington Universities. She does plan, however, to bring a piece of her hometown to the west coast. Santa Monica's Temple Bar will provide the stage, Sy and Deeznutz will provide the lesson. Come prepared to learn - and in this case, school really is cool.  Opening the set is fellow Howard University alum (and former music director for Erykah Badu) Geno Young who will begin the evening with his soulful sound and voice, eventually working his way into a smooth go-go "pocket." DJ Rome of The Soul Children will spin music from the Black Diaspora with tributes to Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk, EU, Junkyard, Rare Essence and more between sets. Tickets are $10 and available online at Ready to enroll?  For more information please visit For media RSVP's please contact Ronda Carson of Talk & Tell Media 626.791.0552 or




Idol Makes Breakaway From TV Cheese Factor

Source: Associated Press

(July 24, 2005)  NEW YORKKelly Clarkson can always pick out the adults who come to her concerts just to chaperone their kids.  At the beginning of the show, they have a look of resignation, fully prepared to endure two hours of teen-pop drivel. But by the end, she says, the expression has changed.  "It's like shock on their face. Because they're like, `I cannot believe I enjoyed your concert,'" says Clarkson, 23.  She's has been getting that sentiment a lot these days. The cheese factor that surrounded her inaugural American Idol win and subsequent album debut, Thankful, has melted away. What has emerged is a credible singer-songwriter garnering critical and commercial success with an album full of undeniably catchy rock grooves like "Since U Been Gone" and her latest, "Behind These Hazel Eyes."  "This one is setting me apart just a bit more," she says of her latest album, Breakaway, which has sold more than 2.6 million copies since its release last fall.  "I have a huge voice, so it's a bit more like a Janis Joplin vibe than a younger rock vibe. And I think that's what throws people because they don't know how to take me,'" says Clarkson, in her husky voice, more raspy than normal after an early-morning TV performance.  Few would have predicted the wide reach of "Since U Been Gone," the heartbreak anthem that peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the spring.  Not only was it a smash, it attracted admiration from unlikely hard-rock fans and critics, and was a favourite mash-up candidate on the Internet.  But had fans heard the original version, produced by Max Martin, best known for crafting the massive hits of the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and other teen-pop artists, they might not have been very impressed. Clarkson says it was "very contrived, very pop."  But instead of rejecting it outright, she suggested reworking the song to give it a rock edge.  "What's funny is (Martin) didn't like it (either) ... we had the same exact idea," she says.  Clarkson has taken a more hands-on role in her career since winning American Idol three years ago.  She's changed people behind the scenes, most notably ditching Simon Fuller, the American Idol creator, as her manager and switching to the powerhouse company The Firm.  As far as American Idol itself, Clarkson hasn't kept up with it. But she knows she'll always be identified as an American Idol — and she's fine with it.




Babyface Is Grown & Sexy: New CD Out, July 26

Source: ICED Media ; Amina Elshahawi ‘

(July 25, 2005) He has sung his way into the upper tiers of the soul elite, and produced scores of remarkably moving, high-quality hits. But for Babyface, the cool craft of artful songwriting is never far from his mind or his heart.   "The main thing I've tried to stick with," he says, "is the song, and what a likeable song is. That's something that has a verse and a lyric that is memorable, and a chorus you want to sing again. At some point -- the bridge, normally -- it all grows. When everything works, these elements give you a good feeling throughout the whole song."   Good feelings have always distinguished Babyface's music on both his own recordings and on those the Indiana-born Los Angeles resident has helped create for others. But on Grown & Sexy Babyface stretches his superior song command into areas he has rarely explored in the past. And those places, counter to the romantic serenity or sadness that mostly have characterized Babyface's previous work, are sometimes short of paradise.   'I didn't just write this time about the wonderful part of being in love," he says. "I wrote a little bit more about the drama. Interestingly enough, although I haven't done this so much for myself, I have done it working with other artists. I wasn't interested in wall-to-wall negativity -- that's not who I am -- but this time, for me, ultimately, the collection ended up portraying drama as well as contentment. It was cool."

It's not as though Babyface might settle for an incomplete story about anything these days. "Grappling with problems, that's just being responsible," he says. "And that's part of the way this album feels to me. It's a grown record. And grown is sexy right now. You're tired of running around, you're tired of trying to do everything else except be who you are. You're thirty-something? You're forty-something? Embrace that, because the truth is, it's the best time of your life."   Grown & Sexy opens with exactly such a seize-the- day sentiment. Except, it unfolds within an incomparable acoustic-flavored groove at night in the bedroom. "We're in the final rounds," Babyface sings in 'Tonite It's Goin' Down,' a man interested in, as he puts it, "making babies."   Other songs, though, usher in less harmonious auras. "You can take your Usher CD," spits out the guy in "Goin' Outta Business," beginning to detail severely bruised feelings, allegations of lies, and arguments about the cable bills. It's a brilliant extended metaphor about the end of a love affair, set to a fluid yet appropriately disrupted rhythm that jerks a little in places. "That's just one of those clever ways of saying it's over," Babyface says of the song. "Sometimes a fool doesn't know he's a fool," he sings with contrasting directness in the album's lead single "Sorry for the Stupid Things," a soaring mid-tempo ballad where a man apologizes for "all the drama" he creates in his woman's world.   "When the going gets tough," Babyface sings in "Drama, Luv & 'Lationships," another terrific groove that investigates the whole syndrome of what its title references, "you deal with it. You don't have to share your problems with the world," he says, "but you do have to be honest with yourself, and deal with whatever you got to deal with. That's what keeps you grown, but also keeps you young as well," he says. "You don't close the door, grab your own records and don't listen anymore. You have to reach out."

All these songs occur in an evolved romantic world perhaps best evoked in the album's title song, where Babyface argues to a woman that his grown aesthetic stacks up pretty damn well against that of his competition for her affections, a narcissistic playa. "Bet he don't even know your number," Babyface charges. "Got you on auto-dial." Babyface strikes a scintillating balance between classic songwriting and a modern vibe on "Grown & Sexy."   A couple of ballads -- "She," written about his wife and son, and "The Loneliness," with its intense melodicism - skirt the high drama. On the elegant "Mad-Sexy-Cool," a man becomes so impressed thinking about an ultra-together woman who "brings no drama to the game" that he finally just wonders "How does someone turn into you, girl?"   "I'm a classic songwriter," he says, "when I listen to music from 20 years ago or more, it's amazing. Starting from rock and roll to jazz, to soul music, there's nothing richer than the music that has been created in America."   With its contemporary flourishes, classic structures, and outstanding singing, Babyface with Grown & Sexy offers a collection right in the tradition of greatness that he so appreciates. It is, truly, grown. It is never retro. "I don't want to go make a whole bunch of old records," Babyface says. "I want to be inspired and to create new things, new feelings."  For MORE info, visit:   




MTV Video Awards To Be All Wet

Source:  Associated Press  - By Adrian Sainz

(July 26, 2005) MIAMI BEACH, FLA. -- Luxury yachts and tricked-out cars. P. Diddy and Gwen Stefani. And lots and lots of water. MTV announced yesterday that its Video Music Awards will feature all of those elements next month as it seeks once again to reinvent an awards show that routinely lures big stars and makes racy headlines. Punk rockers Green Day led all musical acts with eight nominations, Stefani and Missy Elliott followed with six and U2 garnered five. P. Diddy will host the awards show on Aug. 28, which comes at the height of Miami's steamy summer, and hurricane season. He swooped in to yesterday's beachfront announcement on a jet pack, landing on the sand and walking to the podium. Wearing a white suit and a grey shirt with no tie, he promised that the show would include scene-stealing stunts as in the past. While there was plenty of sex appeal last year, there was little shock value compared to the 2003 show that featured the infamous Madonna-Britney Spears kiss. "I'm going to tell the artists that if you want to get naked and run across the stage, go ahead and do it," P. Diddy said.

Besides Green Day, scheduled performers at the American Airlines Arena, which overlooks Biscayne Bay, include rap star Kanye West and past American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. West and Clarkson announced some of the nominees yesterday. Also, for the first time, the VMAs will be scored with original music composed by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and hip-hop producer Lil Jon.  Water will be the show's theme, and MTV promised to create the most elaborate water effects ever produced in an awards show. The water show will be engineered in the arena by the same production company that erected the fountain in front of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. "It could be a gigantic waterfall in the arena. It could be remote performances from pools around Miami," said Dave Sirulnick, the show's executive producer. Celebrities once again will pull up to the bayfront arena in gleaming yachts. But they will receive competition from other stars who will arrive in souped-up cars. As the celebrities arrive, viewers will get tours of those cars from the talent themselves. "Every year we have to outdo ourselves and this year is no exception," said MTV president Christina Norman. This year's show promises to be different from last year's, when politics played a part because of the U.S. presidential campaign. The daughters of Democratic candidate John Kerry and President George W. Bush made appearances to urge people to vote -- and were roundly booed. Green Day's eight nominations include six for their socially conscious song Boulevard of Broken Dreams and two for American Idiot, also the name of their critically acclaimed album.




Kanye Vents In ‘Complex’ Magazine: Rapper Is Tired Of Being Misquoted

Excerpt from

(July 26, 2005) *Never one to mince words, Kanye West laid it all out in the new August/September issue of Complex magazine, venting on a number of issues that go part and parcel with being famous. He says his biggest frustration comes from being misquoted.  “That’s what journalist do professionally, other than actually typing: misquoting,” he says.  “When they go to school, the teachers say, ‘Make sure you misquote and paraphrase the artist that speaks in spectrums, that talks in colors.  The only way that you can make this fit on the page is if you turn what he says into black and white.  So take specific lines out of his sentence, so that it only means what you want it to say.’”     “It happens even with the nicest journalists, even the people that have no malicious intent,” he continues.  “That’s one of the reasons I rap in the first place.  I wanted to get my point across exactly the way I wanted to say it.  I spent so much time articulating my sentences, especially when I did those quotes.  If I had all of my quotes, I could make a book.”  Here are some more excerpts from West’s interview in the August/September issue of Complex:

• On the challenges of being himself while in the public eye…

“For some reason, whenever I talk directly it just makes people feel so uncomfortable.  The thing is if you want the realest me, then it’s going to be like, ‘Yea, I did that’ and shouting all the time and celebrating all the time because it’s so good.  Every day is my birthday.  What do you expect?  It’s like walk a day in my shoes and try not to spare anybody.  What do you want from me? So now what I do is put up what I always talked about: the false modesty.  I’m becoming so fake.  I’m becoming exactly what I tried to fight against.”

• On dealing with strangers…

“The thing is, I’m always in the wrong.  Somebody looks at me and I’ll just be looking. ‘You can’t speak? I don’t know you.  You didn’t ask me anything.  You didn’t say anything to me.  Am I just supposed to walk around the street?’  On the other hand, should I be so cocky to think that everybody is looking at me?  I’ve had times where I thought somebody was looking at me, and I give them the head nod and people look away from me.  Then it’s like, ‘What did I do that for?’  It’s like you’re always trying to make up for your success, to overcompensate to try to be extra nice.”

• On overcompensating for his shyness…

“I was the scaredest of all.  Just scared of not being able to make it.  Just imagine the walls that I’ve had to climb, or the people I’ve had to stand in front of.  You have to build something up.  When I do my signature pose it’s like a force field toward all of the naysayers and the haters.  I just have that up.  I’m going to make up a new theory: [the saying goes] if you come in a room and people think you’re stupid, open your mouth and remove all doubt.  The flip side of that is, if you come in a room talking, you don’t allow anybody else to say anything about you.”  

• On his rap style…

“I always wanted to rap in a way that I could be respected in a barbershop and on a mixtape level but also spit a rap to a straight, white, corporate dude and he would understand every word.  I’m kind of like Jadakiss meets Will Smith.”

• On his fashion sense…

“I think I dress a little bit more easygoing than I have before.  I really want to make a statement and set myself apart from people.  And now with the more experience I have shopping, the more opportunities I get traveling around the world, I’ve been able to pick out the best of the best.  It takes time to really build up a wardrobe like mine and be one of the best-dressed people on the planet.”




Sharissa Gears Up For Virgin Records Debut

Source: Simone Smalls, Vice President, Susan Blond, Inc.,

(July 26, 2005) R&B songstress Sharissa is gearing up to release her sophomore album on new label Czar Entertainment / Virgin Records slated for release on September 27, 2005. The album, entitled “Every Beat Of My Heart,” is a vulnerable and in-your-face musical masterpiece that reflects her struggles and triumphs —that powerful female voice of the streets.    “I’m really excited to be a part of a new team that really believes in me,” says Sharissa. “With the creative force of Jimmy Henchmen’s Czar Entertainment and the staff at Virgin, I’m really looking forward to putting out some great music.”   Sharissa calls “Every Beat Of My Heart” the “diary of her life.” The album is filled with genuine lyrics and personal memoirs of her life growing up in the gritty inner city – specifically the infamous Edenwald Projects. The Bronx-bred singer speaks about everything from the perils of street life to the difficulties of being in relationships with bad boys. On the powerful and gutsy first single, “In Love With A Thug,” featuring the hitmaking “Pied Piper” himself R. Kelly, Sharissa confesses about the ups and downs of loving a street hustler. The album also features duets with multi-platinum rapper The Game, the legendary Millie Jackson, Wyclef Jean and Tank.   Teaming up with some of music’s hottest producers such as Mario Winans, Wyclef Jean, Tank, Tim & Bob and more, Sharissa had a lot of creative input and co-wrote the entire album. “I can’t sing about things that I haven’t experienced, so it was important for me to work with producers who understood my struggle,” says the singer.   Sharissa first came on the scene in 2002 with her Motown Records debut album, “No Half Steppin’” which garnered critical acclaim and boasted the hit single “Any Other Night.”  Since that release, she has found new direction and uses her recipe for urban street soul to speak and inspire others. “I want to use this platform to let young people know that they can make it and to be the voice of those who are often unheard and overlooked.” With this album, Sharissa has even inspired herself — her new fit look displays her new love for fitness and a healthier lifestyle and she has also started her own clothing line, Madame Bluez & Co., a line that Sharissa describes as “street couture,” which will debut this year at the Magic Convention, the premier apparel trade show in August.   Currently, Sharissa is preparing to go out on a unique and special tour that will touch the lives of many individuals at the end of July through early August to support her new album “Every Beat of My Heart.”




Alicia Keys Unplugged: Taped MTV Set A ‘Dream Come True’ For Artist

Excerpt from

(July 21, 2005) *Alicia Keys couldn’t wait to come up with different arrangements for her upcoming “MTV Unplugged” special, which will feature guests Mos Def, Common and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, reports MTV. "To have strings, to have percussion, to have all these elements to put in the piano base that I have, this is so much fun, man," she tells the network. "When my drums do come in — a lot of times they don't, it's just about the percussion — but when they do, it's about using the brushes and keeping it calm and cool for a minute." Keys, who brings the critically-acclaimed, acoustic MTV series back from retirement, joins Levine, for a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses," which she calls "the most beautiful classic on the planet. The chorus is, 'Wild horses couldn't drag me away,' and if you feel that serious about something, you know it's real," she said.  Damian Marley makes an appearance with Keys for "Welcome to Jam Rock," while Common and Mos Def ("two of my most favorite MCs") contribute to "Love It or Leave It Alone."  The artist also does a version of "Every Little Bit Hurts," as well as two new songs: "Stolen Moments" (co-written with Al Green) and "Unbreakable," which she says is about "how life and love can be unbreakable."  "Once people see this 'Unplugged,' I just want them to feel the spontaneity, to feel passionate," she said. "I want you to see another side of me, that's free, and feel where my head is, where whatever happens, happens. I want you to feel inspired."




Dupri Feels Underappreciated

Excerpt from

(July 23, 2005) *He’s the producer of Mariah Carey's latest album, hooked up her No. 1 single "We Belong Together," and was responsible for three of Usher's biggest hits from the singer’s blazing-hot "Confessions" album, yet Jermaine Dupri tells AP that he sometimes feels underappreciated. "The thing I'm going through is probably like the same thing that Little Richard and all these other artists go through, that I hear about them, saying, `Oh damn, you ain't gonna give me nothing till I die,'" Dupri said. "I feel like I'm one of those type of great people that just going to have to wait till it's all over with for people to really sit around and talk about it." Dupri says Usher's loss to Ray Charles for best album was a disappointment, as well as losses in several other major Grammy categories. "I don't mind losing to Ray Charles, but at the same time, the way I look at things is, me and Usher might not make another better album than this. And if we don't, we missed our opportunity," he tells AP. "To me, people look at me like, `You'll do it again, don't worry about this time.' No, I want it now, everything now," he says with a grin.




Jay-Z Debuts International Label

Excerpt from

(July 25, 2005) *Jay-Z’s newly-launched Roc La Familia record label is ready to sign artists in the fields of reggae, calypso, tribal, West Indian and the current music craze – reggaeton.  The first artist signed to the new venture is Houston-based Columbian rapper Aztek Escobar.  "Everybody talks about the world getting smaller, well we are doing something about it," stated Jigga, real name Shawn Carter. "Roc La Familia will leverage the extensive resources of Def Jam to introduce fans to cultures that they would not normally be exposed. World Music has evolved as a genre, it now blends contemporary styles such as hip-hop, rock and electronica with traditional and roots music."  All artists signed to Roc La Familia, which will have its headquarters in New York, will receive marketing, sales and distribution support from Def Jam.  Aztek Escobar, whose first official mixtape featured Jay-Z on the track "Problem Houston," is currently working on his debut album, “Colombian Necktie.”




We Remember Eugene Record Of The Chi-Lites

Excerpt from

(July 25, 2005) *Eugene Record, leader of the 1970's vocal group the Chi-Lites, died Friday in Chicago at his daughter's south suburban home following a long battle with cancer. He was 64. Record wrote or co-wrote many of the group's most popular songs, including “Have You Seen Her,” and “Oh Girl,” which became a No. 1 hit in 1972. He often sang lead as well, infusing tracks with his smooth, velvety tenor and melancholy tone.   Some of his songs have been famously sampled or redone by contemporary artists. In 1990 MC Hammer recorded a rap version of "Have You Seen Her?," and Beyoncés 2003 hit "Crazy in Love" sampled the horn riff in "Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So)," a Chi-Lites song written by Record. He picked up a Grammy award when the “Crazy in Love” won for best R&B song. The Chi-Lites stared out in the late-50’s doo-wop era as the Chanteurs, formed by Record with Robert Lester and Clarence Johnson. A year after releasing their first single in 1959, Creadel Jones and Marshall Thompson joined the trio, and the group became the Hi-Lites, changing its name to the Chi-Lites in 1964.  In 1968, they signed with the Brunswick label and released the No. 10 R&B hit, “Give It Away.” The Chi-Lites hit their stride in the early 70s, with a string of romantic ballads and a number of political songs, including "(For God's Sake) Give More Power to the People," "There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is Seated at the Conference Table)," both written by Record. Eleven of the group’s songs reached the Top 20 on the R&B charts from 1969 to 1974. Record left the group in 1976 and recorded three solo albums for Warner Brothers. He returned to the Chi-Lites in 1980, and the group had two more minor hits on Record's label, Chi-Sound, "Hot on a Thing (Called Love)" and "Bottom's Up." He became a born-again Christian and gospel singer in the late ‘80s, and released a gospel album, “Let Him In,” in 1998.   He had planned to remix and re-release it, said his wife of 31 years, Jacki Record, but fell ill before those plans were realized. At EUR press time funeral arrangements were pending.




Eminem Just ‘Taking A Break'

Source: Associated Press

(July 26, 2005) New York — Is Eminem headed for retirement — or just taking a break? Earlier this month, reports from his hometown of Detroit quoted sources as saying the 32-year-old rapper would play his last concert at Slane Castle in Dublin, Ireland, on Sept. 17, at the end of “Anger Management” tour. In a posting on its Web site, MTV quotes Eminem as saying, “I'm not retiring,” and also denying that “Encore” is his last album. Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers III, is quoted as saying: “When I say I'm taking a break, I'm taking a break from my music to go in the studio and produce my other artists and put their albums out.” He is also quoted as saying, “When I know my next move, I'll tell everyone my next move. Not some reporter who writes a story about ‘This is Eminem's last album.' I never said (‘Encore') was my last album.” Phone messages and e-mails left with the rapper's publicist by The Associated Press hadn't been returned Monday. Eminem has won nine Grammys, including best rap album for “The Slim Shady LP,” “The Marshall Mathers LP” and “The Eminem Show.” He won an Oscar for the song “Lose Yourself” from the 2002 film “8 Mile,” in which he also starred.




Dupri, Simmons, Clive Davis And Others Speak Anonymously - On The State Of Pop Music

Excerpt from

(July 26, 2005) *With the promise of anonymity, Los Angeles Times’ music writer Robert Hilburn convinced a number of industry players to speak candidly about today’s pop music stars and to vote for the artists they believed would sell the most albums.  One exec said about Eminem: "I feel his moment has come and gone." Regarding Britney Spears, another said: "Trust me, she's over."  And someone called Christina Aguilera “too volatile” to remain relevant. Yet, the majority agreed that Usher has some staying power. Among the 21 polled bigwigs under L.A. Times’ witness protection – including BMG's Clive Davis, Interscope Geffen A&M's Jimmy Iovine, Sony Music's Don Ienner and artist/executives Kanye West and Jermaine Dupri. – 17 placed Usher in their top 10, while six made him their No. 1 pick.   "He could be the Michael Jackson of this decade," says a label head, referring to Jackson's former pop reign. Alicia Keys came in second on the tally, called the Los Angeles Times’ 2005 Pop Power List.   "Alicia has the talent to make any type of record she wants," said a label head. "She can do a jazz album, a pop album, a Broadway album and make it sound fresh and inspired." Fifteen of the executives placed her among the top 10; two listed her first. That's the strongest showing ever for a female artist on the Pop Power List, which has been assembled four times since 1985. Not everyone thought Eminem is approaching has-been status.  He was ranked among the top three hot properties by nine executives, however, 10 executives left the Detroit rapper completely out of their top 10, leaving him to finish fourth overall behind Coldplay (the only rock act in the top 10).  The rest of the Top 10, in order: Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, OutKast, 50 Cent, Kanye West and Dr. Dre. The following artists also appeared on more than three lists: Josh Groban, Green Day, U2, No Doubt/Gwen Stefani, Linkin Park, Maroon 5 and John Legend.




D’Angelo To Smoke A Different Kind Of J

Excerpt from

(July 27, 2005) *J-Records artists Alicia Keys and Maroon5 may soon get D’Angelo as a labelmate. Sources tell that the mellow crooner, who disappeared amidst a purple haze in 2002 after releasing his second album for Virgin, has already made the move to J, however, the Sony BMG-owned label has yet to confirm anything. Imagine the cross-promotional, collabo possibilities if the deal is indeed golden. D’Angelo has been tip-toeing back onto the music scene with guest appearances here and there – including a spot on the remix of Common’s “Go” and on the Sly and the Family Stone tribute album “Different Strokes by Different Folks," due Sept. 27 via Epic/Legacy. D'Angelo's last studio album, "Voodoo," debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 1.7 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The sophomore disc housed the single "Untitled (How Does It Feel)," which hit No. 25 on the Hot 100. His 1996 debut, "Brown Sugar," has also sold 1.7 million copies.  In April, D'Angelo, (real name Michael Archer), pled guilty in a Virginia District Court to charges of marijuana possession and driving under the influence of alcohol, and received a combined 100-day suspended jail sentence. The charges stemmed from a January incident in which the singer was pulled over in a Richmond suburb.





Scream 4 Tour With Omarion & Bow Wow Headlining Now Underway

Source: Eunice Moseley , Originally posted in The Baltimore Times 7/15/05

(July 27, 2005) BET is presenting the Scream Tour with Bow Wow and O'Marion headlining with special guests Marques "MH" Houston, Bobby V, B5 and Pretty Ricky as special guests.   "It's my first solo album and I'm touring with Bow Wow, we're close friends," says B2K famed performer O'Marion about being back on the Scream Tour. "To work with someone you like is cool. It's friendship, a different energy."   The Scream Tour is the brainchild of industry mogul Michael Mauldin, who owns Atlanta World Wide, promoter of the tour, spearheaded by Jeff Sharp (formerly of Stagewright Productions).   The tour started in 2001 with Lil' Bow Wow headlining and B2K as special guest. By the Scream III Tour it was B2K headlining. This fourth tour is the coming together of two superstars. It's going to be hot. Bow Wow, along with O'Marion, are promoting their new albums. Not to leave out the new albums of IMx member Marques Houston, Bad Boy Records' B5, Ludacris' Bobby Valentine and upcoming rapper Pretty Ricky.   Bow Wow is back with former management (Mauldin Brand Agency), a company owned by none other than Michael Mauldin (also father of Jermaine Dupri). Mauldin recently accepted an ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Award for Usher's "Yeah" as the publisher through his Air Control Music Company.   The Scream IV Tour, which started in New Jersey July 20th, ends in Miami, Florida September 4th. What a hot summer for the nation’s young people. The tour even stops by Hershey Park, what an awesome tour to be. Visit for more information on the tour.





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







Dreaming Of A Life Of Rhyme:  Hustle & Flow

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Malene Arpe, Toronto Star

(Jul. 22, 2005) DJay is stuck in a serious midlife crisis. He feels trapped in his dead-end job and he's having trouble with his co-workers. He's reached the age his father was when he died and his charming, homespun bursts of philosophy just aren't hacking it anymore.  DJay is a pimp, a drug dealer, a hustler living in a rundown Memphis house with his three girls; one sad-eyed and pregnant, one who's too klutzy to be a stripper, and one angry and on the way out.  Whatever dreams and drive DJay may once have had are now reduced to selling weed, soliciting $20 car-seat tumbles for his girls and making sure his hair looks good. DJay is a loser so close to the precipice of defeat he could plunge at any time. Hustle & Flow is a movie full of pain and timid hope, but mostly it's a showcase for the talents of first-time leading man Terrence Howard (Dead Presidents, Biker Boyz, Ray) who takes this down-and-outer, a man who scratches out a living doing terrible things, and elevates him to an almost mythical character on a quest for redemption.  His face subtly registers every emotion and epiphany and hurt. When, early on in the film, DJay is listening to a gospel tune in a church, something breaks inside of him. Watching Howard, you know what it looks like the exact moment you realize your life is an unadulterated fiasco. That there is beauty in the world, but none for you.  By no means an original story, this Sundance Audience Award winner, like 8 Mile, makes the case for personal salvation through hip hop. DJay once dreamt of being a rapper. When he runs into Key (Anthony Anderson), an old friend who chose the straight and narrow and is now a sound engineer taping court proceedings, he convinces him to record some tracks.

To the dismay of Key's wife, a makeshift studio is set up in DJay's house and, with the help of a church organist (DJ Qualls), the rhymes start to flow. Once the songs are recorded, DJay hopes he can get the famous hometown rapper Skinny Black to listen. He projects every single shred of dignity and expectation onto Skinny (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges).  It's to the credit of writer/director Craig Brewer that, while showcasing Howard, he manages to make the rest of the characters, right down to a dope-dealing store clerk, stand out as fully fledged human beings.  DJay's two main ladies, the pregnant Shug (Taraji P. Henson) and the runaway Nola (Taryn Manning), are both utterly removed from the usual tired movie-hooker stereotype. Key asks Shug to sing the hooks for DJay's flow, and when she hears herself for the first time, the look of incredulous joy at what she has wrought is a revelation.  Manning portrays the runaway (DJay's "main investor") as a lost child with strength just waiting to surface. When DJay arranges for a music store owner to spend some time with Nola in exchange for a microphone, she tells him, "Do. you. know. what. I. do. with. them. in. the. back. of. those. cars?" If he didn't already hate himself, that's where he'd start.  Howard, who does his own rapping and does it rather well, completely inhabits the complex character, making DJay's swings from anger to tenderness, from hope to failure, completely believable. There is a great gravity and seriousness to Howard, which was recently put to good use in Crash as well.  It's all good. The story, the characters, the music, acting. The soundtrack makes use of blues, gospel, hip hop and snippets of other genres to great effect while the cinematography captures the down-at-heels quality of people and places both, while managing to find the occasional snippet of pretty, particularly in the almost intrusive close-ups.  Unfortunately the whole enterprise goes a bit kablooey toward the end. It's not that the story's ending is particularly wrong or rings false, it's the execution that grates. Where the entire movie has had a languid, thoughtful tempo to it, it's all of a sudden full speed ahead for the last 10 minutes, and where the humour has been subtle and quiet, it now veers into decidedly less sophisticated territory.  For a movie that's all about the importance of the flow, the abrupt change in pace is particularly obnoxious and sadly mars what is, until then, a near-perfect film.




Pimpin' In Memphis

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By J.D. Considine

(July 22, 2005) Djay, the young hustler at the centre of Hustle & Flow, is not the typical Hollywood pimp. Neither a smooth, hyper-stylish apostle of bling nor a combative and jealous abuser of women, he's just another young brother trying to get by in the rundown south side of Memphis, Tenn. His car is old and un-air-conditioned, his clothes are nondescript, and his stable is just three girls -- one of whom is too pregnant to work. An advertisement for the sporting life he's not. But Djay is no wannabe player. As portrayed by Terrence Howard, Djay comes across as magnetic and charismatic. He's also a bit of a philosopher, and the film opens with him waxing poetic to Nola (Taryn Manning), one of his girls, about the difference between men and dogs. "But man, he know about death. Got him a sense of history," Djay says. Dogs don't, and while they go through life without a care, he tells Nola, "People like you and me, we're always guessing, wondering 'What if?' Y'know what I mean?" A chance meeting with Key (Anthony Anderson), an old high-school buddy who is making inroads into middle-class normality as a recording engineer, Djay sees his future in music -- specifically, in crunk, the bass-heavy hip-hop style that has replaced New York and L.A. rap on the U.S. pop charts. This is where the marketing machinery starts to kick in. Produced by John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood, Poetic Justice) in conjunction with MTV, Hustle & Flow is clearly designed to cash in on the pop craze, with crunk star Ludacris cast as rapper Skinny Black, and soundtrack contributions by such stars as E-40 and 8Ball & MJG.

Fortunately, writer-director Craig Brewer manages to conjure a world so rich and believable that we barely notice the Hollywood predictability of the plot. There's something genuine about the bleakness of Djay's Memphis, and Amy Vincent's cinematography is so sun-blasted that we start to sweat just watching Djay and Nola roast in his car, waiting for the next trick to roll up. Nor do we doubt when Djay, girls in tow, turns up at Key's house unexpectedly and convinces the church-going engineer to record his raps. Key sets up a studio in Djay's crib, and brings in Shelby, a pianist who looks so white-bread that Djay initially mistakes him for a Mormon missionary. Despite their gospel roots (or perhaps because of them) Shelby and Key have no trouble laying down the deep, gritty funk rhythms that crunk depends upon. Turning Djay's reality-based rhymes into something suitable for airplay takes a bit more work. There's a wonderfully sly sequence in which Key -- intent on pulling a usable pop hook from Djay -- coaxes him through several variations of "stomp that ho" before he finally arrives at the title phrase for Whoop That Trick. Djay's goal is to get something down that would be worth presenting to Skinny Black, who's due back in Memphis for a private Fourth of July party to which Djay has finagled an invitation.  Brewer does a terrific job at evoking the crunk milieu, but while the plot avoids the most obvious happy-ending clichés, it stays unnecessarily close to the pimps 'n hos mythology of crunk hits, and that's particularly discomfiting if you happen to believe that women are people, too. Apart from Key's church-lady wife, Yvette (Elise Neal), the women in the film are mostly hookers and strippers. True, Djay doesn't beat his girls, but then he doesn't have to. Nola spends most of the film waiting to be told what to do, while the sweet, pregnant Shug (Taraji P. Henson) is so utterly lacking in self-esteem that she makes a doormat seem assertive. Only the trouble-seeking Lexus (Paula Jai Parker) seems willing to put her wants ahead of Djay's -- for which she is thrown out into the rain. Whoop that trick, indeed.




Terrence Howard Almost Hustled His Gig Away

Excerpt from

(July 22, 2005) *Terrence Howard wanted no parts of “Hustle & Flow” after being pitched the film by one of its producers.    Stephanie Allain came and approached me at the Four Seasons about playing this character,” Howard tells EUR’s Lee Bailey.  “I was like, ‘I’m all into it, what’s he about?’ And she says, ‘He’s a pimp that wants to be a rapper.’  And I was like, ‘You need to go see somebody else. Go talk to Ice Cube about it.’ You know, that’s not what I wanna do. That’s not where I wanna be at. And she said, ‘It’s not what you think,’ but I still told her no.   Three months later, Allain still hadn’t taken no for an answer.    “She was so persistent and believed in me,” he says. “And I finally took the time to read the script after meeting with [director] Craig Brewer and meeting with Allain a couple of times. I read the script after not talking with her for about three weeks and I fell in love with it. And immediately, I called her to make sure that the role was still available. Because I told her, ‘You need to go get Larenz Tate. Larenz will probably be able to kill this, because I can’t find the mindset for this character, because it’s not in my heart.” But fate has a way of forcing destiny to happy, despite one’s best efforts to duck and dodge.  Not only have critics called his performance as Djay a career-defining role, but Howard himself believes it’s the best work he’s done so far. In “Hustle and Flow,” which opens nationwide today, Howard’s Djay is a Memphis pimp who decides to go for his dream of being a rapper. To prepare for the role, the 36-year-old actor went to the source.

 “I went to Cleveland first of all and talked to some guys that I saw when I was growing up in certain areas, you know, 55th and Huff; 30th and Central; downtown Cleveland,” he says.  “I had to understand the pimps from my own environment first. I talked to this guy named Tweety Bird. He was very open in telling me the pimpology and the things necessary in order to help someone to accomplish something that they think they can’t do; to swallow their conscience.” After researching the town that raised him, Howard spent about four months checking out the Memphis pimp scene.  “I stayed inside a motel for about a month-and-a-half that was right on the track in Memphis, and just watched everything going on, videotaped people, talked to them,” he said. “I used to pay some of the prostitutes a hundred dollars just to come and talk to me for an hour, tell me about their lives.  I’d pay the pimps to come and inform me, you know, talk to some of the mothers of the children. I had a year-and-a-half to prepare this guy.  You give an actor that much time, he’s gonna come up with something really, really good.” Howard says he took all of his research and applied his “truth” to it, when creating the character.  “I don’t really try and act. I’m more so looking for the truth, seeking out the truth of the circumstance, and I guess sometimes that makes its way,” he explains. “Once an actor decides he’s gotta act, or ‘lie,’ he’s gotta do a lot of work to keep that lie going; but the truth flows. It’s like sunshine. It keeps moving and makes its way all along the universe.  I think people feel that and respond to it.”   Within the last year, Howard has been in the feature films “Crash,” the made-for-TV films “Lackawanna Blues” and “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” and will soon appear in John Singleton’s “Four Brothers,” opening Aug. 12,  the HBO musical “My Life in Idlewyld,” and the feature films “Animal” and  "Get Rich or Die Trying," 50 Cent's bio.

Howard says he was in the middle of shooting “Four Brothers” when he flew to Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival and saw the completed “Hustle and Flow” for the first time. The buzz surrounding the film and its record-setting purchase by Paramount/MTV Films brought worldwide attention to the independent project, and a sudden spotlight on one of the hardest working actors in the game. But Howard is hoping that the attention surrounding the film and his performance won’t be the sole reason people spend money to see the film.     “I want people to come see “Hustle and Flow,” not because I pimped them into the theatre,” he says, unaware of the irony. “I want people to come and see something that’s of substance, and see people’s lives where someone has struggled to make their life a better circumstance.  You’re going to be entertained by the truth of it, but allow me to sell it by the truth of it, and not something else.” 




Seeking Out His Own Personal Legend

Associated Press  - By Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn

(July 23, 2005) LOS ANGELES -- A Sunday morning sun shimmers over high-end boutiques. Terrence Howard is sitting at a table outside the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, dragging on his cigarette, eyeing the tourists posing across the street, when a bus door opens. "You're the best actor, my brother!" the driver yells, giving Howard a thumbs-up. "Thank you my friend. Thank you, brother," Howard says, smiling politely. Leaning toward an interviewer, he says with a whisper, "I paid him to do that." Not that he'd have to. After a career filled with supporting roles, Howard, 36, is a hot Hollywood property thanks to Hustle & Flow, writer-director Craig Brewer's much-hyped comic drama. Starring Howard as a small-time pimp-turned-rapper, the film premiered at the Sundance Festival to deafening applause -- and was snatched up by Paramount for a festival-record $9-million (U.S.). When the reviews came in, everyone was talking about Terrence Howard. "It's kind of strange to me," says Howard. "It's always been about the grind for me, you know. I'm just so used to being a part of something, being the thing edited out. But I knew I had it in me." So did producer Stephanie Allain, who wanted a unique actor for the complex role of Djay, a dangerous yet gentle hustler -- he has a policy against hitting his women -- longing for a better life. Allain didn't want just some boy in the 'hood, but a man who could humanize the character. "I was casting another movie at the time, Biker Boyz," says Allain, "and I went to meet with Terrence and was telling him about Hustle & Flow. As I was talking to him about his life and what he wanted to do he just felt like Djay, because he wanted more." For the actor, there was a definite connection to Djay's struggle.

"In the last six years, I was divorced. Pretty much blackballed out of the business," he says. "I had been pimping myself for the longest time. Selling pieces of my own conscience for some monetary gain. Sooner or later, you see your whole life savings of morality, gone. You try to cash in your chips and realize, 'Oh damn, I don't have any chips left.' So you've got to start over." A native of Chicago (he grew up in Cleveland and Los Angeles and spent summers in New York with his grandmother, stage actress Minnie Gentry), Howard now lives in Philadelphia with his three children and wife, Lori, whom he remarried two years ago. He enjoys the normalcy of Philadelphia, where his wife runs the family construction business. "I can build a cabinet faster than I can a character -- and with greater precision," he says. So when he first read the Hustle & Flow script, he was intimidated by the complexities of the character. "The thing about it," he says, "was how do you make an unlikable person, an anti-hero, into a hero of a human spirit. Because that's the true hero of this movie, the human spirit and its resilience and determination to do more and more." What resonates is Howard's "brooding thoughtfulness" and "emotional immediacy," says Daily Variety critic Todd McCarthy, likening him to a young Marlon Brando. "Terrence is just so watchable," producer John Singleton says, "even when words aren't coming out of his mouth. For years he's been that guy in the background, that you were always watching, always looking over the shoulder of the main guy looking at Terrence."

In 1995, Howard had his breakout role in Mr. Holland's Opus, then turned in a scene-stealing performance as the crazed bank robber in Dead Presidents. He built on his reputation as Taye Diggs's womanizing best bud in 1999's The Best Man -- which earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination -- followed most recently by a major role in the critically acclaimed Crash. But the limelight has eluded him, marred by a reputation of "being difficult," he says. "But I heard Marlon Brando was difficult. Heard Denzel was difficult. But Denzel was very smart. He wouldn't fight nobody. Me? I was young. 'You gonna disrespect? Okay, c'mon.' Then the claws would come out. So it took me a little longer." A little older, and intensely introspective, Howard has two more films this year: Four Brothers, directed by Singleton, and Get Rich or Die Tryin', in which he co-stars with the rapper 50 Cent. "It's like what was said in The Alchemist. 'When you seek out your own personal legend, the universe conspires to help you along the way.' And maybe that's what's the cause of all of this right now." Right now, it's three women from Brazil who have stopped to ask Howard to pose for pictures. He obliges graciously. "It's like you don't meet any strangers now," he says. "And even though people just know me through the work, they have a fondness, like they've been able to see through a mirror-plated glass and see something, see their own reflection. That means I must have been honest to some degree."




Examining 'Hustle & Flow' And Visiting 'The Island'

Excerpt from - By Marie Moore

(July 21, 2005) Any self-respecting individual would think twice before condoning pimping and prostitution so why the big fuss over “Hustle & Flow”? Well unfortunately it’s a gut wrenching, emotionally draining cinematic experience. Whatever feelings you have about pimps or prostitutes, this story and the caliber of talent involved pull you kicking and screaming into the fold. Having to play the devil’s advocate, however, The Film Strip took Terrence Dashon Howard to task for playing a pimp although producer Stephanie Allain said she had to pursue him for over a year.

The Film Strip: So Terrence, here we are in the 21st century with so many interesting stories to tell, why not more stories about the Mandelas, Martin Luther Kings, Marcus Garveys or Black scientists of the world?

Terrence D. Howard: It’s what has happened to the moral clause that everyone used to live by. We’re sitting near the bottom of this moral quagmire and what people are interested in is not the Mandela stories because the love of the world is cooling off. The love of good is disappearing. That’s why people are looking these films. And one of the things that we tried to do was not propagate a stereotype in this. We wanted to explore the truth of the scenario of what is really taking place. So we’re addressing this moral problem by exposing the problems that come along with it so nobody is mislead into believing, ‘Well, if I become a pimp, I’m gonna have this great life.’ No, if you do this you’re gonna end up spending the rest of your life [regretting] it. No, if you become a hooker, you’re gonna spend the rest of your life trying to find a way out. But didn’t you want to see somebody who had made a horrible choice, mistake in their life and realized the bad mistakes they made and now they wanted to improve their life follow a dream?

TFS: Of course!

TDH: Don’t you want them to succeed?

TFS: Most definitely.

TDH: That’s what you loved about [the character, DJay].

Whether you agree with Howard or not, the thirty-six year old actor puts in an incredible performance, which he says he could not have done ten years ago. “I couldn’t played this character at 26, 27. I had to wait 'til I was thirty-five years old. I couldn’t have played Cameron [his character in “Crash”]. I didn’t understand the restraint that was necessary and why you had to hold back when I was younger. It takes years to learn how to act. It takes years to understand.” Explaining why it took him so long to accept the role, Howard says, “I didn’t want to play a pimp or drug dealer. That was done and I didn’t want to glorify pimping or violence. But I finally read the script and there’s no glorification. It takes place in a roach infested house and it’s so hot in there, I couldn’t wear any make-up. What you see is a very naked performance.”

Anthony Anderson was asked if having appeared in “Hustle & Flow” gave him a better insight into that world? “I come from that world,” was his surprising response. “I had uncles who were pimps, drug dealers. I grew up in Compton. I’m not glorifying that, but that’s just how I grew up. I witnessed that, you know. I knew cats like DJay, women like Lexus and Shug. I just always knew I wanted something more out of life than that. I knew being a drug dealer, gang banger was a dead end situation. I saw where it got those cats, either in jail or dead.”

Memphis, Tennessee native Elise Neal wanted to play the prostitute but the director wanted her to play Anderson’s wife. “He said that role was more layered and he knew I was capable of pulling off the performance.”

Taraji P. Henson attended Howard University along with Anderson and Paula Jai Parker. But it wasn’t her school ties or camaraderie that got her the role of Shug, she says. “John [Singleton] told me I had the eyes for Shug. He’s really into eyes because they say a lot.”

DJ Qualls, who is from the South, relished the role of Shelby. ‘You never see accurate portrayals of southerners in movies and there’s this post mythological ‘Gone with the Wind’ concept that people think is going on now,” he quipped. “My very first role in a film as an actor was telling Cicely Tyson she couldn’t sit at a lunch counter in the south and that was continuously offered Paula Jai Parker had only one regret when it came to her role—some of her scenes were left on the cutting room floor:  “I had a lot of stripper scenes that were cut and it really upset me because I really had to learn a lot. But what upset me most is the coach’s pimp. Towards the end of my coaching, her pimp was beating her up real bad in a corner because I was getting too good. By the end of my coaching session I was going up with the girls and I became competition. In his mind I was taking money out of his pocket and he wasn’t getting paid enough. He told her she couldn’t coach me any more. Then he came over cower towing to me, which gave me a distaste to the game, because if you’re a real pimp, no woman should be worthy of your bow down. He came over to me and says, [imitates a Steppin’ Fetchit], ‘Hi Miz Parker. I’m a real big fan. I just want you to know.’ And I’m looking at this fool like, you know, ‘You were a big man five minutes when you were beating this child in the corner but now you’re over here cower towing to me. What makes me any different? Because you see me in a movie or something? In a split second he went from being a pimp to a groupie.”

When “The Island” producer, Walter F. Parkes was promoting the film, he mentioned there had been changes made to Djimon Hounsou’s character (Albert Laurnet). When The Film Strip asked Hounsou about the changes, he concurred. “The part [in the film] is internal, so I raised the issue of that one dimensional character. He didn't have any arc and didn't have any place to go to at the end…So it was a concern I had. I pointed it out and they worked on it. It was mainly to make the story better.” And had they not taken Hounsou’s suggestions into consideration, he says he probably wouldn’t have taken the role.  Since “Armistad,” Hounsou has racked up quite a number of roles in films (“Gladiator,” “In America,” “Constantine,” “Beauty Shop,” “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life,” “Biker Boyz,” “The Four Feathers”). On the small screen he had a six-episode stint as an African refugee seeking asylum on “ER,” a recurring role on “Alias” and appeared in both Janet Jackson and Madonna’s videos.

His biggest role to date, however, has been trying to eliminate starvation in Africa. He just came back from Live 8 and says: “That was amazing. For the first time, Africa is on the map of the world, and is the focus of discussion. I think it's time for wise men to aid Africa, and it's not like Africa is asking for a handout. What we're asking for is to allow fair trade between the continent and the developed world, which is Europe and America. So really what we’re hoping for Africa, is to be self-sufficient. It needs to be able to trade.”




Djimon Hounsou: From Benin To Hollywood

Source:  Associated Press - By Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn

(July 22, 2005) LOS ANGELES -- 'Being a character actor is nice," muses Djimon Hounsou. "You build yourself up, show a certain range of your ability. But at the end of the day, I'm really looking to be a leading man. That's really the goal." There's a calm determination in his voice that makes his objective sound like an inevitability rather than a celebrity's hyperbolic projection. On first impression, meeting Hounsou is much like watching him in a theatre -- a quiet, intensely charismatic man with a bold, magnetic smile. Whether it's his powerful portrayal of Joseph Cinque, the leader of a slave rebellion in Steven Spielberg's 1997 film Amistad, or his role as Mateo, a dying artist who befriends an Irish immigrant family in Jim Sheridan's In America -- which earned him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor in 2004 -- Hounsou brings a raw intensity to his characters with an endearing charm and believability that humanizes them. Even in his latest role as Albert Laurent, an elite agent on the hunt for Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson in Michael Bay's futuristic action thriller The Island, he's hardly your by-the-book bad guy. As he plays it, Hounsou moves from an unflinching rogue to a thoughtful, redemptive soul.

"Laurent was originally a very straight-ahead villain with no redeeming qualities," says Island producer Walter Parkes, who also worked with the 41-year-old West African actor in Amistad and the best-picture Oscar-winner from 2001, Gladiator. "When the idea of Djimon came up we suddenly had a very interesting back story for the character as an African from the French security forces, and we had the opportunity for this kind of quiet honesty and a sense of moral integrity that Djimon brings to his work that would allow us the opportunity to redeem the character. It was really a piece of colour-blind casting, but Djimon's background only enriched the part." Hounsou, the Benin native who lived in Paris before arriving in Los Angeles in the late 1980s, realizes that such casting opportunities are rare in Hollywood, especially for a black man with an accent. "I get a lot of things that have to do with slavery," says Hounsou, relaxing after a promotional junket. "America has this understanding of Africans that plays like National Geographic," he says, "a bunch of Negroes with loincloths running around the plain fields of Africa chasing gazelles. Meanwhile, we have Africans and African-Americans, contemporary men, with great stories, great integrity, great heroes and nobody wants to see or hear about those African heroes and those African-American heroes. One day, I will be in a position to play those great human beings onscreen."

Toward that end, the ex-model believes his Oscar nomination is pushing things along. "It definitely has had a huge impact," Hounsou says, "and the fact that I was nominated for something where I was speaking a little bit of English, and not entirely speaking a foreign language like in Amistad. In that respect it maybe allowed people to look at me in a different light." Hounsou has been working regularly in recent years on both the big and small screens, with notable story arcs on ER and Alias and appearing in such films as 2003's Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life with Angelina Jolie, and with Laurence Fishburne in Biker Boyz. Earlier this year, he co-starred in Constantine with Keanu Reeves and as Queen Latifah's love interest Beauty Shop. "Baby steps," he says of his career moves. "No matter how you look at it, we're minorities in the Hollywood world, and you still have so much to work for, and we don't necessarily have the luxury of making mistakes. With us there's stakes in mistakes, so you have to play your cards and be patient." He's not waiting around for good scripts to fall into his lap, though. He's developing several projects through his production company, including a Second World War drama and an action thriller in which he would star. "I'm definitely looking to be at a position of power in this business," he says, showing off that winning grin. "The trick is to sort of keep yourself alive until."




Sad Issues And A Sadder Film

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Susan Walker, Entertainment Reporter

(Jul. 22, 2005) Real-life social issues often form the basis for entertainment. You can laugh at the Sopranos and still be concerned about the spread of organized crime. But when a docudrama is neither entertaining nor edifying, those issues are trivialized. Out of Winnipeg, where crime, poverty and substance abuse pose life-sized problems for the native community, comes Stryker.  Director Noam Gonick titles his film after the mostly mute 14-year-old arsonist who acts as witness and participant in a muddled story of gang war.  On the lam from a fire he started on his Brokenhead Reserve, Stryker (Kyle Henry) hops a freight train into North Winnipeg and lands at the scene of the hijacking of a Filipino member of the Asian Bomb Squad, transporting a large quantity of white stuff. He's one of Omar's gang, the Asian Bomb Squad. The red-bandanna-clad thugs who beat him up and steal his drugs are the Indian Posse, led by a lesbian native called Mama Ceece (Deena Fontaine). Stryker — the name is slang for a would-be gang member — bounces from one posse to another and even into the arms of middle-aged Talia, who has "mothered" a lot of native boys.  Stryker is first adopted by Daisy Chain, a transvestite prostitute from Brokenhead. Omar, who appears to pimp on the side, beats her up just before Stryker turns up. Daisy takes him to a home full of female sex workers of questionable biological origin.  It's about this point, barely 20 minutes into the film, that the plot of Stryker grows as murky as the gender identities. Only Ryan Black, who plays the mixed-blood Omar, manages a credible performance. He's not only bisexual but the victim as well as the oppressor in the gang wars. While struggling to stay on top of the Indian Posse before they take over his trade, he's also answerable to a higher power: a group of Asian and black heavies who operate out of a restaurant and supply him with his drugs. Still, it's hard to feel sorry for Omar, or for anyone else in this sorry tale.  Shot on location in Winnipeg, Stryker contains scenes unsuitable for minors. But not even the sight of shapely bare male buttocks and naked, but likely fake, breasts can compensate for cinematic ineptitude. It's too bad that the filmmakers couldn't overcome budget limitations to avoid scenes where bison look like cardboard cut-outs and probably are, and characters utter lines such as, "It looks like Stryker has just struck out."  The movie, the opening credits inform us, was "inspired by events on the public record." Not even the faintest resemblance to actual individuals should be assumed.




Indie Filmmaker Scorches In Her Debut

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Liam Lacey

(July 22, 2005) Miranda July, who wrote, directed and stars in the eccentric, dark and light-shaded feature film Me and You and Everyone We Know, is slender, pale with wide-open blue eyes and curly, unruly hair. She looks perpetually surprised, which, when she talks, also sounds like the way she looks at life. July presented her first feature film at Sundance in January, where it won a special jury award for its originality of vision. It subsequently went on to win four awards at Cannes, including sharing the Camera d'or for first feature award. When I spoke to her the day after the film's debut at Sundance, she was still in shock at the positive reaction of the audience. She was also amused by Sundance director Geoff Gilmore's effusive introduction, which spoke of the intersection of film with a star from the art world. "I thought, 'Whoa! Somebody better tell the art world.' You have to realize I've never been called an artist as often as I have at this festival." Now that's surprising. July, now 31, is an artistic polymath -- a performance artist, short-story writer, short-film writer published in The Paris Review, a playwright, video distributor, creator of audio pieces that have played on National Public Radio, and a website designer. Her work has been included twice in the Whitney Biennial (a survey of the best new American art), but before her feature film, she says there was "no pressure, no success, no money." She had been nursing the idea of writing a feature film since she was 16, the year she presented her first play and adopted the name July from one of the characters (she was born Grossinger). She started off in film school at the University of California at Santa Cruz. After a year and a half, she dropped out and moved to Portland, Ore., which she thought was more artistically promising. She soon developed a growing reputation for her darkly humorous videos and audiotapes.

She wrote her screenplay for Me and You and Everyone We Know a couple of years ago, and had it accepted at the Sundance Lab to be developed as a feature the third time she submitted it. She's proud that she went through the process with a film that is very much still her own: "It's amazing how much it's still intimate. When I hear all this hype it feels peculiar, as if people were complimenting you for the way you smell." It would feel wrong, she says, to suddenly become Miranda July: Filmmaker to the exclusion of her other means of expression. Before beginning to write her next script, she wants to complete her short-story collection. She also has a notebook filled with ideas, annotated with letters in the top right-hand corner of each page: "S" for story; "F" for film; "P" for performance and "I" for idea. She gives an example of what might constitute an idea: "Just yesterday I went out walking and I saw these kids, on a completely empty street, trying to sell hot chocolate," she says. "Okay, a very normal thing, even a cliché. But when I asked them what they wanted the money for, they said, 'To buy souvenirs in Costa Rica.' And, on some level, that changed my entire feeling about the day." At this stage of her life, says July, her problem isn't finding new ideas, it's learning how to shut them off: "I'm trying to make my peace with the idea that some days you don't produce anything. Now, after finishing a short story I try to give myself a good five hours to relax before I start something else."




Homolka Victims' Lawyer Blasts Montreal Film Fest

Source:  Canadian Press - Greg Bonnell

(July 27, 2005) The Montreal World Film Festival is exploiting the memory of Karla Homolka's schoolgirl victims by screening a controversial Hollywood movie chronicling her crimes, the lawyer for the victims' families said Tuesday.  "We see this as being extremely exploitive and sensational," said Tim Danson of the festival's decision to host the international debut of the film Karla.  "I think that is to exploit my clients' misery for (the festival's) own personal end. This is not the kind of film that you would normally anticipate to be at a film festival."  The festival organizers were told of Danson's comments, but did not respond.  Karla, set for release this fall, chronicles the ominous courtship of Homolka and ex-husband Paul Bernardo and the notorious deeds their union ultimately produced — the brutal murders of Ontario teens Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy.  The film, originally titled Deadly, has encountered vocal opposition in Ontario from the public and politicians alike with numerous calls for a boycott.  On Monday, it was announced Karla would make its premiere in Montreal sometime during the festival which runs Aug. 26 to Sept. 5.  "This is nothing more than an orchestrated and calculated attempt to give unique publicity to the Montreal Film Festival," said Danson, who couldn't rule out legal action to block the film's debut.  "If we conclude that this film portrays (French and Mahaffy) in a way that offends the girls' dignity and memory and sense of honour, then we will consider that to be a violation of civil law," he said.  "That could lead to an injunction."  The families have been assured by the film's producer, Michael Sellers, that an exclusive screening would be arranged for them in Toronto.

The version of the film submitted to the Montreal festival reflects months of consultation with Danson, Sellers said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles.  "We just don't feel that we've, in any way, defamed the memory of these people," said Sellers.  "I'm pretty confident it doesn't cross those lines."  Danson said he was also surprised by the renaming of the film from Deadly to Karla.  "My sense is the name Karla Homolka has now been reported widely in the United States," said Danson, who appeared on numerous American news programs following Homolka's July 4 release.  "The change of the name from Deadly to Karla (was done) to tap into that new awareness. (The case) has received some pretty wide publicity and I suspect they're taking advantage of that."  Sellers described that argument as "Toronto-centric" and defended the change.  "Anywhere else in the world, Deadly is a title which connotes a kind of more violent, more thriller kind of film and we've always been uncomfortable with that," he said.  "Karla... that name doesn't mean anything. It's only in Toronto and Ontario that the name carries with it such an emotional punch."  The film's website suggests the story is somewhat sympathetic to Homolka, portrayed by Laura Prepon, who plays Donna on That '70s Show.  "In the end, the viewer is left to ponder their sympathy for Karla, to ask how much she too is a victim of Paul," reads the plot synopsis. It further describes Homolka, who is believed to be living in Montreal, as "conflicted by her conscience but still unable to escape" Bernardo's grasp.  The producers, who are still seeking a distributor for the film, based their movie on court transcripts.  Prepon and the actor portraying Bernardo, Misha Collins, where expected to attend the Montreal premiere but details had yet to be confirmed, said Sellers.


Karla Film To Debut In Quebec

Source:  Canadian Press

(Jul. 26, 2005) MONTREAL—An American film about the horrific sex slayings committed by Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka has been renamed and will make its debut next month at the Montreal World Film Festival.  Once titled Deadly, the controversial film has officially changed its name to Karla, producer Michael Sellers said yesterday.  Sellers denied capitalizing on the notoriety of Homolka, who was released from prison earlier this month after serving 12 years for manslaughter in the deaths of two Ontario schoolgirls.  Sellers said he wanted a less sensational title.  "I know that in Toronto the word `Karla' just by itself is not a value-neutral word," he said from Los Angeles.  "It's a word that there maybe has a lot of emotion attached to it.  "To the global market, it's just a name. That is what we'd like to be the starting point for the movie."  The film has prompted a call for a boycott by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and protests from the families of victims Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French.  It will be screened between Aug. 26 and Sept. 5 at the Montreal festival.  The $5 million film was directed by Joel Bender and stars Laura Prepon (That '70s Show) as Homolka and Misha Collins (24, Girl Interrupted) as Bernardo.  Serge Losique, head of the festival, said showing the film does not signify any sympathy for Homolka's criminal behaviour.  "I hope people are intelligent enough to understand that the biggest criminals in history have been brought to the big screen," Losique said in an interview.  "It's a sensitive subject, yes, but the crimes happened nearly 15 years ago."







Deadwood: High Noon Amid The Scoundrels

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Andrew Ryan

(July 23, 2005) This is more than a TV show. This is the real Deadwood. The streets are dusty and worn and the long rows of ramshackle wooden buildings are dry as driftwood. Everything in the town is covered by a fine film of soot. Even in the blazing midday sun, Deadwood looks dirty. The squalor is appalling — but the only fitting backdrop for Deadwood. The working set of the acclaimed HBO series has taken over most of Melody Ranch, a genuine western town situated an hour north of Los Angeles, and it's still expanding. The town was previously owned by Gene Autry, and hundreds of westerns were filmed here. Not one of those movies featured whorehouses. Deadwood has four whorehouses, at last count. The remote location is likewise appropriate, since the show itself is removed from the Hollywood process. Deadwood was created by TV iconoclast David Milch, an Emmy-winner for NYPD Blue and Hill Street Blues. Milch conceived the series as a drama set in ancient Rome; HBO politely declined — it already had the series Rome in production. Milch simply changed the setting to the town of Deadwood, S.D., circa 1876. Originally a base camp for those mining gold in the Black Hills, the real Deadwood was a lawless cesspool that drew scores of thieves and scoundrels. The series is a bleak amalgam of real people who walked the streets of Deadwood — including Wild Bill Hickok (Keith Carradine) and a disillusioned ex-lawman named Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) originally from Etobicoke, Ont. — and fictional characters added to the mix for dramatic effect. Adored by critics and viewers alike, Deadwood has redefined and deglamourized the TV western. And the Deadwood set is a beehive of activity this day. Teams of carpenters are building sets. The principal cast members seem uniformly enthused about returning to work, despite the overbearing heat and beastly shooting conditions. There's a sense some would work for free.

“I'm a fan of American history, and it still feels surreal just being here, like stepping back into time,” says Powers Boothe, who plays sly casino-owner Cy Tolliver. “From what I've read, this town is as close to the real Deadwood as you could possibly get.” A walking tour is jarring indeed for a Deadwood devotee. The sun-baked set sprawls over several city blocks. On one side is the rundown Grand Hotel, which features a small sign advertising “Room and Grub: $1.50 a day.” The posted menu in the Grand dining room includes elk and deer. On the other side are offices for the local newspaper, The Deadwood Pioneer, which sits beside the Gem Saloon, the town's original casino and brothel, owned and operated by the inimitable Al Swearengen. As essayed by Ian McShane, Swearengen is a ruthless brute and scheming student of human nature. The role has bestowed late-career star status on the veteran British actor: McShane was recently nominated for a best-actor Emmy and is the only cast member absent this day: He's in London filming the new Woody Allen movie. Al is the black heart and dark soul of Deadwood, and those who oppose his will are most often dispatched and deposited down the way into the pigpen owned by his erstwhile partner, Mr. Wu. There have been frequent pigpen scenes shot over two seasons of Deadwood. “We take fake human body parts and stuff them with food,” says a crew member, “and the pigs just go crazy.” Al is also the primary source of the famously foul language that has evolved into a Deadwood trademark. The show is known for dialogue strewn liberally with the F-word, the C-word and, most frequently, with a word that won't be repeated here. Let's just say it rhymes with “rock-chucker.” Deadwood's notorious bad language is a non-issue for the show's creator. As Milch has explained countless times, profanity in those parts in those days was merely another form of macho currency; anyone who didn't swear was branded a pantywaist and thrown into a gully. Such was life in Deadwood, for which Milch makes no apologies. “Some viewers have found the profanity off-putting, but there's a genuine authenticity to it,” he says with a shrug. “For the people in that world, it's simply the way they talked.”

The real draw of Deadwood isn't the swearing, it's the words in between. Characters speak in florid tones; Al's extended soliloquies are steeped with evil intent, yet somehow beautiful. Toothless gold miners talk with perfect elocution. Here again, Milch claims accuracy. “To the extent people had book-learning at that time, they read,” he says. “And if you read any of the letters people wrote during the Civil War, the language is surprisingly elevated for, you know, farmers' letters home. It's not some sort of elegant parlour trick.” The grand scheme of Deadwood has unrolled over two years and 24 episodes. The first season revolved around the greedy machinations of Al and the personal angst of Bullock, who starts up with a not-so-grieving widow, Alma (Molly Parker), and is eventually forced into the position of town sheriff. The second season found Milch shifting focus over to several secondary characters, most notably the whore with a heart of gold, Trixie, played by Paula Malcomson, who admits it hasn't been easy. “When I started playing her, I would go home at night and cry a lot,” says the Irish actress. “Part of it was wearing a corset for more than half the day, but it was really tough at first because this is a strange environment. Honestly, when you play a whore, there are people who may treat you like a whore, unbeknownst to them probably.” Another Deadwood player who has seen expanded screen time is Anna Gunn as the meek Martha, Bullock's wife and ex-wife of his dead brother. Martha arrived last season, a fine city lady and young mother dropped into the muddy, dangerous Deadwood. “Everything I needed to feel as Martha, I felt as myself,” says Gunn. “The very first day I arrived on set and rode in on the stagecoach and I looked out the window and saw everything for the first time, and I saw all the faces everything I needed was absolutely right there.” The streets of Deadwood are bone dry today, but soon the water tankers will come for the mud transformation; the actors will return in woollen period costume and the story will resume. As with Six Feet Under, The Sopranos and pretty much anything emanating from the HBO factory, Deadwood is maddeningly addictive television; hence it's doled out in sparing doses.

The show is scripted by an A list of TV writers, although Milch retains his right to personally oversee the process, and by reputation the man works very methodically. The wagons and cameras are scheduled to start rolling next week, but Milch claims it's going to be tight. “We work full-time, seven days a week. It's not like anyone is sitting around whipping a skippy and saying, ‘Let me hold the work back until it's really late.' We're working all the time,” he says. The Deadwood saga grows as it goes, and fans will have to endure the agonizing wait between seasons. There are no story details forthcoming from Milch, save for the arrival of another stranger to Deadwood: one Jackie Langrish, a real-life theatre impresario who took his act there in 1878. The still-uncast character's arrival explains the nearby construction of an enormous theatre set. “He was a brilliant producer who made a fortune and, of course, lost every cent in hare-brained investments,” says Milch. “And he was in love with the male ingénue in the theatrical troupe; the only downside was the ingénue was, by this time, about 52, and he kept insisting on playing 18-year-olds.” As with all the denizens of Deadwood, Milch has again done his homework. By the early signs, Langrish should fit in with the town's other quirky lost souls. “This guy insisted every season on doing two Shakespeare plays, and invariably somebody tried to murder him during the performance,” he says, “because, strangely enough, Shakespeare wasn't big in the mining camps.”




Rock’s Love/‘Hate’ Relationship With Critics

Excerpt from

(July 25, 2005) *Comedian Chris Rock, well-known among the media for his few words and sheer boredom during press conference interviews, had fun with a room full of TV reporters Thursday during the UPN portion of the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills. In the spot to promote his new UPN show, “Everybody Hates Chris,” the comedian was seated alongside cast members and two of his co-executive producers on a stage facing several hundred, mostly-white television writers from various media outlets - the majority of whom thought the pilot was the smartest and most humorous product of all the shows scheduled to hit the airwaves in the fall. Loosely based on Rock’s own childhood in Brooklyn’s Do-Or-Die Bed Stuy, “Everybody Hates Chris” features Rock as a narrator, reciting tales of his formative years. Actor Tyler Williams stars as the young Chris Rock, while Tichina Arnold and Terry Crews play Chris’ hardworking parents, who in the first episode, force him to attend an all-white school in hopes of obtaining a better education.  The normally subdued Rock took the numerous lobs… er, um…questions tossed his way by journalists Thursday and knocked them out the back of the Beverly Hilton Hotel to bursts of laughter. When asked how he found Tyler, Rock said with a straight face, “I was at Michael Jackson’s house. I’m in the driveway and this kid runs out, screaming, ‘Waaaaaaaaaaait! Waaaaaaaaaait! Waaaaaaaaaait! Save me!”

A reporter wanted him to comment on the pilot being passed over by Fox, which had the property as a writing sample by the show’s eventual co-creator, Ali LeRoi and as a development project before its option expired and it was wooed by UPN president Dawn Ostroff.  Word had it that Fox was lukewarm on the show because it feared Rock would participate in the pilot, then make himself scarce if the show was picked up.  When asked to comment on Fox’s reported prediction of his non-involvement, Rock said: “I’ve been working for a while and I don’t think I’ve ever done anything and walked out. I don’t think there’s any evidence of that. My name is Rock, not Chappelle.” The issue of Rock’s presence in an 8 p.m. family-friendly timeslot this fall was also raised as an ironic turn, considering his penchant for profanity and adult comedic material.  “People that curse have families, too,” he told the reporter.  “I’m married, I got kids, I grew up in a family. I don’t see the problem.”   While the actor is one of seven kids, his TV family consists of three siblings - an older brother and younger sister.    “Writing a show with seven kids is hard. Three is still hard, but easier than seven,” he explains. “I changed it just enough so I couldn’t get sued, because they’ll sue you. They love you, but they gon’ get their money.” 

Don’t expect to see any of Rock’s celebrity friends in guest appearances on the series.   “Here’s the thing, we’d like to get the best actors we can get to play the parts that we have available,” co-writer and co-executive producer LeRoi said, sitting next to Rock on the stage. “If there’s someone who brings a great name recognition in a part that really fits them, then that’s really great. But we don’t want do stunt casting in the sense that you’re just trying to throw something shiny up.” Rock added: “I’ve never seen stunt casting that was actually funny.  It’s like, ‘Oh, it’s Shaq,’ and then there’s some horrible excuse for him to dunk. It’s always bad. ‘Oh, Ludacris is gonna be on this week.” Then he has a rhyme that has nothing to do with the show, and it just sucks.” When the laughter in the room died down, he continued: “And they don’t really do that on the white shows. They only do that on the black shows. When they did it on “Mad About You,” [guest star] Carl Reiner had a real part. He wasn’t just there to be famous. When they do it on the black shows, it’s like, ‘We got a famous guy and he’s gonna be famous tonight!’  And it sucks.” Rock wasn’t the only actor on the stage-keeping folks doubled over.  After the actor praised young Tyler for being “the funniest kid in the country,” a journalist asked the boy if he had really been to Michael Jackson’s house.  In his adolescent voice, he replied slowly and innocently: “No, and I don’t plan to.” 






T-Boz And Chili Act A Fool Tonight On UPN

Excerpt from

(July 27, 2005) *Ever since word of TLC’s reality show “RU The Girl: With T-Boz and Chilli” surfaced with the objective of finding a third singer, group members Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas have made it clear that their intention is not to find a new Left Eye.  “TLC is T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli, so we’re not replacing Left Eye – just wanna say that off top,” reiterates T-Boz during interviews for the UPN show Thursday in Beverly Hills.   Their nine-week series premieres tonight at 8 with the duo – a bonafide comedy team without trying to be – on the road auditioning young ladies to temporarily join the group. The winner, chosen by T-Boz and Chilli in the show's live finale, will get to perform with them in concert and also record a single with the group. So what exactly R they looking for in this new girl?   “We want her to be a triple threat,” says Chilli. “To be able to sing, dance, rap and have a great personality; and a sense of humour is very, very important to us because we’re extremely silly.” That may be the understatement of the year. Judging from their brutally honest comments, gossip and downtime antics in tonight’s pilot, this duo will be as entertaining as Bobby and Whitney (without the drugs and alcohol, of course).  During one memorable scene in a restaurant, the two have fun trying to prove that their black waiter’s claim of being European is wrong and his weird accent is fake.  Last Thursday, the ladies hinted that discussions have already taken place regarding a future television project that would star the duo – as perhaps “the black ‘Laverne and Shirley,’” suggests Chilli.    “It’s in the works. We didn’t say that for nothin’,” enthuses T-Boz about the “Laverne and Shirley” mention. “It’s the black ‘Laverne and Shirley.’ We don’t know what the name of the show is gonna be, but we always speak it ahead of time. It’s in the making.” To clarify, T-Boz says there is no concrete “Laverne and Shirley” project in development at the moment, but “we’re talking about it with a couple of people.”

The comedic chemistry that pops off between these two has roots stretching back 14 years to the formation of the Atlanta-based group in 1991.  Chilli joined T-Boz and Left Eye, who had splintered off from another female group, to form TLC under the management of Pebbles. None were prepared for the herky-jerky roller coaster ride through fame that would follow – from top 10 hits, Grammy awards and multi-platinum albums, to hardcore drama with Pebbles, Left Eye’s pyromania, Chilli’s emotional split with producer and babydaddy Dallas Austin and the group’s eventual bankruptcy.  Through it all, T-Boz and Chilli’s friendship strengthened and deepened.   “We [each] have children, and our kids go to the same school, so we’re around each other all the time,” T-Boz says of her current relationship with Chilli. “This is really like a family for us. We’re really like sisters. It’s not just like a group thing and we just work together.  We really have stuck together through thick and then and we really have grown up together.” After Lisa’s fatal car accident in April 2002 – which occurred as the group was recording its new album “3D,” Chilli and T-Boz grew even closer in their sudden grief and eventual attempt to move forward.  “We, unfortunately, did not get a chance to grieve properly, we didn’t have time,” says Chilli. “When she passed away, everyone wanted us to capitalize off of her death and they wanted us to go in, hurry up and finish the record, or they were gonna put out the “Greatest Hits.” So it was very hard for us. We decided to go back in the studio and try to finish recording.” During sessions for “3D,” the ladies shut themselves off completely from the rest of the world, refusing to watch TV or listen to the radio “because it was just hard to deal with,” says Chilli. “And at that time, we always knew that we were not ever going to replace our sister, but because we had to go back out there so fast, for us, it was like, we don’t’ even want do this because we were in pain. As time went on - and thank God for time because time does heal - with the fans coming up to us asking us to do more stuff, and [saying] please don’t stop, that did something for us.”   T-Boz and Chilli were approached by executive producers Jay Blumenfield and Anthony Marsh to do the UPN reality show. Both were reluctant to sign on unless it was clear – let’s say it all together – that the intention was not to replace Left Eye.  “Once we all got on that same page, we were like, ‘Cool, let’s go,’” says Chilli. “And, we wanted our reality show to be totally different from a lot of the other shows out. Like there are no panel of judges, it’s totally about T-Boz and myself being retarded as we are; me eating a whole bunch and just having fun with these girls.”  But the ladies do draw a comedic line when it comes to kicking off a contestant.  There are no brutal dismissals, like “You’re fired,” “Get off the bus” or “Don’t call us we’ll call you.”    “We handle ours in a different way,” laughs T-Boz.  “We don’t shut people down in a cruel way.  We kinda still give them hope and help them to try and follow their dreams.”  “We don’t crush anybody’s spirit,” adds Chilli.  “Yeah, we’re not about crushin’ nobody,” T-Boz continues, “But we’ll tell you the truth. And if that hurts, I’m so sorry.”



Degrassi Wins U.S. Critics Award

Excerpt from The Toronto Star

(July 24, 2005) BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Hit newcomers Desperate Housewives and Lost won top honours from the Television Critics Association on Saturday.  The dark suburban satire Desperate Housewives was named program of the year, and Lost, about plane crash survivors marooned on a mysterious island, was honoured as outstanding new program and for outstanding achievement in drama.  Both air on ABC, which also claimed an award for Nightline. The news program received the Heritage Award, which goes to a long-running show that's had "a lasting cultural or social impact," the association said.  Degrassi: The Next Generation, on CTV, was the winner in the children's programming category.  Comedian-actor Bob Newhart received the 2005 award for career achievement.  Fox's Arrested Development won its second consecutive award for achievement in comedy.  In the individual categories, Hugh Laurie of Fox's House won for drama and Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's The Daily Show won for comedy.  PBS's Frontline received its seventh honour for achievement in news and information.  Other winners were BBC America's The Office Special, for achievement in movies, miniseries and specials and  The Television Critics Association, founded in 1978, includes more than 200 reporters and columnists in print media from the United States and Canada.







Ibsen Lives Caught In Secrets Grandly Acted

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(July 21, 2005) It's really been too long since Toronto theatre-goers have seen a great play, a superb cast and a production that did them both justice, but that situation was remedied last night with the opening of The Wild Duck.  Like most Ibsen plays, it's about secrets and how keeping them hidden can lead to destruction. Old Werle is a rich libertine who has had his way with many women over the years. His son Gregers despises him for this and decides to bring all of his past sins to light.  This has a particularly damaging effect on the son's old friend Hjalmar, a sometime photographer and full-time dreamer who lives in near poverty with his devoted wife Gina and his adoring daughter Hedwig.  Gregers' compulsion to seek truth at all costs winds up destroying the lives of almost everyone on stage and the inexorable way that it happens shows Ibsen at his most merciless.  Director László Marton is in sure control of the material from the very start. The typical opening scene of exposition is delivered by two gossipy servants as they prepare a punch bowl at a party.  We suddenly find ourselves listening closely to everything they say, a sensation that's duplicated many times during the evening. Yes, there are moments of full-throated passion, but it's the whispered confidences, the barely uttered thoughts that you'll remember.  Brent Carver brings an otherworldly chill to the meddling Gregers, stumbling over his own intensity and hurting everyone he tries to help. The look of horror on his face as he finally realizes the pain he has caused is that of a man who has gazed into hell. Diego Matamoros delivers another fearless performance as the deluded Hjalmar, hopelessly selfish and irredeemably flawed, stuffing sandwiches in his mouth to fill the emptiness in his soul.  There's also a touching portrait from Maggie Huculak of a wife who'll do anything to keep her marriage together, holding everything and everyone just a bit too tight.  The unimpeachable William Webster turns the alcoholic grandfather Ekdal into the most reasonable of men, telling the story of the wild duck that gives the play its title with a rare and breathless intensity.  And Joseph Ziegler brings a fine rage to the proceedings as a failed physician who alone on the stage realizes man's universal need for a lie to give meaning to his existence.  But perhaps finest of all is Martha MacIsaac as Hedwig, one of the trickiest roles in world drama. She's a sweet young woman slowly going blind and we must feel terror and compassion for her, but never pity. With a clear-eyed honesty that is truly amazing, MacIsaac seems to hold us all gently in the palm of her hand, making her final fate even more horrible.  Don't say that Toronto is lacking world-class theatre. Not while Soulpepper is around to give us shows like this.




Cast Chosen For Lord Of The Rings

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

(July 26, 2005) Brent Carver will lead a cast of mostly Canadian actors and singers in the world premiere production of The Lord of the Rings, which begins performances in Toronto on February 2, 2006, producer Kevin Wallace announced yesterday. Carver, a Tony Award-winner and currently the star of Soulpepper's The Wild Duck in Toronto, will originate the role of the wizard Gandalf in the stage version of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy. Director Matthew Warchus described Carver as "one of the greatest actors of his generation, anywhere in the world . . . aptly suited to be the inspiring leader and father figure to this dynamic young company." That company now officially features Michael Therriault as Gollum, Evan Buliung as Aragorn, Richard McMillan as Saruman, Dion Johnstone as Boromir, Carly Street as Arwen and Dylan Roberts as Merry. British and Irish cast members include Welshman James Loye as Frodo, Londoner Peter Howe as Samwise Gamgee and Owen Sharpe, from Dublin, as Pippin. "What's particular about Canadian actors is that they're comfortable with the use of text," said Wallace. "When it comes to English-speaking actors who are comfortable with the use of quasi-classical text as this is, the Canadian acting tradition has the ability to be truthful and real while still giving weight to the text. "We definitely felt that we should start here, where there's a close link to the British tradition of how English is spoken," Wallace continued. "This production will give guidance to future productions and actors."

Yesterday's announcement brings to an end the first major chapter in this project's long history. Its creative team has auditioned over 4,000 actors over four months, held in-depth recall auditions with 350, and selected the final 55 for the premiere. "I was totally inspired and intrigued by what Matthew Warchus had to say about the entire production," said Carver. "I don't really know right now what shape things will take but there was a beauty here that I was attracted to." "It's very different from anything I've done before," said Therriault, who has recently starred in the title role of the CBC-TV miniseries The Tommy Douglas Story. "What normally happens in Toronto when you get to play one of these big shows is that you end up doing a staging that someone else has done in New York. . . . What's exciting about this is being in on the ground level and creating it all from scratch. With Gollum especially, he can be anything. The door is wide open." Both Buliung and Street admit to being "floored" when they got the good news. "It felt we were starting rehearsals in the audition room, which is a good sign," said Street, currently playing Portia in Shakespeare in the Rough's The Merchant of Venice in Toronto's Withrow Park. "There's something very Shakespearean about The Lord of the Rings," added Buliung. "It's very much a kingdom for the stage. It is Henry V."




Richard Chamberlain To Tour With On Golden Pond

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(July 23, 2005) New York -- Richard Chamberlain is going out on the road in September with the play On Golden Pond, which recently folded on Broadway after its star, James Earl Jones, had to leave the show because of pneumonia. Chamberlain, 71, is best known for his roles in classic TV miniseries such as The Thorn Birds and Shogun, as well as the TV series Dr. Kildare. AP





J-Lo Selects Chicago For Boutique

Excerpt from

(July 25, 2005) *Fans of Jennifer Lopez who just must have her signature electric-pink cargo pocket knit pants or faux crocodile leather clutch purse can start planning their trips now to Chicago. The artist has selected Marshall Field’s on State Street to house a boutique for her JLo line of products.   The new store within a store will be her first in the United States following the opening of the first JLo boutique in Moscow last year. Lopez, whose career in fashion began four years ago, began negotiating the Minneapolis-based Marshall Field’s deal in March. "We kind of approached each other," Andy Hilfiger, president and co-founder of JLo parent company Sweetface Fashion, told AP. "Our long-term plan is to open concept shops in many stores, but Chicago is such a brilliant start."  Lopez will make an appearance to open the Field's boutique on Sept. 22, when she'll also attend a fashion show highlighting her clothing line. The event will benefit Children's Memorial Hospital  Meanwhile, Hilfiger – Tommy’s brother – said he hopes to open boutiques in department stores in New York, Miami, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.







Tone Your Midsection In 3 Minutes

By Joyce Vedral, eFitness Guest Columnist

(July 25, 2005) We all know that aerobic exercise burns fat. But plain ordinary aerobics can get very boring. Add a new component and work in 30-45 second intervals. You just don't stop; move on to the next exercise. Not only do you burn fat from your overall body, but you can sculpt and shape specific body parts. But it takes working out a certain way.  The good news is, you don't need any equipment. Here's an example of how interval aerobics works for three favourite body parts that usually need extra work: Hip, butt, thighs and stomach.  Try it.

Do the following three exercises without stopping, 15 repetitions each. (Will take about 30-45 seconds, maybe more, not a problem. Do it at your own pace.) Then repeat two more times without resting. What have you done? You've helped tone your hips, butt, thighs and abs in less than three minutes.

HIP-BUTT: Reverse Lunge Lift. Tightens your entire hip-butt area.

Start: Stand with your left leg forward and right leg back, toes facing front, legs about 18 inches apart, arms straight at your side.

Movement: Leaving your left leg in place, and moving your right arm and right leg together, move your right leg forward and raise your right knee as high as possible. At the same time your right elbow is bent and your right hand is facing you about in line with your chest in a salute!

Return to start position and flex your hip-butt area as hard as possible. Repeat until you have done 15 repetitions and then repeat for the other side of your body. Without resting move to the next exercise.

THIGHS: Standing Leg Extension. Tightens your entire hip-butt area.

Start: Stand with your right knee raised so that your thigh is about parallel to the floor. You may hold onto a chair for balance with your left arm.

Movement: Extend your right foot out as far as possible so that your entire right leg is now parallel to the floor. Flex your right thigh as hard as possible and return to the start position. (Remember start is with your right knee still raised.) Repeat the movement until you have done 15 repetitions. Repeat for the other leg and without resting, move to the next exercise.

STOMACH: Bicycle. Tightens your entire abdominal area with a side effect of toning the lower butt.

Start: Lie flat on your back with your right leg bent and your left leg nearly straight up.

Movement: Do a bicycle-like movement, keeping your back flat to the mat. But, flex your stomach muscles as hard as possible throughout the movement. Do 15 repetitions for each leg –- a full repetition will include both legs. Without resting, repeat all three of these exercises two more times.

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EVENTS – JULY 28 – AUGUST 7, 2005




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




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




SUNDAY, JULY 31, 2005
Show Time Live & Nu-Urban Soul presents
SHOWTIME BAND and special guest Singers.  Music by DJ Nigel B.
Down One Lounge
49 Front St. East (between Yonge and Church)
Doors open at 8:30 pm
Cover: $15.00 at the door
Or go to for discount guest list

EVENT PROFILE: For less than the cost of Parking in the Downtown Core,  You can hear great live music and an After Party with DJ Nigel B.  This Caribana Sunday …come see what Toronto has to offer when it comes to LIVE music!  A live music showcase featuring some of Toronto’s finest urban performers!  This weekend it’s The Showtime Band and special guest Singers.  Want to hear some great music in an intimate club?  We’re on Front just between Yonge and Church with plenty of FREE or inexpensive parking and you’re guaranteed a quality show.  Spend some time with the men and women of the Nu-Urban-Soul this Caribana Sunday.   Doors open at 8:30 pm. Hosted by Keyth, After Party with DJ Nigel ‘B’.  Drink Specials all night.  This event is brought to you by Carl Lyte & Keith Williams.




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




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




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




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




Have a great week!  

Dawn Langfield   
Langfield Entertainment